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observations about photographing nature in Kansas and Missouri

The 2010-2011 journals were an afterthought. I started re-building them by reviewing the dates of photographs taken and personal journals. Future versions will be more accurate in terms of a timeline.


2017 Journal

06/03/17 Discovered that Plant Bugs are the reason that I can no longer grow Garden Phlox. Going to cut them to the ground now and in the Autumn to see if I can get rid of these guys.

06/02/17 First of the season Wheelbug nymph!

05/18/17 One of my remaining KS/MO dream shots is of a Common Nighthawk sleeping. For the last 2 years there has been a Nighthawk nesting/sleeping in a tall tree in my neighbor's backyard, obscured by leaves. This is cruelty defined.

05/17/17 Saw an Orchard Oriole, Hummingbird and Flycatcher in the backyard. Still have 4 or 5 Baltimore Orioles and a variety of small yellow Warblers.

05/15/17 Baltmore Orioles still pounding jelly.

05/14/17 Wilson's Warbler in the gardens.

05/10/17 Baltmore Oriole Day. Up to 4 at a time coating the feeder.

05/07/17 Back from a glorious trip to Cheyenne Bottoms. Scored my first American Bittern thanks to Kervin.

05/03/17 John is getting Grosbeaks and Hummers at his feeders. I have a brand new Catbird!

05/02/17 Saw a Baltimore Oriole in the backyard.

03/26/17 Brown Thrasher flipping mulch in the gardens.

03/25/17 Brown Thrasher yelling its brains out.

03/22/17 Annual fish emulsion and soil treatment day. Also added more wee Speedwell.

03/18/17 Took a friend to Roe Park to see the Heron nests and Wood Ducks. Both were present and glorious.

03/10/17 Just back from a trip to Arizona to cold and snow. Hung around Scottsdale, Payson & Tonto Mountain. Some of the fun birds discovered:

Anna's Hummingbird
Abert's Towhee
Bewick's Wren
Cactus Wren (everywhere!)
Curve-billed Thrasher
Gambel's Quail
Gila Woodpecker
Gilded Flicker
Great-tailed Grackle
Greater Roadrunner (found one in the last hour of my last day!)
Lark Bunting
Lesser Goldfinch
Red-tailed Hawk
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Spotted Towhee
Verdin
Vesper Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (in abundance!)

02/28/17 Strong winds from the south the last 2 days. An easy ride for some early migrants?

02/22/17 Saw an Eastern Comma in my ratty Elm tree.

02/18/17 Rusty Blackbird sniffing around underneath the feeders.

02/13/17 A yard full of Grackles. It begins.

02/04217 Lucked into some close-ups of a Brown Creeper in the sun.

01/21/17 Was delighted to see the demise of the Heron Rookery near Roe Park was a mistake and that the trees were still there with nests in them! On the other hand, it upsetting to see a distressed hawk trapped inside the nets of Topgolf Overland Park, which looms over the rookery and lagoon that house Great-blue and Green Heron, owls, Malard, Wood Ducks and a few years ago, a Black-bellied Whislting Duck.

Yesterday I heard a Robin doing it's Springtime warbling. I also noticed that there were a dozen plants in the garden above ground. Today, on this bleak day, I heard a Cardinal singing! SINGING! Glory.


2016 Journal

11/14/16 Finally have my own, personal Red-breasted Nuthatch visiting the feeders!

11/11/16 Still no freeze. Lilacs, Forsythia and many other spring bloomers are re-firing.

10/23/16 Three Barred Owls in a sass fest in the neighborhood for about 2 hours Friday. Last night and this morning we heard two Great-horned Owls having some territorial discussions. I am desperate to see one flying at night.

10/22/16 Hundreds of Robins flying Southeast in batches of 4-6 birds with a few seconds in-between each lot.

10/20/16 ....and Junco sniffing around at the bottom of the feeder!

10/19/16 Saw some White-throated Sparrows in the yard. People around town are reporting Junco sightings.

10/09/16 Annual backyard sky clouded with Franklin Gulls day.

10/03/16 Started pulling up spent goldenrod and asteres. People advise using them as mulch but the only reason I am pulling them is to slow spreading. It seems to me that using them as mulch is the same as planting the seeds.

Saw the two Pearl Crescents again today. Same scenario. The smaller one would follow the larger one around and wait on a leaf while the senior Crescent would nectar.

10/02/16 A few days ago I saw a small Pearl Crescent following a slightly large butterfly everywhere it went. While the larger Crescent was nectaring his chum would just sit nearby and wait for him to take off again.

09/27/16 It's that one day of the year where the gardens are dusted in Monarchs. Twentyish nectaring (Sedum, Asters, Snakeroot, Spanish Needles, Goldenrod) at any given time.

09/24/16 Sat in the gardens and counted 21 species of birds while having coffee. Big batch of Cedar Waxwings flooding the trees. Robins passing through.

09/18/16 The gardens are stuffed with goldenrod, Blue Mist, Obedient Plant, Pitcher Sage and asters and when the sun hits it there is a constant cloud of butterflies. It is amazing to watch. Sulphurs, Monarchs, Painted Ladies, American Ladies, Skippers, Eastern-tailed Blues, Gray Hairstreaks, American Snouts, Black Swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and piles of Buckeyes.

08/22/16 Finally a fistful of Monarchs and Swallowtails in the yard along with the hundreds of little Skippers, Blues, Whites and Hairstreaks. The Threadleaf Coreopsis is just swaying with wee butterflies.

08/14/16 Learned today that every single European Hornet in the gallery is an Eastern Cicada Killer. They are abundant this year. Poor Cicadas.

07/17/16 Witnessed my first booms from a Common Nighthawk. Quite a marvel for backyard bird watching!

07/16/16 Saw a Hummingbird run off a pigeon. Seems ridiculous at first thought but those beaks are needles.

07/15/16 Catbird running all morning and evening. Do they have nests this late in the season?

07/14/16 I haven't seen any Surprise Lilies blooming in the yard or around the city. They usually start firing around the 4th of July.

07/05/07 Started moving starts to a new garden on the East side of the property. We've been getting some bonus rains in the morning which is helping with the transition.

06/29/16 Added Common Foxglove and Royal Candles to the gardens. Also added more tomato soup Echinacea and white Phlox.

06/26/16 Picked up some Maypop starts from a friendly gentleman in Raytown. Hope to have Passionflower blooms by August if they take.

06/23/16 I'm getting a little annoyed at all of the insects that haven't shown up yet. My gardens are bursting with flowers, including a couple of dozen Milkweed plants, and I have nothing but Honeybees and Bumblebees. Sure a sexy butterfly wobbles by now and again but not very often. I have probably 100 Bee Balm plants and no Hummingbirds. I'm overstocked nectarwise.

06/10/16 Note to self: whenever the sea of clover in your yard starts to annoy you, look a little closer at all of the honeybees and Eastern Tailed Blues nectaring. Sincerely, Self.

06/03/16 Added some Gray-headed Coneflower, Mexican Hats & Prarie Coreopsis to the gardens.

Milkweeds all have heads but are losing a lot of lower leaves, I am assuming because of the heavy rains we have had recently.

05/24/16 Thank you very much to CAT5 of Raytown for needlessly crushing several Swamp Milkweed plants.

05/15/16 Beautiful male Indigo Bunting and Red-breasted Grosbeak in the backyard this weekend.

05/09/16 FOS Hummingbird. Checking out the sage.

05/08/16 Wilson's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat visiting the gardens today.

05/06/16 Please join me in welcoming Wild Geranium to the KCWildlife Gardens.

05/05/16 Anniversary additions to the KCWildlife Gardens: Wild Petunia, Rough Blazing Star (Liatris), Threadleaf Blue Star, Evening Primrose, Showy Primrose and Amsonia 'Blue Ice' Bluestar.

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks first thing in the AM.

05/04/16 Baltimore Oriole and Harris's Sparrows in the backyard.

05/02/16 Swainson's Thrush, Nashville Warblers, Lincoln's Sparrow, Warbling Vireo all in the backyard.

05/01/16 Warblers in the backyard day: multiple Swainson's Thrush and Nashville Warblers, black and White Warbler and Yellow Yarbler.

04/30/16 I've seen a Great Blue Heron flying below the tree line over my house a few times this week. Today he landed in a neighbor's tree to the dismay of numerous nesting birds.

04/23/16 Saw a Catbird hiding in a Rose of Sharon this morning.

04/22/16 Was getting in my car to run an errand and witnessed a Coyote anxiously trotting down the middle of the street. He sprinted past me into bushes several houses away.

04/17/16 I could swear I saw a Baltimore or Orchard Oriole working a treetop this morning.

04/16/16 Please welcome Ohio Horse Mint to the KCWildlife Gardens. Should have some Threadleaf Bluestar to add on Tuesday.

04/11/16 Note to self: The giant plants that come up in the same place every year are Dame's Rocket.

04/10/16 Joe Pye, Blue Mist and some of the Milkweed are above ground. Snakeroot has been up for weeks.

04/09/16 Added Missouri Primrose (yellow) and Blackberry Lilies to the KCWildlife Gardens today.

Found a Mock Orange start and moved it to where it could be celebrated more conveniently.

04/08/16 Planted Virginia Bluebells, Red Lobellia and Pale Prairie Coneflower roots.

04/01/16 Brown Thrasher in the yard. Spotted the first Thrasher in the yard on 4/2 last year and 4/1 the year before that.

03/31/16 Please join me in welcoming Speedwell, Balloon Flowers, Culver's Root and Pincushions to the KCWildlife Gardens.

First mowning of the season.

03/29/16 Saw a Cabbage White and a Red Admiral in the yard today.

03/20/16 Sowed some Passion Flower seeds along some open areas on a northern fence. Also planted some Pitcher Sage seeds in the new garden.

03/18/16 I just realized that the Goldfinches have been gone for the last week or so. Off gettin' yellow, is my guess.

03/08/16 5:20 AM and you can already hear Robins all around the neighborhood. What an amazing sound.

03/06/15 Grackle in the yard. Possibly a windsurfer which means Cowbirds are probably right around the corner.

Woodpeckers have been drumming on metal vents on rooftops over the last few weeks. It's comical and terrifying.

03/05/16 Saw a Turkey Vulture today. Now it is Spring.

03/02/16 Forsythia blooming. Actually took some yard photos today. It's been so long since I've taken a picture that I'll have to re-learn Lightroom.

02/29/16 First screech of the year from bumbling upon a Garter Snake in the garden.

02/27/16 First Crocus blooms. Spiderwort, Sedum, Hyacinth, Tulips, Daffodils and Fennel are above ground. Started the fish emulsion fertilization process.

Went for a walk at Lake Jacomo in the early afternoon. Not very birdy but the bugs were out and saw a Question Mark or Comma butterfly.

02/25/16 Bought Virginia Bluebells, Cardinal Flower, Pale Prairie Coneflower roots.

02/21/16 Very birdy in the morning. I'm new to all of this so it's still exciting for me to watch and listen to the birds bloom months before the flowers do.

02/19/16 Very windy warm front in the area. Now there are Robins in front yards where there were no Robins in front yards.

02/18/16 First "Petunia! Petunia! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!" of the season!

02/17/16 The bird calls have really started to pick up, especially the Cardinals.

Surprise Lilies are above ground.

2/12/16 Currently getting 11 hours or more of daylight (6:45 AM - 6:10 PM) and time change is right around the corner.

2/06/16 I don't see the Wintercreeper suffering any from its date with Roundup last week. It looks the same as untreated bushes. Flippin' Rasputin.

02/04/16 Tulips are a couple of inches above ground.

01/31/16 Awoke to Cardinals making laser calls, Chickadees doing the ha-has and Carolina Wrens playing guitar solos. All the morning needed was a wash of Robins whinnying and I would have staggered outside expecting to see blooms everywhere.

01/30/16 Big Leaf Winter Creeper (and anything else that is green when things should be green) Murder Day.

01/29/16 Titmice have been calling all around town for the last week.

01/22/16 Already seeing male Goldfinches with yellow patches. Not sure if that is left over from last year or fresh for this year.

01/19/16 I love it when birds clean their beaks on branches and power lines.

01/13/16 Crocuses above ground.

01/09/16 Single digits tonight. Every squirrel in the neighborhood is making trips up and down trees with a face full of leaves.

01/01/16 Seeing a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the suet cage regularly.


2015 Journal

12/27/15 As we enter the mirthless part of the year it is worth noting that very soon you will start to notice changes in the amount of sunlight during the day. Also, we are just over a month away from Cardnials and Robins whistling for ladies.

12/19/15 Forsythia blooming. Easily a dozen yellow flowers.

11/28/15 Nobody can dominate a window feeder like a House Finch. All I have to see is a long line of birds in a queue on the power line to know there is a House Finch taking its time with a meal.

11/27/15 Put up the Perky Pet suction cup window feeder and in less than 5 minutes it had a Goldfinch in it with a male Northern Cardinal trying to bully it out. Within a half hour I saw House Finches, Nuthatches and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. The cold, wet day must be the reason for the brisk business.

11/23/15 So far the weedwhacker line project is wildly successful. I still don't have many cardinals on the feeder but I have even fewer House Sparrows. The Chickadees and Titmice are constants.

11/21/15 Decided to trying hanging weedwhacker line over the new cardinal feeder to simulate the monofilament fishing line trick to keep off the House Sparrows. It actually worked. The only problem is that it curls because it's so thick. I guess that is why they suggest using fishing line.

11/07/15 Did not get a mature Wheel Bug all year. Until today. Never give up hope, citizens.

10/31/15 The first few cardinals on the Squirrel Buster cardinal feeder have chased off House Sparrows like they were playing the whack-a-mole game. It pleases me to no end.

I have a Squirrel Buster finch feeder. Same squirrel busting technology but with slots instead of holes. Well, I've never had much luck with attracting birds to thistle (despite having loads of Goldfinches in the yard) so I decided to convert it to a sunflower seed feeder. I drilled all of the slots into quarter-sized holes and put it out. Doesn't work. The seed just flushes out every time anybody uses it. I looked at the proper seed feeders and they have little hoods on the inside over the holes to prevent this issue. I'm going to DIY my way around this problem. Stay posted. Or whatever.

10/30/15 Finally added a Squirrel Buster cardinal feeder to the mix. I'm hoping that they won't tolerate House Sparrows using it.

Just saw the first Junco of the year in the KCWildlife gardens.

10/29/15 Put the feeders back up after removing them for several months to clear out the squirrels and House Sparrows. It took maybe 15 mintures before it was coated in backyard birds. No peckers.

10/22/15 Took off for Isabella, MO for a few days to gawk at and hassle Pileated Woodpeckers.

10/17/15 Ruby-crowned Kinglets and White-throated Sparrows monkeying around in the new garden.

10/15/15 Dug a new garden to accomodate all of the Blue Mist that I want to get out of the remaining gardens. Also added some Asters, Bee Balm, Coneflower, Petunias, Ajuga, Dasies, Sage and Threadleaf Coreopsis.

10/07/15 The blooms are drying up. All that's left are asters and a few goldenrod plants. These are loaded with Assassin, Ambush and Stink Bugs but I still haven't seen a mature Wheel Bug this year.

10/01/15 Didn't see a Monarch in the gardens all day. Not even a stray. Only a smattering of Skippers and the ever-present Cabbage Whites.

09/30/15 Cold front brings warblers and Robins but steals Monarchs.

09/26/15 It's Inornate Pyrausta Moth day!

09/25/15 The Monarchs have trickled back down from a dozen in the garden at a time to 4 or 5.

09/20/15 The announcement of the departure of the Monarchs was pre-mature. Perhaps way.

09/19/15 I enjoyed a couple of weeks or with fistfuls of Monarchs in the garden all day but the the cold front that blew threw yesterday seems to have provided a hasty escape. Still have a few solitary Monarchs stopping by but nothing like the frenzy earlier in the week. Skippers and other small butterfly numbers are also lower now.

09/13/15 Still no Inornate Pyrausta Moth in the Pitcher Sage. I've found one as late as the 18th so I still have hope. Did see the first Black Swallowtail caterpillar in the fennel this year.

09/12/15 I'll ALWAYS take a picture of a Common Buckeye. The only time I will not, assuming that I armed with a quality functioning camera, is if I have already just taken 40 pictures of one.

09/11/15 You can capture every insect found on a big bush of Calico Asters and sort them into three piles: Potter Wasps, Flies and Misc. PS. the Misc. pile will be small.

Flock of Robins in the trees in the morning. It was wonderful to hear them again. Catbirds, Thrashers and Hummers still around.

09/10/15 Monarchs in the garden are increasing every day. A week ago you could always find 2 floating around. Now there are always 4-5 in the back and another fistful in the side and front. Seeing other Lepidoptera but not as many as Monarchs and Skippers.

09/08/15 Leaves and other bits of tree debris suspended in mid-air in huge Spotted Orbweaver webs. Very trippy.

09/06/15 Very birdy in the garden the last two days. Saw a Flycatcher working for bugs this morning. There have been a string of 90+ degree days but tomorrow cooler weather with multiple-day rain chances blows in so perhaps birds are riding the wave.

08/31/15 The woman that helped design the initial layout of our gardens died today. She also gave me lots of plants - Ajuga, Comfrey, Crocosmia, Sweet Woodruff and Missouri Primrose to name a few. Friday and today, before I knew she had passed, I had been giving away loads of flowers because the garden has flourished and become overcrowded. It's kind of nice that there's a bit of color and a place for insects in several more yards now, thanks to her. Rest in peace, Meri.

08/29/15 Visited The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden and Kauffman Legacy Park to see what was blooming. Passion Flower was peaking.and Goldenrod just getting started.

08/28/15 Typical: you go outside one day and there are no Goldenrod Soldier Beetles. You go out the next day and there are 3. You go out on the third day and there are dozens. Today was the dozens day. Same thing happened a few days ago with Jagged Ambush Bugs.

08/25/15 I repeat this for my benefit, as well as for any amature birder: if Cardinals are clicking and Blue Jays are shrieking, something interesting is happening outside. The Cardinals clicking frequently means a cat roaming around the property. Blue Jays shrieking means the cat has a rabbit in its mouth or there is another unwanted guest nearby like an owl or hawk. It's a good system.

08/23/15 This happens to people who take pictures of insects. You're as close as you can get to an assassin bug who is staring right back at you in a defensive posture. You pull the camera down to check the shot and your settings, look up and it's gone. You then yelp for a friend to come and check your head and back for assassin bugs.

Tachinids love mint blooms. REALLY love them.

There is a moment every morning after the sun rises that a half-dozen Common Nighthawks circle frantically just over the roof of our house and tree tops for 5 minutes or so. They will soar straight into the thick of a tree and quickly zoom around the interior branches. It is such an amazing thing to watch.

08/22/15 Had to run sprinklers very little this year but I lost a lot of plants, assuming just for the season, to a variety of water releated illnesses. Also had things that never bloomed because of all the dark days. I wonder if the primary draw of Eden was the pefect balance of rain and sun.

08/21/15 Heard a little complaining cry from a Catbird in the thick of the Rose of Sharon bushes. Considered that it could be my last Catbird sound for the year.

08/14/15 A single female Ruby-throated Hummingbird relentlessly driving three male Goldfinches away from the Echinacea patch because it's too close to the Bee Balm. Quality comedy.

08/07/15 Most of the hostas are blooming and several plants are starting their 2nd run, including daisies and sage.

No sign of Catbirds the last few days.

08/06/15 John sent me a video that his home system caught of a Racoon ambushing a Cardinal on his back patio. Quite shocking.

08/05/15 Sometimes it seems like the sole function of European Wool Carder Bees are to make sure that no Bumble Bees are nectaring on their watch.

08/04/15 Last weekish I saw a tree full of Grackles where there isn't normally one. Guessing that means starting the trick back to Texas?

08/01/15 The Catbird has gone mostly quiet with the exception of the occasional mew. Got chased off quite rudely by a female Hummingbird this morning.

07/31/15 Saw 5 Common Nighthawks frisbeeing around the house in the evening. They are SO fast!

07/30/15 Saw a Common Nighthawk fly into my neighbor's tree this morning. The sun really illuminated his wing bars.

Hardy Hibiscus makes the 90th plant to bloom in the gardens this year. I can barely think of 10 that are left (Sedum, Asters, Goldenrod, Baptista, Blue Lobelia, Sawtooth Sunflowers, Mums, Pitcher Sage) so we are on the other side of Summer. The Crocosmia didn't fire this year.

07/27/15 Two Monarchs in the yard until the two Monarchs in the yard discovered that there were two Monarchs in the yard.

07/21/15 Sage starting its 2nd run of blooming.

07/20/15 And just like that, a Giant Swallawtail and Eastern Tiger in the gardens.

07/19/15 I've noticed an absense of Swallowtail butterflies in the gardens this year. I've seen maybe a half-dozen Monarchs but only 2 or 3 Eastern Tigers and a single Black Swallowtail. No caterpillars anywhere. I'm going to hold off on my conspiracy theories because last years I had loads of butterflies in mid-August into September.

07/09/15 Good birding advice: Never ignore multiple Blue Jays shrieking in a tree. Instead, go get your camera and prepare to photograph an owl or a hawk. Or a crow. Hey, it's not foolproof.

07/08/15 Catbird still singing all day.

06/27/15 Good sitting around in the backyard drinking coffee morning:

Saw 6 Flickers in the top of a tall tree sunning together
Saw a female Hummingbird in the Bee Balm
Saw a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flying around our Rose of Sharon bushes
Saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in same
Saw 3 House Wren babies chattering on the fence
There are 3 Catbirds hanging out together and yelling but they are still gathering nesting materials so I don't understand the family dynamic

06/23/15 My resident Catbird was spotted this morning heading for the thick grove of Rose of Sharon bushes with an abandoned paper towel. He's still yelling his brains out but there is a second, quiet bird hanging around now. I like where this is going.

06/22/15 The Bee Balm is all in full bloom but I haven't spotted any Hummingbirds or White-lined Sphynx yet.

06/21/15 I love having mimics in the yard. A great summer includes a Catbird yelling all day, in MY yard exclusively, for several weeks in a row. I am enjoying that scenario this year. It occurred to me this morning that he chose my yard because of the water source and the gardens. I am in control of my destiny. Catbird-wise.

06/16/15 Glanced out the window and saw a Great Spangled Fritillary riding some dwarf Bee Balm. A few seconds later, about 10 yards away, a Brown Thrasher lands in the yard and jogs, yes, I said jogs, purposefully to the Bee Balm and takes his best shot at having butterfly for dinner. Fail.

06/11/15 My neighbor and I added a garden between our houses.

06/10/15 I've had these mystery plants in my wildflower garden (the section that is from a seed packet) that stayed green all winter. The leaves look like giant Dandelion leaves. Well, these things have gotten huge. They are about 5 and a half feet tall now. I've left them up until they bloom so that I can identify them. That day was today. Chicory. All of the chicory I've ever seen has been short and ratty on roadsides. I suppose the difference is that this one has been in fetrilized soil.

06/09/15 Modified the Insects and Plants pages to not display all sub-categories by default. You can find what you are looking for by name, class/order or use the Display All option. The Mammals, Reptiles and Birds pages will display all images by default.

06/08/15 Poppy, the baby Poppy Mallow-destroying bunny, has now taken my Illinois Bundle Flower to the ground. He better stay cute for as long as he can if he knows what's good for him.

06/07/15 The gardens are covered with Candy-striped Leafhoppers and things eating Candy-striped Leafhoppers. A real favorite with spiders.

06/05/15 Set up a backlighting rig (2 old-school microphone stands, a sheet and a black light) to see if I could land a sexy moth before bedtime. Saw some big fellows flutter by but mostly photographed cockroaches and winged ants.

06/04/15 Found Celery Looper caterpillars all over my Fennel today. Thank you as always to Jackie Goetz for helping me make sense of the occupants of the KCWildlife.com Memorial Gardens.

05/28/15 The rain persists but supposedly Kansas City is approaching a series of 4-5 dry, sunny days. I'm getting tired of photographing wet insects with the ISO cranked up to 1600.

05/27/15 Clematis managed a bloom. So much stuff ready to pop. Just waiting on a sunny stretch.

05/26/15 Found a Leaf-footed Bug on the top of a Goldenrod plant. He moves around but has remained on the tip of this plant for 4 days. When it rains (which it does frequently) he'll move under a leaf but will pop right back out when it stops.

05/25/15 Photographed a handsome Robber Fly darting around with somebody's head in his mouth. Also got pictures of a Western Lynx spider dismantling a Plant Bug. Happy Memorial Day!

It's time for me to start backlighting for moths.

05/24/15 Finally got a couple of new plants blooming. It's been a full week since a new plant has bloomed. I'm guessing that this is because of the extraordinary series of cloudy/rainy days.

05/23/15 The rain just won't stop. I think we've had something like 4 non-rain days this month. I still scramble out to the gardens whenever there is a splash of sun (and often without) and start hunting bugs. I've seen a nice collection of new flies this year, perhaps because of the marshy conditions.

05/20/15 I've really fallen in love with Cardinals this year. They would be entertaining for their calls and songs alone. They have a dazzling collection of swoops, whoops and laser sounds. But if you would like to kick your Cardinal experience up a notch, just watch them while they are singing. They stretch up to the point of nearly teetering with the crest fully deployed and their whole body jerks and wobbles through the song. Such a joy.

05/17/15 The same strong southerly winds that delivered my Hummingbird to Missouri last night introduced a Monarch to the garden this afternoon.

05/16/15 First Hummingbird in the backyard.

05/13/15 Added Poppy Mallow, Pinnate Prairie Coneflower/Grayhead Coneflower and more Wild Petunias to the garden.

05/12/15 Finally have a Catbird to call my own. Daily he yells his brains out from high places and raises hell in the birdbath. He is my feathered brother.

05/10/15 Covered in poison something.

05/09/15 Found a Lone Star Ticket in the Black-eyed Susans. Eek.

05/06/15 White-crowned Sparrows are here!

05/05/15 Stormy yesterday, Migranty today. Swainson's Thrush, Waterthrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak were all backyard visitors today.

05/03/15 Windy day so the Oaks and Maples dumped the bulk of their seed into the gutters, car windshields and a variety of absurd tiny places that nothing should be able to randomly fall from a tree and land in.

05/02/15 Yearly visit to the Konza Prairie.

05/01/15 Spending the day at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

04/30/15 Wheel Bug nymph on the screen porch.

04/28/15 The Starlings are tearing off tufts of my bronze fennel for their nests.

04/27/15 The bird calls from the Wrens, Cardinals, Titmice and Chickadees have diminished dramatically. I suspect that alliances have been formed. Robins are still yelling, starting around 4 AM each morning.

04/26/15 Spent part of the afternoon at Shawnee Mission Park. Found a few migrants but was really struck by the number and variety of butterflies. Marvelous.

04/25/15 John spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird today.

04/22/15 Yellow-rumped Warbler, Gray Catbird and Brown Thrasher all wandering the KCWildlife Gardens this afternoon.

Catbird lurking around the spot where a pair built a nest last year. Again, I must be amazing for the creator of the universe to bless me thusly.

04/21/15 After mowing the estate today I was rewarded with a hearty round of tree-mewing.

04/19/15 Gray Catbird splashing around in the bird bath. I could not be happier.

Start of Elm and Maple seed dropping week.

04/19/15 Many of the milkweeds are now above ground.

04/15/15 Planted some Royal Catchfly and Virgina Bluebells. Bachelor's Buttons and Lily Of The Valley are about to pop.

04/14/15 Added another birdbath to the KCWildlife.com Gardens. I've found a water source to be an excellent draw for migrants.

04/13/15 Eastern Towhee wandering around the gardens. I grudgingly accept.

04/11/15 People are reporting Baltimore Orioles around town.

Planted some Ironweed roots and more Rose Milkweed seeds.

