There were lots of birds at the botanical garden feeders on Valentine’s Day, most of them flitting about too quickly to catch with my camera, but I got a few. And a new lifer!
I thought I’d never catch my elusive new life bird — this was the only good picture out of the bunch.
A bird true to its name, the Pine Warbler is common in many eastern pine forests and is rarely seen away from pines. These yellowish warblers are hard to spot as they move along high branches to prod clumps of needles with their sturdy bills. If you don’t see them, listen for their steady, musical trill, which sounds very like a Chipping Sparrow or Dark-eyed Junco, which are also common piney-woods sounds through much of the year.
~ All About Birds website
More blossoms to enjoy in the Lenten rose patch:
We’ve been hearing frogs croaking for a couple of weeks but they always stop and hide before we get to their pond, no matter how quietly we approach. This time we did see a lot of their eggs in the water, though.
One of these days we might actually see a frog! 🐸
My sister estimates they got 9 inches of snow from Tuesday’s nor’easter, which left a winter wonderland behind it. I loved the pictures she sent me from the woods surrounding our childhood home.
photos by Beverly
When we arrived at the botanical garden on Friday, Tim needed to tie his shoe, which gave me a minute to look at the roof of the gazebo he was sitting under. It was full of reindeer lichen and all kinds of moss so I took a few pictures with my zoom lens. When I got home I noticed those tiny red dots on the lichen. (above picture) Apparently these are called lichen fruiting bodies (apothecia) which contain spores that are dispersed in the wind. Just a little biology lesson for the day…
A quick stop by the bird feeders and there I found another life bird, this time a female Purple Finch!
The Purple Finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” For many of us, they’re irregular winter visitors to our feeders, although these chunky, big-beaked finches do breed in northern North America and the West Coast. Separating them from House Finches requires a careful look, but the reward is a delicately colored, cleaner version of that red finch. Look for them in forests, too, where you’re likely to hear their warbling song from the highest parts of the trees.
~ All About Birds website
We listened for a long time to a Carolina wren singing its heart out in the branches above us…
If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. If a shower drives us for shelter to the maple grove or the trailing branches of the pine, yet in their recesses with microscopic eye we discover some new wonder in the bark, or the leaves, or the fungi at our feet.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, September 23, 1838)
And finally, tucked away in a shady spot in the herb garden we found a patch of Lenten Roses blooming. They’re not actually roses, they are in the buttercup family. There are many varieties, flowers ranging in color from deep red to white and many shades in between.
It was a lovely surprise to find these flowers blooming so abundantly on a gloomy February morning!
When the sun comes out the world brightens up, even the browns and grays in the winter woods. It was a very sunny morning the other day, but too cold for a walk. So we opted for an afternoon walk. Even then it was still cold, Tim wore a coat, and I was bundled up with hat and mittens, too.
We found a new place to walk, another property belonging to the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Parker Preserve. It connects to the Mason Farm Biological Reserve we had explored back in December. At the beginning of the trail is Parker Meadow, the site of the former home of Bill & Athena Parker.
The huge bench above is one of two sitting in the meadow, where a 19th century log cabin was destroyed by a fire in 1995. (I assume it was the home of Bill & Athena.) After noticing what we presume to be dozens of patches of daffodils about to bloom, we headed into the woods, following the Woodland Trail.
Off in the distance we saw a huge log, covered in moss with sporophytes sprouting out of it. I used maximum zoom but could only manage the fuzzy picture above. We have been warned repeatedly about copperhead snakes so I resisted every urge to go off the trail and wade though the leaves to get a closer look.
The disadvantage to taking an afternoon walk is that the traffic on the way home is very congested and slow. We found ourselves sitting in the car for a very long time at a traffic light near the James Taylor Bridge. From the road this bridge is unremarkable, the only hint that a bridge is there is a small sign identifying it and a short cement wall with a low fence on either side of it. But it’s located a mile from JT’s childhood home and it goes over Morgan Creek, which he wrote about in one of his songs, Copperline. We’ve encountered Morgan Creek a couple of times on our walks. This is all of particular interest to me because James Taylor was my idol when I was a teen, and he was the first singer I ever went to see in concert. I had all his albums. It’s a small world.
Half a mile down to Morgan Creek
I’m leanin’ heavy on the end of the week
Hercules and a hognose snake
Down on Copperline
We were down on Copperline
~ James Taylor
♫ (Copperline) ♫
I noticed how similar the shape of a cicada wing was to the shape of a maple seed. In this sculpture I decided to merge the two.
~ Sam Spiczka
(“Cicada Maple Seed” sculpture)
This is my selection for Karma’s Before & After Photo Hunt. The sculpture was taken down shortly after the second picture, much to my disappointment, as I thought it would be great for a four season series. But it will do well enough for this before-and-after autumn. Most of the leaves on this beautiful southern sugar maple have stayed on the tree for the winter, a good example of marcescence. It’s become my favorite tree in the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
This morning we took our groundhogs, Basil & Oregano, to the botanical garden to introduce them to their new home. Sometimes they saw their shadows and sometimes they didn’t. Maybe there will be only three more weeks of winter?
I’ve decided to use the scene in the first picture for Karma’s “same location for all 4 seasons” photo hunt. Because Groundhog Day falls between the winter solstice and the spring equinox I think I will make this into an 8 season effort, including May Day, First Harvest and Halloween, which fall between the other solstices and equinoxes. If you want to join in please see Karma’s instructions at the end of this post HERE at Karma’s When I Feel Like It Blog.
Although winter is still with us, we sense the subtle renewing of life at the edge of our senses, visible in the growing light and the first greening shoots. Like a seed germinating in the dark soil, we, too, feel the bright spark of life that burns within us. Its call will soon drive us from the warmth and safety of the dark to the ever-quickening call of the light. For now, we must sit at Brigid’s hearth, dreaming and drawing nourishment and comfort from it until the lighter, warmer days. At Imbolc we honour those dreams and the inner fire that will create the world anew — we, too, shall soon become the spring.
~ Maria Ede-Weaving
(The Essential Book of Druidry: Connect with the Spirit of Nature)