Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Flicker surprise!

I so love to see pairs of birds interacting . . . . . . and this is definitely the
 time of year to capture them with your camera. 
Spring, the birds and the bees etc!!!
I also enjoy learning new facts about birds and yesterday was one of
those moments. I have never been able to get a photo of a pair of
 Northern flickers actually feeding on the same suet cake . . . . . . . but as
 luck would have it, I looked out the dining room window just at the right
 moment. The light was perfect to show off these beautiful woodpeckers.

The real surprise though was seeing the female sticking out a long tongue! 
I had absolutely no idea these birds have tongues which they use to lap up
 ants. . . . . and as a tiny 'rake' to get to other foods, such as the goodies
 embedded in the suet.
Who knew!

Garden chores are at an all time high right I'm off and
 will return here soon.
I just had to share these beautiful birds who mate for life!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Fogged in -

It was quite a memorable weekend around here.
Saturday morning started like this.
Fog thick as pea soup.
First dogwood blooms opening.


Chilly and damp when I stepped out early
 to take these photos.
Muffled sounds in the distance of the
 Saturday traffic going who knows where.

Birds, such as this male Eastern bluebird, seeking an
 early breakfast - love the washed out colors of
 damp feathers through the fog.

More later on how the day progressed.
I'm behind because we were without any power
 for seven hours later that day!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Soup Update - Northern Flicker Pair

 Here's an update on the Pesto Bean Soup I shared in my 
previous post.
I did make it again yesterday. Used the basic recipe but
 added a 1/4 cup of ORZO pasta. . . . . boiled it separately, 
about 8 minutes, drained and added it to the finished soup.  
This was a good choice and actually made the soup more of
 a thicker dish. Served with warm whole wheat pita bread it was 
our main meal.

Really great Orzo from Abruzzo, Italy.

This morning I took everything out of the fridge/freezer and gave the interior
 a heavy duty clean. How does so much debris collect in the corners, 
and so many mystery freezer bags and containers hide in the back with
use by dates now history? Over stocking and panic buying at the beginning 
of the pandemic is much to blame of course!

Speaking of eating and storing food, Mrs. Northern Flicker has really
 become such a welcome bird - along with her Mr. - at the suet feeders.
 I'm hoping so much they have a family this spring. 
They're the only woodpecker who eats on the ground at times as they love
 ants and beetles. Here, when filling the suet feeder, a piece fell and she was
 there in no time having a special easy to grab snack!

Lately she seems to come more often to feed - perhaps he's busy searching
 out a nesting site. Later both male and female excavate the nesting cavity
 for her to lay 5-8 eggs, their one annual brood. Both will incubate and feed
 their young.

Whoever said don't wear spots and stripes together was totally wrong!
This is one gorgeous marked large bird. . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . and I love that they are so easy to identify - he with that handsome mustache!

Ok this is where I love you and leave you.
I'm off to my stylist for a haircut. I'm sure this will be the 
very end of my pre-pandemic red hair, last colored 13 months ago!  
Just a few final snips and my 'silver' will be 100% and shining!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Small Garden Birds - Quick Healthy Soup

Kitchen Window Flowers for this week include rosemary and
 snowdrops from the garden, and buttercups picked on an
 afternoon walk.
Simple is pretty. 
The English cut glass vase given me decades
 ago by my mother makes this posy extra special.

~ Carolina wren ~

Winter feeding of the Carolina wrens on our porch and feeders was, 
as always, fun to watch. Cheerful entertainment on the most cold and 
bleak days of the pandemic. The entire winter was a great one for
 bird watching and made days of smiles and happy feelings when
 everything else was often uninspiring.

I purchased another nesting box and hung it on the front porch. 
Made specifically for wrens and chickadees our smallest birds, 
other than hummingbirds who come here later in summer, 
the 1-1/8" entrance hole is the favored size for these two
 birds - hopefully one or the other will start a family here this spring.

~ Black Capped chickadee ~

Other small to medium sized birds include these - House finches
 (two males) and Northern Cardinals (one female).
It's been raining this morning and the fig tree buds now
 appear a wee bit greener at last.

I'm still often making soups - always vegetarian - and tried this one
 for the first time recently. 
May make a pot again today as it was really quick and tasty - second
 day reheated even better.


Makes 4 servings

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large carrot, chopped
4 cups of low sodium vegetable stock
1/4 cup basil pesto
1-15 oz can cannellini beans,
drained and rinsed
2 cups baby kale, spinach or chard 
or a mix of all three - remove hard stems
and roughly chop
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1  Warm olive oil in medium-large pot
over medium heat
Add chopped onion, sauté about 3 minutes
Add chopped carrot, sauté 3 minutes or until
onions are soft and translucent

2  Add vegetable stock, pesto and beans
Stir to combine
Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and 
simmer about 10 minutes - adding the greens
for last few minutes

3  Season to taste 
(I did not add additional salt, just ground black pepper)
Serve with Parmesan cheese, if using

I make my own pesto in summer and freeze in small containers
or snack size baggies - that way I can control the amount of added salt.
Baby kale is so much better than large leaves - if you aren't growing your 
own, or have a generous neighbor as I do, it is available in grocery stores.
Always use extra-virgin olive oil, the least processed and retains more
nutrients than other oils.

