Monday, December 10, 2007

Cooper's Visit

There has been a lot of Hawk activity around the yard the past week. Don't know if it is more than normal or if I have just been seeing more than I do normally. The other day I watched a Sharp Shin sitting in the tree watching for dinner for several minutes. I didn't see him get anything that time. The Red Tail is around every morning.

Today at lunch time I saw the Cooper's fly onto the patio and grab a finch from the feeder and take off with it. Later that day there was either the same Cooper's or another one in the yard for at least an hour. He was out on the rail fence by the roses watching and trying to catch a White Crowned. I wonder if he has injured it before I saw him as the Sparrow was staying on the ground trying to hide in the roses. Cooper finally gave up on him after 20 minutes or so and flew over to the maple tree area.

I thought he would be gone by the time I came out into the other room but there he was just sitting on a old chair that it by the feeder. He just sat there looking around. I thought, Okay, he is there now but by the time I get the camera, change the lense and put the card I had out back in he will be gone. When I finished all that he was still there. I took several shots though the door and then he was still there and so I figured I might as well open the door. I opened the door and Beardsley went out and still that bird sat. I walked out onto the patio and he still sat.

The light was very low so I didn't get really great pictures but it was fun talking to him while he just sat and looked at me.

Cooper's Hawk in back yard.

Friday, December 07, 2007

For everyone in Snow country.

blessed snow,
comes out of the sky
like bleached flies.
The ground is no longer naked.
The ground has on its clothes.
The trees poke out of sheets
and each branch wears the sock of God.
There is hope.
There is hope everywhere.
I bite it.
Someone once said:
Don't bite till you know
if it's bread or stone.
What I bite is all bread,
rising, yeasty as a cloud.
There is hope.
There is hope everywhere.
Today God gives milk
and I have the pail.
by Anne Sexton, from The Awful Rowing Toward God. © Houghton Mifflin, 1975.
Just a different way of looking at snow then I have!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vistor hanging out lately

We have had a Red Tail hanging out around the neighborhood the past week or two. The other morning he was sitting on the telephone pole for at least a hour. Just sitting checking me out when I was walking under him and not bothered at all. Quite often I notice him when I hear the crows making more noice than normal. They are cawing away trying to get him out of their neighborhood! Pretty bird and nice to have him around so close.

I was standing under him looking up the telephone pole so it isn't a great picture but does show his markings on his chest.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Poem "Beside the Point"

Beside the Point
The sky has never won a prize.
The clouds have no careers.
The rainbow doesn't say my work,thank goodness.
The rock in the creek's not so productive.
The mud on the bank's not too pragmatic.
There's nothing useful in the noise
the wind makes in the leaves.
Buck up now, my fellow superfluity,
and let's both be of that worthless ilk,
self-indulgent as shooting stars,
self-absorbed as sunsets.
Who cares if we're inconsequential?
At least we can revel,
two good-for-nothings,
in our irrelevance; at least come and make
no difference with me.
By Stephen Cushman

Monday, September 03, 2007

Morning Coffee

I had planned to sleep in this morning but the thought of cool outside weather drove me from the bed magnets. Unfortunately the weather didn't feel the same way and it was already 79 at 7:30am. I know for Arizona that would be normal but we are so spoiled here!!

Oh well, I was already up so I might as well sit outside for awhile. I was really feeling fresh air deprived from the last few hot, hot days. I don't like having to spend so much time inside!

As I was sitting reading the paper all the birds scattered. Now quite often that just means that maybe a dove or a scrub jay flew in fast and scared everyone but once in awhile it means Hawk. Most of the time I will look around in the trees to see if someone came in to check out the feeders.
This morning it was a Cooper's Hawk in the ash trees on the side of the yard. He sat there for 10 minutes waiting for the birds to come back to the feeders. He just sat and watched and watched and finally they did start to come back to the trees around the feeders. I got up and went in to get the camera and came back out and walked almost right up under him before he finally got tired of me messing up his breakfast and took off. I had the short lens on, of course, but here is a cropped picture of him sitting in the tree waiting for branch service.

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Earl - A Poem

In Sitka, because they are fond of them,
People have named the seals. Every seal
is named Earl because they are killed one
after another by the orca, the killer
whale; seal bodies tossed left and right
into the air. "At least he didn't get
Earl," someone says. And sure enough,
after a time, that same friendly,
bewhiskered face bobs to the surface.
It's Earl again. Well, how else are you
to live except by denial, by some
palatable fiction, some little song to
sing while the inevitable, the black and
white blindsiding fact, comes hurtling
toward you out of the deep?

"Earl" by Louis Jenkins, from North of the Cities. © Will o' the Wisp Books, 2007. (buy now)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Naked Sunflowers

As I was laying in bed one morning I was watching the Lesser Goldfinches in the yard. There have been more Goldfinches this year then we have ever had. There will be 30 of them on or around one feeder at a time!! We have three thistle feeders, you do the math! Now this morning they would be on the feeder and then they would move off onto the two Sunflowers that were growing in one of the flower beds. Jessy and I had planted this bed with Coneflowers and Daises the beginning of summer. Sometime along the way the birds decided that they wanted a couple of sunflowers in there also and they went ahead and planted them. I figured why not and left them to grow. They were getting pretty big with their normal huge leaves and beginning of a flower starting.

