12/27/14 John and Jo got pictures of the Townsend's Solitaire at Shawnee Mission Park. Will add to the gallery soon.

12/25/14 Still getting yellow Forsythia blooms. Nature even confuses nature. You can use that line if you want. It's good.

12/22/14 Posted some of John's wonderful Pileated Woodpecker pictures from this weekend.

12/14/14 I just don't get the migration path of Robins. They are everywhere right now, singing like it's Spring. I like it, I just don't get it.

12/08/14 Squaw Creek with John and Jo. Saw Trumpeter Swans, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Mallard, Grebe, Red-tailed Hawks, Song Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Northern Cardinals, Downeys and more.

12/08/14 Add White-breasted Nuthatch to the In-house feeder list.

12/07/14 Please welcome Carolina Wrens to the Coveside Panoramic In-house Window Bird Feeder. Current list of visitors: House Finch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Chickadee, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal and the Wren.

11/29/14 Look! A non-In-house bird feeder update. Though I should mention that Blue Jays are now coming inside. Anyhoo, drove once around Wyandotte County Lake. Saw a Pied-billed Grebe, Coots, Ruddy Ducks, loads of Mallards and Canada Geese, immature Bald Eagle and Cormorant. Woodland birds were active - Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Cardinals, Blue Jays, House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Bluebirds, Red-bellied and Red-headed Woodpeckers, Flickers and Downys. Saw European Starlings starting to gather in menacing gangs on power lines.

11/25/14 White-throated Sparrows are now regular In-house feeder visitors.

11/20/14 OK, last In-house bird feeder update for a while. One of my fears was that House Sparrows or European Starlings would discover and dominate the feeders. Curiously, while sharing the space with House Finches, Juncos and Chickadees, the Cardinals, the most frequent visitors, absolutely will not tolerate the presense of Starings or Sparrows.

11/18/14 Chickadees walking around the In-house feeder like they own the place. One Junco took the tour.

11/17/14 House Finches and Cardinals are now entering the In-house feeder regularly. Chickadees and Nuthatches have been eating on the edge of the entry point. As the food disappears from the entrance I suspect more birds will be taking the walk. I really believe that putting up the Perky Pets suction cup feeder right above the In-house helped attract customers.

11/16/14 Was watching the window feeder when I saw a hawk swoop into the yard and claim a male House Sparrow. He flew up into a tree with it and started the painstaking process of pulling feathers. They were like flurries.

11/15/14 Finally got a walk-in on the In-house feeder. A male cardinal took the plunge several times during the afternoon. A male house finch was watching so I suspect he's next to take the tour.

11/11/14 The Forsythia have blooms on them, perhaps confused by the warm day yesterday. We are in the 20s and 30s the rest of this week.

11/10/14 Went outside to take a last look at the garden (nearly 70 degrees today) before it is finished off tonight by this artic front. Found a beautiful Common Checkered-Skipper on a tiny bit of a sage bloom. Godspeed, little doodle.

Seeing more raptor activity around the neighborhood the last few weeks.

11/09/14 Still no visitors in the In-house feeder and only a few in the Perky Pets bait feeder. The cold front tomorrow may change some hearts and minds.

11/07/14 Placed a Perky Pets window feeder about the In-house feeder to try to get some customers. Scored a cardinal in the Perky Pets feeder and a house sparrow *shudder* peeking into the In-house feeder but nobody has crossed the threshold yet. The sparrow peek is a little troubling. Like juncos, sparrows rarely get in the Perky Pets feeder. Perhaps because it's in the middle of the window. The In-house feeder on the other hand is right at sill level. Walk right in, sit right down.

11/06/14 Added a Coveside Panoramic In-house Window Bird Feeder with Mirrored Panel to the winter feeder collection. Still waiting on the first visitor.

10/24/14 Poked around Shawnee Mission Park in the morning. Saw Cedar Waxwings, Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Bluebird, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, American Goldfinch, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Franklin's Gull, Cooper's Hawk, Mallard, Canada Goose, Northern Cardinal, Bluejay, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird and, I THINK, a Black Vulture.

10/20/14 Spent a half week in Southern Missouri. Notes:

Found Black Bear scat!

Saw a Missouri Tarantula scrambling across the road. It HAD to be 4 inches in diameter as it was easily visible from the car. We actually swerved to avoid it.

Southern Missouri and Arkansas are thick with Monarchs and Buckeyes. Along the lake, in parking lots, in traffic - everywhere.

Saw a Bald Eagle get mobbed by crows. They were fearless, dive-bombing him and even sitting within a few feet of him on a branch shrieking at him.

Large flocks of Robins came through every morning.

10/14/14 Poking around in the garden looking for the odd Syrphid fly or wasp when I bumbled upon a Garter Snake coiled in the top of a Joe Pye Weed flower head. Startled is fair.

10/12/14 Juncos are here!

Gardens are still full of Robins.

10/08/14 Trees and backyard are filled with Robins today. Bittersweet as I know it is a going and not a coming situation.

Helped a friend moving stuff around in her garden. Brought home a big pile of phlox, lythrum and native asters to add to my gardens. Got some poor photographs of a Six-spotted Neolema in the bargain.

10/06/14 Robins have been around for the last few days. It sounds like Spring.

10/05/14 Heard a Great-horned Owl declaring his territory in the backyard tonight. Complete with spooky moon.

