When you're a 40 something single mother of a teen with lots of ambition, you find yourself in all kinds of interesting adventures and situations. Come back to laugh at us any time you feel the need, heaven knows where we'll be doing what next. Here you can expect a few words, a lot of images and hopefully ideas on what you can do for your next adventure.

If you're looking for something specific that we've done or a place that we've been, use the Search Box feature to search our blog.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Time to complete my New Year's Eve duties! In 2010, I resolve to:
  • Loose a few pounds - no limit on how much though, I'm not that goal oriented.
  • Get a handle on my finances. I'm SO CLOSE to getting everything in order!
  • Tuck money away and hang onto it for fun times.
  • Take a vacation - a real one. And try not to use up my time off before summertime.
  • Spend more time outdoors. Well, I'm not sure that's possible.... maybe keep spending time outdoors.
  • Buy another State Park Pass! That thing was awesome, and the weather HAS to be better this year!
  • Get a new 'big' camera. I have my sights on a Canon 50D, the little brother to my measly 10D.
  • If not a new camera, a riding lawnmower so I don't have to push my limits all summer long.
  • Get a canoe, regardless of the two bullets above. We need to go fishing!
  • Actually keep track of the birds I've seen. I have a gazillion photographs, but no real list.
  • Clear out more of the back '40. I need to thin out more of the young pines so I can see out there.
  • Make sure I tell my son how much I love him every day.  
I don't ask for much, I'm pretty happy with my life and how things are. I hope that 2010 treats all of us well! Cheers!

New Years Eve 2006

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Bluebird chronicals, a pictorial of my backyard babies

I bought a cedar birdhouse at Lowe's over last winter thinking that I might be able to entice a couple of barn swallows to nest in the backyard that spring. That said I screwed it onto the birch tree out back about 6' up and sat back to watch the show.

The house was a great source of entertainment as multiple pairs of swallows swooped and dove and scoped out the surroundings - until one day when I noticed the bird on top of the box didn't look right. It was a male bluebird, bright as can be and showing off the new diggs to his mate. She wasn't impressed and they both flew off. The next day I went to toss a few pine needles in to try to get them to start building, and found a fully developed nest (including hair from my dog!).

It didn't take long and the nest was filled with eggs - and I started to keep track of everything on NestWatch (a very easy site to sign up and track progress on!). Below you will find photographs of the adventure and I promise that at no time were any of the birds in danger! Mr & Mrs B would actually follow me around the yard when I was out working and sing to me when I was sitting on the back porch.

June 4th, 2009 - we started with 5 bright blue eggs

June 17th, 3 naked and tiny babies emerged

June 21st, I could only find four babies

June 24th - look at the pin feathers!

July 1st, almost ready to fly

WOW! It's a big world out there!

Mr B wing waving

Mr & Mrs B, the proud parents

Mr B in flight

One of the four fledgelings



and #4 - they all came back to visit about a week after leaving the nest.

About three weeks after the last sighting, mom, dad and the four babies came back to sit on the powerline that leads out front of my house. My son and I sat almost underneath them in the window and watched as the parents fed them bugs and taught them how to hunt for almost an hour. We never saw any of them again. Talk about empty nest syndrome!

I truly enjoyed the experience and hope to do so again this summer, right after I move the nest box from the tree to a post on the edge of the field. Just have to get past all this snow first.

Information from my NestWatch data:

Nest attempt 1:  2009 May 29 to Jul 06

                         Eastern Bluebird

                         10 visits

Summary of this nest attempt:

                          Outcome: success

                          Egg laying start date: Jun 04

                          Hatch date: Jun 17

                          Fledging start date: Jul 06

                          Total visits to nest attempt: 10

                          Clutch Size: 5

                          Total Young: 4

                          Unhatched eggs: 1

                          Fledged Young: 4

Comments:    I'm amazed that this nest succeeded. The box was put up in early April, brand new, and the Bluebirds took to it like it had been there for years. We had a rainy June, 22 of 30 days we had rain and cool weather. I'm very pleased with how things worked out! I also have photographs if needed of the 'clutch watch'. Includes eggs and hatchlings up to fledglings (day 14) - last with head poking head from box at day 18. They left the nest on day 19 (after hatching) without us at home. I've removed the nest (it was soggy and flat!) and replaced with some pine needles hoping they will have a second brood.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Osprey and the hornet

That just sounds like a children's story title.

