A Week Ago Today

I never had the chance to post a final journal entry from last weekend. Life has been extremely hectic the past week. I am behind on EVERYTHING – including keeping up with the blogs I enjoy following. Ah, the joys of being a working woman. 🙂

Since it is a fairly quiet afternoon, I thought I would travel back in time and post a few photos from last Sunday, our last day in the northwoods.

The birds were very active and I bundled up to sit out on the porch in the 20 degree temps and attempted to get some photos. Unfortunately, just as I did so, there was a lot of activity going on at the shooting range a couple of miles down the road. With all the gunshots, the wild things disappeared, including all the squirrels. Of course, when I went back in, the birds came back. Figures! So, I spent a lot of time opening the door and sticking my camera out the crack, trying to get a shot. Not the most successful photography technique!

The blue jays arrived in droves. I would have loved to capture a shot of many of them together, but of the dozen or so that flew in and out, very few of them were still at the same time. This was the best I managed – three together.

Raucous blue jays.

Raucous blue jays.

Blue jays chowing down as quickly as possible.

Blue jays chowing down as quickly as possible.

That’s a bit blurry because they were moving constantly.  I just think it’s funny because you can see how all of them are swallowing as many peanuts as possible.

The cheerful nuthatch visited, too.

White-breasted nuthatch.

White-breasted nuthatch.

White-breasted nuthatch on the suet.

White-breasted nuthatch on the suet.

And the yellow-bellied woodpecker.

Red-bellied woodpecker.

Red-bellied woodpecker.

There was a hairy woodpecker.

Hairy woodpecker.

Hairy woodpecker.

And a downy, as well.

Downy woodpecker.

Downy woodpecker.

You can tell just trying to get photos through the crack in the door wasn’t working too well, since all of these are not sharp at all.

We did have a new visitor – a goldfinch wearing its winter drab must have gotten left behind.

Winter-ready goldfinch.

Winter-ready goldfinch.

Before we began packing up we took the dogs for a final hike. Since there were a lot of hunters out and about, we just walked the two-track back to Sportsman’s. There was a thin layer of ice on the lake.

Sportsman's Dam wearing a thin mantle of ice.

Sportsman’s Dam wearing a thin mantle of ice.

I couldn’t help but think back to the spring when I was so excited to see all the swans here.

After we looked around at the boat launch area, we walked around to the southern tip of the lake to the dam.

The icy lake as seen from the dam.

The icy lake as seen from the dam.

After lunch it was time to pack up, drain the water pump and toilet and head home.

Fast Forward to Today

This was the scene in my front yard when I arrived home from church this afternoon.

Landscape demolition has begun!

Landscape demolition has begun!

Let me explain. A month ago we met with a landscape designer about making our front yard into a bird-lover’s paradise. The area where I hang my bird feeders had a lot of scraggly, bushy, overgrown stuff that was impossible to keep in check and always made that area look messy. Then, across the front of our house was an ancient “flower bed” that was there when we bought this house more than 17 years ago. It was filled with a variety of bulbs — a few daffodils, some tiger lilies, Michigan lilies, some lily of the valley and a lot of weeds. When the bulbs bloomed, they looked good for maybe a week and then they just went to heck. So, we wanted to transform that area into a more bird-friendly, low-maintenance, black-thumb-proof garden.

We met again with the designer this past Thursday to go over her design and she came up with a fabulous plan. She proved she had listened to everything I said I wanted and incorporated all my wish list into her design.

A plan for a bird-lover's paradise.

A plan for a bird-lover’s paradise.

The design includes color and interest for all four seasons, plenty of cover for the birds, and trees, shrubs and plants that are berry or seed producing.

The down side is that the final cost of the endeavor, should we use their labor and purchase all the plants/trees/shrubs from them, was nearly $6,000. Of course, we don’t have to do it all at once and if we (Mark) do the labor ourselves, we can save a ton. So, we talked it over and Mark decided he wanted to get started right away and plant some of the trees now and do the rest in the spring.

I went off to church this morning and when I returned, I was greeted with the scene above. Mark had gone out to start digging out all the bushy stuff, then our neighbor came over with his tractor and helped pull out the more difficult trunks and roots.  This is what it looks like now that they are done with the initial demolition.

Future bird sanctuary.

Future bird sanctuary.

To give you a small sense of difference, this is a photo from February of 2013.

A previous view of that area with plenty of bird cover.

A previous view of that area with plenty of bird cover.

As you can see, the demolition has left us with no cover or perching areas for the birds. 😦 I don’t know what we are going to do about that. I am trying to think of some creative ways to make temporary cover, or I may have to consider putting the bird feeders away until the spring. Something that I would be loathe to do, as the birds bring me so much joy, especially in the difficult winter months.

I hope to keep you all updated on our progress.  I am sure you will be waiting with bated breath.  I have to remind myself that come the summer, this is going to look fab!  If all goes well, I will be able to get some terrific bird photos in the future.

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11 Responses to A Week Ago Today

  1. Bob Zeller says:

    How exciting! I wish we had room to do what you are planning. We barely have room for a couple of feeders. I will just enjoy watching your progress. Lovely photos, by the way. 🙂

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    • Awww, thanks Bob! I am excited about it and hope it turns out as well as the design. (And that I don’t kill it all after it’s all planted, LOL.) I really hadn’t planned to start now, I thought we would have to wait until Spring and do it all at once – but Mark wanted to get a head start on getting the old stuff out of there. I’ve got ideas for the front porch, too, and making it more of a place I can take photos.

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  2. tootlepedal says:

    The end result should be well worth a temporary bird free winter. Very nice shots at the top of the post.

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  3. Good luck with the landscape project, it looks as if it will be worth it in the end!

    For this winter, maybe you can “recycle” some of your nieghbors’ Christmas trees, the birds won’t care that they aren’t rooted there. They should be easy to dispose of in the spring.

    As Tom said, very nice pictures of the birds from up north!

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    • Thanks, Jerry! I was thinking the same thing about the Christmas trees. We always put up two – a tall one in the living room with family ornaments, and a bit smaller one in the dining room with vintage ornaments – so I was thinking we could put them out there when the holiday is over to give some cover. Also, Mark is thinking to put in the spruce and possibly the junipers in the next week.

      I am still catching up on blog posts and yours are next on my list. I like to make sure I have time to really read it all and take the proper amount of time to look at the photos.

      I guess the bird photos don’t look as bad as I thought they did. Sometimes with my bifocals, things appear out of focus one way when they don’t another.

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  4. kathydoremus says:

    How wonderful! I can’t wait to watch your bird lover’s paradise blossom! 🙂

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  5. avian101 says:

    Always remember one thing Amy, when dealing with plants, patience is needed because is a slow process, not all plants grow at the same rate. The great reward comes when you notice that your plants show flowers and flowers show butterflies and birds and more birds! Then you go crazy for a better and bigger camera etc. The race begin! 🙂

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    • I will remember your advice, H.J! I am not very good with growing things (despite the fact that I’m a Michigan farm girl!) so I am hoping I will be a success with this flower garden. Everything is supposed to be low-maintenance and very hardy and it will have a variety of blooms, colors, berries, seeds, etc. I’m hoping to make a little photo blind of some sort, too! 🙂

      Oh, and I’m already dreaming of a bigger, better camera! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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