10/02/14 A steady dose of rain during the day produced some interesting creatures on the porch screen. Got my first Twenty-Spotted Lady Beetle, Prairie Tree Cricket, Clover Looper and Euxesta notata - one of the Picture-winged Flies.

09/28/14 The garden is still beautiful and getting plenty of action. Saw my first Dainty Sulphur and in early evening caught a White-lined Sphinx and Monarch on the same Butterfly Bush bloom.

09/26/14 Having fun hunting moths. Adding a couple of new critters to the gallery every night.

09/25/14 Migrating Monarchs are here! I have averaged 2-4 Monarchs in the yard simultaneously over the last month. Today there were 6 on one aster plant and two more skirmishing nearby. There were 6-8 in the yard all day.

09/24/14 The bleak late Summer has an upside. The gardens are still full of blooms and the blooms are still full of insecets. The Mums, the last plants yet to bloom, are a few sunny days away.

09/22/14 The 20 Black Swallowtail caterpillars from 2 days ago are all gone.

09/21/14 Went out early in the morning and discovered that the Goldenrod blooms were full of sleeping insects. The Pitcher Sage had a beautiful Monarch snoozing on it.

Curiously, the Guara is blooming like crazy. Didn't get a first wave during the summer.

09/20/14 Found my first Black-and-Yellow Lichen Moth.

Counted nearly 20 Black Swallowtail cats in my dill and fennel yesterday. Could only find 5 today.

09/19/14 After many cloudy cool days we finally got a decent Autumn day in and the bugs showed up in droves. The Goldenrod blooms were swaying with the weight of bees. Loads of butterflies, wasps, Webworm moths, Black Blister Beetles, Locust Borers, Carrot Wasps and more.

09/17/14 Planted some Pitcher Sage cuttings.

09/16/14 Planted some Lavender and Russian Sage cuttings. Let's see how long it takes for them to root. I'm guessing 10 days on the Russian Sage.

The squirrels are doing that repetitive screeching thing.

Pulled up some big clumps of asters that were too aggressive. One yanking left a bit of a crater that about 10 minutes later had a small rabbit sitting in it.

09/15/14 I think my "interesting yellow and red long trumpet-shaped flowers" from 9/13 are Wild Petunias.

Added Hostas and Monkey Grass to the new garden. Had to cut back all fo the Anemone, especially the pink, as the leaves were crunchy.

09/13/14 Saw some interesting yellow and red long trumpet-shaped flowers coming up in the wildlflower garden.

Planted Ligularia and a bunch of Anemone in the front yard. Moved 3 Azalea bushes from the back to the front.

09/12/14 Saw a Giant Swallowtail guide through the yard the other day. Despite the abundance of Goldenrods and Asters it did not stop for a bite. I need to get some Meadow Rue for next year.

09/11/14 That funny time of year when everything tries to wring out a few more blooms before winter. Most of them are saddish but the effort is appreciated.

09/10/14 Can't find the Monarch cat so hoping he's off doing something cool. He was getting pretty long and plump and with his gaudy markings it's amazing if some bird didn't snack on him. Hell, I even thought about it.

09/08/14 The Wren calls are louder and more constant than in the Spring:


09/07/14 It's "Inornate Pyrausta Moth in Pitcher Sage" day. Monarch Cat is still chewing up Butterfly Weed leaves.

09/06/14 Montey the Monarch is still cleaning up Butterfly Weed leaves. It's odd seeing him move around amongst 30 or 40 Milkweed Bugs.

09/05/14 Found a Monarch caterpillar on a Butterfly Weed leaf.

09/04/14 Seeing Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks in the yard every day.

09/02/14 Counted over a dozen Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the Dill. Can't find any of the Inornate Pyrausta Moth caterpillars on the Pitcher Sage.

08/30/14 Walked around Leawood Baptist Church because the Oxeye Sunflower and Sweet Autumn Clematis was abundant along the creek. They didn't bloom during the drought last year.

08/29/14 Found batches of Inornate Pyrausta Moth caterpillars on the Pitcher Sage. Will be fun to watch them turn.

08/28/14 There are Milkweed Bugs and Goldenrod Soldier Beetles everywhere.

08/27/14 I'm still seeing Thrashers and Cat Birds in the yard. I think the Robins have been gone for a few weeks now.

08/23/14 Here's what August 23rd, 2014 is like. Butterflies everywhere. Spiderwebs everywhere. Dark at 8 PM.

08/20/14 Again, just super buterfly-y out. Saw Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, Eastern Tigers, Pipevine, Eastern Comma and the usual assortment of skippers that I can't identify. Also found a Monarch caterpillar that I couldn't find again later.

08/19/14 Monarchs are finally all over the yard. Generally 3 at a time but as many as 6 or 7 for a few minutes. They seem to quarrel a lot. Blue Mist has heads!

08/17/14 First hot, sunny day decent for bugging in a long time. I took advantage of it. Running out of new blooms. All that's left are Mums, Blue Mist, Sawtooth Sunflower and Sedum. Many plants are starting their 2nd bloom sequence.

08/11/14 Black-eyed Susans are peaking. Great butterfly day. Three Monarchs in the yard for most of the day. Black and Tiger Swallowtails, Silver-spotted and other Skippers. Obedient Plant about ready to bloom.

08/08/14 Spent a week birding and bugging in Grand Marais, MN. Fun to see the warblers on Artists' Point. Lake Superior was blue blue blue. Herring Gull were noisy noisy noisy.