Bon appétit!


Camellias are lovely right now - azaleas starting to bud but late this year. 

Our deck repairs/refurbishment are completed, we are very happy with
 the work and now have a great 'handyman' whom we feel we can call on
 for future jobs around the house.
That's a good feeling.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Hanging out to dry. . . .it's Spring!

We were fortunate - Thursday afternoon/evening storms passed our immediate 
area with very little havoc. Sadly, not far off though, many towns and communities
 had severe damage from tornadoes touching down, terrific winds causing 
 falling trees and roof damage etc.

Our bluebirds sheltered on the front porch looking quite straggly coming in from
the rain. . . . . . .  

~ Female Eastern bluebird ~

. . . . . . . but once dry and fluffed up again they were back in the fig tree 
and eating at the feeders. Note tiny green buds just starting on the fig.

~ Male Eastern bluebird ~

We welcomed a very chilly Friday morning with the unfurling of a bright
 Spring flag.  Today, Saturday, finally it's here, the Spring Equinox.  
We are starting a deck repair job so hoping for some warmer, drier
 weather over the weekend.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Storm watch this evening -

Well those few lovely calm and sunny days have flown on by and today we are under a severe storm watch.  Possibility of tornadoes, large size hail, high winds, and of course thunder, lightning and rain. 

We've 'battened down the hatches' here. Hopefully it won't be too bad and I'll be back tomorrow with a sigh of relief.

Colors in the garden this week.

The gentle Mourning doves - they pair for life and are delightful to watch.

Garden birds are busy, many are arriving in pairs to eat, drink and 
seek nesting places.

Eastern bluebirds - female above, male below - but they won't move in there, 
entrance is too small!

European starlings, not a favorite bird, but they are beautifully 'dressed.'

Cut a last bunch of daffodils before the storm - they could get battered.

Stay safe if you are in the path of these bad storms today.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day - Garden chores - delicious tea.

Sunrise this morning was accompanied by the loud hooting of a Barred owl in a tree right outside the bedroom window - it was an amazing sound. I opened the window hoping to see it but didn't. If you open this link you can click on owl sounds - the one I heard today was definitely the Barred owl.

I don't know where time goes. This past weekend the sunshine and temperatures were perfect and enabled us to spend a lot of time working in the garden. Blossom trees are opening, magnolia and camellias are beautiful right now. 

We were pruning and cleaning out flower beds of remaining fallen leaves. It became so warm on Sunday that I had to change into a short sleeved top. That resulted in scratched arms from the rose bushes, and from helping Bob cut out what had become a huge juniper, which had met its demise! Now there's more light for azalea bushes that will soon be in bloom, and later the summer flowering plants in that area.  

Sometimes life is just full of wonderful surprises. They don't have to be huge, over the top, or magnanimous. . . . . such as the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Prize Patrol Dispatch arriving at your front door smothering you in balloons and bouquets of roses, holding a giant facsimile of a check with lots of zeros and YOUR NAME emblazoned across it!  

A gentle, elegant, fragrant surprise from across the pond popped up in the mail a couple of days ago!  More of the famous, and only, tea grown in the UK on the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall arrived in my mailbox on Monday from blog friend Barbara at Small Moments. She also spoiled me with two truly gorgeous antique French embroidered napkins which I love. 

So today is St. Patrick's Day and sadly, for the second year in a row, there are no parades, no visits to local 'Irish' pubs for a drink with a bunch of cheery friends, or an Irish inspired meal. We will wear something green. We will chat with each other about our two fabulous visits to Ireland a couple of years back, and raise a glass together. We are playing our High Kings music CD, recalling our fun time when we met them on a sunny day in Galway. Bob will remember his Irish ancestors from County Kerry, and I will celebrate having my own live-in, life-sized leprechaun!!!!!

Erin go Bragh - and a happy day to you all.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Today - Mother's Day in the UK -

My 'snowdrops' are starting to bloom now, just in time to celebrate
UK Mother's Day. These are actually Leucojum aestivum known as
the 'Summer Snowflake'.

An English native dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, it is related
 to Galanthus nivalis. This prized naturalizer has umbels of pendant,
 bell-shaped, milky-white flowers with faint green tips and grass-like,
 strappy foliage. More moisture tolerant than other flower bulbs, it
 performs well near ponds or streams, just make sure to plant the
 bulbs above the high water mark. It's a strong, hardy and long lasting
 variety that thrives in areas of dappled sunlight. 

Some of you noticed them mixed with my daffodils in a previous post.
Thankfully rodent, and also deer resistant - yes, we have several beauties
 visiting the garden, especially at night - they are easy to grow, hardy 
perennials, a very welcome sight in early springtime.

May today day be special and all mothers loved, respected and remembered.