Saturday, April 28, 2012

O_M_G - The Pileated Woodpecker

This is probably the most exciting post I am going to put here. Since I started birding all I hear about is the elusive Pileated Woodpecker and how many birders go a lifetime without seeing one.  My handy dandy Bird Book told me they were here, so of course I had the instant need to see one. I talked to Kelly about it and he basically had a deep belly roll laugh at my expense. He said that there was no way possible for me to see one here in my yard. He went his whole life never seeing one, and I would just have to settle for pictures in a book. HMMMMM...That just made me want to lure one in even more. 

Well, on this day I was happily in my room doing nothing special when I heard Kelly shout to me to come fast and to grab my camera. I did as I was told. He was at our back garage door and with a shocked faced he said, omg you are not going to believe this, look outside the window. I did and what did I see looking at me.... O_M_G!!!! I was so excited my big ole thumb got in the picture, but you can clearly see him. It was a male Pileated Woodpecker, SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, lol. This was beyond crazy. I can not even put into words the excitement I felt. Kelly was pretty dumbfounded and so was I. The pictures are total yuck, BUT WHO CARES. I have picture proof of my sighting and that is so cool. The story wouldn't be half has great if I didn't have a picture to back it up. He kept peaking up and down at us from behind our retaining wall. 

He than flew off and headed for a dead tree stump we have in the yard to get himself a little snack. Oh how wonderful this guy was to see. He was ENORMOUS, almost a bit scary at first. He definitely makes a statement when he's present. I wonder if this was a freak visit or if he will return. I willed him into my yard, which is a bit crazy. even my husband was puzzled that as soon as I started asking for one, he appeared. Maybe I'm secretly the Bird Whisperer?  I have read that once a pileated settles into a location they are usually there for life, I could only be so lucky.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Yes Yes Yes, it finally happened and this big fellow showed up in the yard today! He is my very first Red Bellied Woodpecker. I'm hoping he is one of many that decide to frequent this year, he didn't hit the feeders, but he is sniffing around on the ground which is a good sign. He is a lot bigger than I expected him to be, and it was really a thrill to see him. I knew what he looked like from my birding books so I was hoping to spot one.  Now lets hope he brings his friends for a free buffet. I have a variety of things out that he should really take quickly too.  As you can see from this picture we seriously need to cute the grass HAHA :) 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cleaning Up More Flower Beds

Today we cleaned the right side of the house. We had some serious overgrown weeds all over the place and some over grown ornamental grass that needed some serious attention. It was spreading all over the place and needed to be tamed.  We had done some cleaning in this area before, but today we will add the final touches. 

We needed a method for confining the wild grass and Kelly came up with a great idea to use our left over flower bed pavers to keep the grasses isolated just around the satellite dish area. I did not want the grass growing into the near by bush you see here in the above picture. It was overwhelming the bush and killing it.  As you can see we confined it! 

(Update 2014 - The above picture makes me really sad. Maddie is in the picture , The grey colored cat, and she went missing just after this picture. It was a heartbreaking lose for my husband and I. Very sad to see her in these pictures, it seemed things were so perfect than. A perfect moment in time). 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Downy Woodpecker

Today I got visited by a female Downy Woodpecker. How exciting!!! My first Woodpecker for this yard. She apparently liked my orange flavored Oriole suet, lol. I'll have to buy more now that I know that she likes it. 

I was so excited when I saw her. I'm new at taking bird pictures - my hands were shaking from the excitement lol. I also have no idea how to work my fancy camera yet either. More learning to do here.

When she took flight I tried real hard to capture it.  I didn't have my camera set to the right f/Stop, but it still came out cool.

My first 'real' bird sighting. It was a great day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wild Coyote

This is the third post of the day and this one is pretty special. Kelly and I ran across this Coyote on the gravel road that heads to the main highway as we were headed to Lowes to get more yard project supplies. I was lucky enough to have my new camera on me (my Canon 60D) and was able to get up close to this injured Coyote. 

I'm not sure how the injury occurred, I was not present for that. I'm also not sure of the faith of this animal because it most definitely had a broken leg. There was a couple in there truck that were at the location first, and they were dealing with the situation. If I'm not mistaken I believe they put the animal out of it's misery. Kelly and I left, I did not want to be a witness to it. Each time I look at this picture I am in awe because this is something I won't ever see again. 

Wildlife is awesome so always capture it best you can - when you can. 

