ALL ABOUT A DOWNY WOODPECKER AND HER NUTHATCH LUNCHMATE – Marilyn Armstrong

I had a really big set of photos from last week. I’d processed maybe 10 of them, then I took some more and worked on them. But I knew there were a bunch of pictures in there with which I’d not done anything. I’d shot these pictures quickly and taken a long sequence of a lovely lady Downy Woodpecker sharing the feeder alone or with a Nuthatch.

Last night, I put a bunch of them together. This is a lady Downy because she doesn’t have a red patch on her head.

Downy and Nuthatch

Just hanging out

Seedeaters!

Very plump or full of eggs?

It’s good to keep them al so well-fed.

CHRISTMAS 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

I might have missed Christmas because I never know what day it is. The thing about retirement is that there is no “start of the workweek” or “weekend” to separate the time, so unless I’m looking at the calendar, I really don’t know what day it is.  I was so busy taking pictures, my son said: “So, see you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?”

He looked at me. “Wednesday is Christmas Day. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.”

I thought about what I had to do. It was daunting. Garry hadn’t even looked at the Christmas cards and no one had wrapped any presents. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to wrap them in. I had nothing written. I wasn’t sure when I was going to wrap the few gifts I bought. Couldn’t I just hand things out? No, I suppose not.

I don’t like wrapping presents. I’m okay at most things including wrapping, but I don’t like it. I used o get very artistic about it … but the wrappings got torn off and no one even looked at them. Eventually, I realized it was just a way for Hallmark to make more money. I still wrap because how can I just hand people a naked box? But I resent the expense and extra effort.

A Merry Christmas to all from Garry and me and all the wee birds and beasts!

BIRDS OF WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

Many birds stay here in the winter who used to migrate southward. This is probably because it is warmer here  (usually) than it used to be. New England has been harder hit by climate change than many other parts of the country.

Chickadee-dee-dee

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

I somehow thought it was going to hit the whole world at the same time. I have no idea why I thought that. No one ever said that. I just thought it was going to be more even-handed.

Bluebird

Tufted Titmouse

Junco

And thus the migratory birds have stopped migrating. I hope we still have birds left when this mess gets fixed.

If it gets fixed.

FEATHERED FRIENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

UPS is very slow delivering this year, so all the birdseed I have left is black-oil Sunflower seeds. It’s healthier to mix them, but the other two bags of seed haven’t arrived. They are weeks late. Just one seed isn’t the best I can do, but at least it is food and they like it.

I think it’s two birds having a little tiff. Hard to tell but that’s my best guess.

Owen shortened up the feeders today. The wind has been pretty strong and the feeders were blowing around like mad. He was afraid they would just blow right off the hooks — which they have done before.

Goldfinch

Nuthatch

He’ll have to feed the birds until he puts the long hooks back because neither Garry nor I can reach the feeders at that height.

Goldfinch and a bird in flight Probably a Titmouse (going by feather color).

Cardinal in the snowy branches

These are interesting pictures with birds in flight and in one of them, at least two birds mixing it up in the air. I think they are Titmice, but it’s hard to tell just a swoosh of feathers.

Goldfinch and Chickadee

 

THE JUNCOS ARE BACK – Marilyn Armstrong

You know it’s winter when the Juncos appear. This year, they showed up in force. Maybe a dozen of them, though it could be more since they do all look alike. I’ve seen a dozen of them on the deck at one time. They will eat from the feeder, but they will also walk around the deck and eat from the ground, too. They are also very amusing flyers. Like the Chickadees, they will just drop off the feeder and not open their wings until they are just an inch from the ground. I think they enjoy flying just because they have wings.

If I were a bird, I’d seriously consider being either a Chickadee or a Junco. They are the fun flyers of the group.

We’ve also seen a lot of the Cardinals — boys and girls — and various configurations of woodpeckers. The Cardinals will hang out on the feeders, but the moment I show up with the camera, they vanish. The blink of an eye and they are gone.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker and a Junco

The woodpeckers are such a tease. They go to the opposite side of the feeder where I can’t get a picture. Sometimes I’ll see a piece of wing or the top of their heads, but usually not the whole bird. I got one really nice shot of one today with a Junco enjoying seed on a different part of the feeder.

Junco on feeder with seed

Another Junco

And this one, framed

INDULGE AND INDULGENCES – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Indulge & Indulgences


Oh, what a difference there is between these two similar words. You’d think “indulgences” would be the plural of “indulge” — except it isn’t. To indulge is to allow yourself or someone else to eat or have or use something special. Chocolate. Rare wine. Fancy clothing.

Indulgence is what you paid the medieval church to “pay off” one or more of your sins. It was a major issue in Luther’s 95 Theses:

“Analysis Of Martin Luther 95 Theses

The message of 95 Theses gave the summary and expressed the feelings of many of his peers already had about the corruption of Christ’s teachings. Luther illustrated the spiritual, material, and psychological truths behind abuses in the practice of buying and selling indulgences.”