08/02/14 Visited Neal Smith National Wildlife Reserve in Prairie City, IA. Marvelous! Also visited the wildflower maze in Story City, IA and Lime Creek Nature Center's butterfly garden in Mason City, IA.

08/01/14 Checked out Squaw Creek in the AM. Not much going on. Loads of wonderful dragonfiles and other insects. Drove to Bethany Missouri after to see the Dunn Ranch Prairie. Had a wonderful time checking out the place with Keith. Keith collects wildflower seeds for the prairie.

07/31/14 Saw 2 or 3 monarchs in the garden while having dinner outside. Also Eastern Tigers, Black and Pipevine Swallowtails.

07/30/14 Decided to remove the goldenrod anywhere it was smothering phlox. Also misted them with a dishwashing soap/water solution. Now we play the waiting game.

07/29/14 I have a large and pretty dense wildflower garden. Over the last few years I began adding native asters and goldenrod thoughout the gardens. I noticed this year, as the new additions began to get aggressive, that I had an abundance of little red Plant Bugs, especially on my Phlox. I also noticed that the leaves on much of the Phlox were mottled this year and the blooms were very poor. I am trying to figure out if this is a result of over-crowding or somehow related to the Plant Bugs.

07/28/14 It's that dreadful time of year when the mimics have found mates, raised their families, and are silenced until next April.

07/25/14 I've been seeing the large black wasp that I saw just once a month ago. It zooms erratically (definitely NOT erotically) through the mint and Black-eyed Susan blooms in the gardens. It is surely 2 inches long. It never rests in the open, though I did see it sit on a mint bloom for about a seceond and a half. Despite having a camera with me, I used that time to slacken my jaw and clench my anus. I can't imagine how it catches anything because it is so fast. Not fast and then slow down. Just fast. Perhaps it catches things in flight.

07/24/14 The Goldfinches have declared the Echinacea ready to ride.

Losing daylight every day. It seems like it we've already lost 30+ minutes in the morning and 30+ in the evening. Wah.

07/21/14 After weeks of unseasonably cool weather, including some record lows for July, we finally had a few hot days in a row and of course the Surpise Lilies popped right up. They are usually up around the 4th of July when we normally start getting temps into the 90s.

07/13/14 Starting to see White-lined Sphinx in the evening.

07/12/14 It's been a good year for buggery. I've been adding at least one new find a day. Just crossed over 400 unique insects/spiders in the gallery.

07/10/14 Added a cheap diffuser to the macro camera and am delighted with the results. Like.

07/09/14 I was wrapping up shooting for the day when I came upon two mating Candy-striped Leafhoppers. In less than a second after seeing them a European Paper Wasp descended upon them and dismantled them in about 20 seconds.

Second horrifc garden event - I thought I caught the movement of a Hummingbird out of the corner of my eye amongst the top of the Echinacea. I have no idea what it actually was but I've never seen one before. It was somewhere between a Sphynx moth and a Hummingbird in size - with wings and legs. It was jet glossy black and was wasp like in appearance. It seemed to be hunting the tops of flowers for insects. I can't emphasize enough how large it was. I was spellbound and didn't get off a single shot, despite having the camera in my hands.

07/07/14 Found some aphids on a goldenrod plant. Aphids are essentially the wildebeest of the insect world so I ought to start seeing more predators soon.

07/04/14 Hummingbirds are finally coming around and riding the Bee Balm and Rose of Sharon.

07/03/14 Photographed my first Monarch of the year today. Echinacea was the winning ticket.

I've been seeing Robins and Thrashers laying in the mulch on their bellies with their wings spread over the past 10 days. Quite startling. Discovered that it's normal behavior and that it could be something as innocuous as heating up their wings to stir mites into a better plucking position.

06/30/14 Still bugging like a madman. Taking 300-500 pictures a day. I don't get something new every day but I do see the once-a-year bugs and get an opportunity to try to improve their representation in the image gallery.

06/25/14 Jezebel and I had a look around the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Gardens, Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center & Kauffman Legacy Park. Saw Green Heron, Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds, Carolina Wrens, Brown Thrashers and loads of your favorite backyard birds.

06/21/14 True to my nature, on this first day of summer I find myself preparing myself for the end of summer. To cheer myself up I counted the plants that have yet to bloom in the garden and came up with over 2 dozen.

06/20/14 Went to Power Gardens. Mostly interested in checking out the bug action.

06/18/14 We've hit that lull where nothing new is blooming.

06/15/14 Bugged a little and then headed to Trenton Reed Rockville Run with Rachel to see what we could find. Bobwhite, Horned Lark, American Kestrel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were the highlights.

06/14/14 Any second not spent out in the flower garden while the sun is out feels like I am being robbed. Here's the rub if there are multiple sunny days: I have work-work to do, then I take 500-600 bug/flower pictures and then go do evening work-work. These pictures still need hours worth of sorting, identifiying, processing and posting. But it's the next day AND IT'S SUNNY so back out I go. So, after 3 days of this nonsense I end up with thousands of images that need to be processed and am stuck in a chair for a full day doing it. Birding is simpler. You go on a walk somewhere, you see 6-12 birds and you photograph them. You go through your 100-200 pictures and post them in an hour. Wah, America. Wah.

06/13/14 The final phase of dick insects is in full swing. Bees, wasps, assassin bugs, ambush bugs and wheel bugs a-go-go! Now nobody is safe.

