Monday, May 23, 2016

More Bird

We had so much fun last week watching the orioles and western tanagers coming and going into the garden. They put on quite a show as they sparred for the best perch at the feeders. Their favorites were the grape jelly and the commercial suets cakes. They had some completion for the feed, the backyard bullies and pigs: grackles and starlings that devoured the suets cakes as soon as they were put out. I did catch a robin sneaking jelly, apparently a treat for this one with a sweet tooth--beak?

We decided that we had 5 mature male Bullock's orioles and couple of immature males along with females. The females were hard to count because they look so much like the tanager females, a drab olive.

We decided, too, that there 4 mature male tanagers coming to the suet cakes. Once we started looking for them, we saw them all over the yard high in treetops, in low pine branches, and even in the not much used bird bath in the front center circle.

I took these shots with the Canon Rebel using the the 75-300 mm telephoto from inside the house thus the  blurry edges.

He had a great time.

If you look closely, you will see the water splashing. 

The Tanagers are so beautiful with their bright yellow plumage and red heads. They are hard to miss in the garden once you see them. They are gentle and quiet, and wait their turn patiently at the suet.

I took so many photos; some great, some not so good--a lot. I began to think that I needed a bigger, better telephoto lens and began a Google search for the next size up.

I discovered two things: the next size lens is thousands of dollars. Out of my league. And one expert convinced me that the lens I have is the best size to use along with advise to just get closer to the birds. Yeah. I guess. 

So is this close enough? I was snapping photos left and right one after another standing on the patio so close to the tree. To my surprise the bird flew from the feeder to the window ledge. I was left wondering just what he was thinking as he looked in the bedroom window.

Meanwhile back at the grape jelly, the Bullock's Oriole indulged his own sweet tooth.

The Garden Spot is coming alive after all of the rain and the cold. The first bearded iris has bloomed: Edith Wolford.

At her feet grows the new clematis that I planted last year to grow up the fence of the chicken pen. I started to weave it's stems in the fence only to have a hen quickly begin to take bites. I changed my mind.

Here is a very late bloomer. The Head Gardener found some stray bulbs in the barn and stuck them in the ground late last winter. There are two of these gorgeous daffodils, one at each end of the hen pens. They are buttery yellow with very large blooms. A happy surprise. 

Tool of the Week:

I have seen the bulb diggers thing-a-ma-bobs that I thought would make planting easier. They are actually used to make the deep holes the spring bulbs require. Does anyone else use these diggers? 

The HG planted the tomatoes, cabbages, broccoli, and peppers today, along with his favorite little marigolds, while I used this digger to make holes for 44 gladiola bulbs. Used in the soil that has been tilled and worked, the digger works great. It sinks down easily and leaves a nice plug of soil to back fill the hole, covering the bulb.

However in other parts of the garden where the soil is heavy clay and not tilled, it isn't so handy.

 I am excited to see two rows of glads by the end of the summer. They will be a favorite.

The potatoes are doing nicely, along with the onions and peas planted the middle of March. We now have the seed vegetables to plant: red beets, carrots, and a variety of squash. Tomorrow.

I had to take this shot with the iPhone. The pastures are green with tall hay growing quickly with all of the rain that we had. I enjoy watching the neighbors' horses graze. 

Out front the clematis is in full bloom. I didn't get it cut back this spring, so it has a rather odd shape, but it blooms.

I do think it needs some fertilized. I've heard that brick tends to leach iron out of plant material planted next to it. Have you heard that?

The center circle in front thrives. This is the hollyhock we dug out last year. Oops. Didn't get it all. Now it is bigger than ever. I may just leave it. But the chamomile will get pulled out tomorrow for it is crowding out some perennials that are not getting the sunshine that they need. 

Plant Challenge: What is this?

I am not sure if Heather gave me this plant or if it just found its own way in to the back garden. Last year it bloomed for the first time with one spike. This year it has divided and bloomed even more beautifully. Now I would like to know what it is.

I have forgotten what this plant is, already, but isn't is spectacular this year?

If I think long enough, I might remember what this is, too. It is planted next to the patio in the raised succulent bed. I love it. I also have some planted in the front courtyard with next to the water garden.

May has been a very good month for spring blooms.

And the fairies have returned. They always seen show up when the little girls are here. Lucy spent the night with me last weekend, and after she left I found this offering. 

We have more to do this week. More planting. More weeding. Just more of everything garden. What will you be doing in the garden? 

Thanks for visiting. I always enjoy your comments. I'll be around to visit you, too.  Have a good week.


  1. Hello, I am envious of your Orioles and beautiful Western Tanagers. Could you send some this way. They are beautiful yard birds. Your flowers and gardens look lovely. The clematis is one of my favorites. It is so nice of the fairies to leave your presents. Wonderful post and images. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day and week ahead!

    1. BTW, thanks for visiting my post and for the comment. I hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

  2. Everything is glorious, Ann! I must get some suet for the birds. So far just the magpies have been nipping at what I had, but maybe I can wish some prettier birds my way!

  3. Your garden is so green now Ann, even already a Clematis flowering. the plant Heather planted is definitely a Verbascum, I think Verbascum phoeniceum, I also have them in my garden but not yet flowering. These Orioles and Tanagers are beautiful, we don't have such colourful birds in the wild. The one looking into your bedroom, looks so sweet, might be he or she thinks about making a nest in there.....

  4. Lovely plants. Your new clematis is such an interesting colour.

  5. Lovely birds, love the picture of that one looking in the window. Your garden is coming along nicely with some lovely plants - there is always so much to do at this time of year - but it keeps us out of mischief doesn't it :)

  6. That's quite a large veggie garden you have there! I hope you are ready to work, canning, freezing, baking, and eating!

  7. Great bird shots, Ann! In Northern America you seem to have so pretty and colourful birds that they look almost unreal to me. :)
    Your flowers thrive indeed. The wonderful plant in the photo No. 20 is my favourite. Lovely photos!
    Have a great weekend!

  8. Hi Ann,

    Wow, you were able to get quite close to the Tanager and got some great pics!! They are indeed beautiful birds! I don't believe we have those here, nor do we have the Orioles. My in-laws have had Orioles occasionally, when they are traveling from one location to another. I'm with you -- I hate Starlings; they are absolute PIGS. They cleaned out our bark butter the last two times we put it out, so we've had to quit putting it out. Makes me mad, because that's what always attracts our Eastern Bluebirds.

    All your flowers are lovely, and I'm no help with the mystery plant. It reminds me of a Hollyhock, but I guess that's not what it is. Let us know what you find out. :) I'm glad spring has found you at last, and I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, my friend. Thank you for your kind comments on my Anniversary post. :)



  9. Hello Ann - I've come across from Eileen's blog ...
    Such a lovely selection of photo's to see.
    I especially like the one of the bird looking at the window

    Hope you have a good weekend

    All the best Jan

  10. Your mystery plant is verbascum. :o) Cement will lower the ph of your soil so you'll need to amend it with soil acidifier and plenty of organic compost/fertilizer. A cheap soil ph meter will tell you what the ph is. But maybe it's not a ph problem. It could be that your soil is just lean and needs lots of compost.