Image #84 – Shelter from the Storm, Part II

Image #84

Hunkered down, riding out the storm, this gold finch barely moved for 10-15 minutes as yet another rain storm passed through. We have had LOTS of rain. The birds are fortunate that so many people feed them in this area.

Gold finches are truly spectacular birds, rather like wild canaries in their yellow-brilliance.  This fellow would have preferred thistle seed over the sunflower and safflower mix I provide.  But thistle is expensive. I recall a colleague from many years ago who could identify nearly every bird by its song. He was a terrific birder. He commented once that he didn’t worry too much about college tuition for his children but he worried about the costs of keeping the finches in thistle seed. Things haven’t changed. ☙

Image #83 – The North Carolina State Turtle … who knew?

Image #83

As I do these blogs I try to make them interesting and informative. Not just to my readers but also to myself.  And that is how I have learned that North Carolina has a state turtle. To be precise, the Eastern Box Turtle. I learned this because an Eastern Box Turtle, specifically the one pictured above, was walking across my yard on Sunday so, of course, I took pictures. And then I looked up turtles on the internet and learned about North Carolina’s official state turtle.  On the N.C. Secretary of State’s website I found the following:

The turtle is one of nature’s most useful creatures. Through its dietary habits it serves to assist in the control of harmful insects and as a clean-up crew, helping to preserve the purity and beauty of our waters. The turtle has adapted well to modern conditions and has existed virtually unchanged since prehistoric times. The turtle is really a culinary delight, providing the gourmet food enthusiast with numerous tasty dishes from soups to entrees.

The turtle watches undisturbed as countless generations of faster “hares” run by to quick oblivion, and is thus a model of patience for mankind, and a symbol of our State’s unrelenting pursuit of great and lofty goals.

The General Assembly of 1979 designated the Eastern Box Turtle as the official State Reptile for North Carolina. (Session Laws, 1979, c. 154).”

I guess the turtle only “watches undisturbed” if he/she is lucky enough to live in an area that doesn’t bask in its “culinary delights.”

Probing deeper I learned, once again thanks to the internet,  that nineteen states have an official state turtle. Not to be out done, Florida has two–the gopher tortoise and the loggerhead tortoise–thus paying homage to inland and coastal residents.

Who knew all this turtle stuff was going on out there? It gives one hope, honestly. ☙

Image #80 – Carolina Crepe Myrtles

Image #80The Carolina Crepe Myrtles are in bloom. They dot the landscape, rising to heights of 13-15 feet.  They are lean, quite different from the shorter, bushy-style crepe myrtles I’m accustomed to in Florida.  The hot pink color of the Carolina myrtles is also very different from the soft pink and white flowers that you see in Florida.  Either one is fine with me. They both have beautiful flowers that last a long time. ☙

Image #79 – Well, maybe not all briars ….

Image #79You know how it is.  Just when you make a strong statement about … well, almost anything…life throws you the exception and there you are eating crow.  So, that’s me today.  In my blog yesterday I ranted and raved about how I hate briars.  And I do. But then I was reviewing these pictures from yesterday and what do I spot?  Briars!  Tiny but, nevertheless, briars.  It is, in fact, a Sensitive Briar or Littleleaf Sensitive-briar (Mimosa microphylla).  The bee gives you a clue to its sizeIt grows down our hillside in an overgrown patch that needs some attention but I’m unsure what kind of attention it needs.  For the moment it is a pleasant enough area for wildflowers to occupy. The bees are very happy with the arrangement.  This particular bee was one of several varieties I saw. Not all the various kinds of bees would come to this particular flower. There were different varieties of flowers and the bees had their favorites. This bee returned again and again to this flower.  And why not? It’s one briar I think I could love.  Yin-yang, my friends.☙

Image #78 – I Hate Briars

I hate briars, brambles…thorny vines, whatever you care to call them, I hate them.  This morning I spent some time working on the south 40.  That’s the south 40 feet of my property not the south 40 acres.  We have a bit over an acre here and there is a small peninsula of land at the south end that narrows down towards Potts Branch Road. It sits behind our tool shed and is a pleasant little spit of land. It will be even more pleasant after I get rid of the greenbrier.  I attacked it heavily Image #78athis a.m. because I just hate briars. I think it must stem (pardon the pun) from some bad experiences in childhood. I was always running around and prowling in the woods behind our house and I remember getting tangled up rather badly on a couple of occasions. Being a child there was that tendency to panic and try to get away from bad things quickly. Such tendencies have bad results in briar patches.   I’m more cautious now, of course.

The strategy this a.m. was weaponry coupled with chemical warfare. I cut and pulled free the vines, traced them back to their origin, cut them at the root and applied a surgical squirt of weed killer.  I cleared a good amount of vine, heaping it in a clearing with plans to move it to a burn pile later.  There is still more to go but I feel I have made some young trees much happier. They had been pulled down by the accumulating vine and were bent nearly to the ground under the weight. Some vines climbed high into mature trees and when I was able to pull some down I was surprised to see berries.  And then the guilt hit. Image #78Perhaps the vine has a purpose?  My ego initially rejected such an idea but my pace slowed and I decided I would learn more before proceeding. I have cleared the area I foresee as the “path” so the brambles along the fence can be pruned more judiciously, I reasoned.

Returning to the house I went online and learned that greenbrier do indeed serve a purpose. The berries are loved by birds. They only form after the vine reaches the high trees so a lot of time and effort is spent growing that vine. I’m chagrined and a little chastened but I’m unchanged … I hate briars. I’ll find a way for all of us to live together.  But the glory days are over for much of the greenbrier on the south 40.  The tangled mass of intertwined brambles is gone.  Sorry … well, not really.  The birds are getting plenty to eat at my feeders and maybe they’ll miss the succulent greenbrier berry but I really won’t.☙

Image #77 – The King Farm

Image #77Things sure can change fast in a life. A year ago I was still working and had no clue that in about six weeks I would be laid off.  And I never imagined that in less than a year I would be living in North Carolina!  I was thinking about all this and wondered what I was doing, photographically, a year ago. Well, turns out  I  had just met Ben and Shelby King, of the King Farm in Bradenton, Florida.  I wanted to do some photography on their farm and Shelby was kind enough to give me a tour. Along the way we met these inquisitive creatures. I also met Bubba The Bouncer.  Thanks for a nice afternoon, Shelby. ☙

Image #76 – Shelter from the Storm

Image #76We have a good deal of rain here on Fawn Hill. I’ve been told that the Nantahala Forest, in which I reside, is actually a rain forest.  Well, I don’t know about that but, as I said, we have a lot of rain and it is often tropical in nature. It pops up, comes down in buckets and then the Sun comes out.  During the downpours the birds often take shelter on the feeders.  Hey, on a rainy day what better to do then stay dry and eat good food? These finches and a male cardinal seem content with each other’s company … at least as long as it rains.  ☙

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