THE CHANGING SEASONS: NOVEMBER 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, November 2018

Photos by Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

If you don’t think climate change is real, this has been a good month to check your sense of reality. Autumn started September 20th this year and since then, we’ve had 18 inches of rain, 9 of those inches in this month. November. Not generally a particularly wet month for rain or snow.


This is the autumnal part. Some of these were shot by Garry Armstrong, the rest by me.


And we’ve had both, as well as a bit of brilliant autumn. We were in Connecticut when the first snow came down. We came home to snow, then the temperature rose. It rained and then the snow melted.

First snow of the season!


At the beginning of the month, we still had fresh roses growing in the garden.


And then, the plants came down from their hooks and the bird feeders went up … and suddenly, the world was full of hungry birds!


My Christmas Cactus is blooming, my bird feeder is attracting literally flocks of birds. The rivers have risen to their peak and any significant additional rain will cause at least minimal flooding.


It’s been a wild and crazy month with icy cold, warm rain, heavy wind, snow and usually one sunny day at some point in the week. Or at least half a day, or a few hours.

We’re not supposed to get more rain — or snow — until Sunday, by which time it will already be December. Crazy month!


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):

  1 – Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month

2 – Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

3 – Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

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

   1 – Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month

  2 – Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

  3 – Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it to include your links.

THE WEEKLY SMILE: SO MANY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

A WEEKLY SMILE – Enjoying the Birds

Every day there’s a new one I haven’t seen before, or finally, I manage to get a picture of a bird I’ve never photographed before. One of those that has always gotten away.

I’m getting a real kick out of my bird feeders. I used up the small bag of seeds I’d bought in the grocery store and started using the “better quality” seed I’d ordered on Amazon. I didn’t realize there was any significant difference, but there must be.

Red Finch – freed by pet store owners when they were no longer allowed to sell the wild finches, these have taken up residence all over the country … including New England.

Garry and I changed the seeds yesterday. We dumped the leftover seeds from the cage into the flat feeder. Meanwhile, a lot of seeds fell over the railing onto the ground below.

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker

It will be interesting to see what grows from all those seeds because the seeds in birdseed are “live,” which is to say … they can grow.


This is probably a female Downy Woodpecker. They are essentially identical to the Hairy Woodpecker, but smaller. Female, because she has no splash of red on her head. The white back pretty much guarantees it is one of those two woodpeckers and it’s medium size suggests Downy.

And one in flight …

When we climbed out of bed into the kitchen this morning, there was a swarm of birds out there. Not the usual collection of Chickadees, but … well. I had to take out the bird book because there were birds I’d never seen before. I still haven’t identified all of them. A bunch of them fall into the category described by my “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds” as “Confusing Fall Warblers.”

Some of them could be Juvenal, though it’s late in the year for even nearly full-grown babies. Regardless, all of them look a lot alike. Brown, flecked with white. Bigger than the Chickadee and Titmouse crew, but smaller than the woodpeckers.

The brown one looks like a Wood Thrush, but it could be something else including one of the many brown warblers, all of which (especially amongst the females) look similar. I’m betting on Wood Thrush (but could be a winter feathered Bobolink). Rather long and leggy. The other one is probably a White-Breasted Nuthatch.
Could be a Starling or the winter feathers of a Bobolink. Or something else?
A lady Red Finch and a White-breasted Nuthatch

Then there are warblers. Warblers — there are at least 20 different types living in the woods — resemble each other. There are the yellow ones, the green ones, the white with gray or black ones. They are the same size, pretty much. A big section of the bird book is spent trying to help you figure out which one is which. In the end, you may never know exactly which warbler you’ve seen. And maybe it’s a wren.

Take your best guess. Pretty sure the one flapping is a Nuthatch and the other is one of those small brown birds. And there are an awful lot of small brown birds.

The only way I can tell them apart is by whether or not there are patches or bars of white on wings or tail (assuming I can see the wings or tail which depends on their position on the feeder). Mostly, the shape of the beak is my best indicator of what type of bird it is. The long pointy-beaked birds have a very different purpose from the rounded, not-pointed blunt beaked birds.


A Chickadee and a Tufted-Titmouse, and a downy woodpecker — our most frequent visitors


The good news is that when I can get a picture, I can take my time pawing through the book. Also, even if I don’t get a photograph, I can tell the difference in the size of the birds. There was a near-war going on as the day progressed with big birds knocking the small birds out of the way, then the small birds coming back in groups to get the big guys to move. I have two feeders. The flat one is designed for the bigger birds, but don’t tell the big birds. For one reason or another (maybe the rainy weather?), all the birds like the cage with the seeds and a roof that probably keeps them dry.

