Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Little Dears

Here we are again, back at the very popular rye field. I took this picture around the same time as the other ones posted a couple weeks ago, but somehow missed it while choosing pictures to upload.

The thing I liked about this little grouping were the sort of comical bookends back to back in the foreground watching me, while the handsome little buck and his friend in the background were riveted by something off to the left of us. Probably more deer coming in for an evening nibble.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Birds on the Bay

There are still a few seagulls, ducks, geese and swans lingering along the shore. Most have flown south to warmer waters, but there are stragglers.

Last year, the seagulls never totally left the area - the water stayed free, so they didn't have to go elsewhere to find food. I liked the look of this gull, with its gray wings blending with the color of the bay on a cloudy day. 

This swan captured my attention because the blueish-gray shadows along its wings and the white of its back somehow matched the mood of the bay with a little bit of light coming through the clouds and reflecting off the surface of the ripples in the water. 

I know, I know - I'm easily entertained!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Bit of a Lark

A meadowlark, that is...

Obviously, I took this picture earlier in the year. August, to be precise. I caught an adult meadowlark with its beak totally stuffed full of bugs to take back home to feed the nestlings. I couldn't resist sharing, even though it's out of season. Of course, a little bit of blue sky doesn't go amiss, once the clouds start rolling in for the winter, right? 

Hmmm.... maybe I'll have to glance back at summer now and then as the snow begins to pile up. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Royal Thank-You

Earlier in the fall, this monarch butterfly was trapped in a corner of a gazebo down by the river and I caught it and turned it loose. 

It decided it wasn't quite ready to abandon its rescuer and made a few swooping loops around me that I really enjoyed watching, before it landed on me again. It stayed for quite a long time, running its proboscis along my finger to pick up a few minerals.

I kept trying to encourage it to fly away, but when I finally got it to take wing again, it circled right back and landed on my other hand, right beside the camera. I think it must have newly emerged from its chrysalis, since it was so perfect - not a nick or scratch on its wings at all. I have a feeling that this little beauty will find its way onto a carving block at some point. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hairy and Warty

So, was your curiosity piqued by the vaguely unappealing title? A little like a train wreck you can't look away from? Happily, the actual content isn't remotely like a train wreck - at least, I hope it isn't!

This hairy woodpecker is responsible for the first part of the title. She's wiping suet off her beak, using a bit of pine bark as a handy napkin. Such fine manners!

And this warty American toad is responsible for the second part of the title. I almost missed his presence entirely, since he blended in so well with the brown grass in my back yard. I'm always delighted to see this guy hanging around in the yard and gardens. 

I have a soft spot for toads - when I was a child there was a toad that sat under a yard light every night in the summer, waiting for tasty bugs to be drawn by the glow. I would go out and sit beside it and pet it along its neck, just behind the eyes and it would just sort of hunker down and blink. It must have liked the attention, since it kept coming back and putting up with me night after night.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mmmmm.... Pie!

We had a sort of belated birthday celebration for my brother, since the actual day was a bit crazy. 

I made a blueberry pie - with a little bit of lemon juice for extra tartness. 

I used the wheat pattern for venting, just as my mother used to do. It's my favorite crust vent decoration. Sometimes I use my grandmother's stars, too. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Chilly Bee-knee

Most mornings are pretty chilly these days. 

This late blooming hollyhock caught my eye and I took a picture as Baloo and I approached it. In the process, I noticed the bumble bee that had gotten caught away from home when the sun went down. 

It was waiting for the sun to warm things up so that it could take flight again. 

The same thing happened to this bee perched on a spotted knapweed flower. I was able to get quite close, since it couldn't go anywhere - usually they move away from me before I can get a good, close picture. They're camera shy.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Puddle Ducks

After days of rain, large puddles began forming in low spots. 

Three mallards took advantage of the extra little bodies of water.

These girls were right beside the road and only one of them even stepped away when we walked past.  Of course, Baloo was quite interested in investigating these new critters.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Robins in the Vineyard

A 'round' of robins (that's the unofficial, but most popular collective noun option for a group of these birds) gathered in the vineyard just down the street from me. They were gleaning the grapes that had been left behind by the harvesters. 