As you can see from this picture of a sunflower that I took a couple of years ago the leaves are nice and large and there are lots of them.
Well, that morning as I watched the Goldfinches something happened to those poor old sunflowers. At first I thought they were just eating the ants off the plants. There are always lots of ants everywhere and I know the birds do eat them so I thought good, the birds get something to eat and I'll get the ant population reduced for a couple of days. The more I watched the weirder it became. This is how the sunflower ended up:

In flocks of thirty or so the Goldfinches ate every leaf off those two sunflowers!! I had never seen behavior like this although I'm sure it is quite common. Steve said that he noticed the same thing happening in his yard. That is one of the advantages of having a backyard habitat, you get to see things you wouldn't notice in the wild.

The good news is that this picture was taken a couple of weeks after they ate the leaves off and you can see it didn't stop the sunflower from growing and blooming.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vacuuming Spiders - A Poem

Vacuuming Spiders
I admire their geometrical patience,
the tidy way they wrap up leftovers,
their willingness to be the earth's
most diligent consumers of small bitternesses.
Sometimes at night I hear them
casting silk threads, clicking their spinnerets,
plucking their webs like blind Irish harpists.
I can almost taste the fruit of the fly
like sucking the pulp from a grape.
But when their webs on the ceiling
begin to converge, and the floor
glitters with shards of insect wings
I drag out the vacuum
and poke its terrible snout under the sofa,
behind the radio—everywhere,
for this is the home of a human being
and I must act like one
or the whole picture goes haywire.
"Vacuuming Spiders" by Charles Goodrich,
from Insects of South Corvallis.
© Cloudbank Books, 2003. Reprinted without permission but with gratitude . (buy now)

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Title for Blog

As you can see from the new title of this blog I am going to start adding pictures and stories about our backyard. The new plants, the old plants and the dieing plants! I will also be adding pictures from our trips out to different Botanic Gardens.
I am now a member of the Conejo Valley Garden Club so I guess I should work on the yard a little more!! The other day while looking at the dead plants inside the house & the mess in the backyard I figured my being a member of the Garden Club is almost as silly as me joining a cooking club. Okay, not anywhere near as silly as putting my name and Cooking in the same sentence but you know what I mean!! I am hoping to learn lots and lots about what I should be doing and what I am doing that I should stop doing!!

Click picture to enlarge

Blogger seems very slow tonight or else I have no patience either way I will leave you with just one picture. It is the Lady Banks Rose taken in February. It only blooms once a year but it is so beautiful I love it anyway.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Poem "The Calf-Path" by Sam Walter Foss

The Calf-Path
One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell–wether sheep
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell–wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed – do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf,
And though this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
and traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed this zigzag calf about
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way.
And lost one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why we didn't get a Teacup Dog!!!

No pictures with this post, I didn't have my camera in my hand. Even if I did there would have been no way for me to react fast enough!
I sent Beardsley out to chase squirrels the other day and I stood at the patio door watching him. As he got into the middle of the yard he was buzzed by the Cooper's Hawk!! The hawk came within a foot of him and then went up into the tree and sat for a minute before taking off again. I guess the hawk thought that Mr. B was interfering with "his" hunting grounds! Beardsley looked around and tried to figure out what had just happened, gave up and went back to digging grass up and eating it. I have NO fear any hawk could ever lift that dog off the ground!! Heavens, I have a hard time lifting him up!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nuttall's Drumming

Spring has been in the air for a month or so around here. We have had baby House Sparrows starting in Mid March, the female Hooded Orioles have arrived, and the spring migration for the hummingbirds has started. Another way we can tell is the Drumming of the Nuttall's Woodpeckers on anything that makes noise! There are several Nuttall's that come into the yard all the time so we have been listening to lots and lots of drumming. I thought the males would be the only ones doing the drumming, calling in females and marking territory but reading the Sibley guide book both the males and females do the drumming in the spring. There is one in our yard that has found the bat house that is near our bedroom door. This morning we woke up to him going around the bat house and drumming on all the different areas of the bat house. Of course every different area made a different sound. It was nice to wake up to the new work of the composer Mr. Woodpecker of the Wood Symphony.

The Nuttall's are regular visitors to the seed feeders and even more regular visitors to the nectar feeders. As I am writing this I am watching a female eating bugs off the Maple Tree in the backyard. It looks like she has a hole where there was a branch cut off. It looks like she is eating something out of the hole. I guess I will have to go out tomorrow and check out what is in there!!

When I am in the front bedroom at the computer I can look and see this sight. They hang on to the rail upside down at first and then work themselves upright.

Look at his nails and you can see how they can walk up and down trees and poles with ease. Those are sharp and strong claws!! You can't see his tail in this picture but they use the tail to brace himself as he clings to the tree.
The drumming of the Nuttall's Woodpecker, such a wonderful part of spring!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yardbirds March & April

It has been a year since I did anything in this blog. I don't know what happened to the last 12 months but they sure flew!! Speaking of flying I thought I would list the birds that have been in the yard over the last couple of weeks.

