Sunday, March 29, 2020

Spring Song

Do you have a special thing that tells you spring is really here? I do, and the pretty white-throated sparrow above is it. It's not so much seeing one, because they are around my region in winter, it's the song they sing in spring.  Click to enlarge.

Birdwatchers remember the song with a phrase that mimics its cadence and syllable count: Po-or Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody...   Po-or Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody...

The song is a loud, clear, attention-getting whistle that stands out among the other sounds of spring. I listen for it every year. One night this week I slept with a bedroom window open for the first time in a long while. I woke up to a sunny day and a white-throated sparrow singing nearby. Click on this sentence to hear the sparrow sing.  Yay, it's spring!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Special Robin Appears

I took a socially distanced walk yesterday. Saw lots of robins on lawns. This one is our standard robin model for today's blog.
Good looking, right? Then the one below came along...
It has white feathers all over its head and a white patch on its back. Not your standard robin. It's leucistic; it has a genetic condition that causes pigment processing failure in some of its feathers. Note that it's not an albino, which would be colorless with pink eyes. Click to enlarge.
It's a good look, right? I see a couple of pale splotches down near the tail. I hope this bird hangs around for the season. I'd like to see if it has spotted chicks.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Flatten the Curve

Here's a short list of things I keep seeing on TV that we can do to keep safe from and help slow the spread of coronavirus. First, remember to wash your hands. Click to enlarge.
Don't touch your face. This guy has an advantage with that.
Keep your distance.
Avoid crowds.
Stay home if you don't feel well.
And check on elderly neighbors and family members to see that they have food and supplies and are feeling ok.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

More Daylight

I am thinking back to yesterday, before we set the clocks forward, and appreciating the lengthening days. At the Winter Solstice in December the sun was setting in my neighborhood at 4:39. Yesterday it set at 6:00. Today it  will set at 7:01. That's progress! Above is a picture of March sunlight casting shadows of a fence and empty cabanas on the beach at Cape May, New Jersey. Click to enlarge.
I'm a big fan of daylight. Looking forward to the 8:33 sunsets of June.
And tomorrow's full moon will be the last one of winter. They call the March full moon the worm moon, for the earthworms that are starting to stir in the soil. Robins are celebrating on the grass around here already.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Just Crocuses

Just crocus flowers today.
Click to enlarge.

And this quote from David Steindl-Rast."A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace."

Sunday, February 23, 2020

This Time of Year

I took a walk this morning. The thermometer said 28F. The sun felt warm. These Lenten roses peeking out from under dry leaves say we are balanced between the seasons. 
There's ice on the creek, but it's supposed to be above 50 degrees this afternoon. The ice will disappear as the day unfolds. Click to enlarge.
Cherry blossoms are ready to pop.
I found one precocious forsythia blossom on a bush of otherwise tightly closed buds.
This is really coming along. I think it's a Cornelian cherry dogwood.
It's still cold out there, but things are happening. Everything's on course for spring.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Year of the Rat

Lots of unusual urban wildlife was on display last weekend in New York City for the Lunar New Year celebrations in Manhattan's Chinatown. 
There were lions.
And dragons.
But mainly there were rats! 
Lots of rats.
Rats everywhere.
These stuffed golden rats with lucky red money envelopes won my best-rats-of-the-day award. Click to enlarge.
More golden rats on sticks.
The rat is the first in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. I hear it got to be first by riding an ox to the contest and jumping off just at the last minute and rushing over the finish line. That put the ox in second place, so 2021 will be the Year of the Ox and we'll be seeing lots of them this time next year.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

More Winter Flowers

A bunch of purple crocuses pushed their heads up in my neighborhood this week. Nice to see them! I agree with Gertrude S. Wister, who once said: "The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size." 
And I agree with Anne Bradstreet, who said: "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant." Click on the photos to enlarge.
And I totally agree with Kathleen Norris, who said: "There seems to be so much more winter than we need this year." But doesn't that seem true by this time every year?

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Winter Flowers

Snowdrops are blooming! As if on cue, they're in time for Candlemas, a Christian feast that falls on February second. They have long been associated with the holiday, especially in their native Europe, so much so that one of their common names is Candlemas bells.    Click to enlarge.
In one of many folk stories about snowdrops, the spirits of Spring and Winter were fighting because Winter would not release the Earth from her hold. During an ensuing battle, Spring lost a drop of blood from which a snowdrop grew. Spring won. In flower language snowdrops symbolize hope, rebirth, and a promising future.
There are more signs of imminent spring than snowdrops out there. Here are some other spring bulbs reaching up. AND this morning the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged during a snow shower and failed to see his shadow, thus predicting that winter will wrap up soon. This is quite the Sunday: Candlemas, Groundhog's Day, the Superbowl, and the cool palindromic date 02.02.2020. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Warm Day in January

It was 57F around here on Friday and I went for a walk in the South Jersey pine barrens. One of the first things I saw was this sign on the dam works machinery at Atsion Lake.       No need to tell me to keep out of there.
Then there was this abandoned cabin near the lake. Looks like a setting for a scary movie, right? I cam almost hear ominous background music rising.
There are lots of abandoned buildings scattered around the pines with lots of ghost house windows to look into. Click on the photos to enlarge.

Here are the remains of the furnace of an old mill. One of the things I like about the pine barrens are the hints it offers of untold stories, unfinished, and forgotten.
And even on winter days there's lovely nature all around like this old sycamore tree in its winter grandeur.
It rained all day on Saturday. I was inside with photos and time on my hands and I ended up photo-shopping the tree picture into this lacy sky-filled kaleidoscopic image.
It rained ALL day, so I made tiles out of that to produce this geometric image with pretty blue sky background with interlaced tree branch finger filigree. 
I also took a picture of an eddy of foam that was floating on this pine barrens creek. 
Then cut and copied and pasted and flipped it into this pretty lace doily.
It makes an interesting tiled image, too, right?
It was not very birdy out on Friday, but the turkey vultures were well represented and willing to pose for portraits. The reliable abundance of vultures adds to the unique atmosphere of the pine barrens.