SNAKE!!!, Run as fast as you can.

I know I have mentioned in a past post the importance of keeping tall grass trimmed down from the base of trees in our yard. When the grass is too tall it is an open invitation for a black rat snake to come visit.  Well as  you can see by this picture, the grass at base of tree was way too high.  Of course since this incident, Kelly has done an awesome job keeping the base of trees clean of brush, but that is now and this was then. 

I was out just minding my own business at this tree checking out the bird feeder above attached to it. I think I was trying to determine if it needed refilling. I got REALLY close to the base of the tree and before I knew what was happening this snake popped out and whipped it tail and scurried back down. I must have startled it when I approached the tree, but in the process it's tail hit my lower leg. Oh boy did I freak out. I even called Kelly at work crying, LOL.  The feeling of the tail touching my leg haunted me for days. I still feel a bit queasy just thinking about it - HAHAHA :) I was smart enough to grab my cell phone and snap a few quick shots. I was so not going to have Kelly tell me I imagined it all. I also had never seen a black rat snake up close before, and the size and girth of it had me shaking in my shoes. Here is the tree with and without the snake hiding around it.

I highlighted in the red box where he was hiding. Look at how alarmingly thick it is. It looks thicker than a garden hose. I feel faint looking at the picture, lol. That nasty thing touched my leg. For weeks I could not hang my legs over the sides of anything (the bed etc) even in the car with my legs hanging over the sea without fear of something coming to get me!

That same day Kelly cut down the grass the surrounds this tree :) 

Birds Chronicles for Today

As I mentioned this is the second post for today.  It was a super busy day with a coyote, flowers and birds. Yes I said Coyotoe so stay tuned for that coming up in the next post. This is the bird portion so let's hop to it, or is that let's Chirp to it? I have really started LOVING birding so I decide to load up the yard with some fun foods to see what I can attract. I did a ton of research so that I was at least close to putting out the right foods. Similar to everything else in this yard this is all an experimentation and a learning experience. It takes years sometimes to set up strong stable habitats in your yard, so I figure it will take me a while before I find a winning combination for feeding the birds here. You have to start somewhere.

I added so many bird feeders the last few weeks, I kinds of lost track, lol. I have a feeder for each of the birds I am trying to attract. Here is a bare bones list of what I am hoping to see:

1. Any type of Woodpecker
2. Oriole
3. Hummingbird
4. Cardinal
5. Goldfinch

Below is a window. It looked like a good idea, and I figured my cats would love the close up view, but it didn't hold well to the glass. The suction cups could only do so much before they let go. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. I also see I need to clean my windows HAHAHA.

The day started rainy and dingy. The pictures have a little too much contrast for my taste today. I don;t mess with editing them, too much work! The sun finally breaks out in the afternoon, and the picture quality improves tremendously.

I did have one cute little visitor today, but it was a butterfly. He was not quite a bird, but he will do for now. As for the birds, the buffet is now open. Please line up single file and PLEASE no pushing. Everyone will get a plate :)

Yard and Flowers for Today

I'm totally not going to apologize for this, but todays post is going to be INSANE picture heavy. For those of you that have slow internet, run do not walk, lol. So I went picture happy today so I'm going to split today's posts into two separate post. One post will be for flowers and the yard stuff, and one post will be for birds and bird feeders. Yes, there are THAT many pictures. Let's start with the front window garden area.

Short of this little girl mysteriously blowing up in a million pieces, be prepared to see her time and again for the lifetime of this blog :)

The new kid on the block. We went back to that same garden center and found this little beauty to match with my fountain. She is currently on the back deck of the house, but she will eventually work her way to the from of the house. I think I start to say that OVERALL my photography skills have stared to improve. I guess it doesn't hurt that I went out and splurged on a new Canon 60D :) My Dream camera has arrived.

My Mom visited this Spring for NY, and we planted a bunch of stuff. Amongst those plants are these two Bushes shown below (Update: both of these did not make it - like so many we planted too early this year and were fooled by the early warm weather). I'm glad I got these pictures of them, they definitely are beautiful and remind me of my Mother. 

Here goes the awesome photography I promised you guys, lol. I can't promise it will aways be this awesome, but it's a far cry from when I started this blog. I have to remember to take out my GOOD camera and get REAL pictures whenever I can.  The colors where speaking to me today!

Around the Yard..

