Monday, December 31, 2007

Backyard Hawk Action

OK, I was all ready to post the "pool party" movie I took yesterday afternoon, but something much more exciting occurred in my backyard today, so "pool party" will have to wait till tomorrow.

WARNING: this post will contain scenes of blood and a dead house sparrow, so if you're at all squeamish (or really like house sparrows) you may want to just stop right here and move on to the next blog.

I was looking out the kitchen window and happened to notice that all the birds were gone from the feeders and the Downy Woodpecker was playing "statue" on the suet feeder. Hmmmm....look for the hawk, Ruthie. Hey, there it is....can you see it....that dark blob there on the ground back behind the Downy?

Now, can I get a good picture through all those tree branches?
No, not really, but let's give that hawk a little time to eat its meal before I go outside and see if I can get any more pictures.

OK, it's been about 10 minutes.....let's step out the back door and see if the hawk will stay around. What do you this a Sharp-Shinned or Cooper's Hawk?

Hmmmm, it's really concentrating on eating up that bird. Wonder if I can creep any closer and get behind that tree over there?

Yes! Still I can use this tree as a blind and take a picture from here. I'm thinking maybe a Sharp-Shinned. See all those white spots on its back? I couldn't tell what color its eyes were, but it looks just like the picture of the adult Sharp-Shinned Hawk in my "Hawks & Owls of the Great Lakes Region" field guide. (Susan or Science Chimp--can you provide a definitive ID?)

I was even able to take this 40-second movie of the hawk finishing up its meal (I wish the movie wasn't so dark, but oh well.....)

After the hawk flew away, I photographed the scene of the kill. I was thinking a junco or house sparrow had become supper (because I have so many of them around).

Here's the only identifiable body part that was left--definitely a house sparrow beak!
Woo-Hoo!! Only 149 more House Sparrows to go.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Frosty Sunday

It was foggy this morning when we got up. The temp was about 14 degrees, but there was no wind and the humidity must have been almost 100%. Once it got light we could see that there was a good coating of hoarfrost on everything!

Here are some of the beautiful frosty sights from my backyard.

Leaves still on the Pin Oak

High Bush Cranberries


Cedar Tree (grew from a seed planted by the birds)

Joe Pye Weed (today and 8/5/07)

Goldenrod (today and 8/28/07)

Purple Coneflower (today and 9/6/07)

Some apples still frozen on the tree (the woodpeckers like pecking on these)

Crapapple tree
The starlings have been eating these (I hope they save enough for Cedar Waxwings and Robins in the spring!)

This morning I also spotted this little goldfinch who looks like he's getting his summer plumage back....what do you think?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Morning at Home

Ooh, almost an entire Saturday morning to myself. You know my spousal unit's a pretty darn good guy, but sometimes a woman just needs some "me time" and that's exactly what I have this morning while he's at work. He just called me to say it's slow at work and he'll be home at 11:00, so I've got to get this post done before he gets home and we have to start running around on errands.

So, I got up at the regular time (4 AM) when my dear spousal unit got up for work and woke me up to come and see the deer out at the bird feeder. The deer have just this week started coming back into our yard. This is unusual behavior for them this time of the year as deer usually "herd up" into larger groups and head for deeper cover/shelter in larger woods. I'm happy to have them visiting again and have already started stocking up on corn.

I figured as long as I was up and it was too dark to see any birds yet, it would be a good time to watch a movie (Hairspray) and work on a knitting project. I enlisted Daisy to be the model for this completed neck warmer (another free pattern from the internet). I think it turned out really nice and that's another ball of yarn knitted up from my stash. (In case you're wondering, this neck warmer is for a human--not a dog, although I think this is a good color on Daisy!)

Once it got light, it was time to fill the bird feeders and see what else was going on out in the yard.

After years of having no squirrels, I finally have about 6 in the yard. They generally behave pretty good until the corn in the ground feeding trays runs out. Then they start exploring some of the other bird feeders--even the ones on the deck.

Hey, are those peanuts?

Silly human--does she think I can't figure this out?
I put the wire cover over the feeder to deter the starlings from the peanuts--I guess I'd better get the longer cover out now!

I guess squirrels like these apples I put out for bunnies and deer too.

Here's where I hope the squirrels will stay as long as there's enough corn for them.

It looks like the dogs will be getting some exercise this weekend chasing squirrels. They can't eat much birdseed as long as they're up here away from the dogs!

