|These waning days of winter have given Yang and I some fun bird watching, whether at home or away. For instance, Yang went for a stroll one day on a canal that runs perpendicular to the Blackstone River and sighted some interesting ducks and the peripatetic Kingfisher. So, the next day, I had him take me back there. Sure enough we saw some swell birds. Yang got some really nice shots of a pair of hooded mergansers. At first we thought they were both females, but I noticed that one had a distinctive long, pointed tail sticking above the water, as well as a fluffier brush of feathers at the back of the head. I suspect that one was a juvenile male. We either had a Mom and her teenage son or a Cougar duck. Who can tell? Enjoy the pictures!
I also got to see the Kingfisher, a male. I heard his excited chatter way down toward the end where the canal ran into the Blackstone. I kept my eyes peeled until I saw a blob of white way ahead in a tall tree over the waters. Training my binoculars confirmed my suspicions, bringing into focus a magnificent male Belted Kingfisher. Yang came up and got some shots with the binoculars he could attach to his cell phone. We had a great time watching His Majesty swoop down into the water, skimming along to fly off with his fishy dinner.
Further from home, we visited Forest Park in Springfield on our way to lunch in Montague. This turned out to be the mecca for Common Mergansers. We saw tons of them in one of the ponds. They were shy guys, as whenever we got close to the shore, they paddled off to the middle of the pond. Yang did get some nice pictures of them, though. I love how the males gleam white, their green heads almost black. Their head feathers in the back are far smoother than those of the male Red Breasted Mergansers. In both these types of Mergansers, the females are beautiful, with their Rita Hayworth-red locks! Yang loves the ducks’ red beaks.
We also found some American Black Ducks enjoying the same pond as well.
Closer to home – as in the bird feeders next to my house – we’ve been seeing some nifty birds, old friends and new. The Mockingbird and the Redwinged Blackbirds are back. Would you believe that even in the snow, the Robins have been scooting about for at least two weeks? Here we have a Robin and a Downy Woodpecker chilling (literally with all the snow) in a tree outside my sun porch window.
I must say that this Robin loves his/her? suet.
We also had the pleasure of this Red Bellied Woodpecker’s company. Since it’s a female, it wouldn’t be the one who was stunned after hit our sun-porch window. We brought him in in a box and let him warm up for about an hour then set him free. Whoosh! He was in great shape and off to the races. We see him and his mate here quite a bit. They’re also big suet lovers.
and perky Downy Woodpeckers.
Bring on the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks!
Summer is almost officially past, so I’m posting some images from my gardens. We have three kinds of morning glories flowering in our yard. We’d have four, if the large blue ones would flower, but they won’t. So, we have some deep purple, some magenta, and some orchid ones. I don’t know all the names of the types, but they are lovely. Every year, I collect the seeds from these flowers to replant them in the spring. Sometimes, we get some interesting hybrids. I managed to get pictures of one of my favorites. Sometimes the orchid morning glories will sport a broad, deep purple stripe, as you see here. The seeds will actually reflect the combined types. Orchid seeds are cream colored and purple or magenta ones are black. These hybrid seeds are usually cream with a black stripe. Sometimes, the orchid ones will also blend with the magenta to produce a pink flower. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the one pink flower I’ve seen so far, but I did tag the flower so that I can retrieve the seeds.
The birds have also been having a grand time in our yard. We’ve seen lots of cardinals, including the Daddy Cardinal taking the kids out for dinner. We also have Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, scads of Gold Finches and Purple Finches, Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches. I even saw a hummingbird three times this year! One time was in early September! The young gentleman Coopers Hawks have since taken off and rarely visit now. We named them Shawn and Gus – I know you know that I AM telling the truth about that! In this picture, you can see one hawk in the foreground and if you look carefully, the other is in silhouette in the triangle of railings on the right.
The drought has certainly left my pumpkins gasping for life. I’ve seen so many pumpkin and gourd embryos wither and die. Still, some made it. Here is an odd shaped pumpkin, which some critter took a chunk out of. Still, the pumpkin lives and now resides on my sideboard in the dining room. The pumpkin below isn’t a rogue that needs to be caged to protect the other flora and fauna. The vine climbed over the garden fence and the pumpkin embryo became fertilized hanging over the outside of the garden. Since we found evidence of some creature trying to dig into the garden, we developed protective caging from milk cartons. The ploy worked, for this pumpkin matured and now resides in state on the what-not table in my parlor. You can also see a crown of thorns embryo ready to flower and be fertilized. The good news is that this little guy is happily growing away. Maybe I’ll have some more pictures of it later.
Here are some of our eggplants and peppers. These guys were delicious! Yang can cook! So, I guess the drought didn’t totally blacken my green thumb.