Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.14

It has been a VERY busy week.  My work has just been crazy, and I haven't had time to blog regularly.  I am trying to keep up with Friday's Hunt though, just to keep myself blogging during this busy time.  Thanks to Eden Hills for hosting the Friday's Hunt blog.

This week our prompts are:  Starts with N, Week's Favourite, and "I made this."

Starts with N
My N story is a sad one.  I had finally managed to convince a nuthatch to start taking seeds from my hand.  I was thrilled to have this new wild bird visiting me over the course of 3 days, and it was an avid sunflower seed lover.  On Wednesday, I was feeding it seeds on the edge of my woods and it flew off with a seed in its mouth, across the yard, and straight into one of my windows.  It died almost instantly.  I was deeply saddened by the loss of this beautiful bird, and felt particularly disheartened about losing my "friend" in such a horrible way.

It has made me investigate ways to prevent bird-window collisions, since almost all of my windows face the woods around my home, and they all reflect that view.  I have learned about a product that I plan to use to help my feathered friends.  It's a do-it-yourself treatment using a special tape with spaced markers on it that prevent the birds from flying into the window, even when there is a reflection.  It's a product recognized by FLAP Canada (Fatal Light Awareness Program) - a program dedicated to reducing bird deaths as a result of window collisions.  Did you know that across North America, estimates of birds killed in window collisions annually ranges from 100 milllion to 1 billion birds.  That is tragic.  I do not want to contribute to that statistic.    I'll be installing "Feather Friendly" marker tape soon.  If you have bird collisions with your windows, consider doing the same thing.

Week's Favourite
My week's favourite is this photograph of yet another new warbler species for me.  I have now had a total of 9 warbler species at my new home, which is really exciting, because I didn't have warblers before.

This is a female Blackburnian warbler.

So far this year I've seen and photographed the following warblers:  Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Black and White Warbler, and the Common Yellowthroat, which is a warbler even though it doesn't have warbler in its name.  I'm hoping to keep adding to that list!

I Made This
I make lots of things.  I spin my own yarn on a spinning wheel.  I knit.  I crochet.  I weave.  I do wet felting and needle felting.  I do beading.  I sew and quilt.  I bake and cook.  I've also dabbled in book binding, basketry, origami, quilling, rug hooking, pottery (hand building and wheel throwing), silk scarf painting, tie-dyeing, woodworking, and I even did a blacksmithing course once.  I love to make things because I find it relaxing, rewarding, and an enjoyable way to spend my free time.  I wish I had more time to make things!  Anyway, here are some recent knitting projects!

Here I am wearing a shawl I made - it's knitted from two different skeins of my handspun yarn.

In this close-up, you can see the green yarn, which is a 3-ply blue-faced Leicester yarn (that's a breed of sheep!) and the blue/mauve yarn is 50% merino, 50% tencel, in a 2-ply yarn.

You can see the shawl here along the top of the fence, and with it is the Sea Dragon shawl which I knit last winter.  It is made from handspun yarn from Peru.

Here is a close up so you can see how the blue and green colours meld together - I just love the colours in this shawl.  It took a long time to finish knitting it though!

My little chickadee friend was inspired to check out my knitting too.  I think it's a bit big for her!

This is the Woodland Hoodlet designed by Tiny Owl Knits.  I love it, but I finished it in the spring of this year, so I haven't had a chance to wear it yet because it hasn't been cold enough!  I do love knitting cables!

My little chickadee friends were hanging around for the whole time I was taking pictures with the tripod and self-timer.  They think that all the time I spend outside should be dedicated to feeding them more seeds!

Finally, here's a scarf that I wove on the rigid heddle loom last fall.  Nearly time to start wearing scarves!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday's Hunt, v 2.13

Friday is here once again - seems to happen every week! This week has been extremely busy for me, but I appreciate having the work, so I'm not complaining.  I'm still making time for Friday's Hunt, hosted by Eden Hills. As usual, there are 3 topics for today: Starts with M, Week's Favourite, and Work.

Starts with M
I meant to do a blog on this topic a little while ago, but I didn't get around to it, so I'll do it today!  I wanted to showcase some of the interesting mushrooms I have found growing here around our new home.  Fall is mushroom season here, and there have been some really pretty ones.  I've missed a few, but there were still plenty to photograph this week, so here's a little tour of Claire's Mushrooms.

This yellow one is really vivid.  There are several clumps of it around.

It has a spongy underside, rather than the typical "gills" that you see on many mushrooms.  I think that might mean that it's a bolete species, but I'm not sure.

I do have a mushroom field guide, but at the moment, I haven't got time to look all these up in an effort to identify them.

