Wednesday, June 21, 2017

And the Sun Returns


The sun has made its farthest reach to the west in this photo and now that summer solstice has arrived it will begin its journey back again to the left in the photo above.  I have been indoors during this magic hour most evenings because it is after dinner and dishes and I have put my feet up.  But the red in the window caught my eye and even though I had just changed into my nightwear I put on sandals and hurried down to the dock to capture such a lovely sunset.    (At my age I no longer care if neighbors catch me in my jammies.  It is an honor to be the subject of gossip rather than forgotten.)

The menhaden have started their dance up into my small finger of the river.  They are small fish that flash silver when they flip to swallow more plankton for dinner.  They swim in ballet groups of dozens and we saw several of these groups.  Next, they will be followed by those that eat them.  It is a constant drama.

There was a soft breeze that swept away the heat and humidity of the day and there was an added bonus of no biting flies or mosquitoes to distract from trying to keep the camera steady.

(Colors are true and not enhanced.)
Even when I turned around to head back to the house there was a different show going on behind me.


Glad to share my blessings on this day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Who is that Tapping at My Window Pane?

The Blue Birds remain at my house this week.  (My prior post on this is here.)  The male and female arrive each morning just before sunrise and start at the deck perching on the backs of the chairs and staring at me on the couch with my laptop and coffee in hand.  This photo below is grainy because of the darkness of the morning I had to push the exposure.




I know they must see me because it is too early for the sun's reflection to hide the room. There is a lamp over my shoulder which has to open that part of the room to some glow and reveal my movements. They twitter almost timidly as only the Blue Bird can and then they thrust themselves at the windows for about ten minutes.  Their tapping against the window sounds careless as if they have tripped on their way somewhere and have to catch their balance.

I recently moved the potted geranium to protect it more from the hot summer sun and the Blue Bird appeared almost immediately to eat the bugs that I had exposed.



Lately, they have moved to the front of my house and do the same window pane "thrust and parry" there. I have recently discovered that they have a nest in a box on the post below the deck and at the side of the patio below. Not sure how they will have energy left to raise young ones since they seem to be constantly fighting with their imaginary neighbors. It is well into June and this will probably be a second nest for experienced parents, or a first if they are new to the routine this year. 




Hubby says they are defending their territory and seeing reflections of themselves in the windows around the house and I am sure he is correct. I am startled some mornings when I go to make coffee and find both of them peering in from the kitchen windowsill only inches from my nose until I flick on the light and they fly away.




A few years ago it was the constant and gentle tapping of the male Cardinal and that went on for about a month.  Cardinals do not nest in boxes, so they must have a had a nest high in the trees somewhere.  I wonder if I will miss the Blue Birds as I did the Cardinal.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Frittering Around

Early in the spring, maybe early April, while the weather was still cool, I saw a Monarch butterfly sailing across my yard and stopping at the tight green buds of the butterfly weed that was slowly emerging in one of my flower beds. I felt a pang of concern that he/she had flown here so early.  I had not seen a single butterfly other than this one and there was no nectar for sustenance.   The iris were blooming as were Columbine, but no substantial energy seemed available for this insect carrying some magnificent abstract orange and black art on its back.

We are now well into June and butterflies of all types are crossing the lawn to check out the butterfly weed, the Echinacea, the lavender, the primrose, etc.  

Below are a few of my visitors these past two weeks.

Checkered White---Pontia protodice

One of the skippers, a little blurry.

American Lady ? a little tattered from the storms.

Spicebush Swallowtail---Papilio troilus

Zebra swallowtail---Eurytides marcellus

Black swallowtail---Papilio polyxenes

Great spangled fritillary(?)---Speyeria aphrodite

They really do compete with the blossoms!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Lace



There are places in my yard where the wild Queen Anne's Lace can bloom. Other places the groundhog or the rabbit have made their salad of the stems and leaves. This plant, with its multiple platters of white lace, has decided to grow in the very middle of a dense bed of iris rhizomes and leaves. Its stem is hidden and it has grown three feet high allowing me to do all kinds of fun things with the camera.  A relative of the carrot and sometimes called "wild carrot" it is really somewhat invasive in certain areas.  In my garden beds, I can easily pull up most of the new plants in spring and leave just a few for these lacey caps.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Impending


The calm before the storm is never as calm as it seems. The noises are quieter, but if you stand ever so still and hold your breathing, they are there.

The squirrels do their acrobatic show high in the 150-foot tulips, where the air is thin, leaping fearlessly from branch tip to branch tip and causing a rustling that you can hear, barely, if you listen. They land perfectly and the movement of the branch is the only evidence unless a rare leaf gets knocked to the lawn.  When you look up you may see a brown shadow disappear on the other side of that big oak tree.

The noisy frogs have grown quiet and bees no longer buzz.  The birds are no longer singing, but they do chirp unrhythmically in the deep green shade of the forest as if moving a twig here or there to gird their nest for the impending wind and rain and shushing the little ones who may be afraid of the darkness in midday.

Some larger animal moves carefully in the ravine with the snap of a twig.  Perhaps it is that young doe that grazes at the edge of the lawn each morning as I watch from the kitchen window with my first coffee. She is usually hard to startle but she also must be heading for shelter as she dips her head below the branches of the holly tree.

The lawn mowers and leaf blowers are finally silent in the neighboring yards and wheeled items rumble toward the garages or sheds for shelter.

I hear the first rumble coming from down at the end of the river and when I look in that direction I see a blue gray ridge of clouds spreading.  The tops of the trees across the river fling wildly back and forth against the gray backdrop.  I sigh.  I also will now have to seek shelter.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Wake Up Call

About 50% of the time my evenings are good and long and I am well rested. Some evenings I wake up after 5 hours of sleep due to a sound, due to a bathroom call, or for no reason at all! I get up and go into the living room to read because I know it will take me some time to get sleepy again. I usually fall asleep on the couch and get awakened by hubby when he comes in to fix himself some breakfast. Yesterday morning as I was in a deep sleep on the couch, I was awakened at sunrise by a tapping at my deck window. I ignored it and tried to fall asleep once again. The tapping was repeated again after a few minutes. I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus toward the deck and the window. I saw a male Blue Bird throwing himself, gently, against the window and flying up and down in repeated attempts. I have read that this usually means he is jousting with his reflection in order to demand territory before mating. When I got my glasses on I saw this below.




The pair, male and female, waited patiently until I could get their photo through the window which is why all of these photos are a bit blurry and a bit noisy.  Then they flew to the deck chair.


The female started a bit of a dance, or was getting rid of bugs, or making some statement that eluded me.


Perhaps she was all aquiver in anticipation of her lover's gestures?
Then she smoothed herself and looked at me in the window...or perhaps looked at her reflection to see if her feathers were all smoothed out?




The male decided to do a little "s-wing" dancing and was certainly more Fred Astaire than she was Ginger Rogers in his grace.






This lasted a while and then he flew to the window and raced up and down it for three or four times before falling unceremoniously into the geranium pot.


Eventually, they both decided to get a closer look at me in my pajamas and perched on the door handle.






Yes, they have spit all over the windows and I will have to wash them again when they are finished with this mating ritual.  (They were at the windows again this morning and through mid-day..one would think they had better things to do if they want to start a family!