Thursday, February 19, 2015

Guess who is back??? Mr. and Mrs. Pileated Woodpecker

Today we had they pleasure of seeing the Pileated Woodpecker again! I have been patiently awaiting his return. Not only did he return, but he brought his mate with him. Yes, you heard me right I had our Male Pileated and Female Pileated together today!!! I can not tell you how thrilled Kelly and I were. They visited a dead tree in our back yard for a little date time snacking, lol. 

I can not even begin to tell you how amazing this is. This picture was taken from the deck door in my Master Bedroom. Kelly and I set up a chair and Scope and enjoyed them mostly all day. We just couldn't stop watching. It's super rare to catch one of these birds in the wild, let alone a pair like this.
Definitely the blurriest pictures I have ever taken, but I still enjoy the thrill of trying to capture the.

After they left and went into our woods to check out what they were 'snacking', and this is a close up of the tree where they spent most of the day. I was almost thinking they were trying to nest at one pint. How incredible would that have been. I could;t be that lucky, could I?

This day was definitely for the record books. I don't think I will ever catch the chance of seeing the two of them together like this again. It's good to know there is a couple here, and that they will be mating in my backyard sometime in the future, so cool! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Time!!!

I came up with the idea to blog our Halloween pictures to keep track of them.  I'm going to go back and add 2011 and 2012 Halloween as well because I have them too. This year we added a new Balloon....Mr. Spider!! Okay, that isn't his name but it was the best I could think of lol. 

Very Very cute as far as I am concerned, and it's a perfect match to the other balloons in the yard. How seriously cute is his big purple hat??!!

Most everything is similar to past years, but it is a;ways great to see progression. I will start with out Witch and Cauldron. She is always the highlight of the yard!

We do not have the fog machine set up in the Cauldron yet, that will be closer to Halloween time. No need to hook it up this early. I will have updated pictures once I get that going. It's fun to see the Cauldron bubbling and smoking!!!

Next up is the Graveyard scene. This has become a staple for us on Halloween. We always have a graveyard each year. I wonder if my Husband is trying to hint at something? lol. This needs an updated picture as well because this wasn't the completed graveyard. I will add one in after this picture.

Then we have the infamous three ghosts. These things are cute and you can see them when you are coming down the drive. There arms just peak up from the tall grass field.

One of my personal Favorites though is good ole Franky!!! His is
 such an awesome balloon, one of the tallest we have. He always looks great since we have such a large yard to fill, a large balloon like him is just perfect!

We also have a cute pumpkin with a witches hat. I love the hat the most with the bright yellow moons! 

That's it for all of the balloons. We have six in total now. I think that's a good amount. It gets difficult to put them up if you get more than that. I think we will stay at six for a bit!

On to the other decorations. Our most famous non balloon deco is "Scott".

The Skull sitting on the table was only added last year. I think I got it at Swiss Colony last year, lol.

We upgraded the bat lights for the garage this year. We moved them up to the gutters. They were hanging too low before over the garage door opening and my poor new FJ was rubbing them.

I think I'm missing my Pumpkin Garden Stake, but I still have my Bat one!

I also stepped up the straw display from the year before. I think 2 years back I just had a single bale and that was really it. This year I went all out to display our pumpkins.

The last part of the decor outside is the small graveyard I do at the base of my kitchen window. It's small but very cute. I only just removed flowers from this area. As you can see everything is still green and growing.

I'm really happy how all the pictures came out. I used my Cannon 60D on Vivid Creative Mode with the background blur on max. I'm getting better with the camera, but still need work. I will learn it all eventually!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eggs, but not the good kind

Today Kelly discovered that the Blue Bird House has eggs in it. As exciting as that may seen, it also seems they are from a House Sparrow, which is not so exciting. That is most definitely not a positive thing to have nesting in your yard. I set up some fishing line on the outside of the bird house to discourage the house sparrows from building a nest there, but it has seemed to fail.  This Spring I am going to have to come up with some better Anti Sparrow techniques. I still took pictures of the nest and eggs and wanted to document it here.  I'm pretty sure it looks like a House Sparrows nest do to the MESSY contents of different materials used to construct the nest, but I am ot sure 100% though, what I do know is that it's not a Blue Bird nest, that is all I am sure of.

Not sure what to o in this case. As much as I do not want those things reproducing in my yard, I also don't want to kill eggs. It's a touchy thing. The box is now cleaned out and I hope not to have to deal with this again. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Goldfinch Sock

Today is short but sweet . I wanted to show this picture of the the beautiful bright yellow mostly male Goldfinch that visited the yard today.  Kelly wanted to try this sock feeder out, and so far they seem to love it. This picture is a bit on the blurry side, but that is the joys of photography. I also take a lot of these out of a glass window, and in this shot it shows. Practice Practice!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Owls Anyone?

Today I have a very interesting post. Kelly and I spent this past weekend in St. Louis to celebrate his Birthday and Valentine's Day, and we went on an 'Owl Prowl'. A simple definition of an an Owl Prowl is: a nighttime session of owl spotting/watching. This can be done as an individual or in large groups with others.

