Monday, October 13, 2008

Where's that Nuthatch?


Yes, this is all there is.

I shot myself in the foot with a decision I made two weeks ago. Why did I wait until the week the hummingbirds were leaving to remove the bird feeders? Now I have nothing. It’s quiet outside and I’m incomplete.

Regardless of that foolish decision, I’m living with it. The pigeons left immediately and the fifty House Sparrows have fled, well, all but two are still shacking up in my neighbor’s attic vent and sipping from the pond. May they all search for a new and better motel and restaurant, miles away! Birds I haven’t seen in over a month have visited and that’s great news unless you love to photograph them. They tease me. I’d appreciate more than a glimpse.


How about fire ants? I’m fascinated by these formidable pyramids you can see from the road. Like a child, I drop large stones on them to see the activity spew in defense. I haven’t been stung yet but I know it’s in my future. It’s a banner year for fire ants in NC.

While Ruth at Body, Soul, and Spirit is feeding Chickadees on her hand and Big Sits all over the country counted more species than I’ll ever see, I’m scanning treetops and listening, very closely, to what might be a bird.


My camera is screaming to take photographs of birds perched and waiting for me to say "cheese". Instead, every avian creature I see avoids me, knowing just how far I am away from them. The above bird’s a snob.


Where I found the turtles and a Great Blue Heron on Saturday, I heard what I thought might be Brown-Headed Nuthatches. Where are those nuthatches? Clear across the pond, that’s where. Can you see them?


Until I reviewed these photos, I wasn’t sure what I was photographing. With my dear Kodak, I would have never considered taking a shot from this distance.


He belongs a mile down the road at my house! Can you find the male Downy?


Another desperate attempt at the grocery store pond.

I kicked dirt.

Sick of it.
Plain sick of it.

During my mild tantrum, I hadn’t noticed what I was missing a few feet away from me at the water’s edge…and what I saw was what I needed.






a male Ruddy Duck changing to winter plumage. Too far away, but a Lifer. Being impatient with field guides and overlooking an easy, obvious ID that night, I asked Julie a.k.a. Science Chimp for help, who is always eager to soar in to help kindly or beat me with a nerf bat. Love it.

I need to settle down.


Anonymous said...

You have a brown-headed AND a white-breasted nuthatch in that shot, you big show-off! Nice one!

kate smudges said...

I think I've been MIA for too long and hadn't a clue that you were no longer running a 5-star restaurant for birds at your house. One of these days, you'll find yourself surrounded by birds when you least expect it ... just remember to keep your camera with you!

I hope all's well with you. Sorry for not having visited for a long spell. Nasty arthritic flare at this end.

Kathleen said...

You took the feeders down to clean them, right? Are they going back up this weekend????

All the agony of missing birds and you turn around to see a life bird! That is pretty good karma.

Julie Zickefoose said...

I predict you're going to start feeding again soon. I see a sparrow trap in your future...

Swami Chimp

KGMom said...

Yes, Mary--settle down.
I have to laugh at. . .er. . .with you.
The other day--we heard a rat-a-tat-tat, and before I could grab camera or even look out the window, my husband yelled--hey, woodpecker, cut that out.
WHAT? I asked him--oh, it was just a pesky woodpecker trying to drill in our down spout. I huffed around for a bit--I wanted to see the woodpecker; don't chase them away!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Mary, just imagine how thrilled you'll be to see them remember--and come back for a snack at your doorstep.
In the meantime, you have no shortage of birds around--though I know you'd like them closer.
Fire ants? No kidding!
That'd be a first for me.

(lucky you!)

Ruth said...

I envy the backyard birds you enjoy, especially in the winter. And your Bluebirds! I have seen only one, and from a distance. It is not every day you see a lifer...a Ruddy duck would be a lifer for me too.

NatureWoman said...

Cool photos, once again Mary! You'll be photographing birds in your backyard again soon, Mary!

Mary C said...

Me thinks you like/love your new camera! Great shots, Mary! And I like what you saw, too. Any chance of putting out at least one feeder? I'm still surprised that your hummingbirds take off for the winter whereas our Annas stick around all year. Granted I will see fewer hummers, but they still come to the feeders during the fall and winter months.

Susan Gets Native said...

Someone hose Mary off, please?
: )

Time to put them back up yet?

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary......I know how you feel....when the bees butterflies and dragons leave, I have to really stretch my imagination to find things to post about.....I miss the little creatures.....

I am going to attempt to take photographs of birds this winter....I have a new camera so fingers crossed I might actually get some decent ones.....I find birds so hard.......

I love the pictures of the pretty......I like to look at the detail.......

Kathi said...