04/11/15 Visited the Heron Rookery on Roe with Rachel and Kevin. The nests are mostly full, including the Great-horned Owl. Saw two pairs of Wood Ducks, Flycatchers and Gnatcatchers. Stopped by Antioch Park and saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Saw a Junco at the feeders this morning.

Have you noticed that the violets went nuts this year? My dandelions don't stand a chance.

04/07/15 I think the Juncos have split.

04/06/15 Thrashers singing weakly. Robins are glorious in the very early mornings.

I saw a male Cardinal get a seed out of the in-house feeder and put it in the beak of either a female or young male. Do they have a brood this early?

I've been seeing a lot of Flickers poking around on the ground the past few days. What exactly is that about?

04/04/15 Was out looking at the garden and accidentally spooked a pigeon who was lurking in the shadows. He flew up to the top of a tall Rose of Sharon bush about 4 yards in front of me. I looked around at flowers a bit more when I saw him stiffen out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look at him and he peeped and flew to some brush at the same time that a large shadow went over my head. It was a Red-tailed Hawk in pursuit of the now hidden pigeon. About an hour later I was talking on the phone in a chair in the backyard and the same hawk re-appeared and flew right at my head, swooping up about 6 yards away to go into a tree.

04/03/15 This week it was common to glance outside and see a gang of 2-3 male Cardinals chasing single females. Today I've seen multiple occurences of a male and female sharing the window and hanging feeders together. Grab your partner and do-si-do.

04/02/15 A day late but finally have a Brown Thrasher knocking leaves around! I didn't have a Catbird visit until the 24th last year (May 6th in 2013) despite the fact that they were around town for about a week before.

04/01/15 Ruby-crowned Kinglet poking around in the yard.

Had a Brown Thrasher in the yard on this day last year. No such luck today. Someone did spot a Thrasher at Longview today. Hopefully some mimics will ride that 25 MPH wind coming from the South.

Put the jelly feeder out. The Cardinals and Catbirds enjoy them and I may pick up a stray butterfly or Oriole later in the month.

From John: "Reports of hummers and orioles migrating early so keep an eye out. I show hummers in OK and AR already. Even one report in Indiana. "

First Turkey Vulture spotted over the house for the year.

Echinacea and Phlox are above ground.

03/31/15 Found the first neighborhood Brown-headed Cowbird and mate. Dandelions and Tulips are up everywhere. So are Cabbage Whites!

Saw a completely cooked male Goldfinch with his lady.

03/30/15 Saw a Cabbage White and Potter Wasp/Mason Wasp (E. hidalgo) checking out the garden this afternoon.

Goldfinches disappeared (like they do every year) a week to 10 days ago.

03/29/15 Added Rose Milkweed and Ironweed to an already overcrowded KCWildlife garden. Tried the soaking-the-seeds-in-hot-water-for-12-hours method before planting.

03/28/15 Visited Shawnee Mission Park with Rachel. Highlight for me was a handsome Red-breasted Merganser. Visited the Heron rookery at Roe Park. Saw one Heron on a nest and a Belted Kingfisher. They have built two large buildings on the side of the water opposite of the apartments.

03/26/15 Dug the Hydrangea out of their protective coating of leaves and gave them a few gallons of water. Saw that the Ligularia I planted last September is above ground.

03/25/15 I've always marveled that the fresh batch of 6-10 Garter snakes that collect in my yard every year seem to enjoy stretching out in full sun with impunity. Found a poor wretch today that was a rare exception. I had a Red-tailed Hawk actually IN the garden a few days ago, before he was run off by Sparrows and Jays, but I doubt that this was the reason for his visit. Would Robins do this? Picture in the Common Garter Snakes section.

Turkey Vultures all over the place. The wheels are in motion.

One of our associates bought safflower seeds for the window feeders. Most of the wee birds seem to like them OK except for the Carolina Wren. He rakes his long, curved beak back and forth to sweep them out of the feeder in search of any old sunflower seeds that may be underneath.

03/22/15 Found a bunch of Dame's Rocket in the yard and decided to pull it all up because of it's invasive nature.

I use a Canon EOS Rebel t2i for my macro shots. Today I poppped a card in and got a "No Card in Camera" error. I tried another card with the same error message. I tried powering on and off and a different battery. Same error message. I took a can of compressed air and shot a puff into the battery compartment. Problem solved. There must have been a bit of debris that was fouling the device that tells the camera if a SD card is loaded or not.

03/21/15 Ran out to KCP&L Wetlands. Lots of action in the water. Saw Great Blue Heron, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, Canvas Backs (female), Mallard, American Coots and Ring-necked Ducks.

People are starting to spot Turkey Vultures. I haven't seen one yet. No signs of mimics in the area yet either. I think I saw my first Thrasher last year on April 1st. Sincerely.

03/20/15 The first day of Spring. One of those rare moments when it is absolutely appropriate to say "Oh hell yes!"

03/17/15 OK, putting together the pieces. Clearly a big pile of Starlings and Grackles have flown in together, as the yard is suddenly full of both, and the Red-winged Blackbird must have tagged along.

Took a break from cutting down old stalks in the garden and heard something unusual amongst the buzzing and squeeling of the Grackles and Starlings - a Red-winged Blackbird. A few moments later he flew into the yard for a drink. A fresh water source in your backyard will get you some pretty neat birds.

Grackles have graduated from heard-but-not-seen to seen-and-heard. Watching every day for Turkey Vultures and Brown Thrashers.

03/16/15 The round holes that Northern Flickers make are amazing. I couldn't do that with a tool made for making round holes. Saw this chap today with three all in one small area. He was doing the yip-yip-yip-yip while he was checking his work.

Carolina Wren is still investigating the property (right up the gutter-to-rain-barrel tube) and sending a pretty constant shout-out on the Love Line.

First Daffodil bloom.

03/14/15 First Forsythia bloom.

03/13/15 Saw a Bald Eagle and two offspring circling the house in the early afternoon.

Cleaning up leaves day unfortunately coincided with Garter Snake day.

Raccoon out in the daylight this morning rooting around for grubs at the base of elm and oak trees.

KCUR article including pictures by our beloved John McConnell.

03/11/15 Hyacnth above ground, Lilac bush has leaves and first Crocus is blooming.

The Robins are in a fevered state right now. I had to run a very short errand and struck one that tried to fly from one side of the road to the other UNDERNEATH MY CAR, one that just missed the windshield and one that tried to run across the road in front of me. I may not leave the house again until June.

The 2015 blooming sequence list is here. The 2014 list can be found here.

Watered the gardens for the first time this year.

03/10/15 Heard the rusty screen door spring Grackle noise outside my office window. Turkey Vultures should be right around the corner.

Started the process of cutting down old stalks in the garden from last year.

03/09/15 The male Cardinals, who just a few weeks ago could all sit in a bush together and take turns at the feeders, are now constantly engaged in skirmishes.

03/08/15 Eastern Comma butterfly in the backyard gardens. I seem to recall, in general, seeing Cabbage Whites and Mourning Cloaks at the start and end of the non-winter months.

John had his first Grackle of the year show up at his feeders.

03/07/15 Saw an Eastern Comma butterfly at the Overland Park Arboretum and a Red-shouldered Hawk in its nest. Also saw a pair European Starlings picking up bits of trash in my yard and around the neighborhood. Of course that means more Starlings.

03/04/15 One more day of lousy weather and then we're heading into 50s, 60s and 70s over the next 7 days.

I think I'm going to leave the leaves in the gardens this year. My only concern has been how they might impact new starts. We'll see.

03/03/15 Staying light until 6:30 PM, which will be 7:30 PM next week. Bought some Ironweed roots and seeds.

03/02/15 Common Redpoll spotted at a metro backyard feeder.

02/25/15 Bachelor's Buttons are about 4 inches above ground.

02/23/15 Tulips are above ground. Later in the afternoon I discovered that all of the Surprise Lilies are up.

02/20/15 John's feeder cam found Pine Siskin in his window feeders.

02/16/15 Wretched cold with percipitation on the way so the feeders have been blurry with birds. John had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Eastern Bluebird at his feeders today.

02/15/15 Light at 6:45 and dark at 6. I accept.

02/11/15 Still seeing moths darting around in the evenings.

02/09/15 Cardinals are still making mating calls. All day.

02/03/15 Awoke to swoopy Cardnial mating calls.

01/29/15 Nearly 70 today so took a walk around the James A. Reed lakes in with a friend. Saw grasshoppers, Boxelder Bugs, flies and moths. I even thought I saw a Mourning Cloak out of the corner of my eye.

01/27/15 We've had a run of 50s and 60s off and on over the last week or so. Saw a Boxelder Bug AND a Lacewing Fly today.

01/19/15 I set up a shelter for Nelly to ride out the night in but she still didn't make it. She was a pile of feathers in the morning. She has been coming around for the last 5 years so we're really going to miss seeing her posing on things in the backyard. R.I.P., Sister.

01/18/15 Awoke this morning to discover that our favorite backyard visitor, Nelly, a leucistic Northern Cardinal, is unable to fly. She is also breathing heavily. She is able to walk and seems to be eating and drinking but I'm not optimistic about her chances of surviving, for possibly a second time, the neighborhood cats.

01/16/14 Had a look around Wyndotte County Lake. Canada Geese and Mallards everywhere. Also a dozen Bald Eagles keeping things in balance.

A Gray Squirrel has discovered the In-House Bird Feeder. I've spooked it (or it and a cousin) off twice.

01/15/14 Went for a walk in the afternoon and was surprised to see hundreds of American Robins in the neighborhood. Nearly every yard had leaves being flicked around by a half dozen or more birds. The din was splended.

01/10/14 I just counted 6 Flickers simultaneously working a small area of a Maple tree that currently has morning sun directly upon it. Would love to know what they are finding. Definitely not a good time to have 6 legs.

01/09/14 Here's a tidbit that I learned from having the In-house Bird Feeder: Cardinals hiss like cats. It's true. It appears to be an abrupt way of saying to other birds "Excuse me, you've been in the feeder for quite a long while. I would appreciate it if you would leave, perferably hurridly, so that I might enjoy some of the nutritious bounty. Thank you and don't come back."

01/04/15 Is it my imagination or is that sunset ending about 10 minutes later than it was a week ago?

01/02/15 Crocus starts are above ground. Wah?

01/01/15 John found a Eastern Towhee in his backyard yesterday! Will get pictures up today.


2014 Journal

12/27/14 John and Jo got pictures of the Townsend's Solitaire at Shawnee Mission Park. Will add to the gallery soon.

12/25/14 Still getting yellow Forsythia blooms. Nature even confuses nature. You can use that line if you want. It's good.

12/22/14 Posted some of John's wonderful Pileated Woodpecker pictures from this weekend.

12/14/14 I just don't get the migration path of Robins. They are everywhere right now, singing like it's Spring. I like it, I just don't get it.

12/08/14 Squaw Creek with John and Jo. Saw Trumpeter Swans, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Mallard, Grebe, Red-tailed Hawks, Song Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Northern Cardinals, Downeys and more.

12/08/14 Add White-breasted Nuthatch to the In-house feeder list.

12/07/14 Please welcome Carolina Wrens to the Coveside Panoramic In-house Window Bird Feeder. Current list of visitors: House Finch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Chickadee, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal and the Wren.

11/29/14 Look! A non-In-house bird feeder update. Though I should mention that Blue Jays are now coming inside. Anyhoo, drove once around Wyandotte County Lake. Saw a Pied-billed Grebe, Coots, Ruddy Ducks, loads of Mallards and Canada Geese, immature Bald Eagle and Cormorant. Woodland birds were active - Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Cardinals, Blue Jays, House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Bluebirds, Red-bellied and Red-headed Woodpeckers, Flickers and Downys. Saw European Starlings starting to gather in menacing gangs on power lines.

11/25/14 White-throated Sparrows are now regular In-house feeder visitors.

11/20/14 OK, last In-house bird feeder update for a while. One of my fears was that House Sparrows or European Starlings would discover and dominate the feeders. Curiously, while sharing the space with House Finches, Juncos and Chickadees, the Cardinals, the most frequent visitors, absolutely will not tolerate the presense of Starings or Sparrows.

11/18/14 Chickadees walking around the In-house feeder like they own the place. One Junco took the tour.

11/17/14 House Finches and Cardinals are now entering the In-house feeder regularly. Chickadees and Nuthatches have been eating on the edge of the entry point. As the food disappears from the entrance I suspect more birds will be taking the walk. I really believe that putting up the Perky Pets suction cup feeder right above the In-house helped attract customers.

11/16/14 Was watching the window feeder when I saw a hawk swoop into the yard and claim a male House Sparrow. He flew up into a tree with it and started the painstaking process of pulling feathers. They were like flurries.

11/15/14 Finally got a walk-in on the In-house feeder. A male cardinal took the plunge several times during the afternoon. A male house finch was watching so I suspect he's next to take the tour.

11/11/14 The Forsythia have blooms on them, perhaps confused by the warm day yesterday. We are in the 20s and 30s the rest of this week.

11/10/14 Went outside to take a last look at the garden (nearly 70 degrees today) before it is finished off tonight by this artic front. Found a beautiful Common Checkered-Skipper on a tiny bit of a sage bloom. Godspeed, little doodle.

Seeing more raptor activity around the neighborhood the last few weeks.

11/09/14 Still no visitors in the In-house feeder and only a few in the Perky Pets bait feeder. The cold front tomorrow may change some hearts and minds.

11/07/14 Placed a Perky Pets window feeder about the In-house feeder to try to get some customers. Scored a cardinal in the Perky Pets feeder and a house sparrow *shudder* peeking into the In-house feeder but nobody has crossed the threshold yet. The sparrow peek is a little troubling. Like juncos, sparrows rarely get in the Perky Pets feeder. Perhaps because it's in the middle of the window. The In-house feeder on the other hand is right at sill level. Walk right in, sit right down.

11/06/14 Added a Coveside Panoramic In-house Window Bird Feeder with Mirrored Panel to the winter feeder collection. Still waiting on the first visitor.

10/24/14 Poked around Shawnee Mission Park in the morning. Saw Cedar Waxwings, Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Bluebird, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, American Goldfinch, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Franklin's Gull, Cooper's Hawk, Mallard, Canada Goose, Northern Cardinal, Bluejay, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird and, I THINK, a Black Vulture.

10/20/14 Spent a half week in Southern Missouri. Notes:

Found Black Bear scat!

Saw a Missouri Tarantula scrambling across the road. It HAD to be 4 inches in diameter as it was easily visible from the car. We actually swerved to avoid it.

Southern Missouri and Arkansas are thick with Monarchs and Buckeyes. Along the lake, in parking lots, in traffic - everywhere.

Saw a Bald Eagle get mobbed by crows. They were fearless, dive-bombing him and even sitting within a few feet of him on a branch shrieking at him.

Large flocks of Robins came through every morning.

10/14/14 Poking around in the garden looking for the odd Syrphid fly or wasp when I bumbled upon a Garter Snake coiled in the top of a Joe Pye Weed flower head. Startled is fair.

10/12/14 Juncos are here!

Gardens are still full of Robins.

10/08/14 Trees and backyard are filled with Robins today. Bittersweet as I know it is a going and not a coming situation.

Helped a friend moving stuff around in her garden. Brought home a big pile of phlox, lythrum and native asters to add to my gardens. Got some poor photographs of a Six-spotted Neolema in the bargain.

10/06/14 Robins have been around for the last few days. It sounds like Spring.

10/05/14 Heard a Great-horned Owl declaring his territory in the backyard tonight. Complete with spooky moon.

10/02/14 A steady dose of rain during the day produced some interesting creatures on the porch screen. Got my first Twenty-Spotted Lady Beetle, Prairie Tree Cricket, Clover Looper and Euxesta notata - one of the Picture-winged Flies.

09/28/14 The garden is still beautiful and getting plenty of action. Saw my first Dainty Sulphur and in early evening caught a White-lined Sphinx and Monarch on the same Butterfly Bush bloom.

09/26/14 Having fun hunting moths. Adding a couple of new critters to the gallery every night.

09/25/14 Migrating Monarchs are here! I have averaged 2-4 Monarchs in the yard simultaneously over the last month. Today there were 6 on one aster plant and two more skirmishing nearby. There were 6-8 in the yard all day.

09/24/14 The bleak late Summer has an upside. The gardens are still full of blooms and the blooms are still full of insecets. The Mums, the last plants yet to bloom, are a few sunny days away.

09/22/14 The 20 Black Swallowtail caterpillars from 2 days ago are all gone.

09/21/14 Went out early in the morning and discovered that the Goldenrod blooms were full of sleeping insects. The Pitcher Sage had a beautiful Monarch snoozing on it.

Curiously, the Guara is blooming like crazy. Didn't get a first wave during the summer.

09/20/14 Found my first Black-and-Yellow Lichen Moth.

Counted nearly 20 Black Swallowtail cats in my dill and fennel yesterday. Could only find 5 today.

09/19/14 After many cloudy cool days we finally got a decent Autumn day in and the bugs showed up in droves. The Goldenrod blooms were swaying with the weight of bees. Loads of butterflies, wasps, Webworm moths, Black Blister Beetles, Locust Borers, Carrot Wasps and more.

09/17/14 Planted some Pitcher Sage cuttings.

09/16/14 Planted some Lavender and Russian Sage cuttings. Let's see how long it takes for them to root. I'm guessing 10 days on the Russian Sage.

The squirrels are doing that repetitive screeching thing.

Pulled up some big clumps of asters that were too aggressive. One yanking left a bit of a crater that about 10 minutes later had a small rabbit sitting in it.

09/15/14 I think my "interesting yellow and red long trumpet-shaped flowers" from 9/13 are Wild Petunias.

Added Hostas and Monkey Grass to the new garden. Had to cut back all fo the Anemone, especially the pink, as the leaves were crunchy.

09/13/14 Saw some interesting yellow and red long trumpet-shaped flowers coming up in the wildlflower garden.

Planted Ligularia and a bunch of Anemone in the front yard. Moved 3 Azalea bushes from the back to the front.

09/12/14 Saw a Giant Swallowtail guide through the yard the other day. Despite the abundance of Goldenrods and Asters it did not stop for a bite. I need to get some Meadow Rue for next year.

09/11/14 That funny time of year when everything tries to wring out a few more blooms before winter. Most of them are saddish but the effort is appreciated.

09/10/14 Can't find the Monarch cat so hoping he's off doing something cool. He was getting pretty long and plump and with his gaudy markings it's amazing if some bird didn't snack on him. Hell, I even thought about it.

09/08/14 The Wren calls are louder and more constant than in the Spring:

http://www.birdwatchersgeneralstore.com/CarolinaSinging.htm

09/07/14 It's "Inornate Pyrausta Moth in Pitcher Sage" day. Monarch Cat is still chewing up Butterfly Weed leaves.

09/06/14 Montey the Monarch is still cleaning up Butterfly Weed leaves. It's odd seeing him move around amongst 30 or 40 Milkweed Bugs.

09/05/14 Found a Monarch caterpillar on a Butterfly Weed leaf.

09/04/14 Seeing Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks in the yard every day.

09/02/14 Counted over a dozen Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the Dill. Can't find any of the Inornate Pyrausta Moth caterpillars on the Pitcher Sage.

08/30/14 Walked around Leawood Baptist Church because the Oxeye Sunflower and Sweet Autumn Clematis was abundant along the creek. They didn't bloom during the drought last year.

08/29/14 Found batches of Inornate Pyrausta Moth caterpillars on the Pitcher Sage. Will be fun to watch them turn.

08/28/14 There are Milkweed Bugs and Goldenrod Soldier Beetles everywhere.

08/27/14 I'm still seeing Thrashers and Cat Birds in the yard. I think the Robins have been gone for a few weeks now.

08/23/14 Here's what August 23rd, 2014 is like. Butterflies everywhere. Spiderwebs everywhere. Dark at 8 PM.

08/20/14 Again, just super buterfly-y out. Saw Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, Eastern Tigers, Pipevine, Eastern Comma and the usual assortment of skippers that I can't identify. Also found a Monarch caterpillar that I couldn't find again later.

08/19/14 Monarchs are finally all over the yard. Generally 3 at a time but as many as 6 or 7 for a few minutes. They seem to quarrel a lot. Blue Mist has heads!

08/17/14 First hot, sunny day decent for bugging in a long time. I took advantage of it. Running out of new blooms. All that's left are Mums, Blue Mist, Sawtooth Sunflower and Sedum. Many plants are starting their 2nd bloom sequence.

08/11/14 Black-eyed Susans are peaking. Great butterfly day. Three Monarchs in the yard for most of the day. Black and Tiger Swallowtails, Silver-spotted and other Skippers. Obedient Plant about ready to bloom.

08/08/14 Spent a week birding and bugging in Grand Marais, MN. Fun to see the warblers on Artists' Point. Lake Superior was blue blue blue. Herring Gull were noisy noisy noisy.

08/02/14 Visited Neal Smith National Wildlife Reserve in Prairie City, IA. Marvelous! Also visited the wildflower maze in Story City, IA and Lime Creek Nature Center's butterfly garden in Mason City, IA.

08/01/14 Checked out Squaw Creek in the AM. Not much going on. Loads of wonderful dragonfiles and other insects. Drove to Bethany Missouri after to see the Dunn Ranch Prairie. Had a wonderful time checking out the place with Keith. Keith collects wildflower seeds for the prairie.

07/31/14 Saw 2 or 3 monarchs in the garden while having dinner outside. Also Eastern Tigers, Black and Pipevine Swallowtails.

07/30/14 Decided to remove the goldenrod anywhere it was smothering phlox. Also misted them with a dishwashing soap/water solution. Now we play the waiting game.

07/29/14 I have a large and pretty dense wildflower garden. Over the last few years I began adding native asters and goldenrod thoughout the gardens. I noticed this year, as the new additions began to get aggressive, that I had an abundance of little red Plant Bugs, especially on my Phlox. I also noticed that the leaves on much of the Phlox were mottled this year and the blooms were very poor. I am trying to figure out if this is a result of over-crowding or somehow related to the Plant Bugs.

07/28/14 It's that dreadful time of year when the mimics have found mates, raised their families, and are silenced until next April.

07/25/14 I've been seeing the large black wasp that I saw just once a month ago. It zooms erratically (definitely NOT erotically) through the mint and Black-eyed Susan blooms in the gardens. It is surely 2 inches long. It never rests in the open, though I did see it sit on a mint bloom for about a seceond and a half. Despite having a camera with me, I used that time to slacken my jaw and clench my anus. I can't imagine how it catches anything because it is so fast. Not fast and then slow down. Just fast. Perhaps it catches things in flight.

07/24/14 The Goldfinches have declared the Echinacea ready to ride.

Losing daylight every day. It seems like it we've already lost 30+ minutes in the morning and 30+ in the evening. Wah.

07/21/14 After weeks of unseasonably cool weather, including some record lows for July, we finally had a few hot days in a row and of course the Surpise Lilies popped right up. They are usually up around the 4th of July when we normally start getting temps into the 90s.

07/13/14 Starting to see White-lined Sphinx in the evening.

07/12/14 It's been a good year for buggery. I've been adding at least one new find a day. Just crossed over 400 unique insects/spiders in the gallery.

07/10/14 Added a cheap diffuser to the macro camera and am delighted with the results. Like.

07/09/14 I was wrapping up shooting for the day when I came upon two mating Candy-striped Leafhoppers. In less than a second after seeing them a European Paper Wasp descended upon them and dismantled them in about 20 seconds.

Second horrifc garden event - I thought I caught the movement of a Hummingbird out of the corner of my eye amongst the top of the Echinacea. I have no idea what it actually was but I've never seen one before. It was somewhere between a Sphynx moth and a Hummingbird in size - with wings and legs. It was jet glossy black and was wasp like in appearance. It seemed to be hunting the tops of flowers for insects. I can't emphasize enough how large it was. I was spellbound and didn't get off a single shot, despite having the camera in my hands.

07/07/14 Found some aphids on a goldenrod plant. Aphids are essentially the wildebeest of the insect world so I ought to start seeing more predators soon.

07/04/14 Hummingbirds are finally coming around and riding the Bee Balm and Rose of Sharon.

07/03/14 Photographed my first Monarch of the year today. Echinacea was the winning ticket.

I've been seeing Robins and Thrashers laying in the mulch on their bellies with their wings spread over the past 10 days. Quite startling. Discovered that it's normal behavior and that it could be something as innocuous as heating up their wings to stir mites into a better plucking position.

06/30/14 Still bugging like a madman. Taking 300-500 pictures a day. I don't get something new every day but I do see the once-a-year bugs and get an opportunity to try to improve their representation in the image gallery.

06/25/14 Jezebel and I had a look around the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Gardens, Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center & Kauffman Legacy Park. Saw Green Heron, Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds, Carolina Wrens, Brown Thrashers and loads of your favorite backyard birds.

06/21/14 True to my nature, on this first day of summer I find myself preparing myself for the end of summer. To cheer myself up I counted the plants that have yet to bloom in the garden and came up with over 2 dozen.

06/20/14 Went to Power Gardens. Mostly interested in checking out the bug action.

06/18/14 We've hit that lull where nothing new is blooming.

06/15/14 Bugged a little and then headed to Trenton Reed Rockville Run with Rachel to see what we could find. Bobwhite, Horned Lark, American Kestrel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were the highlights.

06/14/14 Any second not spent out in the flower garden while the sun is out feels like I am being robbed. Here's the rub if there are multiple sunny days: I have work-work to do, then I take 500-600 bug/flower pictures and then go do evening work-work. These pictures still need hours worth of sorting, identifiying, processing and posting. But it's the next day AND IT'S SUNNY so back out I go. So, after 3 days of this nonsense I end up with thousands of images that need to be processed and am stuck in a chair for a full day doing it. Birding is simpler. You go on a walk somewhere, you see 6-12 birds and you photograph them. You go through your 100-200 pictures and post them in an hour. Wah, America. Wah.

06/13/14 The final phase of dick insects is in full swing. Bees, wasps, assassin bugs, ambush bugs and wheel bugs a-go-go! Now nobody is safe.

06/08/14 Drove around Miami County and then visited the Overland Park Arboretum. Got to meet Ken O'Dell! Saw Pileated Woodpecker, Summer Tanager, Meadowlark, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Horned Lark, Lark Sparrow and loads of cool butterflies. Heard a Red-shouldered Hawklet in the nest. BTW, we walked for a couple of hours and didn't get a single mosquito bite.

06/07/14 There are an abundance of Ladybugs, Plant Bugs (EVERYWHERE!) and other predators in the garden this year so it's going to be a rough year for Aphids. I saw a Crab Spider eating one yesterday like corn on the cob.

06/06/14 I've been bugging every spare minute over the last few days. Having to re-learn everybody's name.

06/04/14 Ran out to the end of 151st street to see the Painted Bunting. Saw at least 2 male Painted Buntings (saw 2 brawling while I was tracking another) and one female. Also saw Indigo Bunting and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Thank you Rodney Wright & Jeff Wayman for sharing the location.

06/02/14 Just bought 20 pounds of sunflower hearts. It will be interesting to see how that holds up to the steady line of trembly-winged, open-holed babies.

06/01/14 Saw my first yard Firefly last night.

05/31/14 Sill taking pictures of bugs and blooms as often as I can. A wide variety of Plant Bugs are everywhere in the garden. The wildflower garden has been a wondeful early nectar source for insects.

05/28/14 Bugging season is full on! Had a great day hunting in the gardens. Meet the Beetles.

05/27/17 Ran to KCP&L Wetlands to see if I could score a shot of the Sora. Failed. Did get some pictures of Northern Water Snake, Common Muskrat, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and about a gabillion Long-tailed Grackles.

05/26/14 Sniffed around some Missouri parks with no significant yield. Came home to two Great Crested Flycatchers in the backyard.

05/25/14 Searched Heritage Park in the morning before engaging in put-the-camera-back-in-the-bag activities.

