Saturday, September 29, 2007
It all started when I noticed I had absolutely no birds around. None. Now that's strange because my neighbor and myself have several feeders out in the joining yards and we have birds constantly. So when everything was silent and I didn't even hear any, I though it was strange, but oh well, I'll live.
Just then, at 6:55am, I saw the biggest hawk I've ever seen, swoop down and try to get a squirrel. WOOOOH. When he didn't have success he flew around my neighbor's house and was chased by hawk #2. WEEEEEE! Two ginormous raptors playing catch in our yard! They flew up, soared down, twisted, turned, and rested in a tree. I must have looked like a big dummy with my mouth hanging open standing at the window in my PJ's.
Remember when I told you my neighbor feeds the squirrels? Well he left several nuts on his red picnic table where the feast was on, however, this became the hawk's bulls eye target! Stupid squirrels. Now I don't like when they mess with my flowerbeds, but the whole time I'm saying, "Your gunna get it squirrels, your gunna get it. Be smart like the birds and hide!" as if to warn them. I really didn't want bloodshed, even though I know it's a part of life. Well those guys are really quick and every attempt on the hawks part failed and he looked exhausted. Now I felt bad for the hawk.
A minute later, stupid squirrel was walking the telephone tight rope, when Hawk #1 went for him. Now enters Hawk #2 for the same squirrel. I thought, Oh this is it, this is how he's going down. BUT NO! Smart squirrel now flips upside down on the wire and monkeys his way to safety, reaching the telephone pole. The hawks disappear and the squirrel flicks his tail angrily as if to say, "How dare you try to eat me!"
35 minutes later all birds return: sparrows, male and female woodpecker, starlings, morning doves, grackles too. The birds are happy, the squirrels are happy and the hawks go hungry, for now anyway.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
These pictures were taken by my friend, Spaz in Wilmington. She has a friend hummingbird who visits her often that she affectionately named, Percy. We love Percy. I assume he's a male, for no other reason but the fact that she named him Percy :) Enjoy him before he's gone. I zoomed in on the first two pictures so you can get a better view.
Oh my! Percy is mooning us. To give him privacy, I did not zoom in!
Great photos Spaz, Thanks!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
As His gentle breath breathes,
They begin to wave and nod.
Their trumpets make a sound
Of Autumn growing near.
Not to human ears they sound…
But to bees, to trees, and the deer.
“Find food fast my friends.
For Autumn’s hold is broad.”
“Least she finds you not prepared
And leaves you nothing but awed.”
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Let learn about the Stinkhorn:
Very common in the Chicago area
Grows from a white egg shape capsule, mine was underground
They really do stink
Brown slime on top contains spores which attach to flies and insects and travels to reproduce
It really is slimy, I checked
Not harmful to any gardens or grasses
My infestation of stinkhorn may have come from the mulch I purchased for my garden or from the slimy feet of a visiting fly. In any case, I don't mind, by afternoon the sun shrivels them up and they disappear faster than they came. An interesting part of nature.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Oooooh, Aaaaaah. Now, I know this is a female because of the lack of red on her head. I'm not quite sure if it's a Hairy or a Downy. Downy maybe because it looks about 6" long and has a smaller bill, I think. Hairy maybe because it announced it's arrival with a few loud "chirps" before it landed, which is a tell-tail sign (get it? ha, ha) in Stan's Notes from the book, Birds of Illinois, by Stan Tekiela (my favorite field guide book).
Here she is again resting in the pines. Isn't she beautiful? She is however very fidgety though, flying away with any movement I make inside my house. Don't worry Miss, you are so welcomed here!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Isn't that how we feel sometimes? Stuck between a building and a driveway? I know I do. But wait! The crazy cool part - nothing is impossible with God, and that's how I know he exists.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
With all reasoning going against this poor goldenrod, a way was made. :) That makes me happy. Thank you little guy for helping me remember with God's help nothing is impossible.
