Ever Been Pecked by a Ruffed Grouse?

Last evening I decided to go for a walk. I started through the woods in our back yard which connects to a nearby dirt road. Continuing down the road, I ended up in a clearing where the boys and I often shoot our guns. As I was standing there admiring nature I heard a noise similar to that of foraging squirrels.

But wait, it seemed more substantial than that.

As I patiently waited, out of the thicket emerged a ruffed grouse. How did I know it was a ruffed grouse? I’ll explain that shortly. For now, let’s focus on this particular encounter.

As I stood there almost motionless, except for the occasional swatting of flies, it walked right up to me, constantly pecking the ground for food.

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I was a bit concerned what it might do, with its hawk-like beak, if it thought my toe was a worm. Fortunately, it was only interested in seeds and the like 🙂

After it circled me several times I decided to squat down for a closer look and to snap a picture.

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I then put my hand out and it didn’t back up. This bird was simply NOT afraid! So, to test things I put my hand within striking distance and it did just that: it pecked me. Not enough to draw blood, but a good peck just the same!

OK, so you want to get aggressive?

I stood up and moved towards it and it still didn’t back down! Instead, it jumped in the air with wings fully spread in an attempt to look more fearsome and scare off its opposition.

A bit startled, I repeated this cycle of moving towards it, putting my foot out, etc. and it simply repeated its defensive posture of leaping, wings spread wide and making a pecking motion in mid air.

The reality is that, if necessary (and we needed dinner), I could have grabbed it by the neck or dropped a rock on its head and it would be all over.

Instead, I decided to walk away and let it live another day.

However, this thing seemed to be quite territorial as it kept circling me in what appeared to be an attempt to escort me from its turf. In fact, as I got back onto the dirt road it was still following me in the pucker brush, until it felt I was no longer in its space.

Now, how did I know that it was a ruffed grouse?

Earlier in the summer we had several encounters along our dirt road with a yet to be identified game-bird. A good name for it would have been a chicken, in that it would play chicken with our vehicle. Really!

We’d be driving down the road and this bird would dart out of the bushes and stop right in front of our vehicle. Slamming on the brakes (we weren’t going that fast as it is a bumpy dirt road) we’d stop to see if it emerged from either side of the vehicle. Nothing. So, we continued on our way.

This happened several times to Cindy, Evan, Ian and myself.

Cindy made several attempts to photograph it, but it is heavily camouflaged and difficult to see in the bush. My initial thought was that it was a partridge, although a dumb one…

Finally, we were able to get a better glimpse of it as it stood on the side of the road. And, Ian was able to snap a picture. Once we had that picture we went online.

Turns out it was a ruffed grouse.

Over the following weeks we saw it less and less, until no recent sightings had been made. We thought that it likely met its demise on the underside of a vehicle.

Well, last evening proves we still have a ruffed grouse in the neighborhood. Although, if this species isn’t careful it will go the way of the dodo bird.

That’s it for now!

Cindy and I are going for a walk to get the mail. It’s been a couple of days. You KNOW we are going to see if we can have another ruffed grouse encounter!

Circle of Life

As I began writing this post a deer walked within 30 feet of our deck, while Evan and I were sitting outside enjoying the view. This has pretty much become a daily occurrence. In fact, while I was on a recent business trip Evan was able to snap a photo capturing 2 unique members of the animal kingdom at once.

In the picture below you’ll see a great blue heron to the left of our kayaks, near the water’s edge and a deer at the bottom right, eating the neighbor’s blueberries 🙂

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The great blue heron lives in the waterfowl protection area which is adjacent to our property. We see him coming and going frequently through-out the day. Over the 4th Ian took a video of this giant bird catching a sizable fish! After seizing its prey he flew off with the fish still flapping around trying to escape its captor.

