Archive for April, 2013

First Warbler of the Season Banded

Black and White Warbler, all banded and ready to go on his way.

Black and White Warbler, all banded and ready to go on his way.

This morning we banded our first Wood Warbler of the spring migration.  He was an after second year male Black and White Warbler.  You may have noticed his “squeaky wheel” song on a walk in the woods as he forages, Nuthatch style, on the side of a tree.  This first wave of spring warblers are almost all males as they want to get the best territories for nesting.  The best territories attract the choicest females and give him the most likely chance of success in passing on his genes to the next generation.  Warbler season has begun!

Leave a comment »

Planting Onions When the Maples Bloom

The bloom of the Red Maple tree heralds onion planting time.

The bloom of the Red Maple tree heralds onion planting time.

The Red Maple blossoms are falling and (according to old-time New Englanders) it’s time to plant my onions.  My husband has rototilled the garden and the soil is all ready to transplant the seedlings I started in late January.  They now have their second true leaves and are large enough to handle without damaging them.

The soil is all prepared and the job goes quickly.

The soil is all prepared and the job goes quickly.

I space them about 5″ apart in a  wide row about 30″ across, sinking them in up to the juncture of the two leaves.  I have them in a flat with small cells and now discover that the tiny trowel in the garden tool set I bought for the Grandchildren fits perfectly and I can lift the seedlings out without damaging the roots.

This tiny trowel is perfect for the job.

This tiny trowel is perfect for the job.

I have let a few of the Southport Globe onions I planted last year winter over.  They have come up and look healthy.  I am hoping they’ll go to seed and I can develop my own seed stock for this onion that was the foundation of my town of Southport’s economy for a century (See this post for more on the history of our onions in Southport.)

I hope these left-over onions from last year will go to seed and yield me seeds to get my own seed stock.

I hope these left-over onions from last year will go to seed and yield me seeds to get my own seed stock.

Comments (1) »

How to Divide and Repot Clivia Miniata

Miss Clivia, in all her glory

Miss Clivia, in all her glory

My son's plant is not really overcrowded but it can be divided to give them two pots.

My son’s plant is not really overcrowded but it can be divided to give them two pots.

When the plant is removed from the pot, the roots are tightly intertwined.  Working gently, these roots can be loosened and separated.

When the plant is removed from the pot, the roots are tightly intertwined. Working gently, these roots can be loosened and separated.

Once you open it up some, you can find a good place to cut the plants apart.  Then tease the roots some more until the two plants can be separated.

Once you open it up some, you can find a good place to cut the plants apart. Then tease the roots some more until the two plants can be separated.

To repot, put some potting soil in the bottom, about 1/3 of the way up.  Hold the plant over this and fill in around the roots, jiggling the plant as you go to try afill the air spaces between the roots.

To repot, put some potting soil in the bottom, about 1/3 of the way up. Hold the plant over this and fill in around the roots, jiggling the plant as you go to try afill the air spaces between the roots.

When you reach the top, end at the natural place where the plant shows a change in color, then water it in and fill any gaps.

When you reach the top, end at the natural place where the plant shows a change in color, then water it in and fill any gaps.

These will come right along and give years of enjoyment.

These will come right along and give years of enjoyment.

Clivia miniata (Natal Lily or Bush Lily) is a sensational houseplant.  It is native to south Africa and requires little care.  It has attractive foliage and stunning flowers.  I find mine blooms best when it spends the summer outside in a shady spot (they do get sunburned) and has a cooling rest period in fall and winter.  I don’t take it inside until just before frost is threatened (be sure you get it in before frost).  Follow this link for full care instructions.  I was chatting with my son earlier in the week and he told me he was worried about his (an off shoot of mine when I repotted, some years ago).  After some discussion, we decided it needed repotting so I went down this morning to help him, as he had never done this before.  The following series of pictures detail the process.

Comments (12) »

Shorebird Monitoring Has Begun

The unmistakable American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates)

The unmistakable American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates)

Yesterday we did our second round of a shorebird census sponsored by the Connecticut Alliance of Audubon Societies for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  What could be better on a beautiful spring day  than spending the morning birding Milford Point, one of the premier shoreline spots in Connecticut?  The point of the census is to determine the number of shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers, stilts, curlews, godwits, etc.) that visit our shores.  This will monitor population trends and identify important stopover and nesting areas for these birds.  A separate program we are involved in concerns protecting the nesting locations of those shorebirds that nest here such as the Piping Plover and Least Tern (see post from last summer on this) which are threatened species in Connecticut and the Roseate Tern which is endangered.

We walked the sandbars and beach and surveyed the marsh, finding 34 species in all, six of which were targets of our survey: American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs and Killdeer.  The Ospreys were repairing their nest, Plovers and Oystercatchers were linking up with partners for the nesting season.  Soon exclosures will go up around the plover nests and lines will be strung to keep people off the nesting areas for the terns and other shorebirds.  If you see any of these areas this summer, please respect them and give these elegant birds a chance to raise their young successfully.

Pairing up and hoping for a successful nesting this summer

Pairing up and hoping for a successful nesting this summer

Leave a comment »

Early Spring Pleasures: Hellebores

When I moved the leaves, the new flower buds were easily seen.

I discovered Hellebores (Helleborus niger) some years ago when I was searching for shade loving, deer resistant plants.  While they are not native and not bird friendly (high priorities for me), I value them for their  extremely early bloom and low upkeep.  Also known as the Lenten Rose, the foliage is poisonous and deer give it a wide berth.  There’s something medieval about their appearance.  At this time of year a little maintenance is necessary, but for the rest of the year, you can leave them alone.   This is the time to prune away last year’s foliage.  It has lasted through the winter but shows winter’s ravages in the browning leaves.  I do this when I see the new buds peeking up through the leaves.  All that needs to be done is to carefully snip away the leaves close to the earth and remove them, taking care not to snip off a flower stem.  Soon their gentle blooms will bring you pleasure.

Now that the leaves are gone, these flowers will grow and open in a week or two.

Now that the leaves are gone, these flowers will grow and open in a week or two.

Eighteen days later.

Eighteen days later.

Buy them on sale if you can as they can be expensive.

Buy them on sale if you can as they can be expensive.

These two were on a fall closeout sale at White Flower Farm

These two were on a fall closeout sale at White Flower Farm

 

 

Comments (1) »

%d bloggers like this: