Posts Tagged ‘Dark Eyed Junco’

Sunday, November 20, 2011

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The frosty weather is now upon us and brrrrr it is chilly in the mornings, frost covers everything.  However, the sun came out in full force and Friday was a reminder of what summer was about.

I’ve received feedback on the little bird that I saw on Friday in the backyard and it’s supposed to be a Dark-Eyed Junco .. however, it doesn’t resemble the Juncos that I see in the yard.  Maybe this one is a baby, I’ll have to research for more information.

Friday .. I spent time tidying up the yard, and it’s amazing the amount of space that we have, once I’ve organized all the pots, hoses and other paraphernalia.  And I guess I really like galvanized tin items also ..as I rounded up an old washing tub, some buckets, a little propagating unit (like a cover with a handle) and a watering can.  Plus the old tin kettle, that is developing a lovely patina of blue on the spout.  This will be incorporated into a watering feature.

My most tranquil moments are spent in the yard, including front, sides and back.   I’m quite happy in these happy places.  Dreaming and digging.  Mulching and stomping. Relaxing and observing.  Enjoying watching the antics of the birds that visit the feeders.   Excited at the progress of plants.  Looking forward to seeing the results of propagated plant cuttings.

It’s a great place to be.   And I look forward also to our next place which will have a bit more space for me to mulch, propagate and tend to the gardens.  Baby steps.  It won’t be happening for a while and for the present, I will tend to what we have right now.

Now that the chilly weather is upon us, it’s time to return to my daily long walks, camera in hand, to visit local nature sanctuaries and watch for the winter birds.

There still will be warm and sunny days and I’ll be playing in the yard on those days.

And I’ll be meeting friends, going for long walks with them, re-visiting favourite places and discovering new ones.  Visits to little restaurants for hot chocolate or tea.

I’m wondering whether to invest in my gardening future by taking a Master Gardening Course.  There are several offered in the city, and they both appear to be equally as good.  However, I am just torn between spending the $$$ to invest in my gardening credibility (a title always looks good on a business card) or just to continue with my greatest love and inspiration .. to create little natural gardens.  No formality in any way.  Just little bits of land devoted to growing hardy native perennials, lovely mulched soil.  Easy care gardens … they are my favourites.  I do seem to have a knack for creating these special little hideaway.

Food for thought.  And I do have all winter to pore through my little gardening library.  And to play around with creating little bits of garden art.

Well, it’s been a busy few days and I have really appreciated having the back yard to escape to .. to drink in the beauty of the fall garden and the playful antics of the birds just make me laugh out loud, they are so sweet.

I’ve been refilling the bird feeders almost daily . .and recently purchased huge bags of bird food, one of mixed seed and the other with large and small sunflower seeds.  It turns out that the majority of the birds prefer the shiny black birdseed.  I have noticed an abundance of the larger black and white striped seeds are just laying on the ground.  These are really for the bigger birds and I know the local squirrels will snatch them up.

There are now 3 suet containers in the yard .. two are filled with suet (fat) and one with the wild bird seed suet.  So my little winged friends will feed well over the winter.   And I must remember to bring in the backyard hummingbird feeder in at night, so it won’t freeze!

I’ve stocked up the cupboard with lots and lots of suet blocks, there is more fat in the freezer and goodness knows there is enough bird seed to last till January .. so we are all set for the winter.

Life is fun and there is beauty everywhere!





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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yesterday was a most beautiful day!  There was a frosty film covering every surface of my little car!  I had places to go and very little time to scrape off enough of this icy material .. so I quickly worked away with my recently acquired Toyota ice scraper.  Soon I was on my way.

Friday was my chance to root for my choice of New Mayor for our municipality .. and I was looking forward to that!

Not long after, I was on a foot walkway atop a busy main thoroughfare of our fair city, happily waving to thousands of cars that passed by .. people en route to work.

Our team of 5 were all enthusiastically waving and cheering and we received many happy waves in returns, plus many cars showed their agreement by honking their horns!

That was such fun and I enjoyed every second of it.

The skies were blue, the clouds were tinged with a rainbow of colours .. portents to a good day and a good election!

Ok . .then home and lots of busyness in the garden. I’ll talk about that later.  Right now I’m off to do my participation in this most important day of days, Election Day!

However, I must post pics of this most darling, rotund little bird that suddenly appeared by my feet last night.  I’ve spent hours this morning, trying to lighten up the photos that I took.  My camera wasn’t set at twilight.

Anyway, if anyone knows what kind of bird this is, pls let me know .. he wasn’t timid and didn’t fly away.

Away I go .. and will return later to recount events of yesterday!


