This has been a tough winter for many of our feathered friends. Copious amounts of snow have made it difficult to find natural food and many birds that don’t usually visit feeders have been coming around, hoping for some nutritious handouts to tide them over.
For the first time in my yard I have had a hermit thrush. Hermit thrushes do over winter here on the Cape in small numbers but in 30 years I have never had one in the yard until now.
Another bird that we have all summer but not usually at a feeder in the winter is the gray catbird and yet one showed up about two weeks ago and visits the suet feeder daily.
This isn’t a great shot but check out that rusty red under the tail feathers!
Another unusual visitor has been this northern mockingbird. Again, a bird that we know is around even in the winter but which usually stays far away from the feeders.
And then there is the visitor to the feeders none of the other birds like to think about but hey, it’s been a tough winter and even the Cooper’s hawks are hungry…
Many people have been spotting unusual birds in their yards this winter. What have you been seeing?
This has been quite a month and I’m pretty sure most of us are tired of the “S” word by now. Rain is predicted after beginning as snow for tonight and tomorrow and although it will probably make a mess of the roads I’ll be glad to see at least some of these huge snow piles wash away.
The beaches, though cold, have been stark and gorgeous, if you like that sort of thing, which I do.
My husband and I took some time off to go exploring down Cape this past week and the reward was well worth it.
We originally aimed for Chatham so took Rt. 28, the southern route. This allowed us to stop at Seagull Beach in West Yarmouth
and West Dennis Beach
Chatham was freezing cold and windy so we just looked onto South Beach from the parking lot.
We decided to head on up to Eastham and stopped at Fort Hill
And Coast Guard Beach
And First Encounter Beach
Where you can see how frozen Cape Cod Bay is
Our last stop of the day was Paine’s Creek in Brewster
As we traveled the temperature dropped about 20 degrees from morning until late afternoon but we went well prepared. Have you been out and around since all this snow fell? What is your favorite snowy beach scene?
Today the sun is shining and the temperature is climbing to at least freezing. The howling winds and stinging snow are now just memories. What we do have is lots of snow to move around and lots of very hungry birds.
Although I had seed and suet out all through the storm the wind was so tough not many birds braved it. I threw seed out the back door and into areas where the wind wasn’t quite so fierce and we got some takers.
We got a lot of snow and had a lot of drifting…the day after the storm is when the feeding frenzy began and lasted pretty much through the day.
My feeders are by my garden which has a chicken wire fence so the bird is not in a cage, just behind the wire…
I don’t remember seeing such hungry birds. I had dozens of birds everywhere I looked, eating, eating, eating!I seem to have at least a dozen juncos that are calling my yard home this winter and I always think of them as the true snow birds…
Mr. Cardinal and all his cardinal friends were very hungry and at one point I had over 20 in and around the feeders.
I was most excited to see that the little orange crowned warbler survived the storm! It showed up about midday yesterday….
The resident Carolina wren also survived and was very territorial around the suet feeder.
Blue jays arrived in a feisty little group to take over the ground feeding at one point.This morning the sun shone clear and bright and Mrs. Cardinal posed as if to say, “All is right in the world today!”
Things are slowly returning to normal around here and the birds feeding today are hungry as usual but not frantic. How did you make out in the blizzard? Any unusual birds to report?
If you’re in New England you can’t help but know there’s a big storm on the way and it seems to have started already.
This morning its was totally serene and peaceful at the beach.
I put out a lot of extra food for the birds, including extra suet for the little orange crowned warbler that continues here…that’s the little warbler on the left, on the suet.
The regular visitors are also here such as the house finches
and the white breasted nuthatchesand the cardinals, among many others…
Stay safe and warm, everyone! And may the power stay with you!
For some reason seeing ice at the beach makes it feel, oh, a trillion times colder…
Like this just looks cold, doesn’t it? It was!
The stiff wind doesn’t hurt….
That’s not completely true because it hurts your face….
Even when it is beginning to thaw it still just looks cold…
This ice is breaking up but I don’t think it is going to melt away quite yet
At least on the outer beach there is still plenty of open water….
Beaches shown here include Rock Harbor, Paine’s Creek and Nauset Beach.
There’s something about a winter morning on the beach that is downright magical if you can get past the cold and the wind.
This morning there is rain coming in but the air is mild and the wind is still.
There are little chunks of icy sand or sandy ice
There are many beautiful shells
And lots of birds feeding
There are lovely vistas
But mostly there is quiet solitude. What a great way to start the week…..
Last winter I had a little olive and brown colored bird arrive in my yard that I knew immediately wasn’t one of my usual suspects. It had no wing bars, no eye ring and just a touch of golden color here and there. It was quite dainty and lovely and when I looked it up I determined that it must be an orange crowned warbler. They are migrants in our area but unusual so I needed to be very sure. I needed to take a photo.
This bird was little but it knew how to move! I got many blurry shots before getting one that really gave us a chance for a confirmed identity, which I did get.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw the bird, or one like it, again! It was also elusive in terms of being photographed.
I got a lot of shots like this one.
and this one
and this one
before I finally got this one
and this one
It’s a feisty little thing but also very shy. Any time the bigger birds arrive it leaves the suet feeder and the gardens though on the very coldest days it seems to be a little braver.
How long will this bird hang around? No one knows though it seems they hang around where there’s food so we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, it’s a very cool yard bird!
You can learn more about Orange crowned warblers at this link.
Here it is a new year with 365 new days and adventures waiting for us right outside our doors!
Where will we go? What will we see? What will make our hearts soar?
Here’s wishing you all a wonderful year with many walks on the beach, in the woods and around the ponds ahead! Let the adventures begin.
American Holly, Ilex opaca, is one of the plants we associate with the winter holidays but especially Christmas here on Cape Cod. Easily recognized by its prickly, waxy green leaves and bright red berries it is a native plant and one of the first seen by the Pilgrims when they landed in New England in the 1600s. It reminded them of their beloved English holly, which was used for Christmas decorations and celebrations even then.
Here are some fun facts about American holly.
- It is a dioecious plant, meaning it has separate male and female flowers. If you grow holly you know you need a male and female plant in order to have berries. Only the female produces berries.
- Holly was not named for being holy but for being prickly!
- It is a maritime forest and coastal zone tree, not found in the drier parts of our country.
- Holly is an evergreen, staying green all year.
- Holly berries are a favorite and important food source to birds each winter.
Happy Holly-days everyone! May the peace and the joy of the season be with you all.
These are busy days here in my studio. My three Etsy shops are all busy, which is a good thing!
I just mailed off this custom ink drawing to a customer on Mary Richmond Design. There’s still a bit of time left to order something special for yourself or for a gift.
This the time of year when I do a LOT of custom holiday cards featuring family and pet caricatures like these
These hand painted ornaments are my donation to the Silent Spring Institute’s tree for the fundraising Spectacle of Trees which begins December 5.
I also sell fun tags of all kinds in my Cut Out The Fun shop and lots of cool vintage in my Muna’s Treasures shop.
Please stop on by to browse, especially if you like shopping small and local!