Sunday, December 07, 2008

First Eruptions

Sunday, December 7, 2008, 5:10 AM

A different-than expected morning here on the mountain. Yesterday's 7 degrees was programmed in my mind to welcome me this morning but it's 21 degrees out and strangely bright with light pushing through thin cloud cover. Karl the Wonder Dog wanted to walk longer than I did on the ice covered paths out back and then down the road. The coyotes are moving more right now, perhaps looking for deer, sadly leftover from deer season which is now in its muzzle loader phase. Karl pulled right, then left, nose sniffing and snorting like the bloodhound he is not. If Karl was on his own this time of year I would worry about him as coyotes have bad habits with domestic dogs and the result sure wouldn't be a holiday story.

Friday I noticed the first of two eruptions here and I welcome them. These are bird type eruptions, not volcano eruptions which would really have people talking. Vermont is volcano-less but full of fine birds. Certain birds move to food sources and you can see movement when there is more snow in Canada earlier in the year than on average. The evening grosbeaks came first last week and by Friday the Pine Grosbeaks were here in abundance eating the bazillions of crab apples on the Malus sargentii trees.

If you enjoy birds and want a fine display of spring color on a small crab apple, try Malus (that's may-lus) sargentii. The flower buds begin as red and then the flowers open, first pink and then to white and the trees hum with the sound of bees. The fruit is not anything you'd do anything with but the tiny red apples are packed with seeds which any of the seed eating birds love. Grosbeaks have conventions on our trees and when they are there only the briefest of time, the snow is covered with red confetti as they are seed eaters, not apple eaters. Usually when the crabs are cleaned out, most of the pine grosbeaks move along but the evening grosbeaks seem to stay here as long as there is sunflower seed and cracked corn in the feeders.

As the holiday season approaches, I want to do my usual couple-three-four recommendations on possible presents for gardeners and their families. I personally don't think we do a good enough job teaching our children about the world we live in so I'm always looking for inexpensive gifts that help parents do what they themselves may not be all that good at any more.

Cornell University is one of the finest in my book and their Lab for Ornithology has lots of opportunity for new bird watchers. They have set up an eStore that makes on-line shopping easy. One of the favorites is Project FeederWatch. For $12 a year you can get everything you need to know about bird watching and as you use the resources, you can help track very important information about where bird populations exist, pass through, or are now absent from. You can be a piece of the environmental puzzle and have fun doing it too!

Another possibility comes from a local ornithologist and one of Vermont's best, Bryan Pfeiffer. We just received a card from Bryan and he is again promoting his Vermont Bird Tours. These tours include Vermont opportunities but also February 20-March 1 in southern Florida looking for Limpkin, Magnificent Frigatebird, Reddish Egret, Swallow-tailed Kites and as he says in his ad "sunshine". From April 4-12 he's doing a tour to the Texas Rio Grande Valley in search of Great Kiskadee, Ringed Kingfisher and the Green Jay. Now don't get me wrong, even though I've lived in Vermont since I was five, I see birds every year that are on my "new and unknown" list. Show me a Limpkin and I'll show you a new addition to the list. People such as Bryan can help those of interest expand their knowledge and get outside. Give it some thought and don't forget about Cornell!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where this writer will be at the computer much of today learning more Dreamweaver software and redoing more of our Vermont Flower Farm web site. In my personal chain of weak links, this task is mine. Bear with me and in a couple months, there will be a new site that should catch your interest. In the meantime, remember that we offer gift certificates for your gardening friends--just call Gail at 802-426-3505 and she will help. And if you see this bird (just below) in one of your trees, let me know. Mr. Pine Grosbeak having breakfast.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm


Susan Tomlinson said...

George I love this post, especially seeing the pine grosbeaks.

I've tried picking your posts a few times on Blotanical, however, and something isn't working. You might let Stuart know...

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


George Africa said...

Good morning Susan;
9 below zero here this morning with a wind that will brighten the colors on your face with one blast. Glad you enjoyed the post.

RE: Blotanical,there was an error on my part on the site feed address for Vermont Gardens and I have different feeds on each blog so I'm pursuing that. Thank's for letting me know. I'm still learning all this.


Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Hello George and thank you for a great bird tour, ery nice photos and word.
I wish you a great weekend/ Tyra

Gensparkie said...

The grosbeaks are so gorgeous! I wish we had them here. They remind me a bit of our Goldfinches which cling onto the thistle heads and pig out!