Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010


frost, moss, pine needles, leaves... all on a chilly morning

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

first snow

We had the first snow of the season last night.  It's not much, but it is real snow.  (We did have a few flakes the other day, but they didn't stick so they don't count.)

 and here are a few gleaners from under one of my feeders a couple of days ago

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Oh my - I got a treat today - a pileated woodpecker on a tree in my neighbor's yard, and then in my yard a little later on.  First I heard it, and then found it - they aren't too hard to find if you know they are around since they are so big and make pretty distinctive noises.  I suppose they are so cool because I don't see them very often.  My neighbor mentioned seeing one a week or so ago - I wonder if this was the same one? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Moon and Venus

December 2, 2010, 6:30 am

Not a great photo - it's from my phone - but vaguely captures what was a beautiful sight.

Friday, November 26, 2010

red-breasted nuthatch

I've got red-breasted nuthatches at my feeders again this year.  I haven't had them, or noticed them at any rate, for a couple of years now, so it is fun to see them back.
I've also got blue jays, cardinals, chickadees & titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, house finches, carolina wrens, downy woodpeckers, a red-bellied woodpecker, mourning doves, juncos... there are probably more that I'm not thinking of at the moment or that I haven't seen yet. 
I have not seen large flocks of robins as I do some years.  I've seen a few, and I don't know if they haven't flocked up yet, or just haven't made it to where I look for them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Plenty of ice on the ponds this morning.  It's the first real ice I've seen this season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

bird stories

I've got three bird stories. 

The first is about an annoying woodpecker (and I mostly like birds!) that has been banging on our house for several days - made a pretty good sized hole, in fact, all the way through the siding, which is vertical cedar.  Today my husband and I (I was the one on the ladder) put up some aluminum over where the critter had been pecking and hung a few cds up there also, hoping to discourage further damage.  We also got and put out a suet feeder, which some website said might help keep them away from the house. 
I'm not sure if it was a downy or a hairy - when I went out to chase it off, I was more concerned about the house than exactly which type of bird!   
Many years ago we had a problem like this, but the bird eventually gave up and we haven't had anyone doing damage like this in ages - I suppose it is a new bird in the neighborhood. 
This problem is actually quite common in my neighborhood, which is comprised of cedar sided contemporary homes.  They seem to like the corner of the house where the power lines come in to the building, and I've heard that there is enough vibration in those wires, where they attach to the house, that the birds mistake the vibrations for that of insects in the wood.  Some people have hung plastic owls up in an effort to keep the damage to a minimum.
Woodpeckers are funny sometimes - in one house we lived in, there was an aluminum tv antenna on the roof.  We had a woodpecker that would come and bang on that.  In that instance it must have simply been to make the noise, to declare territory or advertise presence - there were no bugs to be had there, and I'm sure the woodpecker knew that.

The next story is shorter, but more interesting - I think!
I was walking yesterday morning under some power lines.  There were two groups of mourning doves in different places on the lines.  At some distance, a bird flew toward the power lines and the further group of doves scattered.  I wondered for a moment, and the same bird flew toward the doves closer to me, scattering those doves also.  At this point I could clearly see that the bird was a hawk - a sharp-shinned, I think, judging by the tail length and overall size.  The hawk must not have been particularly hungry because it just flew off after the doves scattered, not bothering to chase any of them, that I could tell.

And the last story is the coolest - maybe...
My husband and I were outside, putting the ladder away after the woodpecker project, and our daughter came out, very excited about a "huge bird" in a tree behind the house.  Well, she was right - it was a barred owl, just sitting on a dead branch, looking around for a snack (there were tons of songbirds around at our feeders).  It sat there for quite a while - I got the binoculars, my husband got the spotting scope, and my daughter got her camera.  Eventually a blue jay came along and the barred owl flew off to a nearby pine tree where it could be more sheltered.  It did not seem particularly bothered by the jay.  The jay squawked a few times, but no other jays came along to start a mob and the jay flew off to find something else to do.  I guess owl mobbing wasn't high on its' list of activities for today.  I worked outside most of the afternoon, planting some mums and doing some fall cleanup, and when I came in, as it was getting dark, the owl was still in that same pine tree.  I would love it if it chose our area for its' winter territory (in spite of the potential loss of some songbirds).