They would disappear into the vines and suddenly pop up to perch on one of the support posts.

This one looked around, scratched its head and dove back into the feast.

I liked the contrast of the bright breasts and yellow leaves. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Signs of Fall

Of course, the leaves have been making a fabulous show, but there are other signs of autumn along our walks. 

The grapes in the vineyards near our home are being harvested - they're big and beautiful and the area wineries are going to be busy with them, creating new vintages. 

The herons have been migrating south and they stop by the shore of the bay to do a little fishing as they rest their wings and refuel for the next stage of their journey. 

Mountain ash trees are loaded with berries. Interestingly, some trees get eaten clean by migrating robins and other fruit loving birds in October and November, while other trees get left alone until February, when the cedar waxwings fly through in large flocks and take advantage of any berries or crab apples they can find. I don't know what the difference is, but I'm glad there's something for the waxwings - they're such delightful birds to watch performing acrobatics as they forage among the branches and I'd hate to see them go hungry.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

More Colorful Leafy Things

Baloo and I were greeted by this magnificent maple tree as we stepped out of the woods after a nice walk in a light rain.

I love all the different colors the maples can display. 

Oranges, reds, yellows...

...even sort of pink.

Then, the beautiful maroon of this little oak seedling was so striking against a bed of brown pine needles. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

In Flight

Geese winging their way south for the winter flew over the big field where Baloo and I were walking.

They were honking loudly and shifting positions in their formation.

It took them long enough to traverse the width of the field that I was able to get a couple good photos - mostly in focus, but not completely. 

Then, to cap it all off, there was a pair of eagles soaring around my neighborhood just a couple days later. 

I think it might be a mated pair, so I hope they're thinking of nesting in the area, rather than just passing through on their way to warmer climes. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Autumn Olive

Invasive plants can be seriously evil (I don't know, like kudzu, maybe?) - or they can have some redeeming characteristics to love in spite of their exotic and alien natures. 

For example, for years autumn olives were touted as great cover and food for birds, with scientists and conservationists suggesting that we plant them. Then, these treacherous bushes started spreading in their attempt at world domination and were redefined as evil invaders that should be eradicated whenever possible.

But, they do still provide cover, nesting spots and food for hungry birds preparing for winter or fuel for those traveling south to warmer climes. Deer, field mice, rabbits and other furry critters also enjoy their fruits. (As you can see, even Baloo loves these juicy little morsels and he happily trots from bush to bush gleaning what he can from the lower branches - while I munch a few from the upper ones.)

The fruits from these environmental experiments gone wrong also make fine jam. 

Take a little autumn olive jam, add some hot sauce and spread it over a block of cream cheese before slathering it on a cracker for a delicious appetizer. Yum!

So, just as our mothers always told us, there is some good in the worst of us!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Giving in to Temptation

I know that it's a little bit overdone at this time of year, but I just couldn't resist sharing a few photos of the beautiful fall colors. 

The tree in the foreground captured my eye as I was taking a morning walk with Baloo. The trees around it were beautiful, too, but I just loved the green with the red tips and highlights. That almost sounds like a hairstyle, doesn't it? 

As a storm rolled in, the gray clouds provided a great backdrop for the rays of sun shining on the small, yellow shrubs that almost looked like they were lit from within. 

Finally, this was the view as we walked back toward home. That lovely maple tree turning red on the top is in my front yard. Lucky me!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Oh, Deer!

As twilight approaches, deer gather to nibble on the fresh sprouts of a very popular rye field.

Doesn't this big doe look regal? She looks like she could be the Queen Mother matriarch of the herd! She's certainly keeping a close eye on the human interloper, but is not worried enough about my presence on the other side of the field to take cover.

This doe is still considering her options as she lingers among the trees.

And a totally unconcerned mother scratches an itch while her curious fawn watches to see who else might be stepping out of the woods to join them for the evening meal.