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cows - MOO :)

Coming from NY I have seen my fair share of dairy cows, but only on rare visits to upstate NY. Here we are surrounded by beef cattle...everywhere you look. Very different from Dairy cows and equally as fascinating. I have cows right in my back yard area. On certain spring and summer nights standing on my deck I can hear the faint sounds of mooing in distance. 

These cows are just down the road from my house. Since I had my new camera ready to go I had Kelly pull over so I could get some shots. I must have looked pretty crazy to stop and take pictures of cows for a farm boy raised in this area, lol. I wanted to show my Mom back in NY what lived on my road besides me :) As docile and friendly as Kelly keeps telling me these cows are, they were starring at me like I was lunch. The baby was cute too. I'm sure with time these will become common for me as well, but for now...HOLY COW, lol! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cleaning up some messy spots in the yard

Kelly and I are at it again. We have a few eye sores that have been bugging us for a while and we finally decided to tackle them. First up is this tree. Out here in the country Black Rat Snakes can get into the yard really easy, especially if you have tall weeds and grass at the base of your tress. We decided as an experiment to do this one up and lay in some gravel to give it a manicured look. In hind sight, I wish we hadn't used 'white' gravel, it's a bit on the tacky side, but it was what we had at the time. We can always refresh and update it if the need arrises.

Below, we also had another eye soar in the yard. The prior owner thought it would be a good idea to put bricks around this tree. As you can see below, it was really hurting and looking sad.  It wasn't easy, but Kelly dug out what he could. 

Finally, below is a peak at our new raised flower bed which I really love. For now it only has a few lonely flowers in it, but I hope to fill it up soon :) 

More yard project and flowers coming soon...

Morel Mushrooms

Today was a busy busy day, and more than one post will be going up for the day, Actually there will be 3 posts!  Today was a lot of fun and I want to document it as best as I can. We are going to start with these Morel Mushrooms. When Kelly told me we were going mushroom hunting in our own back yard, I was pretty sure he lost his mind. In NY you DO NOT eat mushrooms you find in your yard unless you want a quick trip to the ER and some serious food posioning. In fact the only mushrooms you should ever eat in NY, is from the supermarket, lol. It took Kelly a lot of convincing to get me to try them, but once I did I was hooked! I'm still not 100% sold on this soaking them till the bugs come out thing...EEEEK!

They fried up really nicely and were super yummy. There were not a lot, but enough for a snack. It's thrilling to know I can find them in my own yard. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If You Build It, They Will Come - Cardinal

I recently got really into my bird watching. Who would have thought that would be as much fun as it is. I have a wonderful patch of woods in my back yard area that is the perfect area for walking and bird watching!  Kelly always had feeders prior to me moving here, but they were outside empty and neglected. Many of the feeders had broken hanging wires, and looked really run down and shabby. I took all of them down (about 6 in total) and repainted them. Kelly helped out and added all new hanging wires for each of the houses. They came out really really nice. I loaded them up with seeds and suet cakes, and hopefully word will spread in the bird community that there is free food here for all, LOL! 

I do not have the correct camera for taking bird pics (poor zoom), but I will do my best with the camera I do have. One of these days I'm going to lose my mind and purchase myself a Nikon D90 or Canon Rebel XT with a zoom lens. I just need about 1500$ or so to make the purchase (ha ha). One of these days it's going to happen. I am not sure how, but it will happen!

Here is a beautiful Cardinal I spotted in my front yard tree. I believe it's a male since he is solid red. I'm COMPLETELY new at bird watching, and I'm learning as I go. I did see tons of birds while I lived in NY, but because I did;t have a yard I never paid attention to what species they were. The song the Cardinal sings is pure beauty, and I'm learning it's so easy to know when they are present by there unique sounds. My bird feeders are working. If you build it, they will come!

Thanks for visiting :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker - The One and Only

This is one of my very very first bird sightings in the yard. Actually, more like Kelly’s first bird sighting. We were out on the deck and he heard it tapping away at one of our trees. As you can see by the poor quality of this picture, I was not using my Canon 60D. I used what I had. This little guy is a Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker. The one and only! They are listed for this area in Missouri, but they are pretty rare, so I was quite excited when Kelly spotted him in the back yard. He is pretty spectacular. 

(Edit: 2014 - I never saw another one again. This was my one and only sighting. One day I hope to see one of these again and get a much better picture, but for now this will do).