Monday, December 30, 2013

Nature Notes: Year End

We had one of our more dramatic temperature changes recently.
A few days before Christmas it was like spring with very warm temperatures. Thanks to Eileen's I.D. help on another post, I think that's a yellow bellied sapsucker below.
There was a 55 degree drop in the temperature from the warm day to the Christmas Eve low.
The American Robin above was able to stand on a refrozen bird bath that I'd put warm water in just a few hours earlier.
The mourning doves watched me from the trees while I put out some seed treats on the deck wall.
They landed on the wall, as soon as I left, for their Christmas feast.
The junco above also joined in for the feast.
The red-bellied woodpecker gorged for a long time.
The titmouse below was another diner at the wall feeding trough. 
Another day, I caught the bluejay bathing as soon as I got the ice out.
 The bluejays are so noisy that I frequently know when to look for them.
 Male cardinals are winter's flowers with their fiery red feathers.
 The nuthatch below was partly hidden in the tree.
I love how soft the male cardinal feathers look below.
By the way, I used to have dozens of bird feeders I kept full, year round, on my deck and in my yard as well as several suet cages. After I gradually let my garden go wild, except in bad weather I had enough food for the birds in my wild yard and stopped putting out the feeders. I do always put food out for them when it snows or sleets. When we had such a dramatic drop in temperatures, I decided to use some of my bad weather seed stash to treat the birds for a few days. It was also a Christmas treat for me because I was able to spot more of the birds that stay hidden except when I put food out for them. In addition to the ones I included in this post I saw wrens, towhees, chickadees, a flicker, downy woodpecker, house finch, sparrow, brown thrashers and female cardinals. We had a gorgeous sky yesterday.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Photohunters: Party Time and Shimmer

The shot below was one I took in June in Manhattan and seemed appropriate for party time.
The next shot is of the Hudson River taken from my hotel in Manhattan and seemed appropriate for shimmer.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nature Notes: Birds enjoying an unseasonably warm weekend

This weekend was unseasonably warm and the birds had a lot of fun.
I'm glad that it's going to turn cold again on Christmas eve because it doesn't seem right to me when there isn't a nip in the air at Christmas. 
The first shot of the female cardinal and the one below look to me like she's singing in the bath.
The second shot is a sparrow and below is a male cardinal.
The carolina wren below is finding pieces of nuts from the trees.
Last is a little junco blending into the deck.
Happy Christmas! Click for Nature Notes home.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Photohunters: Mellow special decorations

For the past 5 or so years I have become very mellow about Christmas and only get a few special decorations out of the attic.
I am so mellow this year that I haven't done any decorating yet but I'll probably do a few things this weekend.
These shots are from my previous mellow Christmas decorating.
I remember when I used to a big tree every Christmas and move furniture around to fit it into my living room but with age I've mellowed out.
PHchrmell IMG_5552
I thought these shots would fit both themes because they are all from my mellow Christmas decorating years. The shot below makes me laugh because it looks like I tossed the decorations on the table. That's about as mellow as decorating gets.
The advent calendar in the first shot reminds me of my child and I reading the Christmas story for each day of advent during breakfast.
I probably won't get that advent calendar down since we're already half way through advent and I don't have a child at home to read it with me. Since I stopped getting a big tree at Christmas I tend to hang ornaments anywhere that's handy because I have so many that I like.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nature Notes: Sugar Frosting

No snow yet in central NC where I live but nature has sugar frosted the leaves.
A few blackberry leaves are still green and they are particularly pretty after an over night frosting but I also like the way the oak leaves look below.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Today's Flowers: Nature painting flowers

Frost makes me think of nature painting its own winter flowers.
Even the hole in the leaf below is made pretty with frost.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Photohunters: A car detail and burst

When I saw that the themes this week were a car detail and burst, I knew exactly what I was going to use.
As part of a special design exhibit at the NC Museum of Art, Janis Joplin's porsche was on display.
This car is full of details that burst out in color and form.
The museum exhibit is called Porsche by Design and includes 22 cars .

Monday, December 09, 2013

Nature Notes: The First week of December

The first part of this week's nature notes includes photographs I took Friday at the NC Museum of Art Park.
 Although I've recently spotted bluebirds at my house, the one below that I photographed at the Art Park is the first that has stayed still long enough for a photograph.
 As part of the museum expansion, the pond was improved.
The italicized part that follows explains the pond and is taken from the NCMA site.
With generous support from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Museum’s retention pond was redesigned to aesthetically control and clean storm water before it enters North Carolina’s streams and rivers.
Terraces are planted with native perennials and ornamental grasses. As water moves across these various ecosystems, pollutants are filtered from the water via plant roots and soil particles.  

The pond renovation is part of a comprehensive storm water management initiative for the 164-acre Museum campus, which also includes a 90,000-gallon underground water storage cistern, rain gardens, and drought-tolerant plantings and fescue lawn.
The sculpture gardens close to the museum with reflecting pools are also designed with sustainable environmental standards.
The museum and park are on a 164 acre campus which includes trails and various habitats.
I find the winter browns and tans very beautiful in their stark way.
 I like the fact that so much of the landscape has native grasses.
The rest of this post will feature the usual suspects, my home birds.
 The robins come out on the warmer days but tend to stay hidden on the colder days.
 We've had frigid cold, cool, and warm days so far in December.
 The sparrow above was on my deck as was the junco below.
For some reason I see the juncos more during the colder winter days.
 Above is a rufous-sided towhee and below are a bunch of robins.
 I love the way bluejays feathers look.
In the shot above on the top left it looks like a robin is tentatively trying to talk the bluejay into sharing the bath.
Below a brown thrasher is bathing.
The female cardinal is perched on one of my deck chairs.
We've had mostly gray skies so any blue is welcome.
I think the male cardinal looks like he's laughing at a joke.