Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weather! and some spring migrants

Is winter every going to end?  Usually at this time of year I am out in the garden all day, every day but this year winter just doesn't want to go away. Although I have been able to spend a few hours out doing a bit of weeding and cleaning up, the continual rain/snow/rain and cold temps are making it difficult to get things done in the garden and the thought of planting anything in the soaking wet, cold ground is just not on the books just yet.

There seems to be a disconcerting weather pattern building with every weekend having the worst weather of the week...not good for those who work! 3 weekends ago we had a tremendous hail storm that caused a good deal of damage to our property. Broken windows, smashed flowers, and a great deal of damage to our vehicle and our beloved Airstream which had me picking up golf ball sized hail stones and bits of branches from the carpet in our bedroom!

Last weekend I taught another beginner Coloured Pencil class at Liz Garcia's studio in Mississauga ON.  We had a full house in Liz's beautiful studio, and I think we were all happy to have something to occupy our time indoors as the wind and lashing rain outdoors wasn't very pleasant. I thought we had some hope while driving home that evening, as by the time we arrived home the temp had risen from a steady 4 degrees for the day up to 11 degrees.  Unfortunately the wind turned from the north again and by morning everything was white once again!

Regardless of the weather some of the spring migrants are making their way north. This week saw the arrival of a few purple finches mixed in with a large flock of goldfinches who are busy fussing with the resident finches who spend the winter with us.

This fellow is "ripening" nicely! Some are very yellow and almost completely finished with their moult into breeding colours, and others are still rather motley looking!

This male Purple finch is glorious! He was much brighter and obviously the dominant male of the group, I brightened this photo because it was such a gloomy day but didn't alter the colours at all.  I saw him in the crap apple tree this morning, along with one female purple finch...their nesting range is a bit farther north than we are but maybe this year they are having other thoughts about moving on!

We have also had a pair of chipping sparrows arrive, we usually have one or two pairs of them spend the season with us in the neighbourhood but I have no idea if these are "our" chipping sparrows or just some that are taking advantage of our abundant bird feeders.  I know I took a pic of one must still be in my camera so I will save it for another post.

I read that hummingbirds have been sighted back in Ontario, it seems rather silly to be putting out feeders for them when there is a good chance the feeder may freeze up, but if they are here, there isn't much else available for them to I will be hanging out my feeder this afternoon and I might as well hang the Oriole feeder at the same time...the last 2 years we have had Baltimore and Orchard orioles in the yard just about now...although I love seeing them I hope this year they are lingering somewhere farther south where it is warm!

I will be back soon with some more bird photos, a photo page and also an update on what I have on the drawing board right now.

Chipping sparrows are the only "native" sparrows that tend to nest in our garden or close by, although we do get visits from many other types of native sparrows that stop off for some food on their way to summer nesting areas. American tree sparrows and song sparrows are often around in early spring and sometimes a fox sparrow will drop in, although they never stay more than a day. In a while I expect we will see White crowned and White throated have to be looking for them in amongst all the English sparrows that dominate the feeders!


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