Sunday, March 19, 2017

Osprey

There is a good-sized pond about a quarter of a mile from here as the crow flies, or perhaps I should say as the osprey flies.  I was strolling around the yard as I'm wont to do on a Sunday afternoon, and I saw what I thought might have been a bald eagle.  After a minute I realized it had circled back.  (It seemed to be flying over the area of the power line that runs alongside the far side of my neighbor's property.)  I fetched my camera in hopes that I would get a third glimpse.
(This was the best shot.)
 
When I came back out with my camera, the first shot was quite distant even zoomed in, 
but then the bird obliged me by flying overhead.  I'm pretty sure it's an osprey.





Off into the wild blue yonder...

 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Courting vultures

About a week and a half ago, I was outside snapping pictures when I saw a pair of black buzzards in a synchronized flight.  One vulture chased the other, and at one point they actually made contact in the air, though I didn't catch that part with the camera. 
We have turkey vultures and black vultures in these parts.  I see the turkey vultures more often.  Sometimes, in reference to Sheriff Andy Taylor prompting someone to call another person a "black-hearted buzzard," we will call the black vultures "black-hearted buzzards." 
Here are the pics in the sequence I took them.





Friday, March 10, 2017

Pruning my muscadines

I pruned my two muscadine vines yesterday.  Here is a set of "before and after" pics.  These vines were pruned last year, so even though they looked unkempt, that is just one year's worth of growth.
 
 
 
 
If you're looking for a "how to" tutorial, you might find this Ison's video helpful.  In my opinion, it is an excellent video.
This diagram from the Alabama Extension Service shows a little more clearly what is meant by pruning it back to "2 buds."  The extension service is saying 2 to 3 and Ison's says 1 to 2.  I think most of my cuts were to 3 buds.
(From this publication:  ANR-53-L, New June 1999. Arlie Powell, Extension Horticulturist, Professor, David Himelrick, Extension Horticulturist, Professor, William Dozier, Professor, and Dave Williams, Extension Horticulturist, Associate Professor, all in Horticulture at Auburn University)
 
 
I'm looking forward to this in the fall.
 
I may have to try a pie or something this year if I get a decent crop.  I came across a muscadine dreamcake recipe at a nursery this past year.  The pie looks divine, but I would probably alter it use ingredients more readily available to me.
If you are deliberating about getting a muscadine, I highly recommend taking the plunge.



Monday, March 6, 2017

Nest building begins

Today I saw a warbler or some similar sized bird picking up a bit of white nesting material it had apparently dropped on the deck rail.  Just a few days ago, I had seen a mourning dove tugging at some dried grass by the sidewalk.  I had fully intended to clean the old nest out of the bluebird box by the end of February, but I had not.  (Daddy always says the road to hell is paved with good intentions.)  I thought I would observe a few minutes and go ahead and clean it out if the birds had not already built.  I saw the female taking nesting materials.  She had to wait while the mockingbird used the birdhouse for a perch.  I figured if she could wait for the mockingbird, I would take my turn as well.  I cleaned out the box, then put a few mealworms nearby to compensate for the extra energy needed to do some of the work twice.  The male bluebird was on lookout.  While the box was open and I had gone to fetch the whisk broom, he flew up to the top of the light pole where he often perches.

Then he flew to the nearby crepe myrtle to continue his surveillance.
 
After I had done closing the box back, he checked out the box itself as if to give the all clear.


Then the female checked it out as well.  She began bringing nesting materials again. 
 
If you look closely, you can see a dark spot near the center of the picture, just in front of the tall broom sedge.  It's the female bluebird gathering dried sedge or grass or straw.  (The other spot near the drive is a sparrow or junco foraging.)
 
At one point, she had nest materials to place while the male was inspecting the box.  Two or three times she fluttered in front of the box, waiting for him to move.  He finally went inside and she went in as well.  He soon flew out, and I could imagine her carefully arranging the straw in the nest.


Meanwhile back at the ranch, a white-throated sparrow was having a rather brisk bath.
 
 
 
 
There is lots of bird activity.  Spring can't be far behind.

 
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

I participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count again this year even though it is not nearly as enjoyable as it was when darling son was interested in doing it with me.
I relied on sound even when I wasn't able to spot the bird.  I did hear the yellow-bellied sapsucker, but I didn't count it because I wasn't sure which kind of woodpecker I was hearing.  A few days after the count, though, I saw the female yellow-bellied sapsucker on the sugar maple out front.  I enjoy watching a woodpecker.  According to the maps, the yellow-bellied sapsucker is a winter bird here in central NC and will be heading farther north for the summer breeding season.
(The colors really blend with the bark on the maple.)
 
 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ghost ships

One of the blogs I frequent is Rick Watson's at Life 101.  He is in the "heart of Alabama," and often when he mentions weather patterns, they are headed here to North Carolina in a day or so.  The other day he mentioned "ghost ships."  They must have been moving this way just like the weather does because I saw an entire flotilla in my garden this foggy morning.
The ones in my garden weren't sinister at all--just lovely little artistic vessels catching the first rays of morning sun.

 
 

 

 
 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Do you see what I "saw"?

I'm making use of the bow saw I got a couple of years ago.  It's a wonder I haven't hurt myself.
This is the Leyland that came down after Hurricane Matthew.  Since it was a little over 10" in diameter, I had to cut from all sides to get the saw through it.  It is a tree we planted.

Here is another tree I planted.  It is a red cedar and about half the diameter of the Leyland, though probably about the same age.  I cut it down because it is near the septic drain lines which are getting clogged with roots.  I don't know if the cedar's roots are the culprit, but I am just cutting down whatever is in the area that I can remove.

Heaven knows what I would cut if I knew how to use a chainsaw!