So yesterday, at the end of my long day spent clearing up the garden, sorting pots, raking leaves (and stomping on the gigantic leaf mulch pile) .. I took some time to just stop and watch the antics of the birds.

It was around 4 pm or so, the sun was setting, and the light wasn’t the best.  I was standing near the main food station, which is the lovely little Lee Valley arbour .. from which I have placed: a bird feeder; a thistle seed container .. and a hummingbird feeder.

I was standing there ever so quietly .. blending into the shadows, as it were .. enjoying the frolicking of the Dark Eyed Juncos, the Anna Hummingbird (the backyard family, that is), the Sparrows, including the White Crowned Sparrow (they seem to appear in the late afternoon .. perhaps they have a busy schedule all day long).

And I was so happy to see that there was not only one .. but two!!! Spotted Towhees!  So I didn’t dare breathe, and kept clicking away on my camera.  I was afraid to startle them, so I wasn’t able to adjust the camera to the twilight or sunset mode.

Then I just happened to glance down at the ground and there was the most rotund little bird that I have ever seen in my life!!  I don’t know how he had arrived there.

He was just barely 2 feet away.  It was so strange.  He was breathing quite rapidly, his little chest rose and fell at a rapid pace, and I wondered if he had been in some kind of crisis.   He lifted his sweet little face up to me and I saw a pair of the brightest little eyes and, I might be totally imagining this, but his demeanor was quite trusting.

Staying in the same spot, he was busily munching away on the seeds that were dropping from the bird feeder overhead.  The Juncos were quite comfortable with his presence and moved freely around.  After I’d clicked quite a number of pictures, I bent down to have a closer look.  He didn’t shy away and run, so I was curious about that.  Looking closely at his back, I could see quite a bit of fluffy, sort of down like feathers on his back.  His little wings were neatly folded and there didn’t appear to be any problems with them.  He was so rotund that I couldn’t see how he could fly.

After a while, I moved a little closer to him.  His breathing had appeared to be more normal now.  He didn’t fly away, but just seemed to scuttle along on his little feet and I soon lost sight of him.  Argh.

I decided to walk along the opposite side of the yard and soon caught sight of him again . .there he was .. walking along the newly planted ferns.    In a few seconds, he had perched his little feet onto the stem of a plant, so I thought that was a good sign.  He moved on again until he reached a grouping of potted Red Hot Pokers.   I moved closer … until he disappeared and then popped up again, in one of the pots.  There were some hanging cedar branches nearby, so I decided that he was alright.

I don’t know what kind of bird he is.  This being November, I don’t think that any bird-babies are happening, but I could stand to be corrected.

Quite the little mystery, it seems.  I’ve been searching for information on what type of bird he is .. but no joy so far.

And today has been quite a day.

More tomorrow!


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

OMG .. it is just after 8 am on this morning and I see the sun is shining brilliantly …

I was all set to write about my gardening day yesterday (which was totally wonderful, btw).   But.. rain is predicted .. so I am choosing to go outside and dig and plant and sort my gardening pots.  Rake Leaves. (trying not to think about the lovely piles of leaves on the roadway ….)

So I will post my pics of yesterday and yak .. later on!  And if it doesn’t rain (as is predicted) .. well, I’ll be outside all the live long day!

And so.. va va vooom .. on my most lovely daily life!

🙂  Happy days are here again, the sky is clear again .. happy days are here again!

Oh, and I saw a Spotted Towhee outside the kitchen window, grooming itself for the upcoming day!

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Yesterday, Wednesday, was quite a change from bright and sunny Tuesday!  It started off overcast and very windy at times.

Nonetheless, on went my gardening outfit and outside I went!   Finished potting up the balance of the Boxwood cuttings . .I think there were about 40 .. a few didn’t root, leaves were glossy & green . … so they are being given another chance over the winter.

So I think that I now have a total of 120 boxwood plants started.  And … no .. I don’t plan to start a nursery.   I would like to try little garden borders, though.  I like the boxwood plantings at the Royal Bank on Burnside.  Every time I visit the bank, my eyes are drawn to the two tidy Boxwood framed squares outside.  Yes, I think I’ll have lots of fun with these plants.  They are quite sturdy little plants, I love plants that aren’t delicate.

Then, oh my .. I’m looking at the temporary winter holding areas that I’ve created with the landscape ties.  I’d started out with the “L” shape.  These soon filled up.  Now I have double “L” shapes.  And rapidly running out of room.

I think that our next place will just have to have a bit more property so that I can expand my propagating area.  I do seem to get carried away.  But then, I think, a lot of gardeners are like that.  I’ll just clip a “few” branches.  I’ll just start a “few” more plants.  On and on.  Oh, wait, I was planning to clip the Bay laurel tree.  Maybe tomorrow.

