Friday, December 19, 2014

Play Of Light

December 18th, 2014
Play Of Light
Walton County, Georgia

The sun backlights the Dog Fennel plants in this field and brings them to life. I look forward to seeing this field every day I ride along this road.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eating On The Run: Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

December 13th, 2014. Some birds – Purple Finches and American Goldfinches – will sit at the feeders to eat. By contrast, Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees will swoop in, alight, grab a sunflower seed, and fly up to a branch nearby to crack the seed open. They repeat this over and over again. Rarely does one sit at the feeder to eat.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reluctant Visitors: Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata)

December 13th, 2014. The Blue Jays in our area are quite shy. They live in the woods near the road and we rarely see them near the house. Last Winter, house, several came furtively to the feeder area. 

They would land in branches above and scope out the area. 

At first, they scavenged kernels that fell from a corn ear feeder we keep for the squirrels and stayed at a distance. 

They became a little bolder with time and we were treated to some close views as they ate the loose corn kernels closer to the house.

They didn’t come in until January so I was a little surprised to see one furtively scavenging kernels within a day of putting out the first ear of corn last week. Maybe we’ll see more of them this Winter.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Squirrel At Play...

December 8th, 2014 
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) 
Walton County, Georgia

The young squirrels spend quite a bit of time playing – chasing each other up and down tree trunks and along branches. This one paused for a couple of minutes to take stock of things.

Related post:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

December 8th, 2014
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
Walton County, Georgia

Chipping Sparrows are returning to the feeders after spending the summer out in the field. We’ll have up to three dozen or so in the middle of Winter.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Eastern Baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia)

December 1st, 2014. Eastern Baccharis  (Baccharis halimifolia) – also known as Silverling, Groundsel Tree, Consumption Weed, Sea Myrtle -  is one of the few shrubs that blooms in the Fall. Plants are dioecious; the male and female flowers are on different plants so it is the female plants that we notice. 

This shrub was growing by a fence. Most of the plants I see are at the edge of woods where it’s not possible to see their shape clearly. 

The flowers. In their prime, the blooms look like tassels. They spread as they go to seed. In individual seed is visible in the left side of the second photograph. 

An enlargement of the seed 

Flowers that have gone to seed.

Friday, December 5, 2014

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

White-throated Sparrows were regular visitors to the bird-feeder area last Winter. I didn’t notice them until towards the end of January and they stayed around until the middle of April. They are difficult to photograph because they are constantly on the move. 

They are named for the white throat patch. Sometimes it is difficult to see the patch on the neck and they can be identified by the black and white stripes on the head, with an often-prominent yellow patch at the front end of the white patch. They are also larger than most sparrows that winter in our area.
Often three or four birds would come hopping across the ground out of the woods and feed in the area near the bird feeders where they poke around in the leaf litter for seed, insects, and berries. They don’t eat from the feeders themselves but may east seed that has fallen from a feeder. One of the photos below shows a bird with what appears to be a sorghum seed in its beak. They spent most of the time on the ground. I saw one perched in a tree on only one occasion. 

This year, I spotted my first White-throated Sparrow in mid-November. So they already here for the Winter but able to get most of their food in the woods except when it’s been very cold.