Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Carroll Adams' White Pelicans

Carroll Adams must put something in the water outside her home that attracts birds. Last year she had Bald Eagles in January, and a little later in March was visited by American White Pelicans. They rarely come through here. I've never seen them before at all, but Damien Simbeck, wildlife specialist with TVA, said he has seen them before at Wilson Dam, but that was long ago. Who knows what brought them here, but here they were.

Male & Female paddle together

I looked them up on enature.com and a few other sites, and wanted to share this information with whoever may be interested:

An American White Pelican lands among Cormorants

"American White Pelicans are gregarious birds, often associated with Double-crested Cormorants. A flock of migrating American White Pelicans is a majestic sight-a long line of ponderous birds, flapping and coasting. Each bird seems to take its cue from the one in front of it, beginning to flap and starting a glide when its predecessor does. These birds ride rising air currents to great heights, where they soar slowly and gracefully in circles.

These birds are more buoyant than Brown Pelicans and do not dive for their food. They cooperate to surround fish in shallow water, scooping them into their pouches. They take in both water and fish, and then hold their bills vertically to drain out the water before swallowing the food. Because of pesticides, human disturbance, and the draining of wetlands, this species is in decline. The number of active colonies has dropped sharply in recent decades.

description 55-70" (1.4-1.8 m). W. 8' (2.4 m). A huge white bird with a long flat bill and black wing tips. In breeding season, has short yellowish crest on back of head and horny plate on upper mandible. Young birds duskier than adults." (Source: enature.com)

You'll notice that some of the White Pelicans are sporting a horny plate on their upper mandible - these are the males, and this was obviously breeding season. We had American White Pelicans fooling around on Wheeler Lake - I think that's pretty cool.

NEWS FLASH: I just received an e-mail from audubon regarding the 11th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Friday, February 15-Monday, February 18. Here's the link - check it out: http://www.birdcount.org.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Crepe Myrtle Fun in the Sun!

Bay Hill Conservancy members gathered at the corner of Rivers Edge Way and Conservancy Way to finish the crepe myrtle project this afternoon. For those who are new to the Conservancy, this project was our way of thanking Rivers Edge Condominium's HOA who graciously loaned us use of their conference room for our first two meetings. The sun was shining but the winds were brisk out of the north and west. My heavens, we all had our hats and hoodies yanked up over our ears to keep out the chill throughout most of the task!
Jan Perkins and Betty Benson pet the branches to soothe them after pruning

Carroll Adams gave a tutorial about "How To Prune (and not murder) a Crepe Myrtle" while Debi Bradford did a demonstration. From the middle of Rivers Edge Way Carroll, Betty Harrison and Linda Grinde headed north to work together, and Debi, Jan Perkins and Betty Benson headed south. Splitting the task made the work go smoothly and quickly.

Betty Harrison works her magic on this crepe myrtle.
Thanks for letting me take your photo, Betty!

The longer we worked the better the trees began to look. Several large branches were cut off, opening the trees thus allowing more sunlight and air flow within the canopy, promoting healthy growth. These particular crepe myrtles had never been pruned since being planted several years ago, and they were in desperate need.
Carroll Adams prunes off a dead branch

The entire event was quite fun! We laughed about petting the tree branches to soothe the cambium, and there was a rumor going around that some were talking to them as well. I wouldn't have been surprised - we all felt a kindship with these crepe myrtles and are looking forward to see them bloom this summer.

Linda Grinde attempts to weed the impossible

BUT WAIT! While the rest of us are standing upright working on trees Linda Grinde, with the help of Betty Harrison, are on hands and knees trying their hardest to weed the landscape beds in front of the Rivers Edge signs. It was indeed impossible. The beds haven't been kept up, and bermuda grass has completely taken them over. We'll have to leave that to Rivers Edge HOA to handle as they'll probably need to be completely redone. In Our Collective Humble Opinions, anyway!
Our First Bay Hill Conservancy project is over, and was a huge success! Carroll and Debi would like to thank Linda Grinde, Betty Benson, Betty Harrison and Jan Perkins for brandishing pruners and garden tools and braving the elements to thank our friends at Rivers Edge Condominiums.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Carroll Adams' Eagles

Carroll Adams and I drove northwest toward Waterloo in search of bald eagles the past two Januarys. You can read the stories on my blog, The Giraffe Head Tree, which you can link to from here - see the list to the left. However, last year Carroll and Wilda, perhaps others, had the good fortune to be visited by two bald eagles who swooped and played and ate fishes right outside their homes. Carroll took these shots and gave me permission to share them with everyone.

That is (was) one gigantic catfish.

Carroll should really tell her story about these eagles - perhaps in the comment area. If she sends me details I'll edit the post for everyone. In the meantime, I'll just post a couple more photos as they speak for themselves. Keep your eyes peeled for these glorious birds - rumor has it they've been spotted by several here over the past few weeks.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Bay Hill Conservancy's first Work Day was glorious, sunny and in the mid-50's. Four happy souls enjoyed camaraderie and laughs while pruning the crepe myrtles along Rivers Edge Way, and weeding the beds located at the signs beside Snake Road. My personal apologies to Linda Grinde - I didn't give her enough time to stand upright before taking this shot! Sorry Linda!

Betty Benson, Linda Grinde, Carroll Adams and Debi Bradford worked down the eastern side of the road, pruning and weeding. Carroll took pride in placing the lighting once more in proper spots or setting them correctly. Betty and Linda weeded the eastern-most bed. Kayla Bradford and Baylee Bradford come to visit. Carroll handed out ACES informational sheets on how to prune crepe myrtles - a complete tutorial will ensue during the next Work Day.

We did NOT finish! After working an hour and a half we were very tired and "slap happy." We agreed to schedule another work day SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1:00pm - weather permitting. BYOT again, and we suggest bringing water. There are about 8 more large crepe myrtles to prune, and some finish work to do. I cannot stress enough one point of our mission - education. Every one of us have lots to share, and we all want our community to band together for the larger good. Please support your Bay Hill Conservancy.