Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bonus bird pix!

Check out these nice photos.
Ruby throated Hummer Male--Lynchburg, Va.

Ruby throated Hummer Male--Lynchburg, Va.

Ruby throated Hummer Male--Lynchburg, Va.

Ruby throated Hummer Male--Lynchburg, Va.

Ruby throated Hummer female, tail feathers--Lynchburg, Va.

House Finch Male--Lynchburg, Va.

GoldFinch Female--Lynchburg, Va.

Pair of goldfinches in crepe-myrtle-Lynchburg, Va.

Goldfinch Male--Lynchburg, Va.

Carolina Chickadee--Lynchburg, Va.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Turkey Vulture

Speaking of dead squirrels, one in the road in front of my house drew a Turkey Vulture, who has an amazing sense of smell. They sniff out their prey. that's why they can show up outta nowhere. This shot shows it on a nearby house where it took the squirrel after being spooked by a car. I made it nervous after this shot and off it went with the prey in tow.

7-29-06 Django the hunter, ex squirrels and possum

Back at home, the hummers were visiting in ever larger numbers, and my boy Django the great hunter preyed on young mammals. I saw this poor little squirrel in his jaws and asked him to drop it. He did. I buried the critter out back.

Later in the evening, he had something cornered in the back yard. Turned out it was this baby possum. I put the pup inside and the marsupioid-eventually-moved on.

July 24-Last Day and the Yard Fatty!

Last Day in Lynchburg. Got some cool shots of Julie's and David's groundhogs, or woodchucks. Julie and David call them Yard Fatties. I can see why.

July 23 Peaks of Otter, and birds

Today it was up to the Blueridge Parkway and a collection of mountains called the Peaks of Otter. On the grounds, I took this shot of a Raven.

Up on Sharp Top, once thought to be the highest peak in Virginia and the source for a piece of the Washington Monument, I took this shot of a dark-eyed Junco.

Back at the July and David and Julie ranch, I got these shots of Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice and a Eastern Bluebird parent at the nest box.

July 22-Monticello and birds

Went to Monticello today and had to bear a old white man guide who spent as much time trying to preserve the conservative view of TJ as he did telling us about the home and history. I'll discuss this on my SomeModestProposals blog instead, but he tired to apologize for Jefferson's liaison with Sally Hemmings, his proclivity to spend too much, and his deism. Anyway, the house is amazing. Check it out.

Also, took these shots of male and female house finches and a female cardinal back in Lynchburg.

July 21-Don't mention the War!

We went to Appomatox Courthouse (the name of the town) to check out the last battle the Army of Northern Va. fought before surrendering to Grant. Lee's Army hadn't eaten in weeks and was heading here to hook up with trains full of food. Problem was the trains had been captured by Union Cavalry. They tried to bust through the Union lines once, but were repelled and then, surrendered.

But the populace seems not to have gotten the memo. On the way, we stopped at this place, a former motor hotel, now museum and gift shop. Check out these examples of southern resistance.

July 20-Virginia trip-birdwatcher heaven!

Virginia and I visited her sister Julie and her hubby David Schwartz, who's a prof of Philosophy at Randolph-Macon in Lynchburg (Lunchbag) Va. Bee-utiful place full of decaying mountains, rivers and very large trees and forests too. They got a beautiful house and they have an excellent array of bird feeders that brings the cool flying fauna to their big, plate-glass windows. And of course, I couldn't resist, especially with birds we don't get to see in Austin.

Check it out.

All this sites showed up on our first day there.

House Finches. Now, we get these in our neck of the woods but not around my house so much, so I went nuts with the camera. At home I saw them at the Niger thistle feeder, but here they were at the standard feeder. Indulge me.

Now these American Goldfinches are extremely cool. We don't get to see them in our hood. We get the lesser goldfinches, which are cool, don't get me wrong. But check out the striking colors on these birds. Even the drabber female is dang pretty.

And check out the Ruby-throats! I was so jealous there were so many. Probably ten to twenty times what I get at my house. And, lots of males here where most visitors at my house had been females. (When I got back, I suddenly saw lots of males at home too. Go figure.)

And check out Dolly, their crazy 13 month-old chocolate lab. Pretty no?

Also check out this beautiful flowering vine. Don't know what it is exactly, but I was compelled to see shoot it.

