Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dagnabbit Rabbit

After the loss of many new plants, some purchased at great expense and others nurtured from seedlings many, many weeks ago, I have managed to finish an area of the fence to keep out the lone rabbit that insists on making my flower garden his early morning and early evening buffet. It makes me sick to walk outside and see a stump where a lovely plant once was. I am taking and showing some photos, just in the event there are none to show when he digs his new hole under the fence.

It looks better than it actually is.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Tiny Visitors

I recently purchased a new camera for travel. Different brand with different fittings than my Canon which means I could not use my macro lens that fit on my Canon. Still, I was out trying to get some close-ups of my tiny visitors. It is a challenge to get details with a long lens even though today's cameras have lots of technology to assist with blurring. This new camera has a different lens stabilization system which I do not fully understand. In doing my research before buying this camera, a photography site to which I belong recommended that I download the 400-page manual(!) to be sure I understood everything. Needless to say, thus far I have ignored reading (just as most of our well-paid folks in Congress have ignored reading their homework), but since I have a free weekend ahead, I will start reading soon!

Above a little work with exposure, but nothing else. Still too dark. I tend to shoot dark because I tend to overexpose and thus overcompensate!

Above, the same photo was photoshopped and the new technologies do compensate for ones skill-less use of the camera.

Above, one with a little change to exposure and below lots of adjusting in Photoshop Elements.  The second photo at full resolution does show some artifacts on the edges where contrast is greatest.

Below is just some pretty stuff.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

My Yard is a Soap Opera--Perhaps a Bit Long--But You Do Get Addicted

(Go get some coffee or tea, as this will take a while.)

We have many birds in our yard. We have lots of bugs, and in the fall, lots of seeds, so the birds are in abundance. About 50% of our dozen or so birdhouses get filled each spring. We seem to have lots of cardinals, but their obvious bold, red color might make us think we have more than other species. My brief experience with them has shown they build their nests only three to four feet high in the shrubbery or small trees. 

One cardinal decided to build her nest in my rather sparse yellow climbing rose. Admittedly, the rose was healthier during her building days.

My roses do not really grow well here, and before summer gets into full swing the roses get black spot or drop leaves for other reasons, etc. I was trimming the dead roses a few weeks ago and suddenly something flew squawking into my face! If you looked closely at the photos below, you will see a mama cardinal sitting on a nest in the mid-right of the photo with her bright orange bill. The second photo was taken later in the season after the rose leaves had started to fall and the nest was empty.

The green tape above is where I had to tie up the nest so that it was level!! Explanation to follow. Soon when I visited and the mother was gone or frightened by my closeness while weeding I was able to capture this below.

The nest was not very neat and certainly constructed at an angle. When I went out a few days later, there was only one egg in the nest! I looked around on the ground and found the other egg that had rolled out of the slanted nest. I picked up the egg, which seemed undamaged, put it in the nest next to the other egg and pushed the rose branches a bit tighter against the trellis making the nest more level and less rocky. I used those green tapes to tie it tighter. The whole time I was doing this, the female and male were perched on the tomato cages 20 feet away and hissing at me fearfully, or angrily, or a bit of both. I walked away to wait and see if the female would return to the nest after my home improvements. After a while, she did and was back sitting on both eggs. I got busy with my life ( I do have one on rare days and weeks) and did not get back to the nest until five days later when I took this photo below.

Then my life went on and we had a rather nasty rain storm two days later, so I went out to check and this is photo I took below. 

Eyes not open and just little pin feathers for wings.

The weather cooperated for a few more days and I tried to give mama her space when I pulled weeds and watered.  She tolerated me barely.

One day while I was carrying pulled weeds to the burn pile I grabbed my camera to see if I could get a photo and luck had it that mama was off her nest and this is what I captured.

A face only a mother could love?  I was worried about the lack of shade, and in spite of the cries from mama and papa, I picked some hosta leaves and tucked them above the nest in the trellis to act as shade umbrellas.  I watched after I left and they both returned to feed the little fellow.

This drama continued for three or four more days until I went out one morning and found the nest empty! I was certain that the little fellow could not yet fly and so I looked down below into the flower bed.  

I carefully parted the leaves of the plants while the parents continued to squawk at me and I was so relieved to find the little fellow flat on the damp ground.  I placed him carefully in my hands.  He was so light and as warm as a muffin from the oven.  His little claws clung to my fingers such that I had to gently shake him to get him to release back into the nest.  He was damp and tired but I saw he was starting to get his mohawk on!

I turned to mama and papa and gently scolded them for being careless with this one surviving offspring and went back into the house.  Whether they thought I had stolen him or whether they understood I had rescued their babe, I will never know!  They returned to feeding and he returned to growing in jumps.

Thus I noticed the nest on May 14th, discovered the eggs on May 22nd, noticed the little one had hatched on May 27th,.  By June 1st he was clamoring for food.  He fell out of the nest the night of June 2nd and I put him back in the nest June 3rd.   When I went out to check on the nest June 6th, below is what I found.

The parents were not around to scold me and I am guessing with all the dangers this little guy encountered he was force to get on with his life sooner rather than later.  At least that is my belief!!  I like happy endings and I am amazed that we have any birds at all in this world.

Monday, June 03, 2019

They Are Not On My Shoulders...Yet

Last month I saw the bluebirds take a break from raising their young in the front yard by coming out to my back deck to bathe in peace and quiet. I am guessing they were tired of looking at vast open mouths.  They spent all day bringing bugs from the vegetable garden into the little wood house at the corner of the garden.  Earlier in the month, I saw two males on my deck which is a somewhat unusual sighting being together during the mating season.

They both were still in their brilliant blue mating colors.  The birdbath is a bit of a spa these days, as the fragrant petals of the Meyer lemon tree keep falling into it.

As the new month started, I was able to open the eating area windows after the rains cooled to let fresh air into the house.  That was when I could hear that familiar little timid chatter that is their song. You can Google the sound, but it is like trickling water and with a silver musical note. Never bold or loud, but certainly insistent.  It sounds like gossiping to me sometimes!  I looked out the patio doors and saw this couple below on the back of one of my chairs.

At first, I thought that their babes must have fledged as the birds were at my deck every single day. Sometimes bathing and sometimes just hanging out and grooming.

It wasn't until my husband suggested it, that I realized they were feeding young in a birdbox that has not been occupied for some time and is just beneath our deck.  Maybe this is a second batch or just another couple with new ones!

Our bluebirds are not seasonal but stay in our woods year-round and bring brilliant color after a heavy snow when they visit the heated watering dish. 

Wondering if I put a caterpillar on my shoulder he would take the invite.