05/24/14 Wilson's Phalarope looking for food at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Great Bend, KS

05/21/14 Was excited to scramble out to Gardner, KS to see the freshly re-opened KCP&L wetlands. I had forgotten that there weren't any paths without grass and with tick season in full swing I had a hard time concentrating. Did manage to see Dr. Nick, Caspian Tern, Dickcissel, Wilson's Phalarope, Forster's Tern, Killdeer, Blue-winged Teal, Red-tailed Hawk, Great-tailed Grackles, Green Heron, American Goldfinch and all the other critters you might expect to find there.

Swainson's Thrush in the bird bath and Common Nighthawks passing over the house. Old baby like.

05/19/14 Still identifying birds from the Cheyenne Bottoms trip while planning new trips for the week. Brett announced that the migrants in the Kansas City area have officially gone North.

05/17/14 A trip to the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Great Bend, KS produced a nice pile of lifers for me, including:

Wilson's Phalarope
Ring-necked Pheasant
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Least Sandpiper
American Avocet
White-faced Ibis
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-necked Stilt
Western Meadowlark
Willet
Swainson's Hawk
Black Tern
Long-billed Dowitcher
Stilt Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Snowy Egret
Blue Grosbeak
Cliff Swallow
Marbled Godwit

05/16/14 John got the coveted Nighthawk-sleeping-on-a-fence shot at the Fitch Natural History Reservation in Lawrence, KS.

05/15/14 Finally made it through the Shawnee Mission Park birding pictures from the 13th. Photographed American Redstart, Philadelphia Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Swainson's Thrush, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Warbling Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Wood-Pewee and more. Saw and heard, but could not photograph, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

05/13/14 Wandered Shawnee Mission Park for 5 hours. Spent the last 3 birding with Greyson Yerby. It was very cool in the morning so I had on long pants, t-shirt, jean shirt, jacket and scarf. Still managed a tick above and below the equator.

05/11/14 Late in the evening I saw a large flock of Cedar Waxwings fill up the top of my neighbor's tree.

Catbird nest is taking shape. Both birds are still working on it. They really enjoy employing plastic.

05/10/14 Decided to monitor the backyard again. The Catbirds are using a lot of bits of paper and plastic in their nest. Saw a squabble with a Blue Jay over one of the plastic sheets. The Blue Jay seemed to be into hassling him, with no real interest in the material. I put it up in a tree next to their next and they used it immediately. A Brown-headed Cowbird made several runs at the nest but was consistently shown the door. First Hummingbird sighting. Saw Cedar Waxwing and Indigo Bunting for the first time in the backyard.

Trotted out to Clinton Lake in Lawrence and, following the detailed instructions from John, landed my first Painted Bunting.

05/09/14 Almost left for Longview or Shawnee Mission Park but at the last minute decided to watch the backyard. Enjoyed watching the Gray Catbirds gathering nesting materials. Later in the morning a Rose-breasted Grosbeak flew onto the patio twice. Chased off by a Brown Thrasher the 2nd time. Visits from Lincoln, Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows. Nashville Warbler still a regular.

Two things: First, I am, in general, a very fortunate man. By any measure. Second, nobody loves Catbirds more than I. It with is with more joy than humility that I announce that I have a couple building a nest in my backyard in direct view of my shooting-out-the-window window. This not only means that I get to witness lots of foraging and nest material gathering, but will also enjoy some mewing babies in the not too distant future. I must have slain somebody awful in a previous incarnation.

Added some more Indian Blanket, Salvia and Bee Balm to the gardens. Here is the latest blooming sequence for the spring.

Woodpeckers have been re-introduced into society after an absence of several weeks. Nice seeing Flickers and Red-bellies again.

05/08/14 One of those typical Missouri days when rain is forecast all day and never really materializes. Found an Orange-crowned Warbler in the backyard with the Nashville Warblers.

05/06/14 Hurried through my morning work so I could get out to Shawnee Mission Park and look around. Glanced out the window. Thought I saw a Hummingbird flying around the tops of the mint and phlox in the garden! Upon closer inspection it was two Nashville Warblers and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. About a half hour later I see a Yellow Warbler in the Butterfly Bush and several Clay-colored Sparrows walking around in the grass. At this point I was seriously considering birding in the backyard instead of SMP. Didn't and should have.

Helicopter and other tree seed day. It's everywhere.

Carnations have buds!

05/05/14 Spent most of the day at the Mouse Creek recreation area located at Longview Lake. Photographed a variety of warblers, sparrows, Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole and several juveniles.

05/04/14 I was enjoying the Gray Catbirds this evening. They were pretty tenative but have really amped up the calls over the past few days. Very long and boisterous bursts of squeals, whines and whistles. As the evening grew dark and the calls did not let up, I started to feel a little sad for them. What I was interpreting as an avant garde vocal performance is actually a desperate and day-long cry for a mate. It still sounds cool.

The severe winter cost me all of my Rosemary plants. I noticed something else. All of my Buttery Bushes, which typically leaf up along last year's branches, are sending up new starts from the ground and the branches are brittle as though they are dead. Will continue to monitor this developing story.

This year I decided to keep a log documenting the blooming sequenceof plants in the yard. Of course these dates are unique to my shade/sun/soil situation.

05/03/14 Spent the morning at Heritage Park, mostly watching the Bald Eagle eat fish and the baby Canada Goose goslings. Dashed over to Roe Park to check on the Wood Ducklings and there they were. Still 8. Saw 4 mature males.

Canada Goose Goslings Video

05/02/14 Shawnee Mission Park for the day. Saw my first Muskrat. Also photographed Indigo Bunting, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-breasted Vireo, Orchard Oriole, Swainson's Thrush, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Shoveler, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a variety of Flycatchers that I haven't identified yet.

Got some nice shots of the Common Loons as they were fairly close to shore for once. Actually got to watch and hear one call! That was pretty magic.

It was also wonderful seeing the woods full of butterflies. Goatweed Leafwings, Question Marks and Commas were loving, waring and sunning in abundance. They were so many and they were so active that it was almost distracting if you were watching for small warblers.

05/01/14 Still dreary out but getting some cool birds in the garden and around the neighborhood. Hello Swainson's Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and heaps of Brown Thrashers and Gray Catbirds. Sprung.

04/30/14 It was awful missing a day of being out taking pictures of nature yesterday because of the rain, so I ran to Roe today despite the cold and drizzle. Actually didn't see any Warblers but did stumble on a Wood Duck couple and then later a Wood Duck female and her ducklings. Video here:

Wood Duck Female and Ducklings Video

04/28/14 Spent the morning and early afternoon at Shawnee Mission Park. Highlights: Louisiana Waterthrush, Black and White Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Nashville Warbler, Common Loon, Summer Tanager and loads of House Wrens, Orchard Orioles and Lincoln Sparrows.

Planted some Speedwell and Columbine in a small garden with holes in it. May regret the Speedwell.

04/27/14 John wrote to say that he is got a first backyard visit from a Northern Parula and a return visit from a Yellow-rumped Warbler. I got my first backyard Orchard Oriole.

American Lady and Red Admiral riding the Lilac bush blooms!

Gray Catbird hitting the jelly regularly. I'm way good.

04/26/14 Rachel and I waited out the rain and hail from morning storms and wandered Heritage Park all morning. There were loads of wee, flitting birds. One of special interest to me was a handsome little Palm Warbler. Swung by Roe Park to check out the Great Horned Owlet but could only see the adult.

04/25/14 Shawnee Mission Park with JMB. Welcome to Lenexa. Saw the Great Horned Owl and a brat, one of the Common Loons, Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, Osprey, Orchard Orioles, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbirds and of course loads of Bluebirds and Heron.

John and Jo welcome a Prothonotary Warbler to their life list. The little rascal was found at a nest at Blue Valley Park.

04/24/14 Catbird underneath the suet feeder in the late afternoon. I'm good.

04/23/14 Roe Park again. Saw pretty much the same cast as yesterday. Got to see the female Flicker sticking her head out of the nest again. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are bold and abundant. Wood Ducks still out swimming with the Mallards instead of worrying over their nest.

The McConnels had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at their estates today. Where are my Catbirds?

In the darkness by the riverbed they waited on the ground
For one more member who had business back in town
But they couldn't go no further without the Jack of Hearts
- Bob Dylan

04/22/14 So, I've visted the Wood Duck nest at Roe Park maybe 6 times over the last few weeks. I've seen the mother poking around in the nest during one visit and guarding the nest on another. The rest of the visits she has been in the water goofing off with her man. If you go visit the Great Horned Owl nest at Shawnee Mission Park the mother is in the nest. Always. She's in the nest right now. Was your mother a Great Horned Owl or a Wood Duck?

Roe Park. Saw Orchard Oriole, Nashville Warbler, Wild Turkey, Deer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wood Ducks, Warbling Vireo and a variety of Flycatchers that I'll probably be unable to identify.

First mowing of 2014. I'm in trouble now.

04/21/14 Reports of Tanagers and Hummingbirds in Kansas City.

Another fish emulsion application.

04/20/14 Haunted Shawnee Mission Park for the morning and early afternoon. Photographed Greater Yellowlegs, Eastern Phoebe, Song Sparrow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Parula, Eastern Bluebird, Great Blue Heron, Wild Turkey, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Wren, Brown-headed Cowbird and many of our backyard friends.

04/19/14 Posted some of John and Jo's pictures from a trip to Perry Lake in search of Surf Scoters.

Visited the Wood Duck nest. Saw the female on guard and two males in the lagoon. Checked out the Great Horned Owl nest and got a good view of the head and shoulders.

Catbird reported in Olathe! Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

Seeing Cabbage Whites and Red Admirals more often.

04/18/14 Pre-noon trip to Antioch Park. Got to shoot a Green Heron eating a bullfrog larger than it's head. He kept holding it under the water before making attempts to swallow it. He finally got it in and sat with his neck fully stretched for a minute to make the trip down a little smoother. Also saw Blue-winged Teal, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Creeper (the hardest bird in the world to photograph), Red-winged Blackbird, Brown Thrasher, Goldfinch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and all of the other backyard regulars.

04/17/14 It's been a few days and, upon hasty review, I believe I escaped without any freeze-related (25 degrees) fatalities. Everything that was in early or mid-bloom is still in good shape and all of the seedlings are still struggling up. Crisis 14/100 averted. Bring on number 15!

Saw a hawk careen into my yard space. It landed on a tree hanging upside down from a branch before some Blue Jays mobbed it.

Still trying to decide to do about the poor pictures from 2010-2012. I cleaned up nearly a dozen species and it was very fatiguing. Most of the mid-sized header files are also pretty poor looking. Decided to exclude them from the description pages.

Rachel is still plugging away on the descriptions. She is up to the Cs in the bird section.

04/16/14 Visited the Wood Duck nest near Roe Park with Friend John. Nobody home. There were a few Blue-winged Teals and Mallards floating around.

Debating what to do with some Perriwinkle (Vinca) that has popped up in the yard.

04/14/14 Supposed to get into the middle to late 20s overnight tonight. To cover seedlings or not to cover? They are nearly all native perennials.

I think my Juncos left town. God speed, little doodles.

04/13/14 It was in-between storms at 6:30 this morning, the birds were noisy and the backyard gardens had an erie, magical appeal. I coaxed my comrade up by suggesting that it was the perfect next step between dreaming and being awake. As soon as we stepped outside we noticed a giant blob in the very top of my neighbor's tree. It appeared to either be a Wild Turkey or Turkey Vulture - both quite a surprise for a city backyard. I dashed in and grabbed a camera and got off several shots before it slowly and clumsily exited the tree and flew awkwardly away. Wild Turkey confirmed.

I'm going to start the processing of removing iffy pictures from the KCWildlife gallery. Most of them are from my first year of taking pictures. They are either too noisy, poorly exposed or feeder shots, which I want to eliminate. There are also pictures that were the first ever of something so I compromised and posted them despite quality issues. Many of those have since been upgraded with better shots. Starting on backyard birds.

04/12/14 Set out to see the Great Horned Owl nest at Shawnee Mission Park, the Heron Rookery at Roe Park, the Common Loons and Bald Eagle's nest at Longview Lake and the Wood Duck nest at Lake Jacomo. Stopped at Roe Park first and was delighted to discover a Wood Duck nest. Dashed out to SMP and saw the Great Horned Owl and for another bonus - a pair of Northern Parula. Couldn't find any Loons at Longview. Did see a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and some Ruddy Ducks.

04/11/14 Visited Roe Park in the morning. Saw several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

04/10/14 Sowed the last of the seed. Butterfly Weed, Primrose and Partridge Pea. Bring unto me my buggery.

04/09/14 Another visit to Longview. Bumped into Loons multiple times. It was very windy and most of the water fowl seemed to be laying low. Had a nice chat with a friendly park ranger. He talked about the problems with the beaver and otter. He also pointed out the Bald Eagle's nest.

Planted some Rockcress around the Elm tree, Forget-me-nots where the cabbage was last year, and Blue Sage (Pitcher Sage?) back near the new Insect Hotel.

04/08/14 Took a trip to see the Great Horned Owl at Shawnee Mission Park. Took hundreds of iffy pictures. Then stopped by the Heron rookery in Roe Park. The tree was full despite the building activity surrounding the lagoon.

04/07/14 Awoke to a sea of Grackles in the backyard. So, if a single black cat crossing your path...

Put out another batch of fish emulsion.

04/06/14 Another run to Longview. I wanted to see if I could find the Ruddy Ducks in breeding plumage. And I did. This story now takes a dark turn. It was just after noon and virtually all of them, including the surrounding Shovelers and Coots, were busting some earnest Zzzzs. Not the best position for modeling feathers. Also saw some Kinglets (Ruby-crowned Kinglets are everywhere), Horned & Eared Grebe, Bufflehead, Field Sparrows and all of the rest of the expected players.

04/05/14 Took a trip to Longview Lake to see if I could find one of the two Common Loons reported there and get some better shots of other water fowl. Found both Loons along with Scaups, Ring-necks, Cormorant, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebes, Horned Grebes, Field Sparrows etc. Also saw a fresh Black Swallowtail butterfly. Toads were chirping away in the marsh.

There is a Northern Flicker that spends about an hour a day working on making a large hole in my already lousy Chinese Elm.

I have two small holes in the yard that lead to a Garter Snake den. I see them pop in and out of it frequently in the spring. This morning I went out to check on the gardens and noticed that both holes were dramatically enlarged over night. Hasty research suggests that the natural enemy of the Garter Snake is the raccoon.

04/01/14 Of all the signs of Spring the arrival of the mimics are my favorite. Today, in a flurry of flying bark, a Brown Thrasher. Joy to the world.

I think that the Red Yarrow, Dwarf Mexican Hat, Red Catchfly and Bee Balm seeds are up.

03/31/14 Poked around Warsaw, Missouri. Saw a Purple Finch, Great Blue Heron, Field Sparrows, Double-crested Cormorant, Hairy Woodpecker, American Pelican and more.

03/30/14 Common Milkweed seeds: sown.

Three flowers blooming in the yard! Crocuses still going and today the Forsythia and one of the daffodils are starting to bloom. Thinking Tulips and Hyacinth are next.

03/29/14 Took a trip to the Flint Hills with John & Jo. Spent most of our time looking for Whooping Cranes and then at Marion Reservoir and Wildlife Area and Chase State Fishing Lake. Got to see the Whoopers. Also saw Rough-legged Hawk, Horned Lark, Harris Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Baird's Sandpiper, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necks, Blue-winged Teal, American Pipit, Wild Turkey, Canada Goose, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, American Robins, American Pelicans, Herring Gull, Killdeer, Northern Mockingbird, Loggerhead Shrike and more.

03/28/14 Missouri Primrose showing signs of life. The first wave of seedlings (planted February 22ndish) in the wildflower garden are about an inch tall.

Juncos are still here.

03/27/14 Columbine is roaring to life. Tickseed above ground. This whole horrorshow may actually come off as planned!

03/26/14 Planted more Bee Balm, Spotted Bee Balm near the old compost, and Chicory along the western fence. Order some Common Milkweed seeds.

03/25/14 Spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the Japanese Maple. Haven't seen one since last Spring.

03/24/14 Saw the male House Sparrow with the bright yellow streaks today. Also saw Clownella today. I have not seen her for about a week. She is a leucistic female Cardinal who has been a regular for several years now. She looks like a beautiful whorey clown.

03/23/14 Wreched March! Young seedlings straining up through an unwanted and unloved Spring snow. There is always at least one nature-watching plus to snow on the ground - Juncos pose in places you do not normally see them.

03/22/14 Considered driving to Longview to see if I could find a Woodcock but I know from experience that 45 degrees in the backyard equals 35 degrees at a lake on a windy day. Took pictures of backyard birds instead.

03/21/14 Played tennis at a local park under the watchful eye of a Cooper's Hawk. A squirrel was frozen two branches below. Saw a Cabbage White butterfly wobble across the court.

03/20/14 I didn't realize that most Robins migrate south in search of food when it's cold. This always confused me because you still see a few around while out poking around in the winter.

03/19/14 Planted some Dill and Parsley seeds. Bee Balm is up and Lilacs have nice fat buds.

03/18/14 I've been photographing backyard birds this week. They seem more tolerent of my presence than the shell shocked water fowl.

03/17/14 Gardening note: another wave of wildflower mix in the Central garden, red yarrow in the South Along Fence & South Side to Gate gardens, Dwarf Mexican Hats in the south side of the Primary garden, Royal Red Catchfly in the Eastern garden and Queen Ann's Lace in the Western garden.

03/16/14 Posted a few pictures from a trip to the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, MO.

Sad little spurt of snow. Whatever. Stinks of desperation, Winter. Hyacinth finally above ground.

03/15/14 I can't stop myself from photographing a Cardinal up on a wire with its crest fanned, yelling its brains out. Gonna try to get a picture every time.

Echinacea, Loosetrife and Phlox are sending up shoots. Also seeing starts from the wildflower mix that I put out on 2/22/14.

Grackles are here. Hey, YOU'RE the one who was all hot for Spring to arrive. Comes with.

03/14/14 Made the hour drive south to Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge. Saw Rusty Blackbirds, Northern Harrier, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, American Coot, Redhead, Northern Pintail, Mallard, Northern Shoveler & Canada Goose.

Cranesbill Geraniums are up!

03/12/14 The woodpeckers are really noisy right now. Of course all the birds are chatty but 'peckers really cut through the din with their loud laughing and whisting.

03/10/14 Made some major progress raking the gardens. Finished cutting back last year's stalks. Fish emulsion fertilizer day. Discovered that the Sedum is a few inches above ground. Saw wasps, Honey Bees and Garter Snakes.

03/09/14 Drove to the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and added an American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Greater White-fronted Goose & Green-winged Teal to my life list. Took over 1,100 pictures and exhausted two completely charged batteries.

03/07/14 Took a morning trip to Wyandotte County Lake. Windy, cloudy and cold as always but managed to stay long enough to see Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Redhead Duck, Canvasback, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Northern Shoveler & Bufflehead. A fly buzzed by several times.

03/06/14 Robins are everywhere. Mostly foraging for now but singing can't be far away. Starlings are everywhere too. Clicking, squeeling and buzzing.

03/04/14 Bought a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS hoping that it will help me in getting shots of those little black dots in the middle of local lakes. The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS in my bag will generally get a picture good enough to identify the bird, but not good enough to use on the site. Hoping the 1,200mm will resolve that.

03/02/14 Ice and snow on the ground. Feeders stuffed with finches.

02/28/14 End of February and the daffodils are finally up.

02/26/14 Check out Chance Thoman's Bald Eagle spotted at Pierson Park in Turner, KS.

02/24/14 Surprise Lilies are up!

02/23/14 And just like that - it's winter again. Visited Wyandotte Lake with Rachel to see if I could find the lone Long-tail Duck. Got woeful shots of it, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Canvasback, Common Merganser, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Redhead Duck & Northern Shoveler. Thanks to John for the Long-tail tip and help identifying blurry bobbing birds on the metal-gray water.

02/22/14 A beautiful 50 degree day spent cutting down dead flower stalks and burning them in the fire pit. As the fire was dying out I saw 2 Honey Bees flying around the smoke. This seems early to me but I checked the journal and John and I saw a cloud of them at Heritage Park on 03/01/12.

Tossed some wildflower mixes into one section of the central garden. The mix includes:

Baby's Breath
Bachelor's Buttons
Bird's Foot
Calendula
Crimson Clover (Annual)
Chicory
Cosmos, Sensation
Dame's Rocket
Dill
Flax, Common (Annual)
Forget-me-not
Indian Blanket
Lacy Phacelia (Annual)
Lupine, annual
Mexican Hat
Poppy Lavender
Primrose, Evening
Rose Mallow
Stock Virginia
Wallflower, Siberian
Dwarf Sunflower

02/21/14 Had some major tree work done. This means loads more morning and early afternoon sun in the gardens which will most likely result in earlier blooms with shorter durations. Yayboo?

02/20/14 Fernleaf Yarrow, Shasta Daisies and many of the Asters are green.

02/19/14 Cardinals are singing and quarreling, the male Goldfinches are sporting bright yellow blotches and there are suddenly Robins where there were no Robins. All signs point to yes.

Check out Chance Thoman's Bald Eagle Bonanza picture taken a few months ago on the KAW River in Bonner Springs, KS.

02/18/14 Snow is about half gone and crocuses are up in earnest. Bachelor's Buttons, Carnations and Yarrow are also greening up.

02/17/14 A dreaded sunny day so back to Lake Remembrance to see the Hooded Merganser. Was surprised to see over a dozen. I only saw a few females so rest assured that heads were puffed.

Saw a few Crocus shoots in a place where the snow had melted.

02/16/14 Scrambled around Kansas and Missouri with John and Jo. Went to Wyandotte Lake, Lake Remembrance and Lake Jacomo. Most of the lakes were frozen over but found Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Canada Goose, Ring-necked Duck, Rock Pigeons & American Coot at Lake Rememberance. Saw some beautiful Wild Turkeys at Jacomo.

02/15/14 Added a few of Chance Thoman's Bald Eagle pictures taken on the KAW river in Bonner Springs, KS.

02/14/14 Snow still covering most of the ground. I cleared the snow off of the area where I know there are Crocuses but nothing was above ground yet. By this time last year Hostas, Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Hollyhocks, Lilies, Surprise Lilies, Crocuses were all above ground.

02/13/14 Going to start going through all of the Cooper's Hawk pictures and start pulling shots that I think are Sharp-shinned Hawks - resisting the temptation to just make an Accipiter category and shove them both in it.

02/08/14 John had an excellent backyard birding day with visits from a Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Harris Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-belled Woodpecker, Sharp-shinned Hawk and more.

02/05/14 After the big snow I would occasionally peer into the backyard in search of good bird shots. I kept noticing how cool the Echinacea looked with snow in it and finally drifted outside for a few shots.

02/03/14 I love how sleek a Cardinal can look posing on a branch and then a minute later hunker down into a tennis ball shape.

02/02/14 Discovered two young Red-tailed Hawks in a tree 2 blocks from the house. These wretched winter walks occasionally pay dividends.

02/01/14 Saw a Cooper's Hawk in the yard when leaving for a walk. My neighbor has several old oak trees and they really hanging out in them.

01/26/14 Went on a mini-water fowl hunt, avoiding Wyandotte County Lake because of scheduled birding events. Found nothing at Shawnee Mission Park. Saw some Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards and Canadian Geese at the small lake at I-35 & Highway 56, found a pair of Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, Canadian Geese, American Coots and Ruddy Ducks at Lake Olathe, nothing at Cedar Lake and a Belted Kingfisher with a smattering of Ring-billed Gulls at Heritage Park.

01/25/14 Everybody is seeing Great Horned Owls around the city.

01/18/14 Gray morning trip to Wyandotte County Lake. The Snow Geese are mostly gone. Still saw a few Bald Eagles troubling the Canadian Geese. Got my first Redhead Duck and Hooded Merganser.

01/17/14 Heard a Great Horned Owl on my block. Glory.

01/11/14 Took my first trip to Wyandotte County Lake. Saw Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Common Goldeye, Mallard, American Coot, Snow Geese, Canadian Geese, Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-headed & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Chickadees, Titmice and a Nuthatch. Bumped into John McConnell who also saw some Redhead, Ring Neck, Lesser Scaup and Canvasbacks.

01/03/14 Discovered a squirrel scrambling towards a Cooper's Hawk on an oak tree branch. He stopped about 4 feet short of running into him, reached for an acorn, and scrambled off again.


2013 Journal

12/31/13 Spent the day wandering around Fleming Park. Saw Wild Turkeys, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Buffleheads, Snow Geese, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Bluebirds and all the backyard visitors like Chickadees, Juncos, Flickers, Red-Bellies, Titmice etc.

12/08/13 Does it bother me that a Purple Finch has joined the regulars at the feeders? No Sir, it does not.

11/07/13 Finally scored a Junco in the backyard!

11/02/13 John took a trip to Warnock Lake in Atchison, KS. He saw

Canada Goose
Gadwall
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Killdeer
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch

10/19/13 Visited Powell Gardens in the afternoon. Still plenty of blooms but not a lot of bugs.

10/17/13 Took some pictures of the remaining blooms in the garden - Gaura, Morning Glories, Fleabane, Common Marigolds, Asters, Butterfly Bush, Phlox, Indian Blankets, Sage, Mint, Shasta Dasies, Coreopsis, Anemone, Mums, Snakeroot and Black-eyed Susans.

10/12/13 Rachel is now in the Bs - most recently updating the Bagworm Moth description.

10/10/13 Four new critters going up today - Myzinum (Thynnid Wasp), Western Leaf-footed Bug, Clouded Crimson Flower Moth & Southern Yellowjacket

10/09/13 Posted the 10,001st nature picture this morning. Thanks again to John McConnell, Nick Varvel and Ashli Ahrens for their contributions.

More bugs from recent visit to Milford Lake: End Band Net-wing, Exoprosopa decora (Bee Fly), Mecaphesa (Crab Spider), Euschistus (Stink Bug) & Thinlegged Wolf Spider

10/08/13 Added pictures of a Black-and-Yellow Argiope, Ground Beetle (Harpalus), Cow Killer (Velvet Ant), Bronzed Tiger Beetle, Four-toothed Mason Wasp and Double-banded Scoliid to the site.

10/07/13 Rachel has finished the descriptions for the As in the insects category. She's now calling me out on a bunch of incorrectly identifed wasps.

10/04/13 Just back from a trip to Milford Lake. Spent most of the time bugging around the sunflowers and goldenrod. Photographed over a dozen new species.

09/30/13 Fantastic to see the Monarch numbers picking up!

Goldenrod is about cooked so the only flowers left in the garden for nectaring insects are a fistful of Phlox, Spanish Needles, Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Sedum, Indian Blankets, Anemone, Rose of Sharon, Snakeroot and Eupatorium. By next weekend I think Mums will be about the only game in town.

09/24/13 Rachel has started adding useful descriptions to the site. She's working her way down the Insects section in alphabetical order if you want to track her progress.

09/21/13 The butterflies are all over the place, especially when the sun hits the asters in the late afternoon. Summer's climax.

09/17/13 I think the Mums are the only thing left to bloom. They have had little buds on them for the last few weeks.

09/14/13 Tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy so I'll start posting pictures from the last week.

Found a Downy Woodpecker flopping around in the grass. It had a damaged foot. Put it in a box with some water. Called Lakeside Nature Center and left a message. The called me back and said bring him in. Went out to get him and discovered that he expired while I was making arrangements for his Lakeside visit. Lousy way to start a Saturday.

09/12/13 This coming weekend we'll start re-writing all of the insect, bird, plant, mammal and reptile descriptions. This content upgrade will make the site much more useful.

All of my Goldenrod is blooming and the insects are everywhere. I'm finding several new species every day. Will start going through the thousands of pictures in a few days and posting. I want to spend all of my free time photographing bugs until we hit a rainy day.

Lamenting not getting out and scoring some returning Warblers but mosquitoes, ticks, leafy trees etc.

09/08/13 I think every is working now.