Still some birds like the flat feeder because they can really get into it.

I have only seen a single squirrel so far. I think there are so many acorns in the oak woods, they really don’t need the seeds. This was a super acorn year. About every three years, we get super huge acorns, big enough to dent the car when they hit and the squirrels get really fat. A couple of our dogs used to love eating acorns and they got fat, too. Apparently, dogs can eat and absorb acorns.

To be fair, some of the dogs I’ve owned can and will eat pretty much anything that doesn’t eat them first.

The easiest birds to identify are the woodpeckers. They have pointy beaks, are bigger than the other birds and they come in striking patterns. I’ve seen, but been unable to photograph a real redheaded woodpecker. He is always there until I get the camera point the right way, at which point he vanishes. I did see a new one today — and it was either a female Downy or Hairy OR a Red-Cockaded woodpecker.

I did get some pictures so you can take your best guess. They all very similar and all live in the same environment, namely — our woods.

With the appalling news on the environment and looking at all the things I need to do to fix my house, birds are the bright spot. Watching them flutter around and enjoy the seed makes me happy. I can’t do much to fix the world, but maybe I can make my little woods and its birds happy and healthy.

PHOTO A WEEK: BLUE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Blue


There’s so much blue in our world. Sky and sea, houses and turquoise and … well … everything.

And so, this is a little bit of everything!

GOLDEN FLOWERS ON A BITTERLY COLD NIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – November 20, 2018


Golden flowers in the bouquets of yesterday. Orange and dark yellow. It’s very gray and cold outside. I needed something warm! It is awfully cold out and there’s snow on the way. You can sniff it in the air.

JEWELS FROM THE SOUTHWEST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Monday: JEWEL


I fell in love with Native American jewelry in a tiny store in Boston’s Italian North End. I didn’t even know it was Native American, but I loved it, that first pair of earrings. Many more were to follow. Necklaces and bracelets and rings and things featuring beautiful pieces of turquoise stone.

Eventually, I realized what I was buying and learned more about it. I’ve never loved any other jewelry the way I loved Navajo and Pueblo and Hopi work from our southwest and on my two visits to Arizona, I always got something special while I was there.

I also discovered online sources until I collected quite a treasure-trove of it. Now I’m at the point of beginning to let go of it because I don’t work. We don’t go to fancy parties, either.

Meanwhile, my wrists have gotten allergic (this is a real thing, no kidding) to anything tight against my wrists. It’s called “wristwatch” allergy and it comes from wearing bracelets and watches for a lifetime. Apparently, your wrists get sensitive. Bizarre, right? Thus with few exceptions, I’ve rehomed my beautiful bracelets with the incredible stones in them because they were just sitting in the drawers of my big jewelry dresser. But I’m glad they will get worn.

Big sky in Navajo land

I also discovered fetishes, mostly carved from antler, but some carved in turquoise. It’s not exactly jewelry, but it’s not exactly not jewelry if you get my drift.

For me, it has always been much more about the stones than the silverwork. A beautiful piece of turquoise doesn’t need a lot of fancy silver around it. It speaks for itself.

So when you see my pictures, all the jewelry I’m wearing — these days, usually just rings and earrings — it’s all from the southwest and most of it is silver and turquoise. But there are also various carved shells and other stones too.

Modern pieces, older pieces, I love all of it. I may not get to wear it often, but I love just having it. And every once in a while, I get to wear it, too.

 

STILL AUTUMN IN MY MIND – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – November 18, 2018


It’s cold out and there’s snow in the driveway. We haven’t found a plow guy yet, but we live in hope. As long as he or she (we’ve never found a she who drives a plow, but why not?) gets here before we need an oil delivery, we’re good.

Martha Kennedy suggested YakTrax so we can walk up our frozen driveway and not fall on our collective heads and the dogs like snow a lot better than they like rain. They hate rain.

Well, to be fair, Gibbs feels that the sofa is the right place for him pretty much all the time, but the Duke loves everything. Bonnie only goes out when it’s 72 degrees with a light breeze.

Never you mind. We will survive winter. I just wish it hadn’t decided to begin before Thanksgiving.

The last time we had a big snow in early November, we got 120 inches for the season which was an all-time record. Even if you really like snow, that is a great deal of snow and a lot of money for plowing.

Meanwhile, I’m still living in my dreams of the autumn we almost had. Don’t ruin my dreams. I need them.

AUTUMN’S END – REMEMBER THE DAYS? – Marilyn Armstrong

Autumn’s Over – FOTD – November 17, 2018


It snowed. I don’t like the snow. It’s too early for snow. But I’m pretty sure fall is done for good and all. So let’s remember it for this shining moment.

Winter waterfall

Sigh.