a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Weeks!

  Merry and Pippin have been here for 3 weeks and they've adjusted really well! For the first few days they wouldn't leave my side, I'd go upstairs followed by the little troopers, up and down, all day long. Gradually they became more comfortable and would be in one room while I was elsewhere.

    Merry really loves to play with a ball, not a stuffed hedgehog or a squirrel, only a ball and preferably a felt or soft rubber one. Pippin doesn't care for that but he enjoys running after Merry as she chases the ball.

   Snickers is very happy he doesn't have to share his toys!

   They all LOVE being outdoors exploring the woods. They go for a run in the morning and a hike in the afternoon. 

   Life is good in Vermont!  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The First 3 Days

    Pippin and Merry
  We adopted two 6 year old westies (west highland white terriers), a brother and sister, litter mates, three days ago. They were in a very good home but the owner worked and couldn't spend enough time with them. She made the really hard but right decision to find a home where her sweet westies would have a better life.

    Day 1.  Merry and Pippin (named after the hobbits) are at our house, they have met our Australian Shepherd mix, Snickers and everyone likes each other. Whew!
We've adopted 5 shelter dogs since we moved to Vermont and the first day is usually the one where we're all a bit anxious to see if we've made a good decision. A couple of the adoptees had fit right in as if they had lived with us for years. Merry and Pippin were not so easy. They were wondering "what are we doing here? it's nice, but when are we going  back home? and where did our 'mom' go???". Taking a nap was not an option. After a long day, they slept all night without a whimper.

 Merry and Pippin

    Day 2.  What a difference a day makes. Merry and Pippin, while still very active, are now exploring the house, being more independent and laying down for a nap! We are still taking them out every hour to pee and taking them on walks to tire them out. In fact Pippin had a really hard time keeping his eyes open last night!


   Day 3.  Bath! It's the day before turkey day and they need a bath. Bath time was fun time for these cuties, they didn't even mind the dryer! Yippee! Today they are right at home, happy to see us, be with us, I even took them running with me and Snickers and they kept right up.
Did we make the right decision in adopting 2 dogs? No question about it!!

the back of Merry's head, Pippin and Snickers


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Rare Bird Day!

   A rare west coast bird has appeared nearby in Walpole, NH.  I saw the Townsend's Warbler the day it was found and of course forgot my camera.  The next day I had to pack my baskets and leave for Philadelphia to do the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  I returned yesterday and today, my neighbor wanted to go see if the Townsend's Warbler was still there.  Not only has it remained in the same area since November 7th, it's pretty much in the same spot, (right behind us!)

   So this afternoon we drove to Walpole and sure enough the first year female or male Townsend's was still there!  The best part was when Don and Lillian Stokes showed up to see it too!  They are excellent birders, TV personalities and the authors of numerous field guides and nature books..............and the nicest people!!! 

  We all saw the warbler and Lillian got some great photos of it.  Eventually, as Ron and I walked back to the car, I said we have to buy their book and get them to autograph it or we'll be kicking ourselves when we get back home. So we did, then we attempted to leave again. As we were driving by, I said "STOP, I have my camera and I have to get a picture of me with them for my blog!" Of course, Ron needed his picture taken too!

Even though I didn't get a picture of this rare bird, not even a blurry one, there's some really good ones on this blog beautifulflyingobjects.blogspot.com and soon, on Don and Lillian's blog stokesbirdingblog.blogspot.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

Evening Grosbeaks

The first birds I remember really being "wowed" about were evening grosbeaks. I was young, our family had bird feeders right in front of the dining room and kitchen windows, we had my grandmother's pair of opera glasses and we had lots of backyard birds in Winsted, CT.

When the huge flock of big, yellow birds with white and black wings and huge bills descended on our feeders, we grabbed the field guide! They were pretty easy to identify. The only other yellow bird with a stocky bill was the goldfinch and they were just too small.

Evening grosbeaks were loud, noisy and ate all the sunflower seeds in minutes.........then they were gone ...........to return as soon as the feeders were filled. What pigs! But what beautiful birds they were and still are!

Since moving to Vermont in 1993, we have never had more than 6 evening grosbeaks at our feeders and usually for only a day. For the past week, we've had flocks of 12 to over 20 every day! They're just as noisy and hungry as I remembered!

The females are paler than the males.

The winter 2010/2011 finch forecast for evening grosbeaks seems to predict very few grosbeaks this winter, so I don't know why we have so many, but I am not complaining. 
"Evening Grosbeak: Breeding populations are much lower now than 35 years ago due mainly to a decrease of large outbreaks of spruce budworm beginning in the 1980s. A very few grosbeaks may move south from northeastern Ontario and Quebec where coniferous and deciduous seed supplies are generally poor. If any come, there are large crops of Manitoba maple seeds and plenty of sunflower seeds at feeders waiting for them."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Birding the NH coast to Plum Island

   Even though it was raining when we left Vermont, the weather was supposed to clear and become sunny and warm by mid-morning.........and it did.  A perfect day for birding!

