Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Storm

Spring storm. It is like first love. So candy-apple sweet and flawless. The simplest of beauty and the purest of color. Its only design is to reproduce and grow new beauty. Like first love it is overwhelming and even breathing requires careful deliberation. (Can this be for me? Is it true?) There is no warmth in her whisper, only the chill of adventure as she hurtles forward with summer chasing close behind. And yet she brings crystal songs and new life and we want to hang on to her forever. She knows her stay is short and with an angelic smile she drifts on leaving us with only the exotic and pleasurable memory of the fragrance of virgin blossoms.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thrashing Around

Our first guess was that this was a wood thrush, but that was wrong. This fellow was an infrequent visitor to the yard in fall and has returned this spring and made himself visible under the bird feeder. He is a crazy bird flipping his head back and forth like a pile driver in determination to lift every leaf on the forest floor in search of insects, worms, whatever 'disgusting' piece of protein he can find. This bird is known for the loveliest of varied mimicking songs in the deep woods and if you wish to hear their song go here to Cornell's song ID site.
This bird is known as the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) and appeared yesterday morning right after the heavy rains. I feel honored that he let me take a photo although he clearly saw me emerge on the deck. He is a shy bird and usually hides in the underbrush and because the deep woods habitat is disappearing this species has diminished in numbers. While surfing the net I found that it is the official state bird of Georgia and the inspiration for the name given to the Atlanta Thrasher hockey team. His beady yellow eye is clearly different from that of the soft brown eye of the wood thrush.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


On an evening canoe ride to pick up some fishing weights from the dock of a neighbor, we passed this osprey defending her nest. She would cry angrily at us as we had to pass somewhat close to get where we were going. We wondered if this was the female of the couple that had nested on the high crane across from our house last year.

The next evening I photographed this lovely fish hawk from my deck. He was waiting patiently on our side of the river watching the sun setting. One might think this is the male of the pair since the nest is so close, but then we also see this at sunset...

At first there is one silhouette but in time the second of the pair joins in company watching and waiting perhaps thinking about the days events. We wonder if the second is the mother leaving the nest for a break? We cannot see the nest from here. Or perhaps these are two young birds that did not find mates this year. This pair appears like clockwork each evening as if this is the "happy hour at the snag."

Yesterday a nasty storm with strong winds arrived with the sunset and one stayed and put his back to the storm and rode it out! Shielding my telephoto from the rain, I could not stay long to capture this determination.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bahama Curly Tail


There you pause, curly tailed relative of the dinosaur, carrier of ancient genes so exotic and enduring, transoceanic colonizer of the Caribbean islands. Among the hundreds of lizards and the 13 Iguanidae in the Bahamas, your relatives are both endangered reptiles or an abundant pest. Your beauty must be studied as extraordinary orderly rows of scales like glistening medieval chainmail fit you like a glove. You pause seductively flicking your removable tail as if you would allow a touch, but when some invisible barrier is breached you sprint across the sand to hide beneath large-leaved tropical hedges. You are common here and no one notices but me and perhaps a hungry bird? Yes, you have been here before me and will be here after I am gone.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring News

(I cannot for the life of me understand why blogger loads this strawberry plant photo sideways...maybe too much blog beer today?)

Some gardeners are proud of their green thumbs. You will recall last spring I put up a small boat-load of strawberries in the freezer (I think there are still a few pints left to thaw and use), and it looks like once again this year I will be wearing a red thumb during the month of May. These two beds of strawberry plants will eventually be moved outside under the blackberry bushes, but this year we put them in the raised bed as a holding area and they really, really,... I mean really liked it.

The dogwood purchased by hubby last spring is in all its pink glory and loves its location in one of the flower beds as well.

Yet the wild white dogwoods around the yard are just as lovely and we have managed to save several from the wild roses and climbing vines and they have rewarded our efforts with more blossoms. Doesn't this tree photo make you want to grab a book and sit on the grass in the shade and read?

Hubby also had to purchase a cherry tree this spring. We will probably not see one single red orb from this little tree. My guess is that the birds will divest us of any cherries just the day or two before they are completely ripe.

