Saturday, May 31, 2008

Music in the Garden - Baltimore Oriole

For the past 15 days this brightly colored Baltimore Oriole has been serenading us with his beautiful song, as he feeds in our 2 large Maples, and other trees in the garden.

He's quite a friendly little fellow.

He was peeking down at me here from the big Maple.

Then he lifted his head to the sky and warbled his lovely tune.

Have you ever heard an Oriole's song? Listen here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, All About Birds, if you'd like to. It's not quite as exciting as hearing it in person, but it will give you an idea. He sings very loudly so that he can be heard from quite a distance. Perhaps he's trying to attract a mate. We haven't seen a little lady yet. I hope one shows up and they nest close by. We had a nesting pair 2 summers ago, across the road in the hedgerow, where we'd often see and hear them chasing crows away from their nest. Posted by Picasa

He sings constantly as he flits from branch to branch, and we're curious about what he's finding to feed on.

Their diet consists of caterpillars, fruits, insects, spiders, and nectar. Posted by Picasa

I put orange quarters out on the tray feeders for him, but I haven't seen him eating them. I also hung an orange Oriole feeder containing sugar water, but he hasn't shown any interest in that either. I've only once seen him settle for an instant on the tray, but he saw me watering plants on the porch and immediately flew away. He may have investigated the orange quarters when I wasn't watching, but it doesn't look as though they've been pecked at.
So my efforts to bring him closer haven't worked yet. Nevertheless, we've enjoyed our glimpses of him in the maples, and the zoom lens allows us to see a little more detail.
I'm not finding much time to blog or visit lately, but will try to catch up with you all gradually. I do have a quick look at what you're up to in my bloglines when time allows, and I think of you often. Do you find yourselves doing that? These blogging friendships are amazing to me. Thanks so much for all your comments, and a very big thank you from my husband for all the friendly birthday wishes! He enjoyed each and every one of them :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big Day!

Today is significant for a couple of reasons -
#1. It's my dear husband's 60th birthday, which is enough in itself a cause for celebration,
but then there's......
#2. He has finally, after many long, tiring days, finished planting 60 acres of field corn. Phew!
Plowing was started on April 15th. Then came rock picking...a job no one in their right mind likes. Before the corn planting began 8 days ago, he planted 10 acres of oats and new seeding (grass for hay).

Yesterday, while planting, he had a pleasant surprise....

The Killdeer is a bird that lays its eggs in fields, and these often become casualties when field work begins. While slowly driving the tractor along, watching the row, he saw a flash of color - a female Killdeer with wings and tail fanned into a circle, protecting her eggs. The brave little mother didn't fly away until the tractor had almost passed her. Hubby climbed off the tractor to inspect the eggs, and thankfully, the wheels had missed them.

Back at the house a little later, he told me about finding the eggs and suggested it might be a good opportunity for photos. Well yes! And here are the eggs, amazingly intact. This field had been dragged in the morning and it's truly a miracle the eggs survived that!

Have any of you ever looked for a Killdeer nest? As you can see in this photo, they're so well camouflaged that it's almost impossible to spot them.
I couldn't get a good shot of the mom or dad at that time because they try to lure you from the nest by calling shrilly and flying away. They also do the broken wing thing...running away while dragging a wing, but I didn't see that this time. Posted by Picasa

Later I rode on the tractor with my husband, at his suggestion, camera in hand, and while the bird will fly away from a person who is on foot, she stays put on the eggs when the tractor approaches. We drove to within a few feet and I took several photos, after which we backed away and left the poor, vigilant little mommy alone. Click any of these photos to enlarge for detail if you'd like.

Here's Hubby dragging a plowed field...

....and here's our good friend, Nancy, disking. She used to have her own farm and still loves to do field work. She finds riding around on a tractor relaxing...when it's not too bumpy, which some of these fields were, leaving her 'all shook up' by the end of the day :) Posted by Picasa

It's so lovely to see the trees green again.

The Canadian geese like to feed in the fields ....

.....and down by the river, but I only saw a couple of muskrats swimming there this day because the geese were over in another field. Oh, and we saw a beaver swimming in the creek as we came across the culvert! That was a happy surprise! He flipped underwater and disappeared into the culvert when he saw us, so I wasn't quick enough to get a photo. I keep hoping to see him again, but so far no luck. Posted by Picasa

I explored the river and stalked the geese while Hubby plowed.

It's very pretty down there.

I found some geese over by a little creek.

