Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Birding in the Neighborhood

Took some time this past weekend to venture out with the camera and do a little birding, since it's still too cold to think about a garden.  The cold didn't deter the birds, as I saw a number of robins, the harbinger of Spring and even though the robins are here, spring-like weather is not.  Canada geese are abundant throughout the property, which is over 300 acres with lots of open space.  Saturday there were flocks of Cedar Waxwings flitting about eating crab apples, a couple of chickadees and a woodpecker that I wasn't able to identify.  A few fat squirrels were running around, looking for the cache of food they had stored in the fall.  Sunday there was a huge flock of gulls circling one of the lakes on the property, so I took a short hike and found that they were attracted to dead fish that were being exposed in the melting ice.  The gulls were squabbling over the fish, creating quite a racket and then suddenly something would startle them and they would all take to the sky, wheeling about until they were certain whatever danger there was had passed and they would settle back on the ice again.  

American Robin, Turdus migratorius

Canada Geese, Branta canadensis

Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum

Eastern Fox Squirrel - Sciurus niger

Larus argentatus, Herring Gull, Adult and Juvenile, 3-23-14

Herring Gull, Larus argentatus

Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Greetings From Lisle

It's been 10 days since I arrived in Lisle and I'm beginning to get settled in, although I can't say the same for the weather.  Winter hasn't wanted to step aside for Spring, as we had snow on the 12th, followed by temps in the low teens to the twenties, but it rained today and is supposed to by in the 60's on Friday, so maybe winter is finally loosening its' icy grip.

The view of the golf course from my balcony

Conifers outside the parking garage

Snow "painted" on a tree.

I haven't had too many opportunities to take photos yet, but with the nice weather forecast for this weekend I plan to get out with the camera.  I've seen a few robins, plenty of Canada Geese and mallards, plus gulls and starlings.  Sunday I saw a pair of hawks flying over the golf course, but I wasn't able to identify them.

All but one of the stapeliads survived the move and they're all looking fine and getting plenty of light through the large windows in the apartment.  I'm going to look for a baker's rack or maybe one or two small shelving units to place on the balcony so that I can have a container garden with lettuce, chives, radishes, globe type carrots and a few other veggies and/or herbs.  I may even buy a large pot for some tomatoes or cucumbers.

That's all for now; more after the weekend. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I've relocated to Lisle, IL after accepting a new position and have moved into an apartment, so the focus of this blog will be changing.  My family is staying in AZ, so Dove Manor remains in our hands and I will be visiting every other month or so, at which time I'll post updates on how things are faring in my absence.  In the meantime, I have brought most of my stapeliads and a few other succulents with me.  Future posts will highlight the surrounding area, as well as new additions to my stapeliad collection.  Prior to leaving Arizona, I took some photos of the gardens so that I'd have a baseline for comparison when I take my first trip back.

After hand-pollinating Euphorbia obesa flowers daily for over a week, I realized that I'd been successful when I noticed a number of the flowers were swelling with developing seed pods.  Since the pods burst open when ripe, I covered them with a nylon to capture the seeds.

Euphorbia obesa seed pods

Several of the succulents were flowering, as seen below.

Pleiospilos nelii 'split rock'

Gasteria liliputana

cotyledon 'White Sprite'

Other plants flowering or about to flower include the Anna apple, snapdragons, roses, and Black oil-seed sunflowers.

Anna apple already showing the swelling of pollinated fruit.

Snapdragons from last year's seeds.

Black Oil-seed Sunflower

There were several critters in the gardens recently, including an American Kestrel, a micro fly and a spider that had finished its' meal.

Falco sparverius, American Kestrel, 

Micro fly

Several plants were beginning to spring forth with new growth, including radishes, blueberries and the gladiolas.

Radishes in the ladder planter.

The first leaves on the new blueberry plants.

The glads pushing up are a sure sign of Spring.

Lastly, two of the Stapelias have bloomed since I arrived in IL on the 8th.

Stapelia rufa

Stapelia kwebensis

Until next time, here's hoping Spring finds its' way to Lisle, IL soon.