Archive for the ‘bird watching’ Category

July Rain

My goal last night was to do some gardening today.

I woke up this morning to find that Mother nature was refilling my rain barrel at a very steady rate.

I decided to take photos of the front yard in lieu of actually working on it. It was a great sacrifice: by the time I got back inside the house my jeans were soaked to the knees, my hair looked like I had been standing in the shower, my windbreaker was dripping and I badly needed another cup of coffee.

My lovely prickly pear cactus that never blooms.

A touch of front porch color. I haven’t killed it (yet). I usually end up killing my hanging basket flowers. I think the rain we’ve had this summer has saved this one (so far).

The pale pink rhododendron is much prettier in bloom, when the bumblebees cover it. I planted the hostas two summers ago and they have eked out an existence under the rhodie. I think I need a better plan for the hostas but I haven’t come up with one.

Oh look! Raindrops on the camera lens! This is the dark pink rhodie under which I have a hosta, some honesty plants (now past), some lilies and the forsythia. There’s some foxglove back in there, too, but I am afraid it is year one for that pretty biennial. I lost the established foxgloves last winter. It’s sure weird what plants you lose and what manage to make it through the winter.

This is the mid-pink rhodie, not as dark as the one and not as pale as the other. It needs so much pruning! There’s a stack of pruned branches sitting there on the base of it because I got in there and trimmed it up, cut out a bunch of dead stuff and tried to open it up. Don hauled half of it off already. I need to trim more.

I have bear grass under this rhodie, some wild licorice ferns, bunchberries that need to be moved to a better location (they don’t like the rhododendron and the constant layer of fallen leaves, and fringe cups all growing under this bush – all native plants I have gathered and transplanted (with a permit, of course). Nothing grows right under the rhododendrons except the native “Boston” -type ferns. Even the licorice ferns appear to be trying to escape the alkali soil and lack of sunlight…

The side closest to the front door with my store-bought picket fence. The Dianthus (Sweet Williams) are all falling over themselves in an attempt to escape the rhodie.

I planted this hydrangea seven years ago. It is nestled under the lone tree in our yard, a half-dead Lodgepole pine that we hang our bird feeders from. I chose the spot carefully: I wanted my hydrangea flowers to be blue. The color of the flowers is dependent on the acidity of the soil.

This poor bush doesn’t grow very quickly. The tree saps the water from the soil. I forget to water it and it is in direct sunlight most of the day. But after seven years, it has begun to hold a nice round shape and it shows signs of surviving the Lodgepole pine.

The pine has a fungus inside of it. I don’t want to cut it down because it holds my bird feeders. It isn’t a big tree and our house is in no danger should it ever fall. It’s just that it is our only tree and the birds love it.

Rain drenched day lilies. These were salvage plants. I brought them home and planted them in the grass in front of the retaining wall and hoped they would live. Day lilies are rather like irises and Shasta daisies. You have to work hard to kill them. I picked a place where I knew I would never want to move them from. They thrive on lack of water and neglect and they reward you with a couple weeks of beautiful blooms.

And, yes, my car door is open in the background. I was still unloading groceries when I decided I needed to take some photos of the front. In the rain.

The ever-popular bird bath, overflowing in the rain.

I had no idea how popular a bird bath would be when I bought my first one last summer (it froze and broke in half. Don purchased this one-piece concrete one for me to replace it).

Last summer, I had the bird bath closer to the house. This year, I put it closer to the retaining wall and the day lilies, where the birds could see cats coming. The change in location seemed to help: it gets used by crows, the band-tailed pigeons, robins and more.

Robins especially like the bird bath. This guy was so soaked that he had to sit on the edge a few minutes to allow his feathers to dry! Robins won’t use the bird feeders but they love-love-love bird baths.

The water in the yard art more than doubled since yesterday. Little rain gauges.

A lovely shot of the weeds in front of the garage door: forget-me-nots, dandelions, false dandelions and more. I was going to pull weeds today but instead Mother Nature watered and they will grow taller before I get to pulling them.

Last (but not least) my lovely yucca. It was also a salvage plant. The guy up the street had it sitting on the curb with a sign that read “FREE”. that was five years ago. It’s grown, it’s bloomed every year, and I completely forget about it when it isn’t blooming. I love my yucca and it loves me.

There’s a weed growing in it that is nearly as tall as the yucca itself. I keep forgetting to pull the weed.

The creek beyond the yucca is the street I live on. Lovely how it turns into a creek when we have nearly an inch of rain fall in one morning.

That’s the tour for now. I have so much work to do. So much work… But it is all worth it.


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Because I tweaked my back doing housework yesterday, I stayed in all day today. I’d like to say I didn’t do any housework, but the darned old laundry and dishes wait for noone’s sore back. Grumble Grumble Grouse Grumble.

Mostly I bird-watched. Of course Project Feeder Watch is over and all the birds took today to come to our yard and the feeders. Stupid birds: where are they when I want to count them? At least the majority of today’s birds were photogenic and I got some decent shots with my little 50mm lens.

I’ve seen these little birds around for about a week now, checking out the thistle feeder. I haven’t gotten a good look at them but I think they are Pine Siskins. So far, it appears we only have females hanging out and females are always hard to identify.

The English House Sparrows have made themselves at home in Don’s over-grown Hawthorne. But do you think they’d hold still when I appear with a camera? I caught this one on one of my tree peonies just about to take flight.

I had to “boost” this photo in photoshop to get the true-to-life color of the Band-tailed Pigeon’s feathers. He was looking real sharp this morning. Only one – sometimes the whole feeder is covered in these large pigeons but it is mating season and we only get an occasional single bird. They are such striking birds and I never get tired of their antics.

Speaking of antics… The robins have discovered the bird bath. That European Starling was trying to take his turn, but the robins weren’t sharing. I can’t say I feel sorry for the starling, either: if there is a bird I dislike, it is the invasive, raucous-sounding Starling. But I will give it this: it can be a pretty bird and I missed an excellent shot of one close up. My camera was in another room. Darn!

The Starling gave up.

“Ah. Bath time all to myself! Nice little spa here. Full view of any approaching cats, warm water. Think I’ll recommend this spot to my Robin friends!”

There were a couple “missed” shots, too. If my camera was really smart, it would know when to shoot a photo at a speed of over 125ASA. I’m pretty certain both of these shots would have looked a lot different at even 400ASA. 1,000ASA and – well, they’re only as good as the little 50mm lens I have,

The Starling in retreat.

A Chestnut-backed Chickadee making a quick escape. All you can see is his mask & top-notch.

And those were just the birds that made it into my camera! I also saw Western Scrub Jays, Fox Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Spotted Towhees. It was just a busy bird day.

Now if that hummingbird would find the feeder…


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