Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This was two days ago....

Really cold this morning!  River keeps freezing and thawing.  I have to go out and run errands, ugh!

This dove actually looked 18 inches long and very wide.  I thought for a minute it was a cuckoo.

This is today with some snow melting and at least the wind has stopped blowing and snow is off the trees.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Angels Today

I took this photo at sunset this past November as I was returning to the house to check on the slow cooker in the kitchen.  These were little midges (tiny flies) dancing their last dance of fall celebration in the warm evening light before cold winter's arrival.  They were not aware that the world was tilting and the sun's angle was changing and the air was slowly cooling.  Or if they were aware, they were clearly focused on the happiness in this moment of dancing in the golden light.  They look like holiday angels to me now, and so I will post this, such an unexpected photo, at this holiday time of year to remind us to focus on the moment and not what lies ahead or behind.  If there is such a thing as Holy Light...these photos have come close to capturing it for me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

There are at least three of these ... two males and a female (and perhaps more)...that regularly visit this compact brick of fat and seeds and fruit that I hang near the deck railing.  Their acrobatic endeavors are always interesting to watch.  The larger ones fly directly onto the side of the rack and then eat upright, sideways and upside down with expert balance and do not leave until they have a nice ridge of fat on the top part of their bill  something like a milk mustache.

This smaller one (female downy woodpecker) is not as skilled at landing directly on the free swinging suet cake and she lands first on the deck and then hops to the chain.  She then works her way down backwards moving one foot at a time like a stunt bird in a thriller movie through the chain links and then turning and walking down the screen side itself.  She always has a serious expression on her face revealing intense concentration.  I thought they were hairy woodpeckers, but now I am sure due to the small bill size they are downy woodpeckers, although I did see a hairy woodpecker the other day high in the trees.

And, of course,  the titmouse is always impatient waiting for his turn using any intimidating distracting trick in the book.

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Snowball Fight

I saw larger waves of this white stuff tossed to the shore from my kitchen window one early morning as I drank my first hot cup of coffee.  It had just peaked above the shoulder of the land.  I knew it was not snow because we were only getting sunny, cold winds when I took this photo on December 6, long before our first real snow on Dec. 16.  It does look frosty, though, doesn't it?  I put on my coat and headed down to the shore.  I stood with my back to the wind and the bite of the early morning sun seemed like golden ice as the wind tried tenaciously to remove my coat and shake my camera free from my hands.   I planted my feet wide and observed the morning.

As I went to photograph the largest of this pile of 'snow,' the wind picked a ball of it up as if to start a snowball fight.  The foam was light enough to fly and tumbled into the air like a ball of down but soon lost its mass and only left its tiny white tail of bubbles along the shore as it came to rest further up the mud flat that we call a 'beach'...

...and to think I might have missed this by staying in bed!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Montage of Blue Birds

In the cold of winter the birds have found our bird bath with the water heated to prevent freezing.  The air is dry and this may save their life this winter.  I did see these bluebirds bathing last month when the temperature was only in the low 40's F!  Even now they will dip their head completely in the water and shake it about!  We have a total of 4 bluebirds that have been visiting our water bar and staying around even though there is no music or colored lights.  Happy New Year!

This bird above is such a stunning blue in the early morning light.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Feeder Watch

You know that you have officially become an old fart when you start formalizing your relationship with birds.  This means that you spend $69.00 on a new heater for the bird bath because you cannot for the life of you remember where you stored the one you bought two years ago!  I know, it will definitely show up when I repack the Christmas decorations.  This also means that you join the two-day a week feeder watch program administered by Cornell University this winter.  It is a simple project in that you set the amount of time you want to watch, count the most birds of each species during that time, and fill in their database (IF THEY EVER GET AROUND TO SENDING THE PASSWORD TO THE DATABASE).  Otherwise you make chicken scratches on various pieces of paper and try to not lose them before the online database becomes available.  I watch two mornings a week for about an hour.  It has made me far more careful in trying to ID birds and I have already discovered a bird I have been mis-naming, I think and another that I am not sure of.  (Yes, that IS a preposition at the end of the sentence.)

Anyway, my feeders are kept full and one suet cake is out.  Anyway, the avian crowds get quite large sometimes and I am wondering if I need to put out a take-a-ticket machine so that they don't get too rough waiting for a feeder perch to open up.  Sort of reminds me of Black Friday....except no bird gets maimed, injured or killed in this sale, thus far! (Second photo.)

Below are the beautifully colored goldfinch.  This winter they are still quite yellow.  Imagine how lovely they will be in the spring when they get their bold mating colors.  (The odd mate out is a house finch with the faint red head.)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Backyard Bakery

An elfin baker with delight and mischief in his green eyes, and maybe with just a little waddle caused by his jolly fat belly, sprinkled sugar last week all over every flower petal in my front yard that refused to admit winter was coming.  He is such a prankster!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fall Romance

The fall has passed and I cannot complain because it lasted longer than I had ever hoped and it was lovelier in just my back yard than I can remember in a long time. There was no need to travel to the cooler mountains this year for the glory festival of colorful leaf flags.  Even the roasty browns that are left behind are lovely and warm like sable wraps.

I discovered by close observation that there also was a little romance between the grasses and the shrubs down by the river it seems, and it looks like some one got some bling before the snows arrived or the gift giving got formal!

I heart this.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Mine, Mine, Mine!

The seagulls of the world are often overlooked because of their accessibility and abundance and sometimes annoying behavior.  Most were thought to come from the large family Laurus which is a Greek word meaning ravenous sea bird. But the Laurus classification is now under question and they interbreed making identification a bit of a nightmare.  Do you remember the Disney animated movie Finding Nemo?  I thought the writers of that animated movie did a perfect job of capturing the personality of these birds by making them shriek "Mine!" "Mine!" "Mine!" as they hovered over food.  

One of their calls reminds me of the sound of a baby kitten whining for food and this is sometimes heard when you come upon them on the water just having chased a school of fish into the depths of the ocean and bemoaning their loss.  They have been known to eat squirrels and rodents if they can capture them.  They eat bugs and as you may have seen, like crows, get some food from garbage cans.  I remember seeing them fly over my dad's newly plowed fields in Colorado (far from any ocean) in the spring looking for worms, perhaps.  They are able to drink both fresh and salt water and they excrete the salt through special glands near their eyes.

They seem to be birds that are the most fearless of man and will hang close hoping you have something to throw into the air or onto the water to feed them.  Any well-salted carb will do.

These photos appear to be laughing gulls in their winter coloration. Don't hold me to that ID as there are many, many species with similar colorations.  Note the raised crown of feathers at the back of the head in the photo below.   There was no wind so I am thinking this was him/her  getting his/her dander up because we were getting too close. 

An thus he flew without too much of a splash.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

(no title)

parchment crisp petals
glowing beneath white diamonds
still hold golden warmth

(thanks to Dave for some motivation.)