In addition to our backyard birding, we go for walks as often as possible in the Washington Park Arboretum-three times in the past two weeks we've had barred owl sightings.
In an aging maple tree across the street from our house, we enjoyed watching a male pileated woodpecker at work. This bird kept three 2-year-olds enraptured for over an hour!
And yesterday, we had a downy woodpecker for the first time visit our suet offerings. I really love this time of year.
Photo credit: WhatBird.com
I was delighted to have the opportunity to preview A Natural History of Fairies by Emily Hawkins and illustrated by Jessica Roux. A Natural History of Fairies takes these elusive creatures into a truly wondrous realm with scientific information presented in a playful manner--a cross between Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies and The Magic Schoolbus.
The Natural History of Fairies is presented as the field journal of Aunt Elise, a botanist who traveled the world from 1890s-1920s. Under the guise of learning about fairies, readers are drawn into the very real and varied natural histories of a host of flora and fauna. We are treated to scientific drawings, observational charts, and notes as we are given a peek into the lives of fairies.
The Natural History of Fairies reminds us that we need to be aware of how our actions impact the natural world, and it does this without being cloying or pedantic. Instead, it invites fairy-finders to enjoy the beauty and wonder that is hiding in their backyards and neighborhoods. This book will entice you to venture into the magical realm.
The Natural History of Fairies will be published soon, on September 29...so, since I cannot share images, here are two other fairies I have loved: the Blackthorn fairy by Cicely Mary Barker and an update version of the classic midsummer eve by Edward Robert Hughes.
We do not have Satin Bowerbirds in our neighborhood, but they are distant cousins of our crows and ravens. I am entranced by their bower building and use of color to attract a mate.
Satin Bowerbird by Bert Kitchen :: from And So They Build
The bowerbird especially loves the color blue and will make use of discarded bottle caps and plastic straws, as well as toothbrushes, clothespins, and other garbage. An amazing bird that is able to turn trash into art .
Australian printmaker Rachel Newling has lovely linocuts and engravings; while looking for artistic rendering of bowerbirds, I came across her flying foxes...she has cards available too.
Today is Lughnasadh, the beginning Gaelic harvest festival which historically was observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. I will be celebrating by tidying up my garden boxes, harvesting the last of my spring kales and Swiss chard, and replanting for the fall season.
Where did July go? Our mornings included drinking coffee on the patio and enjoying our resident Spotted Towhees, Bewick's wrens, and hummingbirds--(not so much the antics of the voracious and vociferous fledgling crow who continues to create endless ruckus).
Photos: August calendar by Linnea, super-tiny cilantro flowers (whose centers turn into amazingly large coriander seeds!), and our manzanita (Arctostaphylos) Towhee playground
Pollinators I have loved,
and this t-shirt seems especially poignant these days.
How many different pollinators can you find in your backyard and neighborhood?
Want to know more about migratory pollinators?
specifically nectar-feeding bats and Monarch butterflies... Me too!
The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides is offering a free webinar on
Monday, June 29 1pm PDT---
see you there!
Eleanor Lutz, of Tabletop Whale, created this animated butterfly chart in 2014. I think she is brilliant, and love her application of art and digital technology to science illustration. Be sure to click the link to watch the butterflies in motion!
Then, pop over to Pacific Horticulture to find my inquiry research on "Where Are the Butterflies?" Plus, tips on how to make your garden butterfly-friendly with these Eight Essential Elements.
~illustration by Roger La Borde
This year we have spunky Bewick's Wrens nesting in the side of our garden shed (they totally ignored the birdhouses we have installed for them), a reclusive pair of Spotted Towhees nesting in the hedgerow underbrush, and some riotous Stellar Jays have built their nest in a neighbor's conifer. We are enjoying getting to know these three bird couples. It's been fun to observe their quirky personalities and how they interact with all the other songbirds who visit throughout the day.
Since I recently donated my cameras and lenses to Peter Pearsall, wildlife photographer, I was compelled to go looking for images of these avian parents. I am very pleased to have discovered Whatbird.com. It is a nice compliment to my favorite site :the Cornell Lab's All About Birds.
My stay-at-home project this spring is to join Rob Dunn and his crew in their Wild Sourdough Project and also to participate in Michelle Jewel's 20 minute Fermentology Seminars to learn about "the applied ecology, evolution, history and culture of cultured foods". Both of these activities have open invitations from North Carolina State Public Science Lab.
As a Wild Sourdough participant, I will be comparing ferments from three types of flour. I mixed my pastes today and in two weeks will be posting photos and data to the site.
Meanwhile...meet the new babies in our fermenting lab (joining our kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and my Seattle sourdough).
Want to join me in a Zoom seminar every Thursday afternoon through August? See you there!
I am excited to share the link to my article, published Spring 2019 in Pacific Horticulture.
With everyone quarantined and staying at home, this is a wonderful opportunity to dig into your soil and to nourish your relationship with the flora and fauna in the neighborhood.
Now, get outside and enjoy that spring sunshine!
Two new birds to end my year: an unusually marked sapsucker and a Belted Kingfisher.
We spotted these on Christmas Eve, near Duck Pond at the northern end of the Arboretum.
It was a handy coincidence that Union Bay Watch was on hand to take photos, and then to do a bit of research. According to Larry:
"It seems to me that this 2019 bird is most likely a hybrid between a Red-breasted and a Red-naped Sapsucker. However, the black mask surrounding the eye is rather puzzling. None of the four species of sapsuckers in North America have such a complete mask of black around the eyes. Three of the four have a black eye stripe running between white highlights, similar to the Red-naped Sapsucker. The Red-breasted Sapsucker is the exception. This 2019 bird appears to be a unique individual. The black mask around the eye appears to be personal variation. Maybe this is how a new species begins. If this bird's unique DNA is passed on maybe someday its progeny will form another species. They might even be called, Black-masked Sapsuckers."
How cool is that?
Happy Bird Year 2020!