Oh yeah, one more thing - I've seen several pine siskins this fall.  Last year I noticed few if any, and the year before we were over-run by them. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

witch hazel

My hamamelis virginiana is blooming!  This is the fall witch hazel.  I have had a spring-blooming witch hazel, hamamelis vernalis, for several years, and I put in a fall-blooming slip a few years ago.  This is the first fall it has bloomed.  It is an interesting plant, in either variety.  It blooms very early - February! - or late - November - depending on which one you are looking at.
Here are a few pics of my fall witch hazel:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Frost

Summer is really over
Seasons roll along as ever

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nodding Ladies Tresses

 I saw these pretty little orchids on my walk this morning.  It's nice to see some blooms amid the reddening colors of autumn. 
While I enjoy the changing seasons of New England, I'm always a little sad to see the passing one go.  At the same time, the excitement of what is coming continues to thrill me - every year is a little different, and it is fun to see what will come.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Late summer harvest

A little more nectar before frost comes

Friday, September 10, 2010


I've got stinging nettles all over my yard this year.  I never noticed them before, though I suppose they must have been here.  Maybe this summer's hot, dry weather - coming after a cool, wet spring - was just perfect for them to grow quickly.  I've heard of them before, certainly, but never knew exactly what they looked like.
Earlier this summer I plucked a weed from my pepper plants that I thought was galinsoga, but it stung me!  At first I thought it must be an insect on the plant, but then it remained irritated, as if something was in the skin of my finger.  Indeed, that is what happens - a piece of the "hair" breaks off in the skin, along with some chemicals, and it hurts!  This plant is in the family Urticaceae.
At least for me, there is no long-lasting damage, but the irritation from the stings does last for a couple of hours.  I would definitely recommend wearing gloves when handling the stuff.
The confusion with galinsoga is interesting - the flowers are completely different, but the one I saw first did not have flowers yet.  The leaves are somewhat similar in shape, but the nettle leaves are much more serrated.  Also, over time, the nettle plants get much, much bigger.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baby red squirrel

Very cute!

sent from my Droid

Monday, August 9, 2010


I got a great view of a sharp-shinned hawk today.  It was especially nice to see it when I did, as I had done a program earlier in the day with a broad-winged hawk.  Birds are so cool!

Also, the second nest of robins - two this time - fledged a couple of days ago.  I expect that's all we'll get this year.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

mid summer

Yes, I've been busy and I've been away.  Here's a shot of a cat-tail and some joe-pye-weed from my morning walk.

It's not that I haven't been out and about, it's just that I've been focusing on other things, I guess.

Monday, June 28, 2010


hot hot hot lately, but the bee balm is blooming - and looking lovely


 I haven't had much activity at my hummingbird feeder lately, and I wonder if it is because these delightful flowers are blooming...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

just some pics

This is the last of 4 robin hatchlings to fledge (5/23/10)

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) bud
I put a big bunch of these in near my little pond.  I hope they do well.

new rain barrel and herb garden

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I've gotta get some new pics up here.  I have some, quite a few actually, but it's too much fun to be outside doing stuff.  I don't want to take the time to fuss around with this.  I'll try in the next couple of days.  I've got work to do out in the yard, though.  If I don't hop to it, you won't be able to get in and out of the house, the front walk is getting so overgrown.  I'm going to take some of the daylilies and move them out to the area by the road.  Clears the walk, fills an awkward gap that is a pain to mow - win-win, I say. 
I'm also trying to grow some more vegetables this summer.  The swingset has come down, in preparation for a new shed.  I've already got some tomatoes and peppers in pots growing out there.  We'll see how it works.  My long-term plan is to set up some raised beds, but I want to see if there is enough sun for veggies.  If not, I'll go for shade loving perennials.  That's the cool thing about gardening - if one thing doesn't work, something else will.
And I've got a new rain-collecting barrel.  We've had one for a while, in the back of the house, where it catches runoff from a crease in the roof.  The new one is connected to a downspout, and is in front of the house, where most of the plants that need to be watered are.  It's in the herb garden, under an overhang in the roof where no plants would grow.
I used to do a lot of vegetable gardening.  One year I made a lot of pesto - so much that it lasted until basil came into season again the next summer!  Here, my yard is fairly shady, so we'll see how things go.  I've done tomatoes and such in tubs on the front deck with some success, but I'm feeling more ambitious this year.  Wish me luck.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Those winter moth caterpillars I wrote about the other day have pretty much finished off the leaves on my witch hazel.  I hope it will come back - the leaves, not the munchers!  Interestingly, they've eaten the spring blooming shrub, but not the fall blooming one.  Coincidence?  Location?  I cheer every time I see a bird eating one of those worms.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


We've been inundated with winter moth caterpillars here lately.  They are little inchworm type critters, about 1/2 an inch long, and they are decimating the leaves on many trees.  The big, healthy trees will survive, at least this summer, but the weaker ones will be culled, and so goes the circle of life.
On the other hand, somebody's got to eat some of those caterpillars.  And I just saw a cardinal that was doing his darndest to get as many caterpillars as he could.  His mouth was just stuffed full, and he kept trying to grab more.  I suppose he's got a clutch of babies somewhere to feed.  Maybe I'll poke around and see if I can find the nest.  The birds can take as many of those caterpillars as they want - I like green leaves.

