Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Projects Update

I have been hard at the landscape projects since the end of February with a goal in mind of what I wanted to have completed prior to spring migration beginning.  It has been a lot of hard work and staying focused on what I had to complete.

The first thing was to tear down a deck and inset hot tub in this area.  I wanted to get the iris moved to this area as they were just emerging. Though I really don't expect many blooms because of the late move, maybe I will get a few.

While I was working in this area I also removed all of the rocks from the disappearing fountain, pumped out the water and did a really good clean and replaced the biological filter.  Fortunately this is a project that only has to be done every 2-3 years.


The next big project was to tear down an arbor trellis.  The ground had settled so much over a couple of years to what I suspect is an underground stream.  A huge tree that fell in that area back during Hurricane Fran left the area sinking.

In that general area, I dug up and removed a large bed of Yellow Flag Iris and extended the Mondo Grass to that area.  I also cleared the area in front digging out all the green liriope.  That area will be replaced with hosta in one level and varigated liriope in the next level.

I was able to use the 4x4's from the trellis to build a retaining wall to enclose the area with the Mondo Grass.  I have two more retaining walls to build as indicated by the white lines.


The rocks that now outline the flower bed where the deck was removed were moved from the area in the above photo.  It was sort of like building the pyramids....moving one rock at a time.  Thankfully a friend had loaned me his hand truck to use that rolled easily in the yard.


 I am now starting to put down new landscape timbers.  I stocked up over the weekend when one of the big box stores put them on sale.

Once I get all the new landscape timbers in place, I will bring in a new load of gravel to place in the walk ways.

It seems like a lot of work to get summed up in a few paragraphs but it has been.  The remainder of the back yard will be worked on slowly but surely over the next couple of months.

The project areas I wanted to complete prior to migration were right on time.  Saturday seemed to be like a door opening and the migratory birds flocking in.  Saturday list included Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and yes, the Hummingbirds have arrived!  I saw one Black-and-white Warbler earlier in the week.  We are going to have lots of rainy days this week so I am going to be finishing up  some indoor projects then break out for some birding next week.
     




Monday, March 30, 2015

Bluebirds vs Chickadees

I have spent most of the month working hard in the yard (weather permitting).  I had several projects such as tearing down an old part of the deck and clearing ivy and wisteria that I definitely wanted to get accomplished before the temperatures began to rise and snakes came out.

I have been working hard on some much needed landscaping projects also.  Some areas I wanted to be well underway before spring migration kicked in to high gear.

Back in February, the Bluebirds began checking out the various houses in the yard.  The Chickadees took possession of one of the houses that the Bluebirds had seemed to favor and began building their nest about two weeks ago.

Yesterday and more so today I noticed that the Bluebirds were spending a great deal of time looking at the house and going in and out of that box.  Needless to say the Chickadees were upset and despite swooping relentlessly at the Bluebirds, they appear to have lost.

The male Bluebird eventually brought out one egg that had been laid by the Chickadees.  I could not help but to feel sorry for them.  I guess that is the way nature works.




The male then spent time bringing out material the Chickadees had used for nest building.  I hope after ripping apart the Chickadee nest and taking off their egg, they will go ahead and nest in that box.






Sunday, March 8, 2015

Osprey Arriving

Hopefully we are done with winter.  It has been a long, cold and wet one.  Today we are finally back to having spring-like weather with temperature closer to normal.

A sure sign spring is on the way is the arrival of the Osprey.  I went to check a nest this morning and found what is probably the male bringing in sticks.  The Osprey males generally bring in most of the nesting material and the female arranges the sticks.






The lack of the "necklace" on this one indicates it is probably the male however younger females may not have a prominent necklace.

I look forward to going back with the longer lens to try for some good shots.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fishing Finesse

 Scoping out the fish.....

















 The Line Up.....

















The Strike.....
















Lift off.....

















Checking the take.....













Off to eat lunch.



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sexual Dimorphism

- the difference in appearance between males and females of the same species, as in color, shape, size and structure.

In some species, there are vastly different color variations between the male and the female such as in the House Finches.  During mating season the male becomes bright red in the head and breast area.  The female is tan and white.














Sometimes differences can be subtle such as in the Red-bellied WP.  The slight difference in the extension of the red on the head.









In the case of Eastern Bluebirds, both are blue with rufous colored breast feathers and white belly feathers.  The female is much more subdued particularly the blue on the head.















The male and female of the Eastern Towhee have similar marking appearances with the exception that the upper part of the body of the female is brown versus the black of the male.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Black, White and Shades of Gray

Dark-eyed Junco
I cannot believe we woke up to yet more snow today.  I think it took a lot of folks (me included) by surprise at how quickly it came down and began accumulating.   My internet has been down for almost two days and with not watching much TV, I was a bit surprised when I woke up.

The snow is pretty but I am so tired of winter.  Hey Gladys....if you are enjoying Florida, be glad.  Your area is getting lots of snow today.




Chickadee





It has been a very active day with the birds heavily feeding.  The eye usually goes to the more colorful birds so I am focusing on the more subdued in this post.  They have their own gentle, quiet beauty.








Yellow-rumped Warbler


The Yellow-rumped Warblers are beginning to take on their breeding colors.  They look quite handsome when they get their dark mask.




AWhite-breasted Nuthatch strikes its classic pose.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Think They Look Gentle?

Over the last several days even more Pine Siskins have arrived.  They have eaten an amazing amount of thistle seed over the past week.  When you step outside they fly up to the tree tops in a large group and proceed to make their little trilling sound.

Sometimes they can look so sweet and peaceful.....







but first thing in the morning when I put additional food out on the deck rail, the food aggression/survival of the fittest attitude takes hold.  I had been having trouble with a very aggressive, bossy Robin that had claimed territory over the suet feeders and would chase any other bird away.  The little Pine Siskins hold their ground and several have ganged up on the Robin.





The Robin has chilled out and no longer hangs around all day to chase other birds away,  The Pine Siskins were able to do something that despite all efforts I had been unable to do.





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Nature lover, animal lover, lover of life.