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Discussion in 'Community Center' started by annr, Jan 19, 2020.
Cat might have a rude awakening if he tried to burgle that one.
Looks like a garter snake. Most cats would just kill it. Garter snake? @drj211
Those Red Shouldered Hawks look amazing, I have never seen one before outside of a book or online. That’s pretty cool to be able to get 2 in the same picture, quite rare, for me at least, getting any 2 Hawks in the same tree photo, I really like that. As reddish/burnt orange as they appear to be, I bet they would really pop out in color with the sun lighting and highlighting them up even more so.
Cardinals sure are a colorful bird, great singers, very loyal to their mate, and a great picture subject too, especially against new bright white snow.
The Rose Breasted Grosbeak is one of my favorite springtime migration birds. The males are so dramatically colored, easy to bring in with food, and stay around for about 10 days before continuing their migration. The females are just a brown and white striped color, but the beak (nib) and the white eyebrow makes them pretty easy to spot. Not as theatrical as the males, but still fun to watch. Really nice pictures guys, thanks for posting them.
I’ll do a set of 10 birds here.
The small Warblers, Verios, Siskin, and Red Start only hang around for 1-3 days. They are attracted to the 3 Spruce trees that are growing and also the more dense bushes along the yard perimeter, as both are budding out and it’s the buds they are after here for food. Good quality feed store bird food attracts other birds, along with some of my home made species specific hand food blends, and all the yard activity in general seems to put them at ease and allows me to get a little bit closer without spooking them away, plus i get a real earful of all their different and unique calls and singing.
The male Scarlet Tananger is brilliant red and inky black. Pretty easy to spot too, except the females are more of a yellow/green in color. A little bit acrobatic in nature and not too much singing, but they sure are pretty and are fairly tame (less spooky) too.
The male Cardinal is really booming out his call while perching on the power line. I was able to get directly under him and took the picture while he was calling away. If you zoom in you can see all the way into his open throat.
The one lone male Cardinal is sharing one of the bird feeders with a small female Downey Woodpecker. Her not having a red head is the dead giveaway that it’s a female, and they both nest and stay in my yard year round. Their 2-3 babies are a real hoot to watch grow up each year too.
The striped head of the White Crowned Sparrow sticks out like a sore thumb around here and is quite easy to identity. He’s one of the first sub-species of Sparrows to show up here and one of the last to migrate on out of here too.
I hope you enjoy. I am far from an expert of birds, but I’m pretty good with the ones that both live here and migrate on through too, be it spring or fall.
I haven't seen a scarlet tanager in years. They just don't seem to be common in the South.
I have that same feeder.
I believe it is a yellow rat snake. We see several varieties of rat snakes, black racers, coachwhips, Pygmy rattlers, ringnecks, and an occasional eastern diamondback.
I don't think your typical house cat would mess with a grown rat snake. I know I wouldn't want to wander much in the untamed woods in North FL.
@Retired UPS Driver Do you consider yourself a birder? I have two brothers that are really into bird photography. They have taken some amazing photos. My efforts don't reach their level. They spend a great deal of time seeking birds. One brother does most of his birding from a kayak. The other one is mostly land based or what I consider a more traditional approach. I am very hesitant to take expensive cameras in a kayak and have the equipment get wet or worse.
What kind of camera equipment are you using? I would suggest you pay attention to your focus points. Very hard to tell or selectively focus on small subjects. It is mostly luck for me. I am very picky about what I show people. But I keep trying when I have the opportunity. I mostly prefer taking pictures of landscapes, wild flowers (especially native orchids), deer, bear, and other wildlife in their natural settings or more simply stated "outdoor photography". Hope to do some elk photography later on this year. With birds, it is mostly just the occasional photo opportunity that pops up.
It is mostly about fun. I have no desire to publish photos or sell stuff. I think the more you pursue the hobby the better you get if you pay attention.
If you guys like bird photos, and haven't seen those Mossyhorn contributes, you should do a search. He's got some spectacular pics.
I have two (maybe three) new visitors to my feeders, some band tailed pigeons. These are a native bird, about 1/3 larger than the city varieties, and very shy. I couldn't be sure what they were until I broke out the bino's. They are at least the size of a large crow, but unable to hook onto my vertical feeders. For some reason they just can't do it, but they try hard to get at the one with mealybugs. They enjoy the flat feeder though; crowding out the smaller birds until they get done.
Cruddy cell phone pic thru window added, but at least you'll get an idea of the size of these things.
Looked up Band Tailed Pigeons. Never seen one. They are huge! Apparently they feed on acorns. I can see why they can't cling to the side of a feeder. Even doves can't seem to do that. Looking forward to your pictures.
