songbirds, blooms, some other things

2.14.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

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!

house finch
(female) purple finch
Carolina chickadee
Pine Warbler, #81

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

Coastal Plain Habitat boardwalk in February
sand post oak leaves
mountain laurel starting to bud
cypress knees
crested wood fern

More blossoms to enjoy in the Lenten rose patch:

my favorite
longleaf pine

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.

frog eggs under water
moss on the edge of the frog pond

One of these days we might actually see a frog! 🐸

hunting for seedbox

1.12.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

Every day the North Carolina Botanical Garden Facebook page adds a post about something currently happening or growing in their gardens. Recently they posted a picture of a square seed capsule with the following information:

This funky plant grows in wet areas like ditches and freshwater tidal marshes. Its small yellow flowers drop their petals quickly, sometimes after just a single day, but we get to enjoy the beautiful seed capsules through the fall and winter. You’ll find seedbox alongside the goldenrods and ferns in our Coastal Plain Habitat.

So I decided we would hunt for this interesting looking seed capsule. We had no idea what size it would be but we headed for the Coastal Plain Habitat and searched and searched with no luck.

We then looked for identification signs for goldenrods and ferns, found some and located what looked like a promising patch of dried up vegetation near them.

red bay tree with several burls

Then Tim googled seedbox and found out that these seed capsules were very small, about 1/8 in. cubed. So my eyes kept inspecting the area ever more thoroughly…

We did see lots of pretty dry plants…

And then, at last, I found some!!! In the picture below the seedbox capsules are tangled up with another kind of plant.

Tim used his walking stick to move one stem of the capsules away and turned them so we could see the tops of them. Cute little cubes. I imagine there is a seed in each box. Seedbox! So tiny! (picture below) Our persistence paid off and I doubt we would ever have noticed these little gems if we weren’t looking for them.

seedbox (ludwigia alternifolia)
aka square-pod water-primrose

After that bit of excitement a hermit thrush flew by us and landed in the bushes. It stayed put for quite a while and I thoroughly enjoyed the photo op.

The botanical garden also has a bird blind with bird feeders in the Children’s Wonder Garden so we walked over there, spotting some cardinals and lovely trees along the way.

southern sugar maple leaves
northern cardinal
river birch bark
(reminds me of the one I had outside my kitchen window in Connecticut)
another northern cardinal

And lo and behold, there on the feeder was a new life bird for me, a Carolina Chickadee!!! I couldn’t zoom in fast enough before it left but I was happy to spot one. 🙂

Carolina Chickadee, #79

John James Audubon named this bird while he was in South Carolina. The curious, intelligent Carolina Chickadee looks very much like a Black-capped Chickadee, with a black cap, black bib, gray wings and back, and whitish underside. Carolina and Black-capped chickadees hybridize in the area where their ranges overlap, but the two species probably diverged more than 2.5 million years ago.
~ All About Birds website

A Carolina wren kept us amused for quite a while with his antics on the feeder.

There was much to see in the winter garden, many delights for the eyes. It was only 32°F (0°C) when we left the house so I had put on my thermal leggings and wool hat from Norway and managed not to get too cold.

deciduous holly

The hunt for seedbox was good stimulation, exercising our brains along with our bodies.

our first southern nor’easter

12.17.23 ~ drenched northern cardinal outside my window

We experienced our first nor’easter down south here on Sunday, getting over two inches of rain and plenty of wind. This cardinal sat on the branch outside our dining room window, looking in, for several hours. I finally got up and grabbed the camera. He was thoroughly soaked and I saw no sign of his partner. The juncos weren’t around either.

His behavior made me think of the mourning dove who hunkered down in the arborvitae behind our condo back in Connecticut during the remnants of Hurricane Ida. (Story here.) Except this cardinal was very exposed on a bare branch.

The winter solstice arrives tonight and the days will be getting longer. Warmest holiday wishes to everyone, whichever festival of light you are celebrating!

’tis the season for birds

12.13.21 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

Not the greatest pictures I’ve ever taken, but I was thrilled to see more birds than usual on this winter walk. Interesting that we didn’t encounter another human being on this day. Maybe everyone is shopping for the holidays. Not us! It was a sunny day with light westerly winds, a relatively comfortable 44°F/7°C with a feels-like temperature of 39°F/4°C. Connecticut’s positivity rate yesterday was 8.16%.

back of an American robin
back of a blue jay
blue jay, way high up in the tree
female northern cardinal on the ground
female northern cardinal, collecting wood chips?
white-throated sparrow bathing behind the reeds
white-throated sparrow, it was a quick bath
American robin, sitting very still but obscured by many twigs
tulip tree bark
the arboretum pond
hooded mergansers, second sighting!
hooded merganser
the only mallards shot I could get
my beloved eastern hemlock seed cones
view from the gazebo where we rested

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #598)

natural stone throne

4.7.21 ~ White-Hall Park, Ledyard, Connecticut

One of Tim’s friends told us about this lovely park. This bridge goes over the overgrown tracks of the Norwich & Westerly Railway.