The crows paid an early morning visit also. If I don't have any food scraps to put out in their tray, they're perfectly happy to check out what's available in the backyard feeders.

I was lucky to catch a couple of tree sparrows in a moment of stillness.

Here's my first attempt at photographically capturing the red-breasted nuthatch--I definitely need to work on skills for getting a decent picture of this little guy.

Juncos abound in my yard.
Here are the deer tracks coming (left side) and going (right side) from my ground feeding tray. When we were watching them early this morning, I noticed that one of them was favoring her left hind leg. You can see from the tracks in the snow how that leg drags as she walks. Deer are pretty amazing animals and can adapt to life with an injury.

A downy woodpecker checks for insects on the dying birch tree in my front yard.

I hope you're enjoying your Saturday morning and get a few hours to do exactly what you want too!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Christmas Memories

I hope you all had a good Christmas with family and friends. We drove down to Mom & Dad's for our family Christmas celebration yesterday. Here are some memories from my Christmas day.

It was a beautiful, partly sunny day and not too cold. Since we didn't have to leave till later in the morning, I had some time to spend out in the backyard playing with the dogs and filling birdfeeders. I remembered one of the robins had built a nest in one of my evergreen trees and I checked to see if it was still there. Sure was there and now serving as a hiding place for a bluejay's peanut.
My neighbor with the junk-filled backyard has an old blue tarp that is blowing to shreds up against my fence. I have seen several nests in my backyard trees where the birds incorporated shreds of this blue tarp into their nest construction.

Since I wasn't able to participate in Rochester's "official" Christmas bird count on Dec. 15th, I held my own "Backyard Christmas bird count" on Christmas Day. Here are the birds I saw & counted in my backyard yesterday morning:

Ring-Necked Pheasant - 1
American Goldfinch - 9
Red-Breasted Nuthatch - 1
Crow - 3
Blue Jay - 6
Black-Capped Chickadee - 2
American Tree Sparrow - 3
Mourning Dove - 4
House Sparrow - >100
Junco - 19
Downy Woodpecker - 2
Cardinal - 5
European Starling - 7
House Finch - 12

Down at Mom and Dad's, we had a visit from the Christmas possum. Actually this was one of three we saw at their place yesterday. I think this may have been a younger had the most luxurious and darkest fur of the three I saw.

Don't you just love their cute little feet?

My niece Kathy loved the hat I knitted for her! She "hinted" that a matching pair of gloves would be a good gift when her birthday rolls around in February. (I'll have to check my "stash" to see if I have any more of this yarn left!)

Ethan's apple hat was way too small! I actually started the 6-month size but it seemed so huge that I reduced the pattern. Too bad....I had to take this one back home and will get a larger one knitted for him.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you, my dear blogging friends.

The lovely artwork shown above was created my very talented Brother Dave and featured on a greeting card several years ago.

I'll be back again after Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Daisy

No ornaments on the tree yet, but at least Daisy is in the Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas 'Hoopla'

The other day Meggie tagged me to play "Christmas Hoopla." Here is how to play:
1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas.
2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word. I suppose that refers to the 'M'eme list.
3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible.

OK, Here goes.....
1. I love the Bing Crosby version of "White Christmas."
2. I hate that Christmas has become so commercialized.
3. I would love to take a week off before Christmas to stay home and enjoy getting all my Christmas stuff done: baking, cards, decorating, etc.
4. When we were little my Mom sewed matching Christmas outfits for me and my sister and I ended up ripping the tie on my blouse at the Christmas pageant at church--Mom was pretty mad.
5. For the past several years, I have always made a batch of homemade lefsa for Christmas dinner.
6. The worst Christmas gift my husband ever gave me was a shotgun.
7. The best Christmas gift my husband ever gave me was a pair of diamond stud earrings (I wear them every day)
8. I love eggnog (the stuff you buy in the dairy case at the grocery store).
9. I used to have real Christmas trees, but got tired to having to secure them because every cat I've ever had has insisted on climbing up them and tipping them over.

Can you see Penny in the tree? (And the 2 brown lines running out of the tree above and below Penny are the yarn I used to secure the tree to the railing so it doesn't tip over)

10. The biggest monetary Christmas bonus I ever received was $1000.
11. I usually compose and print a Christmas letter every year (but haven't started a letter or even cards yet this year)
12. I actually like fruitcake.

