Monday, June 30, 2014

Bee Stitch and Quail Babies

Design - "June Stamp" (Flip-It)
Designer - Lizzie Kate 
Fabric - 28 count Light Mocha linen
Fibers - GAST & WDW - 2 strands over 2 threads
Started - 24 June 2014
Completed - 26 June 2014

The bees are finally humming about.  I like to think all my bee stitch of late has encouraged them!

Well I promised some baby California Quail photos.  I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos.  The babies are tiny, tiny, tiny, and they quick so they are often a little blur.  And I respect the parents' protective instincts so I am quite far away from the birds and using my maximum zoom.  With that in mind, here goes...

First off kudos to Mama and Papa Quail.
They are amazingly dedicated parents!

Mama and babies. The babies are about the size of a Junco and the cheep like chick (baby chicken). 

Here's Dad with some of the crew.

They are keeping very close to the tall grass and brush at the edge of our berm.

The parents appear equally responsible for the well-being of the babies.

You can see it gets chaotic a times and how difficult it is to accurately count the chicks.

Sometimes Papa Quail flies up on a small tree or bush the better to survey for predators or danger. 

This is, I think so precious!  See the baby tucked under his wing?

Two babies tucked in with Papa.

And three babies with Mama.

Off on a stroll once again.

This is my best shot of the entire family.  I counted ten chicks - six to the left of the parents and four to the right.

Closer up to Mama and some of the chicks.  The Junco in the front right of the photo is useful for size comparison. 

Three babies.  
As young as they are, they already has interesting feather patterns - a stripe down their head and stripes on the wings.

  I think at this point we have two quail families and we may add a couple of more in the next few days.  I have been sadden to see a couple of 'bachelors' - male quail on their own.  While it is possible the females are on the nest, given how often I see them alone, I think it is more likely that they are widowers.

And so not to leave you on that melancholy note... 
Here's an interesting bird lesson (I think anyway!).  I had never thought about it but most songbirds like Robins are born naked and blind and rely on their parents to feed them for several days or weeks before they can fly and feed themselves.  On the other hand, ducks, geese, and quail babies are born with feathers and are able to eat, and swim or fly almost immediately - though they still need their parents' care.  Hatchlings that continue to develop in the nest and rely on their parents' to feed them are altricial. Birds like ducklings and quail which spend longer developing inside the egg, and thus can eat and walk and swim or fly upon hatching are precocial.
Now you know!

One year ago today I blogged about our daytrip to York.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Here's to the Ladies! Yet Another Hummingbird Sunday

The weather is supposed to improve a bit today.
The cats say they will keep to their 'normal' schedule as follows:  
Awake and active from 5am-10am. 
Breakfast at 6:30am 
Nap from 10am-12 noon.  
Short break for kibble and water.  
Nap from 12:30-4:30pm.  
Active from 4:30-7:00pm 
Dinner 5:30pm.  
Nap from 7-8pm. 
Dinner 8pm. 
Active from 8-9:30pm.  
Sleep 9:30pm-5am. 
Repeat daily.

I thought I'd feature my hummers again this Sunday, and also show photos of my feeders.

This is my newest feeder.  The 1/2 bowl with the sugar water lifts up and so is easy to clean and refill. It is attached to the kitchen window and is just above my white three tier sedum stand.  While it took a good long while for the hummingbirds to find and use this feeder, it is now in regular use.

Looking at the photos I've taken it appears to be a favorite of the female Rufous Hummingbirds who perch on the red rim while drinking.

As you can see she has a green back with a bit of brown, a white belly with brown sides, and the tiniest bit of red iridescent feathers on the center of her throat.  

Her wings are gray/brown in color.

The ruffled feathers indicate she's irritated...

In this photo she's gone from irritated to Just Plain Mad!
She's probably about ready to fly and run off an interloper.

I've noticed that most of my photos of birds on the Back Patio are female Rufous.  

Working a blue salvia...

You can see the red throat patch. I like how her legs appear to dangle as she hovers.

Working a red salvia.

Here is a female Anna's Hummingbird. She's working on an aloe.

I have two of these feeders on the Front Porch - one on each end.
They are glass and so are easy to clean. They are bee-proof and wasp-proof too which is important as summer heats up in late July and into August. Notice that they also have a perch rim. I find the birds hang out longer at the feeders if they can 'rest' on the rim rather than having to hover while drinking.

The Front Porch seems to be Anna's Territory!

This is a rather feisty female Anna.  She too has gray/brown wings. But her back is entirely green, and her belly is white with a touch of green. No brown in sight.    

She also has few iridescent throat feathers. 

She was perched in a nearby Acer making sure no one else used 'her' feeder!
Next time I'll have to make sure I have some photos of the 'guys' to share with you.

