Brown Eyed Bushtit visits

Another cute brown-eyed bushtit visited the backyard and patio. It was foraging for insects and seemed to find some delicacies. Here it is checking out dried seeds of the California figwort (bee plant) Scrophularia californica. To the right is a bright magenta blossom of the Chiapas salvia shrub. About to check out the rosemary pot. And bold enough to visit the bird bath while a golden crowned sparrow bathes.

Bombus californicus in the ceanothus

The ceanothus is abuzz all day, and now the California bees Bombus californicus are out after their winter rest, as well. Look at the pollen baskets on this bee! The same bee, upside down. I wonder if these are nesting underground or in the tufts of native grasses that are growing nearby in our native patch. Another California bumble bee approaching a flower head on the Ray Hartman ceanothus shrub. These bumble bees are very quick, darting around with sudden movements.

Even the Western Scrub Jay enjoys a bath

There is at least one Western Scrub Jay that visits the bird bath several times a day, sometimes to drink water and sometimes to bathe. Usually smaller birds visit and bathe here, and as you can see, the bath isn't very big. But somehow the jay feels very comfortable in it, too. Like the other birds, this one loves to splash in the cool, clear water for several minutes per visit. Forward dive into the water, eyes peering over the rim of the bath. A very wet bird having a pensive moment before resuming its bathing fun. An elegant turn around in the water

The natives are starting to bloom

Throughout the year there are always wonderful surprises awaiting in our garden. After winter rains (hopefully there will be spring showers as well) some of the native plants are slowing but surely producing blossoms. The bright yellow Siskiyou Woolly Sunflower Eriophyllum lanatum 'Siskiyou' blossom is almost hidden by California poppy foliage. The Siskiyou Woolly Sunflower is a host plant for painted lady butterflies. One of the first blossom heads on the Verbena De La Mina Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' - Cedros Island Verbena shrub. This is considered a great nectar source for butterflies and bees. It definitely is a favorite of ivory digger bees. And of course, our Ray Hartman ceanothus s

Yellow faced bumble bee and the Ray Hartman ceanothus blossoms

Oh how happy it makes me to see the yellow faced bumble bees back in the garden! Yesterday, when the temperatures were in the upper 60's and it was sunny, this bumble bee spent time around the Ray Hartman ceanothus shrub, feeding on nectar. Look carefully and you will see pollen on its legs. The pollen sticks to the bee when it rolls around among the blossoms. These bees are so cute and fuzzy. They are easy to distinguish by their large round bodies, yellow face, and yellow rear stripe.

Drama at the birdbath

I'm starting to notice different species of birds sharing and not sharing the birdbath. Usually just one bird at a time will savor the pleasure of diving and splashing in solitude. But then there are those times when multiple birds want their turn and get impatient. In this instance, as a golden crowned sparrow splashed in the bath, a hermit thrush flew to a branch of the fig tree nearby. I suspect the hermit thrush is the same bird that is in the bath early in the morning, and again just before sundown. The hermit thrush seemed annoyed that the bath was occupied by the sparrow. It flew from the branch into the bath and ousted the sparrow. The thrush is on the left, the sparrow on the right

American robins are back

Before I even see any of these birds, I always can tell when they are back from their very distinctive chatter and chirps. And I could hear them last week. They always gather high up in our neighbor's redwood tree. Yesterday morning my patience was rewarded as I stared up at the tree. A few of the birds decided to hang out on lower branches. This one spent time preening its feathers. And this robin sat in the warmth of the sun as it decided on the direction to fly.

The bees are visiting

Although it was cool and gusty for part of the day, it was sunny. And some bees seemed okay with that. Here is a honey bee on one of the lavender plants in the front yard. Both plants have been blooming throughout the winter, providing food for the pollinators. Meanwhile a large hover fly visited the yellow coastal lupine shrubs.

Golden Crowned Sparrows visiting

It brings such pleasure to observe so much bird activity in our backyard and patio. When we moved to our current residence, the garden beds around the patio were quite bare, just a lot of soil. We didn't have many birds visiting because there wasn't much for them to eat or shrubs to forage around. Now, a couple of years later, the mostly native shrubs and grasses have grown, creating a habitat for wildlife visitors. Golden crowned sparrows are a very welcome sight in the winter. They visit in groups of six or eight, several times a day, often ending their visit with some splashing in the bird bath. They seem to find a lot to eat. Here, after a rainstorm, one of them is eating aphids off the

Oh, what a sunset!

I've always loved to look at sunsets. Every day they are different. Sometimes they are serene, with a soft pastel apricot hue above dark, inky blue mountains and hills below. And then there are the dramatic ones, like this one from yesterday evening. It's quite unusual with several layers of different cloud formations.

bees in the bay breeze

For years I have been sharing ideas, gardening tips and recipes  with family, friends and colleagues.

And now I'd like to share them with you!


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