Snow piled up under the eaves of the house this winter. Warm weather melted all of the snow in the yard except for this drift next to the house. The center melted away exposing this rodent nest. Some species of rodent had built itsself a nice warm place to spend the winter.
I am wondering how this nest could have been built beneath the hard packed snow. I suppose that a cavern seven or eight inches in diameter was excavated and long grasses hauled in through tiny tunnels. This is in an area that I kept grass short with a lawn mower during the summer. I never cease to be amazed at the structures these creatures build.
At first I didn’t like this shot but the more I looked at it the better it seemed. The scene was crisp and sharp under the bright moonlight. The brightly lit subjects are small in this photo. With the camera exposure set on automatic the shutter was open for several seconds. With the large surounding area dark the light is over exposed. The camera was handheld so edges are not sharp. To me it looks like a faded painting from out of the distant past.
I ventured outside today and strolled by the flower garden. This is only five days after Ground Hog day. To my amazement there in the weeds and grass left over from last fall was this beautiful SnowDrop. I hastely removed most of the unwanted vegetation and broke out the camera. What will be next?
I look out at a flock of birds feeding in the yard. How many are there? My first impression is twenty, no thirty. I begin counting, then something spooks them and they fly up into the tree. I would never know except that I had snapped a photo. Actually there are more than sixty juncos in this picture. Having taken a photo I could enlarge the scene and systematically make a count. If the flock is large and the birds are moving about, snap the shutter.
By the way, notice how these juncos do not crowd each other. They tend to keep at least a peck apart.
This morning I looked out of the kitchen window and was surprized to see this infrequent visitor. This is a Varied Thrush Ixoreus naevius. I see this species about once every four or five years in my yard. Never do I see them this far south except at winter time. Probably a few of them may nest around Cascade reservoir. One summer, many years ago, I happened to visit the panhandle of north Idaho. This was in the thrush’s nesting period and there was an abundance of these birds flying about uttering their territorial and mating calls in a relatively small area.
Arthur Cleveland Bent in his “Life Histories of North American Thrushes, Kinglets, and their Allies” recounts an incident in October 1906 when there were hundreds of Varied Thrush flying high overhead migrating south for the winter. Many present day birders would pay a premium to witness such a sight.
On this fine Christmas day I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a host of Dark-eyed Juncos dining on my Holiday offering. This was just after a snow storm and the birds were hungry. Other birds to arrive this day were Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and a lone Northern Flicker.
Imagine my surprise when I stepped out onto the lawn this afternoon and encountered this little creature. After all, this is the 8th of December and most critters of this type have been in their winter quarters for some time. This species is known as Isabella Tiger Moth Pyrrharctia isabella commonly called Wooly Bear. They hibernate over winter. Special chemicals in their system protect them should they freeze. According to folklore the narrow orange band around the middle indicates a severe winter ahead. A broad band would have indicated a mild winter. Broad band, narrow band, mild weather, severe winter, I think this little guy should have been in his bed weeks ago.
I came upon this fellow about ten years ago in Owyhee county. I stopped and at a distance started shooting with my camera from my car. I advanced and periodically stopped for more pictures until I was about 20 feet away. I got out of the car, leaned over the hood and got some good close pictures. The badger seemed to sense my presence but continued to excavate his burrow. This was a very satisfying ten minutes of my trip.
The North American Bluebird Society has an annual meeting every year at various cities in North America. This year, 2014, Boise, ID was chosen for the second time as host city. The first time was in 1994. The meeting was sponsored by Wild Lens Inc. assisted by the Golden Eagle Audubon Society. Matt Podolski, the gentleman at the extreme left, is President of Wild Lens. Sherry Linn, the lady standing fifth from the right, is President of NABS. Others in the photo are bluebirders from many of the states throughout the U.S.
Two of our field trips were to Prairie and the Owyhees. We observed both Mountain and Western bluebirds which were life birds for many of the folks from east coast states. As an added bonus some held the nestlings during banding operations.
The out-of -state people were amazed at the spectacular scenery, canyons and rock formations at Prairie and high desert juniper and mahogany trees in the Owyhee mountains. The above picture was taken at over 6000′ above sea level. The two rounded peaks in the background are Quicksilver Mountain on Cinnabar Ridge. We are about ten miles south of Silver City. If we were to swing our view about 90 degrees to the right we would see the Snake River Plain some 3000′ below stretching from Weiser to Mtn. Home.
This is my favorite nestbox site for photography. I call this nestbox, “A home with a view.”
Northen Flicker (Red-shafted Race)
This guy flew in while I was eating breakfast this morning. He landed in the old weed-covered flower garden above the rock wall just outside the kitchen window. He was looking for breakfast too.