06/08/14 Drove around Miami County and then visited the Overland Park Arboretum. Got to meet Ken O'Dell! Saw Pileated Woodpecker, Summer Tanager, Meadowlark, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Horned Lark, Lark Sparrow and loads of cool butterflies. Heard a Red-shouldered Hawklet in the nest. BTW, we walked for a couple of hours and didn't get a single mosquito bite.

06/07/14 There are an abundance of Ladybugs, Plant Bugs (EVERYWHERE!) and other predators in the garden this year so it's going to be a rough year for Aphids. I saw a Crab Spider eating one yesterday like corn on the cob.

06/06/14 I've been bugging every spare minute over the last few days. Having to re-learn everybody's name.

06/04/14 Ran out to the end of 151st street to see the Painted Bunting. Saw at least 2 male Painted Buntings (saw 2 brawling while I was tracking another) and one female. Also saw Indigo Bunting and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Thank you Rodney Wright & Jeff Wayman for sharing the location.

06/02/14 Just bought 20 pounds of sunflower hearts. It will be interesting to see how that holds up to the steady line of trembly-winged, open-holed babies.

06/01/14 Saw my first yard Firefly last night.

05/31/14 Sill taking pictures of bugs and blooms as often as I can. A wide variety of Plant Bugs are everywhere in the garden. The wildflower garden has been a wondeful early nectar source for insects.

05/28/14 Bugging season is full on! Had a great day hunting in the gardens. Meet the Beetles.

05/27/17 Ran to KCP&L Wetlands to see if I could score a shot of the Sora. Failed. Did get some pictures of Northern Water Snake, Common Muskrat, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and about a gabillion Long-tailed Grackles.

05/26/14 Sniffed around some Missouri parks with no significant yield. Came home to two Great Crested Flycatchers in the backyard.

05/25/14 Searched Heritage Park in the morning before engaging in put-the-camera-back-in-the-bag activities.

05/24/14 Wilson's Phalarope looking for food at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Great Bend, KS

05/21/14 Was excited to scramble out to Gardner, KS to see the freshly re-opened KCP&L wetlands. I had forgotten that there weren't any paths without grass and with tick season in full swing I had a hard time concentrating. Did manage to see Dr. Nick, Caspian Tern, Dickcissel, Wilson's Phalarope, Forster's Tern, Killdeer, Blue-winged Teal, Red-tailed Hawk, Great-tailed Grackles, Green Heron, American Goldfinch and all the other critters you might expect to find there.

Swainson's Thrush in the bird bath and Common Nighthawks passing over the house. Old baby like.

05/19/14 Still identifying birds from the Cheyenne Bottoms trip while planning new trips for the week. Brett announced that the migrants in the Kansas City area have officially gone North.

05/17/14 A trip to the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Great Bend, KS produced a nice pile of lifers for me, including:

Wilson's Phalarope
Ring-necked Pheasant
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Least Sandpiper
American Avocet
White-faced Ibis
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-necked Stilt
Western Meadowlark
Swainson's Hawk
Black Tern
Long-billed Dowitcher
Stilt Sandpiper
Snowy Egret
Blue Grosbeak
Cliff Swallow
Marbled Godwit

05/16/14 John got the coveted Nighthawk-sleeping-on-a-fence shot at the Fitch Natural History Reservation in Lawrence, KS.

05/15/14 Finally made it through the Shawnee Mission Park birding pictures from the 13th. Photographed American Redstart, Philadelphia Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Swainson's Thrush, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Warbling Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Wood-Pewee and more. Saw and heard, but could not photograph, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

05/13/14 Wandered Shawnee Mission Park for 5 hours. Spent the last 3 birding with Greyson Yerby. It was very cool in the morning so I had on long pants, t-shirt, jean shirt, jacket and scarf. Still managed a tick above and below the equator.

05/11/14 Late in the evening I saw a large flock of Cedar Waxwings fill up the top of my neighbor's tree.

Catbird nest is taking shape. Both birds are still working on it. They really enjoy employing plastic.

05/10/14 Decided to monitor the backyard again. The Catbirds are using a lot of bits of paper and plastic in their nest. Saw a squabble with a Blue Jay over one of the plastic sheets. The Blue Jay seemed to be into hassling him, with no real interest in the material. I put it up in a tree next to their next and they used it immediately. A Brown-headed Cowbird made several runs at the nest but was consistently shown the door. First Hummingbird sighting. Saw Cedar Waxwing and Indigo Bunting for the first time in the backyard.

Trotted out to Clinton Lake in Lawrence and, following the detailed instructions from John, landed my first Painted Bunting.

05/09/14 Almost left for Longview or Shawnee Mission Park but at the last minute decided to watch the backyard. Enjoyed watching the Gray Catbirds gathering nesting materials. Later in the morning a Rose-breasted Grosbeak flew onto the patio twice. Chased off by a Brown Thrasher the 2nd time. Visits from Lincoln, Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows. Nashville Warbler still a regular.

Two things: First, I am, in general, a very fortunate man. By any measure. Second, nobody loves Catbirds more than I. It with is with more joy than humility that I announce that I have a couple building a nest in my backyard in direct view of my shooting-out-the-window window. This not only means that I get to witness lots of foraging and nest material gathering, but will also enjoy some mewing babies in the not too distant future. I must have slain somebody awful in a previous incarnation.

Added some more Indian Blanket, Salvia and Bee Balm to the gardens. Here is the latest blooming sequence for the spring.

