Realism: The practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Too Many Plants

My friend Keith has a marvelous garden which I have only experienced in online photos.  He has great hostas, irises, lilies, mulched and spaced so one can appreciate them from 360 degrees. He has incredible discipline. I do not. Even though I have pretty much as much space as I want to expand my gardens, I do not - so it is a free-for-all with plants jammed in, fighting tooth and claw (root and stem?) for space, light and food. Not exactly survival of the fittest ... but close. Many survive only because I am continually lifting, dividing, transplanting, gifting and composting.

(pictures for Keith Camburn)


Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Wrong Redwing

The high slurred whistle of a redwing blackbird
Sounds like he's singing, oh that I might die
It's a song for those who have fallen
Unrepentant with no alibi

I been ridin' stone blind horses
Never seen a reason to believe
Hey sweet Genevieve say a prayer for me
Wild young cowboys, old drunks, paramours and thieves

- Gunnar

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Last Warbler?

Yesterday was well into the 90s and humid which generated a late afternoon thunderstorm - but no tornadoes. Which was a good thing because I was in the Growlery. It is only about  8' x 12'.  When I moved it in it had no floor, no ceiling and the corners were splayed out. I rebuilt it pretty sturdy and tied it down to two tiers of railroad ties and ground anchors. But a tornado? 
"When the Growlery was eventually discovered in a cornfield on the Einar Peterson farm south of Hayward, Mr. Berg was found still seated at his bench with a crushed beer can in his hand, dazed but apparently unhurt except for minor scratches. When asked if he was hurt, he replied, 'Are the tree peonies okay?' ".
Here are some photos before all hell broke loose. First, a view of the rock garden from the Growlery - various Pinks and Blue-eyed Grasses (which are actually in Iris family). There are a couple of species of Blue-eyed Grass, and (what do you get for an old man who has everything?) a Blue-Eyed cultivar from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum plant sale which my daughter Addy gave me for my birthday a year ago. They are the lower growing  blue flowers in the center of the photo. 

We haven't seen a Warbler in a week or more so I was surprised when this one showed up. It is an open beak, spread winged, heat stressed female Nashville Warbler. She found the coolest place in all of Oakwood - the mouth of the cavern which is the spring source of Oakwood Creek.

Technically the source of Oakwood Creek is a recirculating pump in a cow-tank, but I am not going to tell the bird. She is running late, has enough on her mind right now and doesn't need to know that.

- Gunnar

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

5/26/20 Nothing Today. Zip.

So here are some from yesterday. I am pleased with quality of the Blackburnian photo - blown up I can almost see myself in his eye reflection. Almost.

American Redstart (ist yr m)

American Redstart m.
Tennessee Warbler m.
I did see a Red-eyed Vireo today, which may well become a resident. No photos. I will try again over the next few days. I suppose theoretically the Redstarts could nest in Oakwood too, but to my knowledge they never have. Currently the neighborhood birdie folks are excited by one or more young Barred Owls. 

- Gunnar

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Yesterday's Birds

I already posted these on Facebook, but blogger is more permanent and easier to retrieving later to remember birds seen and establish dates.

These, particularly the Bay-breasted Warbler were a real surprise. The Chestnut-sided male has been here as a single for about a week, and yesterday there were at least five Tennessee Warblers. Lorna also saw a a Scarlet Tanager yesterday and took I.D. photos of a female Canada Warbler, a bird I have seen, but not taken a decent photo of this year.

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee and Bay-breasted Warblers

I tend to think of Warblers as "little birds", but they vary quite a lot in size and shape. I believe the Parula is the smallest and the Chat used to be the largest until they pulled its 'Warbler Club' card. Probably now it is the Ovenbird, which is aberrant in many ways - maybe they will pull their 'Warbler Card' next?  This illustrates how much larger the Bay-breasted Warbler is than that Tennessee Warbler. Lorna got the next shot in the series when the Bay-breasted attacked and clamped on the Tennessee's beak.

Still learning stuff - Gunnar

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Leftover Photos

I imagine we will have a few late strays but the migration, such that it was, is over. I was hopeful that that last part of Grosbeaks would hang around. They seem to be gone, but yesterday there were still a pair of Redstarts. I know both nest locally and we DO live in a woods. And yesterday there were still a couple of Orioles in the jelly, but I have not seen them this morning. 

Another oddity, this Spring I did not see a single Vireo of any species. In the past we have seen four or possibly five species and have had the Red-eyed Vireos all summer, though they live in the high trees and we rarely if ever see them.

Here are more leftover photos I keep finding as I relive the season. Next, I will load them up to Flickr and to a backup hard-drive for when my computer crashes. (They all crash.) I often wonder why I save them at all. The real joy is seeing the photos that evening or sharing them the next day. 

There are few things older than last year's bird photos. Unless it is flower photos.  - G.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Last Show?

It is getting near the end of Spring migration. Today, only a single Tennessee Warbler male and a pair of Redstarts. Pair? Well at least a male and a female.

And Goldfinches. There are always Goldfinches.

- Gunnar

Thursday, May 21, 2020

More Warbler Pics

M.Bonvicini Paint

Completed. The fenders are repops so I am not very concerned about keeping them looking "mellow" like the rest of the 70+ year bicycle.

After Spring bird migration I will drive down to Ames to pick up the fenders and frame. Then I will reassemble the bicycle and ride it around the Oakwood circles, dodging the kids, duffers and dog walkers.

- Gunnar

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Amateur Photographer

Yesterday was my best day of Warbler migration photography this Spring, not huge numbers but a nice variety. It was pretty much compressed into a short period in late afternoons. 

Generally mid to late afternoon is when the birds come down to our stream. They spend the day feeding up in the treetops, are full and ready to kick back and relax, rest for their long night flight ahead. Also the weather has been cool and overcast and the sun came out for half an hour. The birds seem to love the warm sunshine. I like it because the sun is over my shoulder then and it really lights up the birds for photography.

The drip has been a pleasant surprise - just a large rock with a natural cavity and dripping water. It isn't great for photography, but more importantly, many small birds love it. I have even seen a hummingbird hovering in the dripping water.

Swainson's Thrush

This year I have struggled a little getting birds in really sharp focus. Yesterday morning I seriously cleaned the lens, mirror and sensor. Made a noticeable difference. Damned amateur.

Your damned amateur - Gunnar