Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Welcome Home

 I saw at least two pairs of robins in our yard yesterday.  I like the way this one has his head cocked listening for worms.
 He really seems to be concentrating.
 And finally, the prize, a worm in his beak.
Today, a robin flew out of Pepper's run-in shed so I am assuming that a nest will be built there as one was last summer.  Perhaps, it is the same pair of birds.
I saw a white-crowned sparrow, and a brown creeper this morning very near the house.  The sparrow was scratching up the leaves, and the creeper was finding bugs on the trees as he spiraled up and down the tree trunks.  The nuthatches and woodpeckers are also cleaning up the trees, pecking out the bugs.
I am trying to learn to identify more bird songs.  I have been using the Cornell University bird site which  has lots of audio of the bird songs.
The chipmunks are so sweet.  We have a few running around, and they often just stop and stare at you as you walk by.  They aren't very nervous, at all.  This one is enjoying the sun in the late afternoon. I don't think they ate any of my crocus bulbs last fall, so they are definitely in my good books.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Few More Spring Flowers

Purple windflower.
Glory of the Snow
Some more Glory of the Snow in a pinkier version.

 White scilla with a couple of visitors.

I particularly like this old patch of crocuses where they are packed in tightly together. They have nice shading from intense purple to white at the center.

The white crocus have very delicate colour variations.

 A medium sized pansy with very distinct whiskers.
My lettuce that was green with a reddish tinge on the windowsill has turned beet red in the sun outside.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Most years it seems that we go from winter to spring to summer in a couple of days. Last Sunday was cold and windy, today is warm (20 C) and calm. The insects don't waste any time getting active.
This morning I saw this Mourning Cloak butterfly as well as, what I believe is, a Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly which was too skittish to photograph.  The Tortoiseshell likes stinging nettle so that is some consolation for the nasty surprise you get when you accidentally  pull some out of the garden. The Tortoiseshell is a medium size orange-brown butterfly with some black and white on the wing tips.
This little butterfly is an Eastern Comma.  They are common and come out early in the season.  They are not fussy as to what they eat.

 Common as they are, crocuses never fail to cheer me up.  And they are a good early food source for the bees.

A sedum plant that was covered in leaves is a lovely rosey colour.  It will green up soon.

Also because it was covered in leaves, this evening primrose is a bright cherry red.

 Evening primrose (left), sedum (center), and scilla (right).

Garlic that I accidentally left behind last fall.

The bleeding heart looks like some deep sea anemone. Very exotic.

Finally, the so very lovely pulmonaria.
For some wonderful spring shots of Butchart Gardens, BC check out www.islandrambles.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Purple Finches

 The purple finches tended to show up in the afternoon rather than the morning.  They are nervous so I had to take the photos from quite a distance away, but you can still see the lovely raspberry red colouring on them even though the picture is a bit blurry.
The UN of the birds.

The female purple finch, at the bottom of the photo, is a dull brown with distinct stripes.  She blends in very well with the trees.

The birds have quite a range in the amount of red on their breasts.  The lower bird doesn't have much at all.
The red colouring extends to the back of this bird as well, and even his tail feathers are tinted with a bit of red.
I'm so glad they came around this year and hopefully they will remember and come back next spring, too.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lots of Little Birds

 Lots of little birds have been coming for the sunflower seeds.  I think we may be getting 100-200 at some times.  It's hard to count birds when they are on the ground as well as up in the treetops.  The flock is made up of goldfinches, common redpolls (above), pine siskins, and purple finches. I didn't see any purple finches this morning, but yesterday afternoon I saw 6-8 on the line waiting for the feeder.
 At the bottom of this photo is a pair of redpolls.  The female has a red head but no red on her breast, the male has a red head and also a bright red front.
From a distance, the female redpolls look a lot like the pine siskins as both have very striped bodies.

 A closer look reveals some yellow at the base of the wing feathers of the pine siskins (three on the left). On the right, a goldfinch is almost in its summer colour.  The pine siskins also have thinner, pointier beaks than the redpolls which have a typical conical finch beak.

Don't they look pretty on the snow?

Lots of cheeping to go along with the feeding activity.

 We have been throwing seed on the ground for them as well as filling up the feeders.
The chickadees and woodpeckers still come to the feeders, and this morning we had a couple of Bluejays.

Here's a little video of the birds swooping in around me.  Quite fun to have them flying about. I like the sound of their wings as they flutter by.
The pine siskins are bold and don't mind you being amongst them.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Summertime, And the Livin' is Easy

 Well, not quite.  We had been down to bare ground for a couple of weeks, but, alas, this is Canada.  Last night, we got a good 8 inches of snow.

Now it is above freezing and raining lightly.
I thought we could stop feeding the birds but not with this snowfall, so my husband went out this morning and bought another big bag of sunflower seeds.  The chickadees always watch the feeders and let everybody else know as soon as the fresh seed goes in.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Starter Plants

This is a collection of some of the plants  I've started on the windowsills.  Last year I started quite a few flowers but this year I scaled back focusing on tomatoes and lettuce. I did pot up some sweet peas so I'll have a few to bloom early.  The rest of the sweet peas I will sow outside in May. In the front of the photo is some lime basil which I really like.  It is smaller than regular basil but has a truly refreshing lime flavor to it.  A small pot of onions is coming along.  I never have much success with onions but I keep trying anyway.  I'll transplant the seedlings soon. I have three types of tomato :  a yellow cherry (Ildi), a modern hybrid midsize (Celebrity) and a heirloom beefsteak (Marmade).
I like to start my own tomatoes in individual pots because it minimizes transplant shock when I put them outside. I harden them off for a week or so before planting, and then they are ready to go.