Return of the Bufflehead Ring-Necked Duck. Or Maybe It’s A Scaup.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 12:56 | Category : Birds, Walks
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There’s a pond that I often go by on my morning walks. Every year there’s at least one pair of mallard ducks that set up housekeeping and raise a family. Last year there were two families. But several years ago the mallards were joined by a small diving duck with a black head and black and white body, which I (mis)identified as a bufflehead. Loren pointed out my mis-identification, noting that it was likely a scaup or a ring-necked duck.. I liked that duck – it almost looked like a toy next to the mallards. It spent the winter diving in that shallow pond for whatever diving ducks dive for, but there was no sign of it the next winter. I thought maybe I saw it once or twice on a larger pond a couple of miles away, but I was never sure. But when I walked by this morning, there amongst the mallards was a little black and white duck. I snapped a photo with my iPhone:

image

WordPress scaled the image down and it’s fuzzy, but click on it and you’ll see a better image. It’s at the top, above the mallards. Watching it for a few minutes, I realized that while it tends to hang around with the mallards, the mallards don’t particularly like it, and they’ll try to chase it away when it gets too close – nothing too intense, just a swift swim-by. Then order will reassert itself and the ring-necked duck/scaup will hang around like a pesky kid brother until it gets accosted again. I don’t know why I especially like that little duck, but I do. I hope it hangs around all winter.

One Cold Hawk

Monday, 6 January 2014, 13:00 | Category : Birds
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Driving along the Natchez Trace this morning, this hawk was really standing out against the bare trees. It was cold, about 22 degrees F, and windy, but he didn’t seem overly bothered:

One of the first photos with my new Fuji S4530 camera.

A Garden Update

Wednesday, 14 August 2013, 9:24 | Category : Birds, Gardening
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A few months ago, I had some trees in my neighbor’s yard cut down (with her permission!). They were trash trees that had grown up right along the fence line, and were throwing shade and dropping leaves into my pool. The area on my side of the fence (the north side) was very shady, and had a couple of rarely-used old swings but not much more. No plants, not much grass (because of the shade). Then two things happened: I built a new deck, between the existing deck and the pool, to give us one big area for entertaining or whatnot. And when I started laying out the deck, I realized that if I built a corner arbor, there was a perfect place for those swings:

and also that I had this new sunny area for a long flowerbed. There was a grouping of hydrangeas at what would be the east end, and I decided to take off from those and let the bed run along the fence. Because of several other priorities that always seem to come up, I wasn’t able to start working on the bed until mid-June. I knew that was too late in the season for planting many of the things I would prefer, but I could still get the idea in motion. So I began clearing the weeds and other trash stuff that was there, and laying out the borders of the bed (which have already expanded twice!), and then started looking at things like daylilies and asters that I could transplant. A few annuals, a Vitex tree, and some obligatory garden art sufficed to give me the first draft of the new area (this fall and winter I’ll be adding lots of perennials, which will eventually be most of whats in the bed). And here’s what I’ve gotten to this far:

I planted some sunflower and zinnia seeds against the fence, because I just like sunflowers and tall zinnias:

While I was out yesterday taking these pictures, I had a visitor that seemed to be posing for the camera:

And last but not least, here’s what a 17-18 year-old dog looks like, when he’s ready to go back inside:

Another Winter With No Finches

Tuesday, 14 February 2012, 12:20 | Category : Birds
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Goldfinch in snow

For the third year in a row, I’ve had very few finches at my feeders this winter. I used to have clouds of finches, more like this, with plenty waiting their turn:

Goldfinch in snow

But for some reason, the visits have stopped. My thistle feeder has barely been touched. Cardinals are there, chickadees, even a flicker makes regular visits – but no finches. No goldfinches, no purple finches, no house finches. I miss the finches, and I’m really curious about why they haven’t shown. I’ve heard other people nearby say they have many, which makes it even more strange.

So You’re A Very Young Blue Jay

Saturday, 25 June 2011, 21:01 | Category : Birds
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You’re on your first day out of the nest, and you haven’t mastered this flying thing yet. Hopping around on the ground is not the smartest thing to do, with cats and stuff around, so you need to find a place where you can chill with a bit of anonymity. Where else would you go?

Blue jay baby in bottle tree

Here’s a closer shot:

But it turns out you’re not alone. You have a brother or sister, who wants a little more elevation:

I watched these two little fellows while I was working outside, to keep them safe from the neighborhood cats. I hope they make it. Blue jays have taken a big hit from West Nile Fever here. But they need to figure out the flying thing pretty quickly.

[Update]

Here’s a picture my wife took of the two babies together, after the one in the crepe myrtle joined the one in the bottle tree and they decided to do a bit of exploring:

Baby blue jays