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Monday, July 31, 2006

Recovering


Thanks to all of you who wrote us sympathy notes about the loss of Daisy, we really appreciate it. We are recovering and the things that are helping us are:
1. Kindness from friends
2. Getting joy from the bird life that continues on all around us, such as this male Ruby-throated Hummingbird who buzzes us as we sit and drink our morning coffee. We marvel at his tiny wings that beat so fast they're a blur. His jewel-red mirrored throat looks like Dorothy's shoes from the Wizard of Oz. Buttery male American Goldfinches, just starting to breed, look oh-so-perfect.
3. Chocolate
4. Our garden
5. We were at a restaurant right after Daisy died and, coincidently, they had this saying on a blackboard, "When one door of happiness closes, another opens. Often we spend so long looking at the door that has closed, we do not see the door that has opened."
We think about that and are taking our time, aware of the door that has closed, looking to the door that has opened and wondering where it will lead us.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Daisy, Goodbye

DAISY
November 22, 1992 - July 21, 2006

We recently lost Daisy, our Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She died of a tumor on her heart but was still active until just before her death. Millions of viewers of our PBS TV show, Stokes Birds At Home, knew Daisy. She appeared in many episodes of the TV show and in the rolling credits at the end of each episode, where she ran down our garden path towards the camera as Lillian called, "Daisy Come!". Here are some photos in her memory and as a celebration of her life.

She was the cutest puppy ever, and actually was a show dog for the first year of her life.

She had a good sense of humor and was always up for any fun activity. Here she is posing next to a "Snow Corgi" that we made.

High on the list of her favorite activities was ball playing. Corgis are herding dogs and this is a great activity for them. A well exercised Corgi is a happy Corgi, our breeder told us.

Daisy received lots of hugs and gave lots of love in return.

"Daisy, sit! Good dog". We took her to dog school for two years, where we became trained. Being herding dogs, Corgis need a job and obedience training is a good job for them. Not to mention, if you don't train them, they will train you and herd you into a corner.

We once had a Golden Retriever who would carry a toy around for hours. Daisy, on the other hand, would demolish her chew toys and remove the sqeakers in minutes.

She loved going for a walk, or any activity that began with "let's go". She was always happy to ride in a canoe, ride in the car, or stay with us at a hotel. It made her a very easy dog to travel with. She travelled to 30 states with us.

Her happy smiles would melt your heart, and the hearts of others. Even our friends who did not like dogs, liked Daisy.

She was an athletic dog who could run fast and turn on a dime and loved chasing her frisbee.

She could also be a cuddly puppy and snuggle in your arms.

She loved the outdoors and life at Bobolink Farm.

Even when she was lying down, she always kept an eye on us. Sometimes we felt she could read our minds.

Every day we were with her, she brought a smile to our faces.

Daisy was part of our family and we miss her terribly. She was part of our lives for almost 14 years. She will always live on in our hearts. Goodbye, Daisy.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Daisy

Daisy, our beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi, passed away on Friday, July 21. We will have some memorial photos of her up soon.

Lillian and Don

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hoping

We're always trying to up our property list of the birds we've seen here at Bobolink Farm, our NH property, so we're on the lookout for when a new species might show up. So far we've seen 172 species here. This is a great time of year to hope for a new species, because many birds have finished breeding and are on the move. Last year, our friend saw a Snowy Egret on the lake we live on, which would have been a new property species for us. By the time she called us and we went to look for it, it was gone. Oh well, there's always this year. Maybe it will show up again. Perennial optimism, a good trait to have if you're a birder.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Baby Hummingbird?

This is the time of year people write to us and say they have lots of tiny, baby hummingbirds at their flowers. Baby humingbirds are about the same size and generally look like the adult female when they leave the nest. What people are really seeing and confusing with a baby hummingbird is pictured here — a Hummmingbird Moth. This species is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe). These daytime flying moths drink nectar at flowers. We were mesmerized as we watched this one drink nectar from the flowers in our planter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Our Birding Journal




In the early mornings we sit outside on our deck, drinking coffee, and looking through our binoculars. It’s a special time of day, before we go to work, chained to our computers. We keep a journal and record the birds we see or hear, any other nature sightings, and our thoughts and feelings about this special place. We’ve been keeping the journal on almost a daily basis, since we arrived at our property, Bobolink Farm, 5 years ago.

For us, the journal is so many things:

- A record of the bird species seen here, their numbers and times of occurrence. This becomes important documentation of bird population trends, the value of the habitat here, etc.
- A motivator to keep our birding skills keen, so we are able to identify by sound, every bird we hear, and by sight, every bird we see, no matter how tiny a spec on the horizon.
- A record of our experiences that we can look back on and savor.
- Just the act of keeping it creates a special, shared moment each day, when we have a heightened sensitivity to this place we treasure. The journal connects us to, and helps us develop, our sense of place.

All photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Daylilies!


Yesterday we went to R. Seawright Gardens who grow over 600 varieties of beautiful daylilies! You can buy them there or by mail order. Owned by our friends, Bob and Love Seawright, the gardens are a feast for the eye and an irresistible temptation to daylily lovers like us. We wandered the rows and rows of daylilies, ooh -ing over the plants we passed, each more alluring than the next. We were like kids in a candy store. There were pastels and near whites and everything through the spectrum of colors to the hot, hots like "Bandit Man" shown above.

Even though we already own many daylilies, we always find room in our garden at this time of year to buy and squeeze in several more. Dayliles are our kind of garden plant, tough and carefree, with attractive foliage and beautiful blooms. They even attract Tiger Swallowtail butterflies in the spring who drink their nectar. We try and collect many kinds and colors and ones that bloom early, mid, and late in the season, so we get a long period of bloom. We've even found daylilies named after birds, a must have for us. So in our garden we have "Mallard", and "Cedar Waxwing".

All photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pied-billed Grebe

Yesterday we saw a Pied-billed Grebe on our lake. They're listed as a state endangered species in our state of New Hampshire, so it was thrilling to have this bird use the cove in front of our house.
We think they're underrated. What's there not to love. They have poofy white undertail coverts, kinda like a Corgi's rear. They're cute, small waterbirds that dive and catch fish and water insects. One of our favorite things is the way they can just lower their bodies and sink out of sight, like a submarine. They give a low staccato sound like kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk that we think sounds a lot like laughing. A bird with a sense of humor.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Eastern Cottontail: Rabbit Run


A frisky new rabbit has shown up at Bobolink Farm, our NH property. Rabbits are not common where we live, and we haven't seen on in years. The bunny comes out at dusk and races around the lawn, showing amazing speed and agility. All the better to avoid a predator, like a coyote, if necessary.
This is probably an Eastern Cottontail rabbit. Scientists say they're very hard to tell apart in the field from the look-alike, and rarer species, the New England Cottontail. New England Cottontails supposedly do not have a white spot on their forehead. As you can see in the bottom photo, this bunny does.
Meanwhile, we are enjoying the bunny antics. Run, rabbit run. But just stay ot of the garden!!

All photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Canoe Ride with Daisy

"Daisy, you want to go for a canoe ride"?
Daisy is our beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Corgis are very smart and Daisy has a large vocabulary so she knows what "canoe" means. Daisy is over thirteen and a half years old, quite senior for a Corgi, who usually live twelve to fifteen years. Her health is beginning to fail, so we try and do nice things with her, treasuring every moment we have with her.

Daisy running to the canoe. A canoe ride is one of her favorite things.

Daisy says, "Come on Lillian, get in the canoe we're waiting for you".

Looking out for wildlife from the canoe.

Lillian took the "Stokes Birding Series 8 x 25 Meadowlark Binocular", lightweight and compact, perfect for travelling in the canoe.

We spotted a mother Mallard and her five ducklings, rather camouflaged against the reeds at the edge of the lake. Daisy did not bark, we have taught her not to bark at birds. Be safe Mallards.

Daisy's special spot in the canoe is by Lillian's side at the bow. Daisy has learned just how to keep her nose inside the canoe edge so the paddle doesn't whack her nose with each stroke. She gets to look out and feel the breeze, kinda like a dog riding in a car with the window down.

Now there's a happy Corgi.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Summer Image

I like this image of our weathered bird house a wren has stuffed with twigs, Orange Daylilies, the orange Trumpet Honeysuckle, "Dropmore Scarlet" and, behind the bird house, orange buds of "Autumn Sunset" climbing rose.
The common orange Daylilies, Hemerocallis fulva, remind me of summer days, swimming in cool lakes and ice cream.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Eastern Phoebe: Security System

Nesting Eastern Phoebe with metal baffle around nest
Mrs. Phoebe incubating
Phoebe catching insects

We are very fond of our Eastern Phoebes. Three years ago, when they nested in our barn, their eggs were eaten by a Red Squirrel who climbed into the rafters. We were very upset. The female left and we sadly watched, as Mr. Phoebe spent the rest of the summer, alone, calling for a mate. He was not successful.

We were determined, when they returned the following year, that we were going to outwit the Red Squirrel (yes, we know, often a futile exercise). How could we protect the nest so the Red Squirrel and other predators could not get the eggs? We came up with the idea of making a baffle out of sheet metal. While the Phoebes were building the nest, we put a piece of metal up each day, so that we gradually got them used to the idea of the metal baffle surrounding their nest. We were ecstatic, when the baffle worked, and they successfully raised two broods last year.

This year when they returned, we talked to them and strongly suggested they build their nest on top of last year's nest. Otherwise, we would have to move the whole baffle set-up. Smart Phoebes that they are, that's exactly what they did.

They're on their second brood now and Mrs. Phoebe is incubating eggs. She's quite tolerant of us walking past the barn opening and working in the garden outside the barn, but leaves the nest when we walk under it. So we try to disturb her as little as possible. We look forward to the babies hatching and having the Phoebes hunt in the garden for insects, as we sit in the gazebo and watch.

All photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bird-o-philia: Why We Bird

Why do we bird?
In asking ourselves “why we bird” we can come up with many of the usual reasons — the thrill of finding rare species, the reward of attracting birds and being surrounded by their beauty and song, the fascination of witnessing their behavior, etc.

But “why we bird” goes far deeper for us. It is more primal, a deep need; our magnetic attraction to birds seems as as important to us as the air we breathe. We crave a connection to birds and feel more whole and alive when we are near them.

We think this need is a lot like what the famous sociobiologist, E.O. Wilson describes in his book, Biophilia, as “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” Biophilia means “love of life or living systems”, positive feelings that people have toward certain objects in their natural surroundings. We feel that biophilia is what makes us seek out birds. So we'll coin the term, "Bird-o-philia".

Each of us came to that feeling separately in our own lives and that desire in each of us is what brought us together in marriage. Don was introduced to birds as a child and, as an adult, came to write a book about bird behavior. Lillian had become riveted on birds as a young adult, fascinated by their behavior and also an avid hawkwatcher. Little did she know when she signed up for a course on bird behavior at the Massachusetts Audubon Society that the instructor would turn out to be Don Stokes. As they say, the rest is history.

Our separate passion for birds led us to one another and to a life in which our passion has become our vocation. From that beginning, we have made it our life’s work to interest others in birds so that they, too, may develop this passion.

Photo by John Hession

Monday, July 03, 2006

Red, White and Blue

(Northern Cardinal)
Red
(Great Egret)
White
(Indigo Bunting)
and Blue

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

All photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006