Flying lessons soon…

10 05 2015

I photographed Mama Dove and her big babies again on Tuesday of last week. I checked yesterday and everyone has left the nest, but Mama and Papa are in view, behaving like sentinels, so I know the babies are now in their “flying lessons” phase and probably resting safely somewhere in my garden!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MamaDoveBabies

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Nesting

30 04 2015

A Mourning dove has built her nest in a plant pot on the top of my gardening bench. You can see part of one of two babies to her right (black with white streaks). I can’t do my annual cleanup in that area until after flying lessons are given! Isn’t she pretty? (iPhone 6 with Snapseed2)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me…

5 09 2011

I photographed this preening mourning dove through my kitchen window last week.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Ten for 10

21 05 2009

About a half hour before the Green Spring Gardens plant sale was to close this past Saturday, the Virginia Master Gardeners booth started hawking all of their plants as “ten for $10.” Yep…some of the same plants I had purchased about two hours earlier for $5+, much to my chagrin. Reasonable prices before, yes, but at $1 each—what gardener in their right mind would possibly pass on that offer? Never mind if we’ve run out of space in our gardens—they’re a dollar! Just a dollar! We’ve discovered that some of the vendors do that each year so they don’t have to drag all the unsold items back to wherever they originated…and I am only too happy to help them lighten their load.

My 10-for-10 purchases included:

PrimroseOenothera Lemon Drop, common name ‘Evening Primrose’—a low-maintenance, herbaceous perennial that blooms in full sun from June-September. This perennial is tough, tolerates poor soil, and loves the sun. Bright yellow blooms all summer. Deadheading is not necessary, it’s drought and heat tolerant and grows 8-12″ tall. It can also be grown in containers, where it will trail over the sides. And of course I already have some of these in my front yard garden, courtesy of our friend Micheline, who shared them with us when she downsized houses a few years ago. There was a large bank of these cheery flower blooming profusely in her backyard garden. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

AnemoneOne sorta sad-looking (had to rescue it, though) Japanese Aneomone or Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)–-the tag indicates the flowers will be pinkish/mauve, so this might be the variety ‘September Charm.’ This perennial plant bears poppy-like flowers in September and October. The plants reach a height of four to five feet with each flower having five or more petal-like sepals that enclose the golden stamens. The leaves turn wine-red in autumn. Wish this plant luck—it will need it! Photo © Cindy Dyer.


WhiteWoodAsterTwo White Wood Asters (Aster divaricatus)—also known as ‘Eastern Star’—perennial herbaceous native to the eastern U.S. Grows 1-3 feet high with 3/4 to 1-inch white ray flowers that bloom profusely from August to September. The center of each flat-top flower starts yellow then ages to a reddish purple hue. The leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and sharply-toothed. White Wood Asters grow in part shade to full shade, are low-growing and low maintenance, and attract butterflies. They thrive in dry shade but become lush in moist soil. Cut hard at least once in spring to set the foliage back. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Viola striata (other common names: Striped cream violet, Common white violet, Pale violet, Striped violet)—native perennial herb blooms white and purple flowers April through June. Requires part shade and moist, loamy soil. This plant spreads through its rhizomes. Flowers attract bee flies, butterflies (particularly caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies and several species of moths) and skippers. Seeds are eaten by mourning doves, wild turkeys, mice, and rabbits.

MaxSunflowerI should be punished for purchasing another Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). I bought the same plant four years ago because I thought it would be perfect at the bottom of the steps of our front porch. The plant label purported, “cheery little yellow flowers on 4 ft. stems.” Four feet tall—nice size for the front entrance, right? By the end of the summer, visitors were asking us if we were growing corn in the front yard. We measured it and the tallest stalk was about 12 feet high! I just did some research and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site claims they grow 3-10 ft. high. What kind of wild range is that? (Imagine this scenario: Officer: Ma’am, how tall was the man who stole your wheelbarrow? Me: Ummm…he was three feet tall….then again, he might have been ten feet tall. I can’t be certain!) The plant grows Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high and then very late in the summer it sprays forth masses of miniature (2-3 inches across) yellow sunflowers that are at their most beautiful when they sway against a cornflower blue sky. And if I really want to get some good closeup shots of the blooms, I have to drag out the tall ladder to do so! Did I need another of these plants? No. But it was only a buck! Anyone have room in their garden for it? Photo © Cindy Dyer.

