Nature Notes

Thursday, February 25th

First shoots

YES! We have green, people! Crocus or snowdrop, I'm not sure, but the point is - it's coming! :)

(Spotted and snapped by Bill on his way out to the car this morning. His text made my day!)

Speaking of this day - SO lovely.

Temp february 25

Though last night was quite stormy (across most of the US), today is mild and windy. Feels so much like Spring. This Winter (knock-on-wood) has been quite do-able so far.

Wildlife notes: Four beautiful deer spotted in the field on Main Street this morning. Right beside the road. No antlers (all female? or young?) and just breathtaking. Also, mourning dove song very early.

Wednesday, February 24th

Carolina wren

I'm cheating a little because this is a picture from 2009 - a different house, a different bird, but we had a pair of these lovelies at our suet today! I wasn't fast enough to get a picture, but I knew I had one (shaded though it is) at the blog. I adore these little Carolina Wrens. They are tiny, bright brown, their tail feathers stand straight up and they are so spirited! Their song is unbelievable. In my older post here I have links to their calls. I have found through the years they show up in late winter - and here they were today. Loving the suet that had fallen on the ground. 

Also at the feeders - the bluebird! So he (they) haven't left our habitat, which is nice. And all the regulars were here too, as well as a huge and handsome woodpecker with a vibrant red head - though oddly enough I believe he is called a Red-bellied Woodpecker!

Rainy day ... snow is melting fast. Tonight brings heavy rain and high winds (like, 50 mph!) and then cleaning tomorrow, temps near 60.

Tuesday, February 16th

This morning's icy weather ...

Icy morning 2

I took these pictures quite early (roughly 7:30 a.m.) as I tended to the birdfeeders - dumping out the snow that had fallen overnight, adding extra mealworms and scattered mixed seed. Above is the bank of trees on the east side of our property ... I love watching the sun rise behind these evergreens, and look how pale and frosty everything looks!

Icy morning 1

I know you can barely see it, but at the very top of the tree beyond the roof is a cardinal. He was singing his dear little heart out this morning! Oddly enough, despite all the snow and ice around me, the temperatures were on the rise and there was a feeling of Spring off in the distance ...

And yet ...

Icy morning 8

Everything was glazed with ice!

Icy morning 9

Happily, the mealworms we put out yesterday seem to be a hit with the bluebirds! Below is one on top of the table (where I scattered some mixed seed and "bluebird nuggets") and in the foreground are two lovely goldfinches.

Icy morning 4

This is also attracting the blue jays! And squirrels and juncos, too ...

Icy morning 3

And here's my dear little red squirrel, scavenging beneath the rhododendron.

Icy morning 5

Now, crazily enough, we are in for a very rainy afternoon ... heavy rain is on the way as well as temps in the 50s! It won't wash away all the snow, but will leave behind some black ice tonight and tomorrow morning so I hope everyone is safe on the roads.

Monday, February 15th

Bluebird on branch 2

Another terribly blurry picture I'm afraid, but I am just so excited about our bluebirds, I had to share! :)

The pair of them keep visiting ... and I say pair because there is only ever two of them in the yard BUT ... today there were two bright blue birds and previously there was a bright blue bird and a drab blue bird (a mated pair I assume), but the presence of two bright blue birds tells me there may be more about!

Anyway, I keep noticing them hovering around the feeders but not really doing much eating. I know they don't like seeds and though they do seem interested in the suet cage, they only pick at what the woodpeckers messily drop on the ground. So today we headed over to the local agricultural co-op where we stocked up on all kinds f seed AND a bag of mealworms ... which - are kind of gross, yes but - are apparently the preferred food of bluebirds. 

So here is another terrible picture but it shows the tray feeder which is now full of mealworms ...

Bluebird feeder 1

Note the blurry red-breasted blob sitting just above the feeders! They seem a bit wary of the tray (it being a new feature and all) but it definitely piqued their interest ...

I am just so pleased to think we might be able to not only sustain these beautiful birds, during this incredibly cold weather, but also, perhaps, encourage them to make our property their year-round home. (Apparently not all bluebirds migrate.)

Other birds at the feeders this week: juncos, chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, nuthatches, goldfinches.

Weather: Super frigid (single digits, wind chills -30)! But tomorrow comes rain and wind and temps around 50! Got to love a New England winter ... !

Tuesday, February 9th

Bluebirds 1

I know it's very hard to tell from that blurry photo (taken through my less than pristine kitchen window) but those two birds at the suet feeder are bluebirds!! 

I absolutely love bluebirds, but have only ever seen them (in real life) once before - last winter, actually. There was a whole flock of them in our front yard! I was all excited thinking we'd be seeing more of them but that was it ... until today. :)

There was just the pair of them - and they spent a good bit of time in the big tree above the feeders (there was a little squabbling amongst the woodpeckers), but they did dip down to the suet a couple of times.

What a beautiful sight! The younger boys and I were sitting right at that kitchen table, working on our Mardi Gras masks, when I spotted the birds. I love seeing new (or uncommon) birds at the feeders!

Weather: Cold, in the 20s, partly sunny.

Tuesday, February 2nd ~ Candlemas Day!

Snowdrops 1

Well, just moments ago, our resident groundhog emerged from his den - did NOT see his shadow and therefore predicted an EARLY SPRING!  But before we get too excited, this old Candlemas verse declares the opposite to be true ...

If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter takes another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.

Well, it's bright and sunny here! A beautiful February morning and as I always say (or think to myself anyway) whatever the weather might be - this day is a gift. So whether the coming weeks bring snow and bluster or sun and soft breezes, I'll take it! :)

• Snowdrops, shown above at our old house. Still waiting on the ones we planted here! This is a lovely, old-fashioned spring bulb, also called "Candlemas Bells." With all this mild weather recently they may be on their way up ... but we'll take a look today and see. Last year they never appeared, buried under all that record-breaking snow.

• Coloring pages for the younger boys (groundhog, snowdrops) and a check of the temperature at noon.

The Story of the Snow Children by Elsa Beskow

How Groundhog's Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry 

Today, I will clean out the "Crafts & Candles" cupboard and organize the materials to make some beeswax candles with the boys. If there is patience and focus we will attempt this craft later today! If not - outside we go to burn off that energy and look for our own shadows in the fading afternoon light.


* Temps in the mid 40s, bright sun. *

Monday, February 1st

On this soft gray morning, it feels a bit like Spring ... And in fact, February 1st, St. Brigid's Day, marks the start of the Celtic Spring. And while that might work over there, here in New England, the first of February generally feels NOTHING like Spring. We are usually in the hard and fast grip of Winter at this time of year, but ...

It's quiet and mild out there, and the sky is brightening slowly.

• I'll wake the boys in a bit with "Rabbit, rabbit!" A must on the first of each month!

• We'll look around the yard today for signs of Spring and some "straw" (dried ornamental grass) with which to make our Brigid's crosses. We might even peek along the front stone wall and see if we spy any snowdrops budging the earth ... Candlemas Bells, they are also called!

• Wonder what the groundhog will say tomorrow?

Sunday, January 31st

Hairy moss

Morning walk down to get the paper and take trash out with R. Found some very interesting moss growing along the stone staircase out back! It looks like it's growing hair! (And crazy hair at that.)

Also found this morning, wonderful for the last day of January:

The days are short

The sun a spark,

Hung between

The dark and dark.

("January," John Updike)