RSS Feed

Category Archives: Birds

Flash Program

Posted on

You may have heard of flash mobs. So what is a flash program? That would be a spur of the moment, not planned in advance, free program open to the public. Using volunteers. This Sunday at 2 PM out at Mt. Pleasant, Howard County Conservancy.Have you ever heard about the Great Backyard Bird Count? It’s a national, annual event, spanning the long weekend in February. Information is here on their website. A couple of the board members out at the Conservancy proposed a great idea. Let’s have an impromptu free program the week before the bird count. To help people get started, and to give tips on counting birds in your own back yard.

They have enlisted a number of volunteers, many from the Howard County Bird Club. The nature center at Mt. Pleasant has windows overlooking a number of feeders and all winter long there’s quite a bit of interest from the resident and migrating birds, who stop by or hang around for the food. The bird club has a master list of all the different species seen across the entire site. You should be able to see a number of them on Sunday, and to learn how to identify some of the more common ones who would frequent your back yard or deck.

They’ll be helping you and your family get started on watching birds, and you might get to see some of the more rare visitors like this one.

birds and conservancy program 025

I spotted this pileated woodpecker right outside the doors to the nature center around noon, a couple of winters ago. We know they are still around because we can hear them.

Still, a little planning and a food source, on the ground or in a feeder, will keep the birds hanging out in your yard, too.

feeders, cooking and background 075

Blue jays love the unsalted Costco peanuts in the shell.

Come on out Sunday and see what other tips you can take home with you.

Cabin Fever

Posted on

Still digging out, and not done yet.

snowmageddon too 024

It’s pretty bad when the pickup is almost completely covered. We got about 29″ out here. Thankfully, we live out where there are loads of people who clear snow for a living. In all sorts of vehicles.

snowmageddon too 061

Out on the main road. Early Sunday morning. Right after a few large trucks with plows. The good thing about living here. Many, many people have plows on their trucks. They have ATVs with plows. They have tractors with front loaders. Once you know all your neighbors, it’s fairly simple to get out.

We spent Sunday digging out all around the house and then using the snow thrower to clear out our personal part of the driveway. The common drive had been done by two of our neighbors, while we were trying to troubleshoot the heat pump that died.

Tomorrow we find out if we have to get a replacement, or if it is something simple. Crossing our fingers.

We did get the front walk, plus the path around the side to the heat pump done.

clean up 001

And just to show that life is still interesting out here, look who showed up at the bird bath.

snowmageddon too 063

My friend flicker. The northern flicker. We haven’t seen him this year before this visit. As usual, the fresh melted water in the bird bath attracts some special birds.

As for all our friends struggling through the historic snowfall here in our little corner of the world. We know how it feels to be snowbound. Our absolute worst was 30+ years ago, before our community figured out how to become independent of others.

We are constantly amazed and thankful to be surrounded by our neighbors here. It does take a village, and we live in a very special one.

Ice Station Zebra

Posted on

That’s how our next door neighbor answered his phone when we called earlier this evening.

snowmageddon 2016 016

It certainly felt that way when we opened our front door this afternoon. Trust me. Four hours later. It’s higher than that. As for the back of the house, facing east (where we usually never get slammed), here is the back wall.

snowmageddon 2016 052

This is also worse. It is touching the six foot high light fixtures outside our kitchen and family rooms. I suppose I should be happy. The insulation properties are impressive.

It will be days before we get this snow knocked down. Add to that. A heat pump failure. The upstairs one. Thankfully, the main floor is still working. The county estimates that we will be all plowed out by Wednesday. Living on a snow emergency route means they keep trying to plow our road. It just keeps getting covered in drifts.

I may pop down and take more pictures tomorrow morning, while three of the four “heads of households” around here do the snow thrower thing and get us down to the rural route where we live. Me, I will be attempting to slowly shovel out to replenish my feeders. Where those alpha male birds are fighting for supremacy.

snowmageddon 2016 033

It has been contentious all day. Jays vs Cardinals for domination of the feeders.

The Waiting Game

Posted on

And now we wait. All of the snow prep is done with the exception of a couple of last minute items. Over the years I have learned a few more tricks to keep us from having problems when it comes to water and with the perishable foods.

fandf and snow prep 008

Keeping a few of the milk bottles around, just for times like this. We have a small refrigerator in our laundry room. For snow events, I completely reconfigure that fridge to be nothing but liquids and the lunch and dinner options, which could be moved to a cooler if the fridge were to get too warm.

I keep one small cooler with an ice bag in it. It becomes the place to put whatever I need to take out of the small fridge. Our large refrigerator/freezer NEVER gets opened while the power is off. The freezer has been reconfigured to have all the meat on the bottom with other odds and ends on top, and covered with ice packs and plastic bottles that were filled with water and frozen yesterday.

After our longest outage ever, the 22 hour one after the derecho years ago, the fridge made it up to 44 degrees and the freezer to 16 degrees. In the summer heat. Yesterday I turned the temps down to minus six in the freezer and 36 in the fridge.

