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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. We’ve had some scorching hot weather this past week and it’s caused lots of shrubs and flowers to bloom.

Oh look! Dad’s over there taking pictures of some flowers.

Let’s see what’s in bloom.

Korean spice viburnum

Doublefile viburnum

Korean spice viburnum in black & white

We sure do have a lot of different viburnum.
What’s dad taking pictures of over there now?

Deciduous azalea flower

Bumblebee on azalea flower

My Monet Weigela flowers

Those are all such pretty pink flowers. Now for our favorite flower…

Blue Columbine

There sure are lots of things blooming in our yard.
That’s not even everything that is in bloom. Stay tuned for our next installment.

We hope you enjoyed a look at what is blooming in our yard. We had record high temps this past week and will now get some more average temps in the week ahead.

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. Today I want to show you one of my favorite birds that comes to our feeders.

A Male Baltimore Oriole

We’ve had orioles in our yard every year since we’ve lived here (30 years!) but until recently we didn’t see them very regularly. May of 2018 was the first time we had one come to our hummingbird feeder. Charlie quickly made a orange feeder for them so they wouldn’t hog all the hummer food and they’ve been back every year. The above picture was taken in a different area of our yard near our suet feeder which the orioles like to use too.

You may have noticed that many of the bird pictures I’ve posted recently (here and here) have a similar looking background and the birds are often perched on the same stick so I thought I would let you in on my secret to getting the birds to pose on a particular stick.

The first order of business is to be well camouflaged.

When I first started, the weather was colder so I used my insulated camo jacket with camo gloves and a camo blanket I had to cover my tripod and disguise most of my body.

Here is what the birds saw of me

Now lets see what I was aiming at.

Suet Feeder with posing stick

Charlie found a nice stick in our yard and fashioned a way to mount it on a pvc pipe that was secured in the ground. At first we shoved some suet into cracks in the stick to help attract the birds to land on it. Once they got used to it the birds would land on the stick before going to the suet feeder and also look for the suet on the stick. You can see some of the orange colored suet at the top of the stick in the picture above. That worked well but we didn’t like the way the orange suet stuck out in the pictures so we modified the stick.

Four holes drilled into the back of the stick

We regularly filled the holes with suet

Having the holes filled with suet allowed the birds to hang out on the stick more to give me plenty of opportunities to photograph them. This worked pretty well but my camouflage needed to be better and it would be too hot when the weather warmed up so I upgraded to a LensCoat Lightweight LensHide.

Me in the LensCoat Lightweight LensHide

Here is a side view of the setup

With my camera set to burst mode I would wait for someone to show up. In order to get the shot I was looking for I often would capture a series like this:

Oh look! There is suet back here.

Nom, nom, nom.

Down the hatch it goes.

Now smile for the camera.

This set up has been working very well and allowed me to capture pictures of the birds in our yard like never before. We have plans on setting up another posing stick in our perennial garden near the bird bath and mealworm feeder.

In case you were wondering here is a look at the gear I’m using when I photograph the birds.

FujiFilm X-T4 with XF 100-400mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter
Manfrotto 502AH Pro Video Head
Manfroto 3011BN tripod

A closer view of the tripod head and camera.

This is a very sturdy set up that comfortably holds the large lens and allows me freedom of movement to track the birds.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I’ve been able to capture pictures of the birds in our yard. Just to let you know I often have to sit in this position for a couple of hours to be able to catch the birds at the feeder.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

I was not paid to endorse any of the products in this post and purchased all the equipment for myself. The links and descriptions were included in case anyone was interested in the items used.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. We’re finally getting some warmer weather and some of our trees and shrubs are starting to open their buds.

What should we look at first?

The Korean Spice Viburnum buds are ready to open.

Even though the buds haven’t opened yet the Korean Spice Viburnum sure looks pretty.

Ogon Spirea

This spirea has the tiniest flowers but with so many of them on each stem they almost look like they are covered in snow.

Serviceberry tree blossoms

We were afraid that some of the cold weather we had might ruin our crop of serviceberries this year but the flowers look like they are doing fine.

Serviceberry in Black & White

Serviceberry tree blossoms

We can’t wait to see all the fruit on the tree and have it covered with all kinds of birds that love to eat the fruit.

I found a nice stick to chew on.

