Monday, April 21, 2014

Life Goes On

No, my family name is not Hood.

I was walking out to the bluebird house to drop some dried meal worms on their doorstep as a house warming gift.  While they are not crazy about dried meal worms at this time of year, they will eat a few.  They had nested here last year and except for one crazy event with a black rat snake that we had to haul away, they were able to bring up two new bluebirds.  I had not seen them going in and out, but I did see some grasses sticking out of the side of the door and since we had carefully cleaned all the nesting boxes, I was sure they had returned.  (Then again, bluebirds are notoriously ingenious and this could just be a fake nest.  They have managed to chase off the chickadees from building in other nearby houses!)

When I turned back I saw out of the corner of my eye a fairly large shadow of a bumblebee, but it made no sound.  Wow, I thought, he was really moving, faster than any I had seen this spring!  I turned and tried to catch him with my eye again and then this is what I saw below.  I took several shots, but Mr. Speedfast below was hard to catch in the colder morning air.  This is the FIRST of the season.  I am thinking about putting up another feeder nearby.

This month I also find my self almost daily tripping over this little fellow when I venture out either to the front yard or the back yard.  He has a varied range.

If you look closely you will see that something is wrong.  I am thinking it is my neighbors cat that has removed the tail feathers.  That is why I am almost tripping over the little guy.  He really has no "rudder" to fly.  I have read that these MAY grow back so I am placing little seed dishes here and there and a water dish for him.

Above he is hanging out with the female bluebird.  Glad they get along and she is not prejudice against the handicapped.

Above is what my white throats look like when they have a tail.  I am hoping he makes it, but if not, as with humanoids, life goes on in my woods.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Recovering from Mother Nature's surprising twists and turns, which happen most springs, and which I faithfully seem to forget is such a challenge.  Out goes the five foot potted Kaffir lime to adjust to sun and wind whipping breezes.  Out goes the other citrus, the Calamondin lime.   It is smaller and has been fighting a pest invasion for a year.  I was hoping the cooler nights would assist, but I had to bring it back in before I could spray it with an oil along with its big brother as a wind chilling frost was due to arrive.  I forgot the little and rather old geranium, but it survived the brief frost on the deck.  In spite of watching the weather I was still surprised to see a tiny layer of slushy white stuff on the deck the next morning.

I am not the only disgruntled one, though.  The cardinal flew to the bird bath and then back up to the deck table giving me the stink eye through the patio door.  I looked and saw the dish had been frozen over.  As if to emphasize he flew down to its edge and pecked at the hard shiny surface several times and then glared at me. I had taken in the water heater, of course.

That was two days ago.  Now when I see the sun and green grass I hop outside only to be reminded that it is still hanging at the 50 degree mark on the warmest of afternoons.  Back inside I go to get a scarf and sweater.

March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, but April is a schizophrenic diva with her own personal voodoo doll and an endless supply of pins. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bloody Tuesday

As my luck would have it, I got cloud cover in my part of the world during the lunar eclipse and resulting blood moon this past evening.  We really need the soaking rains that the cloud cover promises, and I am still waiting for that event as I write this.  But with the wonder of technology I was able to watch the eclipse live via computer and a link to the Canary Islands' observatory.  If one got tired of the British commentary in the background (which actually I did not) then one could turn off the sound and just observe the slow transformation of this heavenly body.

"The English proper name for Earth's natural satellite is "the Moon". The noun moon derives from moone (around 1380), which developed from mone (1135), which derives from Old English mōna (dating from before 725), which, like all Germanic language cognates, ultimately stems from Proto-Germanic *mǣnōn." according to Wiki.
"Mona" has danced with us in her separate orbit that began with a giant impact on earth...before you and I were born.  Even though my show was via a computer screen, her dance of the red veils was most romantic and exciting.  Eclipses always show the roundness of the gal which tends to get lost when we observe her flat and luminescent glow on most nights.