Yes, @Mossyhorn has lots of great photos. I suspect he's a pro. He has posted a few in the garden thread.
The window! The easy chair window where temptation brings the hummers and goldfinches so close ...
The jute danglers on the outside have saved all the heartbreak - they truly work to stop the bird strikes. Yes, they do get in the way of the camera Zinnias have completely overgrown the perennial liatris behind but the goldfinches sure found the seeds and perch so close to the window snacking away.
From the inside, through two panes of old glass ... I can watch the hummers - always sampling the zinnias.
A couple of feet from the zinnia patch the gladiolas and cosmos in the new dig draw a lot of attention too. I've left a lot of seed heads on the plants for the finches.
New dig goes from the house garden (zinnias) to the bee balm stand. On the 'weed hill' East side, the glads and cosmos don't get jumped by the chipmunks and squirrels like they do on the West side nearest the bird feeders
Glads, Crocosmia (elegantly arching foliage, orange blooms), double & single cosmos - West side of the new dig where it intersects with the bee balm. Hummingbird destinations all.
Never have I been able to grow such juicy, delicious beefsteak tomatoes as this year ... Pruden Purple, Big Brandy and Brandy Wine. Tomatoes are the meal, everything else on the plate is a condiment! Containers on the porch have worked well, easier to water than the veg garden on weed hill. These guys are monsters, tasty ones.
Scarlet runner pole bean climbs porch upright (inside). Giant marigolds to left of steps wrap porch. Calendula and strawfower on steps. What I think is a delphinium on right (sky blue) second blooming after being cut back. Everything is from seed except coleus from over-wintering/cuttings. My only plant purchases this year were red petunias Dez my dog is my treasured, grey-muzzled antique ...
Crockett on summer detail hosting red petunias. Calendula is a bright addition that seems to be blooming far longer than I would have expected.
Very interesting - strawflower on tall stems opens in sunny conditions, feels crisp and 'papery'
While we're on the porch ... little critters are fattening up, putting on the fur coats, being lazy as usual. Also, the grackles are flocking. Hummer numbers are down. The feeders need replenishing twice a day. The message is clear.
@taldesta Your zinnias look great... no fungicide needed apparently. They are a pretty short lived thing here.
Bee Balm still blooming I see.... it has been over for a while here.
What is the tall green stuff behind the glads and Crocosmia? (Last picture from first of today's posts)
Tomatoes look great. Looks like you're mostly doing containers now with them. We are still getting tomatoes here. I just cut off the first of my container tomatoes yesterday as it seemed to be spent and not growing much. Several others are likely to follow as the fruit ripen in the next two weeks.
I planted some Crocosmia this year. It may be a bit to shady where I planted them, but we'll see how they do next year. No blooms this year to this point.
Added: Seems like potting soil is good (or great) for two years of use with tomatoes and then needs to be replaced. Adding fertilizer (slow release) just doesn't seem to have the same impact on the plants. Was the potting soil "new" for this year with your tomatoes? I resist replacing the soil as we're talking large containers and more than a couple large bags of soil. But I see it as the way to go if you want thriving tomato plants in containers.
Looks like hurricane Marco was a big "flop". The rain barely spread into Texas where they predicted the center of the tropical storm to move. The weather service said that there was a lot of wind shear going on and strong upper winds blowing the rain northward versus hanging with the low pressure zone.
The second hurricane is going to be significant as it has a lot of time to strengthen. It is predicted to go northward from near the TX-LA state line coast and then swinging into Tennessee-Kentucky. Looking forward to some rain out of these storms here. We have gotten just about normal August rainfall here but July was at about 50% of the norm.
Bee balm will go at least until the hummers leave on migration "Sep 10" and a little beyond, getting scraggly though - this pic was taken on the 20th. The tall red is Jacob Cline variety. I am watching the dwarf bee balm, pink, and noticed that once completely deadheaded it put up new growth - not expecting second bloom in this zone, 4A. I really like the mounded, compact shape of the dwarf bee balm and think it would make a nice boxwood-like statement, perhaps 15" edging perennial after first bloom.
The green stuff is the old fashioned cosmo foliage - some of the flowers are held 6' high. I've also planted a shorter variety with more coarse foliage and double blooms along with the glads. The tall foliage seems to help in supporting the glads within an unobtrusive line of jute that surrounds and crisscrosses this whole patch. I would say that half the glad bulbs survived the winter. I didn't lift and store - no space.
The three tomatoes mentioned are heirloom varieties (some deep ribbing - rather knarly looking) and I've never seen such healthy plants so strong as to support the huge fruit they produce. Healthy foliage the entire growing season so far. The Pruden Purple's leaves are, as advertised, like potato foliage - and easy to distinguish. I re-used last year's earth but enriched with compost, still I get that the soil will need looking after (crop rotation/soil replenishment!) for health. Yes, I can only use so many tomatoes and may just stick to containers with heirloom varieties - may add one cherry tomato for early fruiting. Dez likes them too. Maybe squash for the veg garden. Spring is distant and my plans are up in the air.
