Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Robin's Nest

Awhile back, I found a nest in the magnolia tree that I thought might be a mourning dove nest. Not so...'tis a robin's nest. While I was out with the pups, early this morning, I saw a robin fly into the foliage of the tree. So, I snuck in and found mama robin and babies waiting to be fed. More to come, later, as I try to photograph them without disturbing them...

Note to self. Also, check out the nest above Trouble and Sugaree's front door and photograph the mystery bird on it's nest.

Another note to self. Take video of hummingbirds.

Last note to self. It's going to be a busy bird week.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Ducky Day

Today is a day fit for ducks only. It is raining almost continuously, and the temperature is going to hit a high of 56F. Ugh...But, 'tis a good day to get some much needed housework done.

Speaking of ducks, there has been a female mallard visiting our backyard for the last week or so. This morning, she was joined by another female. They flew in, walked and quacked their way around the yard, and flew out about 10 minutes later. Why they are attracted to the fenced-in yard is anyone's guess. We just have to make sure that we check the duck status before letting our Greyhounds outside.

Sorry for the fuzzy photos. I shot through a window screen. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Aurora and planets

Regulus is in the upper left, Jupiter is in the center,
and Venus is the brightest object of the bunch!
Here is the best of what I was able to shoot early last night. In the photo, from left to right, you see Regulus, Jupiter, and Venus, as well as a bit of green glow from the aurora. By the way, Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation, Leo. It is known as the heart of the lion. (You'll have to click on the photo to see any detail as I didn't leave Drew much to work with in post-processing.)

We think that there may be a problem with the Canon camera's sensor. It is noisy as heck, there are horizontal lines ("Yes, I took off the haze filter"), and there are lots of dead pixels to boot. But, luckily this doesn't show up in my daytime photos. I am patiently waiting for the Canon 70D camera body to drop in price, down to $950, (and Drew has an Amazon.com price-watch on it) but it just jumped up $50. Ugh...more waiting...very pricey. "But, I want it." says the princess.

Severe Geomagnetic Storm in Progress

There is a severe geomagnetic storm in progress, and aurora activity is high. I went outside as darkness fell and stayed out until 11pm. Then, I came inside to process photos, and went out once again until 12:15 am. (Click on the photos for larger views, and to read the fine print from spaceweather.com on June 22nd.)

  I did not see any aurora borealis display, although I know it had to be occurring as evidenced by other people's submissions on spaceweather.com.

Frustrating, to say the least. But, then again, I am awful at nighttime photography, and this attempt was no better. It is 12:40 am, and I am going to let Drew try to process a few of my photos when he gets up in a few hours.
I think I may have captured a bit of green aurora, but the photos I tried to process were incredibly noisy. We'll see...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Summer Solstice!

'Tis the longest day of the year, and we will be lucky to see the sun at all today. We've had one inch of rain thus far, and have many more hours of showers ahead of us!
'Solstice' (Latin: 'solstitium') means 'sun-stopping'. The point on the horizon where the sun appears to rise and set, stops and reverses direction after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west, meaning it's visible in the sky for a longer period of time. “June Solstice: Longest and Shortest Day of the Year.” www.timeanddate.com, 21 June 2015. Web.
Today, in Maine, the sun rose at 4:59 am, and it will set at 8:26 pm, which gives us a daylength of 15 hours, 26 minutes, and 43 seconds. Tomorrow, the sun will rise at 5:00 am, and will set at 8:26 pm and will yield a daylength of 15 hours, 26 minutes, and 41 seconds. We will lose 2 seconds of daylength...and then, we'll begin our rush toward the shortest day of the year in December;-)

Patio Planter Box and Frame

Drew built a frame around the City Picker's planter box. He used some old lumber (from the back porch that was torn up earlier this year), and fencing that we had laying around from our old gardening projects from years ago (pre-greyhound adoption years.)
He attached fencing to it, for support of the cucumber plants, in the hope that they will attach their tendrils to it and grow up the fencing. 
All the plants are finally growing taller with the warmer weather. I know that the cucumbers prefer a soil temperature of at least 70F, and with our cool springtime weather, they were a bit slow to get started.
It sure is nice to be gardening again, even with such a tiny garden. We may add another planter box next year, if this one is as successful as I think it will be. My aching back is ever so grateful...

I picked my first handful of arugula to put onto my sandwich for lunch. Yummy! Happy, Happy, Happy! (Click on photos for a larger view.)

Stump Garden heads into Early Summer

Early summer flowering plants are emerging
Ahhh, the ever changing stump garden keeps me intrigued on a daily basis. New shoots pop up while young flowers unfurl, presenting waves of vibrant colors for the garden. And finally, old flower petals drop off leaving ovaries behind to create more seeds to start the cycle again.
Peonies, Sweet William, and pink clover dominate

The last, bright orange poppy is on the wane.
Currently, the garden is going through a "changing of the color guard" as the last poppy flower sticks out like a bright, orange sore thumb. I've left a few poppy ovaries to mature, for seed distribution, at the end of the season. What a change from a few weeks ago!

Pink and red colors now dominate the garden as the peony plant is topped with huge, deep fuschia blooms. 

Pinks (Dianthus)
Behind it, on the stump, the pinks (Dianthus) are finally in bloom with their low growing flowers.

Sweet William (Dianthus)

Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet William, another Dianthus flower, has taken a particular liking to the stump garden. I have it in semi-shade and light sunny areas. It is variable in coloration from red, to fuschia, to white.

Clover with bumblebee
And finally, what would a garden be without some clover? I let the clover grow wherever it wants, as it provides bumblebees with much needed nectar. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)