Speaking of catching fish…Until recently, I had to shamefully confess that, after spending a number of vacations on Sebago Lake and living here for over 18 months, I had never pulled a fish from these waters. Thankfully, that changed a few days ago when I was casting a lure off our dock. After several casts I’m proud to say that a fish struck and I brought him in. It was a good-sized white perch! Had we been camping he would have quickly been gutted and readied for dinner. Instead, I released him for another day…

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I can now sleep peacefully 🙂

Speaking of sleeping peacefully…Last night something pretty violent occurred on our dock! I was awakened just after midnight by the shrieks of what sounded like a young girl being dismembered. Upon hearing the sound I got up from bed, peered out the window and could just barely make out a dark object with hunched back, about the size of a raccoon, walking from the end of the dock towards land. After doing some research I have pretty much confirmed that it was a fishercat. These are vicious creatures that make a blood curdling sound upon taking their prey. He probably nabbed a duckling or merganser chick, as they often sleep on the end of our dock. Click here to check out a YouTube video sharing a recording of a fishercat.

Another woodland creature that gives off a similar high-pitched sound, which we’ve often heard at night, is a red fox. It could easily be mistaken for a fishercat, however, fishercats have a more gurgling sound, while a fox sounds like a lady screaming. Click here to listen to the sound of a red fox.

If you’ve never stayed in the woods or heard these 2 creatures sound off you probably will not sleep well after your first experience hearing them, as you wonder what could possibly be going on in the wilderness around you. Especially, if you’ve been whiling away the hours reading a Stephen King horror novel…

On a lighter note, completing the circle of life, several of us witnessed 2 fish mating on the 4th of July. For a few days prior we had seen a clear circular spot at the bottom of the lake just off of our dock, as a single fish swam around within. Perhaps a female nesting, waiting for her mate? Then, to our surprise, another fish had entered the circle and they were performing their act of procreation. I won’t share the video here to ensure this site maintains its PG status 🙂

In closing, it is truly amazing what you are able to witness in nature, when you are simply paying attention.

All the best!

We Have Cut The Next Hardline!

It is FINALLY official. We have cut yet another hardline!

In prior posts (years ago now) I mentioned that we had cut our:

The next hardline I’ve been super anxious to cut is internet cable.

As of today, it is done!

We now connect all our devices (e.g., MacBooks, iPad, printer) over the wireless network offered by the “personal hotspot” on our iPhones.

Over the years I had been monitoring the cost of cellular data plans in the quest to do this. And, until recently the pricing has not been conducive to running a household off an iPhone’s personal hotspot.

Of late, we were paying about $100 / month for a “limited” data plan. During a recent transaction to upgrade Cindy’s iPhone we learned that Verizon Wireless now offers an UNLIMITED data plan for the same price as I was paying for the limited plan.

The switch to unlimited was easy!

Now, all I had to do was test. The testing involved:

  • Confirming we can stream Netflix movies over the personal hotspot, via a MacBook, connected to a TV and not have it stall out. Done!
  • Confirming Cindy can watch Netflix on her iPad, connected to her personal hotspot. Otherwise, there’d certainly be a murder (mine). Done!
  • Confirming we can hook-up our wireless printer and actually print to it. This was the one I was most worried about (unnecessarily). Done!

For years I have been using my personal hotspot to run my MacBook when I’m on the road or in some location that doesn’t offer WiFi, so I knew this would work fine. This includes sending/receiving email, surfing the web and running web conference calls with screen sharing.

The result: we are now ready to cut the next cord…

On calling the cable company to cancel they certainly did NOT want to let us go.

Cable Company: “Mr. Bailey, we can offer you the same plan for $64.99 / month, vs. the $74.99 you are paying now.

Mr. Bailey: “Thanks, but I don’t need to pay anything more for internet since we already have it on our cell phones.

Cable Company: “Well, we wouldn’t want you to ever be out of internet if a cell tower should go down. We can offer you a standard plan at $44.99 / month to make sure you are never without internet.

Mr. Bailey: “I’ve been using cell phones for decades and have NEVER experienced an outage. Thank you, but we are good to go.

It is done!

Now, let’s run this savings through the “cost / savings over time model.”

So, we “were” paying $75 / month for internet cable. Over 12 months that totals $900. And, over 10 years, that represents a cost / savings of $9,000!

Pack your bags Cindy. This will more than fund a few trips for two, to somewhere tropical 🙂

I love this!

The final cord to cut will be electricity. Once Verizon Wireless starts streaming that we’ll be good to go. To be clear, this is not all that far-fetched…

I remember during the early days of working for one of the first internet companies (back in the 90’s) the CEO said: “One day even lightbulbs will have an IP address” (a.k.a. be connected to the internet). That day has arrived!!!

All the best!