Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Very Birdy Sunday ~ 7/3/16



I fell asleep on the couch last night while reading a book and didn't get to bed until 3:30 a.m.  Then I was able to sleep until 8:30 or so, although I was sure it was much later than that when I woke up. I visited the bathroom and New Kitty was once again behind my door, although I did see her before she started crying out. This time I chased her downstairs and I am not feeding her.  She will have to wait until son wakes up, some time between 10 and noon, darn it.  

I'm spending the morning on the patio again!  It feels cooler than yesterday, although the temperature is the same (about 82F right now) and the humidity is higher (91%). But there is a light cloud cover so that makes all the difference.

I'm hearing birds singing but none have come to visit yet. I woke up in a middle of a dream where lots of big hummingbirds were coming to visit my feeders so I'm even more disappointed now not to have any visitors, lol!

Plans for today... well, I checked the weather report and rain isn't predicted until later on tonight so maybe I'll go somewhere... although I don't know where. I should go back to Publix to get more buns and cherries.  I also have several library e-books, genealogy facts that I could be entering into Rootsmagic, and of course all the chores... so I won't be bored, that's for sure!

A few neighbors out in the county had quite a fireworks show last night. We couldn't see anything but we could hear them quite clearly and it went on and on and on... and then again, after 11 p.m. We have a noise ordinance but I suppose it might not be applicable when outside of city limits. I don't like to be a party pooper but I also think that past 11 p.m. is not an acceptable time to make such a racket.  So I'm bracing myself for tonight and then again tomorrow night (when we'll have the real fireworks show less than 1/2 a mile from our house, but at least we'll have the benefit of being able to enjoy it too!).  Last year was very quiet... well, wait a minute, I wasn't here last year!  Last year on July 4th, the kids and I were in Paris, celebrating (and working!) my youngest brother's wedding to my lovely sister-in-law! And we spent a wonderful night in a hotel downtown Paris that had AIR CONDITIONING.  I think it was the time when I was most thankful for it, lol.  So anyway, two years ago, the neighborhood has been very quiet for the 4th of July, as in no neighbors had fired any fireworks.  We have a small lake just a small block away from our house (well, two small lakes) and usually around the holidays especially, there will be people boating and waterskiing or using their Seadoos (and making quite a racket!) but so far it's been strangely quiet. You know what?  YAY!  So maybe I am a party pooper after all, lol.

Speaking of party pooper, remember the large barking dogs that I keep on complaining about?  I was talking to my neighbor yesterday, who has 2 or 3 small dogs that always get into barking competition with them when they're all out at the same time (my neighbor goes out with her dogs while they do their business and doesn't leave them outside to bark non-stop, although they do do their share of barking), and she was telling me that she's very worried that the large aggressive dogs, that live kind of kitty corner from the far side of her backyard, will one day escape and try to attack her dogs.  She's been close to the fence separating them when she was retrieving her own dogs, and she's witnessed their behavior (I only hear the barks) and she's worried. So I'm feeling quite justified in my annoyance at their barking. They belong to the same people who had that birthday party with a DJ in the backyard a few months back and I had to call the police to have them turn down their loud, thumping music because it had gone on for several hours and I couldn't even hear myself think.  You know, that kind of people.

10:51 a.m.  Well many neighbors are out mowing their lawns right now and someone is firing firecrackers (at 11 a.m.?) in the distance.  The sun is peeking out from over the tree line, finally, and despite the cloud cover, it's now getting quite hot and the humidity seems to have increased. That darn sun!  I love it so and yet it's such a pest in the summer :)  I probably will be packing everything up and take refuge into the living room shortly.  I'm thinking I'll continue reading my library book.

To-Dos (that probably won't get done today!): Update..  yes, this is a place holder for tomorrow because all I did was send one email, lol.
  • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
  • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
  • Scan more old pictures
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew - this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!
  • Research cone flowers and their care and plant them somewhere 
  • Enter some Coke codes into MCR (next week)
  • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
  • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns
  • Fertilize the raspberries
  • Add more mulch to berm
  • Download all May and June photos to my external drive
  • Replace roach traps
  • Research extension cords for generator
  • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
  • Find the cats' rabies licenses
  • Exercise! 
  • Sweep the main stairs
  • Mop kitchen 
  • Dust
  • Study dSLR camera manual. Oh who am I kidding?!  I might just only use my point and shoot, it's easier.
  • Read reply from insurer about son's prescription
  • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
  • Declutter linen closet
  • Clean kitchen cabinets
  • Process dried basil in coffee grinder
  • Take items to the dump
  • Inventory seeds for Fall plantings
  • Recalculate Greg's W-4 with new paycheck info and bonus
  • Look at what's in the large bin on front porch and declutter
  • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders
  • Declutter the top of the fridge
  • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
  • Purge filing cabinet
  • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
  • Send email to my French BFF
  • Add new genealogical information to Rootsmagic
  • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
  • Declutter coat closet/son's closet (shared closet)
  • Text my friend Leslie to wish her and her family a good and safe year in France
  • Schedule Amex payment
  • Input all receipts into my spreadsheets
  • Clean out my coupon organizer of expired coupons
  • Clip and sort coupons
  • Fold laundry and put away
  • Email my brother and SIL to wish them a happy anniversary - Done!
  • Do the dishes

