a snail and another life bird

4.12.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

It was a windy day for a walk but off we went. The very first thing we saw was a snail crossing a side entrance path at the botanical garden. A slow moving creature is so easy to photograph, even if it was partly in its own shadow. And then a little patch of windflowers, how fitting for this windy day.

wood anemone aka windflower
lily of the valley
maiden pink
‘white lady banks’ rose
Manchurian lilac
mountain witch-alder
wild blue phlox
cobweb on a sweet shrub (aka Carolina allspice)
Coastal Plain Habitat boardwalk in April

I keep wondering if this is the same hermit thrush I keep seeing in this same spot, ever since January.

hermit thrush
yellow-rumped warbler
tufted titmouse

On our way back to the parking lot we passed by the Children’s Wonder Garden and I spotted another life bird! And this one isn’t found in Connecticut, so I had to pencil it into my Birding in Connecticut book, like I did with the Carolina chickadee. I may have to get a different book to keep my life list in.

Brown-headed Nuthatch, #90

When the squeaky sound of a rubber ducky drifts down out of the canopy in a southern pine forest, be on the lookout for Brown-headed Nuthatches. These tiny blue-gray songbirds climb up, down, and around pine trunks and branches with the deftness of a rock climber. They cling to bark with their strong feet rather than leaning on their tails like a woodpecker. Brown-headed Nuthatches are social birds that travel in noisy family groups. Sometimes, offspring from previous years help their parents raise young.
~ All About Birds website

Well, we didn’t hear this cute little nuthatch or see him climbing up or down a pine trunk. Nor was he with a noisy family group. He was perched on the back side of the bee hotel, all by himself, feathers getting fluffed up in the wind. Finding him was a treat after a prior frustration.

Earlier on our walk we picked up the call of a white-eyed vireo on our Merlin app. We looked and looked in the trees where the call was coming from but couldn’t see anything. Tim finally resorted to taking random pictures of the tree with his cell phone, hoping to see a bird in one of them when he put them up on his monitor at home. Well, he did see a blurry blob that had the right coloring… But we can’t count it as a life bird — yet — because we didn’t actually see it!

31 thoughts on “a snail and another life bird”

  1. Congrats on almost [?] seeing a life bird. That’s the kind of positive attitude I like to read about in blogs. I adore the photo with the ladybug on the flower. It’s charming.

    1. Thank you, Ally. I was delighted to spot the ladybug after the birdwatching frustration. 🐞 One has to be flexible when photographing nature and take what one gets for subject matter.

  2. Ooh, that nuthatch is a keeper! Looks like he’d fit right into the palm of your hand, too. And I love those flowers, especially lily of the valley and maiden pink — such splendid detail, Barbara!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! Lily of the valley was my mother’s favorite flower so that was a special discovery. The nuthatch was so petite and especially adorable with feathers fluffed up in the wind!

  3. Cute little nuthatch. I wonder if he was raiding the bee hotel? Birds didn’t take long to figure out these were restaurants filled with good things to eat. Not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket! It might be better to go around drilling random holes in snags and brush piles. That gives bees a better chance at survival and makes it less likely that a bird will wipe out a colony of eggs.

    1. That’s very interesting, Eliza. Your comment prompted me to do a little reading on the subject. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension states:
      “The vast majority of species—about 75%—nest in soil and wouldn’t consider occupying a bee hotel. Potential bee hotel residents make up at most about 100 species, or 18% of the total. Honey bees and bumble bees use larger cavities and are not attracted to bee hotels.”
      North Carolina has about 560 species of bees. It’s mind-boggling!
      It seems like whenever people try to “help” nature many unintended consequences follow.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the ladybug, TD! I had to get down on the ground to get the picture. 🐞

      1. That photo of the snail looked extremely large! I wonder its actual size? There was nothing in the photo for me to interpret size. But a lady bug, I’m very familiar with size.

        1. The snail was probably about two inches long from head to tail. It was big enough for me to notice even though it blended in with the sandy gravel path. I’m glad I didn’t step on it!

          1. I have seen shells like that in your photo with hermit crabs living in them. But never a snail that gigantic, even in Texas!

          2. Hermit crabs prefer to live in snails shells, the little opportunists. You reminded me of how my children used to love to collect hermit crabs at our beach, and put them in the moats surrounding their sandcastles…

  4. I like perusing my blog roll and seeing your amazing images of adventure…cannot find a ‘like’ button so I thought I’d leave a comment 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, Elisa! 🙂 I used to have a “like” button but it caused too many problems for me.

  5. This was an enjoyable Springtime walk you took us on Barbara. That snail has the same colors as the pieces of pebble around it. I did not know there was a flower called a windflower … we have had so many windy days lately (including right now), we need a windflower too. I like the “wild hair” look of the mountain witch-alder. You captured that spider web perfectly! I like how the boardwalk winds its way through the woodsy area. I think the hermit thrush just likes being featured in your blog – so yes it is the same hermit thrush. A ladybug already! We’re getting a frost warning tomorrow night, so the ladybugs here in SE Michigan best stay dormant a little while longer.

