Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bird Migration is On!

When the different warblers start showing up, I know migration has begun and I start looking around the trees to see who's visiting.

I didn't get great shots of this Northern Parula, but I'm excited to have any at all, since this is the first one I've seen.  They're not a rare bird, I just haven't come across one before.  They sure are cute.

Talking about cute - this little Blue-grey Gnatcatcher is adorable!  

They're so little and they flit around really fast and it's definitely a challenge to photograph them.

There's a lot of trees around the area, so it was hard to get a clean shot without lots of leaves.  

This Yellow-throated Warbler was zooming around the pines too.

Here's a shot from last year that shows how beautiful these birds are.  He was very nice and posed for me out in the open.

This is a terrible pic, but this Bluejay has been hanging around the yard and I have never seen one with this light grey colorization on his back and head before.  I'm not sure what's going on, if you know, please let me know - thanks! 

I came across some mentions of a south Florida version that sounded kind of like this guy - but I'm just not sure.  Then I thought maybe he was leucistic (a partial loss of pigmentation), but I'm not sure about that either.  I'll have to consult an expert.  I do like how the leaves make a cheery garland along the bottom of the branch :)

Just for comparison - this is what the Bluejays around here usually look like.

The moon has been gorgeous this week!  Here's a shot I took of it early in the week in its waxing gibbous stage at 90%.

Before it got dark, I noticed way, way up some Nighthawks gliding around.  One thing that indicates that they're Nighthawks is the white bars on the underside of the wings.

Recognizing some of the bird silhouettes helps too.  The long pointed wings, large looking head on the smaller body and the notched tail along with the white bars helped to ID them.  They fly in big looping patterns in the mornings and evenings. They were just too far up to get any decent photos.  At least with my equipment!

I read in an article put out by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology how to make a drip water feature for your birdbath.  Since moving water is well known to attract birds, they said you could set up a pail with a hole in it to drip water into your birdbath.  Well, what a great idea.  And I didn't have to spend any money.  

I did have to patch up the hole and redo it smaller so the drip is slower.  This little bucket has a plastic liner and I am a bit concerned about any toxins I might be leaking to the birds from the paint on this bucket - so I will be looking for a better bucket solution.  I was excited to try it and best of all - it worked!  Of course, a Cardinal went in it when I didn't have the camera...

I did have the camera when this little guy was about.  I'm not the best at identifying frogs and toads, so I'm giving a tentative ID of Florida Gopher Frog on this guy.  He was so itty bitty - really cute.  I've seen three of them lately.  Once again, don't be shy to correct me please! 

And this Two-striped Walking Stick came to visit on the lanai screen. He stayed for two days and then went about his way.  

I'm preparing the feeding stations in the yard in hopes of attracting the Holy Grail of American songbirds - the Painted Bunting.  Last year they showed up in September, but they were regulars in my yard by then.  I'm putting out some good vibes their way (and white millet), hoping they'll find our new place. 

Of course, I welcome all the birds to the yard - even the ones lots of people don't like or think of as a nuisance.  This Grackle looks determined to stay no matter what.  It's okay by me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fossilized Sharks Tooth

"I'm so excited" exclaimed the frustrated armchair archaeologist (that would be me).  Just look at this beautiful fossil I found in my backyard!

I'm, of course, no expert - but from what I can tell this is an extinct Mako shark tooth.  Isurus hastalis.  There's no serrated edges, so it's not a Great White or a Megalodon.  Anyway, I've been trying to read up on it and have gotten some conflicting info on when it existed.  I've read from the Eocene to the Pleistocene epochs.  And then I've read from the Miocene to the Pliocene.  So, I've got more research to do, but either way it's 58 - 3 million years old.  Wow!  

It was the first day we met the realtor here and as soon as we went in the backyard, I looked down and there it was in the sand.  I've been looking all over ever since and haven't found any more.  I like to think this was a gift from nature to welcome me to our new place.

It's just shy of two inches long.  I'm planning to wire it up for a necklace.  I'll post a pic when it's ready for its debut.

Florida truly is a fossil wonderland.  They've pulled some funky animal fossils out of here.  For example, an antelope with three horns sticking straight out above each eye.  And a ferocious looking huge bear/dog thing.  Lots of nightmare-inducing reading :)  

Anyway, if you believe I'm wrong on the ID, please let me know - thanks much!  

