UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER – Marilyn Armstrong

Every now and then, I get lucky and the bird I want to take pictures of stays put long enough for me to actually take the pictures.

This was the case with this glorious Red-bellied Woodpecker. I guess he was more hungry than he was shy of people. Or maybe he felt he deserved to be memorialized.

Grabbing a seed
Peek-a-boo!
Showing his good side

So in the midst of our political madness, allow me to introduce our beautiful Woodpecker.

With his pal, the Tufted Titmouse

Speaking of woodpeckers, the other day I got a note from someone complaining that a woodpecker was trying to eat her house. Woodpeckers don’t eat wood for fun. They are digging for insects. So if there are woodpeckers banging on your house, you need to get the bug people in because I have to warn you — woodpeckers are VERY fond of termites.

Watch the skies!

If a woodpecker is pecking your home, you’ve got lots of bigger problems than woodpeckers. You’ve got termites.

A PRIME DAY IN SPRING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prime

It was an absolutely PRIME day!

Not only did it start out sunny, but it stayed sunny. All day today. It was warm without being hot and the flowers began to bloom. There was almost no humidity.

The birds were singing. The winds were warm and a bit blowy.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be even nicer. Sunny and warm, without the wind. It should be the most prime of prime days for all of spring and if I can find a little time between errands, it could be the best day to take springlike pictures.

A day for Goldfinch

And all I have to do, is get to the doctor to pick up a script, have the oil in the car changed (I don’t know where the time has gone!), go grocery shopping, put the new mailbox up, and go into starvation mode for the tests they are (finally) running on Thursday. These should prove, once and for all, whether or not I have brains in my head. Or maybe it’s just some old hard drive that got stuck there.

Oh and I really should back up the month of March before it becomes May.

House Finch and Cowbird

Thursday should hopefully be the last day I am spending at the hospital unless they find something I don’t want them to find. It’s why I hate testing. It’s not merely the time, inconvenience and the bill that always shows up eventually. It’s that I don’t want them to discover something unfortunate. So if all goes well, I should be able to stop visiting specialists and maybe save enough to get a pair of eyeglasses.

And pay the man who is going to fix the chimney. And buy a storm door for the house before winter shows up again.

The Mourning Dove has returned

We were at the doctor today, too — for Garry. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a good injector of cortisone to see if I can get my hips and back to hurt less. It’s getting hard to get around. In 10 years, I’ll be unable to move at all and that is not a pleasant thought so I have to see if I can get arthritis to at least, slow down.

Another pretty red House Finch

So again, if I’m missing, it’s not lack of love. It’s just that the days are not long enough. It’s half past midnight and I’m writing tomorrow morning’s post because I know I won’t be able to do it at the usual time. These are the days when I begin to wonder if maybe there’s another way to deal with this.

Hundreds of unread emails and posts and news and photos to process … and I already know I’m not going to be able to do it.

Not what I had in mind, but at least, for two days, the sun is shining and look! The birds stayed and let me take their pictures!

A SUNDAY RAGTAG PICTURE POST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP-Sunday-Picture


If you wanted to take a quick guess at what kind of picture I’m going to post, might the answer be “birds”? It has been a chilly, wet spring. Going out hasn’t been a lot of fun. There are pools of water all over and for some reason, they seem to be the deepest pooled in the handicap spots in parking lots. Is that a subtle hint? Or — a not so subtle hint? It’s gray today and supposed to rain a little later.

We’ve been getting a lot of days that start out lovely and disintegrate shortly thereafter. In fact, it’s been a daily occurrence. I don’t mind the chilliness and I’m all in favor of keeping the rivers full of water — and my well full of water, too! But couldn’t we get a few pretty days between the rains?

There are more birds. All of them are really pretty now, in their bright breeding feathers. They’ve gotten all dressed up to woo their mates, some for a lifetime (for a bird, this might not be all that long), others until the nest releases its last nestling.

A pretty red House Finch unless it’s a pretty, red Purple Finch. No, I really can’t tell the difference.
Goldfinches all lined up for chow time!
A lovely front view of one of our doves
Cowbird with red finch
Friendly midday squirrel

Pictures for a Sunday afternoon with rain in the air. But for now, it’s merely gray.

A FLOCK OF FINCHES, A DOVE, AND A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

It was a super busy day at the feeder and for once, they didn’t all fly off as soon as I picked up the camera. It was a day for Cowbirds sharing the feeder with a little red House Finch.

It was also a day when a big Mourning Dove came to the deck and sat peacefully on the deck railing. He waited politely until the Cowbirds moved on.

After that, he settled down into the flat feeder.

Goldfinches
Goldfinch flock

The Mourning Dove was still in the flat feeder almost two hours later. He doesn’t seem to worry about all the hawks who are hunting for big fat doves … or for that matter, squirrels.

