Saturday, October 13, 2018

Orange Fritillary

Last week a bright orange butterfly visited, floating over the zinnias, flourishing delicate orange wings, then touching down and dancing on tiptoes. Dressed in an orange and white striped fur coat, it sipped sweet nectar through a straw-like proboscis. It was here a couple of days, and we saw another one two miles from here. They both left just before the weather turned chilly. We think they liked it here. We'll be watching next year and hope they come back and bring their friends with them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Last week I went with my neighbor to a secluded parcel of farmland where she trains her two dogs. Toby, her 3-year-old lab, is a titled master hunter/retriever, and he takes his occupation seriously. He swam through a pond laden with lily pads and emerged on the opposite shore, running up the grassy hillside. At the sound of his master's whistle, he stopped, pivoted and sat in one smooth motion, giving her his full attention. Her hand signals sent him to the right or left, forward or back until he hunted out the decoy she had hidden in the grass and brought it back to her.

If Toby is serious about his job, Smarty, the 7-month old lab, finds nothing but fun in training. She has the energy of a bronco on steroids, and if Toby out-performed her, it was not for lack of physical ability or desire, but only something that time and patient training will change. Chances are, she'll be a master before long and have a good time getting there.

Smarty and her trainer paused for a moment before we left, just long enough for me to snap this picture of her, wet and happy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


I'm Hungry!

A thin, high pitched, incessant cheeping drew my attention to the fledgling cardinal. It flew down from a tree above the feeder, landing on the deck rail near where its dad was gathering sunflower seeds, and waited expectantly, if not patiently.

Breakfast for baby cardinal

It paid off. The young ones have been running their parents ragged lately with their voracious appetites and pleading cries.

Carolina wren in grass

Carolina wrens were busy, too, searching high...

Carolina wren

and low...

Carolina wren feeding

...for food for the nestlings in the basket.

Carolina wren's first day out

They fledged this evening, just before dusk. One of them was perched on the woodpile as we walked by, and when we went inside, 3 others popped into view. They took short practice flights around the porch, cheered on by their watching parents.

Carolina wren fledgling

Tomorrow they'll be off in the wild blue, but we hope they remember home and come around to visit. We'll leave the light on.

Linking with Wild Bird Wednesday

Friday, July 20, 2018

Wrens and Raspberries

carolina wren singing in basket

This morning, fog obscures the lake and emboldens bucks to venture near the house. When they retreat into the woods, I step outside. In the garden, there's the daily Japanese Beetle battle. They are eating lacy holes in the raspberry leaves, and I dunk 23 of them, still groggy, in alcohol. It's not a job I relish, but I love raspberries. Under the nearby trees is a fallen branch, and I head over to pick it up, dodging dew-laden spider webs like laser beams in Mission Impossible. In the distance, a Carolina Wren sings his aria, and I anticipate the coming days.

carolina wren building nest in basket

For 3 days last week, a pair of wrens were busy constructing a nest in the old fish basket outside our kitchen window. The creole has been home to these birds in the past, in fact, it was originally hung on the front porch pillar in hopes of attracting them, but the last time they nested there was 5 years ago. It's good to have them back.

carolina wrens building nest in basket

For hours, they met each other every few minutes coming and going with twigs and leaves. They would duck into the basket, forming the nest out of sight, and then fly away to gather more nesting materials.

Years ago, I was sitting on the porch when the wrens fledged, and one of the fledglings flew to my lap, to the consternation of its watching parents. These wrens have a rich, beautiful song, but that day they chattered their disapproval until the little one flew away to join its siblings.          

It's been quiet on the porch this week, and I was hoping the birds didn't move on to another nest. My curiosity got the best of me this afternoon and I peeked into the doorway on top of the basket. I think I was as startled as the little bird inside. So, now I'll be waiting patiently. More or less. We can only hope, when the nestlings are hatched and hungry, that they like Japanese beetles. I'm hoping for raspberries, too.

Friday, July 6, 2018


On these long days of summer, afternoon stretches into evening and evening into night without changing stride, robbing hours from the dark. Raccoons around here seem to have forgotten that they are nocturnal and the adults appear at all hours of the day. This week, 2 kits showed up with their mother at twilight. They stayed close by her side until some noise or movement startled them and sent them scrambling for the nearest tree. This happened 3 times while I watched, and each time, they climbed a short distance before looking back at their mother, who was still calmly eating her breakfast.

Chagrined, they reconsidered their course of action...

...and slinked back to their mother's side.
Caution is good, but hunger rules.