Got a note from John that he spotted a Brown Thrasher at his seed feeder. Will post a picture once I get caught up.

09/06/13 Have been having an excellent bugging week which has resulted in many new species and the software structure of the site crumbling from their weight. I'll be rewriting some of the code over the next few days so the site may appear to be incomplete or images may be temporarily unavailable while I work this.

09/02/13 Wonderful bug day. Loads of winged insects everywhere in the garden.

09/01/13 Goldenrod and Calico Asters are blooming so getting nice little bee boom. Goldenrood Soldier Beetles are plentiful. Haven't seen any Blister Beetles yet.

08/31/13 I love mimics. On this, the 31st day of August, I sat in the backyard and watched 4 Brown Thrashers playing and foraging and a Catbird posing on anything he/she could find and enjoying a lengthy romp in the bird bath. *sigh*

08/29/13 Found a Cooper's Hawk haunting the Echinacea around 8 AM this morning. Also got to see a cicada emerge, dry it's wings and disappear into the trees.

08/26/13 Stumbled out into the gardens at 7:30 this morning just in time to see a Red-tailed Hawk snatch a finch out of the garden. I'm awake now.

Monarch activity has picked up nicely. There's almost always one somewhere in the gardens whenever I come out.

08/25/13 had a look at the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Gardens. Got my first decent shots of a Tarantula Wasp.

08/23/13 Blue Mist is blooming. Missouri Primrose starting its second round.

08/20/13 Nice to see the Thrashers around still. I will occasionally hear a Catbird's complaining meow from my neighbor's Mullberry bush.

08/19/13 The bees, particularly the Carpenter Bees, are very cranky. I've noticed that there is a week every summer when all of the bees are very agitated. They fight with one another and run at me while I am taking pictures, which normally never happens.

08/17/13 Still seeing loads of bugs in the flowers. Won't get a chance to go through the nearly 2,000 images and post until the 18th.

08/16/13 Bugs are on! Finally! Probably added a dozen new species to the site.

08/15/13 Out in the yard later in the afternoon and saw a Coopers Hawk. That's a Red-tail in the AM and a Cooper in the afternoon. Please refer to the line "4 male goldfinches wobbling in one small patch of echinacea" before asking why I have so many hawks in my backyard.

Was out in the yard shooting bugs for 10 minutes and saw:

1 red-tail hawk flying close over my head after bursting from a tree in the yard - sobering
2 hummingbirds fighting in a butterfly bush
3 red bellies on the feeder (all the same size but I'm sure 2 were juniors)
4 male goldfinches wobbling in one small patch of echinacea

And me with my macro.

Many of the dead-headed Bee Balm, Phlox, Butterfly Weed, Phlox and Shasta Daisies are producing second blooms.

08/14/13 After a bleak summer Monarchwise I was delighted to see that two discovered one of my butterfly bushes this afternoon. The only issue was that everytime I started to take a picture they would start fighting, whatever that means in butterfly terms. I guess flying around in short repeating loops. I can assure you that nobody got hurt.

08/07/13 We have been getting plenty of rain with few sunny days or days in the 90s or above. I noticed a few days ago that my Echinacea/coneflower blooms are getting black edges. This is a fungal disease from too much water.

08/06/13 Bees are really starting to pick up. Still no Monarchs.

08/04/13 The contractors that Google hired to hang fiber are in our neighborhood. Despite assurances from them that they would be careful in the garden, they trampled (and when I say trampled I mean flattened) a fountain grass plant, 6 Phlox plants, 2 Goldenrod plants, 1 Purple Loosestrife plant and a patch of native Morning Glories. That's a lousy way to start a new relationship. For those who argue that the contractors did it, not Google, I'll ask you to remember that the next time you get poor service somewhere. It's just an individual, not the company, right? Wrong.

Neighborhood angry with tree destruction to make way for Google Fiber

Kansas City residents upset at contractor work from Google

08/03/13 Saw a Walnut Sphinx!

Discovered that much of the Purple Loosestrife that I trimmed back is blooming again. Many of the Phlox are also re-blooming.

08/02/13 Found 4 catepilars on the Dill plants. I think they are Black Swallowtails. The plants are pretty slim so I may go get a few more to make sure they have enough to support them until they go pupate.

08/01/13 Where are the Monarchs? I have 8 blooming Butterfly Bushes, hundreds of blooming Echinacea, Phlox, Black-eyed Susans and Bee Balm and a dozen milkweed varieties in the gardens and I've seen maybe 2 Monarchs float through the yard all year. The bee activity has finally picked up significantly.

07/31/13 Naked Ladies are 6 inches above ground!

07/30/13 Orleander Aphids and their predators are on most of the Milkweed.

07/29/13 Cup Plant flower opening up!

07/28/13 Common Nighthawks flying over the yard during the early afternoon. Pretty thrilling. They were coming in lower than the tops of the trees.

07/24/13 Saw my first European Hornet of the summer on his rounds in the early evening.

07/23/13 Have some bird pictures from John's recent trip to James A. Reed to put up in the next few days.

Bugs are finally starting to show up. In the afternoon the backyard was blurry with Skippers, Cabbage Whites, Swallowtails and Fritillaries.

07/21/13 Still moving little Phlox, Black-eyed Susan and Echinacea starts that are in bad places to the south garden without any ill effect.

Many of the Fernleaf Yarrow have heads for the first time this year.

Bee Balm is nearly done. Daisies have been done for a few weeks but the Shasta daisies are just now peaking. About 40% of the Phlox still haven't bloomed.

07/20/13 The Illinois Bundleflowers are starting to sport their little nuts/fruits. They are still green at this point.

Had to move some stuff, despite the lateness of the season. I have a row of Butterfly Bushes that are getting mold on the leaves. They are near the Bee Balm which is also in the back of the garden and also showing a lot of discolored leaves. Thinned out the plants around the Butterfly Bushes and sprayed the leaves with water/baking soda/dish soap. Now we play the waiting game.

07/19/13 Some of the purple Asters are blooming.

07/18/13 Black-eyed Susans are starting to show up around the gardens.

Saw a huge Katydid and my first Virginia Creeper Sphinx. More like Virginia Crapper Sphinx as it delivered a dollop on my palm when I freed it from my screened porch. See what I did?

07/16/13 Added Bee Balm, Cranesbill Geranium, Three Leaf Clover, Bachelor's Buttons, purple Asters and another type of Coreopsis to the new garden.

07/15/13 Started fleshing out the new garden (south facing) with some plants that haven't bloomed or were in bad places. Added Echinacea, Black-eyed Susan, Daisy, Comfrey, Milkweed, Fernleaf Yarrow, Missouri Primrose and Obedient Plant.

07/14/13 White, red and pink Phlox are in bloom.

07/13/13 Both of the Black Swallowtail caterpillars are now gone. Lost one yesterday and one today. Don't know if they were birdfood or if they crawled off to pupate.

07/12/13 Illinois Bundleflowers now have little white puffs. Fernleaf Yarrow suddenly has heads.

07/11/13 First pink phlox that has a nearly fullly blooming head. I think they were blooming in middle to late June last year. Four Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the Echinacea in the evening.

07/10/13 Saw two Monarchs working the Echinacea today. A Swallowtail worked them for over an hour straight.

07/09/13 Bought some more Delphinium, Obedient Plant, Threadleaf Coreopsis, Slender Mountain Mint and Indian Blankets.

07/08/13 My friend Meri gave me some plants. Noticed two Black Swallowtail Caterpillars on the Dill.

07/07/13 Eastern Tiger and Black Swallowtails in the yard today. The Black Swallowtail rode Echinacea blooms for over an hour.

07/06/13 Had a meeting with the staff about plans for future expansion at the Jimmy Staggers Memorial Gardens. Soil treatment starts immediately and population begins in September.

07/05/13 Took a 9 PMish stroll through the Bee Balm and saw a beautiful White-lined Sphinx working the heads. Saw a second lurking. Got some flash shots that turned out OK.

07/04/13 Had a pleasant day traveling around Miami County with John McConnell. Saw Dickcissell, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nest, Horned Lark, Meadowlark, Killdeer, Heron, Hawk carcass on a light post and a wonderful variety of dragonflies.

07/02/13 Rose of Sharon popped 2 days ago. Hummingbird is here several times a day now.

07/01/13 Not pleased with my garden/bug numbers. I wonder if it's the cool weather.

06/30/13 Rose of Sharon is a go!

06/29/13 Catbird is a regular now that the jelly source is fairly reliable. Seems like Baby House Wrens are everywhere.

Starting to see more bees! Seeing more moths and butterflies including Monarchs and Hummingbird Moths.

Honeyvine Milkweed is blooming. Bee Balm and Echinacea are grinding out flowers. Black-eyed Susans are a few days away from getting heads. Flax and comfrey still blooming. Hostas starting to send up shoots for flowers. Illinois Bundleflower are about 5 feet tall. Shasta Daisies are flowering.

06/28/13 KCWildlife.com welcomes the first Monarch of the season to rest on a flower in the Jimmy Staggers Memorial Prairie. Echinacea.

06/27/13 Seeing more bees around. Had a good session with a Bald-faced Hornet. Watched and photographed a Crab Spider mauling a large Cockroach at the top of a Bigleaf Wintercreeper. Seven foot tall Butterfly Bush has mutliple Wheel Bug nymphs at the top. Going to be a fun summer.

06/25/13 Got some Chicory at Angelo's. Not in Angelo's. In front of Angelo's. Permission obtained with the token purchase of two Coreopsis plants. Would love some thistle but I don't think I have anywhere sunny enough for it.

Put up fencing to contain the already unruly Black-eyed Susans.

Wrens yelling all day. Still no sticks in the birdhouses.

I put the Oriole feeder back up and gave it a dollop of grape jelly to see if I could entice the Catbird in my neighbor's Mulberry bush to hang around. It worked. The only downside is that it doesn't have anything to say other than the mewing sound.

06/23/13 John McConnell got some fun baby bird/nesting pictures from Heritage Park that are on the FB page.

Saw a House Wren poking around the bird houses. Didn't take in any sticks but I think we are still in the running.

Split up a giant clump of Bachelor's Buttons in the spring and they look horrible. Can't tell if over or under watering.

06/21/13 Found some Blue Flax growing under the bird feeders. Evicted some Eastern Redbud. Comfrey is blooming.

06/20/13 Coreopsis is nearly spent. Bee Balm, red Phlox are ready to pop any day. Milkweed heads are about to change color. Tall Geum is blooming.

06/17/13 ...and here come the Crab Spiders.

06/14/13 Bee Balm has heads! Big surge in bugs and Hummingbirds are right around the corner. Columbine and Hollyhocks also popped today but the Bee Balm will what brings 'em in off of the streets.

Seeing loads of Soldier Beetles in the garden for the first time.

06/11/13 Saw a Candy-striped Leafhopper.

Missouri Primrose is blooming and Honeyvine Milkweed is climbing.

A friend gave me some Comfrey a few weeks ago. It was pretty ratty but she said to plant it, cut it back and it would come back. About 3 days ago it shot up about 6 inches and already has blooms. What a will to live!

06/10/13 John photographed a Chuck-will's-widow in the middle of the night. Picture coming soon.

Woodpecker still trapped in garage.

Mulberry bushes are full of fruit. Wild Blackberry, Purple Loosestrife and Blue lobelia are blooming.

06/09/13 Woodpecker still trapped in garage.

Saw Dung Flies and Rust Flies today.

Milkweed, Threadleaf Coreopsis, Columbine, Echinacea, Daisy Fleabane, Daylilies, Loosestrife and some of the Bee Balm are all within a day or two of blooming. Coreopsis, Indian Blanket, Roses, Sage, Spiderwort, Mock Orange going strong. Daisies and some of the sage are getting long in the tooth. Bachelor's Buttons and Carnations are spent. I added a lot of things over the last few weeks that were already blooming - Columbine, Gaura, Delphinium, Astilbe and Carnations. It will be interesting to see if and when they pop next year.

06/08/13 Downy Woodpecker trapped in the garage with an obvious instinct to fly up rather than out when threatened. Waited him out and I think he finally left sometime before dark. It's also possible that I'm going to find him behind something in 2 weeks.

06/07/13 Seeing more bugs. Lots of Wolf Spiders, jumpers, Lynix, Wheel Bug nymphs, Soldier Beetles, Syrphid Flies and bees.

Added Columbine, Delphinium, Dwarf Goat's Beard and Little Joe Pye Weed to the garden.

06/03/13 Took a day trip to James A. Reed to see what I could find. Didn't see a lot of water fowl beyond Mallard, Canada Geese, Heron and American Coot. Did get some good dragonfly and skimmer pictures.

Every day I watch the lily and Black-eyed Susan leaves for sunning bugs. Lately I have noticed bits of insects left on the leaves. Finally caught a Wheel Bug nymph making groceries out of some unfortunate.

06/02/13 A patch of Daisy Fleabane is getting ready to bloom. Oddly it has found its way to a cluster of daisies. Thank you Brett and Betsy for the ID.

06/01/13 Gardened and harrassed bugs all day. Planted some Delphinium, Dill and Peppermint.

05/31/13 The bugs are back in town in earnest.

05/29/13 Added lots of new flowers to the gardens over the last few days. Columbine, Gaura, Knockout Roses, Astilbe, Lamb's Ear, Eupatorium argentinum and more.

05/26/13 Overnight the roses, Peonies, Mock Orange and Japanese Lilies all popped.

Found neat bugs on the dasies today. Saw Potter Wasp, Flower Fly, Honey Bee, Skipper, Bottle Fly and a Picture-winged Fly.

05/25/13 Over the past few days I have seen Cuckoo Bee, Bean Weevils, Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, Ground Sac Spider, Frit Fly/Grass Fly, Lacewing Fly, Crab Spider all on daisy heads.

Saw a Monarch zoom through the garden.

05/23/13 Daisy heads are starting to get interesting! Teeming with insects.

05/21/13 Had a choice this morning between going birding or expanding the flower garden. Garden expansion won. Added some white Bachelor's Buttons, Tickseed, Carnations and Rose Verbena to the mature gardens.

05/20/13 John's recent beautiful picture of a Redhead duck ties us back up at 144 birds photographed in KS and MO.

05/19/13 My recent Pewee, Cuckoo, Orange-crowned Warbler, Tennesee Warbler, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Lark Sparrow and Field Sparrow have nudged Georgie (see Costello, Elvis) one unique species photographed in KS or MO over her rival. At least for one day. Thanks to Nick, Brett and Rick Wright for the IDs.

05/18/13 Squirted out to Heritage Park for the day. Saw Orchard Oriole, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Northern Mockingbird, American Goldfinch, Yellow Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Barn Swallows, Purple Martins, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Kingbird an unidentified bird that I am trying to bait Dr. Nick into identifying and all of the lake and shore staples.

05/15/13 Three Leaf Clover are flowering. Saw a Northern Crab Spider on a Carnation.

05/14/13 Morning birding trip to Longview Lake. Saw Cedar Waxwings, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Mallard, American Coot, Baltimore Oriole, Heron, and misc. Warblers and Flycatchers.

05/13/13 Spent the morning and afternoon at Roe Park and Heritage Park. Saw a lot of Warblers. Now starting the painful ID process. Got some shots of an eagle fishing at Heritage.

05/11/13 Went birding at Council Grove Lake in Council Grove, KS and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills. Saw a lot of wonderful birds. Many varieties of sparrows. Got a Tennesee Warbler, Bell's Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler and American Redstart.

05/10/13 Took a trip to the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area in Manhattan, KS. Got my first Lark Sparrow and Field Sparrow. Saw some great birds in the wooded areas.

Bought a non-Stokes suet cage feeder earlier this week. Woke up this morning to see it broken and laying in the garden, about 12 feet from the feeder pole. Stokes will get my next $30.

05/09/13 Blue False Indigo, Geranium and Lily of the Valley are blooming. Dasies, Azaleas and Bachelor's Buttons are close.

05/08/13 Illinois Bundleflower has some shoots on the old stalks. I didn't know they came back that way. I had nearly given up on them.

Added a dozenish Fernleaf Yarrow plants in the gardens where there are holes.

05/07/13 Spent the morning at Roe Park. Photographed 4 firsts for me - Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler. Also spotted an Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher and Purple Finch. Thank you to John and the rest for helping me with identification/verification.

Added Milkweed plants to the garden and a batch in a large plastic pot.

05/06/13 Heard a Barred Owl at the church this morning so walked back up after dinner. Heard just a portion of the "Who cooks for you?" call really close. Spotted him on a branch eating a rabbit with the setting sun illuminating him perfectly!

Gray Catbird in the yard. Suddenly everything that was wrong with the seasons has been righted and the Enterprise is once again pointed at earth.

Stopped by the church while out running errands. Saw Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Mockingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-throated Sparrow and Brown-headed Cowbird. Also head a Barred Owl a half-block away in a Leawood neighborhood. Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?

Thinned out the aster corner that I built late last year. They beefed up bigger than I anticipated!

Something is eating the Lavender, Forget-me-nots and Russian Sage. Bunnies?

05/05/13 Haunted Shawnee with John McConnell. Saw:

Dickcissel (thank you Brett!)
Eared Grebe (thanks Dr. Nick!)
Summer Tanager
Baltimore Oriole
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
House Finch
House Sparrow
Goldfinch
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
Common Grackle
American Robin
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Brown Thrasher
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Downy Woodpcker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
Yellow Warbler
Horned Grebe
Ring-billed Gull
Mallard
Barn Swallow
Eastern Bluebird
Turkey Vulture
Ingido Bunting
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Spotted Sandpiper
Canada Goose
Blue-winged Teal
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Coot
American Crow
Great-blue Heron
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Belted Kingfisher
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Mockingbird

05/04/13 John got an Orange-crowned Warbler and Tennessee Warbler today.

Visited Shawnee Mission Park and Roe Park in the rainy AM. Photographed:

American Coot
American Robin
Barn Swallow
Belted-Kingfisher
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-winged Teal
Brown-headed Cowbird
Canada Goose
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Kingbird
European Starling
Great-blue Heron
Harris's Sparrow
Horned Grebe
Killdeer
Lincoln's Sparrow
Mallard
Northern Cardinal
Northern Mockingbird
Pied-billed Grebe
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Ring-billed Gull
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruddy Duck
Spotted Sandpiper
Swainson's Thrush
Turkey Vulture
White-throated Sparrow
Wild Turkey
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow Warbler

05/03/13 John noted that his Goldfinch feeder population has dropped off.

The McConnells have now added a few more Orioles, a Tanager and Indigo Bunting to their feeder collection.

05/02/13 It's snowing and sticking. It looks beautiful with the green and the flowers.

05/01/13 Ran to the Leawood church (which has a creek running around the back part of the property) every time the sun came out. Was rewarded with a female Indigo Bunting (thanks Brett, Nick and Ma Parker), Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wren and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

Lilac bushes are heavenly!

04/30/13 Dashed off to Roe Park with Migration Fever. Saw Meadow Phlox that weren't there during my last visit. Photographed:

Baltimore Oriole
Great Crested Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo
Yellow Warbler
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Goldfinch
Brown-headed Cowbird
Great-blue Heron

After a week or more of hearing about the Orioles in everbody's backyards I finally scored one on the Oriole and Hummingbird feeders.

04/29/13 Ticks.

04/28/13 Visited a couple of Great-blue Heron rookeries. During my travels saw:

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Belted Kingfisher
Red Admiral Butterfly
American Frog
American Coot
Willet
Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly
Painted Turtle
Blue-winged Teal
Canada Goose
Spotted Sandpiper
Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-headed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Brown Thrasher
Mallard

04/27/13 Was running errands and stopped by the Roe heron rookery to see what was going on. Saw the Black-bellied Whistling Duck with its head tucked. A Red-headed Woodpecker flew up into tree with all the nests.

Planted some Cranesbill Geraniums, Cabbages, Red Phlox, Salvia, False Indigo, Forget-me-nots and some blue/purple Bee Balm.

Noticed that the Cabbages from last year have new starts on the stalks.

Missing or unable to identify some of the plants that were in the NW corner garden last year. Don't see Buffalo Bur, Primrose, Coreopsis, Bundleflower, Thistle, Oxeye, Partridge Pea, Sida, Velvetleaf, Zinnia or Venice Mallow. Of course there hasn't been much sun lately and the season is young.

04/26/13 The God of Hellfire took pity on me and gave me a pair of Harris's Sparrows working the garden alongside a Chipping Sparrow.

John got a Yellow-throated Warbler on the Mill Creek Trail and a Horned Grebe at Shawnee Mission Park.

Two Thrashers in the yard creating aural bedlam.

04/25/13 Back at Roe for 3 hours. Nothing special. Did see a beaver scrambling around in the grass near the condo construction.

The residents of the McConnell household welcome a Rose-breasted Grosbeak to their feeders this morning.

Lincoln Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrow in the yard. Sad challenge to John's Grosbeak.

Since it's the first year I wasn't sure what the Goldenrod looked like as a start. I can make it out now. It's the same height as the Phlox and Asters.

04/24/13 John got a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at his feeder today. A good week for the McConnells!

Roe Park AM list:

Summer Tanager
Turkey Vulture
Eastern Phoebe
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Canada Goose
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Great-blue Heron
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Goldfinch
Chipping Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Flicker
Downey Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Planted a Cup Plant. Can't wait to see to see this beauty bloom. Also added 5 batches of Fernleaf Yarrows to some holes in the garden.

Encountered 4 leashless dogs while in Leawood parks this morning. A reminder to locals about the city of Leawood's position on unleashed dogs:

"All animals must be confined to the premises of the owner, except when taken off premises on a leash, or in a car, or other conveyance. Any animal(s) causing injury to persons or damage to property shall be presumed not under control of keeper/owner. Any animal picked up by Animal Control is subject to a leash law fine as well as a daily board charge. An animal picked up in Leawood must have current rabies vaccination and a city license before the animal can be released."

Leawood, KS Leash Law

04/23/13 I have a compost pile comprised of leaves and grass clippings. Because of the drought last year it is a bit short on grass clippings, meaning that it's mostly leaves. The Brown Thrasher has animated this pile. It's in the far back corner of the yard so he blends in with it nicely. It appears from the house that little sections of it are undulating. Kind of like when you wriggle your finger under a sheet to get a cat to pounce.

Red-wing Blackbirds briefly in the yard. Hello Goodbye.

...and a White-crowned Sparrow.

04/22/13 Why wouldn't I go back to Foxhill North Park and Roe Park? Saw:

Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Eastern Phoebe
Warbling Vireo
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Canada Goose
Blue-winged Teal
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Great-blue Heron
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
American Goldfinch
Lincoln's Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird

Arrived home and started looking at the pictures. Was about to delete one of the Whistling Duck shots when I noticed a Green Heron on the left. I never saw him when I was there. I looked at the picture again and saw that the Heron had a mouth full of frog.

J&J photographed an Oriole at their feeder this morning! Other people are seeing Hummingbirds and Indigo Bunting.

Still have Forsythia, Hyacinth and Magnolia blooms. Tulips are the only new flowers in the yard. And Dandelions.

04/21/13 It was briefly sunny so I scrambled out to Foxhill North Park and Roe Park again. Saw:

Brown Thrasher
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Carolina Wren
Belted Kingfisher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Mallard
Canada Goose
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Great-blue Heron
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
American Goldfinch
White-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown Thrasher

04/20/13 Ran to Foxhill North Park and Roe Park this AM. Saw:

White-tailed Deer
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Mallard
Canada Goose
Savannah Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown Thrasher
Loads of Swallows
Turkey Vultures
Belted Kingfisher
Brown-headed Cowbird

I'm seeing loads of Kinglets this year and they are fearless. They frequently fly to branches very close by to check me out. I'm talking 4-6 feet away. If they would sit still for 8 seconds.

John visited the same area, Shawnee Mission Park and the Mill Creek trail and saw:

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Great-blue Heron
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Bluebird

04/19/13 Scooted over to the estates once it warmed up a bit. Saw:

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
House Finches with babies
Red Tails and Cooper's Hawks
Turkey Vulture
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Red-winged Blackbird

Also saw a creature that looked like a river otter. It scrambled across a field and down a bank to the creek.

04/18/13 I haven't seen a Junco in the yard in weeks. The gold and House Finches are abundant.

Brown Thrasher tossing leaves and mulch.

04/17/13 It's interesting how the cool, cloudy, wet weather is not only slowing the progress of plant growth but also sustaining blooming periods. I have several plants that normally bloom for a few days and then drop their petals that have retained their flowers for well over a week.

04/16/13 Several mornings in a row with Thrasher music. Nothing today. I wonder if he moved on, found a mate or became a cat toy. I am guessing that seeing a bird thrashing around in the leaves is awfully enchanting to a watching feline.

04/14/13 Hardly any flowers in the yard. Tulips haven't even opened. Just Forsythia, Flowering Quince and Hyacinth.

04/14/13 Brown Thrasher sending a shout out to the ladies this morning. He was pretty high up in a tree but I got a few shots. Good luck, old friend!

04/13/13 Poked around Shawnee with J&J. Saw the amazing Heron tree. Chased a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher around. Got my first Kingfisher and, to Dr. Nick's imagined delight, I actually pointed my camera at some American Coot, Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers.

04/12/13 Haunted the church. Saw an Eastern Phoebe and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet for my trouble.

04/11/13 Brown Thrasher in the yard!!! Brown Thrasher in the yard!!!

04/10/13 Grass is green. Flowering Quince is blooming. Asiatic Lilies are above ground. Where are the Cat Birds?

04/08/13 Hailstorm last night that tried to rob me of my Forsythia bloom climax. Lost a smattering of petals but they are still in full glory.

Read that people are starting to see Brown Thrashers!

Some of the seeds we planted on the 16th of March from last years flower heads are starting to emerge.

04/07/13 Hostas, Echinacea, Orchid Primrose, Turtlehead, Peonies, Threadleaf Coreopsis all finally above ground. Still no leaves on the trees and lots of plants that haven't emerged yet.

04/05/13 Saw a Cabbage White zoom through the yard today. Not my mimics but I welcome them all the same.

04/04/13 A dreaded sunny day so I went for a stroll with the camera. Saw the usual suspects and Turkey Vultures, Pine Siskin, bright yellow Goldfinches, Northern Green Striped Grasshoper, Mallard couple and an unsettling number of Garter snakes.

04/01/13 Phlox are coming up like mad. Hyacinth are about to turn.

03/31/13 Another walk around the estates. Saw an Eastern Phoebe. I thought it was a Western Kingbird but it had a hood. Dr. Nick informed me that Phoebes are the only Flycatchers here right now.

03/30/13 Dr. Nick saw a Northern Mockingbird at Heritage Park. The mimics are my favorite birds and Spring is only messing around until I hear Catbirds yelling in the trees and see Brown Thrashers skulking around the yard.

03/29/13 Walked around the estates and saw the same insects I've seen over the last month - Lacewing Flies, Boxelder Bugs and Mourning Cloaks. Just as we were finishing up I saw a Striped Cucumber Beetle.

Got a few yellow flowers on the Forsythia.

First Garter Snake in the yard for this year.

03/28/13 Saw an American Tree Sparrow poking around in the yard in the evening. Love getting fresh sparrows!

03/27/13 Still seeing Boxelder Bugs around.

03/25/13 This time last year I had Lilac heads, Forsythia blooms peaking and Catbirds and Brown Thrashers in the yard. Not this year.

03/24/13 Got another 10 inches of snow which means it's Juncos on the Feeders Day. They look so beautiful in the snow.

Saw someone getting their car pulled out of the snow with a tow line. Saw a Cardinal watching the event perched on the middle of the tow line.

03/23/13 A little snow on the ground with a proper snow storm predicted for tomorrow and the birds are in an absolute frenzy. Good day for feeder watching.

03/21/13 Saw a completely yellow Goldfinch in the snow this afternoon. Guessing he's new in town.

