Friday, December 31, 2010

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers
Oh, what a fabulous duck! The cold weather has brought a more than typical variety of ducks along with plenty of the typical duck hunters. I spotted the mergansers yesterday and was keen to get a pic today. The males are dressed in the fanciest of feathers, looking like they stepped off the stage of the Lion King. The female is similar in shape, but reddish orange. She is really something. BUT! The croaking call of the male is a show in itself. He rolls his head back and then forward while rolling out a rough 'hau-braugh'. My new favorite!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Ducks

ringed-necked duck
That's my name for the waterfowl showing up after the big eastern storm this past week. Some of these ducks are so new to my eyes, I had to go to my bird books. These are Ring-necked ducks, similar to the bluebills. Guess there is a silver lining in those snow clouds!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Duck

Christmas Day Duck
A soft blue day on the Currituck Sound. A quiet day when sound meets sky and the birdsong east and west frame the scene. This lone bluebill paddled near me, as a lone swan stayed far away and a kingfisher rattled past my back.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Small Sampler

A variety of birds on the Currituck Sound
Not one of fabric, but one of water and the winter birds that stay around on still day after some tough winter weather. There is a cormorant, swans, ducks and even a seagull. Homes on the northern Outer Banks lie on the eastern horizon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Early Ice and Snow

Swan in Icy Currituck Sound
This December has brought early bitter weather for much of the country. We have had snow showers and ice on the sound already this month, something we don't typically see until January if we do at all. Today we got snow on the ground and plenty of icy water. Here a swan feeds in the icy water

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Garden Fairy

I went out early to my garden to sit and wait for the hummingbird. I was thrilled to see 2 chasing through the air. At least they have some company.

Here is the one that seems to be ruling the garden, sitting on an old stalk amid the still blooming tomatoe vines and sampling the flush of salvia. The red feather on the neck area tells me this is a young male.

Hummingbird in the tomato garden
Hummingbird in the Salvia

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hello Little Friend!

Hummingbird in November in Currituck
It's late November and I have hummers! We have been hearing the distinctive hum, so I made sure the feeder at my kitchen window was full of fresh sugar water. Sure enough, a female hummer showed up this morning. I went out to my garden (now full of salvias on one end) and waited to see if she showed.

This is a shot of the one that did show and it is a different hummer from the one at my window. This one has lots of markings on the neck and front.

My summer hummers left in September, these must be late migrants.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feeding at Dusk

Tree Swallows swarm
Tree swallows feed at dusk on this warm October day.

I spotted a female hummer on my lone feeder this evening. I will offer her just made sugar-water in the morning and hope she makes her way down south.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Window open for Owl

Baby Screech Owl
It's been very warm and suddenly cool, but a few days have allowed us to keep the windows open through the night. The bonus after fresh air and no energy bill is the sound of what is outside. The trill of a screech owl in the still dark morning is a prize to me. There are some that sound like a horse whinnie, but this fall's owl sounds like a tiny scream.
I wonder if the owl we are hearing is one that was born in a large woodpecker box two years ago. We had a box of three; one adult was lost (hit on the road by a car) but the remaining adult adult finished raising the brood to fledge.
Here is a pic of one of the brood. I spotted this face in the box and realized we had baby owls, a first! We keep hoping that owls will return to the box. (And isn't that handmade box something!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time to plant Garlic!

Garlic for Planting
I have grown garlic for the past couple years, using my extra grocery store bulbs. Even so, the flavor and texture of what comes from my own garden soil are way better than the store bulbs.

This year I took the next step and purchased some "seed" garlic. This garlic is specially produced to plant. I chose a stiffneck variety called 'Music', 2 packages with three bulbs in a package. I got about 30 cloves (check out how nice and big the cloves are!) and planted them in a prepared raised bed.

The cost was about $1 per clove, so my experiment is pricey, but hopefully the results will be worth it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Across the field

A view over the yellow-green soy beans to the intracoastal waterway and a lone sailboat making it's way south. This time of year large boats move out of the north to warmer climes for the winter. Many stop at the marina in Coinjock along the Albemarle&Chesapeake Canal where a contrast of economies is displayed: ordinary frame houses front the canal towered by luxury yachts in the alongside slips.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Miners and the Butterfly

Sulfur Cloud Butterfly
As we watch the amazing rescues of the Chile miners today, the story of the miners and the white butterfly is one that sticks: two miners reportedly stopped to watch a white butterfly in the mine and the stop to gaze at that wonder saved them.

