Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Second Batch

This past weekend, I planted more seeds...

I neglected to label some of the seeds I'd collected--I hope not to do that
next year.  I *think* this may be New York ironweed.  I hope it is.  Time will tell. :)

More little bluestem...maybe my favorite grass!
Trying to recreate the magic:
I had collected dogbane seedpods--I didn't label them, but I did recognize
them. :)  The seedpods were still intact, so I broke one open, only to see
the white fluff spill out like sparks from a magic wand!  I called Jeff over
to show him, and asked him to take a picture as I tried to recreate the effect.
(Thank you Jeff...you get credit for the above photos! :) )

I planted a mix of seeds in the original plastic window boxes left
by the previous owner.  I've used them for the past three years.
There was no snow to cover them with, but, at least for a moment,
 some snow began to fall...for a moment, I thought they'd get
a thin layer of snow, but the snow stopped as quickly as it began,
so I covered them again with screens...I'm not taking any chances on critters getting at them.

second batch...but, I still have another batch to go.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Now They Show Up!

I think my numbers were down this year as compared to the last two that I did the Great Backyard Bird Count.  However, this morning, with a lot less light than I like for taking photographs, I saw twenty (count 'em), twenty mourning doves!  Now why weren't they around when I did the bird count?

I also saw three goldfinches later in the day after having only counted one during the time I was observing.   Last year, I had a whole branch filled with them (a rare sight for me anyway, but at least it happened during the count that year)!

Checking back, I realize that I saw the bluebird pair during the count last year.  I've yet to spot them checking out the bird boxes yet this year...but I hope to see them any day now.  I can wait, as long as they show up again and raise more broods here.  Spring can't be too far away.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Winter Sowing, Step II

The next day, I took my well organized and labelled seeds outside, added clear packing tape to (hopefully) protect the labels from the weather, and then covered them with a thin layer of soil (except for the tiny Lobelia seeds), snow, and a window screen (just in case the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, or voles decide to explore).

I also started getting my other pots ready for the remaining seeds:

I'm really hoping to have more seedlings than I know what to do with...and then figure out what to do with them all--that fact is with 2 acres to cover, I'll not have enough for years to come.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Great Back Yard Bird Count: 2013

It is that time of year again, and after doing the count yesterday, I became a bit more productive.  I was inspired to begin planting my wildflower seeds.  I'm more determined than ever to convert this two acres into a beautiful and functional habitat that will attract a wider variety of wildlife than I'm seeing now.

The count from yesterday:

8 species total:
Mourning Dove 1
Blue Jay 4
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 1
White-throated Sparrow 4 (I believe that is the correct ID...the birds have the yellow marking, but also have a brown spot on the center of its breast.)
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Northern Cardinal 4 (3 males, 1 female)
American Goldfinch 1

...and the one from today:

8 species total
Mourning Dove 2
Blue Jay 2
Black-capped Chickadee 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 1
White-throated Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco 3
Northern Cardinal 7 (5 males, 2 females)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

That Time of Year Again--Winter Sowing

This past year, I collected a lot more seed than usual...and I traded some with a Wildlife Gardener's member from NJ (thanks again, Lori).  Although I could have planted them over Christmas break, it seems I've developed a tradition--or at least a habit--of sowing them mid-February.  I'm actually a couple of days ahead of schedule...but, I'm not done yet.

Last week, I bought some plastic containers at the dollar store and picked up some potting soil at a local nursery.  Today, I told Jeff that I was hoping to finally sort through my seeds and hopefully plant them.  He surprised me by saying he would help if I did it inside at the kitchen table.  I covered the table and filled the containers with soil outside (after drilling holes for drainage).   It actually turned out not to be as messy as I'd feared. We did a great job containing any mess...what little there was.

I have to admit, that Jeff thought we were planting vegetable seeds at first, but he was still willing to help.  Jeff specialized in making labels--he has better writing than me.  He also helped me sprinkle on some of the seeds.  It was great doing this together.    ~smile~   (Thank you, Jeffrey! :) )

I've never been this organized with my seeds before!  Over the past couple of years, I've just sprinkled the various species of wildflower seeds I'd collected in the same containers.  I figured they'd be mixed together in the meadow anyway.  I do feel good being better organized this year.