One year ago I blogged about the "at home" cats and teased about our Day Trip Adventure with the World-Famous blogger, Mouse!  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sleepy Saturday

With gray skies and rain (1.2") the past few days the cats are in Full Sleep Mode.

The birds, on the other hand, seem unaffected.
 We have two Violet-Green Swallow families now. This parent flew in to feed the babies, and is 'cleaning house' (baby poop) before flying off again. One year we had a Barn Swallow nest on the back porch.  The parents taught the chicks to poop over the edge of the nest - so clever! 

The Black-capped Chickadees have raised their families and are slowly returning to the feeders.  I had a Chestnut-Backed Chickadee at a backyard feeder yesterday. 

AS I mentioned, we are sleepy!

The California Quail are busy, busy, busy too.  We have at least two new families complete with chicks.  I'll have photos on Monday's post.

The males become hyper-vigilant once there are chicks.

There does seem to be an over-riding theme for today's post!

One year ago today Mom and I visited the Pompeii special exhibition at the British Museum and I blogged further about our visit to Sissinghurst the pervious day.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bees and Dragonflies and Reptiles

Design - "Happy Summer" (freebie)
Designer - Homespun Elegance
Fabric - 25 count raw Dublin linen
Fibers - DMC - 2 strands over 2 threads
Started - 20 June 2014
Completed - 22 June 2014 

I made several small changes to this pattern.  I did not stitch the word "summer" that was to appear between the vine and the hive.  Instead I added more leaves and flowers to the vine.  I changed the flowers from blue and pink to all pink and stitched them as eyelets.  I then added the two bee buttons.  I'm pleased with how it turned out.

We'll take a break from birds today and look at some of the other critters that appear in the Summer.

Most folks tend to think of bees as having a pretty bucolic life gathering pollen to process into honey.  

But sometimes bees are taken unaware.  The white spider killed the unsuspecting bee and is taking steps to keep his meal safe at hand.

We've had warm enough weather that dragonflies are out and about.
This one was resting on a stump in the sunshine.

My sister's Dahlia Garden is bordered by a creek on one side, and springs on the three other sides.  One of the small springs has two resident frogs.

The much larger Quarry Pond is home to lots of frogs, and now dragonflies as well. I was disappointed not to see any turtles last time I visited.

Tom-Cat found this nice sized Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer).  It is the largest snake in the Pacific NW and can reach up to 4 feet long! It is non-venomous and kills rodents by constriction and suffocation.  The distinguishing mark for this snake is the dark band that passes through each eye and forms a teardrop mark that extends down to the snake's upper lip. This guy was only about 1 foot long I'd guess. 

One year ago today Mom and I visited Vita Sackville-West's famous garden at Sissinghurst.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Solstice Stitch


Design - "Litha: Summer Solstice" (freebie)
Designer - The Primitive Hare
Fabric - 25 count Vintage Country Mocha Lugana
Fibers - DMC - 2 strands over 2 threads
Started - 22 June 2014
Completed - 23 June 2014

Isn't that just the greatest bee stitch ever? True height of summer warm colors and an interesting design.  If you want to stitch it, here's the link. I've now stitched all three of 2014 freebie designs.  They make a charming series.

We've nice weather once again and lots of birds out and about.

"What's up?," says the Rufous Hummingbird. 

"Up? Well we are certainly up high," say my father and son Acorn Woodpeckers.

Father Acorn is territorial and runs off my Red-breasted Sapsuckers.  I cannot figure out why as they do not compete for food.  The Acorns obviously harvest acorns as well as eat at my suet and peanut feeders.  The Sapsuckers drill wells in live trees for sap.  The two birds are both cavity-nesters, but the Acorns are well established in that area and truly have more competition from the aggressive Starlings than anyone else.

Nonetheless, the Acorn chased off this pretty Sapsucker.

Speaking of pretty birds, I have another, new blurry photo of my Wilson's Warbler to share.  I heard him when I took my Wednesday walk, and the good news is that while I saw one bird, I heard two warblers!

I don't know how many male Flickers I have, but I see them everywhere.
On the ground...

...on the roof...

...and at the peanut feeder.
See the pretty orange shafted tail feathers?

This photo shows all the many different feather patterns.
The back stripes with orange edge, the white rump feathers, the zebra tail feathers, the black top / orange bottom tail feathers, and the polka-dot belly feathers.

Here's another couple with pretty feather patterns.
Mr. and Mrs. Quail.



Puff and Shake!

These newlyweds are still childless. I've had a couple more very brief sightings of quail babies.  So quick and unexpected that I do not as yet have photos to share.  I hope to 'capture' a chick or two in the next few days.

We have our sign up warning folks to be on the look-out! 

One year ago today Mom and I took a ride on the London Eye and I blogged about our visit to Rye the previous day.