The Norwich and Westerly Railway was an interurban trolley system that operated in Southeastern Connecticut during the early part of the 20th century. It operated a 21-mile line through rural territory in Norwich, Preston, Ledyard, North Stonington, and Pawcatuck, Connecticut to Westerly, Rhode Island between 1906 and 1922. For most of its length, the route paralleled what is now Connecticut Route 2.
~ Wikipedia

carolina wren

It’s a blurry picture but I was so excited to finally see a Carolina wren in Connecticut. I first heard its pretty song and saw a few of them while at my daughter’s home in North Carolina in the fall of 2018. I’ve been hearing them sing in the spring and fall since returning to to Connecticut but haven’t been able to spot one until this day.

moss on the ground alongside the trail
lichen up in the trees
northern cardinal, another blurry “masterpiece”
budding red maple, a hint of spring colors to come
this photo by Tim ~ note his walking stick leaning
against the natural stone throne

A “Natural Stone Throne” was indicated on the map but we almost missed it behind all the brush. Tim bushwhacked his way up a steep incline and got the above picture on his cell phone. I wasn’t about to follow but then he noticed a cleared trail joining the main trail a little ahead of where I was. So I walked around and up and got the following two pictures. I made one attempt to climb up and sit on it but it was too high to pull it off!

natural stone throne
natural stone throne
glacial erratic

We proceeded up the hill and found ourselves at eye level with the top of the 23-story Grand Pequot Tower at Foxwoods Resort Casino, a mile and a half away (2.4 km).

Foxwoods Resort Casino in the distance
Grand Pequot Tower
moss looking like little trees

A little farther along we got to the end of the trail at High Ledge Overlook. Thank goodness there was a fence marking the edge. It was a long way down. And then we turned around and noticed different things on our way back down the hill.

view from High Ledge Overlook
an assortment of at least 4 kinds of mosses
marcescence
seed pods
branches and vines

How little there is on an ordinary map! How little, I mean, that concerns the walker and the lover of nature…. The waving woods, the dells and glades and green banks and smiling fields, the huge boulders, etc., etc., are not on the map, nor to be inferred from the map.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, November 10, 1860)

living a life

image credit: pixabay

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

~ Mary Oliver
(Red Bird: Poems)

I’ve posted this poem before and the words came to mind again when I learned of Mary Oliver’s death yesterday. Thank you, dear poet, for teaching us that the instructions for living a life really are that simple. (Another of her poems, my favorite, is shared in my blog’s sidebar.) She loved Provincetown, too, and many of the things she described in her poems were so familiar to me.

Tim & I have been in North Carolina almost a week now, looking after our new grandson, two-and-a-half-month old Finn, who came down with an awful cold while his dad was out of town and his mom had an extra-busy week at work. But he seems much better today so he got to go back to daycare with big sister Katherine. It was fun taking them there and we’re looking forward to picking them up again.

Of course I have caught the cold. But it is worth all the time I was able to soothe the little guy and I will treasure the memory of him sleeping in my arms for hours. And being with Katherine, who is busy monitoring the hatching of a (pretend) stegosaurus egg in a tub in the bathroom. We’re all a bit astonished. What we thought was a foot slowly emerging from the egg turned out to be a jaw! Now the mystery is wondering how big this dinosaur baby (Steggy) will get.

January down here is different than Connecticut. There are already pansies growing in planters along the sidewalks. Don’t see them in Connecticut until April! I saw a pussy willow starting to bloom on our way walking to the community compost pile. And the Carolina wrens are still singing outside my window.

Life is good. May you rest in peace, Mary Oliver.
(10 September 1935 — 17 January 2019)

birds in the blizzard

1.27.15.2714
1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Come, ye cold winds! at January’s call,
On whistling wings; and with white flakes bestrew
The earth.
~ John Ruskin
(The Poems of John Ruskin, Volume 1)

1.27.15.2733
1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Blizzard Colbie gave us 22 24 inches of snow. I have been waiting for some decent snow this winter and it finally arrived. Zoë and I had a delightful afternoon watching the birds feeding in the snow on our balcony.

1.27.15.2751
an odd couple ~ 1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Tim sets up a webcam when it snows up here, so our kids in Georgia and North Carolina can watch the storm as it progresses. Nate, who has loved the color red since he was a baby, pinged me to let me know I had a cardinal out there. I already knew that, but it warmed my heart to know that he is still partial to all things red.

1.27.15.2772
an angry looking jay,
perhaps because I didn’t put out peanuts in the shells for him
1.27.15.2847
this cardinal seemed to be eating snow all afternoon
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Tim liked this picture a lot so I included it here
1.27.15.2874
oh how I love my friendly, inquisitive mourning doves
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a sweet little junco, he captivated Zoë’s attention for quite a while
1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
1.27.15.2926
1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

They still have not come to plow the parking lot of our complex and I’m wondering what the hold up is. Tim returned from doing some volunteer work at the Red Cross shelter and got stuck in the entrance to the driveway. Fortunately our very kind neighbors dug him out and created a parking space for him, too. All the neighbors’ cars are still buried.

Edit – the morning after – the final snow total for Groton was 24 inches! The town of Thompson got 33.5 inches!

Cumberland Island ~ 3

4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
tufted titmouse ~ 4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
a little nest builder ~ 4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
female and male cardinals ~ 4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
baltimore oriole ~ 4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia
4.9.12 ~ Cumberland Island, Georgia

Still more pictures coming!