Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The New Feeder

After my Bird Walk, I bought a new feeder.  Bugs, Nuts & Fruits.  

It's a large cylinder and it looks a little something like this....

Yum yum.

I was very curious how long it would take my birds to find it.  Would they like it?  Who would eat from it?

The sweet Chickadees found it first, within a few hours.  They dipped and dived and pecked at it for hours.

Then it was ON.  I don't think there's a single bird in our yard who has not feasted from this awesome concoction of treats!  I was happy I put it up right before the snow.  It was THE PLACE TO BE during those two days of heavy snow.  See for yourself!

After the Chickadees, my man Harry was the next to arrive.  He pretty much made it his mission to live next to this new feeder.  Without fail, if I looked out the window, he was sitting on the branch right above.  My friend Carissa was here for a while last week and she was amazed at how he stayed in that one place dipping down to get a snack every once in a while.

Then came the Blue Jays.....

There was a would snack and the other would hang out on a branch above, almost like he/she was on lookout duty!

Anyone recognize this next bird?  I have no idea what bird this is but he/she is a cutie!

Then came the Robins......and I was amazed....I've never seen them eat anything from a feeder.  They're ground feeders!  I'm assuming this was because of the snow!?!?

And, of course, the wren was there a lot.  He's one of the easiest birds to photograph because he's less skittish.

I didn't get any pictures of the other bird visitors but I can assure you there were plenty.  Even my sweet Towhees.

Anyway, thanks for indulging me.  I was so thankful to have the new feeder last week.  It was almost like a little project I had to keep me busy!  I just noticed this morning that the last piece of the feeder was eaten off this morning.  I'm hoping the bird store has another one in stock.  When I bought this one, it was the last one on the shelf.  And now I'm kind of addicted.....along with the birds!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Old Lady in the Snow

My Dad sent me these pictures this morning.  My Kenzie, age 14, playing in the snow.  

I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog because I have a hard time getting the words out BUT, in mid-October, Kenzie's vet gave her yet another death sentence.  We were warned that her time is limited (um, HELLO, her time has always been limited!).  How much time, we asked with tight hearts, knowing that no human can really answer our question.  A few weeks to several months they told us.  Need I point out that it's now mid-February?  She's winding down, yes, and her legs are slowly giving out on her.  Yet here she is......deep in the throes of another winter....spriteful and as beautiful as ever in the snow.

My Kenzie Snooter.  Always defying the odds.  Still amazing me.  In her old age.

In her old age!  You can't imagine how happy it makes me to type those words.

In this picture, I can still see her 4-month old puppy face!

Kenzie, hang on another week and a half because Mommy is coming to give you some love!

I miss you, my first baby.


PS ~

This is Jada, Kenzie's "bestie".  I hold her largely responsible (along with my parents, saints that they are!) for keeping my Kenzie alive and well.  Jada always keeps Kenzie company and loves her as only another dog can.

Thanks, as always, Mom & Dad!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

JEEP Weather

When we got a little stir crazy this afternoon, I decided to take action.  I went out and shoveled the driveway. It took a long time and I was sweating my ass off  (there was a frozen layer ~ whew!).  Why would I do such a thing?  

So the girls could drive the Jeep around, of course!

I loved when Sophie carved out a little "parking spot" in the icy snow.

Look at my big girl!  She won't be able to even fit in the Jeep much longer. The Jeep was a gift from my parents for Sophie's third birthday. She was too small to fit in it at first and look at her now!  Sniff sniff. 

She takes her Jeep driving seriously! 

Yep, it's a Jeep thing.

I hope I'll be able to move my limbs tomorrow morning.


Snow Daze

Like most of the Southeast, the girls and I have been snowed in at home for two days.  Alain's been traveling for work so I went it alone.  Whew.  I am WORN OUT but, overall, had a REALLY wonderful time.  I will always be thankful for these two days alone in the snow with my girls....

I am ALWAYS happy when I get to put on my snow boots.

With our neighbors' two girls.  LOVE.

Clara and her "bestie"

I can't get enough of this girl lately. Love, adore, admire her.

One of my absolute favorite things in life.....untouched snow, speckled with sunlight.  Truly divine.

This morning we had the most beautiful snow I've ever seen with flakes the size of quarters.  The girls and I just stood in the middle of the street with our arms out turning in circles....laughing and giggling and smiling the entire time!

I purchased some fresh flowers in advance of the storm.  I knew they'd help get me through!

The birds have been AMAZING!  Our yard has definitely been their hangout during the storm.  The girls and I walked the street behind our house this morning.  We walked along in the quiet but, as we passed our house (in the back), we suddenly noticed tons of birdsong.  We stopped in our tracks and listened for several minutes.  It was so awesome and made me incredibly happy!  More bird pictures to come....

