Apr 22, 2010

Exciting Discoveries - Loggerhead Shrike

First things first, I apologize to any new visitors that have already heard about this. I haven't had a chance to share with my regular blog readers the exciting discovery. Then we will be back to less exciting but no less magical news.

As some of you may know from reading my blog or otherwise, I am a hobby birder. I have been birdwatching at my feeders for more than 10 years now. The last few years I have been going out and more actively birding but I am still quite an amateur when it comes to field IDs.

Last Saturday, I was out and about when I noticed a bird that I hadn't seen before. This in itself is not a surprise. The first time I noticed a Horned Grebe was a few weeks back but I am sure I have gone by them before. Being the photo enthusiast that I am, I went back on Sunday to take photos. The little bugger posed perfectly for me. I was tickled that I had such a great photo opportunity but when I got home I couldn't find an ID for him. Since I couldn't ID the photo, I posted it on my Fotki account with a number of other birds I wanted identified and sent the link off to my local birding club.

After dozens of emails back and forth with several members, we have identified my mystery bird as a Loggerhead Shrike. This bird is a casual visitor in Michigan and rare to my specific locality other than occasional sightings during migration. This has been very exciting for many birding enthusiasts in the area. Hopefully, our shrike sticks around to breed.

A little tidbit that was shared with me by a fellow birder, Jon W. He said that this bird is also known as "Butcherbird due to the fact that it will impale its prey on thorns, barbed wire etc." Gross but interestingly clever none the less.

Here are some photos for you all to enjoy.

Many thanks to Jon, Matt, Tim and Scott for helping to ID my bird and educating me on this fantastic bird!


Apr 19, 2010

Macro Monday - Spring Delights

I had quite a grand adventure the last couple of days and plan on going an another tomorrow. The downside is I am completely worn out and not feeling very much like writing. I hope you don't mind if I hold off on the story telling until later this week and just share a few photos of our spring delights blooming in southwest Michigan. Some of these photos are for Macro Monday. For more macro entries, please visit http://lisaschaos.com/.

Cherry blossoms

Crab Apple blossoms

A different Crab Apple tree blooming.

Lilac... Mmm does this ever smell divine.

Pheasant Eye Daffodil

Not really a hardy MI plant but blooming on my deck is this Fuchsia.


Apr 18, 2010

Gone to Pot

Yesterday was a long but good day on the deck. I have a number of plants in various planters. We spent all afternoon re-potting them. We still have some daylilies that need to be transplanted but all the rest got taken care of. I also went out and bought some herbs so they got potted too. I want to put more in but for now, these are the staples I use most frequently. They went in planters on my deck just outside the kitchen.

Provence Lavender
Thai Basil
Sweet Basil
Greek Oregano
Pineapple Sage
German Thyme

Next is the vegetable garden. I am debating where to put the new bed. We were looking at outside the fenced part of our yard but then we run the risk of rabbits, deer and other garden foraging crittters getting in. But if we stick it in the fenced in area we run the risk of the chickens and ducks foraging in it. One way or another we are going to need to do some creative planning. There will be more on the veggie garden later.

For now, here are some photos of the deck.


Apr 17, 2010

Camera Critters - Wild Thing

Wild rabbit photo shoot. This little bunny was hanging out in my neighbor's front yard. Thanks P. for letting me use your yard as a backdrop for my photography.

For more Camera Critter entries, please visit: http://camera-critters.blogspot.com/.


Apr 13, 2010

More Paparazzi Shots

I hope I am not boring you with my bird photos. Work has become time consuming as we prepare for the end of tax season. I have been cleaning, doing inventory, fielding questions and juggling last minute filers. When I come home I just want to relax but have been working on laundry and chores that have gone unattended. But fear not my faithful readers. I only have two more days of tax work and then I am done until January 2011. Woohoo! In the meantime, please enjoy these magically mundane photos of birds in my backyard.

Let's see what we can find in here...

What are you looking at?

Fine. I will show you my "good" side.

This sunflower seed is tasty. Wanna try some?

I'm a model, you know what I mean

And I do my little turn on the birdwalk

I shake my little tush on the birdwalk.

Hopefully, Right Said Fred doesn't mind me borrowing and altering these lyrics. *grins*


Apr 12, 2010

Macro Monday - Mellow Yellow Blossoms

This is a two-for-one blog meme. Usually, I just do the Macro Monday but it just so happens that my macro photos are also yellow blooms. I have a few blogging buddies who do the Mellow Yellow Monday meme so I thought this week I would play along.

So, if you would like to see more macro entries, please visit: http://lisaschaos.com/. If you would like to see more yellow entries, please visit: http://mellowyellowmonday.blogspot.com/. I hope you take the time to visit both. Have a mellow yellow macro sort of day.

Daffodils in cowgirl boot glass.

Close up view. I love how there is one different in this bunch. Honestly, that why I picked this bouquet. It makes me think of the Sesame Street song "One of These Things". Here is a link if you need a reminder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueZ6tvqhk8U.

Perny Holly (Ilex pernyi) blossoms.

White Hyacinth and Yellow Holly blooms make for a sharp contrast against the green backdrop.


Apr 11, 2010

Backyard Birding Paparazzi Style

I haven't had a whole lot of time to play with my new camera. I have had it for over a month now but I have been busy with work. This weekend I managed to get time to do some birding. And I got to use my telescopic lens, 70-300mm. I wish I could afford one that went up to 500 but it isn't in my price range at the moment.

This impromptu birding adventure was all due to a cold mixed with my allergies believe it or not. I was so miserable I had the hardest time sleeping Friday night. I had even slathered myself in Vick's. Finally, I gave up on sleeping at about 6:00 am Saturday morning. Now anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that it is a rare occasion when I am up that early, let alone of my own volition. So by time 7:30 am rolls around I am ready for work and I don't have to be in to work until 10 am. What's a girl supposed to do with all this extra time? Well if you're this girl, you go fetch your camera and start stalking your backyard denizens. Yes, I am the wildlife paparazzi.

This has got to be my favorite bird photo I have ever taken. I love how this male house sparrow cocked his head as the shutter went off.

Peekaboo, I see you! Female House Sparrow

"Aww man! right when I had my mouth full!"

American Robin in neighbor's vineyard.

Another American Robin on fence post.

European Starlings, the one is being shy. Can you see her?

"Hey I am not a bird! Go back to stalking the feathered friends."

I know this isn't a bird (or squirrel) and they weren't off in the distance like all the rest of the featured celebrities were. However, I couldn't resist these tulips. Using the telescopic lens on a close by object gives it the rosy glow of the morning sun without me be right next to it and casting any shadow or light variation. I was very pleased with this particular experiment.


Apr 10, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

The weeping cherry has been blooming for days now but I wasn't able to take photos. Why? Because Mother Nature said so. You see, they started blooming as we got hit by spring thunderstorms. There was no way I was going to be taking my new camera out in the torrential downpour we had. At least they were still blooming by time it cleared up.

Our Weeping Cherry tree

Arching branches of white blossoms against the blue sky.

Close up of the blossoms

This is what the buds looked like last week.

Two kinds of tulips blooming beside the house.