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • I went to bed breakfast at about 9:45 a.m., a 2nd cup of free hazelnut coffee from Wawa (I won several bags of ground coffee in one of their contests) and 2 cinnamon buns that I had bought on 50% clearance at Save A Lot a couple of weeks ago.  But I've been so busy with all the awesome birds that started to come out and visit us (see "Nature" at the end of this post), that it's now 10:34 a.m. and I have yet to take the first bite!


  • I retrieved the newspaper from the driveway.  We only get the P&G coupon insert today and  a Publix Health & Beauty store coupons flyer.


  • I loaded new CVS store coupons to my CVS app. I had a $3 in ExtraCare Bucks offer to upload too, I'm thinking maybe it was the Spring 2016 bonus?  There were no explanations.  I have another store coupon for $1 off 3 boxes of cereal but I'm really stocked on cereal for the kids so it might have to go unused.


  • I deadheaded the roses that had just opened up a couple of days ago. Sadly, they don't last long in this heat. If you're a newbie gardener, you might wonder why you should deadhead your roses (and other flowers). Well, it's because it helps the plant redirect its energy to producing more flowers, like this. More flowers on the same plant = more enjoyment for the same price = more free food for the pollinators!  


  • I harvested the garden: a few tomatoes and jalapeƱos. The tomatoes could have stayed on the plants one or two more days, but the rain makes them split so I harvested them and they'll continue ripening on my kitchen table.  The rain is also causing my bush beans to flower again. There are quite a few beans on the plants that are in the self-watering bin, but they're slow growing so I'm giving them a few more days because right now they're tiny.


  • I drove the Focus to RaceTrac and Publix.  I used a coupon to get a free 2L bottle of Diet Coke at Publix with my purchase of a family chicken dinner and paid for my shopping trip with the Publix gift card that I won in the 2017 NCAA Instant Win Game so it was all free to me.


  • My son didn't want to come with me to run errands (he was buried under 2 cats when I asked!) so I brought the pink basket along and was able to refill the 4 Sodapalooza cups and carry them out without any problems. Another customer who was refilling her cups commented that it was "a very smart idea". Well, thank you :)



  • I earned a few Swagbucks and the daily Bing Rewards credits.


  • I uploaded a few digital coupons to my Publix digital wallet and printed only three coupons from Swagbucks coupons.

  • I spent the afternoon reading a library book while Greg and our son played video games :)


  • At dinnertime, I convinced Greg to drive to RaceTrac with me to get our 4 Sodapalooza refills.


  • I had planned on grilling burgers but Greg pointed out there was still some fried chicken. I was glad he did because I had been snacking on cherries and chips this afternoon so I really wasn't hungry and consequently not interested in cooking, ha ha ha.  So he and our son will finish the fried chicken. The meal had come with 2 pints of potato salad that should last us a few days and some rolls too and we have a couple of hot dogs left over from yesterday in the fridge. No cooking for me, yay!


SPLURGES
  • What is the most un-patriotic thing to do on a holiday?  Well, not going shopping, of course!  We all know that shopping is what fuels this country's economy, right?  So I did my part today: I drove to Publix at lunchtime, and bought a family fried chicken dinner, apple pie, cherries and more hot dog buns.  It was a splurge because I hadn't planned on buying more food over the weekend, but I used my Publix gift card to pay for it so it was a free splurge after all.  The best kind, right?

FAILURES
  • I don't think we had any failures.


