Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Review

I have a new favorite book.  I'd like to give credit where credit is due but I can't remember whose blog I saw this book on.  Someone featured it on their blog the other day.  It sounded like my kind of book.   
It arrived yesterday and I love it.  It was first printed in 1977 and is no longer in print but I found it on Amazon through an outside seller.  There were quite a few copies to pick from so if you wanted one you could easily find it.  
"The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" was written by Edith Holden in 1909.  It is the diary of a naturalist/artist.  She kept this dairy for one year of all her observations of wildlife surrounding her home.  It is illustrated with her amazing art work.  Included are thoughts, quotes, poems.....  The diary was not published until many years after her death when it was discovered on the shelf of an English country home.  This book is an absolute delight. 

On another note.... Jordan, my Mother and I are leaving tomorrow to spend a long weekend in Florida.  We'll visit my brother and Craig's parents.  We'll be visiting Busch Gardens and Sea World and I'm hoping to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge too.  I've got my camera all ready.  Maybe I'll see some new to me birds.  We'll be home Monday afternoon.  See you then......  

Friday, February 20, 2009

I want to learn to draw

In a second hand store the other day I picked up a book on keeping a nature journal.  I liked the idea and purchased the book.  I think the concept is great.... keeping a journal of your sights and thoughts while birding, gardening or whatever you are doing out in nature.  In addition to writing in the journal you are encouraged to draw or sketch a lot of what you see.  That didn't sound too hard.... until I tried to draw a bird.  I haven't a clue how to draw anything!  But I so wish I did.
My next thought was "Maybe I could teach myself".  I went to my local craft store and bought a colored pencil set and a sketch pad.  Then I got on Amazon and bought 2 books on drawing birds.  They haven't arrived yet but I am anxiously checking my mailbox daily.  I'm going to give it a shot.  Of course the above sketch is not one that I did... It's one that I borrowed off the internet and it's one that I can only hope to do half as well at.  I will never be a James Audubon or a Roger Tory Peterson but if I could learn to draw a bird that people would be able to recognize then I will be happy.  

Tonight while I was watching TV I took out my colored pencil set and sharpened all 49 pencils with an old fashion hand twist sharpener.  My thumbs are still hurting.   

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I saw a Horned Lark today!

I think I'm getting bored with my winter backyard birds and I am getting anxious for my summer friends to return.  But I did see my first ever Horned Lark today!  I was driving home from the Niles hospital on the back roads.  I was at a 4 way stop in the middle of a large cleared farm field.  A strange looking bird landed right beside my car.  No one was around me so I stayed and watched it for sometime to try and take some mental notes of it.  It looked somewhat like a waxwing because it had a mask but it's back and belly feathers were nothing like a waxwing.  A short distance away I noticed about 10 more of the same bird.  As soon as I got home I ran for my field guide.  I found it! A Horned Lark!  But this is February and Horned Larks are summer birds in Michigan.... upon further reading my field guide said that Horned Larks are one of the earliest migrators arriving in February.  That solved that.  Sure enough, I saw my first Horned Lark today!  Now if I only would have had my camera with me.   

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I love it!

I wanted to show you what Craig gave me yesterday.  He ordered it off of Etsy.  Now how did he know that I would like this?  It's about the size of a nickel.  I wore it to work today and got a lot of compliments on it.  Thank you Honey!!  If you've never checked out Etsy before you should give it a look.  It a website where people sell handmade arts and crafts.  The whole site is all handmade items.  It's like walking through an art show at the leisure of your computer.    

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tree Top Walkway

My spring fever is starting to get to me.
One of the things that I am really looking forward to this spring is the new tree top walkway at Sarett Nature Center.  
I went over today and took my first walk on it.  It's really impressive.  I'm not sure how many feet up in the air it is but you really are up in the tree tops when you walk out on it!
Have you ever looked up at the tree tops and watched them sway with the wind?  It's a whole new perspective to stand near the tops of the trees and watch them sway.  You can actually feel it.   
This is the observation deck at the end.  When the leaves are on the trees in the spring I'll take another photo in this same spot and post them for comparison. 
These last two photos were taken on the deck overlooking the center.  
I'm hoping to photograph and add a lot of new birds to my list there this spring and summer. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Boo Boo

You all know Seadra is her name but I call her Boo Boo.  It seems like I more often do posts about Zoe (our pug) so I thought Seadra deserved some spotlight.  Zoe is the easy happy go lucky one and Seadra is my needy neurotic sensitive one.  But even though she is the one that holds a special place in my heart. The photo above is a rare occasion.  Seadra will rarely let anyone hold and cuddle her, except for me, especially if I am in the room.  
Seadra and I have an evening ritual.  About 10:00 PM she starts beckoning me to come to bed.  She goes half way up the stairs and stares at me through the railing.  Then she lets out these little grunts...... "Come on I'm ready for bed!"  She jumps up on the bed and will not lay down until she is covered up with her own blankie.  She gets to stay with me for about an hour until Craig comes to bed.  When she hears his footsteps coming up the stairs she hops off the bed and gets into her crate.        
She has a face only a mother could love and that mother would be me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

For Valentines Day Craig is taking me birding.  We are going for a ride in the country and I'll have my camera and binoculars with me.  And he doesn't even like birds.... well, not really, he likes birds but not like I do.  He took me to dinner last night at my favorite Mexican restaurant and he listened to me ramble on about a bird article I had read... and he actually acted interested.   You're the best Honey.  Happy Valentines Day..... I love you!!  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My beloved chickadees

I have really tried to make a conscious decision as to whether I have a favorite bird and the truth is I don't.  It seems like I do have a favorite bird of the day depending on what incredible experiences I have had that day with a particular bird.  But regardless, I am in love with Chickadees. 
While reading one of my National Wildlife magazine last night I came across an article about Chickadees written in 1991.  I learned some fascinating facts that I thought I would share with you.  
While nearly 1/2 of North American birds migrate south the Chickadee winters over in the north.  
1. A Chickadee needs 20 times more food in the winter than it does in the summer.

