Cedar Waxwings

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Timing is everything.  As I was preparing my posts on Holly Trees, the Cedar Waxwings arrived to feast on the berries.  I was alerted of the birds presence by my resident birds.  The Cardinals, Titmice, Chickadees and Carolina Wrens gathered to check out the visitors.  (click to enlarge)

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Luckily, the birds stayed long enough that I could get the camera and switch lenses.  Waxwings fly off at the slightest disturbance.  The photos are highly cropped as it was hard to get very close.

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I was very pleased to get an almost perfect shot of this beautiful Cedar Waxwing.


Ilex vomitoria

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Notice the second part of this tree’s botanical name.  What does that word bring to mind?  Yes, the name comes with a big warning.  If you eat the berries, the result is not pretty.

We know this tree as Yaupon Holly and is another native of the Piney Forest. Yaupons usually have skinny trunks and grow just about anywhere, as between these two pines. Like the American Tree Holly in the previous post, it makes tiny flowers in the spring with the berries forming quickly.  It is a small tree and will spread by root.  Most consider it a weed tree.

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But it has many hidden secrets, besides what happens when humans eat the berries.  Its flowers are a food source for bees.  Cardinals dine on the berries and  flocks of Cedar Waxwings devour them.  Now for humans, we can make tea from the leaves which contain caffeine and antioxidants (make sure you do research before eating it). With a name like vomitoria, I think I will skip the tea!


American Holly Tree

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My property came with some native trees growing on it.  We are on the edge of the Piney Forest, which is being cut down one development at a time, but that is for another post. One of my favorite trees is the  American Holly tree ( Ilex opaca).  It can grow up to 50 feet tall and I think this one is close to that height.

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In the spring it has tiny flowers that have a wonderful scent and attracts lots of bees.  The Holly tree is evergreen, so as the new leaves come out the old ones begin to fall.  The leaves can be used for tea. (Please do your own research before trying.)

Another Holly tomorrow.

 

 


Flashback Friday

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What a difference a few years make. My area and other parts of the country had been suffering from a drought.  Ours broke in the spring with two big flooding events and this winter many parts of the country are getting deluged with rain and snow.  Take a look back to 2013 and checkout Glorious Rain.


Sad Return

After a weekend trip, I returned home to sadly find almost all my plants had taken a hard hit from a lower than expected freeze.  I had put most of the tropicals into the garage, but I wasn’t overly worried about the rest of the yard. Even if I was home there was not much I could have done.

If you would like to see the carnage up close, click on photos to make a slide show.

Not all plants were lost and above are some photos of the tough ones.  I was happy to see (the second photo) that the Poppy seedlings made it. The baby caterpillars are still alive and the hummingbirds have chosen to stay. Needless to say, the weather has already changed and we are heading back up towards 80 degrees!

Here’s to starting the New Year with lots of exercise (cutting down all the dead plants) and new beginnings in the garden.


Becoming a Wildlife Photographer

 

I thought I would take the plunge and become a wildlife photographer (joking..kinda).  I really wanted to capture my winter Hummingbirds, so I dug out a tripod, put on the long lens and situated a chair with a good view. I sat for awhile and they did not show up.  Being in the yard, I started thinking about gardening chores and decided to get to work.  With that done I came back to the chair to wait again.  The birds still were not hungry, so I went inside to check on dinner.  I headed back out and was finally rewarded.

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I was able to get a decent shot of the Buff-bellied Hummingbird that has been around since Thanksgiving.  I have a photo of him through a window, but this is outside and clearer.  He is tolerating my presence more.  I have enjoyed watching him take showers in gentle rains and baths on the Variegated Ginger and Philodendron leaves.

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This little guy arrived around Christmas.  He is a Rufous Hummingbird and hails from the far northwest.  His color indicates a male.  He is very stealth during feeding and is able to zoom in when the big Buff-bellied is elsewhere.  He drinks for quite awhile, filling up in one visit.

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As far as a career as a wildlife photographer, I think not!  I don’t have the patience to sit for long periods of time, but I certainly admire those who do and produce the wonderful photos for us to enjoy.  I will just go back to getting lucky with a camera in the right place at the right time.

 


Nature Takes Over

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I did not plant that!  Months ago I put 3 Nasturtium seeds in the crow’s pot and a Salvia came up, the Nasturtiums never appeared.  I would have to guess that birds were feasting on the Salvias and dropped a seed into the pot.  It certainly is fascinating how plants get around.