Winter Wrens and Woodies, Liebster Award

“The earth is what we all have in common.” ~ Wendell Barry

Spring Has Sprung In Winter

Right on schedule every morning in the spring, as the sun begins to rise, the Song Wars begin.

Tea-kettle! Tea-kettle! Tea-kettle! we hear from outside our bedroom window.

Nature does things on her own schedule.

“Is that the cardinal?” Scott asked, snuggling in closer. We love listening to the world wake up on Saturday mornings. During the week, he’s already well off to work when the suns peeks through the trees.

“No. That’s the wren. He starts the show. The cardinal should be chiming in next, followed by the mockingbird, then the crow…Mr. Cardinal should be starting right about…now.” My imaginary conductor baton cued the solo.

Cheer-up! Cheer-up! Birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie!

It’s just like clock-work, even if it’s not technically spring. While everyone up in the north is digging themselves out of feet of late winter snow, we lay here from the comfort of our beds enjoying the deafening racket, the symphony of procreation.

We wiped the sleep from our eyes, filled coffee mugs, and headed out to the creek in the dim light. Just a little more Mommy-and-Daddy time before the kids get up to stir the pot.

Wood Duck Chase

As the sun and birds rise in suburbia, so does the cacophony of motor vehicles on the nearby parkway through the woods. It seriously detracts from the more pleasing sounds of nature. Lately, it’s made camping by the creek less fun; it quite literally never ends. 24/7 for homo sapiens, the rest of the world’s species are smarter, choosing either diurnal or nocturnal depending on their habits. For DirtNKids, our nights are nights, our days are days, and this today, we’re planning not to rush off to do anything.

Most mornings, we flush the wood ducks across from where we sit walking out to our chairs. They disappear in a flurry of rapid wing beats and squeeky squaks. The males are the most striking in their colors, and I’ve been dying to get a good photo of them that isn’t a blurry mess. They are so very skittish. Lucky for me, they opted to swim down the creek instead of flying off — their intent on something else entirely. We spy not just one or two, but nine males with a single, lone female. Clearly engaged in ahem more important matters, this would be my opportunity for photos.

I went inside, grabbed the big lens and some binoculars, and the keys to the van to catch them where the creek meets the road. I might not get another chance until next year.

Barely out of the driveway, attention deficit kicks in. Many neighbors have left freshly bagged leaves and yard debris neatly staged on their curbs for the landfill. Everyone still sleeping, getting caught enjoying my nasty little habit was less likely. The wood ducks would have to wait. Taking advantage of the timing and dry weather, ten bags get stuffed into the van and delivered straight to my garden.

Finally, back to the ducks. I made a slow pass by the creek, field lenses at the ready, but no ducks. Rats. I must have missed them.

Scott waved to draw my attention from the creek as I pulled into the drive: they were still out there! They were a ways down, though, so I’d have to be careful not to spook them approaching on foot. I left the tripod back, opting for hand-held and went for a quiet hike on my neighbor’s property. The lighting was low and exposure would require a high ISO — I’d have to slow the shutter way down. Using the trees as both a ‘bird blind’ and a ‘tripod,’ I crept closer, every time the group’s keen lookout turned his back. He had is eye on me.

Wood Ducks

BAM. Got ’em!

With all those male suitors, her mate appears to be steadfast and protective, but it didn’t stop the others from their pursuit. I joined Scott back in the chairs and we discussed putting up wood duck boxes, in addition to the martin house, bat boxes, and bee box…planning never ends. We finish up our coffee and suited up to finish the mulch pile in the driveway instead.

The tell-tale rattle-chatter of the Belted Kingfisher was heard while I just so happened to have the camera with me, so a two-fer for the day. I’ve not been able to capture a kingfisher ever until now. It pays to carry a camera during this busy bird-y time of the year.

It’s nice that they’re all so distracted by other things.

Belted Kingfisher

Spring Marathon

As we cleared the remaining five yards of mulch occupying the driveway since last November, I’m reminded how good it feels to be doing back-and-shoulder work in the yard again, not to mention checking a To-Do off the list. All while watching birds working on their nests — wren in the clothespin bag, hawk in the tree, mockingbird in the bush — it’s fitting that I tidy mine.

Though I’ve no plans of filling it with more kidsMr. Wren is no doubt hoping to grow his own family. It’s just so fun to watch, perhaps we’ll get enjoy some fledging wrens again this year (and hopefully not in the garage).

Tag. I’m It.

It’s been a while since I played the award game on WordPress. A long while. For the last couple of years, I was waylaid by starting up an on-line school for four children, and before that, the remodel-from-hell. These posts take some thought and planning, neither of which I’m particularly prolific at the moment. They are a great way to share the blog love.

Gold Stars!

