Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring is coming

This is a great time of the year.  Spring migrants (usually birds) are on their way;  our winter residents are active as they're heading north.

But I'm especially looking forward to ruby-throated hummingbirds returning to the Upstate, and the spring northerly migration of monarch butterflies from their overwintering grounds in Mexico.

Journey North, a wonderful citizen science project, tracks monarchs, hummingbirds, spring migrants (birds) and other seasonal activities, thanks to generous grant funding from the Annenberg Foundation and others.

Check out this amazing image taken by Dr. Lincoln Brower of the monarchs at El Rosario, one of the main overwintering sites.

Overwintering monarchs at El Rosario

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More winter greens

It's been amazing to see what is being produced in our 'cold' Sprouting Wings greenhouse without fossil-fuel assisted heat this winter.

It's been an interesting experiment, with encouraging results.

lettuce mix from the cold greenhouse
I sowed spinach, lettuce, mesclun mix, kale, mustard greens, and corn salad in late fall.  It's been remarkably productive so fall -- we have long days, even in winter, so growth continues.

I'm planning to sow additional vegetables over the coming weeks to experiment with what's possible in this unheated polyhouse.

Lisa Wagner

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lots of winter birds in the Garden

We had a great birding outing this morning in the Garden. 

Patrick McMillan and Matt Johnson (Patrick's assistant on Expeditions and a keen birder) provided expertise.  We were a small group, so were able to see many more birds than I've ever managed to spot in the Garden before, either alone or with other birding groups.

It was more than well worth the contribution to Garden Education programs, too.

There are myriad ways to learn about birds, but digital advances have provided portable field guides with bird songs and calls on an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad. Totally wonderful.  I've had CD's and chip-based players, but these portable versions --great!

But, regardless of the digital devices, the best way to learn about birds is to go out with good birders, who point out birds and their field marks and cue you in to their calls and songs  -- so, thanks Patrick and Matt!

Birds we saw (and often were able to hear:

Red-shouldered Hawk
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Blue Jay
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Eastern Bluebird
Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
Pine Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Chipping Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch