Showing posts from 2012

Turning Seasons: Fall's Here!

With our cool summer, I was reluctant to admit that fall was almost here.  I was hanging on, trying to soak up every ounce of summer I could find over the last few weeks.  But fall has wedged its way into my consciousness and, with a sigh, I'm reminded of everything I love about it: days still warm and sunny, cool nights, crisp air, and the wheeling migration of hawks passing through, shorebirds returning from the north, and white- and yellow-crowned sparrows returning for the winter.  We went apple picking on Sunday and feasted on apple pie last night and applesauce in my oatmeal this morning.  The apples in the picture had to be used right away.  We have a bag squirreled away in the garage for future pies, salads, and fresh eating.

The Usual Suspects: Backyard Birds in Summer

Summer is in full swing in our little corner of Alameda.  Though our grass is a sea of dust and exposed sprinkler pipe, the birds don't seem to mind it in the least.  A small family of house sparrows along with the local towhees are frequent visitors.  They hop about pecking invisible weed seeds, insects, and have even deigned it the best spot for a nice dust bath.  Our yellow lab looks on quizzically as they flounder and flutter, digging themselves a nice trough with their beaks, feet and wings.  They wallow and fling the dust.  I almost expect them to writhe on their backs in the ecstasy of this sea of warm dirt.  When they take off, they leave little trails of dust in the air following them, mini-contrails.

The towhees are special favorites of mine.  I've nicknamed one of the adults Whitewing,  It has two distinctive, small white feathers on its closed wings.  It's nesting somewhere in the neighborhood this year, but not in our yard.  It nested in the Camellia tree a fe…

Blog Expansion

Like mycelium quietly expanding underground, my blog life will be meeting up with a couple of public blogging opportunities soon!  In this wonderful winter season with inspiration from camellias to wintering song birds, to mushrooms and beach walks after a storm, I get to write a blog for KQED QUEST and also an occasional blog for Alameda Patch.  I'll have to take my writing up a notch for KQED after reading some of their posted blogs.  It should be fun, though, to write for a larger readership (though I appreciate those of you following this little blog - yes, I know all four of you - which I can't even find when I try searching for it!).  I've been lately inspired by all of the mushrooms popping up like winter wildflowers after the latest rains.  There are so many different species - one report claimed many hundreds compared to just 35 kinds of oaks.  I've been researching mushroom lifestyles - lifestyles of the dirt-poor, spore-fungi and they are fascinating!  I wis…

Winter Gifts

Though Christmas has come and gone, there are still many winter gifts to enjoy.  Around the East Bay two of my favorites are thriving in this dry, La Nina season.  The camellia trees are painting yards around town with showy flowers that attract some of my favorite birds.  Among the camellia's shiny, large green leaves, Audubon's warblers, also called yellow-rumped warblers or sometimes just "butter butts," are hopping from flower to flower catching insects.  It's almost like watching a circus show on these clear, crisp mornings with flashes of yellow, white, and black as the small birds work through the  red flowers and bright green foliage.  The birds have an unusual adaptation to being able to digest waxy berries such as wax myrtles and bayberries allowing it to winter further north than other warbler species.  On the East Coast, they winter as far north as Newfoundland where the waxy berries persist into winter.  They're in the Bay Area mostl…