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Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Ends

August ends and August friends share the feeder;
a goldfinch and a chickadee.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Good-Bye Seamus Heaney

Photo is used with permission from Creative Commons
Seamus Heaney, Ireland's foremost poet, winner of the Nobel Literature prize in 1995 has died at age 74.   He explored the wild beauty and the political torment of Ireland for fifty years. 

His work has taught me about poetry, about writing poetry and how vibrant language captures the emotions we all share.  I searched for a quote from his works to include in this blog from among the many I have copied into my journal; copies to keep and to re-read and to study.   The searching process has reaffirmed that his work inspires and will continue to inspire me. 

The search has netted no one quote to share but many which touch my heart and make an ache in the pit of my stomach over his passing. 

I extend sympathy to his family and friends and hope they take comfort in his continued existence through the written word.  As, do I.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eastern Chipmunk

The Eastern Chipmunks in our yard are
some of its most charming inhabitants.
They scamper over the rock walls
as they collect seeds and nuts for their winter hoard.
They have 2-inch diameter holes going directly
into the earth without any sign of excavation. 
These underground tunnels throughout the yard
enable the chipmunks to pop down
into the rock wall and appear under the feeders,
or in a flower bed by the deck.
End of summer is a busy time for them;
 the shorter days and cooler nights are coming.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August Days

What a week it's been.  The air has lost humidity with heated days and cooler evenings.  The summer has entered one of the peaceful periods, filled with sun-warmed hosta and goldenrod, gathering bees and swings on the porch. 


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hairy Woodpecker, Juvenile

This Hairy Woodpecker, a juvenile, frequents the sunflower seed feeder outside our kitchen window.  When we had "street improvements" a couple of years ago, the excavations set two maples into the process of decay and dying at the top of our driveway.  There the woodpecker lives. 

I am fascinated by woodpeckers though I don't like their hole making in healthy trees.  Most woodpeckers have very long tongues (sometimes as long as four times the length of their bill). These long tongues are stored like a tape measure in twin structures that wrap around the inside perimeter of the skull.  The tip of the tongue is sticky and barbed to help them forage for insects.

This woodpecker is male.  He has a small red patch on the back of his head.  Females have no red patch.

Earlier this year, an adult Hairy Woodpeckers tapped on the metal pole on which hangs the feeder...for days.  I assume whichever male makes the loudest noise gets the female.  Since there are now juvenile woodpeckers at our feeders, he must have been successful.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sweet Peas

These are Sweet Peas from my sister's and brother-in-law's gardens.  They pay close attention to their yard and gardens and it shows. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lily in Bloom

This lily is from my sister's and brother-in-law's gardens.  He took this photo of Lilium spp. "Stargazer" and said I could share it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Roux, Maine Coon Cat

This is our newest cat, a Maine Coon.  He was a year old last week but will continue to grow until he is three.  It appears that he will be a big boy by the end of another two years.  All our cats are indoor cats and never go outside.  They enjoy bird watching through the window panes. 
We are lucky to have four delightful cats to share our home with, or perhaps, we share ... their home.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oliver, Maine Coon Cat

We have a Maine Coon Cat who lives at our house.  He is an indoor cat but loves to watch birds through the window.  Sometimes when I forget to push a chair up to the window for him, he has to stretch to see them.  He is a large lovable bundle of affection.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Birman Cats


We share our home with two Birman cats.  The female has chocolate colouring and the male, lavender.  They are affectionate but each has a distinct personality, like people.  Our cats don't go outdoors ever.  The long hair requires brushing daily but these cats are worth the work.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013


When we stopped our hyper-vigilant trimming, we discovered we had foxgloves.  They've likely been there for years, planted by a former owner.
Our trimming has decreased as we've become comfortable with a wilder look at the edges of our property.  The rewards are foxgloves (not many), but if we leave them alone, allow them to set seed, perhaps we'll have more every second year.  Foxgloves are biennials, little troubled by pests and deer.
Foxgloves botanical name Digitalis comes from the Latin digitus, meaning "finger."  Each tubular flower is shaped somewhat like the finger of a glove.  Ours bloom in a purplish pink with spotted throats and last for several weeks.
 Sometimes, leaving the yard to itself creates surprising beauty.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Portulaca grows well in the hot and sunny locations in our yard. 
This is a trailing type that fills an old oak half-barrel
in our garden, with bright blooms
and thick succulent stems. 
Portulaca comes in varieties of purple, orange, scarlet,
yellow, but we chose the fuchsia this year.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Another Visit from the Crow

Is anyone else using the birdbath now?
Soak food in the water.
And while it soaks, have a drink.
How's the food doing down there?
Food is ready.  Eat now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Young Blue Jay in the Birdbath

A young blue jay cools off in the birdbath,
flings sprays of water.

Blue Jays at the Feeder

Eating a sunflower seed
Looking them over
Choosing the right one
What now?
Perhaps this angle is better?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wisteria Blooms for the Second Time

Our wisteria vine has bloomed for the second time this summer.  It's never done that before.  I wonder why?

The bees are busy with the second chance at blossoms.  I am happy to see them together again.
Photos are copyright 2011-2013 Carol Steel

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Osprey Juveniles on the Nest

I relearned a lesson I know but don't always follow
when posting blogs. 
Do the homework. 
Yesterday I posted photos and claimed the birds
were baby eagles.  I was wrong, they were juvenile ospreys.

I usually check all my facts thoroughly
but was rushing to post a blog, 
because I've not been writing or posting
as much as I want lately. 
Rushing and not checking = bad blogging. 

These are juvenile ospreys on nests built on platforms
near the turnoff from Route 15 to Grand-Barachois
in New Brunswick.  We stayed far away from them
so we wouldn't disturb them
and took the photos with a long lens.

Their parents circled above us and kept a close watch
over our activities.  We stayed in the car
and took the pictures from there. 
The photos seem as if we were closer
because I cropped the photos to enlarge them
after I returned home.

"Ospreys are dark brown above, white below, with white head, prominent dark eye stripe.  The juvenile has plumage fringed
with pale buff above.  They eat mostly fish
and nest near fresh or salt water. 
They build their bulky nests in trees,
on sheds, poles or platforms."   
(Quote from National Geographic Field Guide
to the Birds of Eastern North America.)

Lesson re-learned:  Do the homework,
check the facts and photos,
even if I think I know what I'm looking at.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Immature Ospreys on Nests

Immature Ospreys Sitting on Nests

We drove on Route 15, left at Exit 43 to Grand-Barachois, New Brunswick and spotted immature ospreys sitting on nests.  We didn't disturb them but used a long lens to capture these photos.  Though we were a distance away from the nest, we looked up and saw that we were being watched by the parent birds, who were spiraling lower and lower toward us. 

We would have stayed longer but felt we were intruding, even though we were careful not to get out and walk closer.  In fact, we stayed in the car and just pulled to the shoulder of the roadway to take photos.  We left, feeling grateful for the sight of babies.