Monday, April 25, 2011

Hummingbird bait

I bought some Salvia coccinia to help the hummingbirds remember my porch, and also a new glass feeder. And last night at 6:10 pm I saw my first Ruby throat investigating. She gave everything the once over, took a sip at the feeder, then flew away. I have not seen her today. I am happy to say I have heard and seen other migrants. Wood thrushes. Scarlet Tanagers. Blue-winged warblers. And today in Pasquo, a passel of Easter Kingbirds. But no Indigo Buntings or Blue Grosbeaks yet.

I had hoped to go on the Tennessee Ornithological Society walk Wednesday morning but terrible weather is coming. The same pattern that drowned Nashville last spring is setting up to the west. They are predicting 5 to 7 inches of rain. Perhaps the weather people are wrong.

Watercress- in a Tennessee brook.

I used to see, in springs past, people wandering through a marshy brook in Percy Warner Park along Highway 100 across from Vaughn's Gap Road. The foragers were Asians. I never knew what they were picking. Until today. Today I found watercress growing and blooming along a running brook at Steveaway Farm in Pasquo. I had never seen it before. It was on private property, and I did not dare collect it, so I guess I will have to wait to taste Watercress sandwiches. I might be able to find some at Whole Foods. It is probably $20.00 a bunch

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tennessee Ornithological Society Birdwalk April 13

Today was the first of five bird walks at Radnor Lake State Park. These walks are every Wednesday during spring migration. The highlight of today's walk for me was seeing my first blue-headed vireo and walking through hillsides covered with masses of Dwarf Larkspur. We also saw an osprey catch a fish only to be harassed by a crow. A few winter ducks were still around- Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks. Warblers seen were the early ones such as Parulas and Yellow Rumped. On one of the upcoming walks I hope to see the rare Connecticut and Mourning Warblers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bird and Wildflower walk and a Dog ramble.

I will say this for Nashville's weather- once it finds a pattern it likes, it sticks to it. This winter it snowed every week. Now the wind blows 20 mph every day, and we have tornadoes every week. A week ago we had three tornadoes. Straight line winds took down three dozen trees at the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. And today we are under a tornado watch again.

Hummingbirds are not at my feeders yet though a few are back in Middle Tennessee. And since I found the Bignonia or Cross Vine blooming along the Greenway behind the Ensworth School, I expect the hummingbirds momentarily. I also found wild wisteria blooming. It, and the cross vine ,love to climb trees. Even weeds like the yellow oxalis and the wild mustard are wonderful to see along the path.

Today's migrants along the Little Harpeth River were 8 Common Yellowthroats, whose behavior I can only describe as "rollicking". They called their "witchity, witchety" song and chased each other from bush to bush. Too many wood warblers remain heard but not seen- but not the Yellow-throat. He will sit, with his little bandito black mask, right out in the open where everyone can see him.

I heard a Northern Parula warbler singing Saturday, and also some Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. But the most notable migrant yet was the solitary American Bittern trying to hide from us in the grass along the Greenway path. He was not 6 feet from us, and I think he would have stayed had the beagle not stood on his hind legs for a better look.. Alas- my camera was at home. Seeing the bittern took me back to 1961 and a marsh in a cow pasture at the old Haynes farm in North Charlestown, New Hampshire. I saw my first bittern there. But the American Bittern will not live in Tennessee. It is fly-over country for him.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Hummingbirds arrived at feeders near Lookout mountain tonight. They also arrived in Cleveland Tn. Tomorrow- Nashville!

The Great Return

For the past few days I have been checking to see what spring migrants are returning. Seeing that hummingbirds are marching through Alabama, I cleaned out my feeder and filled it with fresh syrup. I moved a blooming red salvia I kept indoors out as well, for hummingbirds love salvias. As of dusk, they are not here.

Yet late this afternoon, after several hours of working on my porch garden, I heard a familiar chittering call, and looked out to see 6 barn swallows flying around the parking sheds where they nest. It overjoyed me to have lived to another spring to see them. They had ridden north on a powerful south wind. We had gusts today up to 45 miles per hour. Who knows what warblers, tanagers, and grosbeaks rode with them. And as the wind will go all night I may see the hummingbirds tomorrow morning.

There is a beautiful story of an ancient poet who recited a poem in which he likened the life of man to that of a swallow coming in from the dark into a great lighted Hall and flying too soon out into the dark again. We should cherish each spring we see. Be glad for every day we are priveleged to live.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dwarf Larkspur

This is the Dwarf Larkspur or Delphinium tricorn. It grows in moist woods and is one of Tennessee's loveliest wildflowers. It is a "spring ephemeral". It blooms briefly then dies back to wait for another April. So many of our spring wildflowers bloom only until the woods go back to shade. Then they are gone. I took this photo this morning in Percy Warner Park here in Nashville.