We hope you enjoyed a look at what is blooming and almost blooming in our yard. With the warmer temps we are supposed to get this coming week we should start to see more flower opening up.

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. It’s been a few weeks since I showed you some of the birds in our yard. Last week our first Baltimore Oriole showed up (pictures to come at a later date) so we put up our orange feeder. Today we were surprised by an unexpected visitor to the orange feeder. (As always I recommend you click on the image to see a larger view).

Black-throated Blue Warbler on orange feeder

Black-throated Blue Warbler eating from orange feeder

It was a bit of a shock to see him sitting and feeding on the orange feeder since warblers are usually insect eaters, but according to Cornell University’s All About Birds:

Black-throated Blue Warblers search leaves and twigs for spiders, flies, and caterpillars, often taking them from the underside of vegetation. On the wintering grounds they supplement their insect diet with fruits.

He spent quite a bit of time using the orange feeder throughout the day but also landed on other perches.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Since warblers are usually foraging among the leaves of trees and shrubs it’s such a treat to have one land in the open to get such great pictures of him.

Another bird that before today I wasn’t able to get any pictures of was the Common Grackle.

Common Grackle

Until this year we’ve never had Common Grackles spend much time in our yard and we were fine with that. They are often bullies to other birds that try to use the same feeders. So far they haven’t been too overbearing to the other birds.

What’s down there?

Even though this bird looks mostly black, I just love how their colors come to life in the right light.

Lastly one of our favorite birds that nests in our yard every year is the Gray Catbird. Today I was lucky to catch one after a successful hunt for some natural protein.

Do these bugs make my beak look big?

You may have to click on the image to see what he is holding in his beak but I think it might be some inch worms. Yummy!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the birds around our yard. These are only a few of the birds I was able to photograph today but I will save some of the other pictures for later.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie here. Do you know what day it is? The title of this post should give you a little hint.

It’s a great day to be me!
(March 2020)

Today I turn 8 years old but to me it’s 8 years young because I still often feel like a puppy. I didn’t get to my forever home until I was about 4 months old and I don’t remember much of the early months of my life. Things sure were good when I landed in a foster home but it was even better when I found my mom and dad. Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

I’m cute huh?
(October 2012)

I’ve always loved being out in the snow
(February 2013)

I enjoy hanging out in my yard
(October 2014)

Snow wrestling is so much fun. Especially when I’m winning.
(February 2015)

It’s great being out in the yard during any season
(November 2016)

Did I mention I love the snow?
(March 2017)

I enjoy watching out the windows, even with Walter.
(April 2018)

Don’t I look great against these yellow leaves?
(November 2018)

This is my serious look
(May 2019)

Walter and I have lots of fun in the snow.
(January 2020)

Laying next to my dad is one of my favorite things to do.
(February 2020)

I love my life!
(March 2020)

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. It’s been a great first 8 years. I hope I have as much fun for the next 8!

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Last week I showed you our Bluebirds so this week I want to show you some of the other birds around our yard. Let’s start with the largest.

Blue Jay

There is no difference between male and female Blue Jays but the next pair has subtle difference between genders.

Female Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

The only gender difference between the Downy Woodpeckers is that the male has a red spot on the back of his head. The next two birds are about the same size and are some of the smallest birds we have around our yard.

Song Sparrow

Tufted Titmouse

Like the Blue Jay the male and female Song Sparrow and Tufted Titmouse look the same.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the birds around our yard. There are more pictures to come as more migrants arrive and I’m working hard on trying to photograph some of the more skittish birds in our yard.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. A little while ago my mom emailed me and was wondering if we had our bluebirds back. At the time we had only consistently seen a male Eastern Bluebird.

Male Eastern Bluebird

Just last week he seemed to have found a mate.

Female and Male Eastern Bluebirds

These two were perched on some branches overlooking the nesting box we have at the end of our driveway in our front yard.

Female Eastern Bluebird

Just yesterday I caught the female hard at work.

Does this stuff make my beak look too big?

Under the watchful eyes of her mate Mrs. Bluebird was perfecting her nest in the box. It was interesting to note that she took about 20 – 30 minutes between visits and it kind of makes me laugh to see how much she can hold in her beak.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this glimpse into this year’s Bluebird couple. In a few weeks I hope to report that we’ve had some eggs hatched. I will keep you posted.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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