Okay, one more view of the lavender flowers.

How else did I survive?  Well, we had many dance parties to "get the wiggles out".  Out of thousands of songs, we chose Macklemore.  Oh Macklemore!  "White Walls' was my personal favorite during this storm and will probably always remind me of these two days.

Tonight the girls and I had dinner with our neighbors and, as we walked back home, we couldn't believe how beautiful the moon was.  Full and bright. I have no idea how to get a good photo of the moon (need to study this post!) and you know this silly picture does not do it justice.  It was the best I could do with a screaming child in my arms!  As I closed the garage behind us my only thought was that this perfect moon was the best ending to our two snowy days.

Hope all of our Southeast family and friends stayed safe and warm!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Amongst the Birds

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of going on my very first Bird Walk. The walk was sponsored by my favorite birding store here in Charlotte.  I didn't know what to expect but I was super excited to go. This was one of the first things I scheduled totally for myself based on that night I spent alone.  I realized pretty quickly that I was the only one in the group carrying a camera.  Everyone else had a very nice pair of binoculars while I had a silly little pair that I've had for years (not even sure where I got them!).  There was no doubt that I was the beginner in the group!  After about half an hour I realized why no one else had a camera.  For one, it's really quite difficult to get a good picture because of the large distances and many, many tree branches that get in the way. Secondly, on this particular day, there was no sun and it was very grey. However, I also realized that I love the photography as much as I love the birds.  Even though I didn't get any photos of some of the "better finds", I love the photos I do have.  And how else could I have shared the experience with my girls without some photos?  

One of our first finds was a Pileated Woodpecker. As you can see, he was far away. This was the best shot I could get with my big lens.  I couldn't help but wonder what he must look like from closer up.  So imagine my delight when I read this blog post yesterday.  Can you believe that photo?!  Isn't he gorgeous?

The Greenway, where I walk most mornings in warmer weather, has plenty of Mallards.  Even though they're common, for me, they never get old.  The males especially are so beautiful!

There are also many, many signs of beavers on the Greenway.  I have yet to see a beaver in person (and that didn't change after this walk) but I'm always on the lookout for signs that they're there! I took a few pictures of beaver signs on the walk and they all appear in this post.   This dam is pretty impressive!

These two red-shouldered hawks have already paired up for breeding season.

The American Black Duck.  I was unfamiliar with this species of duck. I was sad to hear that their numbers keep dropping. I assumed this was due to habitat loss but our guide said it was due to interbreeding with the Mallards (whose numbers have grown with habitat changes).

Another new-for-me duck.  The Gadwall.  Really, really gorgeous duck.  I'm excited to look out for this one on my future walks.

Hmmmm.  That beaver sure has been busy!

You should know that I'm the person in the group who is always lagging behind a little, caught up in some bird/duck/tree/etc.  I'm always running to catch up. As the group continued on, I stayed and checked out this cool hole in this very tall pine.  Come on, a hole like that with a natural perch?  Someone cool MUST live there.  I'll be checking this out on future visits as well!

I don't have a great picture but we actually came across a female American Black Duck with a partner male Mallard.  A real life example of the interbreeding.  This kind of made me sad.

When we got to the cattail wetland area, I watched all the small birds darting about.  In the photo above, there's a tiny little bird camouflaged right in the middle of the photo.

I do love the cattails!

A sweet little Mallard couple.

This beaver is obviously very ambitous and maybe not the smartest.  He/she is working at this massive tree from both sides but at two different levels!

I wish I could remember what type of bird this is!  I tried to take notes but it was just too much to keep up with.  Ha!  Maybe a type of Nuthatch?

It amazes me how these trees stay alive in so much water!

An example of three native trees growing side by side.  Birch, Ash and I don't remember the third!

A red-headed woodpecker.

Did I mention it was cold and grey?  This was such a nice group of people.  I'm hoping to see them again on another walk!

Okay, my favorite part of the entire walk was seeing this pair of Mourning Doves mating.  Yes, they mated right in front of the group.  It was over in a second so I obviously didn't get a picture.  Honestly, my mouth was hanging open and I couldn't take my eyes off of them.  It was pretty awesome!  Bring on the Mourning Dove babies! (Don't they look guilty to you?)

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.

All in all, we saw 37 different species of bird and duck. Not too shabby, right?  I learned a lot actually.....mainly how little I know about birds.  The best part was spending the morning around people like myself, people who get geekily excited over bird behavior and finds. I look forward to the next one.....
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