Tag Archives: Birds

Winter – is it over yet?

No, but the page for January has been torn from the calendar. It was a slow month, a healing month with lots of resting under cozy quilts – with days when I felt like a hibernating bear. winter quilt  The good news is that the big boot has now been retired to the closet. Another month of caution and care has been prescribed, but healing is well under way in my bones and I am grateful.

The month began with robins celebrating the New Year here. The large holly tree we watch is at the front of the house and the bird bath at the back. There was constant activity and socializing for several days until the trees were stripped of every berry. Something we note every year – they eat the berries they pick fresh from the tree and ignore any that have fallen.

robins

I tend to wake early most days and love to open the shade and watch as night fades away. Some days there is drama, others just a gradual lightening of gray, but always there is beauty as the new day of promise dawns.dawning

My small world has been enlivened with candle light candle light and more bird watching.   Days I hear the Carolina Wren even before sunrise, his cheery wake-up call is very welcome. We have many woodpeckers: the Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Flicker will all come to the suet feeder outside our kitchen door.

This is a Northern Flicker.Flicker Several days I watched one or two poking about in the lawn/field for the longest time. They did seem to be successful in their hunting.

My month of self care has been full of reading, stitching, tea and coffee drinking, letter writing and musings. I found my word for the year – Trust – and started a notebook for verses, quotes and thoughts. notebookI also received a wonderful gift for this time when I discovered a month long online writing course from the very gracious and encouraging Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Each day was informative and thought provoking. The material she provided will be teaching me for quite some time – helping me to discover myself as a writer.

I’m watching my indoor garden plants come into bloom. I so appreciate the life and color they add to my life.

 Christmas cactus

I hope your January offered fulfillment and joy. May you be blessed in the coming month.

October Days

tree

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Just a few more things as we leave this October…

tree   This tree. I can see it across the field, leaves all a-quiver even on the calmest days. Like a Quaking Aspen. Golden leaves in autumn, like an Aspen. I used to think that was its identity and I waited for it to grow into the white bark. But it didn’t. And actually, when I really looked at them, the leaves are all wrong for a Quaking Aspen – too rough around the edges. It is possibly a Bigtooth Aspen or maybe even an Eastern Cottonwood. But, no doubt , it belongs to the genus Populus with its quivering leaves.  As tall as it has grown, It is impossible to see the catkins in spring, so I may never really know. But then, I don’t need to know its formal name. I can just enjoy this happy tree, so sensitive to the slightest breeze.

mushroom   This is actually not an October find, but I just need to share it!  We went to the park down by the river and I spotted this as we pulled into the parking space. As large as a good sized cauliflower and nestled as the base of an oak tree. Cauliflower mushroom is its actual name and they are edible. Best harvested when white, cleaned thoroughly and cooked. Maybe next year! My research says that they tend to colonize in the same area year after year. Oh, and they are related to the Hen of the Woods mushrooms that you can find in your grocery store. wood ear

Loch RavenI hadn’t driven through the reservoir in a while. But on a particularly lovely day, I stopped. I have several observation points along the portion that allows parking. When I first stopped, I spotted a goose who appeared to be the watchman. He stood in one place for the longest time while the other birds foraged. A car pulled up and that drew all the ducks to the curb, looking for a bit of bread to go with the bugs, I suppose, They were disappointed and had quite a lot to say about it. I moved on down the drive to a more quiet stretch, to have a bit of forest quiet and my own lunch.

Carolina wren   Our house wrens fly south come fall, but then the chubby little  Carolina wren makes itself known. They sing loudly! And they mimic other birds’ songs and calls. They are almost always busy flitting about under the shrubbery and shy away from having their picture taken. I was happy to catch this one!

Last Friday, my hubby came home from an early morning meeting and couldn’t wait to show me photos he had taken before the dawn. A sliver of moon and Jupiter! Beautiful. We made plans to go back to that site and watch for the sunrise on Saturday. With coffee and a breakfast nibble, we waited. Of course, the sky is never the same two days in a row. The moon was slimmer and paler and Jupiter was moving farther in its course, but it was a lovely adventure all the same.

                 sunrise  sunrise   20161029_072431

Everyday things really are amazing in variety and complexity.

maple tree

Longings

Tim Willard in Longing for More, week 17, reflected on the mystery of beauty – it’s draw on our souls, the need to stop and see. I have found many writers who train my eyes, speak to my soul. My friend, Marta, challenges me the same way. Will I be still, will I allow myself to see, to rest in the seeing?

Twice in April, we were able to get away to the park. While the area we go to has a beach, it is the woodland that we enjoy. Each table really has a different view, almost a different plant environment.

park in AprilNot many people this Sunday, so the park is quiet with only occasional boat sounds from the river, bike tires whizzing by or the small birds that flit and do the original twitter. Bees buzz in blooms so small, I must bend low to look into the beauty. We are refreshed.

At the park week 2A week passes – we choose a different table. Fresh leaves shine green on some trees this clear day. On others, there are still buds of promise. Not so many wildflowers at this site. Here we have mosses and flowering trees and shrubs.  Mini suns – and a moon – explode from the ground nearby. dandylions

We picnic with hot soup and sandwiches then sit enjoying the last of our time here. I lean back to look up at the shining green against the clear blue. Sweet gum leaves like stars. Sweet GumThen looking beyond the canopy, I see them. Bald Eagles riding the currents, sky surfing!

bald eagle

This place is like a soul spa. A soaking, cleansing, refreshing place. A place displaying the beauty, mystery and wonder of Creator God.

