Monday, March 22, 2010

Male Carpenter Bee

Hello Everyone!

Spring has officially sprung, and the weather here in California has been perfect! Mid 70's during the day and 50's at night. This weekend had us all outdoors, enjoying the sun and doing some much needed yard work. My son, Jake, cut the grass for me on Saturday while I went to the grocery store and did some shopping. On Sunday, my daughter Abbey and I worked in the front yard weeding all the flower beds. What a chore!

On Saturday in between doing chores, the kids and I took a break and went to the movies. We got to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Great movie, the kids loved it. Johnny Depp is a excellent actor and the 3D effects were superb.

While working in the yard on Sunday, one of Abbey's friends found a rather large bug on the ground not really doing anything. I checked it out and discovered it was a bee. I, however, had never seen a bee like this before. We looked it up on the Internet and discovered it was a Male Carpenter Bee. We also found out it has no stinger (only the female does), so I picked it up and put it in the sun to try and warm it up.

That's what I love about being outside. There is always something new to discover. And you don't don't even have to go any farther than your own backyard.

As always have a great week!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Backyard Birding


In my earlier post, I told you I didn't have time to get any pictures over the weekend. That wasn't quite true. I did grab a few pics in the backyard and tonight I got a chance to look at them.

We had some beautiful weather this weekend and the backyard was very noisy. Spring was definitely in the air, even though we are still a couple weeks away. The mocking birds (pictured below) and the scrub jay's are fighting for territory and are making quite a racket in the process

This fellow has been eluding me for quite some time now. All though I did get a picture of him, I am not quite satisfied with it. I want a clean shot of him, without the sticks. He is a Northern Flicker and he too is quite noisy!

Always nice to have repeat customers, and this warbler and his mate always come back to winter in our yard each year. Soon they will be gone to cooler temps in the mountains, but will return in the fall.

Spring is truly on the way. I saw the first Robin of the year on Saturday. Come on Springtime!

Always a favorite of mine, this female Anna's hummingbird is always around for an easy photo op. In this picture the sun was hitting her chin feathers just right to show them off.

Some of the birds above I have posted before as they are regular visitors to my backyard and fairly easy to get pictures of. The set of pictures below were a complete surprise to me. Not because of the quality (which is rather poor) but because of what they represent.
As I said earlier, the backyard was rather noisy on Saturday. Sunday was no different. My Mom happened to give me a call on Sunday and as I wonder out into the backyard, and was talking to her on the phone, I heard what I thought was a flock of Canadian Geese flying over head. They were honking to each other as they flew which is fairly common. As a flock of 75 birds flew over, my mom asked what the noise was, and I told her that the geese were flying over. As the first flock flew by, a second flock of over a 100 birds came behind them. Then another flock of a 100 birds and behind that one another 100. Over 400 birds passed over my head in roughly 5 minutes. I rushed into the house to grab the camera, almost to late to get any kind of picture. Hence the poor quality my pics. The flocks were pretty far away, even with the zoom lens.
One flock seemed to have some leadership issues as they started to circle and jockey for position. The birds circled off over my sisters house a good 10 minutes before they finally flew off and headed north with the other birds.

Remember I said I thought they were Canadian Geese. After looking at the pictures full size (if you click on the pictures you too can see them full size) what flew over my house were not Canadian Geese, but 400+ Sandhill Cranes!! The cranes are not a local bird but instead they come down from Canada every year to winter and breed in our marshes, then they head back north for the summer.
Sandhill Cranes are quite an impressive bird up close. They are close to 5 feet tall and look like an emu when they are on the ground. So imagine a hundred birds with a wing span of up to 8 feet long flying above your head. No wonder they were so loud and impressive. Canadian Geese? What the heck was I thinking???
I borrowed a picture off the Internet and posted it below to show you all what they look like close up. Believe it or not I don't have any decent pictures of my own of the Cranes.

I hope you enjoyed my little mid week story. Have a great rest of the week! TTYL!