New Bird

This time of year, as birds are flying north to their summer homes, we get several birds that aren’t with us all summer long. Dear Husband pointed out the return of the towhee roughly three weeks ago.  I was surprised to find that it is still visiting,

Last week I saw a rose-breasted grosbeak at the feeder.  In past years we’ve had evening grosbeaks visit, too.

This week we have had three male indigo buntings appear.  I had always thought that the indigo bunting was a bigger bird, so we had some discussion at the breakfast table about the beautiful blue, TINY birds in the shrubs.  They are about the size of the gold finches and house finches which have returned for the summer.  Like the cardinals, it’s the males who have the beautiful plumage.  I suspect that there are female indigo buntings out there, too, but I just haven’t recognized what I’m seeing.  I’ll have to check the summer range of the buntings to see if our back yard might fall in their summer range.

We saw our first heron early in April, and an egret about a week or so later, but the rest of the flock has been slow to arrive.  It’s just as well, because we’ve had a spring with surprisingly low temperatures.  DH tells me that an egret flew by the kitchen window this morning.  There are retention ponds just to the east of our house where we might see the herons and egrets.  I think walking past the ponds to see who’s visiting would be a great reason for an early morning walk.

I hope I’ll see the yellow-bellied sap sucker this year.

Visitors

We have been in our home twenty-five years.  We spend a lot of time looking out the windows at the wildlife.  I knew there were two species out there that I hadn’t seen, but this was my year to see them!

We have been seeing robins through out the winter!  About fifteen years ago I attended an Empty Nester breakfast with my mother, (I know…that sounds odd.  :-)  She lived with us.)  There was a speaker following the breakfast, who talked about local birds, and she said that we have robins year round.  I’m sure I made a face when she said that, because I had NEVER seen a robin in the winter.  Well, the woman was right.  I have no idea what they are eating, bur we have seen robins all through the winter, despite the fact that it’s been one of the worst winters on record.  Mother and DH and I used to have a race to see who was the first to sight a robin in the spring,  Little did we know that our birding skills were sadly lacking.

The second species that I have finally seen is coyote.  I’ve heard them, and seen them a mile away.  I’ve heard neighbors talking about being afraid for their small children and dogs, but I’d never seen one on our land.  In the last six weeks I’ve seen at least three.  The first looked pretty bad.  It’s fur looked torn, and it was emaciated.  No doubt anything it was used to eating was hibernating, and feet of snow weren’t making things any easier.

I saw a second trotting through north of the house, on an east to west route.  It looked as though it planned to cut through all the back yards as it hunted.  The third was a healthy looking young adult, sitting at the base of a choke cherry shrub quietly watching for any bird activity at the feeder.  We had a freak day of rain, following six weeks of arctic freeze and about 60 inches of snow.  The coyote was sitting quietly in the downpour, hoping for a bit of breakfast.  When he saw me watching him, he moved off to the north.  This winter has been really tough for anything that doesn’t have shelter.

Robins and coyotes.  I wonder what else we will see before we move?

Birdseed

I tried to talk Dear Husband into filling the bird feeders.  I said, “I think YOU should fill the feeders.”  I said it a couple of hours ago, and I said it at 3:30.

We’ve been having one of those lazy couch potato days.  We really should have been out running errands and getting ready for Christmas, but we were being  sloths.  DH had found the movie “Forever Young,” and I sat with him to watch, picking up my crocheting.

A storm is coming in.  There’s a white glow outside, not quite fog, but not yet snow.  I could see the feeders from where I was sitting on the couch, and knew the birds needed one more shot at some food before the weather closed in and the sun went down.

It was peaceful outside.  I could hear chickadees chattering, and there was a squirrel nearby, waiting for me to get out of the way.  I filled the two big feeders, and topped off the finch feeder.  I put down three ears of corn, and re-settled a dried sunflower  head so the squirrels could get to it, but couldn’t drag the entire thing away.

I’m glad I went out, glad for the birds and glad for myself.

Yup, I’ve been busy!

You have to know that if I’m away from my blog for three weeks, I’m busy.  I’m not quite sure what all I was doing, but I’ve been busy! lol

I think we saw the last of the herons and egrets about the middle of this month.  I’m always sad to see them go because they are such beautiful birds to watch.  Our weather has closed in and it’s pretty cold for the end of November.  In a week the family will be happy to be gathered in one warm place, visiting and celebrating Thanksgiving.

I have had a number of houseplant projects on my list of chores for the past month, and got to them today.  The aloe plant needed to be re-potted.  I learned that aloe needs less water than I have been giving it.  Did you know that when you re-pot aloe, you don’t water it for a week??  I was astonished to learn that.