Plus, they had a bluebird nest box and it had 4 little one in it too! Of course, the parent Eastern Bluebirds had to be nearby, Here's one bringing worms. Really, worms, like in the picture books.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

7-13 to 7-18, More nest disasters and casualties

Once again, I found a downed chimney swift nest and several smashed eggs. I have no idea what is ding this to the poor swift nests? Mice perhaps?

What's worse, I found a dead chimney swift in the front yard. I was excited to have the swifts in my chimney, so it was a bummer to see this dead bird.

July-9 Woodpeckers, Wrens and Chickadees

The red bellied woodpeckers came back and to the pecan tree.

I've been hearing the Carolina wrens all around the yard for weeks. I went out with a camera and caught some blurry versions of a noisy male.

The chickadees in the hood have come back to my black oil seed feeders. I can't wait to get the chickadee houses up.

And, while I've been harvesting lots of figs from my two fig trees, they are also favorites of cardinals and starlings. Don't mind sharing at all.

July 8 - Screaming Blue jaws

This day, I heard such incredible bird screaming from Blue Jays that I had to go out and try to figure out what was going on. Turns out they were juveniles (two to three) but I never saw what they were screaming at. One was on the telephone line in my yard and one was in my neighbor's yard (the one the owls were nesting in). I looked for the owls but found none. I still see the Blue Jays at my feeder and in my bird bath occasionally.

Later that evening, as the sun was setting, Virginia and I, looked up to see hundreds of cliff or barn swallows (I think cliff) were overheads swallowing up tons of insects. This lasted a few weeks at least.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Lots of babies were born recently. Here's one who I found because my chow-shepherd mix mutt, Django, had him pinned next to a neighbor's out building. Cute no?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lots of Male Hummers Now!

Changed the nectar in the feeders today. Made a huge difference in visitation. Saw a large number of male ruby-throated hummers at the feeders this evening. I put a Oriole feeder on the front porch and while I was hanging around a male ruby throat came up on me and stopped. He heading for the feeder, but saw me and stopped dead, He hovered for a while, twisted his body just enough for me to see his apparently black throat go red, and then black again. This is the main problem telling a male ruby throat from a male black chin. At certain angles their throats can look darn similar. Throw in that they're the same size, have the same call, and don't behave all that differently and you have the makings of hard to distinguish birds. Just pleased that they are coming around in numbers now.

When I got back from Virginia, I changed the nectar in the feeders and accidentally made it a little sweeter. (I filled the water to the wrong mark.) Lo and behold, the hummers liked it so much, they came back often. Soon I saw more individuals, and all of a sudden I saw lots of males where I had seen only females before. I make the nectar like that from now on--a half cup of water per 2 tablespoons of sugar. (The recipe said to use 5/8ths of a cup). I used the same measure for the oriole feeder. We'll see what happens.

Crippled by dependency

I haven't been posting because I can't get my iPhoto to work and I have it stuck in my head that I can't post without pix.

Well, of course I can. I just haven't. Silly me.

News? Well, the ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds continue to frequent my dual feeders. Yesterday I put up an oriole feeder, which looks a lot like a hummer feeder except it's orange and has larger feeding openings that are covered by spring loaded bee guards. (This is where I'd add the photo if I could! Dang it!)

Will the orioles come? I don't know, but the Orchard Oriole and Bullock's Oriole range through here during summer and the Hooded Oriole comes close. The Baltimore Oriole migrates through here. We shall see what we see. They like the edge of woods. Perhaps they won't come to the city. Anyway, I have a feeder for them now.

Got a mockingbird in the yard! I hope she nests. They are very cool birds, but I haven't seen them around the house much. They nest like crazy in small trees and shrubs up north where I work (Duval and Mopac). I have more small trees and shrubs now in the yard. Perhaps they will nest here too? Lord knows I got plenty of insects for them to eat.

Not much else to report. The intense heat and humidity keeps the birds from much activity during the day.

More later.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lots coming

The hummers are at the feeders hot and heavy right now. Don't know what changed, but they are. Plus, I got some great pix from a visit to the future in-laws in Viginny. Stay tuned. As soon as I get my crashed hard drive situation at home fixed, up here they will go. American Goldfinches, Ruby throated Hummers, Eastern Blue birds, House Finches and Dark-Eyed Juncos all on camera. Plus, ground hogs/wood chucks, baby possum and squirrels, all coming...