Thursday, May 03, 2007

In Search of Wildlife Habitats and Lifers


Our wildlife habitat on campus will be a slow process. I arranged a meeting with a State environmentalist and a few campus committee members to assess our campus for possible sites and to talk about obtaining NWH certification. We met yesterday. She was quite knowledgeable and had great suggestions and encouragement for us. We walked the entire campus and I’ll add that it was 92 degrees in the shade. No one whined or complained but since the weather inside the offices is a crisp 65 degrees and we dress accordingly, we all looked like cats in a bathtub by the time we finished the tour. The creek bed above provides water, shelter, a food source, and it’s loaded with all sorts of wildlife, including numerous snakes. No thank you. Additionally, it backs up to the transportation technology building that houses the roaring engines of tractors hitched to 18-wheeler trailers and other engine noisy equipment. No way.

Another area of the campus has a small pond surrounded by tall oaks, pines, birches, and some smaller ornamental trees. Now, doesn’t that sound encouraging? It’s located near the law enforcement building where I work but there is a plan for building a firing range next to it for law enforcers/swat teams. Now, isn’t that just dandy! No thanks.


Our hopes were crushed until we made the last stop on the tour at the home of Millie and Johnny. They have their hands full right now and I wish I could peek inside that house. None of us had ever noticed this:


A water source is located only a few yards away from where Millie & Johnny live! It works, too!


This is the area we have chosen to start. In the fall, we’ll begin planting low berry producing shrubs for ground feeders, butterfly bushes, native flowers, nesting boxes that are properly mounted and baffled, simple water features like bird baths or a fountain, paving stones for designated walkways, and signage. Now we have something to look forward to!


The temperatures plummeted thirty degrees this evening, the winds picked up, and the sky is dark. I am praying for rain tonight. Since I’ve been living in North Carolina, the droughts have plagued us.

The migrating birds are arriving every day and I can’t keep up. I’ve seen flashes of birds I can’t even identify yet. But I will.


Sure, I’m obsessed with the hummingbirds right now, but who wouldn’t? I added a new feeder on the deck but they haven’t discovered it yet.


Through the sunroom glass, I got him! My photographing tactics need improving and I know I’ll have them mastered in the coming months. I’m giddy with excitement!


Still playing games with me. Those Chickadees make my heart rate rise so quickly! Damn!


I’ve seen so many Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks on fabulous blogs in the past week and I poo-pooed myself, thinking I’d never see one here. Well, look! Drop dead gorgeous. I hope he comes back! I’ve joined the club. Or, may I join?


One of the few flowers I have. I am absolutely aching to spend a week of loading flats of flowers and flowering bushes in my car… crawling around in the soil… Sigh… My office job really gets in the way.

And forget the lifers for a minute. Here’s a reliable, sweet, food-loving, lovey-dovey visitor that I see every day, all year long.



Beth said...

Hey, I wanted a 'cats in the bathtub' picture!

The hummingbird pics are SO COOL!

I admire and commend you for the work you're doing with the environmentalist. Great job!

Dorothy said...

Hi Mary, Good for you and for your school for caring so much about the environment to start a habitat area. Sorry for the heat and drought conditions..I'll send you some rain from Pennsylvania way.
Your hummer feeder is so pretty..and the bird pictures....priceless!!! Love the eye candy! ;o)

dmmgmfm said...

Great photos, wonderful story. I'm so glad you found the perfect spot. Like Beth, I loved your cats in a bathtub comment. You always make my day, Mary. Thank you.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Yes!!! We both are in the Rose-breasted Grosbeak club now. Yours actally showed his breast! Wow, great shot. It is very wet here and I am sending some your way. Soft, sweet, gentle rains for you and your birds and your plants. It is very cloudy and I have to "work" to get my photos. Your
Hummingbird photos are wonderful. I have yet to get one! Seems whenever I see Mr. Ruby-throated I am fiddling with a lens cap!
So many song birds!
Your work is so very important. I know it gets in the way with the birding in your own backyard, but the birds and butterflies love you for it!
Sherry, who will sleep when she is dead.(too many birds to see while she is alive!)

Cathy said...

Ohhhh! The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak! I've never nabbed a picture that great.

How close will you be to the wildlife area from your office? I can imagine your pleasure in getting to help create this beauty from the ground up.

I'm so glad you linked back to Millie and Johnny and their domestic bliss. Precious, Mary.

LauraHinNJ said...

I don't know that I would discount that creek because of the snakes - it looks very promising!

I think you're right to start close to *homebase* - looks like a beautiful little spot that could easily be improved and made more wildlife friendly.

Love your grosbeak! I had one at the feeder for about 5 seconds last spring...

KGMom said...

Cats in a bathtub--great image.
And I think I've been to the blogs with Rose-breasted Grosbeaks--now you got one. Great.
I agree about hummingbirds--their frenetic flying is so amazing to me.

Unknown said...

Sigh. I haven't even seen a regular old Grosbeak yet. Lucky you! Those Rose-breasted ones are SPECTACULAR!!!

Your hummingbird pic is amazing. Thanks for the bluebird update! Cna't wait to learn more about your environmental project as it progresses.

You rock!

Susan Gets Native said...

I'm barely in the RB Grosbeak club, like Laura. We had one last fall for about 5 seconds.

You are going to have SO much fun building that habitat!
And remember:
Susan Says: "Get Native!"

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Your hummer pix are spectacular!! Good for you- your involvement in the wildlife habitat on campus is a positive change who's impact will last long into the future. I had a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks last spring for two days, then poof!

Jayne said...

Mary got a Grosbeak!!!! YEA!!!!! :c) He's beautiful, and you captured him so perfectly!

Looks like a great place for a natural wildlife habitat. Can't wait to see it as it evolves.

Needing some rain here too.... Hugs to you dear heart.

Anonymous said...

Mary your photo's are fabulous! You really need to think about submitting a few of them to the Bird and Bloom Mag I sent you! They are gorgeous and I truly envy you the hummingbirds! WOW! You really have an eye for capturing them with your camera lense.

kate said...

Oh Mary, I loved this post. Your enthusiasm for finding just the right place for the wildlife habitat is contagious. You have such incredible knowledge of what needs to be done - i.e. the shrubs etc. to plant. I love your bird pictures, especially Millie and Johnny. I can only imagine what it looks like inside their house!

Chrissie said...

Your plans are really exciting, I wish you well with them! Love the phrase 'cats in a bath tub' :-) I will remember that one :-) I really wish we had hummingbirds, sadly I dont believe they have ever been seen over here!

thailandchani said...

I wish you didn't have that office job so that you could just take beautiful pictures for all of us ~ full time! :)



Cuppa said...

Oh Mary, your blog is like a breath of spring entering my world. What a treat all your pictures are.

Hummingbirds are amazing aren't they? I read a book about hummers that you might really enjoy. "A Hummingbird in my house: The story of Squeak" by Arnette Heidcamp

It is a true story about a lady who had a hummer fly into her sun porch one fall and it ended up spending the winter with her. It is a fabulous story and the book is loaded with magnificent pictures.

Her second book "Hummingbirds my winter guests" tells of her adventures with injured hummers and her efforts to help them. Both books are great reads.