I’d already shaped shifted the veggie garden area.   I love changing the shapes of the garden ..  the soil there is just so rich from last years  wonderful mulch.    I can easily change the shape by moving the bricks that I’ve used to outline the beds and reshape away to my hearts content.

Anyway, this fall, I created a strip berry garden, a quarter moon shaped garlic bed and an oval bed in the middle (part of this is already planted in garlic).

I’m determined to have large heads of garlic this year.  I’d purchased 4 types of garlic for last years crop.  Somehow the names of each type didn’t make it through the winter so I now have a mix of unnamed garlic.  Including some elephant garlic.  Humongous cloves.  So they are all planted in the sunny part of the yard.  Patiently waiting till it’s time to grow.

I’d potted up all the cuttings, and then it was time to play with the garlic cloves.   I had had a large crop of garlic this year, however, having not planted them in the full sun, the results were not impressive, size wise.  And, I had thought that by not clipping the greens, the energy that would have gone into the garlic bulb went into the greens instead.  However, I’ve been searching garlic growing sites and I can see where someone actually did a comparison and concluded that it doesn’t make any difference.

So I plopped quite a few garlic bulbs into the amazing Styrofoam root tray and covered up with soil  I’m just curious to see how these will sprout.   Then I plan to make some kind of a narrow garlic strip in planters and let them grow, grow, grow.

Early afternoon, the skies brightened up and there was a little touch of sun .. ah that was great!  I spent a fair chunk of time just looking at the antics of the birds.  At one point there seemed to be quite an influx of sparrows .. they’d discovered the bird seed!  Several times I just waved them away, shoo .. fly away .. leave some for the Dark Eyed Juncos‘s, the Chickadees, the Red Breasted Nuthatch.  Speaking of which, I’d noticed that I hadn’t seen this spritely little guy .. when up he zoomed, straight for the raw suet.

Several sparrows were having quite a little “discussion” and at one point I had to duck out-of-the-way! (no pun intended!)

I have always loved being in the garden.  Time stops.  Reality is held at bay.  All that exists is the wonderment of being in a private place where I can simply enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.  Simply stop and look at the birds.  Stomp on my three-foot high pile of leaves (partly just for fun and partly to break them down faster).  I can just travel all around and see how all the plants and trees are doing.   Look at the lovely bits of lichen and moss, tiny universes.

Play around with re-using bricks, stones.   Dig away.   Dream and envision how I’ll plant things.   I really do want a little arbour .. I have the bench and the pond.  Just have to sweet talk my lovely DH into “helping” me create the area.

I’ve recently read that creativity just needs lots of time and this is my time to delve into this creativity.  All my life I’ve wanted “creative” time .. but there was always something not allowing me the luxury of this gift.  Well .. I now have the time and wow am I happy!   It’s almost decadent to have the time to play and experiment with the garden, and for that I am very grateful.

I then collected the windfall apples .. sorted them into several piles, one for the house and one for the birdies.  Then I took a handful and placed them in the nooks and crannies of trees in the yard .. so they could peck away at their leisure.

Speaking of apples, my walking pal tells me that this year is a bumper crop for apples and that next year there won’t be so many.   I’ve certainly gained new respect for apples, thanks to her explanations of the benefits of eating these crunchy fruits.   And I’m learning about more varieties.

As I gathered up my gardening tools, working in different areas of the yard, I couldn’t help but admire the large wooden handled metal scoop that I’d purchased recently at Lee Valley.  This thing is worth it’s weight in gold!  I think that it actually might be a flour scoop, but I find it so invaluable in the garden.  It is strong and I can easily dig in the yard and create a planting space.  It’s great for hacking away at stubborn dandelions and it’s wonderful for scooping up the soil mixture for potting up plants.

I cut down dead branches of deciduous plantings at the side of the house .. and discovered lots of raspberry canes that I need to dig up .. it’s getting a little crowded.   And the Costmary plants need to be split up, also.  I love the minty perfume of these shovel shaped leaves.  The diminutive yellow button flowers at the top of these tall plants are just too darling for words.

Next spring I plan to trim the tops of the cedar trees, to encourage more bush growth.   And I’m happy to see such a variety of plants that I’ve placed throughout this side of the yard .. the bed is quite wide, about 4 feet in width .. and I can see that I’ll have to reposition some of the plants.

I’d just about decided where I was going to plant my two Pyracantha plants .. when the rains started again!  Darn!

Just as I was collecting my garden gear, camera etc., my attention was caught by the yard of Miracle Mulch.  Beautiful material.  It’s been there for (ahem) a while, since I’d moved it, bit by bit, from the front yard.  I really do have to move this and distribute around the yard.

Well, there is always tomorrow, right?


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