Category Archives: Nature

End of May

RosesPhotos © Todd Klein

I’m always a little sad to see the end of May, my favorite month, but this year it was a hectic one, and I’m looking forward to June. More flowers are blooming in the yard, these Roses are doing quite well.

HoneysuckleThe Trumpet Honeysuckle is elderly and nearly dead, but still putting out a few clusters of blossoms that the hummingbirds love.

PansiesThese pansies were the first annuals I planted, at the end of April, and they’re still looking good. When it gets hot they’ll probably need to be replaced.

BegoniasAll the annuals I put in last weekend are doing well, like these pink Begonias. Of course, I have to water them, we’ve had very little rain for the last two months.

LeoThe cats were each relaxing in their own way this afternoon, Leo in a sunny corner of the porch…

Tigger…and Tigger on our bed upstairs. We relaxed, too. I finished a book I’ve been enjoying all week, played my guitar a little, and rocked on the porch, where Ellen was doing some scrap-booking after a small watercolor. A good day, lovely weather, and on we go to June!

And Then I Read: DIPPER OF COPPER CREEK by Jean Craighead George & John George

DipperCover art by Matt Westrup

If, like me, you’re a fan of novels written for younger readers with a nature theme, you’re likely to know the name Jean Craighead George. She wrote dozens of them. Before her breakout novels, “My Side of the Mountain,” and “Julie of the Wolves,” her earliest novels were co-written with her then husband, John George. This is the first of those I’ve found, and I enjoyed it just as much as her solo work, though the latter is a little better in my opinion.

Doug is a teenager who comes to spend the summer with his uncle in a high valley of the Colorado Rockies, an otherwise abandoned mining town. Uncle Bill is still prospecting there, and occasionally finding enough gold ore to live on, barely. When Doug arrives, he’s ready for adventure, but is surprised to find how much he enjoys the native wildlife, particularly a family of Dippers.

American Dippers, as they’re now called, are very unusual birds who can actually walk and fly underwater, where they find insect food in competition with fish! Their lives and habits are fascinating, and well documented in this book, along with many other animals of the area. The book gives about equal time between the humans and the animals, with the largest focus on a young male dipper and his mate. There are adventures, trials, and danger in both narratives, which join when Doug tries to capture and raise a young dipper in Uncle Bill’s cabin, with unhappy results for everyone.

The approach in the writing is little clinical, with the animals often named by their latin nomenclature, but the book is still a good read and entertaining as well as informative. This copy is a reprint from 1996, so possibly still in print.


Gardening and Spring Glory

PotsIt’s a glorious Memorial Day weekend here, beautiful weather. Yesterday I spent about six hours getting the yard ready for summer, planting annual flowers in pots, as well as a few other things like this Cherry Pepper plant, with Cilantro and Dill in the one behind. The perennial flowers and shrubs are doing well too, with many in bloom.

ChivesThe Chives planted last year came back and are blooming nicely.

Rhododendron Out next to the driveway, the Rhododendrons are forming a tower of lavender about eight feet high. Hard to believe these were about two feet high when we planted them about 12 years ago (I think).

RoseThe first few Roses are out.

SpiderwortIn the back, Spiderwort is blooming, with an actual spider at upper left.

SpiderA closer look at the spider, his web outlined in the tons of pollen we’re getting now.

PondThe pond is looking wonderful, with dozens of Blue Iris blooming around and in it.

BumblebeeA Bumblebee at the Iris.

BullfrogAnd a young Bullfrog sunning on a lily pad. The Water Lily flowers are emerging, and will open soon.

CatsTigger and Leo are enjoying the screened porch, Ellen and I will be out there today too. Hope your weekend is good!

2015 World Series of Birding Report

LoadingBusImages © Todd Klein, except as noted.

Our long birding day began at 5 AM in predawn darkness in the parking lot of the Cape May Meadows, the Nature Conservancy preserve in Cape May where 19 participants, including team chief Mike Crewe and other leaders, loaded our gear on the small shuttle bus we used for the first time this year to get us around. The weather was cool but not cold, and foggy, so rather damp. Fog is not typical in our area, where the prevailing wind is from the west, but this week we’d had warm winds off the ocean from the southeast, creating fog off and on for several days in a row. The temperature was cool but comfortable, very light wind, and the promise of clearing later. Continue reading

WSB Tomorrow!

WSBPageTomorrow I’ll be doing the World Series of Birding with my team, the Cape May Century Run. The weather prediction is good for us participants, not so good for migrating songbirds: light southeast winds, fog in the morning, getting sunny later, temperatures from 55 early to the low 70s later. Could be worse!

Today I’m gathering my gear and snacks, going over the list of things to bring. Tomorrow morning I’ll get up at 3:15 AM, planning to leave the house at 4:15 to meet the team in Cape May before our start time of 5 AM. We’ll bird all day around Cape May County, getting back to the Finish Line in Cape May around 10 PM, and I should stagger in my own door around 11 PM. A long day, but usually a fun one, and raising money for a great cause: New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory.

I have a great group of supporters again this year who have pledged $1 or more per species that our team sees. I’m thankful, but a little disappointed they’re all repeat pledgers, no new ones have come forward. It’s not too late if you’d like to pledge, drop me an EMAIL with a pledge of 10 cents per species or more, and I’ll be eternally grateful. Here’s an article from the local paper about the WSB you might enjoy.

I hope to be posting brief updates on my Facebook page tomorrow, that’s Todd Klein, artist, and a full report here on Sunday, hopefully, if I can manage to get it together by then. Wish us luck!