EchinopsRitroGlobe Thistle (Echinops ritro)—Clump-forming herbaceous perennial with coarse, prickly leaves (and how!) with 1-2 ball-shaped silvery-lavender-blue or dark blue flowerheads blooming in early to late summer on rigid branching stems 24-48 inches tall. These beautiful ornamentals grow best in full sun to mostly sunny areas, attract bees and butterflies, are good for cut flowers (and dried bouquets as well), will tolerate the heat and are deer resistant. And yes, I already have one—it’s about three years old and is the size of a small shrub already. I expect a plethora of blooms this season. Photo © Cindy Dyer.

SnowonthemountainSnow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)—I photographed this beautiful annual plant at Green Spring Gardens last year and posted the images on my blog here. A member of the spurge family, it flowers in the summer. Reaching 18-24 inches high, it requires sun to partial shade, and will attracts a plethora of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and other insects—a veritable photographic smorgasbord! Now I’ll have one of my very own…once I find a place to plant it, that is. Folks, it was just a dollar, remember? Photo © Cindy Dyer.


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)—This tough native is deer-resistant and provides food for larval butterflies. Clusters of sweet-scented white flowers appear on 1-2 foot stalks in June and July. Whorled milkweed can be found in prairies, pastures, open woods and by the roadside. Learn more about attracting Monarch butterflies to your garden (and purchase milkweed seeds, too) at www.happytonics.org.

Salvia

‘Ostfriesland’ Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)—also known as Violet Sage, Ornamental Meadow Sage, Perennial Woodland Sage—this sun-loving herbaceous perennial grows 12-18 inches high with fragrant violet-blue flowers blooming from summer to autumn. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and deer resistant. I couldn’t find this version in my files or a suitable one to reprint, so I’m showing a similar salvia I photographed at Butchart Gardens. Photo © Cindy Dyer







Westheimer Avian Conference

10 01 2009

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

I shot this image the first evening of our road trip back to Virginia while we were at a stop light on Westheimer in Houston (I confess—we were just leaving a Half Price Books & Records store—I bought just three books, I promise—and they were all just $1 each from the clearance section). This was just one small section of telephone wire at the intersection and the area was clearly a magnet for birds. There were thousands of birds lined up on every wire! I shot about 20 shots through the window before the light turned green. (Michael was driving, by the way, so I didn’t put anyone at risk.)

I came across an interesting essay that answers the question, “Why do birds form large winter roosts and flocks?” on the Sibley Nature Center blog.

Love birds? Check out this bird-filled post here from my July 2008 archives, this post here on chicadees from summer of 2007, and this post here on mourning doves from spring of 2007.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.   

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Birds of a feather…

6 07 2008

This afternoon, after lunch at Austin Grill, Regina, Jeff, Michael, and Nancy (Michael’s sister) and I went to check out the Hidden Pond Nature Center just down the road from the restaurant. Jeff had noticed the sign for it some time ago and wanted to check it out. Hidden Pond encompasses 25 acres, and is a little gem of a place with a peaceful duckweed covered pond and lots of turtles, dragonflies, frogs, snakes, rabbits, and birds. We saw every one of these critters during our visit. Regina discovered the snake (I walked right past it and it was less than two feet away from me!) and a giant bullfrog. We spent at least 45 minutes in the visitor’s center, watching various birds land on the bird feeders just outside the 2-story building. The nature center staff members were very helpful and even offered me a chair and opened the window near the feeders so I could have an unobstructed view while shooting. They said visitors rarely stay as long as we did to watch the birds, so they were quite helpful. I was able to get some nice shots of a variety of birds. It is so close by that we’ve vowed to go back again soon. Below: Mourning dove, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, female Cardinal, Northern House Wren, female House Finch (thanks, Regina!), male Cardinal, American Goldfinch, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. (If you are an avid birder and I have identified any of these incorrectly, please enlighten me!).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.