Sunday, August 8, 2010

Early Summertime

So much has happened lately! I should note that one of the things was a mishap with my internet service…not all of which has been corrected! At any rate, at least I can write here…now.

Folks still stop in from time to bird my yard. As always, Zeus keeps an eye on everybody...and makes lots of friends. It is not at all unusual for people I don't even know to jog by my house and call out a hello to him. He's got more friends than I do.

I finally found my first Gray Catbird!
I knew they were in the yard…I’ve heard them many times. Perhaps because there is a nest nearby, I have spotted at least one several times now. This bird wears some of the fanciest underwear I’ve ever seen on a bird! At least, and because of that beautiful rufous underside, I was able to ID the bird easily. Like the Science Guy says (in his comment below), this is all one usually sees of a catbird.

I had a couple dozen Black-headed Grosbeaks here about two weeks ago; several families with their youngsters. It is wild to watch the young, spiky-headed, patchwork-feathered fledglings, which are every bit as big as their parents (or larger), flutter their wings and beg for food…even while sitting on a pile o’seed! Kids…

I guess Evening Grosbeaks nest later than do their cousins the Black-headed Grosbeaks. The Black-headed babies have come and gone for the most part, while the last few days my yard has had an explosion of the Evening variety, which I have missed the last month or two. I wonder where they go while they (obviously) create and raise their families. Now they’re here, punk-doed fledglings in tow; begging and trilling in their sweet voices that are only Evening of the few birds I recognize by ear alone. They sound to me like the trill of a sports whistle blown with a short, soft breath; lovely. They are here by the dozens again and I love it.

Also fledged are lots and lots of Pine Siskins and House Finches. The young House Finches always remind me of Horned Larks with their downy heads all spiked up. The new siskins are beautiful in fresh, dark, stripy coats with significant bits of yellow; they're psychedelic stunners. Wavy Gravy?

Lastly, we have had a lot of rain. Could the drought be over? Rumor has it that Friday we had the best (worst?) storm in twenty years! All I know is, the pit which will become my pond (when it gets finished & lined) is already holding some six inches of water.
The dragonflies have found it…including several huge Twelve-spotted Skimmers. I understand these are common dragons; according to my research they are found across the country…but this is the first time I’ve seen one. Know wonder birders often also become listers of butterflies and dragonflies. They remind me of old bi-planes. I’ve just realized my pond, when it is finally finished, could be a draw for more than just birds, frogs and salamanders. Yippieeeeeeeeeee!!!

About that pond...I finally got the dirt to cover the rip-rap I piled on the far side (from the kitchen window.) That's where the biological filter will go; it's a horse trough with filtering medium at the bottom and will be full of floating plants. It will also be the beginning of the waterfall, completing the cycle of circulating water for the pond. Right now, it's still just a pile (nearly 30 tons) of dirt; but the birds like it. For some reason, it's drawn in the White-winged Dove and another...the Mourning Dove I hardly ever see any more. Sweet!

Most photos from Wikipedia...the dragon shots are mine.
Zeus & friends is from a friend.


sciencedude288 said...

Gray catbirds are one of those birds, like the rufus piha and antbird in the tropics, which you are more likely to hear than see. This is largely due to their cryptic coloration and preference for thick brush.

Beverly said...

Yup, and I think I'm pretty lazy about looking for stuff I wouldn't recognize. I found a video (and put it in the post) that illustrates your point pretty well.

Thanks for visiting!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

These are all swell, but that little Grosbeak is absolutely ADOREABLE~ Very nice entry~

Beverly said...

Thank you so much Mary. I'm so glad you visited...following your name's link to your own web-pages, I was tickled to find your beautiful photographs and lovely stories. I think your friends are right; your property must surely be magical. And you caught that in your photographs. Thanks again...

Chas S. Clifton said...

We are getting a new influx of evening grosbeaks too. What's with that? Never had them around so much of the summer as this year.

Beverly said...

I dunno Chas, but lots of people have decided La Veta is the Evening Grosbeak capitol of the world. LOL

I have had as many as 50 on the ground in the wintertime...but hadn't seen them in about a month when they all suddenly returned with youngsters in tow.

It seems they must breed about two weeks after the Black-headed variety, as two weeks ago we were inundated with those fledglings ...and now they're gone!

Bosque Bill said...

Enjoyed your post, as usual. Good to get the news on your yard. Looking forward to hearing your pond adventures.

Love that you've got dragonflies. I've started photographing dragonflies and other "bugs" this summer after seeing the images others have taken. Using a telephoto lens as a macro lens allows for some interesting images.

Beverly said...

Yeah, if only I had a good lens! Actually, those shots were taken through the kitchen window...which is draped with bird netting.

I'll get better...

Thanks, Bill! It's a blast to go through your are getting really, really good; and SO MANY birds!