It’s easy to see how the one word could morph into another, although I think it’s possible that it went in the other direction, that “indulgences” came first and “indulge” was a less charged version of the original term.

I indulge in cameras, computers, lenses and all the software that goes with the cameras and lenses and pictures. I originally “arting” as a painter. With oil paint. Probably because my mother worked with oils and I had spent a lot of years watching her work, so I had a few clues about how to use them.

I was not a great painter, but for some obscure reason, people really liked the pieces and one day, when I had stopped painting because I’d just had a baby and I couldn’t leave the easel standing because toddlers and easels are not a good mix. There were also dogs and cats and they were very good at tipping the easel over. Oil paint doesn’t come out of rugs or at least I never figured out high. Acrylics were just coming out, but they dried too fast for me. I needed time to go back and mess with an image.

That was when I realized that I didn’t own a single picture I’d painted. I had sold them. I tried to buy a couple back, but no one would sell me one. I doubt any of them still exist, either. I really didn’t know how to stretch a canvas properly, so I’m pretty sure the pictures all disintegrated through the past 50 years. Serves them right. I would have thought ONE person would have sold me ONE picture. Sheesh.

I never went back to painting because by then I had discovered photography. I loved photography and got pretty good at it almost immediately. Of course, cameras were so much simpler back in the 1960s. Film speed, shutter speed, Lens opening size (f-stop), focus. The rest was art.

Most cameras didn’t even have built-in light meters. I got really good at looking at the light and gauging how to set the camera. I couldn’t do that anymore. I’ve become so dependent on autofocus and electronic gauges, I’ve lost those instincts.

If I’m going to indulge in anything other than photographic stuff, it’ll be socks. I love socks. My feet have been cold since childhood and I’m so enjoying the pleasure of well-fitted wool socks.

Once upon a time, to indulge had a lot to do with horses, but my spine said no. You just can’t argue with your spine. You can try, but you never get the answers you are looking for. Mostly, you get pain and silence.

THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHANGING SEASONS – NOVEMBER 2019

This is one of the big change months of our calendar. We go from warm late fall days to bitter cold and sometimes snow. We didn’t (praise be!) get snow, but we got a lot of rain. We had one perfect week of Autumn. We used to get a month of it, but times are changing. It arrived late and departed in one night. A lot of trees just dropped their leaves without them even changing color.

But we got Cardinals and our very first Bluebirds. A triumph!

Bluebird and Chickadee

Very pretty Bluebird

Like Su Leslie, I’ve largely retreated emotionally to home and things I have some control over. I try to keep in touch with the world because maybe big things are coming and I hope I’m still here to participate. Meanwhile, I feed the birds — a small thing to help beleaguered creatures — and simultaneously am growing the fattest squirrels in North America.

From the front of the Bluebird

And one day, we had bluebirds!

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and the news has been full of it. But when they talk about huge snowstorms, they mean nine inches to a foot. I am meanwhile thinking two to three feet or, as you folks say, a meter or more. What we are actually supposed to get is one to three inches, which isn’t snow. It’s a dusting.

It does mean winter really is here. I hope it isn’t really awful. A mild winter would be easier for everyone!

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS – Marilyn Armstong

I kept wondering why I never saw a bluebird. Ever. Not here or in New York. And I know they live here. But this morning I got up and looked out my back windows and the deck was full of bluebirds!

A good sign for Thanksgiving, isn’t it? Here are some of them.

Two bluebirds

Bluebird and Chickadee

And the Chickadee is about to take off!

Bluebird on the fence rail

BIRDS AND AN EARLY SNOW – Marilyn Armstrong

It was very cold and it was not supposed to snow, at least not here. It snowed all over the northern part of New England and Canada. In Chicago and Minnesota. Then, it snowed — just a little bit — here. Although I am a firm believer in climate change, New England has always had an erratic weather pattern.

We have winters so snowy we have nowhere to push it. Warm winters with no snow. Winters when it’s just like fall until spring … and that’s when the blizzards hit.

The biggest blizzard to ever hit New York was in 1888 on my birthday, March 11th. In fact, I was born the day after a blizzard so maybe it was my fate to wind up living where the snow can be relentless and the snow is so high that driving is like being in a tunnel.

A pair of hungry birds

So even though today’s storm was not even an inch deep, it was the warning. It’s going to be a long, cold winter. Snow in November isn’t common, but it isn’t rare, either. It almost always means a hard winter is on the way.

After the squirrels got through eating half the food we put out yesterday (and we have none left until the next delivery), the birds attacked the feeders with energy and fervor. I sure hope they deliver the food tomorrow.

Our squirrels need a diet and you can see the snow falling.

MORE BIRDS OF VARIOUS FEATHERS – Marilyn Armstrong

I almost have my graphic software working again. There are also a few more downloads waiting for me to say “yes.” Right now, I’m in a very “no” kind of mood. Maybe Monday I’ll be ready to redo this whole mess again. Or maybe Tuesday.