Tim ended Week 17 with this prayer,  “Lord Jesus, I love how you unfold your truth in the mystery of your glory. Thank you for thinking of me enough to delight my sense with all that you are. ”             Amen!

 

 

 

February Quiet

January ended with deep snow and cold blowing in snow   the Snow Queen took up residence snow    and has been reluctant to leave, affecting this whole month. Barely had one storm been cleared when the next blew in. While this week brought heavy rains and flooding, there are still tall mounds of icy snow in some yards and many parking lots a month later.

squirrel  This guy was a frequent visitor harassing the birds and learning tricks to steal their food.  squirrel

Of course, he wasn’t the only animal out looking for a good meal. deer  Not that there is much left to browse, but still they come, now by the herd. deer

Usually February is the time to pour over seed and plant catalogs, dreaming of beautiful, lush flower beds, fragrant herbs and bountiful vegetables. No more.

The robins are delighted that neither deer nor squirrels have a taste for holly.  I spied them at the bird bath   robins   and realized they must be stripping the tree by the front deck, and they were.

Holly

For my indoor gardening efforts – a sunny window, occasional water – and the amaryllis are finally coming along. amaryllis  These bulbs are at least two years with me and get exactly the same care.  They seemed quite healthy when I potted them up so I find it very odd that one has no leaves, just the bloom stalk. It was very, very slow to even decide to put forth that effort. A mystery.

snowdrops

I’ll close now with the lovely, lovely snowdrops – pulsing with life, they pushed through frozen ground and soggy leaves this week. Like little bells ringing out good news – Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

I’m almost ready.

Adventuring

We didn’t go to the river park as much as we had hoped this fall. When the weather turned spring-like, we knew we must go right then. So we did! We stopped for sandwiches on the way for our lunch.

Our favorite table was out of the question with Mr. Wind raining leaves and acorns with great abandon. So we chose a lone table under a maple tree still holding on to a few leaves. After lunch and a bit of reading, the tree caught my interest. maple  I realized what a sheltering presence it is, hosting a sapling deeply rooted between the two trunks.  IMG_7028  Further up there were deep folds that might shelter a small bird in wind or rain or cold. Then even higher, a hole, probably made by a woodpecker which will surely be used by a squirrel or birds as a winter night bedroom. IMG_7031   Then, down at the ground, almost hidden by the leaves, I saw an entrance to a space… perhaps used by small creatures or perhaps by fairies…  IMG_7034   We lingered through the afternoon finally leaving to enjoy the setting sun coloring the tree tops on our drive home.

A Pondering: Did you ever hear songbirds at night in the fall? I learned that most song birds that migrate, do so at night. Amazing! Navigation by sun and stars to places the newly fledged birds have never seen – and they go without a guide or map. Amazing!

A day for musing

A quiet day, much of it spent almost nose to the ground picking up wood shaken from the trees in wind and rain. I’m mindful that this is minor damage and very grateful that our saturated ground was spared the hurricane hit. But it is a tiring chore.

So I’m sharing a brief September trip to Ithaca, home of a dear family member. As I have noted a number of times, I’m smitten with the bird cams sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

During a leisurely breakfast, we watched the live-streaming of the historic inauguration of Cornell’s new President, Elizabeth Garrett, the prelude to Homecoming Weekend. Although there were many events planned on campus, we managed to evade them all and see the things really important to Elaine :) The field light post where the hawklets were born and fledged was the first stop…

lamp post

It was lovely to stand and look around at the sights we watch on the bird cam. Then it was off to Sapsucker Woods to see the cams at the feeders and on the pond. feeders    sapsucker woods pond

It was a brilliant late afternoon and a luxury to sit on the well placed bench with family and enjoy this peaceful place.  Later we were off to the fabulous Zaza’s to celebrate my upcoming birthday. There, after a wonderful meal,  I met my new dessert love – Affogato al Caffè – “Freshly brewed espresso poured over creamy vanilla gelato”, and, available as de-caf! Such a satisfying day!

sapsucker woods pond

Hummer friends

HummerThe 13th of September, we noticed something a bit odd, a female hummingbird perched on a chair outside the kitchen door and later I saw this one. It was if she was saying farewell, rather than just waiting to have a drink. Mystery. How do they know how long to stay? Where will this bird go?

It is always a bit sad when they leave. So tiny to leave such large emptiness behind.

And then… the notice came… Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology has a new bird cam on-line…  migrating hummingbirds!

Here in the East, we have only the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This cam is located in a remote research site along the known hummingbird migration path and a dozen species can be seen at the feeders!

If these magnificent small wonders interest you, have a look.

Winged news

The hummingbirds are back in town. I had great viewing of “Sit & Sip”. This photo is from her old album!

HummerThis time of year the chores are never ending. I try to pace myself through the gardens and wild spaces by plant emergence. I rounded the corner one morning and was shocked to find this mess:

stump

IMG_5505

Just a stumpy piece of wood sitting in the garden. I wondered… and today, I know for sure.

Pileated Woodpecker. Somehow I deleted the best photo of this amazing bird, but I’ll be on the watch now. We have a number of rotting stumps and slices from past tree removal so I know it will be back; I hope I’ll be ready for the photo op!

The work progresses:

   stump       stump

 woodpecker