Happy Friday 'yall
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Just beautiful, delicate, precious. Amazing orange, yellow and browns! I was so excited when I spotted these, of course I didn't know what they were, that will come in time, I just knew I had to find them out when they stopped me in my tracks. Funny how a plant has that kind of power to stop a giant human in her tracks. This Orange Jewelweed was growing on the side the trail that went over a small creek. Creek is the key word because Jewelweeds like to grow by water, as I now have learned.
Bad picture but good side view. Here is where I got the "horn" description. They all look like little trumpets dangling in the breeze. Here is an interesting tidbit, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and long tongued bees like to visit, but it's the bumblebee that will sometimes chew a hole near the spur of the flower to steal nectar. YOU GO bumblebee, that's using your fuzzy little head! My kind of worker, get straight to the good stuff, no waisting time!
Here is the big picture. Lush and healthy. These will bloom from mid-summer to fall, so we have a little time left to enjoy them still. They will reseed themselves and hopefully we'll see them again next year. Hummmm... orange seems to be my color lately.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Silly me, there are no beans but seeds with fringed fuzzy sides! Millions of them.
I tried to get a close up of the seed. Isn't it beautiful? There is a tiny "T" shaped seed in the middle. Feathery fringe makes it easy for flight, no doubt. Looks almost like a hairy plant cell, doesn't it?
This next picture was taken by Spaz's man Mike. It is a beautiful picture of St. Rose steeple and moon. Too cool!
So impressed I had to borrow his camera (left mine at home again, arrrgggggg) and take some St. Rose pictures myself. His camera rocks anyway, much better than mine, a Canon with 12x zoom!
This is an awesome sky picture. I must paint this sky in some painting. Can you spot 3 crosses in this picture? Clue: only one is on the church.
How about this partial night scene? They have an orange light shining on the side walls. I love this picture. Mainly because it's mysterious, partly because blue's complementary color is orange, and one more because it reminds me of autumn.
Spaz was so nice, she gave me this car smelly thing with a boo ghost on it. Her favorite season is also autumn so many candles, oils, and smelly things of autumn find their way in her home. This sent is spiced pumpkin and is a perfect compliment to crisp air. Thanks Spaz!!!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The photos are not the best, I was in my house facing east and the sun is directly behind them. Plus they are about 20 feet away, I had to zoom in on the computer for these cropped shots.
Let's learn about the Monk Parakeet:
They are originally from South America.
They either escaped or was released around 1970.
They have adapted to our wicked winters by building huge stick nests, I mean huge, on man made structures like telephone poles, electrical poles, or on tree branches not in tree cavities, and are able to withstand temps below zero. Crafty!
They have flourished and colonized in urban areas but rely on human feeders and ornamental plants for year round food.
I am so lucky to have these tropical jewels visit my house. I hear them a lot in all seasons, but usually only see them at feeders in the winter months. This weekend is starting off on a good note!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
It's 60 degrees right now! I love it. The smell of Autumn is definitely in the air and with it sparks an energy of excitement in the atmosphere. Gone are the sweaty dog days of summer. Good ridden! I love my garden like the next guy and the long hours of sunlight, but an uncontrollable serge of happiness overtakes me when I see the first autumn leaf float to the ground. I will actually run to tell people. My neighbor has several black walnut trees. For some reason they're the first in the neighborhood to loose its leaves. Unseasonably early actually, I notice them start to fall in early August. That only gets me more excited about fall!
Anyway, on one of my walks, I picked up this sugar maple and white oak leaf that I ended up making a painting of. I like the insect eaten sections. One from the upper right hand side and a hole right beneath it. Insect evidence is beautiful. Nothing should be perfect I believe. Blemishes give character and makes for a more interesting subject. And it's real. There is such joy in things that are not fake.
Even though I like these paintings, the watercolors ended up being a little too tight for what I wanted. I was searching for a more flowing, free feel to it. It's amazing how attitude transfers into a painting. I painted this in the morning after much caffeine, mistake number one. I had a lot of running around to do that day and I think I was stressed, mistake number two. Lesson learned: Don't force a painting out before it's time!
I still like them and I'm thankful for the talent God has given me. I hope it brings autumn happiness to many. Start collecting those leaves now before they're gone with a blast from winter's breath!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
This beautiful lady eats young "fuzzy" mice provided by the schoolhouse nature center every day and leaves a wonderful pellet as a present. Pellets are regurgitated hairballs with intact prey bones. So cool. Much more interesting than the hairballs I find around the house left by my kitty.