Rufous Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Blackchinned Hummingbird
Allen's Hummingbird
BlackHeaded Grosbeak
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow
House Finch
California Towhee
Nuttall's Woodpecker
Cedar Waxwing
Lots of Duck flying over
Cooper's Hawk
Sharpshin Hawk
Redshoulder Hawk flying over
Redtailed Hawk flying over
American Mockingbirds
White crowned Sparrows
Golden crowned Sparrow
Blackeyed Junco
Black Phoebe
American Crow
As I am writing this I am watching the hummingbird feeder in the front yard. There has been anywhere from 7 to 15 hummers flying around it for the last hour! It is now around 7:30 pm so they are filling up before they head off to bed. It is getting dark so they should be heading off to bed soon. Sounds good to me!!

We have has several Cedar Waxwings come into the yard the last few weeks. The thing with Cedar Wings is that they come and go so quickly. If you aren't looking outside at the right time you never know they have been there. The pictures I took are through the bedroom patio door so you really can't see them but I'm going to post them anyway.

They are such beautiful bird. The feathers are so smooth they don't seem like feathers at all. They have a black mask on their face and yellow on the bottom of their tails and red on the wings. The the most fun thing is the top knot on their heads! It sticks out the back like an old fashion Ducktail hairdo.
They come into the yard to eat the Pyracantha berries. There will be a whole flock that come in at one time anywhere from 5 to a couple dozen. They will eat for awhile and then all of a sudden they take off and they are gone. As I said, if you hadn't been looking at the right time they would be gone and there would be no way to know they had been there.

Yesterday (I have taken at least two weeks to get this blog written so I think this part was written around the first of April) I saw the first Male Blackhead Grosbeak in the yard for this year. I noticed I had written last year that in a couple of weeks I had several pairs in the yard so hopefully they are just coming in and there will be lots more.

Blackhead Grosbeak

They like the Black Oil Sunflower seeds that I put out on the platform feeder. This one is right by my bedroom door so I can see them first thing in the morning. I think you can guess how they got their names!

I have seen several Rufous Hummingbirds the past couple of days. I also saw one Blackchinned Hummingbird this morning. I guess the migration crowded is heading in now. The next month should be very very busy. I will be buying lots and lots of sugar from Costco!!

Rufous Hummingbird

The male Hooded Orioles are back now. I haven't seen any females yet but they should be here in another week or so. The males always come in first to stake out the best areas. I don't know how many are around yet but there doesn't seem as many as there has been in the years past. Hopefully I just not seeing them!! April 15th: Saw our first females yesterday!! About two weeks later than the males.

Hooded Oriole
Here he is hiding the bushes by the Oriole feeder on the back fence.

The White crowned Sparrows are still around in great number. I think I saw a Golden crowned this morning but I didn't have my glasses by my bed so I could tell for sure. April 15Th: The white crowns are still here but their number is getting less and less all the time.

The Goldfinches are eating me out of house and home! There are so many of them. I only have the one thistle feeder up right now so they are all on it. Most are the Lesser Goldfinches but I have had several American Goldfinches. I keep looking for a Lawrence but no luck yet!!!! I can keep my fingers crossed on that one. I know they are across Janss Road so they aren't far from here.

I am going to go ahead and post this and then finish the post tomorrow or next week. I have a couple more things to write but right now I just want to take my shower and climb into bed!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Before and After

A rather sad post but one that wasn't unexpected. The past couple of weeks we have had a white dove hanging out in the yard. It is one of those that they let go at weddings etc. I could tell she was used to people as she would land within a couple of feet of me. She wouldn't let me get right next to her but she wouldn't panic either.

One of the problems when semi-tame birds get loose is they aren't used to taking care of themselves in the wild. She was lucky that she found an easy food source at the feeders in the yard but then again she wasn't lucky to find such a easy food source. I'm sure you can guess what happened this afternoon. I looked out the window and this is what I saw.

One of the several hawks that come around everyday found a very easy meal. I'm sure she didn't put up much of a fight. How would she know that she was in danger? I can't be mad at the hawks as they need to eat but I sure to miss that dove!!

The Trees by Philip Larkin

"The Trees"
by Philip Larkin,
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Why I Need the Birds" Poem by Lisel Mueller

"Why I Need the Birds"
by Lisel Mueller

When I hear them callin the morning,
before I am quite awake,
my bed is already traveling
the daily rainbow,
the arc toward evening;
and the birds, leading
their own discreet lives
of hunger and watchfulness,
are with me all the way,
always a little ahead of me
in the long-practiced manner
of unobtrusive guides.
By the time I arrive at evening,
they have just settled down to rest;
already invisible, they are turning
into the dreamwork of trees;
and all of us together —
myself and the purple finches,
the rusty blackbirds,
the ruby cardinals,
and the white-throated sparrows
with their liquid voices —
ride the dark curve of the earth
toward daylight, which they announce
from their high lookouts
before dawn has quite broken for me.