As good as that looks, I still have a LOT left...and a lot that is not organized--nor labelled.

I can't wait until I have all of these wildflowers and grass growing out on our property...building habitat and attracting more wildlife...and more beauty for us to enjoy.

Doe Update

A few hours later, I went out into the yard again with some seed to scatter away from the house.  When I got to where the deer was earlier, she was not there, so I entered (what I'm calling) "the woods" to put some seed where I normally do.  Right before I entered the path I realized that the doe was right in front of me, spooked, and trying to run up the steep slope.  That is when I realized she was injured.  One of her front legs was bloody and possibly mangled--it happened pretty fast.  I feel so badly not only that she is hurt, but that I went back and made her flee on a bad leg.

I went back to the house a different way so she didn't feel like I was pursuing her.  Back at the house, I grabbed two apples and some popcorn seed.  I went back to where I've seen here in the woods, and left a treat for her--assuming she returns.

If I find that she has returned, I'll try to give her more treats to help her get through the winter and heal. However, I don't want to go back and spook her again.  I'll figure it out.

Unexpected Encounter, Unexpected Shot

Today, after starting my Backyard Bird Count, I decided to head outside to try to get some shots of birds out in the yard (instead of just what I draw to the window).  I grabbed a handful of sunflower seed to scatter in a couple of spots out in the yard (as I've been doing for a month now).  As I approached the lower, far corner of the yard to put my last handful of seed, I spotted a deer in repose, but eyes open and alert to my presence.  I dropped the seed on the ground where I stood (instead of the usual place) and slowly got the camera ready.  Until now, especially this year, I've only been able to get a photo of them as they are fleeing for the most part.  So, this was a great chance to get a good shot.  It turned out okay, but is not as focused as I'd hoped.  Still, I'm so happy to have seen her, and to have left her undisturbed.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nearly Forgot this Year!

I just found out that the Great Backyard Bird Count is happening this weekend.  I missed the first two days, but I have two days left to count...and so do you (if anyone sees this and wants to do it).

Here is a link:  The Great Backyard Bird Count

I've participated the past two years...ever since I found out about it.  I plan to do it again tomorrow and Monday.  Afterwards, I hope to post my results and some pictures over the next two days.

Evening Visitor

The other day right before dusk, I heard the chirping of a bird right outside our bay window.  I don't recognize the call of many (any?) birds, so I went to the window to try to associate the sound with a face.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a Carolina wren that was making a late call to the black oil sunflower seeds I've been putting out.  He was on the step of the deck doing a funny little hope with a half-turn accompanied by a series of chirps.  It was dark but I got a video of it.

Today, I spotted him earlier and got a better shot or two:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Today's Encounter

It all happened so fast, and, of course, I didn't have the camera with me anyway...this morning I went out to feed the birds, and startled a deer that was right by the greenhouse.  I must've heard a rustling and looked up.  By the time we'd made eye contact and I realized that it was a deer, it was gone.  I didn't even notice if it were a doe or a buck...the only thing that registered was that it was BIG!

I suspect, if it wasn't coming for the sunflower seeds, that it might've been after the apple peelings and cores that I threw onto the vegetable garden bed along with potato peelings and such.  I was fine with that and was looking forward to seeing it again (next time armed with a camera), until I realized that it might get into the habit of coming to the garden come spring and wreak havoc on the vegetables that will be growing by then!

Since I'm posting without a picture anyway, I guess now is as good a time as any to mention the encounter I had the other day--away from home.  I think I spotted two foxes!  We were pulling out of the parking lot of a restaurant after dusk when I saw movement of something near the dumpster.  A moment later I spotted two of them in the headlights of the car escaping into the weedy area.

I have never seen a live fox before (although I've seen one or two as roadkill before).  I've wanted to see them visiting our property--or, perhaps, making a den in the brush pile or something.  Maybe once the habitat starts to grow in  and I've added enough native shrubs, trees, grasses, and wildflowers.  For all I know, they could be visiting our property already...some day I'd like to get a game cam.  Knowing that I've spotted them less than twenty miles from here, I'd expect to have them out here more in the country.  I look forward to posting a photo (or more) of a fox utilizing the habitat I'm trying to provide.