Friday, July 15, 2016

Water for Wildlife

We used to say "It will rain until the 4th of July,"
and year after year this has been true.

But last year started with one of the worst snowpacks in history.

In June, instead of rain we experienced record heat and desiccating winds.

Our home is ringed with sloughs, puposefully left as natural refuges for wildlife. But last year there was no water in those channels.

How far would birds have to fly to find water, leaving their young behind?

I set thrift store serving bowls in shady places in the garden.

Clean rocks provided places to perch and made them shallow for a bird to bathe in.

Some were set up a few feet from the ground, others I left on the ground for the quail. (We have no cats)

Impatient, I kept an eye on them.

Would they find them?
Use them?

Oh yes.

Keeping them filled was quite a task. The birds loved bathing in these, so they needed regular sloshing out as well as re-filled.

As I heard news stories about birds dying in the drought, I was glad to do my part.
This flicker came several times a day to the bowl in the magnolia --- sip ---
--- swallow
 So far this summer we have had our early summer rains, 
but as the temperatures rise I will renew this commitment to our birds and other wildlife.

Even though they did eat every single one of my raspberries.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Baby Owls

Great Horned Owls nest in "The Woods" behind our home. We have come to recognize their various calls, and especially the sounds made by the owlets.

A week ago we heard one screaming, and saw an adult flying from the ground as we approached. Though it was covered by underbrush, we knew a baby owl had fallen from the nest.

"Don't" my husband reminded me.

A juvenile will often leave the nest before it is fully able to fly, and must find a stump or leaning tree to climb upon to be safe from predators. The adult owl will tend to it, and we know not to interfere.

The next day we were both relieved to find it safely watching us from a leaning alder tree.

Every day it would be peering at us from a new perch.

When our grown kids came home the next weekend, I took them out to see if we could find it again. I finally spotted a lump of fuzz high in a Big Leaf Maple. Was it alive? I snapped this before it woke up.
... and then it woke up...

We concluded it must be flying a little now, to have reached this idyllic spot.

My daughter lingered a little with the camera, so enchanted by this encounter.

As she and her husband turned to leave, the baby jumped up to watch them go.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Beauty of Winter's Twigs and Weeds

The trees are budding out, the snowdrops are blooming, and a few early daffodils have already proclaimed an end to nature's sleep.
So this post is a little late.

Sometime before Thanksgiving I start my rambles through the woods, pastures and along country roads.

I find spent Queen Anne's Lace, now become brown snowflakes.

Dock and other weeds playfully remind me of summer past.

As the catkins emerge, a few will grace my kitchen counter.

The alder twigs cast down by the wind form an arabesque.

Early buds from the Hawthorn are deep garnet.

Just before Christmas, rose hips are tucked here and there.

Soon, violets will fill the vases, and camelias will float in little bowls on the table. But I confess winter's delicate gifts make me smile.