Also, it you find any vertebrate fossils other than a shark tooth and it was found on state lands, it should be reported.  (You really need a permit)  And no collecting is allowed inside of national and state parks or any wildlife refuge.  Finding stuff on private lands is different.  Honestly, I'd read all the fossil collecting info directly from the Dept of Environmental Protection site, just to know what you can do and the difference between fossils and artifacts, etc. Okay, I'm done yammering on now :)

I also found this plastic toy snake in the backyard.  I'd say she's probably 1-3 years old, haha.  I've decided to keep her and I've named her Violetta.  She can hang out with the fruit bat.  He doesn't have a name - well, maybe he can be called Fruity or something... he really doesn't look particularly all that bright.

I found these Beauty Berries in the woods right next to the house.  They're green right now, but will ripen to a gorgeous purple color in September and October.

Then they'll look like this.  Yay!

I also found some Muscadine grapes in the woods.  Not sure what species, but somebody liked them as the next day the dark grapes were gone.  I wonder who got them?  Birds? Raccoons?  Opossums?  Deer?  Coyote?  Maybe I'll catch them if I get up early enough.  

Wishing you "Happy Trails" until we meet again!  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cottage in the Woods

Well, here at the new place - we've got Jatropha.

Lots of Jatropha!

And that's a good thing.  I didn't have any at the old place, so I'm looking forward to seeing what it attracts.  I've read butterflies, bees and hummingbirds - yippee!  

There are definitely lots of bees hanging around!

Then we've got a patch of purple Mexican Petunias.  Also great for attracting butterflies.  But, that's about it for flowering plants that came with the landscaping.

Not complaining though - it gives me a nice start and leaves things open to decide what to add.

Here she is...the little yellow house in the woods.  It did come with a nice sized Silver Palm tree.  I don't know much about them, so I'm happy to be given a hands-on chance to learn.  

As you can see, we are smackola right in the middle of the woods.  

I usually call it the jungle as there's so many vines growing around and palms, and then the heat and mosquitos.  I can see where it's an acquired taste so to speak, haha.

Green, peaceful, relaxing views from the backyard too.

I'm not sure how I feel about this privacy fencing.  It has its pros and cons.  I'm sure I'm possibly missing cool sightings of animals (bobcats, etc.), but it also helps keep boar and armadillo (unless they tunnel) from entering the yard.  But, since we're renting, I don't have a choice so I'm going to embrace it and it can help anchor some plantings.

One thing I'm very excited about is that I get to have a clothesline!  (hubby can't understand my excitement)  But, having lived in gated communities for so long, and with the MANY rules the Home Owners Associations put out, I haven't had a clothesline since I was a kid.  I do hope the birds don't ruin my fun by "decorating" our clothes!  (These trees don't look that far apart - it's just the angle)

There's a small, covered lanai that's screened in.  I'm very appreciative of the ceiling fan!  Right now, things are crammed in there just to get them unpacked.  But once I get the Moroccan lanterns hanged and get the little fountain set up...it'll start feeling more like the meditative area I'm hoping it will be.

I ended up not bringing many plants with me.  I did take the vandas that were on the lanai and the basket of phalaenopsis.  I've got them hanging in the shade under this tree for now.  

I found one of the birdfeeders.  I put black-oil sunflower seeds in it even though it's a corn or peanut feeder.  Oh, well, it'll do for now.   I've been seeing ma and pa cardinal around, bluejays, doves and woodpeckers.  I just put it up yesterday, so it will probably be several days before anyone finds it.

Now, don't laugh.  This is my improvised birdbath until I find one that I like.  I left my huge, heavy birdbath behind as it was getting to be where I couldn't lift the top off to clean it.  I'll be looking for a lighter weight one this time.  Hopefully, it will be sturdy enough. 

The sky seems so extra majestic out in the country.

We get some pretty color during sunset.  There was pinks before this, but I missed them.  The sky can change in a blink of the eye.  

Since there's no street lights, it so very dark and it makes for great constellation and sky watching events!  I'll be working on my night photos out here.