Woodpeckers have been re-introduced into society after an absence of several weeks. Nice seeing Flickers and Red-bellies again.

05/08/14 One of those typical Missouri days when rain is forecast all day and never really materializes. Found an Orange-crowned Warbler in the backyard with the Nashville Warblers.

05/06/14 Hurried through my morning work so I could get out to Shawnee Mission Park and look around. Glanced out the window. Thought I saw a Hummingbird flying around the tops of the mint and phlox in the garden! Upon closer inspection it was two Nashville Warblers and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. About a half hour later I see a Yellow Warbler in the Butterfly Bush and several Clay-colored Sparrows walking around in the grass. At this point I was seriously considering birding in the backyard instead of SMP. Didn't and should have.

Helicopter and other tree seed day. It's everywhere.

Carnations have buds!

05/05/14 Spent most of the day at the Mouse Creek recreation area located at Longview Lake. Photographed a variety of warblers, sparrows, Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole and several juveniles.

05/04/14 I was enjoying the Gray Catbirds this evening. They were pretty tenative but have really amped up the calls over the past few days. Very long and boisterous bursts of squeals, whines and whistles. As the evening grew dark and the calls did not let up, I started to feel a little sad for them. What I was interpreting as an avant garde vocal performance is actually a desperate and day-long cry for a mate. It still sounds cool.

The severe winter cost me all of my Rosemary plants. I noticed something else. All of my Buttery Bushes, which typically leaf up along last year's branches, are sending up new starts from the ground and the branches are brittle as though they are dead. Will continue to monitor this developing story.

This year I decided to keep a log documenting the blooming sequenceof plants in the yard. Of course these dates are unique to my shade/sun/soil situation.

05/03/14 Spent the morning at Heritage Park, mostly watching the Bald Eagle eat fish and the baby Canada Goose goslings. Dashed over to Roe Park to check on the Wood Ducklings and there they were. Still 8. Saw 4 mature males.

Canada Goose Goslings Video

05/02/14 Shawnee Mission Park for the day. Saw my first Muskrat. Also photographed Indigo Bunting, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-breasted Vireo, Orchard Oriole, Swainson's Thrush, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Shoveler, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a variety of Flycatchers that I haven't identified yet.

Got some nice shots of the Common Loons as they were fairly close to shore for once. Actually got to watch and hear one call! That was pretty magic.

It was also wonderful seeing the woods full of butterflies. Goatweed Leafwings, Question Marks and Commas were loving, waring and sunning in abundance. They were so many and they were so active that it was almost distracting if you were watching for small warblers.

05/01/14 Still dreary out but getting some cool birds in the garden and around the neighborhood. Hello Swainson's Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and heaps of Brown Thrashers and Gray Catbirds. Sprung.

04/30/14 It was awful missing a day of being out taking pictures of nature yesterday because of the rain, so I ran to Roe today despite the cold and drizzle. Actually didn't see any Warblers but did stumble on a Wood Duck couple and then later a Wood Duck female and her ducklings. Video here:

Wood Duck Female and Ducklings Video

04/28/14 Spent the morning and early afternoon at Shawnee Mission Park. Highlights: Louisiana Waterthrush, Black and White Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Nashville Warbler, Common Loon, Summer Tanager and loads of House Wrens, Orchard Orioles and Lincoln Sparrows.

Planted some Speedwell and Columbine in a small garden with holes in it. May regret the Speedwell.

04/27/14 John wrote to say that he is got a first backyard visit from a Northern Parula and a return visit from a Yellow-rumped Warbler. I got my first backyard Orchard Oriole.

American Lady and Red Admiral riding the Lilac bush blooms!

Gray Catbird hitting the jelly regularly. I'm way good.

04/26/14 Rachel and I waited out the rain and hail from morning storms and wandered Heritage Park all morning. There were loads of wee, flitting birds. One of special interest to me was a handsome little Palm Warbler. Swung by Roe Park to check out the Great Horned Owlet but could only see the adult.

04/25/14 Shawnee Mission Park with JMB. Welcome to Lenexa. Saw the Great Horned Owl and a brat, one of the Common Loons, Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal, Osprey, Orchard Orioles, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbirds and of course loads of Bluebirds and Heron.

John and Jo welcome a Prothonotary Warbler to their life list. The little rascal was found at a nest at Blue Valley Park.

04/24/14 Catbird underneath the suet feeder in the late afternoon. I'm good.

04/23/14 Roe Park again. Saw pretty much the same cast as yesterday. Got to see the female Flicker sticking her head out of the nest again. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are bold and abundant. Wood Ducks still out swimming with the Mallards instead of worrying over their nest.

The McConnels had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at their estates today. Where are my Catbirds?

In the darkness by the riverbed they waited on the ground
For one more member who had business back in town
But they couldn't go no further without the Jack of Hearts
- Bob Dylan

04/22/14 So, I've visted the Wood Duck nest at Roe Park maybe 6 times over the last few weeks. I've seen the mother poking around in the nest during one visit and guarding the nest on another. The rest of the visits she has been in the water goofing off with her man. If you go visit the Great Horned Owl nest at Shawnee Mission Park the mother is in the nest. Always. She's in the nest right now. Was your mother a Great Horned Owl or a Wood Duck?

Roe Park. Saw Orchard Oriole, Nashville Warbler, Wild Turkey, Deer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wood Ducks, Warbling Vireo and a variety of Flycatchers that I'll probably be unable to identify.

