Monday, April 30, 2012

Noah and Some of His Birds

I started work on "Noah's Sampler" this past weekend.  I think it will be a fast and easy stitch.  The 28 count fabric is easy on my eyes.

We had nice weather this past weekend, so I was outside enjoying the Flora and Fauna.

On Friday evening we went to Agate Hall on the University of Oregon campus to watch the Vaux's Swifts bedtime acrobatics.  They fly down a large unused chimney to communally roost for the night - much like bats.  Vaux's Swifts descend into their roost structure in waves, spiraling down in a  dramatic rush as night falls.  The birds are like clouds of smoke, and it is mesmerizing to observe - much like falling snowflakes. 

Vaux's Swifts have been called cigars with wings.  They are similar to Swallows, but spend their daylight hours foraging for insects - never landing.  They roost together to conserve heat. Their body temperature drops and become torpid on cold nights, reviving in the warmth of day.  The local Audubon Society estimates that this colony has about 4,000 birds.
Agate Hall (formerly Condon School) is located about 1/4 of a mile from the Willamette River.  The birds work the neighborhood and river during daylight hours.  They are here for a while in the Spring, then head further north.  They return for a couple of weeks in the Fall - when the colony grows to 10,000 birds.

We were 'treated' to a bit of Nature in the Raw.  A Cooper's Hawk flew in and perched on the chimney.  He agitated the Swifts something fierce; but they continued to attempt to enter the chimney nonetheless.  Bam!  He picked one off.  Dinner for the hawk. 

Saturday morning I heard the sound of geese.
When I looked up I saw this skein.  

Then more...

...and still more!
These were serious, high-flying, migrating to the North geese.

Sunday afternoon we got some sunshine once again.
Even Turkey Vultures understand the importance of Vitamin D! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday Hodgepodge

Well I frogged the flower and the heart, and managed to stitch a bit more of "Brown Bunny".  Now I have lots of 'over one' and eyelet stitches and Rhodes stitches to do.

If I was thematic, now I'd share bunny pictures...but my bunnies have been AWOL the last few days.  So how about a miscellany of photos?

We'll call them: The Best of Sunny Saturday

Evening Grosbeaks should be called Morning Grosbeaks as they are most active then.  I love waking to the sound of their clear, sharp "churrs" as they gather in the Maples trees.  

The wild Iris are beginning to come into their own.  That means for the next couple of weeks I'll post far too many Iris photos.

The forest is a light with the white blossoms of the wild cherries.

Our Big Creek burbles along.

Saturday morning found this female Mallard in the Quarry Pond.  She talked and talked and talked - but no other duck ever showed up.

See, I told 'ya - three turtles in the Quarry Pond.

And the ubiquitous Chipmunk!

Hope you have a productive and enjoyable Sunday.  
I need to empty the plants out of the greenhouse.  I'm sure I'll have lots of cat help with this project. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Critter Count and Avian Accounting

In the midst of all this 'Arkness' Ewe & Eye & Friend's "Brown Bunny" demanded that I start stitching.  So I did!  Should I mention that I have to frog out the heart and the flower?  Guess I did and I do.

Speaking of Arks, Parvati and Padma thought this might be a good time to enumerate some of our Critters and Birds.

I've seen as many as 20 Violet Green Swallows.

And a pair of Barn Swallows.

The Barn Swallows are determined to rebuild on the Back Porch post they've used for the last two years.

The California Quail have 'paired up'.  We have at least 4 happy couples. 

Friday I counted 5, yes 5 chipmunks scampering about the big wood pile.

On the Gold Finch front - 8 guys...

Last year we did not have many Evening Grosbeaks. 
This year I've counted 7 guys and 6 gals so that's hopeful.  Our first Black Headed Grosbeak has shown up too.  Last year we several pairs of Black Headed Grosbeaks.

I've seen has many as 3 turtles sunning on this log in the Quarry Pond.

"Vigilance Everyone" (With thanks to Harry Potter!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Rainy Stitch, A Rainy Walk

I decided to finish up a rainy April by stitching this Noah's Ark.  It's called "Noah's Sampler" and is from a Leisure Arts pamphlet.