I also splurged on a treat, in case we have to eat by candlelight.

fandf and snow prep 002

When I picked up my Friends and Farms basket yesterday, I pre-ordered a couple of packs of smoked salmon. They will go into that small fridge, to be used as a “fancy” meal base. I have that large lovely loaf of sourdough from the CSA, along with the cheeses. I also will be making a full four cup pot of jasmine rice. I am perfectly content to make salads using rice, and salads using beans or chickpeas. Between the smoked salmon and the two cans of sardines in the pantry, we could have some awesome candlelight dinners. Unfortunately, the cold could become an issue at some point, and our wood stove is in our basement.

I have cranked the heat up in our house today. Up to 74 degrees. If we lose power, we never open the west facing doors, using the smallest east facing opening, our mud room back door, to minimize heat loss in the rest of the house. Replacing our doors and windows over the past few years has helped us.

Finally, I learned two new tricks when it comes to having water, the non potable kind. I fill up the top loading washing machine and stop the cycle when it’s full. No clothes in it, just water. In a pinch, it could be used for flushing the toilets. Add that to our “recycling” of sump pump water. The other simple thing I do is fill the larger side of my sink, to put dishes in it. Keeps down the need to use paper plates, and when I get power back, we just pull out the dishes and fill the dishwasher.

Last minute tips. We have at least three pair of gloves for each of us. Usually, when we come in from snow removal and we have power, we throw gloves and hats in the dryer. Can’t do that with no power, so we have those spares while waiting for the others to dry out.

And, I filled all the birdfeeders and watered all my indoor plants.

I think I’m ready. Just hoping we don’t meet this when we open our mudroom door.

winter 2010 227

The Soul of the Night

Posted on

OWLS!

DSC_0028

What could be a better greeting to an evening about owls than a visit by Ranger, the resident barred owl at Mt. Pleasant (Howard County Conservancy)?

Maybe it’s the presence of Belle, the resident owl from the Belmont site. Or maybe, it’s the treat of hearing Scott Weidensaul, author of the Peterson Reference Guide to Owls, as he leads a program Thursday night beginning at 7 PM. It’s the first of many incredibly interesting programs planned for 2016.

You can pre-register here for Thursday’s event. The various nature events at the Conservancy have become extremely popular, and you don’t want to miss a rare appearance in this area by Scott.

While you’re at it, you may also want to download the 2016 bookmark to keep track of what is happening the rest of the year.

For me, being a member of this planning staff, and working behind the scenes to get these programs planned, and then to be there to see how successful they are, well, it’s definitely a “labor of love”. Volunteering in such a beautiful setting, and being around people who love doing what they do, does it get any better?

See you Thursday maybe?

Fishing Lessons

Posted on

We have the talon method.

roots auction, eagles and fandf 035

And we have the beak method.

roots auction, eagles and fandf 041

Which do you prefer? The parents out there seem to be teaching their juveniles how to fish.

This is in downtown Columbia MD. Wilde Lake. It seems the Triadelphia Eagles have relocated to become the Wilde Lake Eagles. I have heard there were as many as 20 out there. Today, we found 4 or 5.

The juveniles …

roots auction, eagles and fandf 031

… haven’t developed that white head and white tail.

As for mom or dad …

roots auction, eagles and fandf 036

… rather obvious, aren’t they?

I took my pictures today with my puny little D90 and a 200 mm lens. There were quite a few avid bird photographers out there.

If I win Powerball, maybe I will get one of those $2000 lenses, to do the up close shots. Still, all in all, it was just amazing to watch the eagles fish.

We hear that they are on Wilde Lake because of work being done out at Triadelphia, where they normally hang out. Eagles aren’t thrilled by all the photographers, walkers and bikers that ring the lake. While they are trying to get a meal.

If you get a chance, pop down. Morning or afternoon. They do like sunny days, though. When they can see the fish more easily.

The New Kids in Town

AKA the new local bloggers. I have been updating my page with the blogs I read, most of which I find on hocoblogs.

We have all sorts of new writers joining our small focused community. Like a really good friend and neighbor who has started a blog about her birding passion, while juggling her life as a mom and wife. Mom’s Big Year.

birds and conservancy program 024

I can really relate to the thrill of making sightings of rare or special birds. Which we enjoy from our vantage point in the woods.

Or another favorite. Threw Mike’s Eyez. Mike is a very talented photographer who posts his take on the local “stuff” here in Howard County. And his wonderful pictures.

I still follow most of the locals using hocoblogs, and I still have a blog that I keep open for reading, to use as inspiration, to get ideas. I am still wading through David Lebovitz . Definitely my inspiration to bake, and to find new places to explore. To write more about the journey and what I see. I do enjoy chronologically following a blog to see how the author adapts, how they mature their writing, how they tackle new subjects, new ideas and new techniques.

Sometimes I think the bloggers are replacing the contributors to magazines. There was a time that I loved to read stories in Gourmet by their best writers. Now, I can find good writing in a few select blogs. Ah, technology and what it has done to us. I’m not complaining. Just adapting.

Check out a few of the blogs on my page that I am reading. Like the Slow Cook. Or Dinner: A Love Story.

pizza 022

Because, you know, I think it may all begin at the family table.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 544 other followers