Friday, April 30, 2010


First kayaking of the season today - very nice, though a little windier than I thought it would be.  Saw tree swallows, red-wing blackbirds, a gull, a crow, a great blue heron, Canada geese, turtles (probably painted), and a beaver lodge.  This was on the Concord River.

Monday, April 26, 2010


There was a red squirrel dashing around my yard this morning, and I managed to get a few pics.  It was pretty cute, and was clearly watching me watch it.  There are, as usual, lots of birds around as well, but I particularly noticed a flicker and a phoebe, neither of which stayed in sight long enough for me to photograph.  But really, it is enough to know that they are around.  Yesterday I saw a fisher on the stone wall behind the house, noticed first by my daughter, and a rabbit in the yard in the late evening, noticed by my son. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


On our afternoon walk today my daughter and I took different paths around a little stand of pines.  As we neared where they joined up again, she said "Mom, come here."  Then, when I got to where she was standing, pointed toward a rustling sound about 50 yards away.  A coyote pup!  We quickly called the dog back to us and after watching 'til the pup went out of site we headed in the other direction.  There have been coyotes around here as long as we've lived here, and I've seen them on occasion, but never a baby one before.  I'd guess it was around 6 or 8 weeks old, but I really couldn't say for sure, with the distance, short viewing time, and lack of knowledge about coyotes.  I can say for sure that it was cute.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Some nice bird sightings on a morning walk today.  It was on the cool side - mid-40s, I'd guess, though I didn't check a thermometer - but bright and sunny.

I heard, and then saw when I followed the sound, a towhee.  They used to be called rufous-sided, but now are called eastern towhees.  It's not a big bird, but it has a loud and distinctive song.

And up in the field I saw a pair of tree swallows.  First I saw one flying around in the acrobatic way they do.  Then it landed in a tree.

Then I watched them fly around in the air some more.

I saw what might be their nest site.

And I watched them fly around some more, 'til they landed in another tree for a rest.

On April 4 there was a brush fire.  I don't know anything about when or how it started, and I'm thankful that we've had as much rain as we have this spring - the damage doesn't seem too extensive.  But several young pine trees got singed.  I'll be interested to see how they react over the long term.  One good thing I noticed that the fire did was to burn the buds off some winged euonymus bushes - we've got a lot of that invasive around, and I won't be sorry if some of it dies off.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I saw a great sight this morning!  Two red-tail hawks flew over my head, up high, and landed, one at a time, on a power line vertical post.  Shortly after that, one of them flew over to the second post of the pair, and the two of them sat there for quite a while.  They seemed to be watching me and my dog, and there were a lot of songbirds around as well, which could have made a nice breakfast.  It was an amazing thing to see, these two great hawks soaring overhead in the bright blue sky...  Eventually one, and then the other, took off and flew over to some nearby trees where I lost sight of them.  I wonder if they have a nest in there?  I didn't have time to go check this morning, but I will definitely keep my eyes open next time I head over in that direction.

Here's a not-too-good phone-camera shot of the two birds.  Can you see them?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


It's a lovely sunny, cool day today.  My shadbush is beginning to bloom.  Tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer than today, so maybe it will all come out.  But it looks pretty nice today, so here are some pictures.

Pretty blossoms, interesting shape, early leafing - just a great plant, and it's native!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

blue jay

I love blue jays.  They are so bright and energetic.  I know they get a bad rap for harassing other birds and stealing eggs, but I do love to look at them.  Thornton Burgess wrote that Sammy Jay's coat looked like a little piece of the sky.