I mentioned on Wednesday's post that Spring waits for no one.  As that is the case, I have more pictures to share, so even though the weather is cool and unsettled, I'm headed back outside to continue my walk.  

The cherry tree at the foot of our driveway glows under a gray sky.

And our poor spindly Apple tree is doing its best to set fruit this year.

Even after two years of posting about wildflowers, I continue to run across ones that are new-to-me.  This is called Hooker's Fairy Bells (Disporum hookeri).  I found it growing in the deep moist shade. 

Here's the Large False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) in bloom.  It too like the shade.  Just two weeks ago the leaves were just beginning to unfurl - now it's blooming - Spring is FAST!

This, I think is a wild mustard of some sort - further research needed.  It is growing in a sunny location.

My sister went on a run Sunday morning, and mentioned that she'd seen some wild Bleeding Hearts.  I walked down a couple of days later and found a lovely bank of Pacific Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra formosa).  They happily inhabited a shaded bank with several small rivulets gurgling downward.  Really a lush carpet-like display of feathery leaves and dainty blossoms. 

This though was the Big Surprise on my walk!  

In an earlier post I'd challenged myself to find some Lady Slippers or Fairy Slippers (Calypso bulbosa) on our property, or in the woods nearby.  Well, I looked in places where I'd seen them in years past - to no avail.  On Wednesday I had a notion to head up a shaded forested driveway for about 100 feet or so.  And there they were!  Dozens and dozens of Lady Slippers blooming happily in the moss and duff under a deep, dark Douglas Fir canopy.  I was SO pleased!    

On a sunny bank, I found a small group of Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) growing.  They won't be in bloom until July or so.

This is the time of year that Western Meadow Rue (Thalictrum occidentale) is at its best.  The flower is very interesting as the stamens hang downward. 

I blogged about this beauty last year.  And still, I have not been able to identify it - except what it is NOT!  It is NOT a forget-me-not.  I think it is a member of the Cynoglossum family.  I'm hopeful that a native plant show in mid-May will help me to identify it.

This delicate little flower is called Prairie Star (Lithophragma parviforum).  It grows in open grasslands, though I found it in the shade along a creek bed.

This is called Western Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata).  It prefers a moist, shaded area to grow.

It is interesting just how many wildflowers are shade lovers including the Star Flowered False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum).  We have a nice patch growing near the foot of our driveway under the shade of a large Oak tree.  

This picture is washed out in the bright sunlight, and does not do the Red Flowered Currant (Ribes sanguineum) justice.  This shrub is Nirvana for our local Hummingbirds.  I'll try for another picture on a cloudy day.  

I'm tired and you probably are too.  Time to go inside and get organized for the upcoming weekend!   

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ark Flotilla and Garden Ideas

Design - "Brother Noah Built the Ark"
Designer - Mary Ann Cox
Chart - Leisure Arts - "Contest Collection"
Fabric - 30 count Natural linen
Fibers - DMC - 2 strands over 2 threads
Started - 22 April 2012
Completed - 25 April 2012

Another ark albeit a tiny one.  I'm getting quite a flotilla! 

On a gray, rainy day, here's some Garden Inspiration from Down to Earth.

Wouldn't these guys look cool down by one of our seasonal creeks?

If you remember, I bought a circular form - I have the tools, do I have the will to create a sedum wreath?

Young lettuce - so pretty

Potatoes - such a rewarding crop

"Looking for a Good Garden Home - no location too small, too weedy to consider.  Will battle moles and chipmunks."

My sister would love to have a couple of chickens, but so would the raccoons.

What a bright statement this would make in the midst of a green Kitchen Garden.

I love Down to Earth's handmade signs.  This trio hangs above their Help Desk.  I think the single most important piece of information is the average soil temperature.  See people, it's far too cold to plant tomatoes!  

Okay crafters, here's a creative idea.  This little plant markers are made of a metal rod and buttons!

Coordinate the color of the flag with those of your perennials.

I like the set on the bottom.

Fiestaware - how to chose a color?

Each Spring I treat myself to a new pair of gardening gloves.

I can't imagine the cacophony this guy could make.
He'd be fabulous sited near a pond.