2. In mild winters Chickadees must eat 150 sunflower seeds a day.

3. When temps drop to zero the Chickadee must eat 250 sunflower seeds a day.

4. In winter Chickadees often band together with Titmice, White Breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers and Downy Woodpeckers.  This is an uncommon phenomenon among birds.  This allows them to find food more efficiently than Chickadees do alone. 
5. It is believed that Chickadees drop their body temperature nearly 20 degrees at night to conserve energy.

6. In winter a Chickadees plumage is 30 percent thicker.

7. Chickadees can shiver.  This turns energy into heat, but the energy must soon be replaced or the bird will die. 

8. A chickadees bill is like a horn and is not sensitive to cold.

9. A chickadees feet are sensitive to cold.  To warm their feet they pull up one at a time into their breast feathers or sometimes sit on their feet.
10. More than 70 percent of all young Chickadees are not alive one year after they hatch.  Most die during their first month of life, some are victims of predation, starvation, and expose to the cold.  

But the fact that any live to greet the spring is an amazing story of survival!     

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good News & Bad News

The good news is that I went to one of my favorite antique stores today and most everything in the store was 1/2 price.  The bad news is everything was 1/2 price because the store is going out of business and closing it's doors the 1st of March.  Although I was thrilled with the sale, it saddens me to see the store go away.  It was one of my favorite places to go on an afternoon and dig around.  This particular store has 4 floors including the basement.  In the basement is where I think a true treasure is.  It's full of old out of print books and magazines.... literally 10,000 books!  They have little stools that you can sit on in each isle.  I have spent many hours looking through the books and I've gotten some amazing books.  And I love to pick up books for others as well when I see a topic that I know so and so would enjoy.    
Today I looked at the magazines which I haven't paid much attention to in the past.  Look what I found!!  Old copies of "Michigan Natural Resources" from the 70's 80's and 90's.  Awesome... right up my alley!  And a bunch of "National Wildlife" magazines from the same era.  They had a price tag of $1 each on them, but they gave them all to me for $10.  There must be 50 magazines there.  I can't wait to dig into them.  
And this is my other purchase that I was excited about.  It's an old bean pot with a lid.  I've been keeping my eye open for just this!  My Grandma has one that she cooks lima beans in every time we have a get together.  Now I have to get Grandma's recipe!

P.S.  If anyone local is wondering what store I'm talking about it's the Bangor Antique Mall on Main Street in Bangor.  They are only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's.  You might want to check it out before they close the doors.  I know I'll be back next weekend again!    

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Birds on the fly

It's 50 plus degrees here in Michigan today and lots of sunshine.  We've gone from the most snow we've had in years to nearly nothing.  It's going to be in the 40's all week so most likely all our snow will be gone soon.  I'm enjoying the break in the weather but Craig is crying over his lost snow.  It's only the beginning of February so we could get a lot more before it's over.  
I tried to capture some bird photos with the sun shinning today.  The birds didn't want to stay still but I did catch these shots of the birds taking off.

Have a good weekend..... 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A few of my bird feeders

I bought this caged suet feeder last summer when I was having a problem with starlings eating up all the suet I put out (luckily starlings have been minimal this year).  It keeps the big birds out while still allowing the smaller birds access to the suet.  It hung forever without any birds paying any attention to it.  But finally this winter the birds have taken to it.  The downy, titmice, and chickadees all enjoy it.  
And I enjoy watching the birds maneuver in and out of it.  It's quite entertaining.  
Yesterday several of you asked about my ladle feeder that was pictured with my blue jay eating on it.  Actually, it is an ice fishing ladle that I picked up at a junk store for $1.  I painted it black and hung it over the side of my platform feeder and secured it with a screw.  My birds love it!!  I really think it is their favorite feeder.  Everything from woodpeckers to cardinals to sparrows come and grab a peanut off of it all day long.      
Here's another shot of the whole feeder system.  Above the ladle is little perch with holes drilled in it that I fill with peanut butter.  That's a favorite of the downy's.  A thistle feeder hangs on the other side and a suet log hangs off the front.  Something for everyone!  And of course hanging on the pole is a squirrel baffle.  Craig made it for me out of chimney piping.  It works wonderful and there has NEVER been a squirrel on the feeder.   
OK, Seadra!  I see you licking your chops and I see that peanut butter on your head.  Were you sticking your nose in the bird peanut butter jar?  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Blue Jay Breakfast

What did Jessica put in my breakfast bowl this morning?
Peanuts!  My favorite!
I'll take this one.
And this one and this one and this one......

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thinking of spring???

Well, not really.  I'm not allowed to complain about winter at our house.  
But since I fell on the ice Saturday and hurt my knee I am a little mad at winter.  I went to the ER yesterday and tomorrow I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.  
So to help me pout a little bit more I'm posting these beautiful morning glories from my garden last summer.