Even at a distance, Mary, your bird photos are still much better than what I can get with my little point-and-shoot Canon. Good enough that I could see immediately that you had TWO DIFFERENT nuthatches in your photo. And, of course we could see the male downy.

Ruddy Duck is a good bird; that bright blue bill in breeding plumage is distinctive. In winter plumage, the big white cheeks and long, stiff, upright tail are your clues. (As I'm sure the Chimp expounded on in her e-mail.)

I know it is frustrating to withhold food from your birdies, but give those pesky pigeons and HOSP time to vacate the area before you give in and put them back up. You will be happier in the long run.

Wait until WVa: We will get you dozens of species before lunch!


Jayne said...

Oh Mary, it will happen. The day will come when you can happily put all your feeders back up and all your backyard friends will be coming by to sit for their inaugural photos with the new camera!

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! Your pictures are wonderful. What camera do you have? The zoom is great.
That's a pile of fire ants? Pretty scary.
I finally took my hummer feeders down yesterday. I was hoping that I still would have a couple wayward ones. Last one I saw was last week. Lisa

Richard said...

Great photos. As for fire ants, they are nasty. There bites are painful at least, and if bitten in the foot area, the foot can swell up like a balloon. Don't wal around bare footed.

The Quacks of Life said...

you may be interested to know that the conservation authorities over here feel the same way about Ruddy Ducks as you do about House Sparrows.

The Ruddies are subject to a cull at the mo.

NCmountainwoman said...

Oh Mary, I agree with you. You do need to settle down. You write this post as if you aren't seeing any activity and then you give us marvelous pictures that most of us would die for.

We won't feel a bit sorry for you as long as we keep seeing photos like this.

jason said...

See, Mary, I think it's good for the usual suspects to disappear for a bit. It always forces me to take notice of other things--things I was missing because I was too tied up with the regulars.

And for someone upset that she couldn't find anything interesting to photograph, you sure posted some marvelous pictures!

Dog_geek said...

Sheesh! I certainly hope that you are planning to put your feeders back up soon, so that you are no longer reduced to playing with fire ants for your entertainment! I mean, yikes!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I just love those little brown-headed nuthatches. Wow, fire ants. Be careful. I hear they can be lethal. We have lots of ants in our garden this year. It must have been the weather conditions that are right for them. Sometimes the Flickers come to dine on them. That is always fun to see.

Annie in Austin said...

Oh Mary - it's your own fault for setting such high standards... no way even you- yourself can live up to them!

What puzzles me is that I never feed birds at all but am overrun with White-Wing Doves, Sparrows and Blue Jays. They must be getting food elsewhere.

The life-list must be very long by now!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

(FYI: Fire Ant bites are no fun - believe me! Stay away! Bleach-water is a traditional remedy for them but one of the Austin Bloggers says Windex also helps.)

Naturegirl said...

Mary never a dull moment when I come by for a visit! Love everything in this post! The water in the first looks pinkish!!I'm still feeding my birds..but seeing I'll migrate myself in the winter months perhaps I'll stop soon!

Wendy said...

Your nuthaches are cute - I can see them. And the woodpecker too. I enjoyed the turtle poking his head up. Fire ants! Yikes - they sound wicked!

Your flowers were pretty too. A good post, Mary - don't beat yourself up. I enjoyed your pics.
Oh yeah - a full moon tonight - maybe that's why you're feeling restless.

Unknown said...

You're right about the fire ant nest: that's a pyramid fit for Cheops!

BJ said...

Dang Mary! Your pictures are fabulous! Keep it up girl!

Larry said...

Aha! Now you have to go look for birds outside of your own yard.-That's good for you Mary.-You can have your backyard birds back whenever you want them.-

dmmgmfm said...

Love the photos as always Mary.

RuthieJ said...

What about over at the campus? Do you still get a chance to look for birds while you're at work?
I hope you can put your feeders up at home again soon.

Rose said...

Beautiful photos as always, Mary. If you hadn't said how far away you were when taking these photos, I would have thought you were standing right next to these birds! Your photos of the wildflowers reminds me that often beauty is all around us if we only look.

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, your love of the birds always shine through. I'd be frustrated too if pigeons started showing up at my house. I've seen a few fly over the neighborhood but none have taken up residence so far. I, too, quit putting out sunflower seed for now as all I was getting were house sparrows. As you know, I am feeding hummingbirds instead as well as the few woodpeckers who come to my peanut feeder and the goldfinches that come to the nyjer seed. I think the HoSp's are too lazy too work that hard for the nyjer seed, though I still see them hanging around! I love pics of the brown-headed nuthatches and congrats on the ruddy duck!