I got a wonderful present on Christmas Eve. After waiting eagerly for the first migratory birds to arrive on the lake, I spotted three Hooded Mergansers--two males and a female--eagerly foraging this morning. These diving ducks finds their prey underwater by sight. They have excellent underwater vision and a transparent third eyelid that protects the eye when swimming, like goggles. A serrated beak helps them catch fish, their principal food. You never know where the Merganser will pop up after a dive because they are excellent underwater swimmers.
Seeing these exotic ducks for the first time on Christmas Eve is special. Thanks, Mother Nature for such a great gift.
Here are some picures that look more like spring than winter, but they were all were taken yesterday. We've had very mild fall weather in Georgia, but on the first day of winter, I'm still surprised to see a couple of plants blooming long past the usual time. Above is an Azalea that flowers in spring and fall. A potted Lantana on the deck still ekes out a few blooms.
A brilliant Autumn Cherry is still loaded with delicate pink flowers.
I can't think of a nicer Christmas present from Mother Nature than a little taste of Spring as we get ready to hunker down for Winter!!
Now that the leaves have dropped, I’ve noticed a number of squirrel nests. That shouldn’t be a surprise since there’s so many of the marauding rodents around. Although the nests look untidy and pretty flimsy, they’re actually very sturdy. Squirrels begin by constructing a platform of twigs in the fork of a tree branch at least 20 feet off the ground, then build a skeleton of twigs woven together with vines. The outer shell consists of leaves and moss. The inner cavity is lined with soft material such as moss and grass. Even though the nests look very exposed, the inner cavity is watertight and protects the squirrels from cold and wind.
Tree squirrels also nest in cavities as well. They might take over an abandoned woodpecker nest or another natural opening. Cavities are preferable because they offer better protection from the weather.
Although squirrels might be pretty good builders, they’re also clever enough to look for the easy way out. So look out—if there’s an opportunity, they're famous for to taking up residence in cozy attics.
This isn't a picture from the summer; it was taken today--17 days before Christmas. I brought 4 Hibiscus into my garage before first frost because they wouldn't survive the winter outside. They don't really do that well inside and usually drop most of their leaves so I never expected to see a Hibiscus bloom in December. It's like getting a glimpse of summer as a Christmas present.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Eagle Cam 2013 This camera streams the activities of the eagle nest located 110 feet up, in a tree on the grounds of the US FWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.