Meanwhile, though I still have some fun pictures from yesterday’s dinner dervish by the feeders. And I still don’t know what those big grey birds are. They aren’t showing up in my bird book. And there’s a big white one that looks like a Tufted Titmouse, but he’s twice their size and he’s almost entirely white except for some slashes of black on his wings.

And one really fat white bird!

Name that bird!

Birds in sunlight

Handsome Chickadee

Sharing dinner

Tufted Titmouse (I think) about to take flight

And no doubt more tomorrow. As the weather gets colder, the birds get more audacious about feeding!

DINNERTIME AT THE FEEDERS – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s always a bit chaotic at dinner time which is right before sunset. But today, it was a birdie riot. Also, I want to mention that you should NEVER EVER let them download updates to your graphics software at 10:30 at night. I’ll get this sorted out, but it’s 2 hours later and nothing is working as it did before I stupidly let them download. I will never learn. I click and THEN I think.

Meanwhile, though, I got a few nifty pictures of the birds doing their dinner swirly thing. All the birds come to the feeder at about 4 o’clock and it’s just a riot.

It was indeed quite a get-together this evening!

Sharing? That never happens!

You’ve got to love that diving Chickadee!

Looks like Thanksgiving at the in-laws

And then, one flew away — but more will come!

Hunger beats out arguments!

There were a couple of Cardinals I missed, and two really fat doves and a few Blue Jays … and a few I still don’t recognize. But the crowd definitely made it to dinner tonight. Maybe tomorrow I can get my software working again!!

A BLOGGING DIARY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Diary

Since I started seriously blogging, it has become a diary. It wasn’t meant to be, but because of it, I know when major and minor events occurred in my life. I can call up the time  — at least if it happened during the past 7 years — in my blog.

So much of the blog is made up of the things that have happened day to day in my world. Big things, little thing, barely anything — they all wind up on the pages of the blog. That’s why I’ve refused to let myself be locked into a particular style of blogging or a particular theme. It’s a big world and there’s a lot going on.

Two little titmice sitting in a feeder

In any case, I’ve never appreciated the idea or concept of being “locked-in” to anything. Ever. Even now, when physical movements are limited, at least my brain (such as it is) can roam free … and blogging has enabled me to do a lot more mental roaming than I ever thought possible!

A rather menacing Blue Jay!

I also feel I should mention that I’ve learned a lot. Not only by writing, but from the comments and conversations I’ve had. My world is bigger and I know so many more details of things that were previously just broad swathes of knowledge.

It’s a diary of what has been and it is also a diary of what I’ve learned.

PORTRAIT OF A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER – Marilyn Armstrong

After the Blue Jay left, the Woodpecker hung around to enjoy a feed at the flat feeder. Woodpeckers aren’t picky and are just as happy eating from the hanging feeder.

I think they get to eat faster on the flat feeder.

For many critters, faster is better. Fewer interruption by other winged locals. I got some really good pictures of this guy.

This first one really shows how big and sharp that beak is. Add to that, his skull is twice as thick as other birds and he is very strong for his size. Other birds don’t want to mess with woodpeckers.

Two big Blue Jays tried to confront him today. For about 2 seconds and then they changed their minds and flew up into the trees. They were bigger, but one peck from this little guy’s beak and they would be goners.

A good look at the beak and head. This is one small, but tough bird!

Fabulous profile but messy eater

Testing the buffet

Aren’t I a handsome bird?

CHATTING AT THE FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

The one bird we are never short of around here are woodpeckers. We have at least five kinds. Only three of them come to the feeders: the little Downy Woodpecker, his big brother, the Hairy Woodpecker, and the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The Red-Belly is the biggest of the bunch, but by physical size, the Blue Jay is a bigger bird.

I never realized what large birds Blue Jays are until I saw how big they are compared to the rest of our birds. Not, of course, counting the really big woodpecker who I see in the distance once in a while and the hawks and eagles.

Anyway, when the Blue Jay drops by for a meal, the other birds say “Yes sir, Mr. Jay,” and flutter off. Today, while big Mr. Jay was enjoying a little dinner, the Red-Belly decided to come by for a snack too. The Blue Jay is bigger, but other birds just don’t mess with the woodpeckers. Those birds have long beaks and hard heads and they are always in a grumpy mood. I think that’s from pounding their heads into oak trees all day long.

This is a series of pictures I got from the rather amusing event.

Blue is already there when the Red-Bellied Woodpecker arrives.

“Can we talk about this?” asks Mr. Jay.

“I don’t think so. How about you leave?” says Woody.

“This is MY feeder,” says Woody. “Take a flyer.”

“Okay, then. I’ll be flying a bit. See you around the woods,” says Jay.

The Red-Belly hung around for a while, it being dinner time. And when he was done, the Blue Jay came back and had his dinner too.  All was well but for some flurrying of feathers. As go the birds, so goes the world.