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Archive for the ‘Nature Friday’ Category

Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. We’re joining a special Nature Friday and helping Marg celebrate her birthday. Marg is a special Blogville friend who helps lots of kitties. We are going to show you some of our early spring flowers.

6260 - Millie - portrait on stump - lr

Let’s see what’s blooming in our yard.

We have two different color of witch hazel bushes in our yard. Since this is the first thing that blooms in our yard the insects flock to it for nutrition.

6157 - Honeybee on witch hazel - lr

A honey bee works on the yellow witch hazel.

 

6249 - Fly on Witch Hazel - lr

Even the flies were working the witch hazel.

Here is a little video of the bees and flies enjoying the witch hazel.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

There is also an orange version of witch hazel.

6208 - Orange witch hazel - lr

Orange witch hazel

The only other flower we have blooming right now are our Chionodoxa bulbs.

Blue Chionodoxa 4-6-21a - lr

Blue Chionodoxa

 

White Chionodoxa 4-6-21 - lr

White Chionodoxa

These little flowers are all around a little mound at the back of the yard where we had to cut down an ash tree.

Walter 3-21-21 - lr

The ash tree stump is where we did our modeling for these pictures.

 

Blue Chionodoxa 4-6-21b - lr

Blue Chionodoxa

We hope Marg and all of our visitors enjoyed seeing some of the flowers we are lucky to have blooming so far. If you want to add your birthday wishes to Marg you can pop over to the Zoolatry blog and leave your comments there. As usual we’re way behind many of our friends in the flowers that are blooming in our yard but there are some daffodils that are springing up out of the ground and may be blooming soon.

BlogHop FlowersForMarg

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Lately my Nature Friday posts have been all about the birds and this weeks is no exception. Don’t worry, Millie and Walter are doing well and will be back soon.

Charlie has been working hard in his wood shop this winter to get some new feeders ready for the return of our feathered friends this spring. The first thing he did was work on a new suet feeder.

Tufted Titmouse clings to the side of the old suet feeder

The previous suet feeder, seen above, was just a suet cage attached to a piece of wood and hung from a crook. The feeder was getting old and cracked and needed an upgrade. One thing we wanted to do was cut down on some of the “bully” birds that were able to access this feeder. The new suet feeder now has four sides so only birds that can cling to the bottom such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, tufted titmice and chickadees can use it. Other birds like starlings and grackles aren’t able to hang upside down and won’t be able to use it.

Upside down suet feeder

Since the crook was still in the ground we were able to hang this feeder right away. At first the birds seemed a bit hesitant to use it even though it’s in the same place as the previous one was but after a few days the realized that it contained the same suet they all love. The good thing is that the birds that can’t hang upside down, like cardinals and sparrows,  still get to benefit by hanging out under the feeder to pick up whatever is dropped.

A trio of new feeders – (left to right)
Platform Mealworm Feeder, Double Suet Feeder, Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie also made a double sized suet feeder. You can see it in the middle above.

Underneath the double suet feeder

This feeder holds two suet cakes at a time and also has sides to prevent the non-clinging birds from being able to use it. The hope is that we will finally be able to attract a Pileated Woodpecker to our feeder. We have seen pileated woodpeckers around our yard but they are too big to use the smaller feeder.

Chickadee on Mealworm Feeder

The other two feeders that Charlie made are mealworm feeders. Our old platform mealworm feeder (above) was about 10 years old and needed to be replaced. The main difference with the new feeder is that now it will be attached to a 1¼” conduit with a strap instead of the wooden bracket you see on the old feeder.

Bottom of Platform Mealworm Feeder

The holes you see are for drainage and don’t really allow the mealworms to fall out. That happens well enough when a blue jay lands in it an starts flinging the mealworms around.

The other mealworm feeder Charlie made is a Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder.

Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie’s version doesn’t follow the plan exactly. His is slightly larger with smaller posts in the corners to allow more room in the interior areas and he uses the same mounting method as the platform feeder above. As you can see this feeder has a cup inside where the mealworms will be placed. It also has metal rods running between the posts on all four sides. This prevents larger birds like starlings, mockingbirds, robins and blue jays from entering while allowing the smaller bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and tufted titmouse access.