There is the idea of a sign and the idea of the chance of it all, but I take away the idea of the stop. I love to stop and look as close as I can at the wonder. It's a stop I learned in childhood; my Father alerted us to look at the bird, the bug, all the wildlife around us.

So stop and gaze, it's all a wonder. Here a Sulfur Cloud Butterfly samples a Hummingbird Vine bloom.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall is Here

True evidence of the newest season are these Fall Crocus. Around 6 inches they are a giant next to the typical spring crocus flowers.
My ospreys are gone, hummers are gone, migrant summer nesters long gone and cicadas are quiet. We have been enjoying the fall warblers and I spotted two tiny diving ducks on the causeway today. It has been raining for days and more expected ... but it's still nice and warm. The Fall Crocus knows better though and we can expect cooler weather soon.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wood Nymph on ivy

The finely detailed wood nymph samples the bloom of an ivy vine.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

American Redstart

Spotted this pretty female today, I have yet to see the male. He is black where she is grey.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Storm Troopers

Hurricane Earl was thankfully a minor event. The hummers were in a panicky, fighting mood before today and remain in that frame. I put out two extra feeders on the protected west side before the storm. It's a 'better than tv' show at my kitchen window with plenty of hummers feeding and fighting all day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yellow migrant

This yellow warbler stands out in the trees that are are already dropping leaves. I do not see yellow warblers in the summer nesting months, just around the migrating spring and fall times. The hummers love to chase around the yellow birds and I've noticed they like to chase yellow butterflys, too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Cardinal Questions

Looking like it is in a worrisome mood, this young bird may be pondering what is next.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Young male hummer

Here's a young male hummingbird resting on a tomato fence during the sparring I witnessed the other day. You can spot the individual jeweled feathers at the neck that give away the young bird as a male.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hummingbirds in the Garden

Hummingbird at Salvia
It's chase and fight all day for the male hummers. I sat in my vegie garden and watched some tough battles. We let some salvia take over where the fall garden won't be planted and the hummers have really taken to the flowers. I also plant hummgingbird vine every year but those have yet to bud. The vine is great for migrating hummers as they pass through later in the fall.

Here's the resident mature male sampling the salvia.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One Lively Oak

One of my live oaks was alive with action this morning. I was chasing a warbler and found the young House Finch. Then a bunch of Carolina Wrens started screaming, some in my pecan tree and some in the oak.Young finch
Young wrenI spotted this young wren: it was a new family of wrens making their way through, panic understood! Isn't this one too cute!
Yellow WarblerNext the Yellow warblers, who could not understand the commotion. They kept ducking and moving trying to figure out the wrath of the wrens.
HummingbirdEven the Hummingbird came over to check out the action and buzz the warblers. For a few minutes the tree was in turmoil and I was enthralled.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Secret Spot with Waterlilies

A Great Egret in the area of the causeway that I call the Secret Spot. Lots of cover give a big bird a feeling of safety from the roadway. The marsh grasses are picking up late summer colors which is a great contrast to the bright white of the Egret.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Gleaners

Two Red-Winged Blackbirds glean the seeds from dried sunflower heads.

A feeling of Fall is on the wing. Many summer birds are gone, others are forming flocks. Seagulls are flying over. Hot is met with cool. There's a subtle feeling of change in the air with little signs that one learns over the years. Gleaning the clues of nature for the inevitable.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gloriosa Success

Many years back my sister Rose brought me a single bulb packaged and labeled Gloriosa. She had picked it up in a remainder bin, which is how I have acquired many bulbs. All that potential laying there is so hard to pass by.