This is a wood fungus growing on a birch.  There are quite a few of this style of fungus around. This one is on a tree that fell a while ago and is slowly decomposing.

These ones are on live birch trees.

Here's a new mushroom just emerging - I love its bright orange colour.

There are a lot of brown mushrooms of one sort or another.  Some are small and kind of trumpet-like.

Or umbrella-like!

Others are large (I put a sunflower seed on this one to indicate size).

I'm quite sure some are edible, but I don't want to take chances until I properly identify them.  Most of the boletes are edible, so that might be a good target group.

This is an interesting fungal species - some kind of orange jelly-type growth on a stump.

This is my favourite mushroom from the ones that I found on my mushroom walk-about.  It has a vivid red cap with bright white gills underneath.   

Week's Favourite
I managed to photograph a new warbler this week, so that's my favourite for the week.  This is a Nashville warbler.  Thank goodness it doesn't sing country music!  Haha!

There's a lot of work still to be done here in our new home.  Even though we moved in back in June, we're both busy, and this week has been especially busy for me with work projects.  Since I work for myself, I have to take the work when it comes, and that can be a bit of a feast-or-famine situation. So, the work of unpacking and organizing (some things which have been packed for over 5 years since I moved back from Iowa), has been on hold this week.  This is a picture of one of my bookshelves, which is currently in a state of ongoing organization (the left side still needs a lot of attention!).  It's a lot of work to go through all my many books and organize and arrange them.  This shelf is all non-fiction:  cookbooks, gardening books, craft and hobby books, art books, animal care books, etc.  My field guides are on a separate smaller bookshelf right next to my desk, since I use them a lot.

Anyway, the work continues!  It's not exactly a pretty picture, but I didn't have a lot of time today so that's going to have to do!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday

My work has been very busy for the past week or so, with no sign of letting up, so I haven't had as much time to blog as I would like.  I'm trying to keep up with 2 posts a week for now.  Yesterday on a break from my work, I took a wander around the woods in my yard to see what I might find, and I was well rewarded!

The chickadees were in their usual frenzy for seeds, and I carry a little jar with me so I can keep up feeding them by hand while looking for other birds.  I feel that the activity and chattering of the chickadees actually brings in other curious birds who are looking for a snack.  Yesterday, I managed to see both the hairy and downy woodpeckers who came to visit with the chickadees.

Here is the smaller, downy woodpecker - this one is a male as you can see from the red on the back of his head.

Here is the somewhat larger hairy woodpecker - this time a female.  She came really close, watching the chickadees taking seed from my hand.  She probably thinks they're crazy!

She would rather be looking for insects on the bark of the trees.

I then heard large wing beats go past my head, and thought a crow was coming to visit.  Imagine my surprise when I looked up to see the huge pileated woodpecker on a trunk just above me.  This picture isn't cropped at all - it was really close!  Their wingspan is over 2 feet - they are definitely large birds.

This one is a female - the male has red on that patch just under the eye, whereas the female has black. This was the first time I'd seen one at our new home, and the first time I'd seen one in many years, actually.  I was really pleased.  She flew to another tree a bit further away and did some drilling.

This is another new bird I saw yesterday for the first time - the blue-headed vireo.  The picture isn't great, but it was staying high in the tree, and I didn't have good photo opportunities.  It is distinguished by the clear white eye ring and the darker spot underneath the eye, as well as the light under-belly area and faint yellow colouring, as well as the wing patterns.  I'm hoping to have better photo opportunities for this bird soon.

A little bonus bird - a juvenile cedar waxwing I spotted on my waterfowl park visit last week.

Linking up with Wild Bird Wednesday!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.12

Again, it's Friday!  This week has gone super fast! But, regardless of speed, it's time for Friday's Hunt, hosted by Eden Hills. As usual, there are 3 topics for today: Starts with L, Week's Favourite, and Critter.

Starts with L
Here is a Lovely Landscape shot that I took today at the Sackville Waterfowl Park.  The trees are still mostly green but you can see hints of yellow.  The temperatures are getting lower at night these days, almost dipping to the freezing point.  Soon the fall foliage will be in its glory.  Also there is a Lake in the picture.

Because she is the herd queen, and demands her proper publicity level, and because her name starts with L, here is Lucky Nickel.  (By the way, she is also a Critter!)

Week's Favourite
My little chipmunk friend, having a rest in the sun.  (Yep, also a Critter!)

Usually I post cute, cuddly critters, like my goats and sheep, or birds (and I already posted two of those!).  For the critter category, I'm posting something a little different.  This critter is a shrew. There are quite a few shrew species in Canada and it's difficult to tell them apart unless you're an expert, which I'm not.  The only thing I can tell you for sure about this shrew is that it's dead.  I turned it over so that it would be more like it looks when it's alive.  It is most likely the Masked Shrew, or Cinereous Shrew (Sorex cinereus) simply because that is the most common species.

