Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Happy Invasion

There was a busyness outside my windows in the early morning.   I saw shadows darting.

The sky was filled with fat-breasted red robins. They were chattering with the sound of small clinking chains as they flew from tall tree to tall tree making dark and speedy silhouettes against the winter's gray sky.  Too many to count but in the dozens, arriving with noisy fanfare.  They sounded like teenagers on spring break.  The skies, the trees, all was theirs.  It was as if they had been released from boarding school.

They flew to my holly trees that were covered in winter-ripe berries.  I was excited to maybe get a good photo or three.  I had been waiting for the arrival of the Cedar Waxwings, more exotic and rare, but the happy (delirious?) red-breasted robins would have to do.

They moved from the back yard with its shorter hollies to the front yard with the one tall 20-foot tree covered in many berries.  I decided to sneak out the door to the porch steps for clearer photos rather than those above taken from the windows.  I moved with the stealth of a stalking house cat, but in ten seconds they got very quiet.  The silence was surprising, and then within the vacuum of no sound, I heard the soft air movement from many wings flying away all in the same instant to the trees on the other side of the ravine, three seconds and they were far away.

I had startled them so I went back to my backyard windows to watch the feeder activity.  I saw this in our winter trees. HIs steely eyes on the feeders.  Maybe it wasn't me after all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Sometimes You Get What You Want (for a moment)

We had been under a mild drought for almost two years when suddenly this fall the skies opened up and we were all caught up in less than a month.

We also have not had any real snow for maybe 6 or 7 years.  We finally got snow earlier this week.  It was about 3/4 of an inch, but we were thrilled.  And to the north of us, kids got to go sledding and build snowmen.  The temperatures were in the low 30s and high 20s Fahrenheit, and I in my elder years could not appreciate that!  I feel it deep in my bones and do not rush outside to take photos like I used to.  (Sadly for me.)  These bird photos are taken through the windows of my house over the last week or so.  The poor Bald Eagle was resting on the osprey nest during a lengthy rain.

Things are winding down as naturally they should both with my stamina and with winter cold.   The rest of the week we will be back to the 50s and 60s...climate change be damned.  But with more rain as well.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Mine! Mine! Mine!

If you have had young ones in your life a decade ago, the title above will be recognized from a familiar animated movie. I saw outside my window above the dining room table a dozen or so white flags swooping and diving and gliding. They were our local seagulls.

It is not unusual to see two or three flying about 20 feet or more over the river looking for food, but these numbers were noticeable, and the activity was aggressive.

I picked up the binoculars that we left nearby and realized that along with more than a dozen gulls in the gray sky above, there were just a few fewer cormorants floating just below the surface of the water with their long necks and deep blue eyes.  One or two would dive below the surface and one or two would emerge wet and wiggly.

The cormorants were stirring up the fish to the surface as they went after those that dove below.  The gulls then had a nice feast from those that cormorants missed in eating.  Our river is more shallow than the main part and the little fish can easily be pinned against the bottom.

Two days later after our "big" snowfall of one inch about 100(!) cormorants flew into our part of the river, stayed less than an hour and were followed by gulls.  Alas, I did not get that photo!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Do You Hear What I Hear?

My husband opened the door the other day to what sounded like a tin band. Lots of squeeky sounds and chattering. He explained how noisy it was and I went to the door to see what was happening. The air was filled with rusty sounds. It was a flock of Robins that had flown in just ahead of the big East Coast storm that was coming. Maybe they were staying further inland at the farms and knew the coastal areas would be warmer? They are common and not as admired as are their cousins the Blue Birds. Birdwatchers can find Robins almost anywhere in the continental U.S. depending on the seasons. There is a cliche that they bring the spring, but I see them here long before winter has gone.
If you look at their eyes you can see how they resemble the favorite Blue Bird that also visits here most of the year, but rarely comes in flocks of any significant size.  Robins are larger than the Blue Bird.  And sometimes 
 birdwatchers notice that Blue Birds sometimes look a bit angry!

The songs of Blue Birds are more like soft bells whispering gossip to me.  It would be very nice if I knew what they were gossiping about.  It is not me, as my life is not very interesting.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Some Things Still Hang On

I was reading a comment on a friend's page where she quoted scientists (botanists?) who believe that some trees hang on to their leaves to protect the spring buds that shelter there throughout the winter.
The scientists also theorize that some trees hold on to their leaves to avoid grazing by ruminants that may wander through looking for juicy twigs to aid their diet.

The beech tree in our area hangs on to its leathery golden leaves most of the winter.  Our tree is so tall that a deer would need to be an acrobat to reach the lowest branch.

The trumpet vine above is hanging on to its leaves for now.

And our many tulip trees have hung on to their seed pods which cluster like brown daisies against the blue sky.  I have seen cardinals in the later part of winter eating the seeds when the more tasty food is unavailable.

The bald cypress that was planted a decade ago waits until it is colder before shedding all of its green foliage which has now turned rusty brown.  

I guess the message is to just hang on through the winter!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Plaudits and Cheers

It is a very bold dance, 
Like a ballerina with muscled limbs 
Flinging them out into the air.
Gold, lime, red,
orange, and brown flakes
spinning around and around until
they reach the ground
and form waves or skirts
or places to hide.
And then the finale.
Round and brown limbs
Straight and poised
stand strongly in the sunshine
not having felt it for a year.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Surprisingly Lengthy

This season keeps on giving and giving and giving. I catch my breath as I look out the window on my way to my second cup of coffee. The sun is having so much fun doing its angled fall dance. The osprey nest is vacant as is the house across the river. All is quiet. No lawnmowers or blowers or dogs.
The big oak in the foreground has these blood-red leaves every autumn. They turn cinnamon brown and then without fear fling themselves from even the highest branch and dance their way to the ground to lie with their brothers and sisters. It is magical when a breeze kicks up.

The devil in me thinks "Puzzle for a Holiday gift?".

The Viburnum down by the water has seeds that change from a glowing jade color to a crimson and finally, as the cooler air moves in, they change to an inky black. Near the Viburnum are the poison ivy seeds that bring in this female kinglet for breakfast.  Watching her weight, she only eats those that have shrunk to almost nothing.

Well, my coffee is now cold and I must return to the everyday tasks awaiting me.  This was a nice morning distraction.