All winter I've been trying to get some photos of blue jays, but they move around a lot, hardly ever sitting still for long, and my photography skills are limited, as is my patience.  Today, however, a jay landed in the dogwood tree outside my kitchen window, and stayed there for a while.  It wasn't exactly sitting still, but it was still enough and close enough that I could get some pictures.  Finally!  And they aren't half bad...

 sitting (and squeaking!)

moving to another branch

with a branch for its nest (?)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Busy week!  Yesterday it was about 90ºF - a record for Boston, and hot for April definitely.  Today was much more seasonable, and pleasant, at around 60ºF.  Cold front moving in, and one in my head too - I hope both clear out soon!  Ninety is a little warm for my taste, but low 70ºs is pretty pleasant, and good for drying out some of that water that is still hanging around after our March rains.

All sorts of flowers are coming out, and leaves too.  The maple leaves are popping, and the shadbush and spicebush are nearly blooming.  I don't have any pics just now, but will try to get some this weekend - as I write this it is dark out.  The warmth is making the view change every day.  Of course, the lengthening days are important also, but these unusually warm spells make it all happen even sooner.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I read somewhere that you can tell the difference between a downy woodpecker and a hairy woodpecker by the sound they make when pecking.  If the tapping is so fast you cannot count the taps, then it is a downy - a hairy taps slowly enough that you can count the taps.  I don't know if that is true or not, but I also learned (from an online video that of course I cannot find now) that the downy's beak is proportionately much shorter in comparison to its head, than the hairy's.  The links I've given above point this out as well.
I heard several woodpeckers this morning, but they were hard to find in the trees, even without leaves yet.  Finally I got a good view of a female downy (no red) up on a dead oak branch.  She was tapping away, and I couldn't keep up.  She was practically hugging the limb with her feet, and I could see, with binoculars, her tail working to help hold her in position.  The bark was still on the branch where she was, but it was clearly coming loose - I could hear different sounds as she tapped in different spots up and down and around that branch.  I watched her for quite a while, until a blue jay, perhaps annoyed by the tapping(?), swooped down and caused her to fly to another spot.

Here's a pic of a downy I saw last weekend and snapped with my phone camera.

None of the birds I saw this morning were in a good position to be photographed, but here are a couple of shots that I took of scenes that looked particularly beautiful on this bright, sunny morning.

 clover with dew

trees, moss & puddle

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

more rain

It's raining again!  Seems to be a Monday tradition this March.  Our yard is sure looking lake-like.  It is raining buckets right now, and I am getting sick of the tapping on the roof, but the birds are still out there, presumably looking for food.  I'd think they'd want to take cover wherever they might find it, but I guess not.  Without searching I've seen a blue jay, a cardinal, a hairy woodpecker and a downy woodpecker.  Too wet for the camera.  And it's chilly today also.  It rained a lot yesterday, but it was in the 50s - now it's closer to 40ºF.  Bleah!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


This morning as I walked there was a wonderful chorus.  I heard birdsong all along my trail.  There were robins, mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees and many others.  It was cold this morning - so cold there was ice on my pond, in spite of last weekend's balmy temps and arrival of spring, but the birds were singing away.  There were at least four-and-twenty blackbirds singing in one area, and a glorious cardinal calling in a meadow.  What a wonderful way to start the day!


red-wing blackbirds

ice on the pond!

Monday, March 22, 2010


If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.
- Mark Twain

It is raining today, but even from inside the house I can see the buds swelling on the shadbush and on the spicebush.  The warm weather and sun in the previous few days got that going.  There will be more flowers and lots of green soon.  And soon I will take down the birdfeeders for the summer.  They are already much less used that even a week ago, which means that the birds are finding food elsewhere.  I am happy to feed the birds, but I feel better when they are eating their "natural" diet.  It seems a little later than usual to me, but the goldfinches are beginning to turn yellow again, another sure sign of spring.  Even though this was an easy winter, those signs of spring are welcome.  We used to live in New Hampshire, and when we moved I said the only thing I didn't miss was the long winter.  I've been here three times as long as I lived there and I love it here, but I am glad that winter around here is a little shorter.  Of course, I wouldn't want NO winter, either.  That's what I love about New England - seasons and their constant change.  Just when you start to get tired of a season, it moves on and changes.  Of course, that goes for weather in any given week, and sometimes in a day!

spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

 shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

spring is here

New colors for the new season.
And here are a few pictures of blooms from my yard yesterday.




Now, since spring has sprung, a new year is beginning in many ways.  I've got nearly a year of pics of Round Meadow on the left column of this blog.  I'm going to start a new series of a different view.  I can't decide if I prefer the "back woods" - the woods in back of my house, or "shadbush" - a shrub in my front yard.  Opinions?
As with Round Meadow, I'll do a sort-of-weekly photo through the seasons.