I have a geranium that I bought when I was visiting with Frankie in central Indiana.  I have that geranium in pale pink and in hot fuchsia.  I wintered it over last year and it did well when I returned it to the front porch.  This fall a couple of the branches were broken, so I put them in water to start roots.  Today I potted two of them.  We moved the larger plants into the sunny window of the office for the winter.

I have had a Norfolk pine growing in my living room for years.  The plant has done very well, but the terra cotta pot it was in was beginning to crumble.  I’ve been meaning to re-pot the pine for the past year.  I FINALLY put down a plastic table cloth, brought in a new pot, potting soil, gloves and a sharp knife.  I slid the knife along the inside of the pot to be sure the roots were loose.  Dear Husband came along to give a hand lifting the pine from the old pot to the new, and lifting the new pot to it’s new home.  I’m really relieved to be able to cross off all these potting projects off my to-do list.

If I didn’t tell you, Scraps on a Mission has ended for the year.  I have eight small quilts that need to be delivered and six thank you notes to write.  I found a bolt of batting on sale for one quarter of the original price and picked that up so that we will be ready for the coming year.  The final count for 2013 was 58 quilts, with one woman making about 26 of them.  We gave some lovely quilts.  I’m working on baby quilts for my family now.

I’ve been crocheting in the evening when I sit with DH.  Charity Crochet Exchange on Facebook does a project each month.  They ask for six-inch and twelve-inch squares, and request a specific color plan for each project.  I’ve been doing very basic squares for them.  I figure that my simple blocks make a background for those who do the lovely work.  I just finished 52 six-inch squares for a Meals on Wheels auction.  They can either put together one afghan in white, aqua and teal from these blocks. or disburse the squares through out the other projects.  The next project is in shades of pink, with white and/or black. I’m glad to have something to keep my hands busy at night.

Dear Husband is Christmas shopping on line.  Now that he is retired, and has more time to play at the computer, I find him in the office looking for a new home, or shopping.  I’m delighted that he has taken over this activity.  I’m happy to wrap the gifts

And last, we have taken our home off the market for the winter.  I don’t want to have to clean up after people who come to look at the house during the holidays, and I don’t want to have to keep it super clean so that they can come to look.  We may have a stager come in to help us make the house as appealing as possible, and perhaps I can persuade DH to make some minor changes that might make it easier to sell.  I’m happy to have one more winter in the house. :-)

I hope that those of you who visit here are well, and getting ready for Thanksgiving,

There’s a HAWK

,,,sitting not 15 feet away from me on a branch of the magnolia outside the office window.  He’s been there for at least  fifteen minutes, sitting and watching for little visitors or meals to come by.

I’ve looked on-line for pictures of hawks to determine what kind of hawk he is, and my best guess is a Red-tailed hawk.  He’s sitting with his back to me.  He’s at least twelve inches tall, probably more.  He has a brown back with white speckles or spots lining the outer sides of his back.  He has white-ish gray feathers folded behind his tail feathers, and it looks as though there are white-ish stripes on the back of his head.  He’s a very handsome bird.  Hmmm…no red tail.  I’ll have to check the bird books.

He’s sitting on a shaded branch where the forsythia in front gives him cover.  HIs head has been swiveling, watching everything around him.  I thought for a moment that he might be aware of me, when the cloud cover made the light from the monitor more obvious, but he didn’t leave.

I’m on the opposite side of the house from the bird feeders.  This is the first time I can remember having seen a bird this large so close to this side of the house.  Usually we see them using the bird feeders to hunt up a meal.

He ruffled his feathers and there are considerably more white feathers than I realized.

My quilting bee is coming to dinner.  I can’t stay to watch any longer, darn it!

Birds!

I believe that I have seen some birds that I have never seen before!

In a grassy area not terribly far from a good-sized retention pond, we saw a bird that ran like a water bird or piper.  It had two distinctive dark bands at it’s throat.  I didn’t have binoculars with me to get a look at the beak, but DH says it’s not terribly long.  When I checked the bird books, it looks as though we may have seen a “killdeer.”  I’m uncertain about that spelling, but that’s what Wikipedia said.

Then, we were on our way to exercise on Friday, and drove between two very large marshy areas where we normally see egrets and herons.  At the edge of the water, in the reeds, we saw two large birds, which were facing us.  Their heads and chests were a rusty, tawny color, and they look more substantial than the blue herons.  When I searched the bird books, the closest bird I found was a juvenile common crane.  Since we couldn’t see their backs, we couldn’t tell if they might be sand hill cranes, but they had the right shape for some type of crane.   Of course, they were gone when we made the return trip, or very well camouflaged.

I don’t keep a life list, but it’s always fun to add new birds to the mental list of birds that I’ve seen.

