Blue jay serenades me from the top of a tall poplar almost directly above me with his fussing chortle. He has so many imitative calls that one wonders after hearing them all what would happen if one asked, “Will the real Mr. Blue Jay please stand up?”

As I have mentioned before, I continue to wonder if blue jay nests nearby to my left, as I see him dashing about in the foliage in this spot years after year. I must study his behavior to learn how many feet off the forest floor he tends to build his nest.

Now a jay has landed about 10 feet in front of me on a flowering dogwood stem. I have to admit he is a handsome fellow even thought he is a bit of a nuisance in the way he dominates feeders.

Now there is a sight! A type of woodpecker landed on a tall Norway about 20 feet to my right. The stripes reveal a flicker, and I thought, of course, the yellow-shafted flicker common to our area. He must be that one.

However, he stayed a good long time, and gave me a chance to study him well in the glasses. He was red across the top of his head, which the yellow-shafted is not. He had a vertical black throat line, which the yellow-shafted does not. He looked like the red-shafted flicker.

However again, he had a golden wing lining, which the red-shafted does not. Roger Tory saved us by stating that where the breeding areas of the two crossover, the red-shafted will take on the golden wing lining.

Chipmunk rustles the six-inch high forest floor covering, which is just the right height for chipmunk-covering as well. He moves furtively across my line of vision under the covering until he is directly in front of me.

Then he moves directly toward me, sniffing the ground slowly as he advances. He obviously sees me, but seems totally unimpressed with my presence, which is a bit insulting. What does it take to be an awesome presence in the forest? A growl?

He advances until he is out of sight under my writing board. What is he intending to do, crawl up my pant leg? No. He blithely passes out of sight behind me.

The woodlands are producing their fruit in this season. It is kind of a wonderful time in that way.

The wild raspberry bushes grow red with their fruit. The berry is disappointingly small, but I expect we are accustomed to grocery store raspberries.

The flowering dogwood produces many tiny berries. Although they are plentiful, they do not impress the observer.

The American hazelnut has intrigued me, especially since I have discovered it is used in making coffee. The bush is all over the forest here around Ham Lake.

The nut itself is a wonder to behold. At this time it has a very fancy green collar that would be a show of any occasion. Its end has a slit like a mouth, with a fancy moustache and beard above and below it. It is one of nature’s works of art that challenges even such other residents as red-shafted flickers.

James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.


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