First off, a big shout of thanks to NovaScotiaRoots Blog for her nomination of DirtNKids for the Liebster Award. She is brand new to WordPress and blogging and is a fellow gardener ta boot! As my gardening days are just now starting back up, my nails are still a little too clean for my liking.

Don’t worry, gardening friends. Dirt days here are fast approaching.

Next, my answers to NovaScotiaRoot’s questions. I’ll be short and sweet, and link to past posts instead (just click).

  1. Favorite flower: Sweet Olive (smells of peach cobbler)
  2. Favorite veggie: Eggplant (nicotine!!)
  3. Favorite garden picture (insert it if you can): I have way too many favorites! Look to column left.
  4. Favorite season: Autumn. For Sure.
  5. Biggest defeat in your garden. In-ground Wicking Garden. Epic fail.
  6. Biggest challenge in your garden: Not enough time and too many kids.
  7. Your next big project: Fruit tree espalier 
  8. Your gardening partner you are most grateful for: Green Anoles. And the occasional ox beetle grub.
  9. Your favourite quote: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will find peace.” ~ Sri Chinmoy Ghose
  10. What are you grateful for? Life, Love, and Beer. Especially beer.

How About Some Blog Love? Try These On.

Portraits of Wildflowers – Photography
Focused Moments – Photography
Meaty Vegan – Veganism
In Search of Balance – Travel / Photography
Third Act Evolution – Veganism
Puma Diaries – Travel / Stories of the Heart
VerseHerder – Poetry / Birding
Forming the Thread – Random Writings
There’s An Elephant In The Room – Abolitionist / Vegan

 Thank you to all of you for your support and contributions
to the WordPress World. I Heart Blogging.

Bloggers, if you want to ‘play’ read the rules at NovaScotiaRoots.

18 thoughts on “Winter Wrens and Woodies, Liebster Award

    1. You are one of the first blogs I followed back in early 2012. Your posts never bore me and always keep me striving for better. Thank YOU for your support of nature! Some of us are watching. And learning… 😀


  1. Oh how I enjoyed hearing about all the many wild creatures you have on your property, Shannon. Not too many people can photograph wood ducks in their own backyard! All your photos here are really lovely. 😀


    1. The little wooded property on the creek is my slice of heaven! Almost ten years we’ve been here, and not once have I regretted the stress we went through to acquire it. Grateful. Every day. Thanks for coming by and for your kind words, Jet!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Sonya, your father was a very smart man, but then I’m guessing you already knew that. 😀

      I’ll use wood ash in my big pile only where it doesn’t affect the pH (acidity, alkalinity). Most our area’s plants are on the alkaline side, but there are acid-lovers (like my blueberries, azaleas) that LOVE wood ash occasionally. Leaves are so very easy to store; grass clippings and other ‘green’ types get stinky.

      Green + Brown + Sun + Water + Air + Microbes + Worms = BLACK GOLD!


    1. Everyone is a gardener down deep! As for appreciation of all things small, ugly, slimy, or sting-y, most people don’t share how I feel. Mr. Ox Beetle Grub earns his way in my compost heap — breaking down the big chunks for the little guys. He may be ugly, but he’s my friend for sure.

      Thank you for what you do, Christy. You bring joy to my reader, feathered friends or no. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been hearing more birds lately, too, although that might change with this week’s cold forecast. Now that we live in a subdivision with close houses, I think I notice the birds more. Can’t take them for granted as much as I did in Wisconsin!


  3. I had a finch trying (unsuccessfully) to eat a dead bug off the screen of an upstairs window a few weeks back. I broke down and bought a bird feeder. I positioned it as far from the garden as possible so they wouldn’t eat my food like they’ve done in the past. Little did I know that the squirrel-proof mechanism would also keep the doves at bay. So far it’s mostly house finches and purple finches, but the cardinals come on occasion. Interestingly, our last neighborhood a mere three miles west had so many jays, and I’ve yet to see a single one.


    1. Ha! And I position bird feeders as CLOSE to the garden since my birdies are cheap pest control. Only the squirrels become a problem as they love big, fat, green maters. If you hang the right feeders, the birds you want will eventually come; doves and blackbirds can be quite pushy though.


  4. That was a perfect distraction from my morning rush, thanks so much! We have some beautiful birds here in Nova Scotia as well, but for now, they are still hiding out away from todays freezing rain. If you don’t mind, I will just admire and share your birds today!


    1. Being on the Gulf Coast has its upsides. If you liked the wrens, there are more media (video, photos) of our resident family who raise their kiddos under our noses every year. You can use the search box on my home page to look up oodles of springtime and birdie goodies to give you hope!

      Remember, we are a full two months ahead of you for ‘last frost.’ My tomatoes go into the ground just after St. Patty’s Day, if you can believe that. It is Spring Marathon here already for sure.


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