03/18/13 Took a trip to the Overland Park Arboretum & KCP&L Wetlands. Saw Deer, Cooper's Hawk, Barn Owl, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Bluebird, Meadowlark, Hairy Woodpecker, Rock Dove, Purple Finch, Fox Sparrow, Variegated Meadowhawk, Mourning Cloak, Lesser Scaup or Ring-necked Duck and the backyard birds like Cardinals, Titmice, Chickadees etc. Of course I bumped into Dr. Nick. Third time I have stumbled on him while out birding. All three locations unique. Thanks to John McConnell and J. Parker for their help with the Fox Sparrow and Purple Finch ID.

Saw a Northern Mockingbird on a power line in Leawood, KS. Catbirds can't be far behind!

03/16/13 Ran some errands in Overland Park and saw Turkey Vultures everywhere. I think it's shortly after their arrival that the Juncos head up North to look for mates.

Planted loads of seeds from last year's flower heads. Indian Blanket, Daisies, Thistle, Oxeye Sunflower, Chicory, Butterfly Weed, Orchid Primrose, Illinoise Bundleflower, native Zinnias, Bachelor Button, Fleabane, Blue Cardinal Flower and more.

03/15/13 Spent a few hours at Wilderness Wetlands. Saw Killdeer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Great Blue Heron, Tree Sparrow, Boxelder Bugs, a butterfly and loads of Titmice, Nuthatch, Brown Creepers, Chickadees, hawks and water fowl.

Drove around the estates and saw that the Killdeer are back.

John McConnell reports that the Heron Tree is up and running!

03/14/13 Popped over to the estates for half an hour. Red-tails are back. Saw loads of birds and a Boxelder Bug!

03/13/13 Saw a Turkey Vulture in the evening! Also could swear that I saw a Nighthawk.

Grackles are holding a biker rally at my feeders.

03/09/13 Posted a couple of John McConnell's recent pictures of Pine Siskin eating seed from his hands.

John McConnell got some pictures of a Striped Skunk at Smithville Lake yesterday. Took 3 years to get our first skunk picture in the database.

03/08/13 Glanced out at the feeders and saw a Grackle! *in The Californians voice* "Whareyoudoinhere?"

03/07/13 Male Goldfinches are starting to show more yellow.

02/23/13 The 6-10 inchces of snow on the ground drove a nice variety of sparrows to John McConnell's feeders. He saw Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, House Sparrows and American Tree Sparrows.

02/21/13 I am ready to take some pictures of flowers and bugs. I told a friend that I am looking at this foot of snow today as the National Anthem before a football game. Right now we are sitting through the part of the song with all of the question marks.

02/17/13 Hacked down all the stalks of the Phlox, Echincea, Asters, Purple Loosetrife, Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, Goldenrod etc. Usually do this in the Autumn but wanted the garden to have some texture during the Winter. I think the birds also appreciated the seed heads.

02/16/13 Nearly all of the Asters have leaves at their bases. So does Purple Loosestrife and Maiden Grass.

02/15/13 All of the Crocus clusters have yellow flowers. Is that a rule, that the yellow ones pop up first?

02/13/13 First Crocus bloom!

02/11/13 Hollyhocks are getting leaves. About 70% of the Hyacinth are above ground. Daffodils are everwhere.

Light until just after 6 PM today.

02/10/13 Saw more Hostas, Chicory and Tulips coming up. Wild Hemlock has been up and growing for weeks.

Seeing more Robins around.

02/09/13 Saw a moth sunning on an Azalea leaf. My first moth of the year! Ran into the house and up to my office to grab my camera with the macro lens. Would he still be there when I returned? Yes! Start shooting. Something wrong. SD card also up in my office. Back in and up and out. He's still there! Whip off a few shots in auto. Review the pictures. Auto as usual is a big mistake in direct sun. Switch to manual setting. Aim. Moth flies away.

02/05/13 Sedum is above ground!

Have you noticed that when you go out in the morning the din from the birds is louder than it was a week ago?

02/04/12 Hostas, Hyacinth, Lilies, Surprise Lilies, Crocuses are all above ground.

02/03/13 I got my first Sharp Shinned Hawk (which Dr. Nick promptly turned into a Cooper's Hawk) at the estates. John sent some pictures of Bald Eagle, Horned Lark, Song Sparrow and more from a trip to Lewis and Clark lake.

01/27/13 I see Crocuses poking their heads up. Too early or just right?

01/19/13 Ran over to the Estates and got some pictures of a White-throated Sparrow and Carolina Wren.

Headed out for some picture taking after weeks of being glued to the computer!

01/18/13 Added a couple of John's pictures of a Wood Duck taken during an Antioch Park/Nelson Island birding trip.

01/01/12 Posted a nice batch of bird pictures from John McConnell taken today in Shawnee.

Betsy scored the Common Redpoll at her home!


2012 Journal

12/22/12 Went to a friend's 17 acre farm in Lawrence to look around. Got some pictures of a White-throated Sparrow and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Took a few pictures of dried flowers with the new macro lens.

12/20/12 I saw this during a windy snow day last year - Juncos all over the feeders. Suet cage, hanging seed feeder and window seed feeders.

12/18/12 Two Carolina Wrens and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the suet feeder at the same time. In a rare display of wisdom I elected to just enjoy watching rather than scrambling up to my office to get a camera.

12/08/12 John McConnell got some shots of a Long-eared Owl at Lyon County State Lake.

12/07/12 Tiffen Haze-1 52mm Filter at Crick's Camera: $21. Same filter everywhere online: $6-$11. Buy local.

12/06/12 Got my macro lens today. Galloped outside and found a Stilt-legged Fly, Boxelder Bug, Lacewing Fly and an unknown moth to choose from for my first picture. Pretty good for early December. Results were mixed. I'm going to have to figure out how to widen the focal area so that the whole bug is sharp. This was an issue I had with the closeup lens. McConnell suggested more light (it was cloudy today) and a higher aperture setting.

Lacewing Fly

12/02/12 Added a EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and another Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D to the tool box.

12/02/12 McConnell got a batch of Cedar Waxwings in his backyard this weekend. Ironic because this bird has been avoiding him until now. He also got some shots of a Barred Owl on the Indian Creek Trail.

11/24/12 Did a walk through the Estates. Saw Cedar Waxwings, House Finches, Goldfinches, Carolina Wren, Red-tailed Hawk, Blue Jays, White-breasted Sparrows and TONS of Robins. They were everywhere.

11/23/12 Finally got my Red-breasted Nuthatch. Saw him yesterday at a suet cage and today at a window feeder. Welcome to the backyard!

11/20/12 Walked around Leawood with a friend and found a large flock of Cedar Waxwings. When I was looking through my pictures at the office I found several where I was focusing on one but upon closer examination there were a half-dozen in the shot. I love those guys!

11/18/12 Big John McConnell saw a Pileated Woodpeker at the Overland Park Arboretum a couple of weeks ago so I've been itching to run down there. 60 and sunny today so off we went. There was an event celebrating the donation of some Chinese sculptures but the trails were pretty quiet. Saw some Purple Finches and other common backyard birds. On the way back to the parking lot, WHOOSH! Right in the tree above our heads. Managed to get a few shots before walkers with giant dogs leaping and straining at their leashes spooked him.

11/14/12 Snuck over to Leawood for an hour during lunch. I've noticed that the noon hour is about the worst time to go out looking for birds. Sill managed to steal the souls of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco and Brown Creeper.

11/11/12 Dr. Nick, as he famously will do, has denied John his Snow Bunting. ID still pending.

John McConnell thought he may have spotted a Snow Bunting at his feeders today. Ended up being a leucistic house finch.

Thank you to Dr. Nick for keeping his eagle eye on the Latest Pictures section and taking the time to submit corrections.

11/07/12 Saw loads of American Tree Sparrows at the Estates today.

11/06/12 Got my first Pine Siskin at the Estates!

11/05/12 Added new pictures from John McConnell and Nick Varvel.

11/04/12 Visited the estates today. Got pictures of Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-winged Blackbird, Bluebird, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Creeper and loads of Cardinals, Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos.

11/03/12 Added some of John McConnell's pictures from a recent visit to the Overland Park Arboretum. Prizes include Purple Finch, Gray Catbird, Pileated Woodpecker, White-throated Sparrow and more.

10/29/12 Amazing variety at the feeders today. Saw Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Wren, European Starling, American Robin, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, House Finch, House Sparrow, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Tufted Titmouse, Grackle, Black-capped Chickadee.

Juncos at the feeders! Welcome old chums!

10/28/12 Posted some of Nick Varvel's latest pictures. Got a message from John McConnell indicating that he found a Red-breated Nuthatch at his feeder. Pictures coming.

10/24/12 Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the window feeder. Welcome little rascal!

10/23/12 Put the window feeder up with shelled sunflower seeds. Got Chickadees, Titmice, House Finches, Downey Woodpeckers and House Sparrows straight away.

Trip pictures are coming. We have loads of cloudy days coming up so that will keep me posting images rather than taking more.

Thanks to Betsy and Kelly for helping ID the plants from my trip, and to Brett and Nick taking care of the birds.

10/22/12 I put a suet cage on a pole in front of our cabinet for the full week of our trip. It was situated on a hilltop beneath old trees that I saw Pileated and other woodpeckers fly into every day. At the end of the week there was not a single peck mark in the suet, which was a woodpecker blend. I even put a smudge of peanut butter on it mid-week when I saw that it wasn't getting any action.

10/20/12 Just got back from visiting Ridgewood Resort in Isabella, Missouri. Got some first time shots of a Gulf Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtail, Robber Fly, Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, Swamp Sparrow and Whitebanded Fishing Spider. Saw loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Also got pictures of Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebirds, Chicadees, Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Nothern Harrier, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Turkey Vulture, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, American Goldfinch, American Crow, Great Blue Heron, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Cooper's Hawk and much more. Had a Lark Bunting land right in front of my face but spooked when it noticed me. I have over a thousand of pictures to go through and a fistful yet to identify so the photos from this trip will go up over the next week or so.

10/13/12 A large flock of perhaps 100 Grackles stopped by on their way to Texas. *in Irish cop's voice* "All right, let's move along."

Moved some Black-eyed Susans, Daisiies and Asters around. Have a few Black-eyed Susan plants that are kicking out flowers.

10/11/12 Fish emulsion day. Since the backyard is mostly garden it smells like Seattle. The look on the cat's face when he first went outside was priceless.

10/09/12 Good week so far for old and new bugs. I found a large patch of Asters and got shots of a Cylindromyia, Common Checkered-Skipper, Brown Stink Bug, Drone Fly, One-spotted Stink Bug, Nut Weevil, Painted Lady, Swordsman Dart, Orange Sulphur and more.

10/07/12 Everything seemed to survive the freeze.

10/06/12 Added a nice batch of Dr. Nick's pictures from the last few weeks.

Transplanted a healthy Musk Thistle. Fingers crossed!

10/04/12 It's cloudy and cool today and I discovered several Carpenter Bees and Bumblebees in a deep sleep on top of the Garden Phlox all over the yard. The wind actually blew one off and he just sort of wriggled his limbs.

Found some Kansas Thistle/Buffalo Bur (thank you Brett!) and some more Aster variations.

The dump trucks and graders are an every day sight at the Leawood lot now. They have alread scraped all of the plants (Lamb's Ear, Heath Asters, Buffalo Bur, Velvetleaf, Musk Thistle) off of one section.

10/03/12 Photographed several rose-colored Common Buckeyes. They were quite extraordinary.

10/02/12 Saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet darting around the same section of Rose of Sharon that the Cooper's Hawk was haunting yesterday. Only got a picture of his tail.

The Asters at the Leawood lot are mounds of white and are quivering with insects.

Got a shot of what I think was a Savannah Sparrow perched on the fence at the estates.

10/01/12 Something whooshed up out of the Rose Of Sharon that lines the back of my garden (usually filled with Carolina Wrens) and landed on the power line. Cooper's Hawk. Sadly, I had the wrong camera with me and could only get a single dodgy shot.

Found a Venice Mallow in the garden.

09/29/12 Good day. Went with Parker-McConnell to Mill Creek Trail. Saw a Leaf-footed Bug, Pitcher Sage, Stink Bug, Great Blue Heron, Blue Fleabane, Musk Thistle, Autumn Meadowhawk, Coreopsis, Asters, Oxeye Sunflower, Swordsman Dart, Eastern Phoebe, Bullfrog, Illinois Bundleflower, Checkered Skipper, Northern Flickers, Queen Anne's Lace, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Windstem, Goldenrod, White Snakeroot, Crows etc. Saw a dozenish Northern Flickers flying in and out of a patch of weeds in a field. 09/28/12 The squirrels are doing that repetitive screaching/whining thing.

Witnessed the crows making the return flight South around 7 AM. What is their ultimate Northern and Southern destination?

09/27/12 Saw half mile-wide swath of crows flying North around 6 PM. There were 5-10 crows over the house at any given time for a duration of 10 minutes.

Uh oh, the Goldfinches disappeared.

Photographed loads of American Crows, a Cooper's Hawk and an American Kestrel.

09/25/12 Made a hasty trip out at 11 trying to beat the rain that never came. Saw an American Kestrel and some Common Nighthawks.

Moved the Mustard Plants to a sunnier spot and split up the large Indian Blanket.

09/24/12 Got my first Red-banded Hairstreak! Came home and got another!

Submitted a photo of a hawk I couldn't identify to Dr. Nick. The young Doctor believes it is a juvenile female Cooper's Hawk.

Had a nice talk with a Leawood Parks & Recreation office about the fate of the Estates of Old Leawood.

Saw loads of Stink Bugs on the Goldenrod.

Planted Bundleflower, Goldenrod, Sweet Autumn Clematis, Oxeye Sunflower, Kale, Wild Hemlock and some Musk Thistle, Sage, Hysop and Goldenrod starts.

09/23/12 Just passed 7,000 photographs.

Haven't seen anyone from the Hemiptera order since 9/11.

09/22/12 Nick saw a Dark-eyed Junco at KCP&L Wetlands today!

Suddenly figured out an easy way to prevent Cabbage White images showing up when you search for Cabbage or Hackberry Emperors when you search for Hackberry. A rare moment of clarity.

Added some purple and pink cabbages to the garden. Also added more White Snakeroot, Ferns, Fennel, Goldenrod, Heath Asters and Daisy Fleabane.

The Partridge Pea and Common Evening Primrose did not transplant well. Now I have to stay alive for an additional year to see if it ends up taking.

09/21/12 Planted some Daisy Fleabane, Musk Thistle and White Snakeroot.

09/20/12 I've stated to see Red-tailed Hawks around the neighborhood again. Turkey Vultures too.

Moved Knockout Roses to a sunnier spot in the backyard. I want some more White Snakeroot to mix in with my Eupatorium but can't find any in local shops.

09/18/12 Reasons to be cheerful, part three: I go days without seeing a Grackle or Starling.

Added Fennel, Indian Blanket, Parsley, Asters, Mums, Goldenrod, Illinois Bundleflower and Common Evening Primrose to the gardens.

09/1712 Planted some Illinois Bundleflower, Heath Asters, Partridge Pea, Oxeye Sunflower and Goldenrod.

Saw three Monarchs around pretty regularly today. Mostly interested in the Eupatorium. Swallowtails are still pretty scarce.

Photographed a Garter Snake just swallowing the last bit of something. Bees kept flying at its head so the snake had to keep snapping at them while trying to squish down something large.

09/15/12 Ran into Leawood to get some insect pictures. Glanced up at one point and saw a Cooper's Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk circling. Thanks as always to Dr. Nick (who got some pictures of a Red-breasted Nuthatch today!) for help with identification.

Moved some Verbena, Eupatorium, Purple Hysop and some ferns around. Planted some Oxeye Sunflowers.

09/14/12 It rained all day yesterday so I wasn't able to get out until the same came out this afternoon. Discovered a lot of moths out and about. Found 4 new species for me: Arcigera Flower Moth, Ground Cricket, Picture-winged Fly and Spotted Beet Webworm Moth.

Planted some Heath Asters.

09/13/12 Saw a Thrasher today and I'm still hearing Cat Birds mewing in Leawood. Juncos should be back soon.

09/12/12 Added some new species - Heath Aster, Tick Clover, Cixiid Planthopper, Grass-carrying Wasp, Ground Beetle, Head-clipping Weevil, Nursery Web Spider and Two-horned Treehopper.

Planted some Mums and Butterfly Bush.

Thanks to Dr. Nick and Brett for making my American Goldfinch a Nashville Warbler.

09/11/12 I've been hankering for another shot at a Wheel Bug since I bumbled on one last year. Finally found one today mauling a Goldenrod Soldier Beetle fpr 5 minutes on an Oxeye Sunflower. Found another 3 or 4 new species of insect that I will post later.

09/10/12 Good photo day at some of my Leawood haunts. Photographed a Turkey Vulture, Ladybug, Differential Grasshopper, Eastern Forktail, White Snakeroot, Orange Sulphur, Corn Earworm Moth, Tarnished Plant Bug, Monarch, Thread-waisted Wasp, Giant Ragweed, Partridge Pea and more. I missed a few days and during my absence the Black Blister Beetles moved from the Giant Ragweed to the Goldenrod. En masse. Nearly everything is covered in Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.

09/09/12 Thanks to Brett and Jackie for helping me to identify Tall Boneset, Shingle Oak, Pitcher Sage, Large-flowered Gaura, Bidens, Annual Sunflower and Multiflora Rose.

Thanks to Dr. Nick for making my Yellow Warbler an American Goldfinch.

Still need help identifying these plants.

09/08/12 Took a bountiful trip to Heritage Park in Olathe. Goldenrod teaming with Amorpha Borer. Abundance of Eastern Kingbirds, Blue and Green Heron.

09/07/12 Why are Crows and Blue Jays so noisy this time of year?

09/06/12 A couple of Aster blooms on each plant! Same with the Mums. Calico Asters are in full bloom.

09/04/12 Back to the vacant lot in Leawood after yesterday's good fortune. Saw Spiny Assassin Bug, Broad-headed Bug and a Leaf Beetle. Also saw an American Kestrel.

09/03/12 Ran to the vacant lot in the afternoon. Photographed and posted nearly 10 new insect species!

09/02/12 Calico Asters are starting to bloom. Hummingbird visits becoming more frequent.

09/01/02 Starting to see more Lady Bugs around the city.

08/31/12 Goldenrod Soldier Beetles are everywhere!

08/29/12 The abundance of Oleander Aphids on the Milkweed and Butterfly Weed are attracting some interesting customers, including Ladybugs and Four-spotted Aphid Flies.

Saw loads of Black Blister Beetles copulating on tall three-leaved plants in the vacant lot.

08/28/12 People are seeing Swallow-tailed Kites around Leawood. I am officially upping my presence in the vacant lot in hopes of getting a shot.

08/27/12 Blue Cardinal Flower and Eupatorium really starting to bloom.

08/26/12 Dead-heading is keeping the Black-eyed Susans and Butterfly Bush fresh for bugs.

08/24/12 Planted some more Echinacea and another Butterfly Bush. Bugs were on it immediately.

Split up some Cranesbill Geranium that had a lot of new starts.

Have Chicory, Sage and Oregeno starts from seed heads at about a quarter inch tall.

Seeing lots of Painted Ladies, Silver-spotted Skippers, Skippers, Common Buckeyes but still very low numbers of Swallowtails and Monarchs.

08/23/12 Found a Parsley Worm in the Curled Parsley. Very lovely. I have some Parsnip too but haven't seen any caterpillars in it.

08/22/12 Hearing Catbirds mewing again.

08/20/12 Saw a batch of Painted Ladys in the garden today. Hadn't seen them in a while. Also got pictures of a Snowbery and a Borer that I haven't identified yet.

08/19/12 Had a hike around Fleming Park. Photographed Groundhog, Hummingbird, Deer, Turkey Buzzard, Great Blue Heron, Slaty Skimmer and some small frogs in the dried up pond bed.

08/18/12 The milkweed vine is covered in probably a hundred baby Oleander Aphids and Milkweed Bugs. Creep and wow factors are running neck and neck.

08/17/12 Haven't heard the Catbird mewing in several days. Still see a Thrasher now and again. Titmice have also gone missing.

08/16/12 Split up some of the Loosestrife.

08/15/12 Added some more Yarrow, Purple Hysop, Butterfly Weed, Red Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia, Blue False Indigo and Meadow Sage to the flower gardens. Also bought some Patchouli which means another plant living in the house during the winter.

Hearing crows more frequently over the last 10 days. Why is that?

08/11/12 Added a page with thumbnail links to the latest images added.

08/10/12 Getting some new blooms on the Purple Loosestrife, Black-eyed Susans, Phlox. Perhaps because of the cooler weather? Blooms on all of the Hardy Hibiscus.

08/09/12 Saw Milkweed Bug nymphs on a Honeyvine Milkweed flower.

08/07/12 Added a bunch of native Hibiscus and Hostas to the garden, despite the cruel streak of weather.

I still hear Catbirds mewing in the mornings but no wacky songs.

08/06/12 Hummingbird activity has picked up nicely. Went from an occasional visit to at least 2 different birds visiting regularly.

Saw a pretty red Wheel Bug nymph. Unfortunately it was in the shade so just a few iffy pictures.

08/01/12 Got a nice batch of pictures in from Nick Varvel's birding adventures.

Indian Blankets are barely putting out any flowers. They really pumped 'em out through the June and July.

07/30/12 Two Black Swallowtails and a Monarch visiting what's left of he garden. Haven't seen a Monarch in quite a while.

07/29/12 Saw a Leafhopper Assassin Bug eating a fly. Added a half-dozen species to the site today.

Got up early to watch the sun come up at the Estates. Hoping to see fox or coyote but I think we got there a little late. Did stumble upon an Indigo Bunting that reacted to the IB calls on my phone.

07/28/12 More new bugs. Saw a Velvet Ant, Leafcutter Bee, Digger Bee, Zebra Jumper and Agallia Constricta.

Big butterflies still not here. Just whites, blues, American Snout, skippers and an occasional swallowtail.

Looks like Old Fasioned Roses and Hollyhocks aren't going to bloom Phlox were a major disappointment, I am assuming because of the relentless heat.

07/25/12 Seeing some great new bugs this week, including Tumbling Flower Beetle, Stilt Bug, Striped Lynx spider, Flit Fly, Blue Black Spider Wasp, Treehopper, Paper Wasp and Braconid Wasp.

07/22/12 Good weekend for photographing insects. I'm getting the most action in the Honeyvine Milkweed. Added several new species of wasp.

Grackles and Starlings are coming around less frequently.

07/19/12 Saw a wren enter one of the houses for the first time. I think it's too late for another brood but it was still exciting!

Honeyvine Milkweed has suddenly started developing seed pods.

Saw an Eastern Tiger today. It looked HUGE after spending the day yesteday shooting Dwarf Spiders and Long-leged Flies.

The weeks of 100+ degree days is really taking its toll on the garden. Old Fashioned Roses never bloomed. Daisies are done. Black-eyed Susans are still thriving. Phlox are petering out. Second round of Bee Balm is starting. Coneflower is running out of gas.

The Surprise Lilies are starting to wilt. Got about a week out of them.

07/18/12 Crossed the 5,000 image mark on the site with two new species today. A Tarnished Plant Bug got me to 4,999 and a Dwarf Spider (along with Long-legged Fly and Candy-striped Leafhopper) took us to 5,011. Thanks to the contributors for their share of that total.

07/17/12 Just crossed the 10,000 image mark on the Canon Rebel T2i I bought on the 18th of February. I've probably done another 5,000 on the 350D in the last year. There are only 4,950 pictures on the site and probably 300 of those are from contributors so what does that tell you about my skill set?

Lost my Seagate 1.5 TB drive today with all of my RAW files on it. The drive was about 4 months old. Apparently the fail on these drives is common. Devastated, I went out to get a sunshine reset and was rewarded with some pictures of the Bald-faced Hornet. This fellow has eluded me for a year now so it was cheery moment.

07/16/12 Photographed a pair of Fire-colored Beetles today. Very cool with their branched antlers!

Got a few neat shots of a Candy-striped Leafhopper posing on a Morning Glory bloom.

07/14/12 Great bug day. Saw a Metallic Green Bee, Green Leafhopper, Comb-footed Spider, Long-horned Grasshopper, Crab Spider, Webworm Moth, Swallowtails a small black beetle I couldn't identify and loads of Skippers.

Experimented with shooting with the 10X tube on 18-55mm lens. It was very sunny so the results were pretty good.

The Hawks and Turkey Vultures are gone. Not just from the Leawood lot but from my neighborhood as well. Now the Common Nighthawks are the only bird circling the lot regularly.

07/13/12 Seeing a lot of Common Nighthawk activity. Saw 4 of them circling the house tonight and a dozen at a nearby friend's house last night.

07/12/12 Merged the Butterflies/Moths category with the Insects section. Made some corrections to the Birds section. There were some miscategorization issues that were annoying Dr. Nick.

07/11/12 Got to see a Leawood Policeman free a racoon from a dumpster. Pictures at 11.

Saw my first Summer Azure. 07/10/12 Saw a Common Nighthawk zoom out of my Elm tree while relaxing in the backyard. Soon witnessed it swooping around the sky.

Saw a Katydid, Black-winged Damselfly, Silvery Checkerspot, Candy-striped Leafhopper, Great Black Wasp, Black Swallowtail, Parson Spider, Bald-faced Hornet, European Hornet and more. Blooming Black-eyed Susans are good!

I tried the swishswishswish thing today to get a bird's attention and was startled that it worked. I had previously tried a series of noises that will normally get my cat or the neighborhood dog to look at me.

Second Surprise Lily popped up. Honeyvine Milkweed is blooming and getting action. I think I saw a bud starting on one of the Calico Asters.

07/09/12 First Surprise Lily above ground. Starting to see some cool Beetles in the gardens.

07/08/12 RAIN!!! RAIN!!! IT RAINED!!! THE TEMPERATURE IS BELOW 100 AND IT RAINED!!!

07/07/12 I had my second ever opportunity to get a decent picture of a Bald-faced Hornet and failed. In my defense, they are black and bluish and love to sit in the shade. I am determined to waste an hour a day hovering around the Rose of Sharon until I get a crisp shot of one.

Thank you again and again to Brett Budach, Betsy Betros, Nick Varvel, Jackie Goetz, Christine Staten, Linda Williams and everyone else who has taken the time to help identify pictures.

07/06/12 Added loads of new pictures today - mostly from John and Nick. Now sporting 4,522 nature pictures in the collection. Lots of new categories to add tomorrow.

07/05/12 Check out the odd Echinacea pictures that I added today. They have some sort of flowers growing out of the cones.

07/04/12 Found a Praying Mantis, Oriental Cockroach, Field Cricket and more today.

07/03/12 Clicked the pad of my left pointer finger off with a pruner. Bought some of those gauze pads that clot blood to stop the flow.

07/02/12 Was digging around in the yard and found a mostly cooked June Bug burrowed in the soil. Placed him on a stepping stone for a few pictures before he scrambled back to the soil and wormed back under.

Still no action in the Wren birdhouses. They breed into July but things may be off this year because of the streak of 100 degree days.

07/01/12 Should be seeing the Surprise Lily pop up any day now.

Saw an amazing Green June Beetle well-preserved in some sort of death state.

Backyard birding questions:

1) Where do Dark-eyed Juncos go during the summer?

Brett Dark-eyed Juncos are up in the boreal forests of the north.

2) Why do the White-breasted Nuthatches disappear for spring and re-appear for the summer? Where do they go?

Brett White-breasted Nuthatches are most common at feeders in winter, but are still around in spring, just busy nesting and feeding fledglings.

06/30/12 Starting to see more insects on the flowers and leaves!

06/29/12 Visited a river in Louisburg, Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Wetlands with Dr. Nick today. Saw Loggerhead Shrike, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Littlle Blue Heron, Great Egret, White Pelican, Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Mallard, Eastern Kingbird with babies, Western Kingbird, Indigo Bunting, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vultures, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbirds, Purple Martin, Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark and more. Heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Saw an amazing array of dragonflies at the Wilderness Wetlands and a deer wading near the shore.