How to access feed cup

In order to access the cup for refilling you are able to remove one of the metal rods. On the right, in the first picture of this feeder, you can see that one of the metal rods is bent with a small stop block keeping it in place. When it’s time to refill the feeder you just unlatch the rod and slide it out so you can reach in to remove the cup, which in this case is just a ½ cup measure with the handle cut off.

Once the ground thaws out (in a couple of months) we will be able to put up a new crook for the double suet feeder and put the conduit in the ground and mount our new mealworm feeders to them. The mealworm feeders will also be fitted with squirrel baffles to keep those pesky chipmunks and squirrels from pigging out on mealworms. In case you were wondering we feed dried mealworms which I buy in bulk from Critter Boutique. That is not an affiliate link. I am providing it since I think they have the best price for bulk dried mealworms in case you want to try using them. The suet feeders don’t need squirrel baffles since I only feed C & S Hot Pepper Delight Suet cakes. The birds don’t mind the hot pepper but the squirrels and chipmunks sure don’t like it and never try it twice.

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We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. A couple of weeks ago I showed you some pictures of the birds that were feeding on common buckthorn berries in our yard. I’ve finally processed the videos I took and wanted to show you just how much action there was.

American Robins & European Starlings in Common Buckthorn

The Common Buckthorn species is naturalized and invasive in parts of North America. We didn’t realize this tree was growing in our garden for a few years because its form and leaves are very similar to the Miss Kim lilacs that it’s growing near. When it finally grew taller we could see that it was an introduced tree. Charlie did some research to figure out just what it was.

The birds gobbled up the plentiful berries.

According to Wikipedia:

The seeds and leaves are mildly poisonous for humans and most other animals, but are readily eaten by birds, who disperse the seeds in their droppings. The toxins cause stomach cramps and laxative effects that may function in seed dispersal.

We would like to remove this tree but it’s behind a few shrubs that make it difficult to get to. This tree was full of berries before this flock descended on it. Here is a video of some of the action.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

As you could see by the end of the video there were very few berries left on the tree and ultimately there were no berries left.

There are very few berries left at this point.

It is very rare to see so many American Robins in January but some are more hardy and stick around all winter although we’ve never see a flock this large before. It was a treat to get to see all the different colorings from the very dark orange to the paler looking ones. I hope you enjoyed seeing them too.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Earlier this week I happened upon a scene in our backyard that amazed me. I had just walked into the kitchen to get a drink when I noticed a tremendous amount of bird activity in a small tree that was full of berries.

American Robin

There was a large flock of birds taking turns eating berries from the Common Buckthorn tree. The flock was made up mostly of American Robins and European Starlings.

European Starling

Charlie managed to get the back door from the garage opened without scaring the birds away so I got my long lens mounted to a tripod (it helps to keep it steady and with taking videos) and stood in the doorway taking pictures for about an hour. 

Northern Mockingbird

It’s unusual to see so many robins around this time of year but up until now our weather has been fairly mild so that might be why they’ve stuck around. The mockingbird has been a resident of our yard this winter and he (or she…there were actually two around) was not happy with this huge flock of robins and starlings eating all the berries he was trying to keep for himself.

American Robin with a full belly

I don’t know when the flock first showed up but after an hour of taking pictures in burst mode I had about 850 images to cull through and some videos I will show you later. The buckthorn was completely stripped of all its berries in the end too. By the way I was still thirsty as I completely forgot the reason I went to the kitchen in the first place!

It was a great opportunity to take some beautiful portraits of the American Robin, European Starlings and the Northern Mockingbird. When these birds are around in the summer it can be more difficult to catch a picture of them as they are often hiding in the foliage.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these birds this week. I promise to come back and show you more of the action from the day.

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We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. About a week ago we had a rare somewhat sunny day so Charlie and I headed to our favorite place to do some nature photography, Lake Ontario at Webster Park. I reported in my last nature Friday post that the parking lot had been closed but this time it was open! It was nice to get out and enjoy what has become a very rare sunny day. We had gone about 60 days with complete cloud cover and since last Saturday it’s been mostly cloudy every day again.

Female Long-Tailed Duck

By the time we arrived at the park it was later in the morning so there were no opportunities for any sunrise pictures but we were lucky enough to find some Long-Tailed ducks in the water. 