We become so small when we get to observe this vast universe in its magic moments such as these.  We have to look up from our telephones, TV screens, and Google glasses to see the world as it has been long before we began to change its patterns.  (And I do get the irony of that statement.)  And, of course, the moon has observed us all in our tiny dances and efforts and remains passive and beautiful in spite of our conceited attempt at moving mountains.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Grab Bags

Last winter just before our first super cold weather I found a grab bag of daffodil bulbs at the local hardware store.  They looked so neglected and sad, but they were cheap and even though I dreaded the thought of planting in the already cold and rainy weather, I knew that I would be rewarded in the spring for the effort.  My daffy bed is sparse, but hopefully in years to come they will grow into bunches and eventually drifts. Grab bags of bulbs can be such surprises.  And my late bloomers I planted two years ago are still in bud in another bed waiting to surprise me.   ( I just realized while editing these photos that I have my reading glasses no wonder some of the photos are a little blurry!  Oh well, too lazy to go back and find the originals.) 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mellow Yellow

The sun is shining today.  It is shiny and yellow and golden and lemon and all of those warm sunny colors.  The morning is cool but warming into that zeal of an afternoon perfect for gardeners.  I am in a glowing mood and decided to share some yellowness (blurry and sharp) with you.

This goldfinch in the process of changing his grayish feathers to that sexy gold.
Male Pine Warbler at the suet.

This photo was actually taken in Florida a few months ago, but I had to show him off.
Go ahead and sing it out Mr. Yellow Rump!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

That Quick Rush

I was spending Monday in a windowless classroom learning about how hard it is to keep the Chesapeake Bay clean...actually it was more about cleaning up the Bay since it is far, far, far from clean now.  New states' laws were passed setting higher environmental standards and the EPA is already under fire two years later from every industry you can imagine complaining that this law is too restrictive.  The data show significant water quality improvement since the laws went into effect.  Yet, we are moving toward that time in our lives when environmentalists will be muzzled and our children will routinely be having tumors removed or other traumatic health issues as a norm in order for money to continue to be made on the planet.

During the lunch break outside I watched over the small pond into the trees and was filled with spring joy as I saw two hawks (red-shouldered) setting up housekeeping in the nearby woods.

I seem to be so busy these days with family and other stuff, that this was a nice break!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fred and Ethel 2014

My neighbors have the luxury of vacationing as far south as French Guiana each and every winter.  There they stop and enjoy luxurious living in the rich and green rain forest with the warm sun on their backs. They are quite a modern couple and usually have separate vacations for those months.  Unlike me they go by wing and can log over 100,000 miles in their lifetime and many miles in one day!

But, like clockwork, this year one returned on the eve of St. Patrick's day.  Unfortunately this is what it looked like on my deck on that early morning while I was sipping my first cup of coffee. 

I looked out my kitchen window as the sun came up to the trees and was thrilled to see that either Fred or Ethel had returned.  Whichever of the two the hawk looked somewhat shell-shocked as it faced a very white and rather cold day.

Within just a few days the snows had melted and the osprey were being seen everywhere staking their claim from last year's nests as we drove on errands.

There are two in the photo above.  One on the nest platform and another on a piling eating a fish...if you look closely you may see them.

Within three or four days the partner to the Fred/Ethel couple arrived at the nest.  She still shrieks at me when I open the back door or when we use the grill.  She remembers my efforts to destroy the nest she was building on the boat roof years ago.

This whole week they have been sitting together on the nest except when one goes off for food.  Tedious and bored they seem at this time in the season, waiting.  They stare at each or look off into space for predators or are daydreaming.  I can imagine him arriving at her side and asking "Ovulating yet?"  Her response, "Nope."  He then stares at her a while longer wondering about the mysteries of the female of the species or hoping his sexy presence will speed the process before he finally goes off fishing like most males.  (I will keep you posted if I see them starting their family.)

Mankind is learning more about these fish hawks and their amazing migration and you can go to this link to learn about the data that has been collected from the backpacks that some of them now wear.