First mowing of 2014. I'm in trouble now.

04/21/14 Reports of Tanagers and Hummingbirds in Kansas City.

Another fish emulsion application.

04/20/14 Haunted Shawnee Mission Park for the morning and early afternoon. Photographed Greater Yellowlegs, Eastern Phoebe, Song Sparrow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Parula, Eastern Bluebird, Great Blue Heron, Wild Turkey, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Wren, Brown-headed Cowbird and many of our backyard friends.

04/19/14 Posted some of John and Jo's pictures from a trip to Perry Lake in search of Surf Scoters.

Visited the Wood Duck nest. Saw the female on guard and two males in the lagoon. Checked out the Great Horned Owl nest and got a good view of the head and shoulders.

Catbird reported in Olathe! Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

Seeing Cabbage Whites and Red Admirals more often.

04/18/14 Pre-noon trip to Antioch Park. Got to shoot a Green Heron eating a bullfrog larger than it's head. He kept holding it under the water before making attempts to swallow it. He finally got it in and sat with his neck fully stretched for a minute to make the trip down a little smoother. Also saw Blue-winged Teal, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Creeper (the hardest bird in the world to photograph), Red-winged Blackbird, Brown Thrasher, Goldfinch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and all of the other backyard regulars.

04/17/14 It's been a few days and, upon hasty review, I believe I escaped without any freeze-related (25 degrees) fatalities. Everything that was in early or mid-bloom is still in good shape and all of the seedlings are still struggling up. Crisis 14/100 averted. Bring on number 15!

Saw a hawk careen into my yard space. It landed on a tree hanging upside down from a branch before some Blue Jays mobbed it.

Still trying to decide to do about the poor pictures from 2010-2012. I cleaned up nearly a dozen species and it was very fatiguing. Most of the mid-sized header files are also pretty poor looking. Decided to exclude them from the description pages.

Rachel is still plugging away on the descriptions. She is up to the Cs in the bird section.

04/16/14 Visited the Wood Duck nest near Roe Park with Friend John. Nobody home. There were a few Blue-winged Teals and Mallards floating around.

Debating what to do with some Perriwinkle (Vinca) that has popped up in the yard.

04/14/14 Supposed to get into the middle to late 20s overnight tonight. To cover seedlings or not to cover? They are nearly all native perennials.

I think my Juncos left town. God speed, little doodles.

04/13/14 It was in-between storms at 6:30 this morning, the birds were noisy and the backyard gardens had an erie, magical appeal. I coaxed my comrade up by suggesting that it was the perfect next step between dreaming and being awake. As soon as we stepped outside we noticed a giant blob in the very top of my neighbor's tree. It appeared to either be a Wild Turkey or Turkey Vulture - both quite a surprise for a city backyard. I dashed in and grabbed a camera and got off several shots before it slowly and clumsily exited the tree and flew awkwardly away. Wild Turkey confirmed.

I'm going to start the processing of removing iffy pictures from the KCWildlife gallery. Most of them are from my first year of taking pictures. They are either too noisy, poorly exposed or feeder shots, which I want to eliminate. There are also pictures that were the first ever of something so I compromised and posted them despite quality issues. Many of those have since been upgraded with better shots. Starting on backyard birds.

04/12/14 Set out to see the Great Horned Owl nest at Shawnee Mission Park, the Heron Rookery at Roe Park, the Common Loons and Bald Eagle's nest at Longview Lake and the Wood Duck nest at Lake Jacomo. Stopped at Roe Park first and was delighted to discover a Wood Duck nest. Dashed out to SMP and saw the Great Horned Owl and for another bonus - a pair of Northern Parula. Couldn't find any Loons at Longview. Did see a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and some Ruddy Ducks.

04/11/14 Visited Roe Park in the morning. Saw several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

04/10/14 Sowed the last of the seed. Butterfly Weed, Primrose and Partridge Pea. Bring unto me my buggery.

04/09/14 Another visit to Longview. Bumped into Loons multiple times. It was very windy and most of the water fowl seemed to be laying low. Had a nice chat with a friendly park ranger. He talked about the problems with the beaver and otter. He also pointed out the Bald Eagle's nest.

Planted some Rockcress around the Elm tree, Forget-me-nots where the cabbage was last year, and Blue Sage (Pitcher Sage?) back near the new Insect Hotel.

04/08/14 Took a trip to see the Great Horned Owl at Shawnee Mission Park. Took hundreds of iffy pictures. Then stopped by the Heron rookery in Roe Park. The tree was full despite the building activity surrounding the lagoon.

04/07/14 Awoke to a sea of Grackles in the backyard. So, if a single black cat crossing your path...

Put out another batch of fish emulsion.

04/06/14 Another run to Longview. I wanted to see if I could find the Ruddy Ducks in breeding plumage. And I did. This story now takes a dark turn. It was just after noon and virtually all of them, including the surrounding Shovelers and Coots, were busting some earnest Zzzzs. Not the best position for modeling feathers. Also saw some Kinglets (Ruby-crowned Kinglets are everywhere), Horned & Eared Grebe, Bufflehead, Field Sparrows and all of the rest of the expected players.

04/05/14 Took a trip to Longview Lake to see if I could find one of the two Common Loons reported there and get some better shots of other water fowl. Found both Loons along with Scaups, Ring-necks, Cormorant, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebes, Horned Grebes, Field Sparrows etc. Also saw a fresh Black Swallowtail butterfly. Toads were chirping away in the marsh.