The Phlox are starting to fill out and I am stumbling on Swallowtails more often. Still pretty quiet considering how many flower options there are in the garden.

06/28/12 Dared to move some Rosemary right in the middle of this 100 degree day streak. It didn't even sag a little. Salute!

06/27/12 Starting to hear stray Cicadas in the late afternoon/evening.

06/26/12 Welcme Yarrow and Curled Parsley to the KCWildlife flower gardens. Refreshments will be served by the birdbaths from 2-3 PM.

06/25/12 European Starling juveniles are starting to get their coat patterns and light beaks. Juvenile Northern Flicker jackets are getting lighter.

Saw a Brown Thrasher chase a Starling off of the suet feeder just so that he could stand on top of it and look around the yard. He had absolutely no interest in the suet. God I love those birds.

Currently the common butterflies in the backyard are snouts and whites. Occasionally a Eastern Tiger or Monarch will drift by but it's pretty quiet right now.

06/24/12 Did another trip to Miami County and saw virtually every bird that Nick and I saw, including Upland Sandpiper, Loggerhead Shrike, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Kingbird etc.

Took my 2nd trip to KCP&L Wetlands. Was a bit annoyed that some local's dogs were running loose on the trails. I had left the pepper spray in the car and because of the nature of the wetlands there were no heavy sticks or stones around. The highlight was getting a good shot of a Yellow-legged Meadowhawk.

Found some birds missing from my Bird Life List for Kansas and Missouri (Green Heron, Great Egret & White-throated Sparrow) and hit 100 species.

Saw two baby Carolina Wrens plop onto the patio in front of us in the morning. It was pretty wonderful. They blasted away once they figured out where they were.

06/23/12 My Bird Life List for Kansas and Missouri is nearing 100. Currently at 97. Hope to nudge it up a bit over the next 2 weekends!

Was weeding near the still vacant wren birdhouse and got sassed by either a House or Carolina Wren from the safety of the Rose Of Sharon bushes. This is a heartening development.

I keep seeing what appears to be bird skirmishes in the backyard - birds screeching at one another ending in a chase. Upon closer inspection they mostly seem to be mothers telling their hungry kids to sod off and get a job.

So, the Bee Balm has already peaked and is now dropping petals. Phlox are just starting to flower and the Echinacea, Day Lilies, Butterfly Bush Black-eyed Susan, Purple Loosestrife, Meadow Sage and Daisies are a week or so in. Bachelor's Button, Nasturtiums and Indian Blanket are still cranking out blooms. Asters and Mums were starting to bloom and were cut back several weeks ago. Clematis is gone.

Birds planted some Roma tomatoes in the garden that now have well over a dozen fruits!

Saw a Hummer come by briefly. Didn't hang around despite two feeders and an acre of Bee Balm.

06/22/12 Arrived at my favorite vacant lot to do a little shooting before running some errands. Didn't realize that I had parked under a tree full of Red-tailed Hawks. There was an adult female and two juveniles in the tree and two more juveniles on the ground. The adult began screeching and like an idiot I start photographing it. After about 2 minutes she launched at me and I got one shot of her jetting towards me before II was looking for a hefty stone to defend myself. I was dive bombed continuously until I was about a quarter of a mile away from the nest. Unfortunately my car was still under the tree. I had to slowly worm my way through front yards of Leawood homes with a rock in my hand and then run for it when I got close enough to the car. She screeched at me as I ran but didn't attack me again. Sequence of pictures here.

06/19/12 Spent some time getting the Dragonflies identified. I think I'm down to just three unidentified!

06/18/12 Saw a Northern Mockingbird poking around the backyard. He kept airing out his wings so he must have come for the bath.

Crossed 4,000 images in the gallery today. Many thanks to John and Nick for sharing their work.

06/17/12 Added the Family categories for the Aves section.

Did a Miami County birding trip with Dr. Nick. Saw Dickcissel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher feeding babies dragonflies, Common Nighthawk, Turkey Vulture, Orchard Oriole, Northern Bobwhite, Upland Sandpiper, Grasshopper Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Summer Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Bluebird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Tree Swallow and more. Nick plucked a Mayfly off of the back of my shirt. Counted 7 ticks on my carcass on the way home. Actually 6. I had to arrive home and disrobe to discover the 7th.

06/16/12 Took a cloudy morning trip to the KCP&L's Prairie Wetland. Got pictures of my first Dickcissel. The variety of Dragonflies was marvelous.

Saw 4 Northern Flickers in the backyard at the same time. Some of them were very dark which I assume means that they are juveniles.

John had a Tanager at his feeder today.

06/15/12 Planted some Athyrium (Ursula's Red) to compliment the Ocean's Fury. Also bought a nice Meadow Sage bush.

Phlox have heads on them.

Moved some Sedum to a spot that needed filling. It's amazing how quickly the adjust to turmoil.

Most of the Butterfly Bushes (7) have some purple/lavender blooms or start of blooms.

06/14/12 Bee Balm is rocking and yet I'm still not seeing Hummingbirds regularly. The Goldfinches dig the ant guards on the Hummingbird feeders as a water source.

06/13/12 Immature Blue Jay had another run at me today when I got near the bird bath.

06/12/13 Official day of loads of Bumblebes in the garden.

Immature Blue Jay trying to intimidate me away from the bird bath - swooping at me and peeping since he cannot screech yet.

06/10/12 Mary talked me into getting a Wren birdhouse which arrived yesterday around 3 PM. I already saw a Mother poking around it this morning. Curiously, she still has her group of fledgelings following her around and currently they are all stationed on a fence beneath the house. Super happy funtime!

Just seconds after complaining that I hadn't see any Hummingbirds in the Bee Balm - hello! The timing was comedic.

Finished updating the database and intergrating the search/display routine.

06/09/12 Started entering class, order, family, genus information in the database. All categories will have at least class/order or order/family. Will write the display routine tomorrow after I finish data entry.

Put up the Wren house. Now we play the waiting game.

06/08/12 Added a bunch of new fields to the image database so that eventually you can search for things by order, color and other characteristics.

06/07/12 Posted some nice Dickcissel and Eastern Phoebe pictures from Nick.

I picked up one of the bird baths a few weeks ago, forgetting that the slots and tabs that connect the bath to the base were lined up in the unlock position. Base drops and shatters. Since the basin was still safe in my hands I decided to dig a shallow pit in one of the flower gardens and rest it inside. Wellsir, the birds, especially the fledgelings, much prefer this option to the remaining standing bird bath. The Grackles and Starlings are the only ones that seem to prefer the higher bath.

Butterfly Bush blooms are starting to turn purple.

Two bright red spots in the garden from the two Bee Balm patches. Several have double crowns.

Three Brown Thrashers are skulking around the gardens regluarly.

Hairy Woodpecker (female) is now a regular visitor to the suet feeder. Pretty splendid bird.

06/06/12 Had a swell time at the vacant lot this morning. Bumped into a long-time resident who said that it was a dump (literal) before they built the Country Club on the site. Talked to a walker who said that she has seen Fox and Coyote. I saw a Great Blue Heron in the creek. Also saw several Western Kingbirds, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Barn Swallows, Alder Flycatcher, American Goldfinch, obligatory Red-tail Hawks, a falcon I couldn't identify and loads of butterflies.

Friend and hand-holder (one of many in my life) John McConnell inspired me to put my Oriole feeder back out. Sure enough, a few hours after putting out a dollop of jelly, the feeder is clean. Repeat a few times with the same result. I finally put one of my wireless cameras on it to see if I could catch it in action and within a few hours saw a Gray Catbird gettin' his sweet on. Apparently you can't always pick who you are going to feed.

06/05/12 I need to remove up some older images that don't stand up to 1200 pixels wide. The Franklin's Gull and Eurpoean Starling have loads of poor pictures. Will resume posting new images once I finish.

06/04/12 Added "quick link" drop down menus to all of the primary pages. This will enable you to jump to a specific species instead of scrolling through all of the thumbnails.

Got the first 50ish of Nick Varvel's bird photos up. The remaining 75 are nearly all new categories so they will take a little longer to post. Enjoy!

Got panicky about the mint that I just planted eventually being aggressive so I moved it to pots.

Full Bee Balm flowers!

Discovered that my last Wren experience yesterday was actually with a fledgling Carolina Wren. Thank you Nick and Mary.

06/03/12 Added code to the primary category pages that will blow up the 150 pixel wide thumbnails to 600 pixels with a mouseover so that you don't need to visit each individual page if you are looking for something,

The House Wrens were around all day. Great fun to watch. Got several pictures of one frolicking under a twig with dead leaves. The leaves were wet and the bird seemed to be employing them in a grooming process.

Added loads of Marigolds in the gardens.

06/02/12 Saw some fledgeling House Wrens in the Rose Of Sharon which has lead to the purchase of a Wren House.

Brett identified a batch of unknown photos so the gallery has some new blood.

Nick Varvel has agreed to become a contributor to KCWildlife. Nick is an enthusiastic and committed Birder with a great eye. He is frequently in the field and comes up with some wonderful shots that I know you'll enjoy.

06/01/12 Had a marvelous time taking pictures on the Indian Creek Trail with Dr. Nick Varvel. Saw Orioles, Indigo Bunting, Crested Flycatcher, Barn Swallows, Goldfinch, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Heron, Hawks, loads of dragonflies and more. Thanks for sharing your turf, Nick!

Saw a Cardinal with a beak defmormity dragging around the feeders.

John had a Baltimore Oriole at his feeders.

05/30/12 John had Chipping Sparrows at his feeders today.

05/29/12 Took a short walk through the vacant lot. Saw some young Bluebirds. It has been about a week since I last visited so I missed out on some of the large Lamb's Ear blooms and much of the Salsify blooms have turned to seed. A lot of the growth that was mown over a month or so ago has come back nicely and I saw more birds and butterflies than I have in a while.

Planted some Wild Hemlock and Wild Coreopsis in the gardens.

05/28/12 Who destroyed the watermelon? What is this perfectly round thing with no seeds that tastes like a cucumber? Why do I have to drive out of town now to find a nice oblong melon, no stripes on the bottom, full of seeds and flavor? There have been people born in last 10 years that think that this flavorless genetically engineered monstrosity is what a watermelon tastes like. Horrors!

Multiple Rose Of Sharon flowers.

Moved sone Verbena to a spot that needed some sexing up. Also added some Threadleaf Coreopsis starts.

05/27/12 So, I've been wondering if I should put the hummingbird feeders in the sun or in the shade? I finally decided to stop fully filling the feeders, saving the nectar for updates every few days instead of every few weeks.

First blooms on Nasturtiums and Hibiscus. Butterfly Bushes, Coneflower, Bee Balm, Shasta Daisies are close.

05/26/12 Asiatic Lilies are finally blooming!

Bought some Purple Hyssop for the shade gardens.

Moved the Harebell and Fireweed to a larger pot.

Bought some Japanese Ferns, Thyme and Lavender. Made a mixed herb pot.

Dug up a bunch of Lemon Balm and potted it. Eupatorium, which looks similar, is start to take off.

Moved more Daisies and Black-eyed Susans.

Trying some Seedum in a mostly shade garden.

05/25/12 Moved loads of Phlox, Black-eyed Susans and Shasta Daisy starts that were going to end up blocking the stepping stones path.

Rained like heck and supposed to be 90 for the next few days. I predict Bee Balm, Echinacea, Butterfly Bush and Phlox blooms by Memorial Day.

Saw the Hairy Woodpecker at the suet feeder again.

The Hummingbirds have gone scarce on me again. That will end once the Bee Balm starts blooming.

Butterfly Bushes have buds.

05/24/12 I pulled the sunflower seed feeders a few weeks ago to clean out the Grackles and Starlings. While the program has been successful it has cost me desirable birds since the flower garden isn't nuts yet.

Seeing lots of Threadleaf Coreopsis starts in the garden. These appear to be from the flowers as every start is yards away from the mature plants.

05/23/12 Mock Orange blooms have been gone for about a week. Morning Glories, Coneflower, Indian Blanket are starting to get serious.

Catbirds are starting to mellow out a bit. They were constant for a few weeks but I only hear one intermittently now.

Saw a pair of Goldfinches working over the Coneflower buds.

05/21/12 Took pictures in Clinton/Warsaw Missouri today - mostly around the Osage River in and near Drake Park. Got shots of Cedar Waxwing, Hackberry Emperor, Red-shouldered Hawk, Oriole, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Indigo Bunting, Hairy Woodpecker, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Great Blue Heron, Gecko and loads of dragonflies. Heard several Pileated Woodpeckers.

The City Council of the City of Leawood, Kansas minutes:

Philip and Janel LaMonica, 8745 High Drive, stated they knew the Estates of Old Leawood was in disrepair when they moved in 8 years ago; however, trusted the City would handle the situation. They were promised recreational acreage for walking trails, a swimming pool, tennis courts and landscaping. Instead, this site has been left unsightly. They were also promised the electrical lines would be buried, which has not occurred. The uncertainty of the situation brings down home values and has made it more difficult for their neighbors to sell their homes. They were outraged that the owners were allowed to pay agricultural taxes after the area was zoned residential; potentially cheating the City out of thousands of dollars. They felt the ongoing situation was not acceptable and deserve to live in a clean and safe environment.

Council Minutes May 21, 2012

DVD No. 280

C:\Users\mfa\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\EN7A095T\05212012.docx

City Administrator Scott Lambers replied the Planning Commission stipulations for those improvements are tied to the first 5 homes being constructed. These are private, not public improvements. They could request that the developer make some improvements; however, they are under no obligation at this time.

Mayor Dunn noted the City had nothing to do with allowing the agricultural tax; this was done at the legislative level.

Councilmember Osman requested staff report on the status of the Estates of Old Leawood and Councilmember Cain requested staff return with any citations that have been issued at a future meeting.

Gordon Henke, 8901 High Drive, requested that the 89th Street KCP&L remaining utility lines be buried and decorative camouflage be installed to the height of the 2 unsightly metal poles and that it be done at the developer's expense.

http://www.leawood.org/pdf/cc/min/A05-21-12.pdf

05/18/12 Saw a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (waiting on bird help for verification), Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird and Western Kingbird at the Kansas lot today. Got a poor shot of the Kingbird with a Dragonfly in its mouth.

Hairy Woodpecker on the suet feeder!

Moved some Sage, Bachelor's Button and Sedum to spots with better light.

05/17/12 Took a friend on a tour of my Leawood haunt. Saw a Groundhog and a Western Kingbird.

Transplanted the rest of the Calico Asters and River Oats from pots to a plot. The Asters are well behind the package that I planted directly into the ground.

05/16/12 Ran over to Kansas and got some pictures of a Western Kingbird. Found the Vulture tree so will go over early some moring and see if I can get a picture of it loaded with Buzzards. Talked to a jogger who indicated that she saw the Heron this morning.

Torch Lily/Red Hot Poker looking good. First 2 Morning Glory blooms are up as well as first Echinacea blooms. Nearly all of the threadleaf Coreopsis has a single yellow flower. Recenty added Lamb's Ear is looking better and Bachelor's Button is going nuts.

05/15/12 Saw my first Great Spangled Fritillary at Antioch Park.

Saw adult Chickadee feeding baby. Also have 2 juvenile Cat Birds hanging around. They will perch and pose on anything once.

Changed the Hummingbird feeders for like the 5th time this year.

05/14/12 Did my Leawood walk. Nothing spectacular other than an American Kestrel being hounded by two Northern Rough-winged Swallows.

Saw a small gray bird walking the yard today. It actually strode right up to me. I have seen a pair of Catbirds hanging around so perhaps immature Catbird or Northern Mockingbird. Hope to get a picture tomorrow.

05/13/12 Trip to Leawood produced Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and more.

05/12/12 Still loads of mouth to mouth feeding going on. Starlings, Finches, House Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers. Everywhere you look in the yard there is a bird with it's head in another bird's mouth.

Threadleaf Coreopsis are blooming. Moved a lot of Phlox starts and a few Bee Balm out of the main garden.

05/11/12 I can't do this enough: Thank you Brett, Linda, Betsy, Jackie, Christine, Ruth, Mary and Nick for your help identifying pictures.

Nicked some Lamb's Ear from a vacant lot that was about to be mown. I am only guilty of a crime if it dies in my garden.

05/10/12 Hummer on the window feeder!

Some of the lilies are starting to bud. Clematis going nuts. I am so far behind my friends who have plots that get loads of sun. I am surrounded by Oak trees that generate a lot of shade so I have a quieter party that lasts longer.

You hastily shoot a series of photographs of a bird, bug or butterfly until it flies away. You download your pictures and at the end of the series there is the inevitable shot with nothing in it. We need to name this phenomenon. The interim name is 12/12.

05/09/12 A friend helped me figure out how to take nice pictures of the Hummingbirds. They come around from about 6:30 AM - 7:30 PM so I had plenty of practice. Here's our discourse for your benefit:

Me: I've been shooting Hummingbirds for 3 days with nothing to show for it. What can I do to improve the image in these two scenarios? Thank you as always for your help.

This is taken from a distance but in good light. What can I adjust before taking the picture to reduce the noise?

This one is killing me. Shooting the birds in direct sun (behind me) and they saturate out. What should can I adjust before taking the shot?

Friend: The first one is an easy problem and simple solution. Applying the solution may be a little more of an issue. The really good thing is I had a 2 day photography class right before my vacation and I got to experiment with a lot that they taught me during the class. So you benefit from this aquired knowledge as well.

The first example's solution is to simply lower the ISO. Previous to my class, I knew lower ISO = better picture with less grain but they went a step further in saying to NEVER shoot an important picture in anything greater than ISO 100. Example_a was in ISO 3200!! That's like insane ISO. This is coming from some auto setting somewhere.

Recommendation: on the top of your camera there should be a button labeled 'iso'. Push it and use the front dial to change it from "a" (which I'm assuming it's on) to 100. I'm guessing you only can do this if you're in the program modes on the dial (get off full auto mode). The class recommended to me (and I actually did it) to go on full "M" mode. Doing this is actually the fix to your second problem (example b) but let me finish up on example a first.

Check your manual as well, in your menus there may be an option to set your maximum ISO. If you have this option somewhere, set it to like 200 or 400 and just remember you did it so you can change it back if you're ever in a situation where you truly need it. Doing this will allow you to possibly bypass going to full manual or aperture priority mode for a little longer.

I'm guessing it was a shady area or dark somehow? Your shutter speed on the pic was 1/500 which is great but you really don't need it to be that fast. Your aperture was F7. That is limiting the amount of light you are getting in.

I'll address the full answer when responding to b, but lets take baby steps. When shooting the hummer, try going to AV mode (aperture priority) and use the dial to take it down to however low it can go (it varies based on your focal length). If you were using the multiplier (the x2 ring), it reduced the light coming into the camera too so I'd recommend pulling that off for the hummer.

You have to decide if you want to freeze his wings in mid air or show them in a blur of motion (but the body crisp). The shutter speed will determine this and I'll have to look at my pics to determine where the 'freeze' happens but I'm guessing anything faster than 1/200 will surely freeze them.

So, you're on AV mode, with the ISO at 100 and you can see when you press and hold the shutter button half way that the shutter speed is determined automatically. If you point the camera from bright to dark objects you'll see it swing dramatically from low to high numberes. If when pointing at the hummer, it drops below 1/60 or so, your hand shaking will probably cause the picture to be blurry. I've taken okay ones all the way down to 1/20th of a second but usually they get blurry that slow.

So, what can you do if the shutter speed drops lower? For one, you could hit the flash button to use the flash but then you'd have to switch over to manual mode... So the next best 'simple' option is to raise the ISO. Yeah, I know... I just said not to, but when the option is no pic or slightly imperfet pic, I'll take slightly imperfect. Therefore, bump it up to ISO 200. Not enough? Try as high as ISO 400. After that, have fun with grain. ISO 3200 might as well be drawn with crayons. I've used ISO 1600 before when shooting animals at dusk, but you don't have many options there unless you can get close enough for a flash, then have fun watching them scatter.

OK, so lets summarize example a:
1. Change off of the full auto mode on the dial
2. Set ISO to 100 (or at least less than 400 - or find your menu setting to lower your max ISO to something reasonable)
3. Go to aperture priority and set your aperture as low as it will go. Let the shutter speed be determined automatically and become concerned if it drops below 1/60.
4. Take pictures

Onto b...

This one is the main thing I learned in class and it's somewhat advanced. There are several ways to fix this and I'll spend the most time on the fix they listed in class. If I remember, I'll try to address one alternative later.

The fix is to go to full manual mode. That's the scary "M" on the dial. There are several things wrong with this picture. The first is the ISO is up to 2000 which means you're grainy again. Your shutter speed is fine at 1/500 but can come much lower and still get a good pic. Seeing that the wings are slightly blurred here means that what I said earlier about the blur breakoff point was wrong. It's probably somewhere faster than 1/500, but not much. Aperture is again at 7 which is too high. I see this was taken with the 300mm lens. Check and see what the aperture range is for that bad boy. Nevermind, just looked it up. It's 4.0 to 5.6 which means that 5.6 is the aperture you should be shooting all your 300mm pics at. And 4.0 is what you should be shooting your 75mm pics at. But I'm guessing if you have that lens on, you're not messing around with 75mm. So set it at aperture 5.6 (in manual mode, this is probably the dial on the back of the camera).

Now you have your ISO somewhere under 400, your aperture at 5.6 so the only thing left to worry about is the shutter speed.

Change your focal point to be the center dot. Push that button on the upper right side of the back of your camera that looks something like an oval of dots with a dot in the center. Rotate the dial on the top of your camera until the highlighted dot (when looking through your viewfinder or the lcd on top of the camera) is the center dot and the only one lit.

This is where it gets tricky. You have to find in your menu's where the metering mode is. There will be a dot, a dot with ( ) around it, and a few other options. It is probably set on the dot with ( ) around it which means it takes 75% of it's metering from the dot and 25% from the area around it. You want to move it to dot mode which means it takes 100% of the metering from the dot.

You're probably now asking yourself, 'what is metering mode and why do I want to use it?' Excellent question and I didn't ever consider it before the class but they sold me on it. When you point at something now (after making the above setting changes), it will look at JUST the thing you pointed at to meter how much light is needed. Why does that matter? Because too much light means blown out hummer belly.

Start with the shutter speed on 1/200 and point it at the brightest thing that'll be in the picture. You may have to push your shutter half down and keep it there to see this, but then look at the little graph in your eyepiece display. It looks something like this: ŽiiŽiiŽiiŽiiŽ with a -2, -1, 0, 1, 2 over the Ž's. There is a floating dot or something that will indicate whether what you're pointing at will be over or under exposed (+ is over - is under). If you point it at the hummer's belly and it goes all the way to 2 and is blinking (meaning it's off the chart), then raise your shutter speed until it comes down to 2 or slightly under. Basically, you don't want the brightest thing in your picture to be above 2 or the darkest thing to be below -2. You want whatever the medium thing in your picture to be right at 0. So maybe point at the red on the feeder (shaded side) and set the shutter speed so that the graph is at 0. Point it at a bright sunny part of the feeder and see if the indicator is blinking at 2 or just somewhere between 0 and 2. If it's blinking, the bright bits will be blown out. So raise your shutter speed to a higher number until it stops blinking. When the hummer shows up, point at his belly and confirm that you are still not blinking. Point at his back and see if you're at 0. What's that? The little bugger flies too fast and you can't do it? Well, this is where you just trial and error a few shutter speeds until you get one that works.

Somewhere in your menu's you also have a setting to make your pictures blink the blown out sections when the pic review pops up. This is a quick and easy way to snap a pic, look down, see his belly blinking from being over-exposed, then quickly raise the shutter speed one notch and take another pic... Then repeat until it's perfect.

This is some very cool stuff once you get the hang of it. We'll have to go out shooting together sometime to practice it. I'm still learning it all too though...

Alternatives to full manual mode:
Since aperture priority mode is a good mode for the camera for wildlife photography (keeping as low of an aperture as possible so you can use higher shutter speeds and ensure only the thing you're pointing at is in focus), you can resolve your example_b problem by shooting in AV mode with the aperture at 5.6. Then, with the shutter recently pressed halfway down, turn the dial on the back and watch the graph (-2 -1 0 1 2) on the top LCD. The dot should start out over the 0 but as you turn the dial it moves up or down. Move it down towards the -1 until the hummer belly is not over exposed (using the flashing over exposed thing in the picture review I mentioned earlier).

Hummingbirds are starting to fight. They are a blur so I don't know if it's male v female or male v male.

05/08/12 Got some decent shots of the Turkey Vultures that circle around Leawood, KS.

Baby Starlings, Robins, Downy Woodpeckers in the yard. The baby House Finches and Sparrows are looking more like adults.

05/07/12 First hummingbird for the year at the feeders around 6:45 this rainy morning.

05/06/12 Drove to my spots in Leawood. Saw the usual suspects - Gray Catbirds, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Gold and House Finches, Mockingbirds etc.

05/05/12 Another trip to the Leawood lots early in the morning. Photographed a Brown-headed Cowbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Titmouse, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird and the rest of the backyard heroes.

05/04/12 Ran to my two Leawood spots in the morning. Saw a Swainson's Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Killdeer, Viceroy, Monarch, Variegated Fritillary, Northern Mockingbird, Turkey Vulture, Red-tail Hawk, Tree Swallows and more. Thank you Brett for your help with identifying the Thrush and Viceroy. 05/03/12 I enjoy taking pictures at some woods that run along a creek near a church. The trees are stuffed with Brown Thrashers, Gray Catbirds, American Robins and Northern Mockingbirds. The din is glorious.

Saw a Virgin Tiger Moth on the porch.

Ran to the church lot in Kansas today and got decent pictures of the Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher and Mourning Cloak.

05/02/12 BALTIMORE ORIOLE ON THE NEW POLEWISE BALTIMORE ORIOLE FEEDER!

OK, I'm determined to get my Skippers in order over the next few days. I think that the fellow used in the index image on the Sachem page is actually a Peck's Skipper.

Planted the Columbine and some of the Calico Asters that I started by seed with possibly murderous results.

Had some steady early morning sun so I darted off the the lot where the Gray Catbirds are to see if I could get a shot. Couldn't. Off to the meadow in Leawood. Got pictures of a Question Mark, Eastern Comma and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Killdeer are hanging tough!

05/01/12 Hung out in the flower garden around 2 when the sun came out briefly. Saw Monarch, Variegated Fritillary, Cabbage White, Red Admiral, Common Checkered Skipper, Eastern Comma, Eastern-blue Tail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Lady and more.

Had another go at photographing the Gray Catbirds that live nearby. Got one lousy shot.

04/30/12 Just surpassed 3,000 images.

Bought a 2nd bird bath. These are great bait for the birds that don't use the feeders, especially during the Summer.

Saw the Catbirds again today. Also saw the Carolina Wren after a month-long absence.

My Killdeer is back at the vacant lot! It would not leave this spot no matter how close I came so the babies must be OK. I even saw a second Killdeer with it when I circled back around.

John had a Red-headed Woodpecker at his feeders today.

04/29/12 Took a walk and saw some wet Brown Thrashers and a Gray Catbird, also wet.

John enjoying a Grosbeak at his feeders.

So far I have seen immature House Sparrows, Cardinals, House Finches and Blue Jays at the feeders.

04/28/12 Changed the nectar in all the feeders in anticipation of long-overdue visitors. John had an Indigo Bunting AND Oriole at his feeders today.

Walked along the creek near the church and photographed the obligatory Red-tail (who kept screeching at me), Mourning Cloak butterfly, Checkered Whites, Question Mark or Comma, Louisiana Water Thrush, Northern Mockingbirds, Robins eating, Painted Lady, American Lady, Monarch and Red Admirals. Also found a fifty dollar bill which I will turn into a new bird bath.

04/27/12 Went back to the lot this morning and the Killdeer was gone.