CHORES
  • Replied to blog comments 
  • Drove to Publix and RaceTrac to get us lunch and Sodapalooza refills
  • Read a library book
  • Drove to RaceTrac with Greg to get more Sodapalooza refills
  • Read another library book

GRATITUDE
  • A quiet morning in the garden
  • A cloud cover keeping the temperature down so I could enjoy a quiet morning in the garden!
  • A plethora of birds coming to visit this morning. Oh, it was sooo lovely and so unexpected. I felt like it was Christmas :)


NATURE

It's so strange how seeing the same birds (well, I'm assuming they're the same birds!) every day makes me happy.  It brightens a cloudy day and even a grumpy mood!  What is it about birds? Maybe the freedom and guile they seem to enjoy, although they really are, for the most part, quite anxious creatures, I think.

A young cardinal male came to visit my feeder. I say he was young because his plumage wasn't completely red like a couple of others that I have seen. He was skittish, too, jumping non-stop from the feeder to the nearby bench, and finally landing to the roof line just to my left and starting his morning serenade. It was lovely.  Suddenly, a whole bunch of birds started their concert (at about 9:23 or so) and the cardinal was back at the feeder, followed by two Tufted Titmice (Titmouses?).  The Titmice (I'm making an executive decision!) looked quizzically at the blue feeder and decided that, yes, it looked like there was food there, and used it. Hooray!





My friend the Red Bellied Woodpecker is back, too!  I caught him pecking at the old satellite dish on top of our roof but then he saw me and flew off, towards the front of the house.  I think the woodpecker family must have moved across the street, which would explain why I haven't seen them atop the power pole in the backyard recently.



Chimney swifts were chasing each other and hunting for food in the air, and I saw 4 birds bickering atop the tree where I usually spot the Great Crested Flycatcher so I'm thinking that maybe it was the whole family?  I so wish I had a better camera!  Also, because I keep failing to photograph the hawks and egrets flying above our house.  My camera is either not focusing on the right thing or the birds are too far away so if I do try to focus closer, they fly out of lens range in a fraction of a second.  Darn it.



This squirrel was quite intent on digging in my patch of yellow flower, very close to the house, until he saw me taking his picture and then he ran off to the nearest tree.



All of a sudden, the yard felt quiet, it seemed all the birds had left at the same time, and then the cicadas started.  Wouldn't the birds eat the darn things?  Maybe my birds are all strictly vegetarian, which is why they come to the feeders :)

The most wondrous thing just happened, just a few minutes after I typed my complaint about not being able to photograph the hawks... a Red Shouldered Hawk landed on the Squirrel Highway (also known as one of the electric cables suspended over our backyard) and just sat there for a longest time, allowing me to take picture after picture (I hope they turn out and aren't too blurry because of the digital zoom!) while it surveyed the backyard. Maybe that's why the birds fell silent, eh? I had a moment of panic when a tiny bird landed on the wire just a few feet away from him and get sauntering closer... and closer... and I thought the hawk would eat it!  But the hawk didn't pay attention to it at all and soon flew to the ground where he caught something (probably a lizard?) and perched itself on the back fence to savor it and then promptly poop on our side of the fence.  Then I thought it would fly off but it flew into our backyard again and caught a large black beetle and ate it while on the ground and I was able to take many more pictures again, albeit with the 40x zoom again so they won't be the best pictures, I'm afraid! I had texted Greg, who had been outside with me but gone back inside, to warn him that there was a hawk and not to open the sliding door (so as not to scare the bird but also so that New Kitty wouldn't try one of her escapes at the same time, it would have been disastrous, probably for New Kitty!) so when I was filming the hawk and heard the sliding door opening, I was quite annoyed and snapped.  Well, it was our son who had just gotten up and was coming to say good morning. I guess Greg didn't warn him.  Ugh. Luckily the bird didn't fly off and Greg was able to observe it from inside the house too. He, too, thought that it was pretty incredible to have seen it.  LOL. We're such birdwatching newbies that pretty much every bird amazes us.


I didn't think I'd snapped the picture in time so it was a great surprise to see it pop up on my computer when I downloaded my pictures!







Uh oh... I think he saw me!
While I was watching the hawk, of course is also when a hummingbird decided to come feed.  Arrgh, what to focus on, what to focus on?!  I did manage to take a picture of it but it had started taking flight again and my camera doesn't take clear pictures of tiny, extremely fast birds in flight so it doesn't look like much :(  I'm thinking the hummingbirds don't like my nectar because they don't seem to stay at the feeder longer than a second.





