Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sea Hawks Return---Osprey

The call is a high cry, a short but piercing sound and yet sweet like it was coming from a much smaller bird. It is repeated with what seems like an exuberance and certainly an urgency. It is hard to ignore. (As usual, click on photos for more detail.)

When I first saw him alone it was early in the new spring day and the sun was just climbing up into the sky.

At the start, he flew low over the house and crossed the river and landed gently on the top of the old crane that sits on a barge across the river where they had nested last year. The crude, crossed-sticks nest had not survived the winter and he would have to start anew. His landing was elegant and graceful.

Later at mid-day, as I was working in my herb garden, I saw him again. He was swooping not too far overhead and flying back and forth above the house. He would pump his wings then swoop with a gentle dip, let the wind catch his wings and float gently backwards or hover in stasis and then cruise forward allowing the spring winds to carry him a few yards. The whole pattern would be repeated over and over along with the crying call.

Finally as the morning extended, there were two of them. Had he gone on ahead leaving their winter home in the south and told her he would check out the old summer place and wait for her to catch up? She joined him in flight and the calling continued. Then there were three flying together. Was this another male trying to woo the female or was it their child from last year?

Later in the afternoon the promised thunderstorm clouds began to form and started to hide the fingernail moon. As the sun began its descent in the sky, I sat on the deck to watch the sunset (early bird) show. One of the pair that remained settled in a tree close to the house overlooking the river and watched the other flying by sharing an occasional call.

It must be nice to follow the sun and travel by the call of the changing seasons and the abundance of fish . They is so smart they even has their own genus, Pandion haliaetus!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Regal Eagle

Both my husband and I were so excited to see this royal visitor come by this afternoon and sit on a far tree overlooking the river. He/She saw me sneak out on my deck to take his picture, but did not seem annoyed by my paparazzi antics. The photo was taken with a telephoto lens and cropped. Within a short time a few crows and a blue jay flew to this area and began to torment him. He/she ignored them and after about ten minutes flew off to another side of the river. We have seen a pair of bald eagles diving high in the sky above the house and calling to each other so there is a nest somewhere not too far from here!

Neighborhood Gossip

Playing the role of the nosy neighbor I was looking out the window of my kitchen long before the sunrise as I sipped my first cup of morning coffee and thought I saw something in the hole of the dead tree trunk. The morning was still dark but I was pretty sure I saw the head of a bird peaking out. Had the red-bellied decided to stay? I grabbed both my camera and the binoculars.

I went outside with my camera and caught this photo in the dark. It has been photo-shopped to death and this was the best I could create with the distance of the shot and the dark morning. It is my friend Flicka (flicker) that has picked up the lease on the old place. The hole has been slightly enlarged and the place looks cleaner. So it appears we will have new neighbors for a short time.

Missed the moving van, but the flicker does not appear near the house in the daytime...only in the very early morning. Perhaps I can get a photo in the late afternoon if this drizzle stops and the sun cooperates?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eating for the Forest Health

It appears that in addition to gleaning every last sunflower seed that has fallen beneath the bird feeders, our resident gray squirrels also like the new growth on the wild rose species, Rosa multiflora Thunberg. This is a good thing, I think. The deer also eat the soft spring growth on this invasive species. The plant has been declared a noxious weed in at least 10 states. It was planted as an ornamental back in the 1800's introduced from Asia, and because it did not have natural enemies it has taken over many acres. It was used for erosion control, ornamental hedging, etc.

A single plant can produce a half million reproductive achenes and these can lie dormant and then come back even twenty years after removal of the mother plant. I have seen this plant crawl its way up trees reaching a height of 20 feet or more. In this photo below all of the lime green is the wild rose population after our soaking rain yesterday. I wish I had taken a photo of the gray ravine just two days ago prior to this outburst of color. You can see the lawn of my neighbor in the top part of the photo.

We have tried to clear the plants in our small acreage, but this rose fights a nasty fight and we end up more wounded than the plant. We avoid herbicides as we are on the river.

