Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring blooms in my garden

Bridal wreath (Spirea prunifolia)
Well, I really missed Garden Bloggers Bloom Day this time. I meant to post on the 15th . . . no, really, I did! But a family emergency put the kibosh on those plans.

And yet . . .

Plants are blooming in my yard, despite our drought. Truly, nature is amazing. Plants will bloom in spring, no matter the lack of rain or unseasonable heat or drying winds. Some of my bloomers are rather exciting (at least to me), so I'm posting today.

Spring! Hurrah!

This is one of my prizes:
I think it's a potato vine
(Solanum jasminoides). It
grew over winter, and is
blooming gaily now!

We are on the tail end of bloom time for the agarita
(Mahonia trifoliata) and the berries are forming.

Texas stars (Lindheimera texana) reseed freely in my beds and yard. These are native wildflowers.

The irises responded nicely to their spa treatment last fall.
These are the first blooms I've seen in three years.

Blackfoot daisies (Melampodium leucanthum)

This is my other prize! A neighbor bought this for me last year and it's finally blooming.
The desert globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is native to the southwest (not Texas).

This awesome plant is death camas (Zigadenes Nuttallii). Yes, it's poisonous.

What's blooming in your garden? To see other GBBD reports, visit May Dreams Gardens.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2013 Great Backyard Bird Count results

Several weeks ago we participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count for the second time (see Counting birds for fun for last year's report). As I wrote last year, I am not much of a bird watcher, but the tallying and submitting appeals to my accountant’s soul.

Look - there's some birds!
It is fun to see what’s out there, but it can also be frustrating. I ventured away from the house at one point, to see what was in the woods. I could hear a bird, but could never find it with my binoculars. I’m sure a real birder would have been able to track down her quarry.

Also, someone scheduled this event on a weekend when I had another activity on the agenda. They should have checked with me first, darn it. As a result, I only counted for two of the four days. So if you’re reading, GBBC, please be sure to check with me before you set the date for next year’s count. Thank you.

We had three watchers this year, as my dad was visiting. Here’s how it works:  You count birds for at least 15 minutes at a time, marking down the most birds of a species that you see at one time. So the numbers below are the most we saw at a time during the two days of sporadic counting.

We saw 14 species of birds. Here are our results:
I don't think these photographers use a
point and shoot! Photo by Jennifer Taggart, 
from the GBBC website.

Turkey Vulture (5)
Red-shouldered hawk (1)
White-winged dove (5)
Mourning dove (1)
Greater roadrunner (2)
Carolina chickadee (2)
Black-crested titmouse (3)
American robin (3)
Cedar waxwing (6)
Chipping sparrow (2)
Northern cardinal (8)
House finch (2)
Pine siskin (12)
Lesser Goldfinch (2)

Last year we had oodles of lesser and American goldfinches, and a few pine siskins. This year, we saw only one pair of lessers, but oodles of pine siskins. I really liked these pine siskins at first, until I realized they were sitting on the bird feeder and throwing seeds out like a toddler throws cheerios. I don’t know what they are looking for, but there are only black oil sunflowers in that feeder and no prize at the bottom.

The cedar waxwings heard through the grapevine about the count and very kindly dropped by so that we could admire and add them to our list. We had not seen them before the count weekend, nor have we seen them since.

For 2013, counters have submitted 134,935 checklists, identified 3,610 species and counted 34,512,432 birds. Click here to learn more about the GBBC.

And in looking up this information, I see that they have already set next year’s date, Feb. 14-17, 2014, without consulting me.  Well, at least I have a year’s notice.