Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pair for the course

We visited some friends today who are avid golfers and whose backyard faces the 18th hole of their golf course. The course is home to some rather gregarious sandhill cranes. I opted to bring the camera this time - on the last visit I left it at home, much to my chagrin.

Before long, a lone crane wandered onto the course from between a couple of houses. Grabbing my gear, I nonchalantly stalked him onto the course and got a few shots before I caught a shot (from a golfer) myself.

A little later we visited the ladies' tee-off area on the 12th hole where a female was guarding her nest that contained 2 eggs. As she kept a wary eye on me, I quickly fired off a few shots of her too - I wasn't about to find out how vigorously she would defend her nest. Perhaps in a few weeks I might be able to get some photos of the offspring.

[editor's note: our 2nd set of winter visitors is arriving in an hour; I may not be around much over the next 2-1/2 weeks but may sneak in a visit here or there. I'm told that spring is around the corner ...]

"no clubs required; I own the course ..."
"I zoomed in tight for this shot - no need to aggravate mama"

"Here she is guarding the nest"

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Queen of Palms

In the north temperate zone (this year also known as the north polar zone) I could reasonably expect to see some trees starting to flower in May. I haven't quite figured out what the flowering season is in the subtropic zone. For instance, we have some 'annual' dianthus here that have been blooming continuously for almost 3 years. Hibiscus seem to bloom whenever they feel like it, and that also seems to be the case with palm trees - I haven't discovered their cycle yet either. I'm constantly amazed at God's creativity when I see the variety that exists in nature, whether that be in the plant or tree world, the animal world, landscapes ....

One of our queen palms (Syagrus Romanzoffiana) has been developing several flower pods which are 5-6 ft tall. Today we noticed one that had burst open. In the first photo you can see the large yellow flower and the open flower pod to the left of it. To the left of the open pod you can see another, unopened pod. I'll leave the flowers for a few weeks at which point a heavy cluster of large green grape-like seeds will develop. These will gradually turn an attractive orange-yellow colour and that's my cue to take action. I've learned from past experience not to let them ripen to the point where they start dropping to the ground. They become extremely soft and very sticky, and rather nasty to pick up. Instead I'll position a large garbage can beneath the cluster before it ripens and saw it off so it drops directly in the can - no fuss, no muss, no bother. In the meantime we'll enjoy the flowers.

As I was looking through some shots of this flower, I thought I noticed a smudge in the 2nd photo. Take a look at a crop of that photo (3rd photo below) to see the 'smudge'.