I did spot the Red Bellied Woodpecker flying into the tree where I usually spotted him after he perched itself on the power pole, so maybe it didn't move at all!  The hummingbirds always fly to the top of that tree too.  It's the oak tree that is over Greg's shed and is doing poorly. It's technically on the city easement but the city doesn't maintain the easement and has been arguing with our neighbor that it reverted ownership of the 10-ft strip to us, property owners south of it, although they are refusing to prove that they have and we certainly were never notified of it. Anyhoo, Greg and I have paid for several decaying trees to be taken down, that were on the easement, and were thinking about having that one cut down too since it could be a liability in a storm.  The big rotten branches that I was worried about because they were hanging right over the spot where he does all his manly tasks in fron to the shed have now fallen off, so maybe we can wait.  Cutting that tree down would significantly cut down on our bird population, I'm afraid.  Sigh.

Now that the hawk is gone, squirrels are coming back in the yard, the lizards are perched on my flower pots and tomato cages again and there are bees flying around the basil plants.  Yes, I'm thinking I'll continue not to be too quick to pinch those basil flowers back because basil was listed as one of the plants perfect for pollinators in Central Florida in yesterday's article.  I spotted an orange and black butterfly fluttering around Greg and the patio earlier this morning but it wouldn't settle down so I couldn't take a picture. I need more flowers!  Maybe I'll go to Home Depot today, along with the other throngs of people inspired to garden this weekend!

Oh my, the sky is a flurry of activity all of a sudden!  The hawk is circling the neighborhood and then a couple of sandhill cranes and a a bunch of vultures are all gliding in circles overhead!  I have never seen the sandhill cranes just glide in circle!  There must have been some vortex or something overhead that they were enjoying very much!  That went on for quite a while, and then they all disappeared again.




Meanwhile, I had a flock of white ibises that decided to land in the backyard.  They just passed by, looking for bugs and worms, and walked right into the neighbors' yard.   And then they came back.




All of this took place in the span of 10 minutes so it was all very exciting! It is now 10:22 a.m.  I wish today was the Great Backyard Bird Count, I'd have lots of things to report, lol. I might still log my sightings and pictures on e-Bird.

A hummingbird just came to feed at the feeder closest to me, maybe 10 feet away. It would have been an amazing picture...but my camera had turned itself off and it takes a while to wake up.  AAARGGH!  I just turned off the Auto Power Down option so now I'll need to make sure I have the 4 extra batteries with me at all times, lol.

Damn it, I turned it off after 10-15 minutes because nothing was happening and wouldn't you know it that about 5 minutes later a hummingbird showed up (missed it) and then another one showed up too (missed it again!).  How can I be having such a good and terrible morning with the birds all at once today?  lol.  I just want ONE good, clear, picture of a hummingbird!

GARDENING

The side of the pineapple that's exposed to the afternoon sun is looking a little sunburnt!

My lantana plant seems to be making a come-back. That'll be its 3rd or 4th summer. I had bought it on clearance from Lowe's.

The lettuce is going to seed.

I discovered 3 more green peppers growing (only two in this picture)

The pathetic bush beans are flowering again!


How was your Sunday? What plans do you have for the 4th of July if you're an expat or live in the USA?

14 comments:

  1. I always love your pictures of birds and squirrels. Not lizards, I hate them! They freak me out.

    My Sunday was rough. I don't have plans for the 4th, but my son was supposed to go with the ex to his parents for a while. It's up in the air right now though.

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    1. Oh no! I like taking pictures of the lizards, I think they're kind of cool in miniature size. Now if you asked me if I like iguanas and other reptiles... no, not really. Not at all, lol! When we went to Sanibel Island with the kids, we used to see iguanas and they really creeped me out.

      I shall continue to post pictures of the birds though. The squirrels, I hate them but I know a few readers find them cute. I just despite them digging through my garden and eating my young plants!

      I'm sorry you had a bad Sunday. ((HUGS)). I hope things are better today. Hang in there, Jess.

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  2. Your backyard is becoming a favorite bird hangout! Hawks and ibis and woodpeckers! And all the others, too. For a minute I was afraid you were going to say that the hawk was trying to catch one of my squirrels! Your garden looks like it is doing well. All the rain you are getting is doing the garden good.

    Hope you have a fine day, tomorrow. Enjoy the fireworks!

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    1. I'm starting to wonder if I just didn't pay attention to all those birds before or if they just started coming over once I had the feeders up? When I listen to their calls, I know that I've been hearing them for several years.

      I did post the squirrel picture for you, did you know? lol. I was hoping to see the hawk catch something but I didn't want it to catch New Kitty or one of the other birds. I thought he'd caught a lizard so I was very surprised to see him dine on a huge beetle. And also... ewww because I walk barefoot in my backyard all the time and I'd rather not know that there are large beetles like that underfoot, lol.