Unfortunately, our cats seem to kill shrews more than any other animal.  I have seen a few dead voles, and the odd dead mouse, and I've never seen them with a dead bird.  However, I have seen a LOT of dead shrews.  We try to keep both cats in at night - Izzy is an outdoor cat in general due to her problems with the concept of the litter box, but we try to keep her in the garage at night - but we aren't always successful.  You can identify a shrew by its very long, pointy nose and its lack of cute round ears, such as you see on mice.  They have very tiny eyes.

I don't know why the cats seem to favour shrews.  Are they easier to catch?  I have no idea.  Cats won't eat shrews because they emit an unpleasant smell that cats don't like. Poor little shrews.  I quite like shrews because they are insectivores and eat lots of bugs that might otherwise damage my plants. I wish that the cats would leave the shrews alone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday: A new bird for me, young pheasants, and a mystery bird

I was quite pleased earlier this week when I spotted a new bird in my yard.  We have a lot of tall trees in the woods surrounding the house, and although I can see some birds waaaay up in the treetops, I can't always get a good look at them or get a good photograph.  I had noticed previously that there seemed to be a very small bird that flitted about sometimes, but I wasn't able to get a good picture because it was very active and constantly moving, and usually too high up in the tree for me to see. Most of my pictures looked like this, although this one has a good clue in it!

When the little bird came down from the pine and briefly alighted on a birch branch, I managed to get a picture (not a great picture) that was enough to identify my tiny bird as a golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa).  The male has a orange-yellow patch on the crown of his head, while the female has a bright yellow patch.  My picture captured the female, and that blurry pine picture above shows the bright yellow of that crown spot on her head.  This picture below shows her diminutive size and wing bars.

This shot finally captured her yellow crown, at least a little bit of it, in plain view.

The golden-crowned kinglet isn't a rare bird, but it's still not a common backyard feeder bird, so I was quite excited to have spotted it in my yard.  I'll be watching for it now, and hoping for a better photographing opportunity.

This morning, as if they knew it was Wild Bird Wednesday, a group of ring-necked pheasants came to scratch and peck under my bird feeder.  I believe it was a mother with 3 "adolescent" males.  They are just moulting into their adult plumage and I'm not sure how many moult cycles they go through before they achieve adult appearance.  I apologize for the quality of the photographs but they were taken through my home office window glass, so not as clear as I would have liked.  Pheasants are very timid and rapidly leave if I go outside to photograph them.  Here is one of the young males with the adult female to the right and another young male in the background.

You can clearly see the red on his face and some of the iridescent feather colouring forming.

Here is the second young male, very similar in appearance to the first.

Here is mom (rear) with two of her brood.  The one on the right is interesting - I still think it's a male, but it seems to be in a different moult phase than the other two males.

This is the different male - the feathers have light coloured lacing on the tips, unlike the other males, and the neck feathering is different in colour to the others.  I'm not sure if this one is a bit older, or a bit younger, than the other two.  I'm still fairly sure it's a male due to the red on the face and the tail appearance.

Then my cat jumped up onto the windowsill and everybody went on high alert!  Here's mom, giving me the evil eye!

They all disappeared into the underbrush in a hurry.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping perhaps somebody can help with the identification of this little mystery bird. I had thought it was a warbler, although it wasn't matching any of my field guide pictures tremendously well.  Based on the Peterson Warbler Guide, I thought it might be a Tennessee Warbler in first fall plumage, or perhaps a Black-throated Blue Warbler in first fall plumage.  The thing is, the brownish streaking on its flanks doesn't seem to be entirely consistent with those options.  In addition, looking at the first picture in particular, there are some dark feathers under the tail that do not seem consistent with the first fall plumage of those two warblers.  I've also wondered about a female Prairie Warbler, without feeling any particular confidence in that ID.  That really long yellow eyebrow is distinctive, as is the yellow elsewhere, but the browns never seem right and the chest markings are indistinct. Then, someone on Facebook suggested it might be a Philadelphia Vireo, although I think the head feathering colour may be a bit too brown for that.  The three pictures below are all taken on the same day - can anyone provide any suggestions consistent with birds that would be expected in New Brunswick, Canada?  (another set of pictures follows this one, but they are from another day)

Here is a second set of pictures of what I believe is the same bird species, but of course I can't be positive.  These were taken a few days after the first set.  Again in the first picture, you can see those dark feather markings under the tail.