Sunday, February 27, 2011

More winter humming

Our winter hummingbirds are Anna's - Calypte anna -
and they are here year round. We do have some native and hybrid plants that bloom in late winter. Hummingbirds also manage to find insects, which is their main food source. If you keep feeders out year round, you can help them survive when we have really cold snaps.

Like some other animals in winter, notably raccoons, hummingbirds go into a torpor state when they sleep. Their temperature drops; their breathing and heart rate slows. Anna's hummingbird details-Cornell Ornithology Lab.

These birds tend to "tank up" on nectar at daybreak, then have a bit of a feeding frenzy right before sunset. "Jim" is one of two males and a female who are regularly at my feeders. I try not to stay outside very long to photograph them at sunset. Jim generally goes to the far side of the feeder farthest away from me. He will peek above the feeder to see if I'm still there.

My Hummer Gallery
Jim pretending to be a Costa's hummingbird

I just thought this shot was funny. He was determined that I was not going to photograph him flying. He would look right at me and fly straight up and out. I was standing in the front yard about 15 feet from the feeder.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snow drops

Beauty in, above, and below the snow. Sometimes in drops, sometimes in crystallized drops, and sometimes in flowery "snow." 

Winter Places gallery

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mountains from both sides

What a difference an hour makes. It was clear and cold this afternoon, about 30 degrees. I stopped at my favorite mountain viewing spot en route home about 5 this evening. Then did a woofie walk with the wonderdog about an hour later. Everytime I put the camera back on my bag, I pulled it right back out again.

Olympus to the west...

Rainier to the east...

More of my favorite mountains in my Places galleries.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Humming in Winter

I spent an hour this morning trying to get to work on an iced-over freeway in driving snow. After seeing several four-wheel-drive trucks spin out five miles from home, I decided that telecommuting would be a better choice. It took almost another hour to return home.

"Jim," my favorite wintering Anna's hummingbird, hung out in the birdie spa in the front yard most of the day.

Jim does not like the camera shutter click. The flash doesn't seem to bother him as much as the click. Maybe it sounds like a challenger.

There may be an addition or two to my Hummer gallery soon.

Another male Anna's buzzed in later in the day. I decided to give them an hour or so before sundown to visit the feeders without the camera around.

It's supposed to dip into the teens tonight. I bring the feeders in at night when the temps are below 28 degrees Fahrenheit to keep them from freezing. Once the temperature gets above 30, the feeders stay thawed.

I'm guessing that hummingbirds don't get ice cream headaches....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early spring

Even though snow is forecast for tomorrow, spring flowers are responding forecast by Punxsutawney Phil who didn't see his shadow on February 2.

This little anemone plant flowers early every year and bounces back from late winter snows. Grape hyacinths are popping up everywhere.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clouds from both sides

I remember a favorite Joni Mitchell lyric whenever I see clouds like these. "I've looked at clouds from both sides now. From up and down, and still somehow. It's cloud illusions I recall."

We seem to have atmospheric amnesia here in mostly rainy Washington state. We enjoyed a couple of sunny, chilly days. Now it's back to drizzly gray skies.

In June 2009, we had family visiting Washington state for the first time. Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains were obscured the entire time. We at least had photographic evidence of them! Here are the Olympics heading back into hiding.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

All-State Choir

I didn't need to think about it when my friend Sandy asked if I would like to join her at the All-State Symphonic Choir concert at Seattle Benaroya Hall. Her grandson Kyle Churman was the only singer from River Ridge High School in Lacey to be selected for this state honor.

I have fond memories of my own all-state experience. Almost exactly 40 years ago, I performed with the New Jersey All-State Choir & Orchestra in two concerts at Newark Symphony Hall and in Camden.

All-state choirs and orchestras are the best-of-the-best in their respective states. The Washington concert was just phenomenal. In addition to the 200-voice all-state choir, the Washington Music Educators Association hosted All-Northwest choirs and orchestras with high school musicians from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

The All-Northwest Choir was 450 voices strong.

In the evening, the instrumental musicians are performing. My thanks to Sandy and Kyle for a fabulous day!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Great Egret

It is unusual to see a great egret in Washington in winter and even more unusual to see one in western Washington. Egrets are large all-white herons that nearly went extinct at the end of the 19th century. Their feathers were a popular decoration for hats.

It wasn't until the late 1970s that the first nesting egrets returned to Washington state.

This guy swooped around the Nisqually delta, taking advantage of easier pickings at low tide.

Visit my DuPont Nisqually gallery for other images.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines for Dads & Daughters

Ok, I couldn't resist sharing a few of these special portraits from the DuPont Daddy Daughter Dance...just for Valentine's Day. This is the second year I have photographed the event and many familiar faces.

We have many military families in DuPont, since we are right next to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. That means that many young women were escorted by "dads for the dance" because their real daddies were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Last year, our Mayor Tamara Jenkins and her husband Clint  accompanied two young women to the dance. Dads who were deployed last year were here this year to escort their daughters to this special event.

I remember one family in particular. Last year, their daughter was escorted to the dance by her big brother. Brother later came to the Mom Superhero Ball in May (Friday before Mother's Day) with his Mom, dressed as "men in black." It was such a delight to finally meet Dad.

More (from last year) are in my Daddy Daughter gallery and my Portrait galleries.

Thanks for the memories DuPont Dads! And welcome home to our military Dads...and Moms!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Great Blue Heron

I've decided there just isn't a bad day at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Clearly lots of people agree with me. Parking was at a premium.

A new mile-long boardwalk across the estuary is now mostly done. It's about a mile walk out to the boardwalk. I got a late start, so I covered about half of the new boardwalk. I'll go back next weekend and do the entire length. The refuge was actually pretty quiet. There were some ducks and Canada geese. I saw one juvenile bald eagle but no other raptors.

There were at least a couple great blue herons and great white egrets fishing close to the boardwalk. As usual, I got about 100 shots. Here are a few favorite herons. I'll post the egret shots later this week.

My online Nisqually gallery is growing slowly.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Double Paradise

I wondered if my bird of paradise was even going to bloom this year. Usually it blooms in November or December. There was another bud hiding between the window and a leaf. I spotted it from outside when I looked up at the window.

I have a tropical microclimate at the top of the stairs. The stairwell has a window facing south. This window is in the southeast corner. The downside is the thermostat for the furnace is also at the top of the stairs. So when it's 70 here, it's 62 downstairs. Brrr!

I love the way the orange petals glow when they are backlit. Bird of paradise, hibiscus, and protea are my favorite flowers. Gardenias too, but they don't like our climate here much. Lavender, of course, is for everything else, including accenting the tropicals.

Visit my Flora galleries for more of my favorite blooms, including bird of paradise.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Double hummers

There were two male Anna's hummingbirds visiting the feeders this evening. I think they are related because they were not antagonizing each other. And each positioned himself at a feeder. Neither of them look like Jim, the male who has been here through the winter.

I will continue to add to my online Hummer gallery, but I will admit that I have some catching up to do. Enjoy!