Sunday, August 19, 2018

Singing the Blues

I finally had a good, clear chance at a picture of an indigo bunting. I took a bunch and only one really turned out reasonably well. 

Even this picture is a little bit dark, but it is a pretty good look at the fellow - and they are sort of dark. 

I was going to get a slightly brighter picture, as you can see from the color of the bird. At least I thought I was. Instead, I got photobombed by a prankster gray squirrel. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018



The rose-breasted grosbeak looks like a pinwheel when it flies. The black, white and red combination is so striking.

This one is enjoying some suet. That's not their usual preference, but it's great energy for migration flights. 

My brother is lucky enough to get these birds nesting in his area. In my yard, I just get them passing through (sometimes) in the spring and fall and usually for just a day or two.  I will occasionally see a glimpse of one in a tree when Baloo and I are out in the woods, though. 

This was taken earlier in the season - the dead giveaway is the evil cowbird in the background, looking for hapless songbirds to trick into raising her young by laying an egg in an established nest and tossing out one of the eggs already there.  The cowbird baby will push everybody else out of the nest as soon as it hatches, so it has no competition. Often, the foster parents are much smaller than the cowbird, so they're hard pressed to keep the little parasite fed. Can you tell I'm not a big fan? 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Plate-sized Pasties

I know - these are huge, but I just wanted to put so much stuff inside them. They've got potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, onions and venison inside. 

A little salt and pepper for seasoning and a salad (on another plate, of course, because there's no room on the pastie plate), and it's quite a feast. I only make these once or twice a year, but I love them every time (and the rest of my family doesn't seem to mind them, either)! Yum!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Oh, Sweet Canada!

That's what this little white-throated sparrow sings so enthusiastically. The song sounds like, "Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada". 

I think he's a terribly handsome fellow, with the yellow patches in front of his eyes and the bold white stripes, not to mention the bright white throat patch.

These birds pass through in the spring and fall, and if I'm lucky, a few of them will decide to stick around and build a nest in the summer or spend the winter enjoying the chicken scratch I throw under the feeders. 

They're welcome whenever they decide to stop by, though. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Wile E. Coyote

This set of photos is actually from a couple months ago and I hadn't gotten them sorted and posted yet.  As a result, we're jumping in the time capsule and traveling back to earlier in the season, since I thought these were worth sharing. 

I had a coyote come within about 20 feet of me as it zig-zagged back and forth across the field looking for something to eat. 

It looked straight at me, and I thought I might get busted. My camera isn't perfectly silent, so the breeze must have been in my favor both for sound and scent detection. 

It never discovered that I was there (or didn't care!). Baloo wasn't with me that morning, or there would have been a ruckus. He isn't fond of coyotes and always lets them know it when he sees them or hears them howling. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sitting in the Catbird Seat

I have always heard the saying, "sitting in the catbird seat",  referring to someone who was "sitting pretty". Since I belong to the ranks of the terminally curious, I had to look up the origin of the phrase. 

From what I could discover, the saying has its origins in the American South. Apparently, since the catbird likes to sit high in the tree canopy, the catbird seat is a lofty and coveted position. It's fitting for this talented bird. 

Not only does the catbird sing its own song (resembling the meow of a cat, hence its name), but it's a very gifted mimic, belonging to the family of mimic thrushes, along with the brown thrasher and the mockingbird. So, it's a copy cat, too. 

It has another little secret, which you can only see if you manage to get a good look under its tail feathers (sadly, I couldn't get that angle in any of these pictures, so you'll have to imagine this). The catbird has a distinctive red rump. Very striking in an otherwise conservatively dressed gray bird.

If you sing "meow" to a catbird, you can often entice it closer to have a look at the odd wingless bird that seems to be trying to invade its territory. I've always liked these birds - they captured my imagination when I was a youngster. 

You never know, this rascal may have to end up in a carving just as that nuthatch did. (Grin.)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tansy vs Tan-Z

Yes, indeed. 

There's tansy the flower and there's Tan-Z, the brand new carving material at 

This is the flower. Tansy is frequently used as a natural insect repellent (ants don't care for it, from what I understand) and it's also a natural dye plant used in coloring textiles. It has had a number of medicinal uses in the past, but there are far more safe and effective remedies for the ailments it used to treat, so I won't enumerate them here.

This, on the other hand, is a garage full of Tan-Z. Complete with a very attentive watchdog supervising the unloading process as the skids come off the truck and line up in the garage. 

I have unwrapped one of the skids and the material looks exactly as it should. It's been cut and stacked just as I asked and now the fun begins. I get to haul a sheet to the basement for cutting every time I walk through the garage or head downstairs.  Baloo gets to continue in his official watchdog capacity as he observes the whole production, from hauling down the stairs and cutting to packaging and taking out for the mail carrier to collect. He already thinks I'm a little odd and this will reinforce his assessment. I make his meals, though, so he's tolerant of my many eccentricities. 

So, the new material is finally available. Check it out!  At this point, the pictures of the Tan-Z are terrible, but I had to take a the pictures last night so I could get them on the site today. I'll fix them in a day or so, when I've caught my breath a bit.