And as a bonus to those who read to the bottom of this post, here is the gray squirrel with another new spring bud of a tree to munch on almost looking as though he is at a Karaoke bar! No?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


There is nothing more magical than the potential of a lovely spring flower. The daffodils are now blooming and since they are mixed, some are still pushing through the earth while others are in full bloom. I have so few in this new yard that each is awaited with much excitement. This bud is bowing deeply in honor of its existence before opening its full face to the sun.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Squeaky Clean

This little molty goldfinch reminds me of the struggles of the human teenage male. The voice begins to deepen but it is unpredictable in its nature and sometimes it comes out like a mouse's squeak - high, feminine and vulnerable sounding. The beard begins to show either as peach fuzz or long stray hairs on the chin, neither of which is particularly attractive. This beginning leaves an unfortunate impression on the female he may be pursuing.

Our male goldfinch above is beginning to get his golden color which is essential to attracting a nice female goldfinch for that all important lovemaking in the springtime. Right now he looks like he came out of the wrong cycle of the washer and dryer and is in a shrunken and damaged suit! If you click to 'embiggen' you will also see the uncomfortable, perhaps adolescent, look on his face.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Tabor's Yard It's All About Location, Location, Location

Last year the red-bellied woodpecker family made their home in the tall dead tree just outside the southeastern corner of my house and only a few feet from the sunflower supermarket. The male rounded the natural knothole to perfection and then called the female over for her approval. She wasn't too crazy about it facing the house instead of the water but the spring was moving on fast and she had eggs to lay and so they closed on the place and raised their family. Their children were natural athletes and soon moved on before mid-summer.

Yesterday, I took this photo (click for a better view) of a male red-bellied woodpecker, perhaps the same one, checking out the old stomping grounds. The place is a bit last year's style and needs some cleanup, but it has still got good bones and the price is right. Lots of great trees for the children to learn flying in. Perhaps the pair are moving in again for the spring. It is all about location, location, location.

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Spring Clothes

There is something about the new spring cloaks that the birds are wearing these days. It makes one look twice. Hope the ladies like these new zootsuits.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Health Checkup by the Wren

One of the reasons my spring pansies look so nice is that this little Carolina wren goes through each and every leaf and blossom and looks for little bugs to eat. He also probably leaves some calling cards that the pansies like!

Here he is all done and seemingly performing a stretch after all that poking and peaking. Click on the photos for a better view.


I stepped out onto the back deck yesterday as I saw out of the corner of my eye something I had not seen in quite a while --- sunshine! It seemed that these little faces in the pots had also discovered the sun and, although eager to appear, seemed to be squinting at the brightness. You will have to click on them to see that.

Also yesterday morning I heard a lot of chatter high up in the tulip trees and there sat about 20 robins surveying the territory. If the robins are back, can spring be far behind?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Dressed like rich undertakers
They pose in the trees
Crying their myriologue.

Together they are a murder
and have been rumored to kill a lamb
while a single crow
will gauge carefully his time to raid
the nest of another bird.

His ancestors punishment for the tattle-tale
to the God Apollo
Turned all their white to black,
And as such they have sometimes
been called flying monkeys.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nature's Deception

What appears above as delicate, feathery and even elegant can be like a hibernating bear in winter. We were gifted with about 8 plastic buckets of three or four varieties two years ago. Ornamental grasses can be quite expensive, so we were aware of the value of this gift, but we were moving into the house and only had time to burying them beside the driveway in unprepared soil and hope for the best. The grasses survived perhaps in anger if not humiliation at how we have ignored them over the years and spread and gave us wonderful back-lit golden borders as we approached our house at the end of the summer and fall days.

In the winter they got cut back to the ground for their dormant period and because of their size we had to use a chain saw!

Last week, we decided it was time to move a third of them to the retaining wall landscape bed, which had been our original intention. It took two hours of digging with two shovels and hours of whacking into 75 pound rooted dirt balls with a machete before we were able to break up three large plants into smaller plants and place in a long line to form a grassy wall along the garage and perhaps to prevent small children from falling into the ravine.