The Kestrel is the smallest of the falcons and a permanent resident here in Illinois. Sometimes it is referred to as the "sparrow kestrel" because of it's small size. Naturalist Steve also talked about some other popular raptors in our area....
Ahhhhhhhh! What on earth? This is a real owl skull with fake eye balls. Notice the bone around the eyes. It's called something that I forgot. The main point is that this bone prevents the owl from moving his eyes, therefore he moves his whole head. Contrary to popular belief he cannot move his head completely around (360 degrees) but really only 270 degrees, so says Naturalist Steve. He can hear up to 7x what humans can and flies silently thanks to....
His wings! You can't tell from this photo but it's really huge! If I had to guess, about 2 feet. The very top has a fringed edge, not shown in picture, this awesome built in, standard feature in all owl models, keeps them silent when in flight. Easier to sneak up on you my prey!
Here is an owl talon compared to a red tail hawk's. You don't want to be in their grasps! Notice how "hairy" the owl's leg is to the left. For two reasons, probably more than that but I only remember two; one is another silent mechanism to prevent a noisy flight, they're not the most gracious fliers and need all the help they can get, and two for warmth. I had the best time and really learned a lot thanks to the the Little Red Schoolhouse and Naturalist Steve:)
Hope you enjoyed too!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
What a beauty! Is this cool beans or what? Look at his lovely white spots. I love his ears at attention, he's probably wondering what that strange human is doing. Nice goldenrod in the background, I couldn't ask for a better backdrop.
Here is his brother, (I just say that, I really don't know if it is he/she) notice his white spots too? He has the cutest black nose. After a stressful week this is the perfect ending!
Friday, September 7, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Just as he was about to climb those poles to seed heaven, I tapped on the window. In his failed attempt to look cute and innocent, he rose up and pointed to himself as if to say, "Who, me?" Your cuteness doesn't work with me, Mr. Squirrel. I know your game plan.
My neighbor hand feeds them. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Needless to say they've multiplied like crazy, inviting their friends and relatives to partake in Squirrel Feast. They like to take their hand fed little peanuts and dig them in my flower pots, removing the Flowers to make more room for harvest burial. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
There are some preventive measures you can take to live in harmony with these rascals. You can buy squirrel proof feeders, which have domes on top or beneath the feeder to prevent him from reaching the seeds. They also sell squirrel proof seed, which has red pepper mixed in. The squirrels taste it and don't like it, the birds can't taste it. You can actually mix it yourself to save money. Another measure it to lay chicken wire over pots and beds in spring to insure they won't go digging around.
I don't hate them. They are a little cute, on a count of all that fur and all. I guess I can learn to live with them
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
"I know every bird of the mountain, and everything that moves in the field is Mine." PS 50:11
This is a grass head with sunlight from behind. It really illuminates the whole thing. This picture was taken closer to sunset, which is perfect when trying to capture dramatic mood lighting, good for pictures and paintings. I love the individual "hairs" and shadows of the seeds. It can almost be an end of summer sparkler, couldn't it?
Sunday, September 2, 2007
To make matters worse, I thought I better get the definition of field, prairie, and pasture straight and perhaps I'll solve the matter that way. Nice try. OK, I know a pasture is for livestock but the dictionary also labels it as a field and prairie. A meadow is a tract of grassland used for pasture, and a prairie is a tract of grassland; meadow. So a pasture is a prairie and a field, and a meadow is a pasture......AHHHHHHHHH.
Here are the stats:
It was in a field, prairie, and pasture (there were 4 deer feeding in the distance).
It was about 3-4' tall.
In the picture we can see some white underside of the leaf? Maybe the white hairs noted under Pasture Thistle
My friends are probably rolling their eyes right now thinking, who cares it's a thistle. But this thistle really wants to be identified. He's saying, "Please identify me, please, make me real!" OK, maybe not. If anyone has an idea that would be wonderfull.
Oh, the adventures of a nature lover!