Thursday, January 29, 2015

Signs of spring

Even though it's just at the end of January, there are signs of spring to come. Buds swelling, bluebirds and robins flocking, songs beginning.

I saw a group of 8 Great Blue Herons last week on my morning walk along the dikes above Lake Hartwell.  Most unusual, as normally I'd just see one, or two. 

On this day, too, there were bluebirds foraging in groups, most unusually. Maybe picking up a few dead insects in the grass?  They kept moving ahead of Woody and me, seeming intent on their foraging.

The giant Lonicera fragmantissima in back is now in full flower, and supporting honeybees on warmer afternoons.  We planted it almost 20 years ago as a small, bee-supporting shrub, and as a lawn replacement, and it's flourished.

In our last spring here, in this place, I'm noticing (again) the cycles of the seasons, and what we've contributed to make a vibrant and supportive landscape for birds, bees, etc.  Hmm, it also supports woodchucks and squirrels, and a recent interloper, deer! 

Who knew that deer relish unripe persimmons!   
a normal persimmon crop for our old tree

I've posted quite a bit about the venerable Japanese persimmon we brought with us from Georgia.  I've so enjoyed it.

But deer apparently ATE all of the unripe fruits this fall, amazingly.  I didn't know who the culprit was, until this week, talking to a fellow who was a veteran, and had been stationed in Japan (and loved harvesting persimmons in u-pick sorts of places there. 

He told me that deer loved unripe persimmons!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Woodpeckers, wrens, and others

Our birdfeeder in the mountains is a platform feeder, which my gardening companion FILLS high with black-oil sunflower seeds each morning (which we buy in 40 lb. bags at the local feed and seed -- in this case, a Southern States store).

When we're there, it's mobbed with the usual seed feeders - tufted titmice, cardinals, and the like, as well as the occasional blue jays, doves, and house finches.

It's always a special treat when the red-bellied woodpeckers drop by, snagging seeds.  We saw several this weekend. 

A search for past posts about red-bellied woodpeckers pulled up all sorts of interesting reminders of past sightings, in addition to other thoughts.

Here's a red-bellied woodpecker we saw in 2012 outside our kitchen window.

A click on the image will take you to the post about this sighting.
The clear and loud calls of Carolina wrens are evident -- I don't think it's breeding season for them, yet, but it's coming.

The days cleared yesterday as the storm passed north and east of us, with nothing more challenging than rain and a few flakes.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Transitions

I've FINALLY got my camera (a venerable Nikon D100) and lens back after their cleaning and "spa" aka repair at the Nikon facility (in the lens' case).  

It's been months, thankfully much of it filled with travel with a small Panasonic (my hubbie was the photographer), and many images to post afterwards.

There's actually not too much of interest right now in the mountains.  Gloomy skies, dormant perennial beds, and vegetable beds filled with frosted veggies!

I hadn't downloaded any winter break trip photos to my laptop, so am just reminded of last fall's color, looking at the Lightroom stream that's popped up.

This was in November, 2014.

Fall, 2014

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Flowers, mosses, and lichens


There was an extraordinary diversity of mosses, lichens, and flowers in Chilean Patagonia!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quetal National Park

This is a wonderful national park along the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia. I've already posted an image of the hanging glacier (spectacular!)

Along another trail, the Bosque Encantando (Enchanted Forest), the moss diversity (and that of other bryophytes) was nothing short of amazing.
along the trail in the Bosque Encantado
admiring bryophyte diversity
another hanging glacier photo
the river below
my traveling buddy

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Carretera Austral and Quelat National Park

I've gotten totally out of sequence (travel-wise) with my postings, but here are some wonderful images that evoke the experience of Chilean (Northern) Patagonia along the Carretera Austral.

Hanging Glacier in Quelat National Park
The hanging glacier is a stand-out hike (in Quelat National Park).  The fiord stretching from Puyahuaipi and beyond is spectacular, too.

Near the Posada Quelat

A finch accustomed to handouts

boat in Puyahuapi harbor

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wonderful rivers

We saw so many wild and inspiring rivers and streams in Argentina and Chile (Northern Patagonia).

I thought we lived in the land of waterfalls, mountain streams and wonderful rivers, but these were remarkable.



Monday, January 12, 2015

Chilean Patagonia and the Carretera Austral

Jumping around in our travels again, here are some images from a hike in Chilean Patagonia (off the Carretera Austral, a historically gravel road now being regraded and paved through much of its length.)

The Chilean side of Patagonia is much wetter than the Argentinian side, so the vegetation is a LOT more lush.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ruta 40 (Argentina)

Jumping ahead in our travels, here's an image on the Argentinian side, from our journey back north on Ruta 40, a legendary north-south route, stretching from far north to south in Argentina.

Ruta 40
It's largely paved now, but we bumped along some pretty remote graveled roads from the Chilean border crossing (without much other traffic) to finally get to Route 40.  Somewhat unnerving, actually!
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