Transplanted some Morning Glory and Bachelor's Button starts. Started some Forget-me-nots, Harebell and Fireweed by seed.

04/26/12 How do I get rid of wide patches of unwanted Indian Strawberry and Henbit cover? Cover with brown paper bags. Cover bags with mulch. Water. Murder in process.

04/25/12 Mock Orange flowered today.

I went back this evening to look at it and they nearly finished it off. Mower is still there so looks they'll complete their task tomorrow. The Killdeer was freaked. I walked right up to it and it didn't run away. It just kept yelling. Saw a Red-tail flipping over tufts of mown grass looking for rodents.

I saw a city truck at the vacant lot taking pictures last week. Today there were fellows mowing the lot. The city must have contacted the owner. What about all of the butterfly eggs on the leaves of the plants that will be mowed down? The reptiles? The nervous Killdeer and it's nest? I was excited to see some of the plants budding and looking forward to their blooms. Reset.

04/24/12 Another trip to the vacant lot. Killdeer still there guarding its nest. Saw a Question Mark butterfly and several Monarchs.

Irises are running out of gas. Turtlehead has buds forming.

04/23/12 Back to the vacant lot at lunch time. Nothing spectacular other than seeing a Killdeer walking around. Got some shots of mating Damselflies and an orange Beetle. Saw several Monarchs but couldn't get off a shot.

The Lincoln Sparrow is back. That makes 4 new Sparrow variations in the backyard over the last 7 days.

04/22/12 Drove out to the Overland Park Arboretum and Heritage Park in Kansas. Saw Tree Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, Meadowlark, Killdeer with babies, Chipping Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Northern Mockingbird, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Red-winged Blackbirds and more. Lousy day for picture taking as it was cloudy and windy.

04/20/12 The baby House Sparrows are quite entertaining. The healthiest of them are able to fly up to the bird batch and perch unsteadily on the edge while drinking. The balance of them take shots at it but can't muster either the height or the landing technique.

White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow all in the backyard this week.

Took 300 pictures around the lot again today. Saw a Checkered White butterfly for the first time.

Yesterday I saw a city official taking pictures of my vacant lot. Today I saw people taking pictures for a lawsuit related to the lot. Both times there were vultures circling overhead while they were taking pictures of the landscape.

04/19/12 River Oat seedlings are up!

Split up the Sulphurs and Painted Ladies as planned.

Sun remained out all morning so I scrambled back to my vacant lot and shot for an hour and a half. Saw a turtle, Turkey Vultures, Black Snake, Garter Snake and loads of dragonflies. Here's the updated list of butterflies seen in this lot over the last 4 days:

Checkered White
Common Checkered-Skipper
Eastern Comma or Question Mark
Monarch
Variegated Fritillary
Silver-spotted Skipper
American Snout
Pearl Crescent
Painted Lady
American Lady
Cabbage White
Eastern Tiger
Eastern-tailed Blue
Black Swallowtail
Common Buckeye
Gray Hairstreak
Duskywing Skipper
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Clouded Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Bi-lobed Looper Moth

Supposed to rain for the next day and a half so instead of taking pictures I will:

Make a quick reference page for Sparrows. I still have a hard time identifying them. Every time I see and identify a new fellow I'll pop him up in the index.

Divide up the Sulphur (Clouded Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Orange Sulphur) and Painted Lady (Painted Lady, American Lady) pages today. Eyeing the Damselflies page next...

Consider open and closed wing views of the butterflies in their index/header pictures.

04/18/12 Just saw a female House Sparrow feeding two other squawking females by flying back and forth to the feeder and putting the seeds directly into their mouths. A friend replied: "Could be fledged babies of hers. They can look 100% grown up and still be getting fed by the parents."

White-throated Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow still hanging out.

Took another trip to the vacant lot at got some great bugs. I've photographed these butterflies there in the last 3 days:
Monarch
Variegated Fritillary
Silver-spotted Skipper
American Snout
Pearl Crescent
Painted Lady
American Lady
Cabbage White
Eastern Tiger
Eastern-tailed Blue
Black Swallowtail
Common Buckeye
Gray Hairstreak
Duskywing Skipper
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Clouded Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Bi-lobed Looper Moth
Also tons of Damselflies and Dragonflies.

Started some Mullein.

04/17/12 Another trip to the vacant lot produced Monarchs, Silver-spotted Skippers and American Snouts in addition to the gang from yesterday. It's like a butterfly zoo!

Chipping Sparrow in the yard.

04/16/12 Ran to my new favorite spot at lunchtime and took pictuers of 14 different butterflies - Pearl Crescents, Question Marks, Painted Lady, American Painted Lady, Cabbage White, Eastern Tiger, Eastern-tailed Blue, Black Swallowtail, Common Buckeye, Gray Hairstreak, Duskywing Skipper, Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Clouded and Cloudless Sulphur. Most of the non-native Honeysuckle is flowering so this must account for the abundance of butterflies.

Saw White-throated Sparrow in the early morning. Got some iffy pictures.

Brown Thrasher is back hanging around!

04/15/12 Took an improvised trip to the Overland Park Arboretum and Heritage Park. Saw Tree Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, Meadowlark, Killdeer, Great Blue Heron, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Red-winged Blackbirds and more. Saw young Dr. Nick and associate at both locations and, to my dismay, discovered that he saw and photographed a Pileated Woodpecker at the Arboretum.

04/14/12 Discovered a vacant lot in Leawood last night that I decided to re-visit today. Saw Curly Dock, Tall Evening Primrose, Horsemint, some sort of Asters, beautiful ferns, loads of Red Admirals and Snowberrys and omnipresent Turkey Vultures.

Saw a Painted Lady on the Orchid Primrose. Camera two flights of stairs away with the battery in the charger. Decided to just enjoy it rather than making the mad dash.

Hollyhock seeds planted on the first are coming up. Columbine seeds planted on the 31st of March are making an appearance.

Nearly all of the white Irises from last year are purple this year.

Coreposis have buds.

Thanks to recent work by Betsy and Brett identifying plants, bugs and birds I was able to add about 40 images pushing us over 2,500 in the gallery.

04/12/12 Columbine seeds are starting to show above the soil.

First Indian Paintbrush blooms forming.

I've been seeing a lot of bee mimics this week in the garden. With the help of Nick I identified the Hoverfly. Yesterday I saw a small Bumblebee which also ends up being a mimic. Upon examining the photograph Betsy said "a fly...look close and you can see the aristate antennae...also just 1 pair wings. Probably in in the Syrphidae family." Thanks, as always, to our Facebook friends for helping us identify creatures.

04/11/12 Still no Hummers. Going to have to refresh the feeders for the 3rd time this year this weekend.

Transplanted the Sumac from pot to yard.

The Goldfinches are stunning now.

Yard bird selection is very boring. Goldfinches, House Finches, House Sparrows, Chickadees, Pigeons, Grackles, Starlings, Robins, Cardinals, Red-belllied Woodpecker, Flickers, Downy Woodpecker. Vists from the Wren, TItmouse, Nuthatch, Blue Jays are rare visitors to the feeders and baths. Thrasher seems to have disappeared.

04/10/12 Saw Turkey Vultures flying over my house while watering the garden. I actually saw the shadows on the patio and looked up as they were floating away at tree-top levels.

Azalea flowers/blooms look better today.

Found a female Mallard in a storm drain on Ward Parkway in Missouri. No sign of a male.

04/09/12 Shasta Daisies are blooming! Azaleas are very slow to flower and the blooms look sad. Lily of the Valley also behind the rest of the neighborhood.

First bloom on the Clematis.

Recently added Echinacea and Bachelor's Button starts still look sad in the middle of the day and then recover overnight.

It's been 8 days since I planted the Coneflower seeds. Should start to see something in a few days.

04/08/12 Visted Antioch Park. Got a couple of sessions with a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Moved the Sumac starts out of doors. They immediately folded over so rushed them to the shade.

Cut off the blooms of the finished Lilac buhes. Also cut them back to about 6 feet. The mature bushes are still flowering.

04/05/12 Took a trip up to Weston, MO. Got pictures of Woodland Phlox, Zebra Swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites, Red Admirals, Pearly Crescentspots and some amazing dragonflies. Heard loads of birds but the trees were so full that photographing was out of the question.

Planted some Cranesbill Geraniums, red Spiderwort, pink Turtlehead, Indian Blanket (Gaillardia), Torch Lilies, Forget-me-nots, Orchid Primrose and False Spirea Astilbe.

04/04/12 Mums are up. I think one of the unidentified plants is Purple Turtle Head. It's about 8 inches high now.

04/03/12 Seeing more moths, bees, flies buzzing around the yard. Saw a Clearwing Moth in the Creeping Phlox.

04/02/12 Brown Thrasher hanging around near the feeders. A quarter of the Irises have buds.

04/01/12 First blooms on the Azaleas!

Tree seed dumping sequence - Elm, Oak & Maple.

Took down all of the window feeders. Hummingbirds are being spotted around the Kansas City area so I freshened up all of the nectar in the Hummingbird feeders.

Planted some Hollyhock and Purple Coneflower seeds.

03/31/12 Visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Saw all the stuff you normally see there including a Louisiana Waterthrush and piles of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

A friend gave me some Yucca, Bachelor's Button and Echinacea so back to the garden.

Started some Columbine seeds indoors. A little late but, ach.

Planted some Coreposis, Creeping Phlox, white Phlox, Bachelor's Button, Verbena and Echinacea.

03/30/12 Move is complete. Just waiting for the new DNS info to circulate before doing any updates.

Gray Catbird is back and yelling for ladies!

03/29/12 Moved the site to it's own server today. You may experience some freakiness over the next day or so but all should be good by the weekend.

03/28/12 Ichneumon Wasp in the Forsythia in the AM. Red Admiral zipping around the yard all day. Moved some Hostas, a Rose Bush and a Yucca.

Took some pictures of a friend's flower garden.

Calico Asters from seeds are popping up in the garden. That took 10 days.

03/27/12 Saw a Red-winged Blackbird in the yard. Also saw the Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a tree. He doesn't come to the feeders any more.

Hyacinth are getting long in the tooth. Lilac blooms are about 50% bud and 50% flower.

03/26/12 Added pictures of Indian Strawberry and a Spined Soldier bug thanks to our Facebook friends Brett and Nick.

Juncos are back. Perhaps it was something I set?

03/25/12 Dashed out to Fleming Park for the morning. The Eastern Redbud and some sort of Honeysuckle were the only things blooming. Heard loads of toads. Cardinals were in a frenzy. Took some pictures of a Barred Owl.

Bought some Knockout Roses for the yard.

03/24/12 Saw a Brown Thrasher in the backyard a couple of times this morning. Welcome!

I did some work on the three original Lilac bushes late last year. I don't recall what I did, perhaps removing old flowers, but they look great this year. I counted nearly 20 crowns on one bush. The three 5-year old bushes all have buds for the first time.

The Echinacea is a couple of inches high.

03/23/12 And the next day I discover a pair of Juncos walking around on the patio. In my defense there used to be a half-dozen Juncos walking around on the patio.

03/22/12 I just noticed that the Juncos are gone. I don't think I've seen one in 2 weeks.

Tried shooting some close-ups using the 350D and a +1 extension tube with the 300mm lens. It worked pretty well. Even the auto focus functions.

Moved the Hostas to a shadier spot.

Azaleas have buds. Burning Bush and Forsythia flowers are gone.

Planting some Yucca a friend gave me today.

03/21/12 Finally saw a fully cooked Goldfinch. Not a drab feather anywhere.

03/20/12 Saw more Gold and House Finches today. Perhaps because it has been raining for the past few days. That always seems to stimulate feeder action.

03/19/12 Eupatorium and Rose Of Sharon are developing leaves. Saw more of the smaller birds today. Also saw the white-headed Cardinal so she's hanging in there.

Filled up the Hummingbird feeders as there are reports that they have been spotted in Springfield and St. Louis.

03/18/12 What happened to the birds? I was only gone a week. I've seen one pair of Goldfinches all day. Loads of Woodpeckers, Grackles, Sparrows & Starlings but no House Finches, Titmice, Carolina Wren, Nuthatches etc.

Planted the 2nd package of Calico Aster seeds.

03/17/12 Calico Aster and Sumac seeds developed nicely while I was gone. Milkweed going slowly and nothing happening with the River Oats.

Skipped out of town for a week and missed the peak of the Forsythia. The Asiatic Lilies popped up. Russian Sage, Thread-leaf Coreopsis, Fountain Grass, Bee Balm, Sedum, Daisies, Morning Glories, Black-eyed Susans, Asters, Roses, Phlox, Butterfly Bush, Peonies & Red Phlox have new growth. The Lilacs have flowers developing. The Hyacinth are nearly all blooming.

03/16/12 Also read that someone saw Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Spring Azure, Gray Hairstreak, Olive Juniper Hairstreak, Henry's Elfin, Gray Commas, Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloaks, Goatweed Leafwing, Horace's Duskywing, and Wild Indigo Duskywing butterflies this week.

Read that a friend counted over 80 different birds in Kansas City during the Spring migration.

03/14/12 Mississippi Adventure

03/13/12 I need to address the seemingly random singular/plural page titles some day. See Azaleas v Aster. Bald Eagle v Blue Jays. Lord.

03/10/12 Bumped into the Garter Snake again. Got pictures this time.

2nd Sumac sprout.

Saw a Cabbage White today!

03/09/12 First Sumac sprout from seed.

Lincon's Sparrow seems to be a regular now.

Picked up some Poison Ivy or Oak from somewhere.

03/08/12 Saw a Harris's Sparrow in the morning and the Lincon's Sparrow in the afternoon.

After 6 days I have my first Calico Aster poking it's head up from seed. Still waiting on signs of life from the Sumac and River Oats.

Phlox starts coming up. Bee Balm and Shasta Dasies spreading like mad.

03/07/12 After just 5 days there is a Milkweed Vine seedling above soil.

All of the younger Lilac bushes now have leaves. The three older bushes are close. All of the Forsythia have blooms. I cut the Rose bushes low last year but even they have starts and leaves.

Saw the Lincon's Sparrow straight away this morning.

03/06/12 Saw a Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard for the first time.

Grackle numbers are increasing. I've seen nearly a dozen at a time in the gardens and at the feeders.

03/05/12 My first nearly-stepping-on-a-snake-and-briefly-leaving-my-body experience of the year. Here's to maybe one more, tops.

Haven't seen the Redpoll or Kinglet for days. I am India with no Taj Mahal.

03/04/12 Saw an Opossum wobbling around in the neighbor's yard around 4 PM.

Cut back Fountain Grass and Maiden Grass. Also cut back some of the Rose Of Sharon.

The Carolina Wren sang its heart out today.

Saw some Starlings going in and out of a hole in the Elm tree. I don't like where this story is headed.

03/03/12 The Robins are here in earnest. Every other yard seems to have a pair combing the ground for worms.

Didn't see the Carolina Wren, Common Redpoll or Kinglet today or yesterday.

Surprise Lilies are are about a foot high. Tulips, Shasta Dasies, Bee Balm, Sedum, Daffodils, Irises, Hyacinth are all well above ground.

03/02/12 Started some Calico Aster seeds (large clay pot), Summac (burgandy pot), River Oats (green pot) and Milkweed Vine in the pot a friend made for me.

03/01/12 Went to Heritage Park to take pictures. Saw a Mourning Cloak butterfly. Got pictures of male and female Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. Met, oh, let's just call him a friend, later in the afternoon. Got a shot of a Tree Sparrow and he got a White-crowned Sparrow. Heard frogs singing on the shore. Saw Honey Bees and a Wolf Spider

02/29/12 Uploaded a short video of the Common Redpoll on the hanging feeder.

More Forsythia blooms, some of the Lilac bushes have leaves and I saw a Hyacinth pushing up!

Finally have a pair of Robins combing the yard.

Saw two male Flickers jousting on a tree branch. The fighting seemed pretty half-hearted.

Kinglet is back!

White headed Cardinal made an appearance today.

02/28/12 Saw the Redpoll sleeping in the window feeder today. He regularly will take his time feeding, to the dismay of the Goldfinches. After eating he will often sit and relax in the seed while 4 or 5 Goldfinches are hopping around the feeder impatiently. When he finally leaves, he leaves the feeder leisurely. If he is spooked, he will stand on the entrance of the feeder to check things out rather than streaking away like everyone else. I see him in the window feeder (shelled sunflower seeds and nyjer) at least 6 times a day and a couple of times a day on the hanging feeders and bird baths. Will be adding loads more pictures of butterflies and other insects today thanks to our amazing Facebook friends.

I seem to have lost my Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I think it went missing the same day the Grackles first made an appearance. Still see the Common Redpoll all day.

02/27/12 Added pictures of a Meadowlark and White-crowned Sparrow to the gallery. Both birds were photographed in Kansas last year.

02/26/12 Got a picture of a Purple Finch today at Fleming Park. John was also at the park and got some nice photographs of a Wild Turkey and Red-tailed hawk.

Saw a butterfly today at Fleming Park. I was focused on trying to get a good shot of some Goat's Beard (failed) but the person I was with got a good look at it. She described it as Monarch-sized with lots of blue and some sort of decoration along the edge of the wings. Our friend Brett said: "There are only 5 possible species of butterfly around now. Mourning Cloak, Red Admiral, Comma, Question Mark, and MAYBE a Goatweed Leafwing." We looked at the pictures and determined that it was a Mourning Cloak.

The first Grackle of the year at the feeders this morning.

02/25/12 Continued cleaning leaves out of the flower beds. So far I have seen starts for Sedum, Iris, Tulips, Daffodils, Bee Balm, Crocuses and Shasta Daisies.

02/24/12 Birds were manic today. Saw the Kinglet, Creeper, Wren and Redpoll. Some of the Goldfinches are getting some large areas of yellow.

02/23/12 Cleaned leaves out of the flower beds today. Saw lots of green poking up underneath including Sedum and a variety of starts I couldn't identify.

Saw the first Forstyhia bloom of the year.

02/22/12 Added some code so that the category indexes include 150 pixel wide thumbnails for each sub-category. Should make finding something on the site a lot easier.

Decided to go take some pictures of wildflowers along a creek bed when I spooked a Red-tailed Hawk who promptly returned the favor.

Added pictures of Wild Rye, Smooth Summac, Queen Anne's Lace, Buckbrush, Thistle, Pokeweed, Ash Tree, Rusty Blackhaw and more thanks to our Facebook friends!

Got pictures of the Kinglet and Redpoll this morning. Trying to get some pictures every day before they leave town.

02/21/12 Thanks so much to Jacking and Christine for putting a big dent in the remaining unidentified plants on Facebook.

Brown Creeper, Common Redpoll, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Carolina Wren still hanging around.

02/20/12 Thanks to Jackie for her help identifying pictures of flowers, bushes and trees.

02/19/12 John got some nice pictures of birds at Clinton Lake today that I'll be posting all week.

Corrected the "Crokus" typo. In my defense I work with rock band names and Krokus pops up constantly.

Dashed up to Smithville Lake in the mid-morning. Snowy Owl must be gone. Took a lot of pictures of plants but didn't get many good bird photos. Did get some shots of a Red-headed Woodpecker drinking from a lake. Trip was soured somewhat by group of people with unleashed dogs that were allowed to run about 30 paces ahead of them. Dogs rushed at us while group of people said and did nothing. Sabre brand pepper spray.

OK, this website is choked with misidentified wildlife, random capitalization, blatant self-promotoin and outright lies BUT, I can offer you this sparkly bit of truth and you may use it in confidence: Squirrels eat Safflower seeds. You can shoo Squirrels away from Safflower seeds and they will promptly return to eat Safflower seeds. Grackles may not eat Safflower seeds but Squirrels will eat Safflower seeds. Squirrels will eat Safflower seeds until their stomachs look like little sacks of rocks.

02/18/12 Thank you Betsy for identifying the Carolina Nightshade, Pokeweed & River Oats.

Thank you Ruth for helping to identify the Sycamore Balls and Staghorn Sumac.

John got some nice pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Opossum & Great Blue Heron from Shawnee Mission Park that I'll be posting during the week.

How many pictures and trips do I have to take before I can refer to being in the woods as being "in the field."

Saw a Junco on the hanging feeder on a warm sunny day. Glad at least one of them gets it.

Bought a Canon Rebel T2i to replace my 350D. The picture of the Junco above should be the last picture taken with the 350D.

02/17/12 Thank you Brett, Linda and Betsy for helping to identify Amur Honeysuckle, Buttonbush, Green Foxtail, Mullein, Teasel, New England Asters & Kuhnia eupatorioides.

Took a trip to Fleming Park today. It was so nice we were in shirt sleeves before noon. Saw Red-tailed Hawks, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-headed Woodpecker, Wild Turkeys, Deer and all of the fellows that I see at the feeders.

02/16/12 Crocuses are flowering. I know.

Spent another hour lying in wait for the Kinglet but it either didn't come or dined and dashed whenever I briefly left the window.

Decided to see if I could coax the Kinglet into hanging around the feeder a bit longer than normal. I cracked a window near the suet feeder and looped a Ruby-crowned Kinglet call from 10:45 to 11:45. I got one hit. He swooped in, got a mouthful and split. He was either indifferent to the call or alarmed by it. I may have another go in the afternoon.

02/15/12 Downloaded iBird Pro for Android.

John set up his Cisco trained on a window feeder online for KCWildLife employees to enjoy when they should be working.

Bought some more Hummingbird feeders.

Saw everyone but the Carolina Wren today. I was told that the Redpoll and Kinglet and going to leave in March. I am determined to get some HD footage of them doing Redpolly and Kingletty stuff before they leave me.

02/14/12 Ordered some Calico Aster seeds from Prairie Moon. And then immediately received spam, which was disappointing.

The Carolina Wren has become more active recently. He is at the suet almost once an hour for the majority of the daylight.

After yesterday's snow frenzy today the feeders are oddly quiet. Snow still covers the ground but the sun is out and the temperature is warm. Have seen the Carolina Wren and Kinglet this AM.

02/13/12 Trees are undulating with Wrens, Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Flickers, Red-bellies and Downy Woodpeckers.

Juncos are having a hard time with the hanging feeders. Even the Goldfinches can blast them off.

Common Redpoll is still a Kansas Citian. In the feeders at an uncharacteristically early hour.

OK, the first variation on normal because of the snow - Juncos on the hanging feeders. Now why don't they do that normally?

Snow day. Ruby-crowned Kinglet was in the feeders early. Will be watching for the Redpoll.

02/12/12 John visited Shawnee Mission Park today and I'll be posting some of his pictures of Cooper's Hawks, Red-headed Woodpeckers and more through the week.

Was gone off and on all day and didn't see the Redpoll. Did see the Kinglet multiple times. Hoping to see some fresh faces at the feeders if it snows tomorrow.

The Indian Paintbrush pictures are actually Indian Blanketflowers. Thank you as always Brett for the corrections.

02/11/12 I've noticed that the Finches with conjunctivitis (both Gold and House) will hunker down in the window feeders for long periods of time. Bad eye to the window good eye to the opening of the feeder. I am happy to provide food and shelter for the downtrodden but worry about the spread of the disease. Of course I try to keep the feeders clean (bleach) and I have started putting less seed in them so that less comes in contact with their damaged eye. Don't know what else to do other than close up shop.

Saw the Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the window feeders mutliple times this AM.

02/10/12 John got some new feeders so hoping for new birds once they figure out where they are!

Thank you Linda for informing me that my Map Butterfly is a Common Checkered-Skipper. Looks like I've got some work to do this weekend...

Found out that my Yellow-eyed Junco is a Dark-Eyed Junco. A little deflating. On the cheery side, I found out that my armored grasshopper is a Wheel Bug. Thank you Brett!

The Common Redpoll and Ruby-crowned Kinglet were in the yard all day. Getting as many pictures as time, elements and circumstance allow.

Saw a robin for the first time in the backyard since Autumn. Birds are in a feeding frenzy as Winter mounts a comeback.

I replaced one of the hanging feeders filled with crushed sunflower seed with whole safflower seed 3 days ago. Everyone seems OK with the change except the Woodpeckers. They had a choice between the full Squirrel Buster full of safflower or a Squirrel Buster Finch Feeder with about 6 inches of crushed sunflower left in it - making it awkard to get at it. They still chose to eat the sunflower upside down and sideways rather then the alternative.

02/09/12 Took pictures of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet all day. There was one about every 18 minutes on the suet feeder. Like clockwork. I don't know if it's one or multiples. It leaves with a Kinglet pillow-sized hunk of suet every time. Also saw a pair of Brown Creepers again today. Saw them at the same time on the same tree as yesterday. About 3:10 PM.

02/08/12 Pretty amazing day. Quite literally from my office chair I saw Northern Flickers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Cardinals, Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Common Redpoll, House Finches, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Wren, Juncos, Mourning Doves, European Starlings and Sparrows. They were also out later in the day than they normally are. Perhaps it's because it has gotten cold again.

Photographed my first Brown Creeper walking up an old elm.

Finally got a few pictures of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Eating suet between 1:30 and 2 PM. Also saw one of the ailing House Finches.

Saw my first Goldfinch with conjunctivitis. I've been keeping the feeders clean (10% bleach solution) so will next try spreading them apart so that there isn't as much interaction between birds.

Found out that my Goldfinch looking fellow with the red slot on his head is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

The Goldfinches are starting to get some really large bright yellow patches. I haven't seen any birds with more than 10% yellow feathers. Still pretty silly looking but you can see that grander days are ahead.

Haven't seen any of the House Finches with Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis lately. Maybe 4 days or so. There were two that I am sure of.

Titmice are back! They clearly have no issue with Safflower.

02/07/12 Switched to Safflower seed in the window feeders. We'll see what happens.

02/06/12 Daffodil, Krokus and Iris are all well above ground. Forsythia and Lilac bush buds are swollen. Butterfly Bush has new growth.

Was looking at the Hairy Woodpecker pictures and realized that the were pretty poor. I think I was so excited at finally seeing one that I treated the images like they were evidence of Bigfoot. Will weed them out soon.

02/05/12 Took the first exit off of 13 into Truman lake. Very disappointing. The roadside was littered with beer, cigarette, food packaging and tires. I counted 8 deer carcasses on the roadside in a quarter mile length. Four of them were heaped together. I don't know enough to know how they died but many of them were fairly fresh. Did see loads of hawks, a Bald Eagle, Cardinals, Juncos and lots of woodpeckers.

02/04/12 I keep getting glimpses of a tiny, drab Goldfinch-looking bird with a red slot on his crown. His body is almost more Wrenny than Finchy.

02/01/12 I seem to remember Robins being around in the winter. Not sure what happened this year. Same with the Titmice. I plenty of both of them in the woods but not in the backyard this year.

Posted pictures of the Common Redpoll, House Finch, Blue Jay, Goldfinch, Mourning Dove and more.

01/29/12 Shawnee Mission Park - saw deer, coyote, red-headed woodpeckers, red-tailed hawk and bicyclists bellowing to one another. Loads of those.

Hankering for a trip to Truman Lake soon to photograph Pileated Woodpeckers. Heading out to the trails for Red-headed Woodpeckers today.

01/28/12 John got some nice pictures of a female Kestrel with rodent and some Red-bellied Woodpeckers on the Mill Creek Trail.

A Northern Mockingbird stopped by for some water this afternoon. First time I have seen one since last Autumn. They don't use the hanging feeders and I don't consistently offer a platform option because of squirrels.

01/26/12 Got some close-ups of the Common Redpoll today in an acrylic window feeder.

01/25/12 SAW some Juncos today that look like the have executioner's hoods on. The hoods are black.

Mystery solved. I have a Common Redpoll visiting the window feeders now. I'm rich!

Starting the third sentence of the day with Saw... Saw another variation on what looks like a female House Finch with a red breast and red spot on its head. It's also darker than most females. What do we have here folks?

The Goldfinches are starting to reappear after a 1 day absence. Still not at their 3 days ago volume. The males look silly right now in their mostly drab caots with bright yellow spots here and there.

