Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Snowdrops and Returning Birds Announce Our Real Spring


Spring is finally here in Western Massachusetts! 


Snowdrops are ringing their tiny white bells.


Bees are answering their chimes.  The woodcocks have returned along with the Phoebes and Tree Swallows.  Robins are singing at dusk and dawn.  It is a wonderful season.  I just finished my butterfly page for the new website.  They — the butterflies — apologize for not making an appearance here as well but there is just not enough time to be everywhere.  I look forward to sharing the new site with everyone soon. 





 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Waiting with Wildlife for Spring's Return


We are all patiently waiting for spring to arrive here in Western Massachusetts.  Flower Hill Farm has no buds a bloom in the trees or scattered about the snow covered grounds, and though I may be a bit weary of this winter, I can see signs of spring in the arrival and behavior of some of our wildlife.  I have seen turkey vultures soaring high over the hills and do note more song filling the rawness of early morning.  Also, sap is flowing within the sugar maples, while stacks from sugar shacks are ushering plumes of sweet steam into the chilly air.


A Red-shouldered Hawk woos me with his strikingly patterned wing span and full tail fan, as he flies from Michael's Black Cherry tree towards the forest below.  More ephemeral than a spring flower but what a warm rush of awe I feel in witnessing this flight.



The bluebirds are ready for spring to finally spread our way too.  I cannot help but think he is trying to tell me something coming in out of the bright sunshine, to perch in the cooler shade closer to my door.


 I am curious why the bluebirds never eat the crabapples, when so many other birds find them tasty.


Cedar Waxwings are seemingly content harvesting American Cranberry bush Viburnum and crabapple fruit.  I am seeing them through a studio sliding door and screen which gives a more pastel feel to the image.  The bright yellow tips of their tails remind me of daffodils that must be stirring a bit beneath the snow.


Waxwings filled the naked trees like large buds.  They will perch for awhile and then suddenly all will dive like a small cloud into the crabapple orchard and feast on the apples.  There is a flock of waxwings out in the crabapple orchard as I write this, but they are mostly still, taking in the warmth of the sun, on this 18 degrees Fahrenheit frigid morn.


On the ground there are hundreds of animal tracks crisscrossing around the snowy gardens and fields.  Here a white-tailed doe gracefully displays her namesake as she walks through the middle garden mirroring the white landscape.


 In the crabapple orchard, could they be munching on the tiny fallen fruit.  It has been a very long winter and all the wildlife must be longing for a heartier meal.


I startle the deer, when I open the door to have a closer look and they quickly flee into the north field.


I have always wanted horses and find them beautiful to see out in fields.  Seeing deer bounding through the snow covered scenery adds cheer to the still clinging winter day.


White-tailed Deer do very little damage here but this critter is an entirely different matter.  She chomps off-shoots of shrubberies as if they were celery sticks.  Clearly some beasts are more compatible for waiting out spring's return.  To be fair to the Eastern Cottontail, I could add that most shrubs do recover from this pruning.


Wild turkeys, however, bring such fun into the gardens.  When they fill the scene their liveliness is so comical and uplifting.  I sense they are very winter weary too, as they literally leap and lift themselves up into the trees.  This hen is not leaping for joy here but for the tiny crabapples that are abundant in the canopies of the small trees.



A hen harvests apples from up in the crabapple tree, while a few toms skid and slip about below picking up what she drops in the slippery snow. 


Sunlight is perfect lighting — illustrating the bronze-green iridescent wild turkey plumage.  This male displays his long beard or tuft of hair.  I have yet to find an explanation for this odd detail that only males don.


Such colors brighten spirits still longing for spring.  All these visits come within a day except for the Red-shouldered Hawk, who visited one day earlier.  These beautiful creatures simply take each day as it comes and in observing their grace and patience, this human can bear the wait for spring's return with gratitude and good faith too.  


Friday, March 14, 2014

A Bestiary ~ Warblers ~ Northern Parula



Over two years have passed since my monthly posts featuring Warblers began over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.  The next to the last warbler in the series, and as always sighted in the gardens at Flower Hill Farm, is presented this month in 'A Bestiary — Tales from a Wildlife Garden.'  The Northern Parula perches in an old apple tree and darts about searching for insects inside flower buds as I capture photos.  If you would like to see more images and learn about these unique, small warblers please do visit — A Bestiary.









The feisty Redstart will be the last of this series of Warblers and then onto other songbirds that share this land and habitat. I so look forward to their return this spring.  It has been a joy to recall the numerous encounters I have had over the years through writing the Bestiary.  I hope to sight more species here this coming season. 

Perhaps you can match the names to the bouquet of birds above  — Yellow Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut Sided Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler. There is a Redstart there too. 

I am still working hard on my new website, and missing posting here. I will hopefully have it going by April. 





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