Saturday, June 24, 2017

Not so Plain Brown Birds

They don't usually garner as much attention as the Baltimore orioles, cardinals or goldfinches, but some of the less obviously colorful birds have their own charms.

The yellow-shafted flicker (I frequently call them My Friend, Flicker - I know, I'm strange...) has just a little splash of red on the back of the neck, but when it takes flight, the underside of its wings flash brilliant yellow-gold. I also love the heavily spotted breast - I'll try to get more pictures as the season progresses. I'm just glad that they seem to be nesting nearby.

The song sparrow doesn't seem very impressive, either, until it starts to sing. In the big field where Baloo and I walk frequently, they perch in the tops of small trees, bushes or wild grape vines and serenade. That's how I usually find them - I follow the sound of the song until I see the little rascals and try to snap a picture before they decide to move to another sound stage.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nosegays and Nectar

Well, they're pretty well finished now, but I always love the lilacs, so I thought I would post them anyway! 

There are beautiful lilac bushes peppered all along a number of our favorite walks. I always have to stop and stick my nose into the fragrant blossoms as we pass (Baloo noses underneath, hoping for a whiff of bunny or ground squirrel).

When I was a very small, we had a big lilac growing in our back yard and it had a lovely little open area underneath that an imaginative child could turn into a fragrant drawing room for teas, or a secret cave to hide in. I also remember sipping the nectar from the base of the flowers. It was so sweet!

Speaking of sticking one's nose into blossoms and sipping nectar... This bumble bee is taking full advantage of a red buckeye flower.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

By the Beautiful (Inland) Sea

Baloo and I took a walk along the shore near the lighthouse and I was enchanted by the many flowers blooming in the sand right at the water's edge (Baloo, on the other hand, was enchanted by fishy smells and who knows what else!).

False Solomon's Seal always reminds me of palm fronds until it opens completely and becomes less rigid.  This specimen is halfway between the stiff, palm-like quality and the softer arching look it takes on when fully mature.

This beach dweller was new to me and I had to look it up (I always like to be formally introduced to any new plants or creatures that I meet, so that I can call them by their proper names). This pretty little plant is a silverweed. They seemed to grow in colonies, spreading by sending out roots and sprouting new plants from them.

Along the edge of the beach, as we were reentering the forest, we found a lovely patch of wood betony, which is a revered herbal remedy that is recorded back at least as far as the middle ages, where an old Italian proverb advises one to, "Sell your coat and buy betony,", since it was widely considered a magic cure for many ailments.

I often find that if I'm not very careful, I learn something new every day!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Battle of the Oranges

Baloo and I have witnessed some altercations between various birds as we meander along our way.

Robin (left), Baltimore Oriole (right) 

I have observed that robins can be pretty territorial birds, but the Baltimore oriole can be just as fierce, as it turns out. In fact, the oriole was aggressively rousting the robin out of the trees and chasing it around the field relentlessly, even though he was the smaller bird.

Of course, those dads have a good reason to protect their territories, since they're in the middle of raising their little families. This nest full of baby robins is carefully tucked up into the corner of a play structure at Old Mission Congregational Church. The children discovered the nestlings while playing before services started. They wondered why they were getting scolded by the unhappy parents and found the reason (they made a sign to warn people that the birds were there, so they could grow up and fledge in peace - and the parents could relax a little, too)!

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Goosey, Goosey, Gander

Where shall I wander? 


As Baloo and I took our wander down the road beside the bay one day, we sort of majored in goose watching. Some flew in together to find a spot to land in the water.

But mostly, there were proud parents parading their young along the shores. Don't you just love the neat little line of babies with parental bookends?

Here's a closer look at the little ones.

A short way down the shore, we found a much larger family, but they're still lining up in the babies with bookends protective promenade formation.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Faces in the Forest

There are watchers in the woods. 

I saw this eye drawn on a piece of birch bark that was impaled on a couple small branches. It looked over a trail Baloo and I take through a favorite hemlock forest.

A little later on our walk, we were surprised by this face on a pine tree right at the edge of the trail. Someone had drawn eyes on the two upper trimmed branches and had even put pine needle eyelashes on them (look closely and you may be able to see them). They put two shelf fungus on a stick leaning up against the trunk to make the mouth, just below the nose branch (complete with nostrils drawn in). 

Of course, by that time, I was seeing faces everywhere - even ones that weren't aided by human hands. I sort of liked this craggy character.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Not Such Ugly Ducklings

There's a large, shallow pond (lake?) on the way to one of Baloo's favorite walking trails where we sometimes peek through the trees to see who might be out on the water. 

On this occasion, a pair of swans were grazing lazily with their brood of cygnets. They weren't too perturbed by our approach - they simply swam to the edge of the water where they felt safe with the distance and the cover. That made it tough to get good pictures, of course, but I tried!

The little ones stayed in the middle, flanked by their parents.

I took advantage of the photographic opportunity when one finally turned around to face us. Not ugly at all, right? Pretty cute, really.