My final note is on the families of birds that share our yard. The blue bird house now has five eggs inside. She may lay more, be we cannot chance opening the wall again to look inside. The chickadee house above is still being leased although I do question her neatness! ( I am sure it says somewhere in the lease that you cannot hang things from the front door!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Party of the Giants

There is something very magical with overtones of the miracle of life when watching the late afternoon sun bounce off the water and bathe the trunks of trees in a golden firelight. No painter or photographer can truly capture this beauty. It is as if these giants dressed in golden glow are heading out for a party of monstrous elegance to which mortals such as I can only imagine.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Look how nice this speedwell is doing! It was a hitch hiker on another potted plant that I purchased two years ago. I cannot remember what the original plant was, although I know it was an annual because it did not make it through the winter. I noticed the beauty of this one early the next spring in a pot on my deck struggling to free itself from under the gray and dead remains of the annual that I had purchased. The flower was so interesting and delicate that I moved it to one of my flower beds last fall. Now it happily grows and spreads and shares space with my blooming daffodils. Like my blue-eyed grass, it is not much to look at the rest of the year. But sometimes spring beauty is worth the wait.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Softness against the coming night
Who waits with me?
I cannot hear your breath
Come closer and touch my shoulder.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Watching and Waiting

After days of gray clouds filled with sustaining spring rains followed by cold winds bullying their way under turtlenecks and into coat sleeves, it was nice to finally get a blood red sunset over water with a calm glass surface. The front had passed and there was a promise of warmer and sunnier days to follow. The gardener in me was dancing on anticipatory tippy toes (at least in my mind). I almost turned away from the beautiful "Good night" above when something caught my eye.

The young osprey couple were perched on two snags on our side overlooking the river and probably thinking about raising their family. I did not see them building a nest in the crane as they had done last year. They have found a new spot. Not sure where, but if we do not discover it before the trees open their green coats, we will probably not find it at all.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Space Frog

Once again in spring we find 'Space Frog' on the grill under the cover when we remove it to BBQ. (Weather still a little cool, but we grill year round.) It appears here he is dealing with a time continuum for the Crossover Ignition part of the space flight.

This past week while Xman was visiting we found that there was a big frog and a little frog on the BBQ. Xman said they were a mommy and daddy and he is probably right. We carefully placed them in the pansy flower pot so that we could cook dinner.

When the daddy peed on his hand, Xman thought this was very funny.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More Real Estate

We put up several bird houses, some fancy and silly and some practical last winter in the hopes that we would get new bird neighbors in the spring. Not a single house was used last spring and summer. The people who completed the deer fence ran over one of the houses and turned it to kindling last month!

Then this afternoon while I was out washing some flower pots on the lawn I looked up and saw this lovely fellow outside the bluebird box. In the second photo he appears to have some insect in his mouth. I think it is too early for him to be feeding young hatchlings. Must be the dinner hour. These are his true colors...no photoshopping!

I purchased several wooden houses from a craft store and painted them silly colors to decorate the garden never thinking they might actually be used. They are not great bird houses because they are mostly for looks sort of like the MacMansions you see in some suburbs. But, this little house is now the home of the chickadee and if my chickadee likes it, I will certainly extend the lease for free.

The chickadee house is right over my flower beds and the bluebird is near the garden, so I am hoping we will enjoy the depletion of insects this summer.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

The birds are turning brilliant colors...all the colors of the rainbow. They seem to be competing with the new spring flowers in their vibrancy and certainly have gotten my attention! All of these species stayed around through the cold and gray winter months to give me joy. (The photos make great spring screen-savers.)

My Germander speedwell was transplanted from the pot on the deck to one of my perennial flower beds last fall and is now about two feet by two feet in size. Val had told me it is a weed in England, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will know it place here. ;-)

My herb garden is really showing off. I had doubled the size by winding it around the sidewalk and now have sage, rosemary, Greek marjoram, lavender, parsley, thyme, oregano and have also added some Russian sage, a small variegated holly (that lime green in the foreground), blue-eyed grass and a few day lilies for color. Eager to see how this all fills in over time, but it is moving fast.

Even my recent walk to the swamp showed big changes from the ice covered waters last month.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Migrations

It was inevitable that new species of birds would start showing up at the feeders. I was very happy to see these female brown headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater ) yesterday, members of the blackbird family. They have a reputation for mating with any male and then laying eggs in other bird's nests for others to raise! (I think I know a few females of the human species who have the same view of raising a family.) But the biology is actually kinder and is about the bird migration pattern of following the herds of bison for insects and therefore having to leave behind their eggs in any nest found along the way. Her young are the first to hatch in the nest and are usually the larger of the hatchlings and so get most of the food.

And this from a backyard bird website: "An average female lays about 80 eggs, 40 per year for two years. About 3 percent of those 80 eggs end up as adults -- an average of 2.4 adults per female. Clearly, such numbers more than compensate for the excessive loss of eggs and young in the nests of inappropriate hosts. Each pair of cowbirds replaces itself with an average of 1.2 pairs which will double a cowbird population in eight years. "

I was hoping to get a photo of the male who is a deep purple black, but I was not so lucky on this day.