Sunday, April 21, 2024

White-breasted Nuthatches Are Singing


I have been seeing and hearing a lot of white-breasted nuthatches in my neighborhood. They are cute little birds with blue-gray on the back, white cheeks, black cap, and a rusty patch on the white belly. It's one of the birds whose distinctive sound stands out in the spring chorus. Click to enlarge.

Males sing in spring to attract mates, using 6-12 nasal-sounding notes that some people hear as ha-ha-ha. Also, both sexes have a call that sounds to me how tiny, fast-talking sheep would bleat, others hear the honk of a little tin horn. Clicking on this sentence will take you to e-bird, where you can select LISTEN to get a list of recordings of the song and call of the white-breasted nuthatch.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

White-throated Sparrow


White-throated sparrows are singing in my neighborhood. Their song is a loud, clear, attention-getting whistle that stands out among the other sounds of spring. Birdwatchers think the song’s phrases sound like “Po-or Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody.” Or “My sweet Canada Canada Canada.” Click on this sentence to hear the sparrow sing. Yay, spring!

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Blueberry Buds


The flowers on my blueberry bushes are little bundles of spring-colored buds right now. I know they are lovely when they are fully open, when bushes are covered in white bell-shaped blossoms, but I have never before noticed how beautiful they are before they open. Very pretty. Click to enlarge.

Before you know it, carpenter bees will be hanging under them, taking nectar.

Then this.

And, of course, there will be blueberry jam.


But right now, there are bundles of spring-colored buds on my blueberry bushes.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Happy Easter!


Here's to goslings.

Reflecting puddles.

Blooming orchards.

Spring flowers.

And picnic weather. :-)

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

The full moon of March, tonight's moon, is often called the Worm Moon. In places with cold winters, like here, the ground is thawing and the worms are waking. We begin to see robins foraging on the ground again. Click to enlarge.

Tonight, as the full worm moon crosses the sky, it will pass through the outermost part of the earth's shadow, the penumbra.

The eclipse will be subtle, though. Instead of the dramatic blood red moon we see when it passes through the darkest part of Earth's shadow, tonight will be a mere dimming. You might not even notice the difference. Still, it's fun to stay up late just to go out and look at the sky. 

By Philadelphia time, the eclipse will begin at 12:53 a.m., reach maximum at 3:12 a.m., and end at 5:30 a.m. 

And remember, the words of Ai Yazawa from the magna comic series, Nana (volume 14): "...even when the moon looks like it's waning... it's actually never changing shape."

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Two More Days of Winter

Are you seeing more rabbits lately? It's March, it's almost spring, and the rabbits are calling attention to themselves. They breed in March around here, which makes them more visible than usual as they engage in courtship that involves running, hopping, leaping, racing, chasing, dancing, and other attention-getting activities.

More rabbit sightings. Longer days. Warmer temperatures. Blooming flowers. The change of seasons will become official with the equinox on Tuesday, March 19. We have just two more days of winter. Click to enlarge.

For the occasion, an excerpt from Atlanta in Calydon by Algernon Charles Swinburne. 

"For winter's rains and ruins are over,

And all the season of snows and sins;

The days dividing lover and lover,

The light that loses, the night that wins;

And time remember'd is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover,

Blossom by blossom the spring begins." 



Sunday, March 10, 2024

Spring Forward


Daylight savings time started last night while we slept. There is still time to set your clock ahead one hour. I personnaly am with those who want to move this event to 4:00 p.m. on the second FRIDAY of March, not 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday. Above, March sunlight casts the shadows of a fence and empty cabanas on the beach at Cape May, New Jersey. 

Note that today the sun will set at 7:02 in Philadelphia. Click to enlarge the sun-drenched white and gold crocuses.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Dragons and Lions


I promised pictures from last Sunday's Lunar New Year Parade in NYC. Here they are! This dancing dragon looks like he's about to catch the globe that represents the "Pearl of Wisdom." He did not, just continued to follow it on down the parade route through the narrow streets of New York City Chinatown.

Blue dragon!

Pink dragon!

There were also many fancy lions. They travel in lion dance teams with drummers and cymbal players. Lots of noise and fierce dance steps from the lions.

Green lion!

Click to enlarge.

This one isn't really blurry, it's shaking it's feathers, ur... its fur.

Another action shot. The lions are restless creatures.

There was a lot more to see, like this big-headed guy.

Senator Chuck Schumer makes it to the parade every year.

Lots of colorful dancers, floats, marching groups, horses, music, and fancy cars. It is a great parade!

And the location, among all of the restaurants of Chinatown, means that the parade snacks are fabulous and easy to find. There is nothing better than a big plate of hot fried dumplings on a cold NY afternoon.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Lunar new year celebrations are about to come to an end with the first full moon of the year, tonight, February 24, 2024. I usually write a blog on Sunday, but I'm posting this early, so I can spend Sunday at the parade in New York City. There will be dragons, like this one from last year. I love this parade! Click to enlarge.

Gotta love the lions, too. I'll be back next week with parade highlights.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Sights of the Season


It snowed! But that did not keep the witch hazel from blooming. Click to enlarge.

Then it snowed again.

The daffodils carried on, pushing toward spring.

Crocuses are built to withstand it.

Holly actually looks prettier with a shawl of snow and ice.

The snow was beautiful. It's practically all gone.

Yesterday these snowdrops were under a few inches of snow.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Dekay's Brown Snake Sighting

I saw this little snake in my yard today. It's the first snake of the 2024 for me. It was in danger of getting stepped on where it was, so I gave it a ride in my hand. Initially, I thought it was a garter snake. A reader pointed out my mistake. Thanks!

To a less-traveled spot with leaves to blend into and slide under. Click to enlarge.           Cute face!

Sunday, February 4, 2024

The Midpoint of Winter


We just passed the midpoint of winter, February 1, which is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Yay! If we were ancient Celts we would have just celebrated the holiday of Imbolc.

And if we were celebrating Imbolc, we might have checked around to see if any snakes had come out of their burrows to predict the duration of winter weather in accordance with the legend. 

Wait -- we still do that on Groundhog Day, but with groundhogs instead of snakes, right? Turns out that they are equally good at meteorological prognostication. The 2024 groundhog did not see it's shadow. That foretells a smooth path to an early spring. The National Weather Service is predicting the same thing. Let the gardening begin! 

Also, February 2 was Candlemas Day for Christians. The holiday occurs 40 days after Christmas and according to some marks the end of the Christmas season. One of the nice things about Candlemas is that there is a high probability of being able to eat pancakes or tamales.

These winter-blooming snowdrop flowers are also known as Candlemas flowers. They are winter-hardy early bloomers that will push up through snow and frozen ground to appear in time for Candlemas. Mine are always on time. Click to enlarge.

Also note that there are crocuses blooming in my yard right now. Local sunset will be at 5:23 today and 5:24 tomorrow.

So, even though it may have seemed like an uneventful week, it was not.