Chickadees and Writing Events

Chickadee March 26

Thursday a lone chickadee decided to do a little spring cleaning in one of the wren houses.

Chickadee March 26

Thick clouds were moving in, ahead of a line of heavy rain, and the little bird seemed aware that there wasn’t much time for nest clearing.

Chickadee March 26

It made trip after trip into the house, sometimes tossing wood shavings straight out through the door, sometimes carrying them several feet away and scattering them in the honeysuckle.

Chickadee March 26

Chickadee March 26

When the rain arrived, the chickadee kept working a while longer, then it gave up and moved into the cover of the wax myrtles.

As Thursday’s rain cycled into a dreary, cold Friday, I kept watching for the chickadee to return. But there has been no sign of further interest in the nest box.

I suspect the little bird’s interest was never more than a passing fancy, mostly because it was working alone. In the past, the yard’s chickadee nests have been built by pairs of birds working together. (On the other hand, there haven’t been many chickadee nests in the yard, and all of them have failed. Maybe I shouldn’t use those nests for comparison?)

Chickadee March 26

On Saturday I left the yard’s mysteries to take care of themselves while I attended Coastal Crime Fest 2015. This single-day writing conference was sponsored by Mystery by the Sea, The Southeastern Virginia Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The day’s sessions included mystery authors talking about writing and publishing, tales of real-world experience from a retired FBI agent, and a presentation about situational awareness from a pair of self-defense instructors. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference.

What’s more, Saturday’s conference was not my first writing event this month. Last weekend I attended one of the Hampton Roads Writers’ Traveling Pen Series, a morning-long workshop about paranormal and fantasy writing. The workshop included several very helpful writing exercises, and I was excited to learn that the guest speaker, Vanessa Barger, will be presenting more workshops at the Hampton Roads Writers’ 2015 Conference in September.

After both of my recent writing adventures I rushed home brimming with inspiration, eager to write something new. Or revise something old. Or maybe, most alluring of all, read something timeless. (Hopefully I will do all three while watching a chickadee nest…)

Chickadee March 26

Between Seasons

I had hoped spring would chase winter’s gloom into memory, but it hasn’t yet. Instead there are all these photos of hunger and snow, dating back to October.

Warbler Oct 28

Warbler Jan 15

Cedar Waxwing Jan 15

Tufted Titmouse Jan 29

Squirrel Jan 16

Squirrel Jan 16

Squirrel Jan 29

Dove and Finch Jan 29

Snow Jan 29

Snow Jan 29

Woodpecker Jan 29

House Finch Jan 29

Along with hunger and snow, this winter brought weeks of numbing cold.

Doves Jan 29

Cardinal Jan 29

Squirrel Jan 16

I was glad I had left the bird houses hanging because I saw chickadees retreating into them at nightfall.

Chickadee Dec 30

It’s not that winter was completely cheerless. The yard had a few winter blooms, and there were certainly days of sunshine.

Honeysuckle Jan 1

Paperwhites Jan 2

Warbler Oct 29

But I’m ready for spring. Real spring, with hours on end of warmth and nest building and bird song.

Squirrel Jan 15

I can’t be the only one who is fretful and impatient. Maybe that’s why it seems as if spring is embarrassed to be arriving so late. Instead of rushing in with thunder and rain-scented gusts, spring is edging into the yard like a guilty ticket holder who overslept and missed the opening scene. Bees are sluggish, the irises and pear tree bloomed while I wasn’t looking, and the house stays chilly despite bright sunshine and open windows.

Bee March

Irises April 5

Pear Tree April 5

I suppose I’ll be complaining about the heat, before too long, and wishing for a cool draft in the house. Because summer always follows, and fall after it. And then there will come a day, sometime in early September, when I will wish for winter. But for now all of my wishes are focused on spring.

Storm Interlude

Rabbit May 21

Tropical Storm Andrea’s rain passed over our area this morning, and now the wind has arrived. Reason enough to stay indoors and organize the archive. Here are a few photos that I’ve been saving for a rainy day.

Blue Jays June 3

Dragonfly May 28

Chickadee May 31

Unknown Bird May 17

The bird in the above photo moved through the yard too fast for me to get a good look at it. I would love some help with identification, if there is enough information in the photo.

Also with the next bird, which I believe is a brown thrasher?

New Bird June 6

I hope Andrea’s rain and wind prove to be nothing more than an inconvenience to everyone in its path…

Another Walk in the Sun

Trail Jan 19

More sun today, and much warmer. We chose a new path, one that cuts through a residential area before joining a series of nature reserve trails.

Trail Jan 19

Trail Jan 19

The reserve is heavily managed along these trails. We saw evidence of selective tree removal and a pair of unnaturally straight drainage canals.

Trail Jan 19

The area seemed somewhat barren of wildlife, though I suspect today’s lovely weather had lured heavier traffic to the trails than usual. Perhaps the constant flow of joggers, bicyclists, dog walkers, and groups of hikers contributed to the conspicuous silence from the trees.

Trail Jan 19

Trail Jan 19

We saw a few flocks of chickadees, and plenty of sparrows foraging in the underbrush, but no woodpeckers or warblers, and no waterbirds.

Chickadee Jan 19

Sparrows Jan 19

Back in the car and on our way home, we spotted another hawk hunting in a small field. We turned around again, and once again I wasn’t able to get a very good photo. The hawk was perched just beyond my camera’s comfort zone.

Hawk Jan 19

Each time I get one of these “nearly” photos, it makes me eager to try again. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s walk. The forecast calls for one more day of warm sunshine before winter’s next frosty pass.

Trail Jan 19

The Birds and The Bees

It’s definitely that time of year. Today’s walk in the park was all birds and bees. (Mostly birds, and most of the birds were osprey.)

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