House Finch Invasion

I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and looked out at an amazing sight. There were literally dozens of chirpy birds invading my garden, SO MANY I couldn’t even count them all.

They’re easy to identify as House Finches.

According to AllAboutBirds.org,  If House Finches discover your feeders, they might bring flocks of fifty or more birds with them. They did!

I no longer have feeders because of my arch nemeses, RATS, so what they’re feasting on here is actually an invasive species, a Brazilian Pepper tree that somehow sprouted into the neighbor’s yard and they didn’t get rid of it like we did.

The House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii). Males boast cheerful red breasts and their distinctive long, twittering song.

The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next fifty years.

There’s no way I could capture as many as there are, but I’d say definitely more than fifty of these lovely red breasted birds are visiting Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

The red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly). So the more pigment in the food, the redder the male.

This makes sense because they’re eating red berries from the pepper tree.

They stayed for about an hour, saturating my world with their most delightful song and chirpy calls to friends and family. Every tree in the garden is full of these guys as well the rosemary and lavender bushes.

I’ve never seen anything like this. For me, It’s as exciting as spotting a pod of whales or dolphin. I’m grateful they chose my garden to visit. Pure joy!

Sparkle Sunday

After the rain, the hills are technicolor green and the lagoon is full of shiny sparkles.

I think the line in the water is from the tidal flow, but I’m not 100% sure…

In The Garden: Cape Honeysuckle

After a few very rainy days, it’s dry for a while until the next storm appears. I see a bit of blue sky as the contrasting backdrop to my Cape Honeysuckle trained to climb over an arbor.

The sweet nectar of its orange-red flowers attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

The Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) produces long, thin elongated fruit capsules that contain numerous seeds easily dispersed by the wind. 

It’s easy to propagate from a cutting, so I have lots of them growing in different parts of the garden.

Yup, there’s a lot going on in this photo; a path leading to a pond, the arbor of Cape Honeysuckle and Peppermint-Striped Climbing Roses, and a giant Bird of Paradise.

Everything needs some major work, but it’s a labor of love.

#WordlessWednesday

Come Home to Nature

This art + poetry speaks to my heart. The forest is magic and full of sparkles.

Come home to the forest
Where time goes slow
and the breath is mellow
Where thoughts find rest
and calm comes to nest .
Come home to the woods
to be friends with trees
and listen to the breeze
to wander through trails
and mend your sails .
Come home to nature
when your heart is hurting
or your soul needs healing .
When something feels wrong
or you just need a place to belong .
The forest awaits
Come home, be healed …

-Bidushee Phukan-

Art by Elaine Bayley. Curated from Coyote Watch Canada

A Royal High Tide

Last week’s King Tides created the unusual sight of flooded marsh and wetlands.

Here at Agua Hedionda, freshwater creeks drain into a low-lying area meeting the sea. The ocean pushes tides and sands against the land as the creek drains its fresh water and sediment into the sea. This mix of fresh and salt water forms a brackish environment. The salinity varies with the seasonal influence of rain and storms.

Sometimes the tide is so low, we can walk all the way around to the south side where there’s a sweet little beach, but not that day!

With all of this recent rain we’ve had (and more on the way), freshwater basins appear and fill the normally dry land surrounding the lagoon.

After all these years, this is still one of my favorite views. We see the lagoon, freeway, train tracks, and Pacific ocean.

Peace, Serenity, and Joy

That’s the feeling I get from an afternoon walk around Agua Hedionda Lagoon. It’s the kind of holiday celebration I love.

This is the perfect spot to breathe and contemplate centuries of Native American history.

For ten thousand years, these rolling hills and canyons surrounding the lagoon provided shelter and food with an abundance of native plants and trees.

Indigenous peoples spent their winters making salt and gathering shellfish for food, jewelry, tools, and trade.

To the Luiseño, this area was Palmai, or “place of big water.” The Luiseño culture is noted for its mysticism and religious practices.

From “Seekers of the Spring – A History of Carlsbad” by Marje Howard-Jones:
“It was a hot and dusty afternoon when Don Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi called a halt by the banks of a tidal lagoon. According to the padre’s journal for Monday, July 17, 1769, the party had left San Alejo to the south at three in the afternoon. They had traveled one league before descending into a valley where alders sheltered a deserted Indian village. ‘We named this valley San Simon Lipnica’, he wrote. Taking special exception to the scent of decaying fish and other debris, it was the soldiers who unwittingly christened the lagoon for posterity: ‘Agua Hedionda,” the ‘stinking waters’.”

The Native American peaceful coexistence with nature created a culture whose openness and adaptability left them vulnerable to aggressive invaders, another tragic story of desecration, destruction, and appropriation.

Dragonfly To My Heart

I’m not sure why, because there’s not any water in my pond right now, but the garden was full of little dragonflies today, which made me extraordinarily happy.

The temps are up again, nearly ninety degrees, so hot it dried the sheets on the line in about half an hour, but the humidity is low with these Santa Ana winds. It’s way more pleasant than the heat/humidity wave we experienced a few weeks ago, and the nights are blissfully cool.

“I heard the wind whisper and the earth sigh, it made my soul smile as I walked by.”
Michelle Schaper

Lurking Lizard: Search and Rescue

I’m involved in a search, rescue, and release mission because a baby lizard somehow sneaked in the house.

Right now he’s lying low, evading my efforts to liberate him, lurking behind the sofa.

I’ve tried everything; this isn’t the first time it’s happened, but so far I’m not successful in this rescue and release.

And that means neither is that lizard because there’s nothing for him to eat here – no flies, worms, caterpillars, nada.

I’m only trying to help.

I cleaned behind the sofa and now there’s no dust, either.

WHERE ARE YOU, LIZARD?

A brief Google search let me know that lizards symbolize resurrection, rebirth, and regeneration. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the symbol of the lizard was representative of plentiful abundance. A lizard in one’s house is often seen to represent an old friend or acquaintance, reminding you of their spirit. 

The next morning…still no sign of this lizard, but I’m still looking. I haven’t given up yet.

Just after noon, I almost stepped on this little lizard as he was well camouflaged on a floral rug, but he made a wise choice to reveal his location. I grabbed a plastic container, pushed him in, and ran outside to set him free.

Enjoy your freedom, my friend!

Mission accomplished.

Crickets | Philosophy

Update to my dining room cricket dilemma…I was in the bathroom last night, brushing my teeth, when I looked down and witnessed the offensively loud chirping cricket hop onto the rug right near my feet.

This was quite a distance for a cricket to travel, but without really thinking about that (and I should have), I reached down, scooped him up with a page hastily torn out of a book, and dropped him in the toilet.

And flushed.

As the water was swirling and he “swam” away, I instantly thought that I had missed a valuable opportunity to have a chat with another species.

Why in the world did s/he visit me like that? Was it random or was there a message I was meant to hear?

I should have paused and taken a moment to put myself in that little cricket’s shoes (so to speak) and I now wonder what that action attempted to communicate or convey.

Instead, I lost a potential new friend and even more importantly, I acted in haste and without concern for his/her welfare.

Anyway, I’m really, REALLY sorry. Je regrette mes actions.

On the other hand, that was apparently the source of the late night chirps…

Arthur Schopenhauer said it best:

Bird of Prey

I wonder if this is the same hawk or a family member. Look at those talons!
It seems as if they no longer care if I’m outside and simply carry on with their business.
How cool is that?