   Our main goal was the Curlew Sandpiper, a very rare bird that breeds in Siberia and the non-breeding season is spent in Africa, Asia and Australia. It is a widespread vagrant that appears in small numbers on the North American coast in the spring and fall. This "first hatch" juvenile bird had been seen for a few weeks at Sandy Point on Plum Island (Parker River National Wildlife Refuge).

   We had great views of the curlew sandpiper, this juvenile was moving about the beach looking for food, digging in the sand and got very close to where we were standing for some good pictures.

This picture shows the curlew's long legs and facial markings. Similar to a Dunlin but slimmer and longer legged, the curlew has a white rump which the Dunlin does not.

   I spotted this Piping Plover, an endangered species, on the same beach. It's quite late for this plover to be here, they usually depart for warmer climes by the end of September.

   Lots of white-rumped sandpipers were also trolling the shores.

Semipalmated plovers (on right) and semipalmated sandpipers were also everywhere. What does semipalmate mean, you might wonder. Here's the definition: having partial or reduced webbing between the toes, as some wading birds do. Of course, that feature is rather difficult to see!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue Grosbeak

   Blue Grosbeaks are pretty rare in Vermont, for that matter, all of New England. They breed from New Jersey to California southward and spend winters in the tropics. But for some reason during migration, New England gets a few errant Blues! Most sightings in New England occur along the coast, so this sighting along the Connecticut River in Vernon was very surprising. And we had 2 females! (That's why they're not blue)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fall Migration - Red-eyed Vireo

   During the spring and summer, the red-eyed vireo sings his song high up in the trees making him very hard to see. At that time of year, his song is this vireo's best identification. He sings all day even on the hottest summer days when all other birds are quiet. It's an endless series of short phrases, intoned up, pause, intoned down; he sounds like he's asking a question and answering it. A continuous conversation with himself; how are you? I am fine. Where are you? I am here. on and on all day! Reminds me of my inner dialogues at night when I can't fall asleep and I'm just rambling in my head.

  All that being said, it makes for a difficult time photographing this vireo until the fall. This is migration time when all the birds who came back north to breed are returning south. They come in waves, gleaning insects and berries in the bushes and trees as they move rapidly through. I finally was able to photograph this common bird of the Eastern forests. These pictures were taken with my point and shoot via my binoculars. Red-eyed vireos do have red eyes, sometimes you need the light to reflect just right to see it but the fall immatures have a brown eye.

   This is the usual view of a red-eyed vireo in the spring and fall, the butt shot!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baha'i Temple visit

   Last Tuesday, I packed up the Element to drive to Evanston, Illinois for the American Craft Exposition. As I was saying goodbye to Gerry and Snickers, I opened the door and Snickie hopped in! No place to go so he sat in the driver's seat. How cute!

   On Sunday, the show didn't start until 11 am, so Darlys drove Renee and me to Wilmette for a visit to the Baha'i temple. What amazing architecture. There are only 7 Baha'i temples in the world, this one was started in 1912 and finished in 1953.

   Such intricate work! It's a circular dome, with 9 sides and surrounded by gardens with walkways.

   The temple doors were open!

   Inside, looking up.

   One of the gardens with a fountain, the flowers were gorgeous, the lawn was manicured to perfection.

   I'm not sure what kind of flowers these are. They remind me of gomphrena (globe amaranth).

   It was really getting hot! How lucky was I that someone had left their iced coffee on their bike! ha ha!  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Tour of Saint-Gaudens

   In Cornish, NH is the beautiful home, studio (pictured above) and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, sculptor of the American Renaissance. He summered here in 1885 through 1900 and lived year round until his death in 1907. Saint-Gaudens is considered one of the greatest sculptors and monument makers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

   What gorgeous light and space in his studio! He worked here by himself, a larger studio destroyed by fire in 1944, was where his assistants worked.

   The Shaw Memorial (1897) is probably his most impressive sculpture, taking 14 years to complete. It memorializes the Massachusetts 54th Regiment of African American Volunteers, the original is in Boston.

   The Adams Memorial (1891) is my favorite. A bronze funerary sculpture commissioned by historian Henry Adams for his wife Clover who committed suicide, it's located in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC. Gaudens called it "The Mystery of the Hereafter......beyond pain and beyond joy". It's pretty haunting.

   One of the many sculptures on the property. In the background is Mt. Ascutney in Vermont.

   There was scaffolding around sections of the house so I didn't get a good picture. But here's Gerry in front of a Honey Locust tree planted in 1886!

   This was a pedestal detail on the Farragut Monument (1881) on which architect Stanford White helped to design, the first of many collaborations. I would love to have just this element in my garden (forgot to bring a chisel)!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lake Champlain, homeward bound.

   Day 3 and we head for home. No vacation at Lake Champlain can be complete without seeing Champ, the Lake Champlain "monster". I love photoshop!

   We decided to drive through the area of South Hero that we missed the day it rained. This was from the Grand Isle ferry south around the island. Gardener Harry Barber made these miniature, stone castles in the early 20th century. We located 3 while following West Shore Road and South Street.

  This area had a lot of stone structures besides the castle.

     The other interesting sight was this explosion of birdhouses!  They were all approximately along the same level and went all around the tree line of a very large area.