I dedicate this post to my banding buddy Larry who is having a rough grouse season:
Oh dear, I just realized the inadvertent pun in the above sentence. That even hurt me a little.
After the big fat bummer of discovering an empty hive, I went for a walk in Mr. Neil's woods. Non Birding Bill came along with me, I think to try and cheer me up. We heard ruby-crowned kinglets, palm warblers, and yellow-rumps all around us...well, I did, not so sure about NBB. While walking up the trail near the MimiKo and Kelli hives, I spotted a moving lump up ahead in the middle of the trail:
It was a ruffed grouse! We appeared to notice each other at the same time. The sun and clouds kept changing by the minute, so I decided to just concentrate on trying to get a shot in focus. I couldn't believe that the bird stayed on the trail long enough for me to take 6 out of focus shots and one in focus! We've heard grouse drumming near here and Amber and I have found some grouse roosting spots but this is hands down the best look I've ever had at a ruffed grouse in Mr. Neil's woods. Finally, NBB and I were just a little much for the grouse to take, especially with a giant spotting scope lens aimed in its direction during grouse season and it hopped up into a tree:
It was such a cool bird and NBB was even enjoying it--he digs larger birds that are easier to see. He was helpful because I would look into the scope and try to focus and he could keep an eye on the mobile grouse letting me know where to aim. It was interesting, I would look outside the scope and find it, look through the scope and lose it, look out again and just be astonished at how the grouse could disappear in the branches right before my eyes.
Ruffed grouse like mixed-deciduous forest. That is certainly here, there are oaks and old pines for cover and aspens for good. I wonder if we could plant more? I also wonder if we could create an idea grouse drumming area. This way, I could set up one of my motion sensitive cameras to get shots and video of it. Larry has told me what to look for in a grouse drumming spot and I've seen it, but what are the characteristics that a grouse sees that I may need?
Anyway, the grouse was a good cleanse for me. And after some thinking, no matter what the outcome of the hive (still hoping that burning is not an option) I have had a silver lining. I've been laboring through the first draft of the bee book--people say it's a good idea, but I personally was not clear in what my message in writing the book was: a more in depth version of the bee blog posts? As I've been writing it, the tone has been getting weird and a bit schmaltzy. I was worried that my beekeeping book was becoming a Lifetime Movie event: My Beehive Of Hope. I figured I just needed the draft out and would rework it from there.
But last night, I was thinking about all the things that have gone wrong with the beekeeping. And one of the many things NBB said in an effort to cheer my mood, "You know, I admire your tenacity. When you want something and you try it or pitch it and then it doesn't work, you go back to it from a different angle until you can get what you want."
Mistakes. Tenacity. Mistakes. Tenacity. Mistakes.
And then it hit me around a little before midnight. Panic At The Beehive: My Many Beekeeping Mistakes. A new outline fell into place, mistakes, lessons learned and something that is truly in my voice and not a Lifetime Movie event.
Big sigh of relief.