As you all know, Kelly and I are very into birding. We have been hearing an owl hooting in our backyard for quite some time now, and it has made us very interested in learning more about it. I wasn't really sure where to start, so I turned to the internet and found all the information I needed. In my research, I ran across a blog run by Mark Glenshaw. You can click the image below to be taken directly to his blog. I highly recommend the blog if you enjoy owls.

(image above copyrighted by Mark Glenshaw

Mark is an amateur naturalist that has been following a mated pair of Great Horned Owls in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri since 2005.  He has even named the pair, Charles and Sarah. Their story is very interesting and the blog immediately drew me in. I noticed at the bottom of the blog that owl prowls were available for those interested via email request directly to Mark. I was very excited about the possibility of meeting the owls, so I sent off a request. Mark kindly and quickly replied, and we made arrangements to meet up at Forest Park for an official Owl Prowl with him. I did want this to be a surprise for Kelly, but I was so excited I just had to tell him. He was also thrilled with the prospect of possibly seeing the owls as well. 

We arrived in St. Louis Friday February, 15th in the early part of the day. We immediately went to Forest Park and followed Marks directions to the Forest Park Visitor Center where our meeting was to take place. I wanted to make sure we knew where we were going ahead of time so we wouldn't be late. It's always best to scope these type of activities out ahead of time. 

Once I was sure of where we were going, we returned to the park for our meeting with Mark at 4:30 P.M. We met at the park Visitor Center at Marks request. He also had his friend and owl mentee, Brenda, with him. I had read a lot about her on the blog as well, and it was really cool having her accompany us as well. We all headed out to the location where the owls were nesting. Out of respect toward Mark and the owls, as well as for their privacy and well being, I will not be listing the exact location of the owls nesting area at this time.

As soon as we entered the nesting area, I immediately spotted one of the owls. I wasn't sure if it was Charles or Sarah, but I knew Mark would inform of that. This is what I saw. 

I didn't even need Mark to point him out to me, he was so grand and very hard to overlook. According to Mark, this was Charles the male of the pair and he was just recently waking up. He still seemed somewhat asleep here.  I was amazed at the sight of him. He was even more beautiful than I had imaged. 

Mark then informed me that he would slowly wake up and begin to 'hoot'. It was fascinating. Prior to hooting, he would stretch his body (as seen below). There is a specific name for the stretch, but the official name escapes me right now. Here is Charles stretching and waking more.

He then began to hoot. It was a deep almost haunting (in a good way) sound. It was one of the most amazing things I have experienced as a birder so far, something I won't ever forget. He would fill his throat up (it would somewhat balloon out) and then let out a hoot. Here is a picture of Charles puffing up some, just prior to letting out a loud hoot.

Here is Charles when he's not puffing up and hooting, you should be able to see the difference. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to photograph Sarah, she is in the process of nesting and the nest is not in view. She did came out of her nest for a very short period of time. While she was out she was able to grab some small prey and then return quickly to her nest. The whole process lasted maybe 2 minutes, and I was not able to grab any shots. 

We continued to observe Charles for at least 2 hours, until it got too dark to see much anymore. I can say it was in my top two of best birding experiences to date (watching two Pileated Woodpeckers feeding in my back yard in late January was my other).

I wanted to thank Mark and Brenda for an amazing experience. They were both so friendly and informative. The prowl was very fun. I learned a lot about owl behavior, so much I had to jot things down after so I wouldn't forget anything. If you love owls as much as I do, make sure to stop by Mark's blog. It makes for real interesting reading (link above). 

Thanks for visiting and as always - I will be back soon with more!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time to Take a Bath...Robin

These were captured on the morning of May 3, 2012.

I was bird watching from my spare bedroom window when I noticed this little cutie wondering around the pond area. I caught this adorable little Robin drinking and taking a bath in our pond!

(Canon 60D 1/250s f/5.6 ISO 400)

(Canon 60D 1/320s f/5.6 ISO 500)

It's fun to take a bath on a warm spring day..
(Canon 60D 1/250s f/5.6 ISO 800)

Splish Splash , I was takin a bath....
(Canon 60D 1/250s f/5.6 ISO 640)

and off I go all dried up as if nothing happened :) 

(Canon 60D 1/250s f/5.6 ISO 400)

These were another wonderful group of shots. When I get the settings correct on my Canon 60D, I do capture magazine quality shots. 

These were taken through my guest room window through a closed glass. WOW!  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

BlueJays, Good or Bad?

Now there is a GIANT debate online about Blue Jays. Some people love them and feed them, and other people despise them in their yards. I'm torn myself. I think they are super beautiful, but they really munch down the suet. It can get expensive keeping up with their giant peanut- suet loving appetites. I also think they bully my cats, lol. They squawk bloody murder when they see my cats (which is a normal warning call they emit for possible predators), but it scares my cats to death.  Salem freaks out when she sees them out the window, and I'm sure she would gobble one up whole if she was capable of catching it. 

This picture came out really nice so I wanted to share it. This Blue Jay scarfed down half this suet cake, lol. The picture is a tad bit grainy, but cool how it shows him in action with a mouth full.