Things you didn’t know you had

The downtime between Christmas and New Year provides temporal space to start cleaning those things that may not merit daily attention, but languish in that to-do list priority category just above “limbo” or “someday.” Today it was a handful of glassware reserved for celebratory use and a compact flash card that somehow found a hiding place in the LowePro backpack. ¬†Among the findings from the latter:

July 12, 2014, supermoon
Supermoon framed by pine trees. Taken July 12, 2014.
Indigo bunting in tree.
Indigo bunting preening. Taken July 13, 2014.
Upside down butterfly.
Butterfly hanging on the underside of an azalea branch outside the office window.

 

 

The humpbacked cardinal

Cardinals have been a family favorite bird. In the northeastern U.S., they brighten up a winter landscape like no other.

UNWELCOME FINDING -- The cardinal has a large lump on his right shoulder.

This morning, our local cardinal and his mate were whooshing through the small pines at the back of the house. Himself decided to take a commanding spot in a leafless tree.

Grabbed the camera between fixing Sunday morning espresso and popovers and fired away through the kitchen window.

FROM BEHIND -- The hump was more visible when he turned north.

In unloading the shots to the laptop, noticed something alarming about the bird — he appears to have a hump of some sort on his right shoulder. At first it appeared that he was just balling up, as birds do, against the cold. But on closer examination, the hump is very distinct and stands out no matter how he carries himself. Fortunately, the growth doesn’t appear to impair his ability to fly or do other cardinal things.

On a somewhat lighter note, in going through the Peterson Field Guide to Birds,¬†there was an interesting fellow included in the pages for “Cardinals, Buntings, and Allies,” called Pyrrhuloxia. What he looks like is a cardinal that’s gone through a bleach bath. It reminded me of a photo that colleague Donna shot back in the spring of 2010. Too grayish to be a female cardinal. What she did shoot appears to be this Pyrrhuloxia — quite a bit east of its normal range which appears to be SW Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, with the occasional wandering as far north as the Texas Panhandle.

Check out her photo.

Black and white

This morning’s walk turned up plenty of texture.

two halves of a hickory nut
Aging hickory nut halves embedded in a crack in the concrete road.
vines wrapped around a pine tree
Vines wrap around a pine tree trunk.
wild grass seed heads
Grass seed heads wave in the early autumn breeze.
Outer shell of hickory nut.
A husk is all that's left after the squirrel has a snack.