Friday, July 31, 2009


Colinus virginianus

Growing up, I knew this bird as "a Quail". Since there's only one type of quail in Alabama, there's no confusion. I also heard them called Bobwhites, and some people put both together: Bobwhite quail. The standard name is Northern Bobwhite, but you'll be considered an egghead if you go around calling it that.

Our place was so manicured when we first moved here, that we never heard Bobwhites. A few years of "the natural look" was more to their liking, and now it's not unusual to hear them singing. It never fails to make me a little happier, every time I hear one.

Yesterday my husband discovered one walking down our driveway. Between a fogged lens and zero cover between us and the quail, I never thought to get a photo, let alone one this close. But this bedraggled individual seemed almost as curious about us as we were about him, allowing us closer than almost any wild bird I've ever encountered. He wasn't stupid though - he walked off into the brush just as we reached him.

Bobwhites are in decline, and I suspect that their numbers here are probably hurt by the huge increase in armadillos in recent years. (They're ground-nesting birds.)


Click here to hear a Bobwhite calling. We got close enough yesterday to hear an endearing little quiet chirping noise that he was making.

Visit the Friday Ark.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Indecisive cropping

I'm growing Zinnias for Hospice again this year. They're perfect for me: varied, easy, prolific, and forgiving. And, good for Hospice: long vase life.

I'm growing the same types as before, but their behavior this year (when not totally drought-stricken) is wildly different. The large varieties are doing so much better that I'd think they were different plants. (They're actually from the same batch of seeds.) We watered them last year, but apparently, that doesn't compare to actual rain.

The only problem I'm having...

... besides Japanese beetles...

... is indecisive cropping.

Can't decide which looks best.

I have that problem a lot.

Gave up after one try on this Peppermint Stick variety.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gray day swallows

Flighty flibbertigibbets.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chickens love watermelon

Chickens love watermelon, with a passion. These were just our leftover rinds, with only a bit of red. Last year we bought an over-mushy melon by mistake, and they ate the whole thing: chicken heaven.

I had figured that the black and white chickens were Dominiques, but now I'm not so sure. Dominiques (or Domineckers, as they are called here) have a rose comb, and these don't appear to be headed in that direction. The female on the right as a lot of whitish feathers on her front, but the others don't. The feathers on the back of their necks seem to be changing from black-and-white to brown-and-white.

My husband says they're probably all just mutt chickens. The three remaining excess cockerels haven't made it to the stew pot yet. They're not fighting, or even crowing, so far, but it's just a matter of time. For now though, they are helping decrease the insect population in the yard. This little flock roams further afield than others we've had.

I hate the fact that after the cockerels are culled, we'll have one tiny flock of two chickens and another tiny flock of three. "Can't we all just get along" is not a sentiment that's shared by chickens, apparently. The older birds just won't have anything to do with the younger ones. They treat them as if they were another species entirely. I wonder, if one of the older ones dies... will the remaining one prefer to spend her time alone, or will she try to join the younger flock? I'm guessing the latter.

The one on the right is lowest in the pecking order. The other chickens chase her from the food at times. But I've taken a tip from some people and started offering bugs that I find in the garden to the chickens. This gal is the one who comes running the fastest, for her caterpillar treat. Now she runs to me, expecting bugs, every time she sees me. I'm tempted to buy mealworms to keep in my pocket, so I won't be such a continual disappointment to her.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bad picture of a good fish

We walked in the creek. Apparently it's become our warm-weather holiday tradition. We spotted these fish, that I photographed poorly, and one other cool long-skinny-stripey one that I missed altogether.

Hubby said he thinks this is a sunfish. I looked online but couldn't find anything that matches exactly. (I'm hoping one of you will enlighten me.)

The weather was hot, the water was cool. The gnats were horrible. The mosquitoes, surprisingly, weren't unbearable. I did get an interesting bite that looked like it might have come from a 6-inch-tall vampire. It's still a little swollen, but I've experienced no bloodlust so far.

It hasn't rained in over three weeks. Most of the county got a nice downpour last weekend, but not here. The grass makes sad crunchy sounds. Hubby put in drip irrigation in most of the garden again this year, so I fired it up for a good soaking this week... and forgot to turn it off. For a long time. A looooong time. An "I'm embarrassed to tell my husband exactly how long" long time. The plants didn't seem to mind.