Tuesday, March 20, 2018

First Day of Spring 2018

A couple of hours ago, it officially became spring here in North Texas. Except for the brisk north wind, it is easy to concur that spring has arrived. Today we have sunny blue skies. My early spring blooming bulbs are done blooming and now my azaleas, "Candy Stripe" creeping phlox and redbuds are in full bloom. My bluebonnets and wisteria are beginning to show some color too on this First Day of Spring for 2018.

It is time to put tomato and pepper plants out in your vegetable garden and you can still plant some annuals for spring color. The warm season annuals are likely a few weeks away from being in your local nursery. Pull out any winter weeds in your garden beds before they reseed and replenish mulch as needed. I little maintenance gardening now will provide a great backdrop for the continued unfolding of blooms throughout the year.

Happy gardening. Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pi Day and Albert Einstein's Birthday

I wonder what type of pie Albert Einstein liked best? I think it is pretty cool that such an important scientist was born on a date that translates to the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi.

For those of you that enjoy a bit of math humor or want to indulge in some math or science geekery, check out my EclecticSkeptic shop on Etsy. In celebration of Pi Day, 2018 all orders received before midnight on 3/14/18 CDT will receive a 10% rebate, excluding shipping, from EclecticSkeptic.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mark Your Calendar for the Return of Daylight Savings Time

It is almost time to spring forward again, even though it is not yet quite officially spring. Daylight Savings Time starts again on Sunday, March 11, 2018. I will enjoy the later light, although IMO, April was a much better time to do this because the daylight portion of the day is longer by then so as not to plunge us into darkness as bad in the am. Unfortunately the powers that be changed the dates for both time changes a few years back. Try to get to bed at a decent hour Saturday
night to make the change a bit less taxing. Make sure you get all of your clocks and watches updated this coming Sunday that don't automatically spring forward an hour, so you will be on time to go back to work or school on Monday.

All of the clocks pictured are creations of Eclectic Design Choices and run off AA batteries in a USA made quartz clock movement.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Season of Blooms from Beautiful Bulbs

While a single bulb will not give you a season of blooms, clusters of several types of bulbs with staggered bloom times will. This year may be a bit of an exception as many of my bulbs are beginning to color up this week. However, in a normal year my spring bulb succession goes something like this:

Sometimes as early as January, my paperwhites (narcissus) begin blooming. I have two varieties. One is the standard flower form with white petals and a pale yellow cup. The other is called "Texas Star" and has longer and narrower petals and a slightly smaller cup.

The next bulbs to flower are usually my single jonquils, February Gold daffodils and summer snowflakes (don't let the name fool you).

I have a variety of other daffodils and jonquils that bloom at various times, ending up with Pheasant's Eye daffodil which can bloom as late as April. Before that last daffodil variety blooms, I also get color from bulbs of English Wood Hyacinths and the only reliably repeating tulip in my area, Clusiana tulips. Hardy and regular amaryllis have also done well, along with a native Texas pink blooming alliums I initially collected with permission from a pasture.

There are plenty of other plants such as corms, rhizomes and woody perennials who wake up and put on a show of spring color. The earliest of all of these types of perennials in my yard are the bulbs. They put a smile on my face to see them break dormancy and break bud to let you know that Spring is just around the corner.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy Darwin Day

Science types around the globe, raise a glass of your favorite beverage today to honor the 209th anniversary of the birth of the famous English naturalist Charles Darwin. Beginning near the end of 1831 after getting his college degree, Darwin set off as a member of the expedition on
the HMS Beagle. He spent much of his time on various landings while the ship surveyed the coast of South America. One of Darwin's most famous points of landfall was the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.

In celebration of this day, I have included a couple of my photographic art pieces that I created from photos I took on my trip to the Galapagos islands a few years ago. One is a floating Galapagos pelican, mounted on acrylic and the other is a gallery wrapped canvas of a group of marine iguanas lounging in the sun. Both images are also available as matted 8x10 prints.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cedar Waxwing Invasion

This makes three weeks in a row that I have posted about birds. I will get back to other topics, however the invasion of cedar waxwings I witnessed this morning was something I just had to share right away. I have previously had small flocks of around 25 or less land on my bald cypress by my pond and stream. Sometimes they will drop down and get a drink as you saw in my last post.

Today's flock outdid anything I have seen before. The flock on the tree at any
one time was around 80 - 100 birds. The photo above is just a portion of the flock. Click to enlarge it and see how many you can count. Let me know in the comments below. The cedar waxwings dropped into the stream in shifts of up to about 25 at any one time to get a drink. This went on for several minutes. Fewer clouds would have been nice so I could have used more depth of field and a quicker shutter speed. I did get better images than I expected though, while I was shooting.
Cedar waxwings are one of the bird species that have a good chance of being
seen during the Dalworthington Gardens' Great Backyard Bird Count event on Saturday, February 17 in Gardens Park. If you are in the area, grab your binoculars, camera and/or iOS or Android device with a bird identification app such as Merlin and join us in the community room at 10 am for a presentation before we break into small groups to count birds. After birding, come back to the community room to swap stories of what birds you sighted and make some origami birds to take home with you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Frozen Morning - Birds Flock to Open Water

The official thermometer at the airport read 11 degrees Fahrenheit for this morning's low. Closer to home, Arlington registered 6 degrees. These are not wind chill temps but actual air temperatures. At these temperatures many still bodies of water that birds would make there way to for a drink would have been frozen over like the pond portion of my water feature as seen in the photo of the mourning dove walking across the ice. The waterfall and stream flowed fast enough to stay open and became a mecca for birds looking for a drink. I saw some year round bird species as well as some of the visitors that
come through this time of year. The photos were all taken this morning and captured many of the species that stopped for some water. Click on the images to enlarge them. With the Great Backyard Bird Count just one month away, get to know these bird species because you are likely to find some or all of them if you join the DWG Backyard Bird Count event on February 17, 2018.

Male and female House finch and Cedar waxwing

Yellow-rumped warblers with ice in the background

Male Bluebird (Do you see his reflection in the waterfall?)

Goldfinch and Chipping sparrow