      The rain is definitely doing the garden good. Here I thought that the self-watering bins and watering by hand and with the overhead sprinkler on dry weeks was enough but obviously not!

      I hope you have a great day, Bless. Happy Fourth!

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  3. Wow -- all those birds are so cool. I love raptors and would have been just as excited as you if I had had such a long opportunity to observe that hawk! Lately I've been seeing a ton of swallow-tailed kites flying overhead. They are so pretty! I love ibis and cranes, too -- they have a sort of ridiculous grace.

    I'm heading out today to support the economy and do my patriotic duty as well. ;)

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    1. I saw a swallow-tailed kite yesterday too while I was driving to RaceTrac and I agree that they are so pretty! That sharply forked tail and the contrast between the very white and very black feathers are very striking. My son started calling the ibises "hobo birds" several years ago and we don't know why but now Greg and I call them "hobo birds" too! I love it when they fly into a tree, they always choose the top branches that are slender and bend and sway under their weight so then they're swaying in the tree for a while and I always expect one of them to come crashing down, but they don't. So "ridiculous grace", indeed!

      Have a happy 4th, Laura!

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  4. Okay,how in the world does RaceTrac give away so much free stuff and manage to stay in business???

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    1. Didn't you leave me the exact same comment just a couple of weeks ago, Theresa? lol. I wouldn't worry about them, every time I go there there is a long line of people buying stuff in the store and the pumps are always busy. The Sodapalooza cups were $9.99 each after the coupons that I used and I'm thinking they're banking on people going once in a while, not several times a day as we do. They're building a lot of customer loyalty with their reward programs. I know that I could save a couple of cents per gallon if I gassed up at Murphy USA sometimes, but I couldn't get the freebies from RaceTrac AND it's a hassle because I have to go into Walmart to refill a gift card so I get the gas discount at Murphy USA and also it's a little further and there's not a gas station near me. So using RaceTrac for us is a given. The freebies ensure that when we go somewhere, we automatically go to a RaceTrac station.

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    2. Lol...I probably did. Guess the question should have been " how is it I am so forgetful but still manage to find my way back to your blog everyay?" Lol.

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    3. LOL! It's probably because you're so very perturbed about the state of affairs at RaceTrac, you want see if at any given point I'm going to announce that I single-handedly caused them to go out of business :)

      Thanks for coming back every day, Theresa! I shall do my part to keep that part of your brain right on track. Mine has the same forgetfulness problem and I read recently that we shouldn't worry about it because it's normal and not a sign of Alzheimer's or dementia. Phew!

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  5. I'm slightly jealous of all the cool birds you get to see in your backyard! I used to see sandhill cranes wandering around behind our house - they seem so unafraid and walk right up to you. I always ended up backing away from them, into our lanai, for fear they would peck on my camera. Hahaha. Now the subdivision is finished and the sandhill cranes don't stop by nearly as often.

    The red-shouldered hawk is awesome!!!

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    1. I have to say this was an unusual day, there are plenty of days when I'm sitting there with my camera and I can HEAR birds but they won't come out! So it's kind of a feast or famine type of situation. We don't live in a subdivision, our neighborhood is downtown, close to 2 lakes, and is well established with very large trees all around, so I think this might be why we see so many birds of all kinds. If you said the subdivision where you live is now finished, it might be a prime time to attract birds in your own backyard. I think you said your bird feeder is near the driveway, right? Maybe you can put one and a hummingbird feeder in the backyard and provide some bushes and plants that would attract bird (bushes with berries, flowers that hummingbirds like, etc...)? Sometimes you just need a bird to come scout the place that will like it and go back and tell its buddies, lol. Also, they seem to come about mid-morning (between 8:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. for the most part) right now and then again at dusk, at about 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. So if you're at work or commuting during those times, you might miss them?

      I've never been so close to a sandhill crane that I had to worry about it pecking at me. I would have been last week when I took my bike ride on the South Lake Trail because I passed one just off the trail but I didn't want to stop right at that moment and I thought (stupidly, it turns out) that the bird would still be there when I rode back the other way. Well, of course it wasn't and I was kicking myself because it would have been a real close-up!

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  6. You have such a wide range of varieties of birds. The fact that they come to your yard is absolutely amazing. I would have to go to a zoo in order to see that kind of variety. Your photos are so wonderful and I am so glad you are willing to share them with us.

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    1. You are very welcome. I really enjoy looking at the birds myself! I guess we do have a large variety since a lot of them fly over Florida when they migrate, although I think all the birds that I have featured might be year-round residents for us here in Central Florida. Not-so-snow birds, I call them :)

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