I know it's winter, but I just found this picture from 2006 on my computer and had to share. I was at Spring Point Marina in South Portland and snuck around the fence to get a picture of the Osprey babies in the family's permanent nesting spot; I just happened upon this 'bee in the bonnet' moment as (mom or dad?) settled down to take a break from feeding.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rain, rain go away.....

It's pouring out, ridiculously so. The dog wants to go out and I'm trying to get her to wait until it slows down a bit. Her favorite rainy day trick is to come back inside saturated and jump on my bed. It's never fun to try to sleep with wet dog smell embedded in the comforter.

It's my weekend off, the boy is with his father. I was hoping for a nice weekend, now it's just a washout. I wanted to bird or hike a little - not now! I took all the Christmas decorations down yesterday so the house looks huge with all the extra space. All that's left to do now is laundry and roast a chicken. Maybe I'll make this a relax and nap in the chair day. I have to keep telling myself that at least it's not 90 degrees out! I would love to see a real rainbow right about now, and at least I don't have 3 feet of snow to shovel.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A tale of two sparrows

This week has introduced two new additions to my feeder friends, the Savannah persists and an American Tree Sparrow showed up on Christmas day. No, I didn't get to see a Cardinal but I'll keep my hopes up that one will show up soon!

Savannah Sparrow

An American Tree Sparrow has a staredown with the WB Nuthatch

Monday, December 21, 2009

Confessions of a closet birder

It was dead silent at work today, everyone was basically on vacation. Not me, I ran out a few weeks ago - blame it on the kid and I being ill more than we should have been this year or not, I have to wait until 1/1 to get more time off. I'm tempted to take the whole first week of the year off, but then I'd probably end up in the same situation.**sigh** There I sat, bored.

See, this working thing really interferes with my personal life. I would rather be home watching to see who is flipping seeds they don't like out of the feeders. I'm not really a bird 'chaser', more of an armchair enthusiast.

This morning I left the house and can't remember if I locked the side door or not. Why is that? I was too busy thinking about the Savannah Sparrow that had landed on the back porch then hopped down to help himself to the feeder droppings in the snow. I had wanted to sit in my back window taking pictures and waiting to see who else would come to join, daydreaming of a flock of purple finches, grosbeaks or an appearance by the cardinal pair. Instead I had two boys to corral onto the bus and a 20 minute drive into the office. Half way through that ride I started wondering if I had shut the coffee pot off and locked the door.
In my 'spare time' today, I've decided that with my Christmas money (if Santa brings any), I'm going to purchase two new books. Sparrows and Finches of the Great Lakes and the Northeast and Warblers of the Great Lakes and the Northeast. If there are any birds I have a hard time distinguishing, it's those species. I have them queued on Amazon.com just waiting for the cash flow (come on baby, momma needs some new books!).

Anyway, here's my Savannah - the only bird (besides a few Juncos) that I got to see today. Well, except the ride in: I saw a flock of 100+ grackles in South Portland feeding on the side of the road. Oh yeah - coffee pot was off and the door was locked after all. I'm not loosing it completely.

An Ode to the Solstice

Dear Mr. Solstice, please bring back the light?
I really don't feel up for much of a fight.

See, the darkness it comes just a bit too early,
I have to admit that I'm getting quite surly.

I've been oh so patient to wait for this day
It seemed like years, Lord don't take it away!

From here on out, may daylight be longer
Give the sun a boost so it's rays get stronger

Give me the strength too, since winter takes forever
To keep my mind, body and soul working together.