I know everyone's busy right now, but I would like to "tag" Mary at "Mary's View" and Trixie at "Trixie's View" to play the Christmas Hoopla game. Come on, ladies, do you have time to play???

Monday, December 17, 2007

7 Random Things

I was tagged a few weeks ago by Lisa at Greenbow and again the other day by LauraHinNJ for the 7 Random Things meme.

So here are seven random (or weird) things you may not have known about me:

  1. I am a numismatist (so the next time you see that commercial on TV you will think of me). I have the US Coin Map framed on my dining room wall (only 5 more to go!) I'm collecting the Presidential Dollars. I have a handful of wheat pennies laying on my dresser, I have a Mercury dime that's mounted so I can wear it as a necklace, and I always examine what kind of coins I get as change before putting them in my purse.
  2. I have gone to Wal-Mart in my pajamas.
  3. I drive too fast--usually at least 5-8 mph over the speed limit, because I know the cops usually don't stop people if they're only a little ways over the limit (at least they haven't gotten me yet!)
  4. I'm fascinated with tornadoes. I have a collection of tornado videos. I read books about tornadoes. When I was still living at home, our house sustained minor damage when a tornado struck my hometown in 1976. I have seen a real tornado (but it didn't touch down or do any damage).
  5. I dream in color and sound (sometimes about tornadoes!)
  6. I have heard wolves howling in the wild.
  7. I spend way too much money on my backyard birds. I've been keeping track for the last 6 months and found I spend almost $100 a month on birdseed and mealworms.

As with other meme's, there are some "rules:" Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog. Share 7 random or weird things about yourself. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I'm going to "break" a rule and not tag anyone since it seems everyone's pretty busy with holiday preparations right now. Thanks for tagging me, Laura. It was fun to do this ahead and actually have a post "saved" in advance and just pop in some pictures today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On an unrelated note, I heartily "approve" of the package that arrived in my mailbox today containing a Christmas present to myself.

The classic black t-shirt.....favored by self-respecting bikers (and bunny lovers)

And my own autographed copy of "Disapproving Rabbits"
The pictures and captions in this book are adorable....and yes, Mom, I will bring it along at Christmas so everyone can read it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bluejays--The Movie

This is the reason why I go through 100 pounds of peanuts in the shell every winter. Who needs TV when you've got bluejays?

These guys are loud and boisterous, but I know there's no way they would ever be trusting enough to take a peanut out of my hand, so the "Brave Birdie" award will remain with the chickadee forever more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

10 Days Till Christmas

So I've gone 3 days without doing a's such a weird's like I can tell something's wrong, but I just can't put my finger on what's missing in my life and then I realize how much I miss my blog and being able to spend time with all of my blogging friends! We started our first overtime weekend today and I worked from 5-10 AM. I'll take tomorrow off and then hit it hard again starting Monday. This afternoon, though I had some time for some work and some fun (I'm saving the fun till last!)

The temps were in the upper teens this afternoon, partly sunny, and very little wind, so I decided to try hanging some laundry outside.I've been wanting to do this all winter, but it's been either snowing or too windy the last few weekends I've done laundry. The weatherman says tomorrow is going to be nice like today, so the laundry hopefully will freeze dry overnight and I'll have good smelling clean clothes to fold tomorrow.

I'm making progress on my Christmas gifts. In the picture below (from L. to R.) is a stocking cap for my nephew in California, a sock for my office mate (a second one still has to be completed), and the goofy-looking thing is a ball cap earwarmer (my own design).

I saw something like this (made in fleece) in a catalog and actually figured out how to adapt the design to a knitted pattern. Here's how it works:

The opening in front goes over the "bill" on your ball cap--the lower part keeps your forehead warm and the upper part holds it in place on your cap. I've knitted it so it's wider in the back part to also cover that hole in the back of a cap to keep that spot on the back of your head warm too. I'm planning to get this pattern typed up in early January, so if any of you knitters would like to try knitting your own for the "ball cap wearers" in your life, let me know in a comment or e-mail and I'll be sure to send you a copy.

OK, now for the fun.......can you figure out what this is??

I brought home an empty apple juice jug from my stop at Wild Birds Unlimited today and while I was rinsing out the jug and the cap, I realized the cap would be perfect for holding mealworms in my hand and feeding chickadees.

I'm afraid I'm getting obsessed with feeding these little birdies, but it's just such an amazing thing to have them be trusting enough to land on my finger and eat a worm!