This one has stumped me for years, it grew a delicate stem of leaves about a foot high and stopped. Last year I left it in it's clay pot outside for the winter on the sheltered side of my vegie garden. That was the trick. The plant has climbed over four feet, each leaf has a tendril that wraps a nearby structure for support. The bloom is so delicate. Gloriosa!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Double duty

I love sunflowers. I have some super tall ones in my garden this year. They are so pretty and also serve the birds and bees and frogs in other ways. Here's one of the newer Cardinals that love to sample the seeds of a drying head. I have been questioned over putting flowers in the vegie garden, but I insist. I don't mind sharing a bit with the birds. Flowers brighten up the green space, attract the pollinators, and simplify some watering.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Night Blooming Cereus bud
Night Blooming Cereus buds on leaf
Aperire is Latin meaning "to open." These Night Blooming Cereus cactus flowers are there, ready to open and probably tonight as I sleep! I have three blooms on my cactus plants. I had to show you how they come off the leaf, it's so unusual. The open bloom is wonderful and large and perfumy. Last year the plants bloomed in late August. Maybe the early heat has pushed them this year.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heart like a Leaf

heart shaped leaf with frog
Special message to my bright and shiny one written on a heart like a leaf. XOXO

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Painted Lady and Perfume

Painted Lady on Oregano Bloom
My oregano is blooming. I need to quickly cut some stems for drying before they all set blooms. This Painted Lady Butterfly is enjoying the nectar and maybe the heady fragrance. The underside of the wings have a great pattern.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plant Sitting

I'm plant sitting for a friend who didn't have time to get some things in the ground before vacation time. Well, it's been easy. We just set them in the vegie garden so the watering is automatic. Here is one that's bloomed (Echinacea) and it's so pretty that I am going to have to add it to my garden next year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garden Lilies

Pink Lilies
Pretty pink lilies in the garden. Large blooms and nearly five foot tall stems give us a pop of cool color.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blue Skies with Sunflower

I love sunflowers in the garden. This one is reaching way up into the blue.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gold Dust Frog

This sleepy tree frog resting in a yellow daylily is dusted with gold pollen. Hmmm, wonder if that pollen makes those pretty gold spots on the frogs I see. A tighter view of the frog shows the pollen all over the frog's mouth.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Black eyed Susans

Black Eyed Susans
One plant last year gave us several plants this year. Saving seeds is an easy way to keep what you like. We save vegetable, flower and herb seeds.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Dragonfly with lilies
Dragonfly on lavender
Dragonflies are everywhere. I think they have consumed all of the biting May flies. Sit outside and they will light on you, perhaps considering the adage "How do eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lilies and Gardenias

Yellow LilyGardenia

My orange and yellow lilies are just opening. I think it's early, I remember late June as the time for these lilies. The garden is full of dragonflies (perhaps due to the May flies that were right on time!) The temperature is unusually hot. A cold front may allow us to open windows tomorrow (please! we are still painting!) The gardenias are blooming and they are fantastic for cutting and bringing inside. It just takes a few, the fragrance is so strong.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bee on Lavender

Lavender and Bee
Bumblebees are all over my lavender plant. The lavender plant has overtaken my sage so I need to replant/seed the sage in another spot. I've been busy spring cleaning and painting ... well, I'm cleaning ahead of the painting. It's a refresh of the home which is just what lavender gives us,a clean and somewhat soapy refreshing smell!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Squash Blooms

Squash Blossoms
The squash plants are sure looking good this year. We are looking forward to fresh yellow crooknecks and green zucchinis. If you have a Joy of Cooking book handy, the recipe for zucchini casserole is delicious. I double the sauce to make it extra good.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Bumble Bee on Foxglove
A bumble bee takes a shortcut to the nectar of a torn Foxglove bloom. Usually the bee has to crawl way up into the bloom to get to the same spot. Foxgloves are perfectly designed for the bumble bee.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Carolina Blue

Nesting Carolina Wren
Not the color of the box, but a Carolina Wren nesting in a bluebird box. I was headed out the front gate when a bird almost hit me in the face. Thinking it could be the wren headed back to her box I stayed around for a bit (being very still) and sure enough she came back to the box. I bet she has five eggs.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sugar Peas

Sugar Peas
A shot of my sugar peas growing. I prefer Sugar Ann's but I believe these are Sugar Snaps. String the pod and cook it whole. I stir fry them in a bit of olive oil. I was introduced to the Sugar Ann's long ago by the late owner of Aggie, the famous highway horse. This was back when she had a little highway stand. I stopped for strawberries but got a bag of peas and a cooking lesson on the peas as well. I was hooked! I believe her recipe included a bit of garlic in the pan and although I love garlic I love these peas nice and clean. They are even good raw in a salad. I eat them standing in the garden. Thank you MQ!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lilies and Hippeas

Lilies and Hippeastrums
A crush of lilies and red streaked hippeastrums in my garden. The pitchfork is not for them, just left after a daffodil thinning.