Male Long-Tailed Duck

The water was quite choppy which made photographing the ducks very challenging as they bobbed up and down on the waves. There were two males and one female in the area. The female stayed near the mouth of a creek that drains into Lake Ontario where the waves were crashing as the water rushed out. There was quite a bit of debris like sticks and small logs in the water there too. Long-Tailed ducks are diving ducks that spend the most time underwater compared to other diving ducks and the female was demonstrating that very well.

Female Long-Tailed duck getting ready to dive.

Dive!

Submerged!

I don’t know what she found under the water as I never saw her bring anything up. She was diving so frequently that I wasn’t sure I got any decent pictures of her until I got home. Since I had the camera set to shoot slow speed burst I was happy to see I captured one of her dives. It was quite a challenge photographing the female as she would only spend a few seconds on the surface before diving again and you were never quite sure where she would come up next. By the time I had her in my viewfinder she was diving again!

Meanwhile the boys were just hanging out, riding the waves.

The boys spent some of their time preening.

I thought it was funny that while the female was working so hard diving the boys were making themselves more beautiful. In all the time I was watching them I didn’t see the males dive once. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing these ducks on Lake Ontario at Webster Park this week.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. This past Tuesday the weather looked good to catch a nice sunset on Lake Ontario at Webster Park so Charlie and I headed up there to take a look. Since December 1st the parking lot closest to the shore has been closed but there is room at the top of the driveway for a couple of cars to park there. So far we’ve been lucky to be able to park there and this time, for the first time since we could remember, there was nobody else in this area of the park. Usually there are always a few fishermen but thanks to the high waves and cold temps (it was about 30°F with a stiff wind) they stayed away! (Don’t forget to click on the pictures to see a bigger view)

The waves were crashing against the break wall

I’ve been waiting for a day just like this to try to capture the waves as they crash into the break wall. I set my camera on a tripod with my camera about 2 feet above the ground so it would be about eye level with the waves.

A large wave crests close to the wall.

In order to freeze the water in the air I set my aperture at f6.4, and my ISO at 1600 to achieve a shutter speed between 1/800th to 1/1000th of a second. Since you can’t really anticipate the exact moment when the perfect wave crash will occur I also set my camera to take high speed burst pictures (15 frames per second). In the 20 or so minutes I was taking pictures I managed to shoot about 700 pictures!

The sunset was the perfect background for the crashing waves

Here is a little video of the wave action that day.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

Charlie captured this picture of the pier while I was shooting the crashing waves

I hope you enjoyed a different view of Lake Ontario at Webster Park this week.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. Sometimes we let our parents leave home without us to take pictures.

Here is a great picture of us.
We don’t know why our parents want to take pictures of anything else.

Mom and dad went to one of their favorite spots for photography recently and dad got these shots.

Autumn Color Reflection

These pictures are so cool. They look like an impressionist painting.

These trees are just starting to turn color

You may be wondering how does our dad get these pictures. Keep scrolling and we will reveal his secret.

Fall Trees Reflection

Here is one last picture before we show you how it’s done.

Reflection of a Girl Reading With Her Dog

All of the pictures above were taken of just the reflection of the subject in the water. When our dad processes them he flips them so they look like they are right side up. Here is that same scene from above shown the right way up.

Here is the picture taken normally.

If you look closely (or click on the image to make it bigger) you can see that the young woman was hanging out on the bench with her dog reading a book. What a wonderful way to soak up nature with your best friend along.

We hope you enjoyed a look at some of our dad’s cool reflection pictures this week.

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We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. We’ve had some nice weather lately and have enjoyed spending time outside in our yard this week.

Check out the hosta around me.

Our dad has been moving these hosta to this area under our white pine tree. They were in our perennial garden but we have to take down the linden tree that they were under so they had to be moved.

I like watching dad as he works.

Last week we showed you how the butterflies like the Blue Fortune Agastache so this week we are going to show you how the bumblebees like it.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

Those bumblebees get their saddlebags really loaded.

Check out the beautiful color of the blue caryopteris and the pink Rose of Sharon blooming behind me.

We hope you enjoyed a look at some of the bumblebees working in our yard this week.

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We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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