Yes - that was my little peom and my picture as well. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday snowstorm flurry of activity

My back yard was abuzz this morning - from squirrels to turkeys. I have a list of the usual suspects - chickadees, titmouse, nuthatches, juncos, doves, jays, downy and hairy woodpeckers. The storm, which we aren't supposed to get anything from, is just offshore. It did dump tons on our southern coastal states but we're supposed to remain unscathed. Then again, I should go check the weather again - they change it every five minutes here.The animals don't have a person with a degree to tell them what the weather is supposed to do, they react based on their instincts (actually, perhaps we should too?). As such, I have plenty to watch through my 'sliding glass door tv'.

A sole and very nervous turkey entered the picture and helped herself to the scattering of seeds from under the birch tree feeder. It's definitely a female, but I'm not sure how she broke off from the 'gaggle' we have in the neighborhood which at last count was 27 strong. She's not lacking from food, I believe the appropriate way to suggest her waistline is that she's..... plump. Maybe she's too big to keep up, or maybe she just smells funny and they kicked her out.

The Juncos were on the porch looking for feeder leftovers before it was barely daylight this morning. Their little bodies were hopping, investigating the porch and snow looking for morsels that had been flicked out by the Bluejays. They were soon joined by the Mourning Doves, making the ground appear alive. Soon everyone else showed up, creating great entertainment for my cat and I.

Yesterday I was trying to think of ways to put food out without buying a new feeder, so I wrapped wire around the handle of an emty Maxwell House coffee container and hung it from a tree out back. I half filled it with seed and the chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches took to it no problem in the flurry of the morning's excitement. Oh, and the gray squirrels too. I suppose, now that I know it will work I'll have to rig up another wire to keep them out of it. I think I have about ten more of those plastic containers, maybe I'll rig up a couple extras while I'm at it.

Since I started writing it went from no snow, to barely snow, to a winter wonderland. It's very fine, but nonetheless coming down fast and furious. I'm wondering if the 1" will hold true? My feathered buddies have gone to seek shelter, but the squirrels are still going strong. I think rather than belting out a screech with the noisemaker, I'll let them eat. So long as they aren't chewing on my feeders, that is.

If I could only figure out how to get down there......

 Hey! What's it like down there?

 Looks safe enough, and there's food in it!

Yeah - this will work!

 Just... a.... little.... bit.... farther.......

(ha for you little squirrel-ly, now that I  know it works I'm rigging this one up too!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tree trimmings

Snow is threatening for tonight, bring it on! I have the feeders filled for my feathered friends, the car is parked in it's 'special spot' and the shovels have been placed right next to the door in ready position. The lights are twinkling and the boys are on the PlayStation. It's almost the first day of winter - 2 days away. I'm ready for the daylight to start pushing back and I really miss summer. I can't wait to see if my bluebirds come back next year.......

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snow day - December 9th

Ok, so I'm a few days late to report. Wednesday was the first substantial snowfall for the winter season, enough so to call off school for half the countryside. I got the notification that SAD6 had closed shortly before 6:00 am and looked out the window - not a stitch of snow to be seen. Monkey clambered into my bed and I gave him the grave news - he just about exploded with happiness.

It started around 7:00 am and didn't let up until after we went to bed. By 3:00 in the afternoon, we easily had ten inches of white stuff - then it turned over to rain. And rain it did - absolutely pouring at times. Thanks goodness my crazies across the street plowed up the drive a few turns!

Manboob guy: "you want me to run a pass up your driveway?"
Me: "Um, not really. Of course I do you stupid idiot! Do you think I enjoy shoveling?" (ok, that's what I was thinking in my head)
Me - really this time: "That would be heavenly! Thank you SO MUCH!"

Monkey spent more time outside than inside and saturated three entire sets of outerwear (snow pants, jackets, hats, mittens/gloves). He loved every minute of it, as did I.



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