A Surprise Passerby

I was recently surprised by a visit from an unexpected passerby…

…a female Scarlet Tanager. These birds are not common visitors to my backyard.

The males, with their bright red bodies and bold black wings are easy to spot, but the females tend to blend right in with the leafy tree-tops.

At first, I thought the male Pine Warbler (below) who had been posing just minutes before had returned…

…but she is slightly larger and her gold is not quite as gleaming as his.

She only stayed a moment or two, and then flew off out of sight.

Funny how brief visits can feel like big blessings.



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Happy Hour

The birds must have decided that it was “happy hour” in my backyard yesterday, as several showed up to enjoy a drink.

Some were sippers…

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Bluebird

Pine Warbler

Carolina Chickadee

…some were drippers…

American Robin

Tufted Titmouse

Brown-headed Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

…and all of them were lousy tippers!

But hey – they enjoyed their fresh water happy hour, and I enjoyed a happy hour of taking their pictures.

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A Mob of Monarchs

I pulled into the driveway this afternoon and as I glanced over at the garden at the edge of the yard I saw a mob of Monarchs flitting about the blossoms. Okay, “mob” might be a bit of an overstatement, but there were at least eight to ten of these beauties just begging to be photographed, so I happily obliged!

Some were enjoying the aptly named Butterfly Bush…

…while others were lapping at the Lantana.

Several more were sampling nectar from the remaining Zinnias.

Butterflies are often uncooperative subjects when it comes to sitting still, and frequently they would flit away before I could focus. But hey, some of those shots ended up being fun too.

While Swallowtails seem to beautify the yard during the summer months, Monarchs tend to make their appearance in the early days of fall.

Their visit is always a welcome distraction.


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A Friendly Fall Favorite

The temperature dropped twenty degrees overnight, and the almost fall-ish weather brought in a flurry of bird activity – including a visit from one of my favorites, the Brown-headed Nuthatch.

These friendly little birds are quite inquisitive and incredibly cute, and are always entertaining to have around.

They love munching on peanuts (hence the name!)…

…and are not shy about enjoying the fresh supply of water.

Besides the food and water, I think sometimes they drop in just to be social.

Love these little guys!

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First Feathers of Fall

I was at Moss Lake when Autumn officially arrived, so today was my first chance of the new season to head outside and see which backyard bird would be the first to have a fall photo taken.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker wasted no time at all in making an appearance.

He bypassed the Bark Butter and dropped down to snare a peanut, then he flew off with the spoils.

With the temperatures still in the 90’s and summer seeming reluctant to leave without a fight, the bird activity is still on the slow side. But I am hoping that cooler temperatures will soon prevail and there will once again be an abundance of backyard visitors.

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Labra-mutts at Moss Lake

Peaceful…picturesque…the perfect place to escape for a little soul replenishing…that’s how I’d describe the house hubby and I rented on Moss Lake this past week.

The scenery was beautiful –

The wildlife was plentiful –

And the location was close enough for our kids to come and visit.

But if you ask Tucker and Chaco, the best part of the trip was repeatedly playing at the (in the!) lake. If we opened the door and gave the go ahead they were off to the water in a flash.

It was so much fun to watch them racing…

…and romping…

and making waves.

They were the picture of intense focus…

…and joyful abandon.

They should have carried the label – “Warning! You will get wet on this ride!”

I’m pretty sure this face is saying, “This is what I was made for!”

As much as I love capturing shots of them individually, my favorite pictures were of the two of them having fun together. Here’s a few…

…and here’s a few more!

They were always reluctant to leave when it was time to head back to the house.

It was absolutely wonderful spending time away with this good-looking guy…

…and these two lovable Labs!

Oh – and in case you were wondering – I’ve had it wrong all these years. I thought VRBO stood for Vacation Rental By Owner, but I now have it on good authority that it stands for Vacation for Retrievers, Bring your Owners!

And if you’re looking for a lovely, dog friendly get-away, check out this site. 🙂

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Beatin’ the Heat

Although fall has officially arrived, the weather is still on the warm side, which makes fresh water a lure for the birds.

This White-breasted Nuthatch dropped in for a drink the other day.

I’ve tried telling him he doesn’t need to get so dressed up to visit my backyard, but he never seems to listen!

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