Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I always look forward to the spring and fall when the Rose-breasted Grosbeak come through.  They only stay for a couple of days so I try to enjoy them during their brief visit.  Late yesterday afternoon both the male and female arrived at just about dark.  They didn't stay too long as a drizzle was beginning.

This morning my Mom dropped by and I had just finished telling her about them and saying I hoped they would come back today.  She said "Is that the bird you are talking about?".  It had flown in as we were standing and talking.

He is such a beautiful bird.  He has been back to the safflower feeder many times today.  I have not see the female today but keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Little Surprise - Hummingbird Nest

This morning  I was trying to finish up some projects in the yard before more rain moves in for the the next three days when I noticed a little Hummingbird busily flying to one particular tree.

I stopped and went inside to get the camera to see if I could follow what she was doing.  What a nice little surprise!  She was building a nest!  This is the first time I have ever seen one in the process of nest building and was a bit mesmerized watching.  Looking closely at the nest material I see bits of lichen and catkins from the oak trees.

I had to do a little bit of reading to find some information about their nesting behavior.  Nests take appx. 6-10 days to build and measure about 2 inches across and 1 inch deep.  Average clutch size is 1-3 eggs.  It is hard to imagine how tiny the babies must be.

I saw the first Hummingbirds here this year on either 13 or 14 April.  Looking at the nest she must have started building not long after her arrival.  As I watched her today she brought in a few things and would work them into the nest.  She would then sit in the nest and appeared to vibrate as if to pack the nesting material down.  I watched her do this several times so I don't think she has laid any eggs yet.

This will definitely be something fun to watch this year.  The lighting is a bit difficult and today the wind was really blowing the branches so I hope as the sun gets a little higher in angle the light will get better and sooner or later....the wind has to quite blowing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Delightful Spring Day

After working so hard for several months to get the house ready for an appraisal,
and with that being completed yesterday, I decided to take a day to relax and go birding.

It was a bit late in the morning when I decided to head out and then I forgot to take my MP3 player and little speaker to play bird sounds but it still ended up being an enjoyable day.  I stayed about four hours and would have liked to stay longer but wanted to get back before the school buses hit the road.

My first thing was to check the status of the eagle and osprey nests.  I saw no activity at the eagle's nest but the female Osprey was guarding the nest and at one point the male brought her in something to eat.

I didn't stay long by the river side and moved back up to the road where I had heard lots of bird calls as I was going in.  Trying to be very quite I did manage a couple of shots of a pair of Wood Ducks before they flew off.  Not the best but I seemed cursed when it comes to getting a decent shot of them.

A Snapping Turtle had crawled up to the path to warm in the sun.  He/she hissed at me when I walked by even though I gave it great leeway as I passed.

I kept hearing one particular bird and stood for some time before I finally spotted it.  I knew it was a Waterthrush but had to double check once I got home to determine which and it was a Northern Waterthrush.

The Prothonotary Warblers are in and despite their bright color it can be quite difficult to spot them.  They seem to blend in with the bright green of the leaves.

There were lots of American Redstarts and the males were keeping quite a noise.  Amazing how loud a little bird can be.

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.