Cowbird and House Finch or maybe it’s a Purple Finch … I can’t tell the difference
Cowbirds and House Finch

I worry about my birds and squirrels. I understand the hawks and the fishers and the coyotes and the Bobcats need their dinner too. Not every animal eats seeds.

Dove on the deck rail

ALL CREATURES – Marilyn Armstrong

Many creatures crossed our deck today. When I first peeked out my bathroom window at around 5 in the morning, there were three squirrels hanging onto the feeders. I went back to bed.

When I got up later, there were at least half a dozen Brown-Headed Cowbirds chowing down. I turned on the coffee and looked again. A big Red-Bellied Woodpecker and a small flock of House Finches and Goldfinches were chowing down. I went to take a picture and before I turned it on, they were gone. Vanished. Poof!

House Finches and I think the bird with the blue bill is a Bluebird
House Finches

I went back to the kitchen, cut open a couple of English muffins and popped them into the toaster. More Cowbirds, miscellaneous finches and a couple of Chickadees. I went and picked up my camera. Both feeders were empty.

Cowbirds

Back to the kitchen. Garry was setting up the coffee, so I cream cheesed the English muffins. When I turned around there were half a dozen House Finches and a big Red-Bellied Woodpecker. I went and picked up the camera. They did not all fly away.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The woodpecker played peek-a-boo with me, then abandoned ship and a squirrel took over his spot. It was the middle of the day when squirrels are not usually out and about, but this squirrel seriously needs to have a chat with an older, more mature squirrel and get a grip on the dangers of squirreldom.

And although the House Finches hung around a bit, mostly, they were out of focus, but then the Cowbirds came back … and they were in focus. Not that they are particularly interesting, but they are big and easy to shoot (with a camera).

HOW CAN YOU GET SPRING FEVER IF SPRING HAS NOT SPRUNG? – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Spring Fever

I don’t have even a hint of spring fever unless you count a deep yearning to see a flower bloom and have the temperature rise regularly about 60 degrees. But spring isn’t much of a season in New England and every year, we hope we’ll get a “real” spring … and we don’t. It’s something about winds and ocean and rivers and rocks.

Birds not of a feather

Living in New York, which is just 240 miles south of here, we got a real spring. By this time of year, we had magnolias and crab apple blossoms and the daffodils were up and the grass was green. You wouldn’t think a mere 4 or 5-hour drive could make such a difference in climate, but it does.

Two Goldfinch

The closest vision to spring I’ve had is watching the birds change from their winter colors to their breeding colors. The dull greenish-yellow Goldfinch are brilliant yellow and even the brightest birds of winter are brighter now. Otherwise, though, we have some green shoots coming up from the ground, but other than a few crocuses, that’s pretty much it. No leaves, no flowers. No green grass.

A pair of Goldfinch – Two boys this time

We do, however, have ticks. And ants. They know it’s spring, even if the rest of New England still thinks it might yet return to winter. I think we are past that, however. It isn’t warm, but the really deep cold is gone. Now, it’s just muddy and chilly. And, I need to remind myself, by a few weeks from now, summer will show up overnight.

Our spring is usually one afternoon in early May. The next day, it’s 85 degrees. Flowers are blooming like mad and all the trees are in full leaf. Sometimes, this rollover into summer happens in a few hours. We go grocery shopping and by the time we are on our way home, everything is blooming.

I’ve lived up this way for more than 30 years and I’ve never gotten used to the suddenness of the seasons. Autumn was like that too, until recently with climate changing. It would be summer and the next day, it looked like every tree had been lit from within.

For the past few years, we’ve barely had any autumn at all. I’m used to missing spring, but fall has always been my favorite season, especially in New England … and having it disappear is very sad.

Maybe it will come back this year.

BIRDS DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry decided the poor birds must be starving, so he filled the feeders. Then we stood at the window and watched the tree fill up with all kinds of birds.

Molting Goldfinch

Which was followed by birdly jostling and bonking as various birds tried to knock the other competing birds off the feeder.

The Cowbirds are big and solid and don’t move, though they did at least look up when three finches whacked them at the same time.

A trio

The little squirrel was on the rail looking at the free-for-all, birds and more birds … and finally, he left. He didn’t feel like taking on the Cowbird either.

Watching me, watching you …

So there we are, looking at the feeders. On the flat feeder, there are three Brown-headed Cowbirds. They are about the size of a Robin. On the hanging feeder are a few Goldfinches and several Nuthatches with a mashup of chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and three woodpeckers.

It’s not like he didn’t get his turn, mind you …

I find, these days, that I spend less time shooting pictures and more time just watching the birds and squirrels and their interactions. Also wondering how every bird and squirrel in the woods know within a few minutes that Garry has filled the feeders. Is this what they call “Twitter”?

The feeders are full! Come and get it!