Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Great Blue Heron Came for Breakfast!

Great Blue Heron visits my yard!

Looking out my window on Monday morning I just happened spot a large blue/gray bird walking along my upper backyard. I had to look twice because his head was almost as high as my bird feeder that was set in the ground at approximately 3' high!  I've seen this Great Blue Heron once before during one of his visits, but I didn't happen to have my camera nearby. If you were wondering what this amazing bird was doing in my yard? You guessed it - He was looking to eat my pond fish for breakfast!!

Luckily, the first time I saw him in my yard last year doing exactly the same thing, I put a black netting over the pond to protect my poor unsuspecting fish! I solved the one problem of keeping the herons out, but created another one by keeping the frogs in or out depending upon where they were when I put the netting up! So a few adjustments had to be made after several frogs needed rescuing from the net! It took a little time, but we've all become used to it.

Great Blue Heron keeping an eye on our fish pond!

            This big guy is just amazing to see in a backyard setting - with a height of 39"-52" and a wingspan of 5', he looked so large and out of place!  When he noticed that I had spotted him, he flew up to a branch at the edge of the lawn and patiently watched as I took pictures of him.

  Notice his lower chest feathers which look a bit shaggy - I believe he is an adult since the juveniles are not supposed to have this yet.  His long neck has a pinkish hue to it with a black and white streak down the center of it. His face is mostly white with a black cap on his head. His long thin legs and dagger-like beak are very long and yellowish in color - perfect for fishing!

Although his diet is mainly of fish, they also eat amphibians, and occasionally small mammals and birds. Crustaceans are also on his menu!

Common Yellowthroat-Geothlypis trichas
(Picture from wikipedia)

On the same day I saw the Great Blue Heron, I also had this cute little guy show up at my pond! I have never seen a Conmmon Yellowthroat in my yard before, so I was very excited to have both birds show up on the same day!! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera this time to take a picture so this picture is from wikipedia. They are so beautiful I just had to show a picture! The female doesn't have the black mask, but the males look lide little bandits!

They are much smaller in size than the Great Blue Heron, measuring in at 4 1/2" - 6" ht.
They are in the wood warbler family and have a charming song.
They love to eat insects, which I could definitely use in my garden!

Blooming along my woodland path this week are my beautiful purple native woodland phlox. I also have a pale pink variety. They are wonderful creeping plants that bloom with their flowers raised above their leaves!

Bishop's Cap - Mitella diphylla
Saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)

This small unassuming plant can easily be overlooked, even when it  flowers, However, if you take
 a moment to look closer, you will be delighted with the
 magical little white flowers with fringed edges!

Variegated Solomon's Seal

Gorgeous graceful plants that have beautiful emerald
 green leaves with white edged variegation. The waxy white bells dangle in pairs off of red petioles. I started with one plant I purchased from a local nursery at least 24 years ago. I now have quite a few plants that have colonized in several different areas along my path. They are always a delight to see! 

We have used large logs for seating along our woodland path.

Another huge branch from an oak tree fell onto our stonewall and damaged several
 of our smaller trees. It was so large we decided to leave this large section to use as a bench
 along our woodland path.

Remember to take a break during your day
and enjoy the nature that surrounds you!!

 See You Next Week!!
Tracey :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Wednesday Woodland Walk!

Badly needed rain quenched my woodland plants today.  I didn't think I would get out for this weeks walk, but later in the afternoon the rain tapered off to a light drizzle before the sun briefly came out!

I love the woods after it rains, everything looks so luscious, the colors are vibrant, and the leaves glisten as the sun hits the tiny droplets of rain on the foliage!

Rain Droplets on Maidenhair Fern  Fronds.

Native Barberry After the Rain.
Native Barberry shrubs provide  protection for wildlife
and little red berries for birds in the fall and winter.
Several new plants are beginning to flower along my woodland path this week. One of them is a beautiful native wildflower called Goldenstar or Green and Gold, Many years ago, I fell in love with its cheerful little daisey-like golden flowers, and was lucky enough to be able to purchase several plants at a native wildflower sale!.Today, those few little plants have grown into a beautiful patch of golden yellow flowers that hug the side of the path. They definitely brighten any partially shaded spot with blooms from spring to summer.
Goldenstar, (Chrysogonum virginianum )
Grows up to 4" - 6" ht.

Yellow Trilliums

"Freckles" Violets
One of my favorite violets.

I think this is a Broad Shouldered Hawk .

For the past three years, this amazing  Broad Shouldered Hawk has been nesting nearby our property.  Last year he nested in a tree in our front yard and this year he's back nesting in my neighbor's tree across the street!

Through much of the spring and summer months, our little section of suburbia is terrorized by these two birds, especially as they watch protectively over their fledglings.

 How do two birds make adults run for cover? ..... By using the element of surprise! As you happily garden, mow the lawn, or any other outdoor activity you happen to be doing, they will unexpectedly swoop down just inches from your head, land on a nearby branch, and scold you. When you think they have given up, they swoop down again and again, until you finally get the message and leave!  Their scare tactic is very effective for most people!  But one of my pets growing up was a pigeon, so birds don't scare me, and I think it frustrates him that I don't turn and run like he expects me to!  Infact, I enjoy the interaction with these amazing birds and will always be happy to see them return. 

The late afternoon sun highlights the Christmas Ferns
 along the path, creating a beartiful glow!

Thanks for joining my walk today!

 Enjoy the moments you get to spend outside, appreciate the nature that surrounds you, and have a great week!
Tracey :-)