On and on Hubby plodded, hour after hour, day after day. He couldn't get the old 4-row planter fixed without waiting for expensive parts to come from overseas, so he used the 2-row planter, which of course took twice as long....

.....but today he finally finished! Oh happy day!

Finishing up with a couple of shots of the view looking past our front yard, taken with the zoom lens from up on the shale bed over by that first field I showed you.

Those red leaved trees are the crab apples on our front lawn, which are just about finished blooming now, unfortunately. Posted by Picasa

Happy big six-0 dear Hubby!

You deserve a rest!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2008

Green is the dominant color here in our spring garden, and what a welcome change it is after the monochromatic tones of winter.

Plenty of things are blooming outside for this May Bloom Day, but perhaps the most exciting of all for me is seeing blooms on the crabapples. They're not a mass of blossoms, but last year we had none at all, so any amount is welcome.

They make a lovely bright spot against the greens of the hills and hedgerow across the road.

The red leaves make it hard to distinguish the 'red' blossoms.... we need to walk closer for a better look at these gorgeous flowers. Posted by Picasa

My gardening friend, Marie, gave us this lovely little crabapple with softer pink blossoms. It's done well since being planted last summer, and is blooming profusely. Isn't it pretty? I'm tickled pink with it

At the base of the biggest crab, in the little fence garden, the forget-me-nots are proclaiming "Spring!" There are whites mixed with the blues, but I've yet to find a pink. Posted by Picasa

Do dandelions count for Bloom Day? We certainly have plenty! Our lawn is a sea of yellow between mowings, and even though the bright yellow weeds quickly pop back up after being mowed off, I like to see their cheery pom pom faces.

On Monday I noticed the first purple Iris had opened behind the fringed tulips.

Hello there!

When I came home from work today 4 more blooms had opened!

Here's the lovely Rasberry Blast Petunia basket I bought last Sunday with my Mother's Day money from my son and his family. Posted by Picasa

The Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) are looking brighter and are beginning to open more of their beautiful chain-of-hearts blossoms. The smaller bush in front of the big one still has branches bent to the ground from that recent hard frost, but it's looking much better and is also opening new blooms.

Exquisitely shaped pink and white hearts!

The white bush is always a little later to start, but here's the first bloom.

Forget-me-nots are at their feet.

And Arabis (Rock Cress) shares this garden too. Posted by Picasa

Brunnera 'Jack Frost' is blooming with tiny blue forget-me-not look-alike flowers. I planted this last summer. Aren't those leaves gorgeous?

Pulmonaria (Lungwort) is a passalong from Marie, also planted last summer. I love the combination of pink and blue blossoms and the lovely spotted leaves.

This creeping Phlox was given to me by my son and his wife last summer. I thought it was a different color to the one I already have, but it looks the same. Nevermind, now I have it in the front garden as well as the back.

Aren't these Delta Beaconsfield pansies gorgeous? Posted by Picasa

Vinca Minor makes a pretty ground cover.

Lamium spreads well as a ground cover too, and also looks pretty mixed with other plants in a container.

These creamy white tulips bloom a little later than most of the others.

There's a clump of bright blue grape hyacinths (muscari) close by. Posted by Picasa

This close-up shows the lilac in the photo above is budding. It won't be long before we'll be enjoying the wonderful scent of the lilac bushes.

Here are the Van Eijk tulips again, with Johnny-jump-ups behind them.

These little guys jump up all over the place!
I eventually become ruthless and pull a lot of them out to make room for some annuals and perhaps a few new perennials, but their early color is a welcome sight, and who doesn't love volunteers?

The beautiful red tulips are still looking good.

See the yellow at the base of the blooms? I love these tulips! Posted by Picasa

But I don't think I've ever met a tulip I didn't love

This is one of my favorite photos. The peony bush is growing in leaps and bounds. It's always the most vigorous of all the peonies. Posted by Picasa

This lonely little double daffodil is one-of-a-kind where there used to be a clump.....

.....and this sweet pale pink tulip is close by. Both are lone survivors from long-ago plantings.

The Abutilon grew very nicely during the winter in the warmth of the house, and has just begun to bloom again. It will be planted outside again soon. I haven't quite decided whether it'll go in a container or a garden.

I was pleased to successfully overwinter this lovely trailing Nemesia, and will plant it in a mixed container soon. Posted by Picasa
Well, that's more than enough blooms for Bloom Day! Now I'll be able to catch up on everyone else's offerings for May. See you soon!
You'll find more Bloom Day posts over at Carol's May Dreams Gardens blog.