My legs are bloodied but I am unbowed. I have learned not to underestimate any plant.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gone to Wrack and Ruin

March's full moon has been waking me in the middle of the night as it beams through my uncurtained bedroom windows. Its reflection across the water and the land is intriguing and it is hard to get back to sleep after a review of the yard from my windows. About 2:00 PM last night I headed back to bed and found, to my dismay, that the spring moon is also an invitation to raccoon partying and debauchery. This fellow was deep in the ravine having a nasty argument with another male about territory or a loud and raucous discussion with a female about mating--just bring her some of the sunflower seeds you have been stealing from the bird feeder! In either case the scratchy barn door wailing and the harsh growling and the loud chirping sounds went on for over an hour. They would start out low and barely discernible sounding almost like a whistle in the nose of my bed partner, but then escalating to loud cries as though someone was being eaten alive. It took me some time after the silence returned to my neck of the woods for me to fall asleep once again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Caught this pair on the snag outside my kitchen window. I had to take this photo through the window AND the window was screened. So it it not a clear or good shot. But it does capture two together near my house which is rare. I quietly stepped out on the deck to see if I could get a better photo and only caught this through the deck before they took off, beady eyed little pair that they were.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

135 sunsets

We are in the 70th day of the year 2009, and while I do not take a photo of the sunset every night and I try to be critical when reviewing files, I currently have 135 photos of sunsets since New Years Day on a folder in my PC. They are like my children to me, twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. Each is different and lovely in its own way and cannot be relegated to the recycle bin on my computers desktop. I am a photo critics nightmare. Sunsets are so trite and so predictable as a subject for an amateur photographer such as I. And yet, I continue to capture such pixels and store them away in folders. The few selected below have not been tweaked in any way except to reduce the image size for posting. Colors are all as my camera lens saw them.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Spring Breakfast

Grubs and beetles are starting to move freely under the logs and inside the bark of dying trees. If you listen very, very carefully you can follow their tiny scratching movements and then open a hole and eat them!

Sunday, March 08, 2009


According to Wikipedia "The name titmouse is attested from the 14th century, composed of the Old English name for the bird, mase (Proto-Germanic *maison, German Meise) and tit, denoting something small. The spelling was influenced by mouse in the 16th century."

I used to think they were called titmice because of the little gray tuft on the top of their head possibly resembling a mouses tit. So much for where my mind goes.

These little birds have been regular visitors to the feeders throughout the winter and will also be around through the summer. They are curious and frequently stop by and peek in the windows as this one is doing. (If you want a fuller stare-down, click on the photo.)

Friday, March 06, 2009


The crisp white of the snow was a thousand mirrors against the setting sun. The surface of the water multiplied that reflection by another thousand shards of silver light. It pierced my eyes and was like white fire inside my brain. How could something so far away be so bright and still seem so cold? It was as if the earth welcomed this parting lightning glance from her old friend and in response swirled, tossing the hem of her dress with a glance over her shoulder displaying her version of fire and ice. It was as if a tango of ardor was being performed between the star and the planet. The intensity of the passion was not for mere mortals such as I to comprehend. I was to stay out of the way and let them do their Klingon dance.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Snowbird--Yellow Rumped Warbler

What he found as he darted in the snow-covered grass has me wondering. He did not eat beneath the bird feeders, so something in the green blades was tempting him. It was too cold for him to serenade me with a warble.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March the Lion

We had to depart for the weekend as both of my grandchildren's parents were away on travel. We left the fragile newly planted kohlrabi, pak choi and swiss chard in the newly constructed greenhouse. They were well watered, covered with plastic weighted by bales of straw, and then because the weather report predicted temps in the teens, hubby rushed out to buy a tiny heater and set it on the lowest setting of the thermostat.

This is what we returned to this morning. At least 8 inches of white fluffy stuff and 29 insulating blanket of snow on the little greenhouse probably due to the heater inside.

Hubby could not wait to see how the plants did. He tore away the bale of straw and lifted the stiff cold plastic. What he saw were little green faces
twice the size from when we planted them. The heater will only be needed if another hard freeze comes our way. We should have greens for stir fry in two weeks!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Inside Blooms

Warm your cold hands and feet by these little beauties.
(Click to get warmer.)