    1. So happy you enjoyed this walk, Linda. Stumbling across that snail outside of its shell was such a delightful surprise! I heard about your frost warning, my goodness, will you ever get a break from that crazy weather? I’ve been seeing recent pictures of New England on some blogs and see how the trees have not leafed out yet, while down south here everything is full and green. I know the summer will be miserable but we made it through the first one. And, if we’re stuck inside in the summer at least when we look out the window we see a beautiful green forest. And there is always something new to see in the botanical garden!

      1. Today it was 34F “real feel” when I left the house and it was a short walk as it was very blustery, gusting to 25 mph. Tomorrow is now to be the same, so I’ll go early in the morning before the wind picks up – at least it is sunny. You have the benefit of the early Spring which is nice. We will wait another two weeks they say for it to warm up. The snail creeping along the pathway, luckily you looked down and saw it, not only for the image but for that snail.

        1. It was lucky for the snail that I spotted it, even though it blended in well with the sandy gravel path. I wonder where it was headed… We’re discovering the magic of having an HVAC system. We have it set for 70°F and 75°F. When it gets down to 70°F inside the heat comes on and when it gets above 75°F the air conditioning kicks in. Last week it was in the 80s outside and over the weekend we had a frost advisory. We’re getting used to the heat and ac taking turns.

          1. Yes, because you don’t always look down, unless the path is uneven and then you have to watch yourself. That is a nice set up for your HVAC system. Your weather is odd too with the frost popping up days after a 80+ spike. It wasn’t bad here today, but very windy. Wind was not predicted until 2:00 p.m., but the wind arrived at 11:00, buffeting me around, so I left and went to Heritage Park, (more closed in and not by the water – Coan Lake is man-made). We have high wind gusts now and tomorrow all day. I was thinking this season has been bad for gusty winds and someone asked the weatherman and he said “yes” gusty winds have been more prevalent this Spring as we ease out of Winter. I hope we ease out quickly. 🙂

          2. For the most part I am usually looking down when I walk, after years of being wary of stepping in dog crap or chewing gum or tripping on roots. (I’m pretty clumsy and often stub my toes.) Once I came across a huge pile of squirming mealworms right on my path! I do glance off to the side looking for little things to photograph, but to look up at birds and trees and scenery I stop and stand still while taking it all in. It’s 38°F this morning. Yesterday when we went for a walk I was wearing my winter jacket again and had my gloves on the whole time. A few weeks ago there was a walk when it was in the 80s and I had no jacket on at all. That’s interesting that you’ve had more gusty wind days than usual up there. I wonder what’s causing it. I hope it calms down for you soon. 🙂

          3. I took a few falls in my day, on concrete sidewalks no less, while trying to make the bus timely, so I also look down now. Since I don’t want to take my car to the Park in case they have started their project and there would be nowhere to park, except nearby streets, I’ve been walking back and forth to the Park and there are so many uneven sidewalks, I have to be careful. We are having storms overnight (10:00 to 2:00) and cloudy tomorrow and a freeze warning for all of SE Michigan for Thursday morning – 28F. Farmers are worried sick over their fruit trees which have budded

          4. Yes, those uneven sidewalks are treacherous. Two bad falls in the past come to mind, one when I landed on my right hand and it took months for the bruise and soft tissue injury to go away… I couldn’t even pull the car door shut with that hand it hurt so much.

          5. I know – I tripped on uneven sidewalk and had a dress on and landed on my knees. One knee hit a patch of “street dirt/tiny pebbles”. It was Summer and I was dressing that wound for a good two months, like you, waiting for the soft tissue injury to heal up. I had a difficult time in the garden as I couldn’t kneel, or squat down.

          6. Oh my, your description made me recall another trip and fall on a rough sidewalk, this one with Katherine in my arms when she she a toddler. Maternal instinct kicked in and I somehow landed her on her feet while I landed hard on my knees and elbows. One of my knees took forever to heal and I would walk up and down stairs one step at a time so I didn’t have to bend it. Then Katherine started copying my straight-leg way of going up and down stairs. The falling memories we have!

          7. It was terrible – we have the same memories and I also walked without trying to bend my knee as much as possible. And I took the bus, so positioning myself on the seat and stretching out my leg was no picnic. It has made me very wary when walking through the neighborhood I’ll tell you that!

  6. I’m surprised your birding book says that tufted titmice are not in Connecticut because I’ve seen plenty of them in Massachusetts. They were regulars at my bird feeder at my house in Wilbraham. I may have a photo or two – I’ll have to check my blog. I love your photos here. The ladybug shot is a favorite!

    1. Sorry for the confusion, Karma. It’s the brown-headed nuthatch that’s not in Connecticut! (That paragraph should probably have been put after the nuthatch pictures instead of before them.) I used to see plenty of tufted titmice in Connecticut and continue to see them down here, too. The ladybug is pretty popular! 🐞

  7. Congrats on your new lifer with the little nuthatch! Aren’t they adorable?!!
    I apologize for being MIA, I’ve not had a chance to catch up on blogs for over a week! I’m too busy with grandkids, birds, and yard work. hehehe

    1. Thank you, Donna!! It was such a treat to discover the sweet little brown-headed nuthatch, especially since we didn’t have them in Connecticut. No need to apologize, my friend. Life is full of all kinds of busy-ness! 🙂

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