There is a Northern Flicker that spends about an hour a day working on making a large hole in my already lousy Chinese Elm.

I have two small holes in the yard that lead to a Garter Snake den. I see them pop in and out of it frequently in the spring. This morning I went out to check on the gardens and noticed that both holes were dramatically enlarged over night. Hasty research suggests that the natural enemy of the Garter Snake is the raccoon.

04/01/14 Of all the signs of Spring the arrival of the mimics are my favorite. Today, in a flurry of flying bark, a Brown Thrasher. Joy to the world.

I think that the Red Yarrow, Dwarf Mexican Hat, Red Catchfly and Bee Balm seeds are up.

03/31/14 Poked around Warsaw, Missouri. Saw a Purple Finch, Great Blue Heron, Field Sparrows, Double-crested Cormorant, Hairy Woodpecker, American Pelican and more.

03/30/14 Common Milkweed seeds: sown.

Three flowers blooming in the yard! Crocuses still going and today the Forsythia and one of the daffodils are starting to bloom. Thinking Tulips and Hyacinth are next.

03/29/14 Took a trip to the Flint Hills with John & Jo. Spent most of our time looking for Whooping Cranes and then at Marion Reservoir and Wildlife Area and Chase State Fishing Lake. Got to see the Whoopers. Also saw Rough-legged Hawk, Horned Lark, Harris Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Baird's Sandpiper, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necks, Blue-winged Teal, American Pipit, Wild Turkey, Canada Goose, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, American Robins, American Pelicans, Herring Gull, Killdeer, Northern Mockingbird, Loggerhead Shrike and more.

03/28/14 Missouri Primrose showing signs of life. The first wave of seedlings (planted February 22ndish) in the wildflower garden are about an inch tall.

Juncos are still here.

03/27/14 Columbine is roaring to life. Tickseed above ground. This whole horrorshow may actually come off as planned!

03/26/14 Planted more Bee Balm, Spotted Bee Balm near the old compost, and Chicory along the western fence. Order some Common Milkweed seeds.

03/25/14 Spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the Japanese Maple. Haven't seen one since last Spring.

03/24/14 Saw the male House Sparrow with the bright yellow streaks today. Also saw Clownella today. I have not seen her for about a week. She is a leucistic female Cardinal who has been a regular for several years now. She looks like a beautiful whorey clown.

03/23/14 Wreched March! Young seedlings straining up through an unwanted and unloved Spring snow. There is always at least one nature-watching plus to snow on the ground - Juncos pose in places you do not normally see them.

03/22/14 Considered driving to Longview to see if I could find a Woodcock but I know from experience that 45 degrees in the backyard equals 35 degrees at a lake on a windy day. Took pictures of backyard birds instead.

03/21/14 Played tennis at a local park under the watchful eye of a Cooper's Hawk. A squirrel was frozen two branches below. Saw a Cabbage White butterfly wobble across the court.

03/20/14 I didn't realize that most Robins migrate south in search of food when it's cold. This always confused me because you still see a few around while out poking around in the winter.

03/19/14 Planted some Dill and Parsley seeds. Bee Balm is up and Lilacs have nice fat buds.

03/18/14 I've been photographing backyard birds this week. They seem more tolerent of my presence than the shell shocked water fowl.

03/17/14 Gardening note: another wave of wildflower mix in the Central garden, red yarrow in the South Along Fence & South Side to Gate gardens, Dwarf Mexican Hats in the south side of the Primary garden, Royal Red Catchfly in the Eastern garden and Queen Ann's Lace in the Western garden.

03/16/14 Posted a few pictures from a trip to the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, MO.

Sad little spurt of snow. Whatever. Stinks of desperation, Winter. Hyacinth finally above ground.

03/15/14 I can't stop myself from photographing a Cardinal up on a wire with its crest fanned, yelling its brains out. Gonna try to get a picture every time.

Echinacea, Loosetrife and Phlox are sending up shoots. Also seeing starts from the wildflower mix that I put out on 2/22/14.

Grackles are here. Hey, YOU'RE the one who was all hot for Spring to arrive. Comes with.

03/14/14 Made the hour drive south to Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge. Saw Rusty Blackbirds, Northern Harrier, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, American Coot, Redhead, Northern Pintail, Mallard, Northern Shoveler & Canada Goose.

Cranesbill Geraniums are up!

03/12/14 The woodpeckers are really noisy right now. Of course all the birds are chatty but 'peckers really cut through the din with their loud laughing and whisting.

03/10/14 Made some major progress raking the gardens. Finished cutting back last year's stalks. Fish emulsion fertilizer day. Discovered that the Sedum is a few inches above ground. Saw wasps, Honey Bees and Garter Snakes.

03/09/14 Drove to the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area and added an American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Greater White-fronted Goose & Green-winged Teal to my life list. Took over 1,100 pictures and exhausted two completely charged batteries.

03/07/14 Took a morning trip to Wyandotte County Lake. Windy, cloudy and cold as always but managed to stay long enough to see Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Redhead Duck, Canvasback, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Northern Shoveler & Bufflehead. A fly buzzed by several times.

03/06/14 Robins are everywhere. Mostly foraging for now but singing can't be far away. Starlings are everywhere too. Clicking, squeeling and buzzing.

