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.

DoveBabyLorez





Craft project: Bird nest necklace

6 04 2010

I made these bird nest pendants for the gals in my wedding. They were made just like the cooper wire ones I made for Michael and his groomsmen here. My friend Kathy models one I made for her in the photo at right.

Silver wire and dyed freshwater pearls were woven to form a bird’s nest. Special thanks to blogger Cathe Holden for posting her great tutorial on how to make these sweet little bird nests.

Once I make the loops to hang them on chains, I’ll be distributing them to all the gals in the wedding party—Karen B, Debbie, Kelley, Lauren, Deanna, Nancy, Carmen, Norma, Karen W and Macie. Unfortunately, I didn’t have them finished to give to them out that weekend. Hence our wedding theme—“better late than never!”

You can see the latest photos I’ve posted from the wedding on our wedding blog here. Many more photos to come!





Giant Antarctic Petrel

4 01 2010

The giant petrel is the largest flying bird in Antarctica. Like the skua, it is a predator. These increasingly rare birds lay eggs in October and the eggs hatch in January. There is actually a rather large baby chick directly behind this bird in the background. I got one other shot of the mother and baby from another angle, but had to be careful not to stay too long or get too close. I used my 80-200 lens for this shot, so I was quite a distance away (and face down on the ground to get the eye level shot!). There were two adults and two chicks with them at Hannah Point, where this photo was taken. According to Guillaume Dargaud on his Antarctic Birds site, “the giant petrel is the largest of the 95 species of petrel and also the longest living one. A bird tagged in 1952 is still alive.” I also learned that the giant petrel is commonly known as a “stinker” because of its habit of vomiting on any one or thing that approaches them and appears to impose a threat. (Thank goodness for long lenses!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Stinging scoundrels

12 07 2009

Earlier this week I ventured out, camera in hand, with some trepidation—just to see if I could get a clandestine photo of the bat rastards (actually, just one stung me) that chased me into the house last week. I’m fairly confident they’re Eastern yellowjackets. I didn’t want to get too close to the nest (for fear they recognize my behind), so this is more “record shot” than art! (Oh, the things I do to entertain my visitors!)

Yes, I know they need to be removed from the garden if I’m ever to be able to work out there again. I can’t do it myself (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is I don’t like killing anything—even if it did sting me), so Michael is taking up the task. Read the details of my attack in my posting here.

Here’s something alarming I read on Wikipedia:

Yellowjackets are social hunters living in colonies containing workers, queens, and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late spring or early summer, select a nest site, and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-summer, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense.

(Here’s the really alarming part below)

From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 and 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 and 15,000 cells in late summer. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult reproductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter. Parent colony workers dwindle, usually leaving the nest and die, as does the foundress queen. Abandoned nests rapidly decompose and disintegrate during the winter but can persist as long as they are kept dry but are rarely used again.

Now I highly doubt that 4,000 workers could possibly fit in this small decorative birdhouse, but then again I was surprised that even the eight that I did see could fit. I’ve managed to water the garden in spurts over the past few days, but always with a wary eye to the left side of the garden. So far, no more keister bites! Flashback: the only other time I was stung by something was when I was about eight years old. My younger sister and I were playing house in the front yard. We were hanging sheets over the bushes outside our bedroom window, pretending to do laundry I suppose (we had strange ideas about what was considered fun when were kids, didn’t we?). I unknowingly tossed my sheet over a yellowjacket nest. Yes, yellowjackets. Déjá vu.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.   http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

BatRastards





I know what you can get me for my next birthday…

10 07 2009

TreeBedYes, I am fully aware that $15,000 is pretty pricey for a bed frame, but if just 15,000 of my currently 82,733 blog visitors chipped in just $1 each, I could sleep in this bed every night! Imagine that. (I didn’t account for tax and shipping charges, though—this thing must weigh quite a bit. Does anyone have a large truck?)

Of course, it might bring on recurring nightmares about the snake-and-doomed-robin-chick episode of last week that I posted here. The scene atop the bed looks eerily familiar. You see, I have this visual penchant for trees, leaves, nests, feathers, birds and eggs. Oh, and sleep. That’s a good thing, too. So, this present would combine four of those faves of mine in one simple gift. And you don’t even have to wrap it! Oh, and I’ll provide the linens, so no need to fret about including those.

