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Tangled Branches: Cultivated

happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Weather: warm (for the end of December) and sunny today

Birds and feeders: upon looking out into the back yard this morning (it was dark last night when we got home from the holidays), I found the caged suet feeder lying on the ground, and a pile of bird feathers nearby. No idea if the 2 are connected. The suet feeder is broken - a part of the outer mesh that happened to be attached to the hook is gone. If I had to guess, I would say it was squirrel damage. I can move the hook and hang it back up, but now it has a hole in it large enough to admit a squirrel, so it's fairly useless in its present state. It was a cheaply-made, ugly thing from Duncraft, and I didn't really like it when I bought it, but I couldn't find anything better. I won't be buying another one of the same, that's for sure.

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Saturday, December 13, 2003

Weather: Cold - 22 degrees for the low last night

Birds: Very, very birdy around here this morning. I guess they know there is a storm coming again. Had a large flock of robins sitting up high in the trees (waiting for the sun to warm them up?). Once the sun was up they were feeding in the neighbors' Bradford pear trees. Mixed in with the robins again, were several cedar waxwings. Here's the complete list of birds I saw this morning from around 7 am to around 8:15 (when I got bird fatigue):

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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Weather: bright sunshine most of the day yesterday; a few clouds today, but warming up a bit; starting to see some bare patches of ground in back where the snow has melted.

Wildlife: I've been putting food (shelled sunflower, Lyric Delite, and unshelled peanuts) out in a plant saucer on the ground every morning since Saturday, partly because I feel sorry for the squirrels, but mostly because I wanted the mourning doves around. But...those are all favorite squirrel foods and not particular favorites of the mourning doves, so today I bought some plain white proso millet and put a bit out. Seems to be working - the squirrels came around, looked at it, and left. No mourning doves yet - maybe later in the day. They did come around for a while yesterday. Got to quit wasting money on Lyric Delite - the birds totally ignore it when they can get sunflower seed.

The robins were back yesterday too, but not as many as before, and with them was a yellow-rumped warbler. Didn't see many birds at all down by the creek in back yesterday afternoon. This morning saw a pair of bluebirds in the backyard - they ate a few holly berries (there are only a few berries left), and then perched in the bare trees for about 20 minutes.

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Saturday, December 06, 2003

Weather: had another 4 inches or so of snow overnight - about 7 inches total for the storm.

Wildlife: I felt sorry for the squirrels, looking for something to eat in the snow, this morning. So I tossed a handful of peanuts (in the shell) out into the woods. Then I noticed that there were no mourning doves around this morning, probably because there was no food on the ground for them to scavenge. So I got a large plant saucer and put some mixed seed in it and sat it on top of the snow. I had one junco investigate right away, closely followed by a squirrel (surprise, surprise, what was I thinking?). The squirrel starts off by daintily picking up the seeds in his paws and nibbling on them, but soon gets serious about chowing down by putting his head down like a dog eating out of a dish. All the while, keeping any other squirrels away just with menacing looks. By and by, he decides maybe he should save some for later, so he takes some seed a short distance away and buries it in the snow. Then he gets a better idea. He comes back to the saucer and brushes some snow into it and pats the snow down on top of the seed. I was astonished.

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Friday, December 05, 2003

Weather: woke up this morning to about 3 inches of snow on the ground; it has been drizzling/raining/sleeting/snowing all day; right now it is snowing really big heavy wet flakes.

Wildlife: not all that many birds around the feeders today - kind of surprising because they usually come around in bad weather. Yesterday, down by the creek in back, I saw a large mixed flock of birds - robins, juncos, cardinals, and at least one pretty (unidentified) sparrow. I should take the binoculars when I walk.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Weather: sunny, but cold and windy today.

Chores: picked up some more sticks from the back to put out for yard debris pick-up tomorrow. Also cut down the rest of the perennials in front. Still need to do one more leaf clean-up session this year.

Nature notes: Yesterday morning, around 5:30, a rabbit and I surprised each other in the front yard. I was going out to get the paper, and it hopped away from the perennial bed. Yesterday around noon, a big flock of robins in back pretty much picked clean the holly berries from my little tree in back. Mixed in with the robins working on the berries, was a suspected cedar waxwing (first one I ever saw).

Then today, I saw a whole flock of cedar waxwings (about 10-20). About 4 pm, I noticed that the robins were back (splashing in the birdbath, among other activities), and then I noticed a group of different birds near the back of the lot. Got out the binoculars, and got a very good look at several cedar waxwings. Very elegant-looking birds. I hope they stay around a while.

This morning, while looking out the window at Capella, I saw 2 meteors just a short time apart.

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