The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scott's Oriole

Four of these fellows had quite an argument last night.  Three were chasing one.  Swooping quickly past me on the driveway, up the hill, down the canyon, circling the house.  Chirping and carrying on. 
I wonder what he did to make them so mad? 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pink California Buckwheat

She ran calling wild fire flower.

It's one of my favorite wild plants.  It's blooming now. 
The buds are a favorite food of the squirrels. 
I took this picture on a nature walk last week.
This is California Buckwheat, I've written about it in a previous post. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

birds nest

Found this on the porch last weekend.  Empty of eggs thank goodness. 
The white you see is dried wild flowers. 
It looks like it was a very soft bed for some cute baby birds to hatch on.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Attack of the Swallows

Yesterday a swarm of swallows were circling the house.  20 to 30 birds were swooping all around.  I've had a serious problem with these birds in the past.  They like to make mud nests up in the peak of the roof under the eaves.  I'd seem them flying around outside and upon closer inspection I'd find 10 of them constructing a colony of mud nests.  I'd hose the nests down with the jet spray and by the very next day they'd be back at it.  They are stubborn birds. 
Here's a pic of a mud nest I found on the internet.

The nets cost about $120.00 to have the exterminator put them up for us.
After about 2 weeks of this I finally called in a professional.  The exterminator told me that the roof peak was ideal for the birds and unless we did something this would always be a battle.  So we ended up attaching netting from the wood eave to the stucco.  It changed the shape of the space and didn't provide the solid third wall the birds required for nest construction.  It was an immediate success.  While each year the birds come back and circle the house as they did yesterday, they move on because they can't find a good place to build. 

Bloomin' Cactus

 Short Coastal Prickly Pear Cactus
May is for blooming cactuses.  The pink buds are the fruit of the cactus.  I've heard our neighbors south of the border consider it a delicacy.  This cactus is native to the area.  Like many succulents, if a branch is broken off and placed on some dirt, in the right conditions the cactus will grow.   The spikes are
1-1/4 inches long.  They have an irritant on the tips as I've learned from experience.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Anna's Hummingbird

The brilliance of the fuscia color has not been captured in these photos.  The color was so vivid and bright it reminded me of Dorothy's ruby slippers in the sunlight.

This is the male bird, the females do not have the magenta heads.  Hummingbirds sure have a fiesty spirit.  Despite being the smallest of birds, they bravely defend their territory (1/4 acre size) against other birds without fear.  They are very talkative, softly but frequently chirping. 
I often see them sitting in my pine trees.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Orange blossom special

I love the scent of an orange grove in bloom.  Nothing smells better.
This tree bloomed (and smelled wonderful) earlier this spring
and now the little baby oranges are starting to grow.
Each round green bead you see here will grow into a succulent orange.