Friday, July 31, 2009

The Oregon Grape

This morning, I was walking from the community college parking lot to the Student Services Building for an appointment with a Student Adviser. Yes, I am working my way through the maze of appointments and red tape paperwork with a view to re-entering college after a 31 year break.
That's a story in itself, but what I wanted to post about was this beautiful plant that was growing in the landscape all along the pathways of the college campus.
I've seen this shrub many times, but have never been certain what it is, so today I decided to do some research by names that I thought it might be and sure enough, it is the Oregon Grape. After identifying it from the photo I had taken (with my iPhone), I looked it up in Wiki and found out all kinds of interesting facts about it that I never knew before.
The Oregon Grape is related to the Barberry, not grapes.
Its very hardy, drought resistant and the berries attract the birds.
It is edible, though not very sweet.
It can be made into jellies and wine, if a lot of sugar is added.
The root has many medicinal properties - the two most noted being anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
And, besides all that, it makes a beautiful and useful landscaping plant requiring little maintenance! Sounds good to me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

100 DEGREES ! ! !

My word! It keeps getting hotter and hotter and hotter! Its 5:45pm and the thermometer reads 100 degrees in the shade!
This afternoon I finally turned the cool air on in the house and am trying to keep hydrated with refridgerated watermelon and iced tea!
I've refilled the water cooler for the birds twice today to keep it cool for them. They are still coming to the feeders and eating in the cherry tree and from the seed heads of the weeds.
On my walk yesterday, I noticed that the trees along the river are fairly vibrating with bird songs because they are all hanging out there where its cooler - as are a lot of people!
Birds are still nesting - I saw a two house finch couples pulling cotton from the cotton ball this morning. At this rate, I might be worried about the eggs getting too hot!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wings and Beaks - a new blogger in town

I've added a new blog to the list of those that I am following and I would like to introduce...
Wings and Beaks
Take a minute and stop by to encourage this new blogger.

Bird Seed

I just used the last of my thistle seed and will have to
get some soon. The gold finches love it - of course we all know that :)
I mix it with finely chopped sunflower seeds to make it go farther.
I'm almost out of black oil seeds - will buy some more at the same time.
But, I have a bag of shelled peanuts that I bought months ago, and it is hardly used!
I wonder why I'm not getting the birds that enjoy peanuts?
Any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cherries, Cherries, and more Cherries!

A couple of weeks ago, I was excited to see the cherries and blueberries coming on my garden. Since then, I've been away and was pretty sure that I would have missed the best part of the season or that the birds would have devoured them all.
To my surprise, today, I went out to find that there are plenty of cherries perfectly ripe and they are absolutely delicious! ! !
This tree has 3 different kinds of cherries grafted in - what they are, I do not know. I do know that I will not be able to enjoy even a 10th of the produce - I have no way of getting up to the top but, that's ok. The birds have wings and can get there easily and I don't mind sharing with them, at all :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seen with Birder's Eyes

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Washington

Three years ago, I was in Long Beach, Wa. and was doing some sight-seeing around the area. I forgot about these photos until today when I saw them on the screen saver of the family's computer.
When I took the photos, I wasn't a 'Birder'. I liked birds, was interested in them, but just thought it was cool to watch them dive from high in the air without thought of trying to identify them.
As you probably know, you can't be a 'Birder' for long when 'indentification' becomes a passion! So, today, 3 years later, looking at these photos with 'Birder's eyes', my automatic response was, "WHAT ARE THOSE BIRDS???"
I looked them up in the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, an excellent resource, and found out that they are Brown Pelicans.
I still remember standing there, enchanted at the sight of these birds flying and diving into the water. Hmmm... makes me want to go back and see it all over again.

(You can click the images to view enlarged photo)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mini Garden of Eden?

(These are photos I took this afternoon in my garden. The day is heavily overcast - just after a thunder and lightening storm. The photos are untouched.)

Its one of my favorite times of year since moving into this house 6 years ago. I'll never forget the first summer as I was anticipating the fruit of each tree and shrub to ripen. There are many mature fruit trees planted here and when we moved in on March 3rd, 2003, I didn't know for sure what each tree would produce. It was wonderful to find 3 cherry trees, 2 Italian plum trees, a summer plum, a bosc pear, gravenstien apple and a few others. In addition, we found blueberry shrubs, raspberry plants and huckleberry.
This year, I've not been paying attention to the fruit trees or berries. I've been distracted with other matters and so today when I went out to smell the air after one of our rare thunder and lightening storms, I was so thrilled to see the blueberries are already ripening and the cherry trees are loaded - almost ready! From today until the fruit season is over, its my habit to go out in the garden and pick the fresh blueberries and cherries and eat them right then. It is such a satisfying experience - I'm in the midst of my roses, surrounded by greenery, clean air and eating fresh, vine-ripened fruit. Food for the body and food for the soul - can't beat it!
***For the rest of the story, please go to

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Congratulations! ! !

Today I wish to recognize 3 of my birder photographer friends. Each of them had photos featured in the current edition of the Minnesota Birding Magazine. I have enjoyed and admired their photography through their blogs and it is no surprise that they have been given such an opportunity.

Richard Phillips from At The Water - half page photo inside the magazine:

Lynne from Hasty Brook - photo featured on the back cover of the magazine:

Ivars Krafts from Ivar's Birds - photo featured on the front cover of the magazine
and another inside

Congratulations to each of you!
Thank you for sharing your talents with us!