Then again, $15,000 would buy at least three of the pricier prime Nikon lenses that I don’t already have but certainly still lust after. (Which ones, you ask? Oh, say the 600mm f/4D IF-ED II, the 200-400mm VR f/4 AF-S, and maybe the 200mm Micro f/4D IF-ED, in case you were curious or just taking notes.)

Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Hmmmm. What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves. I’m sure I’ll love whatever you get me.

Take a look at artist Shawn Lovell’s other metal creations on her website here. Beautiful work!





Requiem for a baby robin

1 07 2009

Not too long ago, a mama robin fashioned a beautiful nest at the top of the gazebo outside my office door. From my chair in front of the computer I could watch her come and go. I wasn’t sure if she was sitting on unhatched eggs or already mothering a hatched baby. Early this morning, after she left for her morning food gathering mission (I assume), I tapped on the gazebo and heard some faint chirping. I pulled out the ladder and climbed up to get a peek (camera in hand, of course). The gazebo has a grapevine growing over it and the area she had built the nest is well hidden by branches and leaves. We also put up one of those light nets that you put over bushes at Christmas so we could have mood lighting during parties. I wasn’t able to get up high enough to look down on the nest, so I just slipped my lens through the net, put the camera over my head, pointed it in the general direction, and snapped away. I got this not-that-great photo of her solitary sweet baby this morning.

About an hour ago, while we were watching a movie, Michael heard a bird chirping loudly and since birds don’t normally make much noise at night, we knew something was dreadfully wrong. Had the baby fallen out of the nest? Had Indie, a neighborhood cat, come into the yard and seen the baby? We ran downstairs, turned on the porch light and watched the mama bird hopping from branch to branch under the gazebo, chirping away. As soon as we opened the door, mama flew to the fence. We looked on the ground; no fallen baby. I looked up—and gasped—was that the curvy outline of a SNAKE? Yes, it was. I hollered to Michael. He went to grab a flashlight and grabbed the (black) snake by the head and pulled it out of the nest, banishing it (unharmed) to the woods nearby. Had we known the baby was already gone, I would have taken the dead bird and the snake out to the woods. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I would never kill one (unless it was attacking me, that is) and I always discourage my snake-fearing friends from doing just that when they encounter one. I respect them but really…go feast on something else…and not in my yard!

I climbed the ladder to see if the baby was still alive. It was too late. I pulled its still warm but lifeless body out of the nest and began crying. Michael came back and we gave the baby bird a proper burial in the garden. Just 12 hours ago I was photographing an almost-ready-to-leave-the-nest baby and now we were burying it in our garden. I realize snakes need to survive, too, but it’s just such a sad thing to witness so soon after photographing it. Of course, when you build a paradise in your backyard, you’re bound to attract all sorts of wildlife, including the predators. I wish I had a better photograph to honor this sweet baby who lived such a short life. A short life, long remembered.

Speaking of snakes…a few years ago Michael was driving home through our neighborhood and noticed a U.S. postal truck that had stopped in the middle of the road. There was a group of kids on a nearby curb watching our postman beating the crap out of a harmless black snake! Michael gave him a lecture about black snakes and promptly rescued it, taking it to the woods to release it (although I’m sure it didn’t survive the postman’s wrath). The snake was simply slithering into the woods (as snakes are inclined to do) and the postman turned into animal control. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Michael came home from work, then walked across the parking lot to get the mail from the communal post box. The mailman came running over, shouting “do you have a shovel?!” Michael asked him, “what in the world do you need a shovel for?” He said, “there’s a snake over there and I ran over him a couple of times with the truck but he’s still not dead!” Michael walked over and looked at the snake. Once again, it was a harmless black snake. And guess what? It was the same damn postman, too. When Michael came back in to the house, he told me what had transpired. He was mad, which in turn made me mad. I called the local post office to register a complaint. The man who answered said he would be the one to report to, so I told him both stories. I gave him our address so he was able to pinpoint exactly which mailman I reporting. He said, “that is so not his responsibility nor his job. Plus, doesn’t he know that snakes keep the rat population down?” He apologized for the man’s behavior and said he would speak to him about the incidents.

Obviously Michael is the calm one in this relationship. It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter the postman either time!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baby Robin