Saw a second female House Finch with House Finch Disease.

Saw a Pine Siskin this morning! It spooked before I could get my camera but hopefully it will become a regular.

I have a regular House Finch vistor who has mycoplasmal conjunctivitis (AKA House Finch Disease), a condition that causes the eye to buldge or swell shut. She'll sit and feed forever and I am please to accomodate her.

01/24/12 I'm seeing this little Sir or Madam that looks pretty much like a female Goldfinch but has a red bar on the crown of it's head running the same direction as the beak. Perhaps an inch long. It almost looks like a little Finchy Bank with a red slot for coins. What have we here?

Strange morning. It's nearly noon and I haven't seen a single Goldfinch at the feeders. By this time of the day I would have witnessed at least 4 big rushes of 20 or more Goldfinches swarming the feeders. Perhaps somebody tweeted that there is a Cooper's Hawk or Red-tailed circling the house.

01/22/12 John McConnell got nice pictures of Bluebirds, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Brown Creepers etc. at Clinton Lake. Photos are up.

Drove to Fleming Park at Lake Jacomo in the mid-morning. Saw Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Great Blue Heron, Bluebirds, Titmice, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers.

01/21/12 Took an early afternoon trip to Shawnee Mission Park. It was in the 20s and pretty cloudy. Saw Red-tailed Hawks, Bluebirds, Titmice, Goldfinches, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Robins, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrows and of course loads of Geese.

01/20/12 It appears that at this point in time nobody is interested in apple slices. Raisins are a big hit with the European Starlings so that item has been removed from the menu. Will resume fruit slices at the end of April.

01/19/12 A month ago I was begging for Goldfinches and now there are 20+ at the feeders simultaneously multiple times a day. They've even bulled the House Finches out of the window feeders.

01/17/12 Who is this bird? Photographed in Southern Missouri in the Autumn.

01/16/12 Took a trip to Longview Lake. Walked the bike trail. Saw Bluebirds, Doves, Mallards, Gulls, Canada Geese, Robins and Starlings.

Took pictures of Lilac and Forsythia buds.

01/14/12 Drove to Felming Park at Lake Jacomo in Lee's Summit. Saw Great Blue Heron, American Kestrel, Hairy Woodpecker, Wild Turkey and Red-tailed Hawks.

John McConnell drove up to Smithville Lake and got some great pictures of the Snowy Owl.

01/10/12 Who is this gray horned grasshopper?

01/08/12 Started adding raisins and apples to the window feeders.

01/07/12 Ran up North to Smithville Lake to get some pictures of the Snowy Owl. There were loads of people there at the dam to see the Snowy Owl and Bald Eagle. Decided to try one of the trails and saw an otter, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Bald Eagle and Cedar Waxwings. Curiously we also saw a Bald Eagle
as we approached the Downtown Airport on 69.

01/02/12 Took a hike on a recently re-opened trail at Shawnee Mission Park. Saw loads of Bluebirds for the first time. Also saw Deer, Nuthatch, Red-headed Woodpecker, Chickadees, Robins, Blue Jays, Flickers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Crows, Gulls, Canadian Geese and Titmice.


2010-2011 Journals in Chonological Order

3/18/11 Lilacs have buds and most of the early bladed flowers are above ground.

4/1/11 Time to put out the Hummingbird feeders.

4/8/11 Tulips are blooming and the 3 mature Lilac bushes have blooms developing.

4/14/11 Lilac blooms are almost full.

5/1/11 Time to switch to Safflower in anticpation of the Grackles riotous return and to put out orange slices for Baltimore Orioles. Goldfinches should start turning bright yellow.

5/18/11 Learned that if you buy birdseed that is still in the shells you will be harvesting plants beneath your feeder in the late Spring.

5/21/11 Roses going nuts. Irises running out of gas.

5/28/11 Bought and planted some basil plants.

5/30/11 Rose bushes are full.

Bird shat on my head.

6/1/11 Garden is in full bloom. Mature flowers on Echinacea, Shasta Daisies, Lilies, Spiderwort, Indian Blanket, Coreopsis & Bee Balm.

6/17/11 Horsehair Mint is blooming. This must have been delivered by birds because we didn't plant it.

6/23/11 Much of the Indian Blanket has already lost petals. Still has plenty of new blooms.

7/2/11 Had to put up some stakes in the garden for the Phlox, Shasta Dasies and Bee Balm.

7/4/11 Dug the plot for Southeast garden.

7/5/11 Saw the first Morning Glory bloom.

7/11/11 Saw the first Swallowtail of the season in the Echinacea

A black bird with a broken wing in the yard.

7/14/11 Black-eyed Susan blooming

Saw a Webworm Moth in the Phlox.

7/15/11 Bee Balm has lost its petals

7/16/11 Saw a Black Swallowtail in the Phlox blooms

7/20/11 Spotted a Japanese Beetle in the Shasta Daisies

7/24/11 First Pearly Crescentspot of the seaon

7/25/11 Silver-spotted Skipper spotted in the Phlox

7/28/11 Hummingbird coming around.

Saw a Dragonfly.

7/29/11 Starting to see Dragonflies around after several 100 degree days in a row.

7/30/11 Saw the first Monarch of the season in some Milkweed Vine

7/30/11 First Snowberry Clearwing Moth seen in the Phlox blooms

8/2/11 Saw two Monarchs.

8/3/11 Planted the Azaleas and Butterfly Bushes

8/4/11 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth spotted in the Phlox

8/6/11 Morning Glories are blooming

8/6/11 Saw an amazing Milkweed Bug on Milkweed Vine

8/7/11 Belladonna Lilies are blooming

8/10/11 Bought a Canon Rebel XT 350D

8/10/11 American Snout on the bird bath

8/10/11 Hairstreak in the Black-eyed Susans

8/12/11 Got off my first shot of a Gold Finch in Enchinacea

8/15/11 Met John McConnell. Bought Canon 300mm and 200mm camera lens.

8/16/11 Grasshopper in the Black-eyed Susans

Finches enjoying the spent Echinacea

Saw a Hawk Moth in the Bee Balm leaves

Starting to see more Monarchs in the Butterfly Bush and Phlox

We have a patch of Bee Balm that is growing low to the ground that is just starting to Bloom in the Southern section of the garden.

8/18/11 Saw a pair of mating Cicadas fall out of the tree

8/19/11 Common Buckeye hanging out in the Echinacea

Humming bird starting to hang around.

Started working on a PHP image display code.

8/21/11 Saw a Tawny Emperor on the Elm tree

8/21/11 First pictures of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the Bee Balm

8/22/11 First pictures of the Clouded Sulphur and Cabbage White in the Phlox blooms

KCWildlife is born. Actually, don't have a domain yet but the code and pictures are up.

8/24/11 The Bumblebees are very agitated this week.

8/24/11 Saw a Ragweed Flower Moth

8/25/11 Hummingbird in the Phlox

8/27/11 Extended the NW garden. Moved the Azalea and Butterfly Bush from the southern garden because they weren't getting enough

sun. Also added some Echinacea. Added Asters, Bee Balm and Daisies to the western garden. Moved Echinacea, Black eyed Susans

and Daisies to the Southern garden. Moved some of the rocks from the Southern garden to the Western and Southwestern gardens as stepping stones.

Added 10 bags of cypress mulch.

Determined that the sensor is dirty on my Canon. Gonna have to take it to get it cleaned.

8/29/11 Met with John McConnell again.

8/31/11 Goldenrod Soldier-beetle in the Black-eyed Susans

9/1/11 Mums are blooming

9/1/11 Saw a Blue-tailed Dragonfly in the Forsythia

9/2/11 Made NW garden wrap around the Elm tree.

9/3/11 Moved Phlox and Black-eyed Susans to the NW Garden. Later I moved the Indian Blanked to the front of the rimary garden and a batch into the Northern garden.

Spread Indian Blanked, Echinacea, Black-eyed Susan and Bee Balm seeds in the NW garden. Some Indian Blanked seeds in the primary garden too.

9/4/11 Widened the back part of the primary garden.

9/5/11 Dug up the tulips from the front and moved them to the front of the primary garden. Moved the lilies back closer to the fence.

9/7/11 Saw the Northern Flicker in the Elm tree

Spotted a Common Checkered Skipper in the grass.

9/8/11 Took the camera to Gass Camera to get the sensor cleaned.

9/10/11 Noticed the Cooper's Hawk circling the neighborhood for the first time

9/11/11 Map Butterfly and a Common Checkered Skipper in the Black-eyed Susans

Moved some Bee Balm to the NW garden.

9/13/11 Last time I saw a Hummingbird this year.

Moved some Bee Balm from the South side of the primary garden to the North. Also moved Morning Glory starts to the South backyard fence.

9/18/11 Planted some Eupatorium that my neighbor gave me. Monarchs hit it almost instantly.

9/19/11 Moved some Phlox from the primary garden to the NW garden.

9/21/11 Asters are starting to bloom

9/21/11 Saw the Hawk Moth at dusk. Stunning!

Seeing loads of butterflies in the Eupatorium

9/22/11 Starting to see more Dragonflies and Damselfies

9/29/11 Leaves on the Elm are falling.

10/1/11 Decided to extend the primary garden to the rose bush. Also going to widen the NW garden.

10/3/11 Planted 4 Butterfly Bushes for the primary garden.

10/4/11 Photographed Seagulls in the skies of Kansas City

10/5/11 Asters are vibrating with insects

Oak leaves are falling steadily.

10/9/11 Moved some Daisies to the primary garden extension and to the NW garden. Moved half of the irises to the Northern edge of the primary garden.

I popped three Sedum sprigs in between the Thread Leaf Coreopsis.

10/15/11 Asters are drying up and getting very little bug action

10/16/11 The Clouded Sulphur and Cabbage White are about all that's left except for an occasional Monarch fly-by

10/16/11 The garden is pretty much cooked. Few Shasta Daisies and Phlox blooms left.

10/16/11 Before the end of the year I intend to find a way to make multiple shots of one subject available on its individiual page so that you don't have to manually search the entire gallery

10/17/11 Wrote a routine that will display thumbnails on the individual profile pages instead of in one large gallery. Will clean up some broken links tomorrow.

10/22/11 Saw a few cabbage whites. Saw a Hawk Moth get gobbled up by a bird and another sail into the exterior wall of a garage and fall to the ground. This was in broad daylight. Also saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Junco and House Finch for the first time.

10/23/11 Got some shots of a pair of Chickadees drinking from the bird bath.

10/24/11 Saw a White-breasted Nuthatch walking up a tree near the bird bath today. Got off a few pictures from inside the house.

10/29/11 Spent the week taking pictures of birds in beautiful Southern Missouri and Arkansas. Saw a dazzling array of woodpeckers, including a male and female Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flickers, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-naped Woodpecker and the Downy Woodpecker.

10/31/11 Bought a Squirrel Buster bird feeder at Wild Bird Center of Prairie Village. Chickadees were the first to figure it out. Cardinals next. Sparrows are still scared of it. Watched multiple squirrels walk away angry.

11/01/11 Saw a Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Downy Woodpecker and Red-tailed Hawk today.

11/02/11 Saw a Cardinal with a white head this afternoon. I can't tell if it has just lost its head feathers or if its a proper albino. Got off some pictures but it was cloudy and raining so nothing good.

11/03/11 Moved one of my Linksys Wireless cameras near the feeders.

11/04/11 Had a freeze last night so I cut back everything today. I'm concerned that I may have been too aggressive and didn't leave enough above ground. I cut back the Old Fashioned Roses, Asters, Shasta Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, Bee Balm, Phlox, Butterfly Bush (I left these about a foot high) and the Purple Turtle Head.

11/05/11 Saw the Red-bellied Woodpecker on the bird feeder.

11/06/11 Saw the Red-bellied Woodpecker on the bird feeder again. For some reason all of the neighborhood woodpeckers were very active this morning.

11/07/11 Having a difficult time getting good pictures of theRed-bellied Woodpecker. It's been cloudy here and he is so big that when he lands on the feeder it spins for the duration of his visit. Very challenging for a photographer who doesn't know what he's doing.

11/08//11 I'm going to move the feeder closer to one of the backyard windows and hope that gets me some better pictures this winter. I'll eventually buy a second rig to put in the old spot but want to wait until the birds get used to the new location.

11/09/11 Moving the feeder closer to a window was wildly successful. The sparrows, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers and chickadees took to the new location right away and the pictures are much improved. Will start replacing some of the old images in the gallery as soon as I buffer up a few days worth of new pictures.
I'm digging the Squirrel Buster birdfeeder. The closest they have come from beating the system is when they climb down the feeder and then leap off in frustration it tends to spin and spew seed. This appears to be entirely by accident at this point. They pretty much just sit under it now and wait for the sparrows to drop 3 seeds for every one they manage to swallow.
Did some coding after uploading some of the new pictures including cleaning up the thumbnail enlargement process with a link to easily get back to the primary page.

11/10/11 I have one feeder out that I stock with shelled sunflower seeds. The diners thus far have been pretty predictable. I suspect that I could see some variation as Winter approaches but I think I am ready to add a second feeder to mix it up. Of course I'll add a Hummingbird feeder in the Spring so mark that one off the list. So, should I get something that will attract some different Woodpeckers (nut and berry mix or suet) or shoot for some smaller birds? Would love to attract some Bluebirds and Indigo Bunting.
Picked up KCWildlife.com for the eventual domain name for this site.
Set up a Facebook page for the site. Post 'em if you got 'em.

11/11/11 Started adding some of John McConnell's wonderful photographs to the site. You're really going to enjoy them. You can find some of his work in the Cuckoo, Red-tailed Hawk, Praying Mantis, Raccoons, Damselflies and Downy/Hairy Woodpecker sections.

11/12/11 Added more of John McConnell's wonderful photographs to the site, including Bluebird, Indigo Bunting, Heron, Green Heron, Wild Turkey, Rattlesnakes, Baltimore Oriole, Carolina Wren, Mallard, Kingfisher, Chipmunk and Coyote. Bald Eagle, Cattle Egret, Sharp-skinned Hawk, Brown Creeper and more coming soon.

11/13/11 Enlarged the fonts of the text links for mobile users. Added image totals at the bottom of the page of each category.

11/14/11 Planning a trip to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge this weekend for some non-birdfeeder photography. We now have 897 pictures in the gallery, thanks to John McConnell's contributions.

11/15/11 Picked up a Squirrel Buster Finch feeder today. Update: And within 20 minutes of putting it up there is a Northern Flicker hanging from it! And an hour later, Goldfinches!
Ordered a Super Soaker for the squirrels. How complicated is Man?

11/17/11 Visitors, thus far (October-November), to the large Squirrel Buster birdfeeder with shelled sunflower hearts:

Cardinals
Bluejays
Northern Flickers
Hairy Woodpeckers
House Finches
Goldfinches
Red-bellied Woodpeckers
European Starlings
Chickadees
Tufted Titmice
Nuthatchers
Robins
Sparrows

...and around the base of the feeder to pick up leavings:

Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Mockingbird
Pigeons

Again, this is in Kansas City so your results should be about the same if you live in the metro area. Maybe better depending on your proximity to mature trees and a water source.

11/17/11 So, the new Finch feeder attracted Northern Flickers and Goldfinches - TO THE OLD FEEDER! This makes me think that if I put up a suet feeder for a while the old feeder may get some new traffic. Robin, back to the bird store! Bought a cheap Stokes Suet Feeder, 2 packages of Woodpecker, Jr. cakes and 2 packages of suet. Replaced the large feeder (sunflower seed hearts) with the new guy and in 4 hours saw:

Hairy Woodpeckers
Red-bellied Woodpeckers
Chickadees
Tufted Titmice
Nuthatchers

Other birds (Sparrows, Cardinals, House Finches, Bluejays) considered it but were either uneasy about the new system or just preferred the Finch feeder.

11/18/11 Switched from nutcake to proper suet this AM. Pulled the sunflower hearts feeder but left the Finch feeder out. The only birds that seemed to react enthusiastically to the suet were the Chickadees and the Hairy Woodpecker. Titmice and a female Cardinal went at it half-heartedly. Saw a female Red-bellied Woodpecker today for the first time. Where the male has a full mullet (red cap and nape) the female only has a red nape. She looks like a bald male. Haven't seen the Northern Flicker on the feeders since his debut on the debut of the Finch feeder.

11/19/11 Took pictures at Mill Creek Streamway Park in Shawnee, KS. I think I saw some Cedar Waxwings as we were exiting the trail. Stopped by Shawnee Mission Park and took photographs of wild turkeys, hawks and a variety of woodpeckers.

11/20/11 Crossed the 1,000 picture mark in the gallery. Saw the European Starling on the suet feeder. The Hairy Woodpecker is on it frequently.

11/21/11 I clearly have been enamored with the European Starling. There are probably a disproportionate number of Starling pictures in the gallery because of this. They were rare visitors to the feeders and were easily spooked, thus creating a sense of "event" whenever they would arrive. Today that ended. I tossed a few pieces of stale bread in the compost pile with the intent to turn the soil over in the afternoon when it warmed up. Within a few hours there are nearly a dozen Starlings rioting on the feeders and in the birdbath. I counted 7 Starlings in the bird bath at one point. I saw a Northern Flicker arrive, survey the mayhem and fly away unfed. They seem to love the previously under-appreciated suet feeder so once the bedlam subsides I may need to pull it from the menu. On the plus side the squirrels have decided that they aren't THAT hungry.

11/22/11 Would love to add a contributor who has taken some nice pictures of Missouri insects, reptiles, mammals and/or wildflowers. Just drop me a line at kcwildlife at gmail.com

Decided that the suet is working to my satisfaction but the squirrels won't stay off of it. Scrambled off to Wild Bird Center for a remedy but they were out of the feeders that I wanted. Did buy an Audubon feeder hanger and window feeder. Also got some squirrel repelling Hot Pepper suet (Yellow-shafted Flicker and Hairy Woodpecker were on it right away) as a temporary solution.

How come all of the Bird Nerds are getting Carolina Wrens but me? I have trees, multiple feeding alternatives and bushes nearby for the faint of heart. I call fowl!

Learned today that nearly all of the Flickers in the gallery thus far are Yellow-shafted Flickers. The males have a black mustache (the Red-shafted Flicker has a red mustache) and are yellow under the tail and underwings. Will correct the index over the holiday.

11/23/11 The Starlings now swoop upon the feeders daily like noisy juvenile delinquents in a library. At one point I discovered a male and female Flicker on either side orf the suet feeder. Before I could focus the camera a Starling streaked in and blasted the female off. Still, there is an hour in the morning and in the afternoon when the only customers at the bird feeders are four goldfinches and 10-20 minute stretches of time when the feeders are empty. I just can't predict when peak traffic is going to be. It's like there is some bird dinner bell that is out of the humans hearing range and suddenly the feeders are coated with 4-6 different kinds of birds acting like they are just minutes from starving to death.

11/24/11 Added some nice pictures of a Red-tailed Hawk and Red-headed Woodpecker taken by John McConnell at Shawnee Mission Park.

11/25/11 While feeder watching I have noticed that the males and females of individual species feed in sequence rather than simultaneously. The male will frequently go first and within seconds of flying away the female will show up. I've seen this pattern with all of the woodpeckers, Titmice, Nuthatch, Cardinals and Chickadees. Both genders of Fnches, Starlings and Sparrows feed at the same time.

11/26/11 Noticed a Song Sparrow for the first time. It just searches the ground for seeds underneath the feeders. It appears to be alone.

11/27/11 Posted some very nice Red-tailed Hawk photographs taken by John McConnell at Shawnee Mission Park.

Saw a single Black-eyed Susan in the flower garden. There are still Verbena blooms despite multiple freezes.

11/28/11 Got a Duncraft Suet Sanctuary to repalce my cheep (harhar) suet feeder. Also purchased some incsect suet cakes.

No luck with the Audubon Window Feeder. It's around the corner from all of the other feeders and gets no action. I've tried a variety of seeds. I decided to move the Stokes Suet Feeder to a bush across from the window in hopes that it will generate some traffic.

The Flicker, Hairy Woodpecker and Chickaee were the first feeders at the Suet Sanctuary. The Starlings were just able to reach the center but with great difficulty.

Around 2:30 PM I saw a Carolina Wren walking around inside the Suet Sanctuary!

11/29/11 Moved the Audubon Window Feeder closer to the other feeders. Using sunflower hearts only. Game on.

No action so, staying one tiny hop ahead of the bird brains, I removed the sunflower hearts feeder and within a few hours a Chickadee was hitting the window feeder. It's always the Chickadees that are the first to volunteer to check out any new sunflower seed delivery systems.

11/30/11 Moved the last remaining Squirrel Buster nearer to the window feeder with nearly instant success. The Titmouse and Chickadee are now regulars. Moved the large feeder back to it's original position with no change in the window hits.

12/02/11 Still trying to attract a wider variety of birds to the window feeder. Towards the end of the day I tried removing all seed feeders but the Audobon Window Feeder. Nearly instant success. In addition to the Chickadee and Titmouse I scored an unruly batch of Starlings (*sigh*) and a male and female House Finch.

12/03/11 Bought an inexpensive 58mm macro lens kit to play with. Hoping that it will help me get some nice close-up pictures of insects this Spring/Summer. I like the 10+ coupled with the 4+. Already taking sophomoric shots of food and carpet fibers.

Goldfinches and House Sparrows on the window feeder this AM. The rain may be helping my quest.

Saw what looked like a brownish Nuthatch on the side of the house that is opposite of the feeders so I bought a Wild Bird Center Cheepers feeder to try to draw him out.

12/04/11 Got a few Chickadees and a Hairy Woodpecker at the remote window feeder. The woodpecker just checked out the box and the fled when it saw me. It's the first time I have seen one of these guys at a window feeder. Still hoping to see the brown bird from yesterday.

Carolina Wren at the established window feeder! He didn't go in but he sniffed around it before being scared off by Starlings.

We used to get a lot of foot traffic from Robins around the bird bath. They stopped coming around about a month ago. Two things have changed. I've added some additional feeders near the bath and I'm not changing it as often as I did when it was warmer. I see them around the neighborhood so they are "in town."

12/05/11 Tied some red ribbons around the window feeders to see if it would effect their traffic. Got a female Yellow-shafted Flicker within the hour. She was a first-time visitor to this feeder but dunno if it was related to the ribbon or not.

The Starlings are becoming a real nuisance. Going to try replacing sunflower seed with safflower seed and eliminate the water source if necessary. If this doesn't work I'll have to pull all of the feeders for a week until they go away. Why didn't someone teach me about how evil Starlings are when I was little instead of wasting my time with Santa, Christopher Columbus and Valentine's Day?

I pulled the Squirrel Buster Deluxe Feeder to dillute the Starling's food options. Curiously, the sparrows perfer this feeder. They don't seem to be able to get food from the Finch Feeder and they won't use the window feeders so with the Deluxe goes they become ground feeders with the Juncos and Pigeons.

12/06/11 One of the red ribbons from yesterday is missing. The Linksys wireless camera caught a Blue Jay on the Cheepers feeder.

12/07/11 Post some cool pictures of a Sharp-shinned Hawk taken by John McConnell.

12/08/11 Saw 3 male House Finches in the Cheepers feeder at the same time.

Found out that Safflower won't deter European Starlings. It really only works on Grackles, who are currently in Texas.

12/09/11 Added a loose woodpecker mix (large nuts and berries) to several of the window feeders yesterday. Was rewarded today with a first time visit to a window feeder by a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Blue Jays are also darting off and on long enough to collect a treasure.

Dark days. My Cheepers feeder fell out of the window, a dizzying distance of 4 feet, and cracked in half. It is now in the trash and my hands are covered in Super Glue, despite the failngs of the not-cheap Cheepers feeder, still the worst product ever to be produced. Has it every successfully joined anything together other than fingers?

12/10/11 Scrambled up to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge to get some pictures of eagles, hawks, geese and ducks. Stumbled on a pair of deer. McConnell went yesterday so will be adding loads of pictures this weekend.

12/11/11 Saw the first White-breasted Nuthatch in the window feeder this morning.

Brought the Stokes suet feeder out of retirement. I initially put it away because of the squirrel activity. Now I am using suction cups to attach it to an upper floor window. Got a hit right away from a Hairy Woodpecker.

12/12/11 First American Cardinal in the window feeder! That's just about everyone that visits the hanging feeders except for the Carolina Wren (who has only poked it's head in the feeder), the Sparrows and the ground feeders like the Juncos, Robins and Pigeons.

12/15/11 The Carolina Wren spent some quality time in the feeders today. In the past he/she either focused on the seeds dropped on the sill or just poked their heads in the feeder.

Why don't Sparrows get into window feeders? The sniff around it and then return sadly to their roost in the Forsythia.

Discovered a small chip in the window near a feeder. Could a woodpecker have done that?

12/16/11 Discovered that my American Kestrel was a Merlin courtesy of John McConnel and the Bird Savant. Got in pictures of a proper Kestrel and a Northern Harrier.

12/17/11 Saw a male House Sparrow visit one of the window feeders this morning for the first time. Usually they just visit the sill for spilt seed.

Getting some nyjer today to see if I can coax up more Goldfinches from the yard feeders to the windows.

Why do Black-capped Chickadees and House FInches (mostly females) hang out with Sparrows? Perhaps I have that perspective because I have a few Forsythia that are near the window feeders and and you can normally see these three birds together, either taking turns darting up to the feeder or just warming in the sun.

While I was fiddling around with common sparrows John was out beating the brush at Smithville lake, getting nice shots of American Kestrel, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecer and more.

12/25/11 It's a beautiful day so I scrambled out to Shawnee Mission Park to search the area beneath the dam for Bluebirds. I was hoping for some solitude because of the holiday but the park was choked with people bellowing to one another and dogs enjoying freedom from leashes. Cherry on top? 4 lunkheads throwing a football back and

forth and roaring in front of the Bluebird houses on the nature trail. Got off some good pictures of a Titmouse and a Red-bellied Woodpecker, critters that are virtually at my elbow at home. Still, it was sunny and warm and I got some walking in.

12/26/11 Added the first proper Hairy Woodpecker and Barred Owl courtesy of McConnell.

12/29/11 Ran out to Shawnee Mission Park in the afternoon. It got cloudy as soon as we got there but the temps were in the 50s so fair trade. Took the McConnel trail and saw a Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and loads of immature Red-headed Woodpeckers. The din was marvelous!

12/31/11 Made some database corrections. Our Sharp-shinned Hawk ended up being a Cooper's Hawk so Sharp-shins are now extinct at KCWildlife. Also determined that the Red-naped Sapsucker pictured at the site was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.


2010 Journal

3/27/10 Meri came by to measure a plot of yard for our flower garden.

4/1/10 Started tilling the new garden.

4/8/10 Lilacs blooming!

4/10/10 Heard a Gray Catbird in the yard for the first time this year.

Planted Irises.

4/11/10 Only about 30 percent of the flowers remaining on the Forsythia because of the weather.

4/14/10 Bought some Fountain Grass for the garden.

Forsythia blooms are at about 90%.

4/18/10 Here come the helicopters!

4/19/10 Moved Phlox from the NW garden to the new primary.

4/20/10 Still digging clay clods from the primary garden.

Lilac Bush has 2 blooms.

4/23/10 Saw a wet squirrel in the morning carry a baby wet squirrel up a tree.

4/28/10 Helicopers and elm seed are falling like crazy.

5/6/10 Roughed out the flower garden border.

5/8/10 Added a bunch of new flowers. Garden is about 60% complete.

5/23/10 Added more flowers.

5/27/10 Loads of evil but heavenly smelling Honeysuckle blooms.

6/25/10 2nd rain barrel added.

8/1/10 Belladonna Lily didn't pop up this Summer. Usually blooms in early July.

6/14/10 Got a rain barrel.

10/6/10 Fountain Grass starting to bloom.

All pictures taken in Kansas and Missouri except where noted by *

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