The Days of My Life

This morning I was thinking about how time moves through my life.  Like my mother, I mark the passage of time by what is blooming outside my windows.  I’m positive that I could find an entry in my blog archives for the day each year when I noticed that the squill leaves had appeared, or the squill was in bloom.

Mother was very aware of the quality of light, and I am aware of the change of the angle of light.  I’m going to have to adjust my summer habits so that I can work in the studio very early in the morning, when the best light of the day comes in the east window.

The Ice Follies daffodils have been fabulous this year.  The weather has cooperated for the first time in a number of years to give a longer period of cool temps which those daffodils prefer.  Today I noticed that the Darwin Hybrid tulips were in full bloom and I believe the star magnolia will open tomorrow.

I’m going to cut daffodils for the kitchen counter.  I have so many different types of blooms that I should be able to have a continuous decoration for the next several weeks.

The gold finches have returned!  I saw both a male and a female waiting their turns at the feeder.  It won’t be long before we have crowds of them.  I’ll have to top off the finch feeder with nyger seed.

The chives are up, and I can see green at the base of the mounds of oregano and in the thyme.  The Lamb’s Ears are greening up, and I have day lily and purple cone flower leaves.  It’s time to return St. Francis to the herb garden.

I know that there are people who would find my life dull, but I love the constancy, and knowing what to anticipate.  A few more weeks and the peonies and iris will be decorating the gardens, my favorite time of year.  This is my own little bit of heaven.

New Bird

Dear Husband came out to the kitchen to sit this morning and said, “There’s a gross beak!  Wait, that’s not right.”  I walked over to look out the window, and there is our token Rufous Sided Towhee!  DH realized the colors were right, but the beak was wrong for a gross beak.  I had no idea that he had been paying attention to the birdwatching that had gone on when my mother was with us.  Clearly, he’s interested.

We get several birds who stop by on their way to more northerly homes for the summer.  It’s time to watch for the yellow-bellied sapsucker, and the evening gross beak.

 

P.S. Cop Car, I checked, and it’s an Eastern Towhee, not a Spotted Towhee! *G*

Egret!

I know that Cop Car will ask, “Which kind?”  and of course  wasn’t able to compare it to those in my bird books.  We were driving to exercise yesterday, April 12th, and Dear Husband saw the first of the egrets in the retention pond just down the road.  I’ll be a terrible driver in that area for the next seven months or so, as I try to get a look at the egrets and herons.

I posted his./her coming on Facebook, and suggested that this is a scout, come to make sure that the weather is ready for them.  He may turn around and go back to the flock and tell them to hold off:  it’s still winter here!

My-Sister-The-Nurse lives about 45 minutes south of us, and she says they have had egrets and herons for some time, but they look a little strange with their ear muffs and boots! *G*

I’m glad they are back.  It’s a piece of the Spring jigsaw puzzle that we’ve been waiting to find, and it feels good to know we are closer to our warmer weather.

I’d Call It Spring!

Up until today I wasn’t willing to say that spring had arrived.  I know that once we get to the Vernal Equinox, it’s technically spring, but we weren’t seeing signs of it in things that should be green or blooming.

And then we came to April 9, 2013, and everything that grows is telling us that SPRING IS HERE!  We’ve had some pretty bad thunderstorms for the past couple of nights.  Thunder and lightening woke me briefly last night, and we could hear heavy rain on the skylights early in the day.  The result?  Grass greening up, and the squill has formed a tight green mass around one of the trees.

I have Ice Follies daffodils in bloom!  There are pods of daffodil greens coming up in all the gardens.  Tulips and hyacinths are beginning to show flower development, and the iris are shooting up.  I need to add some dirt around the iris corms.  Some of them are sitting on top of the dirt, where the soil has eroded away during the winter.

We still haven’t seen herons or egrets this far north.   I know they are down near I80, but it’s much warmer there.  We’re keeping  watch.  I think by next week we may see them.   Red wing blackbirds, Eastern starlings, starlings, Blue Jays, flocks of robins and house finches have returned.   The cardinal songs are loud and long. Chickadees and juncos are still here.  I’ll be watching for the visitors who stop off on their way north, like the yellow bellied sap sucker, and the gross-beaks.  We rarely get more than a couple off those birds, so it’s really fun to see them visit.

Our house is very clean and tidy.  No one has come to see it in the last week, but that’s okay.  We have long been confident that it will take us a while to find the right buyer.  Meanwhile, we continue to work on the grounds and the basement and the garage.  I think we will have time to let the exercise class come for breakfast in May.

I’m ready for the forsythia to bloom, and the star magnolia to burst into flower.  I’m eager to see if the new hydrangeas have made it through the winter.  I want the trees to shade us from the increasing hours of sunshine.  I’m READY!!!  Come on, Spring!