03/04/14 Bought a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS hoping that it will help me in getting shots of those little black dots in the middle of local lakes. The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS in my bag will generally get a picture good enough to identify the bird, but not good enough to use on the site. Hoping the 1,200mm will resolve that.

03/02/14 Ice and snow on the ground. Feeders stuffed with finches.

02/28/14 End of February and the daffodils are finally up.

02/26/14 Check out Chance Thoman's Bald Eagle spotted at Pierson Park in Turner, KS.

02/24/14 Surprise Lilies are up!

02/23/14 And just like that - it's winter again. Visited Wyandotte Lake with Rachel to see if I could find the lone Long-tail Duck. Got woeful shots of it, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Canvasback, Common Merganser, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Redhead Duck & Northern Shoveler. Thanks to John for the Long-tail tip and help identifying blurry bobbing birds on the metal-gray water.

02/22/14 A beautiful 50 degree day spent cutting down dead flower stalks and burning them in the fire pit. As the fire was dying out I saw 2 Honey Bees flying around the smoke. This seems early to me but I checked the journal and John and I saw a cloud of them at Heritage Park on 03/01/12.

Tossed some wildflower mixes into one section of the central garden. The mix includes:

Baby's Breath
Bachelor's Buttons
Bird's Foot
Crimson Clover (Annual)
Cosmos, Sensation
Dame's Rocket
Flax, Common (Annual)
Indian Blanket
Lacy Phacelia (Annual)
Lupine, annual
Mexican Hat
Poppy Lavender
Primrose, Evening
Rose Mallow
Stock Virginia
Wallflower, Siberian
Dwarf Sunflower

02/21/14 Had some major tree work done. This means loads more morning and early afternoon sun in the gardens which will most likely result in earlier blooms with shorter durations. Yayboo?

02/20/14 Fernleaf Yarrow, Shasta Daisies and many of the Asters are green.

02/19/14 Cardinals are singing and quarreling, the male Goldfinches are sporting bright yellow blotches and there are suddenly Robins where there were no Robins. All signs point to yes.

Check out Chance Thoman's Bald Eagle Bonanza picture taken a few months ago on the KAW River in Bonner Springs, KS.

02/18/14 Snow is about half gone and crocuses are up in earnest. Bachelor's Buttons, Carnations and Yarrow are also greening up.

02/17/14 A dreaded sunny day so back to Lake Remembrance to see the Hooded Merganser. Was surprised to see over a dozen. I only saw a few females so rest assured that heads were puffed.

Saw a few Crocus shoots in a place where the snow had melted.

02/16/14 Scrambled around Kansas and Missouri with John and Jo. Went to Wyandotte Lake, Lake Remembrance and Lake Jacomo. Most of the lakes were frozen over but found Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Canada Goose, Ring-necked Duck, Rock Pigeons & American Coot at Lake Rememberance. Saw some beautiful Wild Turkeys at Jacomo.

02/15/14 Added a few of Chance Thoman's Bald Eagle pictures taken on the KAW river in Bonner Springs, KS.

02/14/14 Snow still covering most of the ground. I cleared the snow off of the area where I know there are Crocuses but nothing was above ground yet. By this time last year Hostas, Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Hollyhocks, Lilies, Surprise Lilies, Crocuses were all above ground.

02/13/14 Going to start going through all of the Cooper's Hawk pictures and start pulling shots that I think are Sharp-shinned Hawks - resisting the temptation to just make an Accipiter category and shove them both in it.

02/08/14 John had an excellent backyard birding day with visits from a Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Harris Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-belled Woodpecker, Sharp-shinned Hawk and more.

02/05/14 After the big snow I would occasionally peer into the backyard in search of good bird shots. I kept noticing how cool the Echinacea looked with snow in it and finally drifted outside for a few shots.

02/03/14 I love how sleek a Cardinal can look posing on a branch and then a minute later hunker down into a tennis ball shape.

02/02/14 Discovered two young Red-tailed Hawks in a tree 2 blocks from the house. These wretched winter walks occasionally pay dividends.

02/01/14 Saw a Cooper's Hawk in the yard when leaving for a walk. My neighbor has several old oak trees and they really hanging out in them.

01/26/14 Went on a mini-water fowl hunt, avoiding Wyandotte County Lake because of scheduled birding events. Found nothing at Shawnee Mission Park. Saw some Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards and Canadian Geese at the small lake at I-35 & Highway 56, found a pair of Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, Canadian Geese, American Coots and Ruddy Ducks at Lake Olathe, nothing at Cedar Lake and a Belted Kingfisher with a smattering of Ring-billed Gulls at Heritage Park.

01/25/14 Everybody is seeing Great Horned Owls around the city.

01/18/14 Gray morning trip to Wyandotte County Lake. The Snow Geese are mostly gone. Still saw a few Bald Eagles troubling the Canadian Geese. Got my first Redhead Duck and Hooded Merganser.

01/17/14 Heard a Great Horned Owl on my block. Glory.

01/11/14 Took my first trip to Wyandotte County Lake. Saw Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Common Goldeye, Mallard, American Coot, Snow Geese, Canadian Geese, Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-headed & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Chickadees, Titmice and a Nuthatch. Bumped into John McConnell who also saw some Redhead, Ring Neck, Lesser Scaup and Canvasbacks.

01/03/14 Discovered a squirrel scrambling towards a Cooper's Hawk on an oak tree branch. He stopped about 4 feet short of running into him, reached for an acorn, and scrambled off again.