Rather than have all the celebrations concentrated around Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day we’ve decided to spread things out a little and start by celebrating the Solstice which has always seemed just as important to us – the year turns and so on. So it’ll be the smoked salmon and trifle on Saturday rather than Christmas Eve this year.
20 December A flock of American Robins arrived early this morning as the snow was starting, to finish off the rowan berries remaining on the tree at the front of the house.
21 – 22 December The sun set and rose again so all’s well with the world.
A weekend of blowing snow periodically turning to ice pellets with quite deep snow – the water main marker is almost buried – and the upper couple of inches is frozen crisp. As a result of truly horrible conditions, a large showing of birds: all the regulars (although less chickadees) including an unusual number of wood peckers; Downy, Hairy, Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker and a couple of brief appearances of the Red-bellied. The last particularly interesting as not seen since the spring. Both Carolina Wrens have survived so far.
30 December After plus 1C two days ago, temperatures are plummeting again from minus 13 C at 7.30am to minus 15C at 9.30am and continuing down per forecast. Early morning sightings of Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker and both Carolina Wrens.
Last year we had multiple cardinals mid-December; this year we are up to three females and two males already. But no sightings of the sapsucker since 27 Nov.
5 December Four female cardinals plus one male this morning!
The regular pair of Cardinals is in evidence along with a lone female, tolerated by the female of the pair, but not the male.
1 December two males as well as two females this morning.
25 November – third day of temperature remaining below zero, plenty of bird activity in the garden, mostly the usual suspects but including the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which first showed up Friday so this is its fourth day here – surely it must depart soon?
27 November After a heavy fall of wet snow overnight, the Sapsucker was here again this morning. Not observed again by us in November – we hope it is on its way south.
Still warm weather – no hint of overnight frosts, Carolina Wren “alarm clock” still waking us at first light which admittedly is getting later.
Past few days have seen flocks of White-throated Sparrows and juncoes all over the garden. As well, small flocks (6 – 8) of cardinals, evenly divided male/female have appeared, tolerating one another around the feeders.
Dahlias still blooming well, Canna lilies looking a bit dried out but still flowering. All lilies transferred to plastic pots for winter and their dry terracotta pots put in storage but pots with dahlias etc all still flowering so will be dealt with later. Bulbs just arrived but a bit warm for planting – don’t want them “waking up” and starting to shoot…..
Apart from a damp weekend immediately following the last post, the weather has continued sunny and warm – beautiful days starting cool and often misty followed by warm sunshine. A terrific start to retirement!
What seems like another two (at least) red squirrel juveniles have appeared – smaller than the last batch and favouring the cedar at the opposite end of the roof. Can’t help wondering how many small holes there are up there…..
So warm and dry that we are having to start watering the garden again; spending time digging out buckthorn and maple saplings, plus general trimming back and tidying – not the usual chilly job but a pleasure to be working outdoors.
Kinglets passing through with lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers plus some other warbler species with Fox and White-throated Sparrows. Juncoes have arrived but not much in evidence yet.
Back from Kenauk just one week, past five days have been glorious – sunny and clear. Yesterday and today very warm in the afternoon, so lunches on the deck, probably not many more opportunities this year.
A couple of late Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the garden this afternoon, taking nectar from the canna lilies. Dahlia Thomas Edison has two wonderful flowers on it at last – deep purple. All the other dahlias still blooming well.
The juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker first seen this past weekend was again on the peanut feeder, hacking away at pieces of nut. Seems strange – I know they’re woodpeckers but……..sapsucker??
And a Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still working the Canna lily flowers.
Despite being World Sauntering Day, weather and other activities have dictated that this is the day when I finally get the dahlias, currently in pots after overwintering as tubers, into their summer bed. Viewing the bed made me decide that this was also the time to remove all the rather invasive dark-leafed plant with yellow flowers; although it forms a pleasant backdrop to the bed it does try to compete with the dahlias which I put so much hard work into.
Two and a half hours later, most of it is out and I can get on with the original planned job. Retreating to a seat on the deck the garden was suddenly invaded by young starlings which had apparently been waiting in the trees until I removed myself from the garden. I’ve noticed before a lot of birds don’t seem to “see” us on the deck.
So far spring has been much colder than last year and maybe a bit cooler than usual; snowdrops are lasting well and the clumps seem to be expanding, possibly following the wet summer last year. Large clumps of purple crocuses have appeared everywhere – must remember to buy white or yellow or those little mauve species ones in the fall. On the other hand the purple ones do not suffer damage by squirrels or birds as yellow ones do.
I’m going to England next week so grabbed the opportunity of a sunny interval to plant out the indoor hyacinths from this winter. I also managed to cut down some of the dead stems which were obscuring crocus blooms – mixed feelings about that as what I can see better, so can the squirrels…and Mr Bunny who has been much in evidence lately. The question is: who is guilty of nibbling tulips shoots??
1 March the Easter Bunny arrived early – we usually see an Eastern Cottontail hopping around, often over snow, around Easter. This year he was early.
7 March Having failed us last weekend (for FeederWatch) the Red-bellied Woodpecker has arrived in the garden for the past three mornings at 7.25am. Don’t know what he’ll do this weekend when the clocks change……..