Monday, August 3, 2015

sky shadows and look-alikes ...

The sky gave us all something else to awe over last night, as if there is not enough in the day ... 
This was the eastern view with a bright blue sky above ...
The trees on the western ridge behind us are painting a fantastical forest on the clouds.
rain clouds lit by the setting sun ...
there are so many new mouths to feed at this time of year ... 
This Junco is busy keeping her two charges fed while she teaches them to hunt.  
They catch on fast but are still dependant on mom.
flying into a nearby bush, these little guys display the same level of alertness as their parents.
This is a young Junco.  It is not easy to identify fledglings as many look so unlike their parents and so much like each other.  Sometimes following them to see who feeds them is the only way to tell.  
this is his parent ... an adult Junco.
Below is a controversial visitor, the European Ring Neck Dove (actually from Africa) which is rapidly making its place in North America after colonizing much of the rest of the world. 
I do not aprove of this species presence on the meadow.  It is large and agressive, hoarding the feeder and gobbling up large amounts of feed.  In some areas, It is actually causing a slight boost in the number of mourning Doves by providing a feeding crowd, but it is proving to be a pest for farmers and grain growers. Native Mourning Doves are smaller and sound somewhat similar. 
However, I can listen to a mourning dove endlessly ... not so much with these...  I understand they taste pretty good.  Squab ...
Our jeuvenile blackbirds are another difficult identification challenge.  The Redwing Males are fairly easy but the brewers are more difficult, although their more grackle shaped tail gives them away.  
Cassins Finches can look so different from picture to picture ... 
above and below...
and are marked so similar to this female redwing below which is much larger.
Some young are unmistakable .... Below is a juvenile hairy woodpecker.  
so who is this? 
and is that natural or a lucky escape
seems to me you've lost your tail feathers little one!?
and you can still fly!  ... you will survive ... Bravo!
do come back to visit our meadow moments and follow our wonder of nature.
till next post ... 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blue moon ...

Tonight's full moon is a blue moon, which by todays most popular definition means "anytime two full moons fall within a calendar month, the second one is called a blue moon".  

 As it turns out, two full moons in a calendar month happens every two and a half years, the length of time it takes the clockwork of the moon to repeat against our solar calendar. Originally the formula for a 'blue moon' was much more complicated and I suspect the interval of time may have been shortened somewhat with this new definition, but this interval sufices for most human speculative purposes.  Once in a blue moon now means something to me .... like a 'fortnight' or 'six weeks' ... 
maybe ignorance was bliss ...
So having recorded the sunset and the rising of the moon, I will wait for a couple of hours till it clears the angle of atmosphore and try again, although I found out that my photos from last night will be "more full" than tonights photos.

On september 28th the moon will be close to the earth in its orbit, causing it to loom large in the sky ... and it will coincide with a total eclipse. That will be worth the chilly visit to the front lawn with the tripod and there will be no swallows to disturb in September.  

I am just learning to 'shoot the moon" .... This is the best pic I could get of the moon tonight in its splendor in our dark sky.  ... using a canon Rebel T2i and 70-300 telephoto lens ... and a tripod of course. Its cold out tonight and it is really bright out there!  We have to be careful exiting the house at night as there are new broods over every door and a bird startled at night is in great danger of injury. 

Losing one of the parents would put the whole family in danger as raising swallows requires both parents at every juncture. The front door hatch are just getting their little heads up and over the edge of the nest ... lol
while this years siblings are practically grownups!
the nest at the back door seemed to have a lot of eggs for a second batch, and there are a lot of heads in there ...
They are so small and fuzzy its hard to focus the camera ... we think there are four.

This is the second brood for this pair and now for three years in a row.  There is no detering them from seeking this heat source and they know we will give in eventually, so they persist and over the years they have won the right to nest where ever they think they might be sucessful.  
I will sign off with this butterfly ... a few of these guys around ... and a pic of a high altitude fly by ...
 can anyone identify this bird?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Let Be or Not

Part of providing sanctuary and promoting ideal conditions for survival always involves little decisions that interfere in some way with the natural processes.  Even the little metal guard that we have protecting our feeders from squirrels and the feeders themselves, tip the balance in favour of immediate survival while they limit opportunity in some way for another species.  The feeders are a poor example, but the little weasel that is able to fit through the holes in the birds nests and chow down on the eggs or fledglings at will is a much better illustration of the dilemma.  

This morning Vince poked his head in the back door to alert me to the fleeting presence of the smaller of the weasel species that frequent our meadow, the same ones that have wrecked so much havoc with the tree swallow nests this year. 

He is small enough to fit easily through the entrance holes of a bluebird nest and once he finds out they are a lunchbox ....  We will be protecting them in some way next season, and will be more aware of this little critters perchance for eggs and chicks.  

Meanwhile, we are cutting the lawn after leaving it fairly long for the summer heat.  The voles have deserted the newly mown open spaces for the thickets and willow clumps that pose as our landscaping.  

We soon found that the menu had changed and this little critter was feeding a den of little rodent eaters on meadow vole of which we have plenty thankfully.  

Last winter we had an unusual combination of ice and snow layers that made the nivean world impenetrable to coyotes and foxes, giving the voles a distinct advantage for a couple of breeding sessions.  They multiplied!    

We are now past the warmest days at elevation, and although we might get a few hot afternoons, the summer is over and August is on the curve that ends with winter.

While this hunting and retrieval was going on, the chipmunks that more than match this little fellows size, do not match his ferocity by a long shot.

So they keep themselves high up in the branches and out of sight.  I suspect they might be able to outrun a weasel, but they aren't exactly lining up to try...

Among the other things going on today, a telltale shell appeared on our doorstep, a sign that the barn swallows at our back door have begun to hatch their second brood.  

They are absolutely unafraid of us, dodging around us to feed and perch,  It's so gratifying to see them raise seven or eight offspring every year ... and she is such a good mom.  

One pair of young swallows have just raised their first brood to the flight school stage, and we find them lined up along the TV cable, safe from predators, undercover and convenient to feed.  there are a couple of dozen at this stage in the yard, so there will be some exciting flight shows as the summer progresses.