Hope you get the rain you need and that everyone and everything in the storm's path is spared grief.
Hummingbirds are down in numbers but are driving me crazy, hovering over the zinnias inches from the window - and I can't seem to capture what I want
So the dead headed bee balm developed or is developing new blooms. I don't think I have a place for something that gets as tall as your Cosmos. My tomato plants were not very robust this year which is why I have been thinking about soil replacement or a serious amendment. But we still had more tomatoes than we could comfortably use. So, maybe I need to back off a plant or two for next year.
My squash did really well this year. The problem was that we seldom really cook and most of the squash pretty much went to waste. I was impressed with the plants inside the tomato cage growing upward and they didn't seem to get powdery mildew as quickly. The plants are yanked now. I still have red beets in the garden but never seem to use them. It is a symptom of our infrequent cooking. I don't know if they are even edible now.
I still have a big crop of bell peppers going on along with the pimento's. I have been really impressed with Pimento peppers for sandwiches as they just have a little zing to them versus being hot. I have made spaghetti a couple times and added garden grown onions and peppers to the sauce. So things get used slowly. I generally make enough for leftovers which is one of the few foods I care for "left over".
I am going to ponder how to improve the soil in the large tomato containers. I resist just dumping them and starting over.
I may have to give one of the heirloom tomato varieties a try next year.
I definitely forgot to add the part about people's safety with hurricane Laura heading toward the western LA coast. This hurricane is going to be a big one I think. It is not just about how much rainfall we get out of these tropical systems. People are going to suffer with this one.
You may have to just sit outside with your camera and do some waiting for a hummingbird picture you are seeking.
Sorry if I was unclear re the dwarf bee balm - you'd asked me to keep you posted after deadheading. No new blooms here in zone 4a, only new foliage. I do wonder what it might do in a warmer climb. Temps around 42F last night - another good work day ahead.
And the hummers - if I spend much more time outdoors stalking those speedy little angels, quiet in the chair or on foot, stills or videos, I will sprout wings myself and join them
I am getting a lot of shots through the window and most would make challenging, 5000 piece puzzles - background jungle, jumble of zinnias, cosmos - yet I don't want the staged look. The morning and evening light coming low from E or W is best, at least throwing some backdrop into deep shade - but they do zip about, and their wings ... those special figure eight wings ... need speed while their quick attention to every flower known to man needs some depth of field - there's one on the zinnias right now, just to my left out the window. The sun has not struck the flower patch yet so the hummer would be dull green on dull green foliage, that is if I could get focused fast enough on the hummer (through the window) even though my camera is inches from my hand at the ready on high speed setting. My obsession, totally enjoying it Perhaps I should simply move my laptop away from the window!! Often, they will hover looking straight in the window right at me it seems. These are moments that I simply experience rather than spoil by even trying to capture.
I must do better with peppers ... just a plant or two and spoil them in containers like the heirloom tomatoes. Can't say enough about the these guys - flavour! Some are quite irregularly shaped.
@taldesta You were clear on the Dwarf Bee Balm. I was reading between the lines for application further South.
Peppers.... they do well in containers and you have the option of moving them if you decide the sun exposure should be changed. 4-5 gallon containers (about 10-12" diameter) seem to work well. (I may be off on calling them 5 gallon nursery containers; I forget the sizes, but the diameter is what I use.) They do well in the regular garden too. I do notice that Miracle Grow Potting soil gives them a boost. This year was the first time I have seen the tomato horn worms on pepper plants, but I have read that they feed on peppers. They strip a plant pretty quickly.
Folks like the banana peppers. I find them a bit thin skinned (flesh) and leathery. Taste is good. I am sure frying them would take away the toughness. I mostly eat peppers on sandwiches. They do develop what seems to be more peppers than traditional bell peppers.
Been trying to identify this sunflower-like meadow and woods margin plant. There are so many different varieties in my wildflower book. It gets like 6 feet tall. Pretty. The yellow and green is kind of stunning. My best guess is Woodland Sunflower, Helianthus divaricatus
(Taken 8/13/20 with normal lens)
Our honey bee count is still way down. Here’s o bumble bee on one of our petunias.
Same here. I don't think I've seen a honey bee in my yard this year or last. I saw a lot of honey bee activity in Cades Cove on Shining Sumac which was in bloom during my last visit this month. That stuff is a bee magnet. There must be a hive or two in the area.
Great camera skills in this thread. Here is my 2020 landscape project.