The Garden Worm blog Digging up the best dirt on gardening!

October 8, 2014

Fall Trip to Pittsburgh

Filed under: Creatures,Fall,Parks,Slideshows,Travel — Judy @ 10:13 pm

We had a lovely trip to Pittsburgh last week and it was great to see Kelsey after her summer in Europe. Her boyfriend from Germany was also visiting. In addition to the usual haunts, we took a sidetrip to The National Aviary there. It was a free day and the line to get in was long in the cold breeze, but so many birds!!! Cute little ones, and big ones like the eagles. All colors and sizes. I took lots of pictures and included them in the slideshow.

On one of the days we had an interesting lunch (and tea, of course) at Dobra Tea Room in Squirrel Hill. The tea, of which there were so many choices that it was hard to choose, were served in their traditional vessels from around the world. Hot tea, cold tea, loose leaf tea, and light vegetarian fare all served in a Bohemian-style tearoom.

And naturally, we spent a lot of time playing with the puppies. Walks around the neighborhood and down into Frick Park are always a must when we go to Pittsburgh. Sky is the blue merle and Huxley is the red merle that you will see in the slideshow. Both of them are mini-Australian Shepherds and both are deaf. Such good dogs, sweet and fun to play with. Cooper is the big Golden Retriever. Also a sweetie, he is my sister’s baby. They all love going to Frick Park to play at the Hot Dog Dam.

Slideshow for trip to Pittsburgh Oct 2014

August 30, 2014

Best of summer 2014

Filed under: Birdwatching,Creatures,Flowers,Grasses,Our gardens,Summer — Judy @ 3:47 pm

A photo essay of some wonderful plants this summer.

The first one is of my ‘fried egg’ peony – a single type of herbaceous peony. The lighting sort of makes it look like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, doesn’t it?

White peony

An unknown variety of clematis with huge purple blue flowers. Could be a ‘Jackmanii’ with the reddish ribs, but the anthers are also red. Similar to ‘Ramona’ but darker.

Purple clematis

This is Liatris ‘Kobold’ with mauve flowers blooming from the top down. Bees love it!

Liatris 'Kobold'

The daylilies were floriferous this year. The red one is ‘Chicago Apache’ and the dusky pink one is ‘Catherine Woodbury.’

Hemerocallis 'Chicago Apache'

Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbury'

We had lots of hummingbirds flitting around all summer long, but this one decided he wanted to stop and rest for a bit. Lucky me!


Red bee balm sparklers!

Bee balm

Ornamental grasses are a great addition to the garden, and this brown grass, Carex ‘Toffee Twist,’ goes with everything.

Carex 'Toffee Twist'

We had lots of these little guys running around – we call them all ‘Harvey!’ They love to perch on the rock wall or on top of the stair railing where they can survey everything.


Roses, of course! These are dark pink ‘Cuyahoga’ and red ‘Double Knock-out.’


More wildlife – notice the big green-eyed fly on the bright yellow-gold coneflower? It’s a type of horse/deer fly called Stonemyia isabellina, a flower feeding non-biting species.


Heading into fall now. Time to clean up the gardens a bit.

February 23, 2014

Birdwatching: Winter birds

Filed under: Birdwatching,Creatures,Winter — Judy @ 11:09 am

With all the snow we’ve had this winter, I moved a feeder close to the house onto the deck railing so I wouldn’t have to shovel a path all the way out to the pole feeder. We’ve had a lot of birds feeding there and it has been fun to see them up close and personal, but, of course, the dastardly squirrel has found his way up there too. He is quite a menace, however a quick, loud click of the door lock seems to chase him away pronto.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of our cuties!


Robin in the crabapple


Cooper’s or Red-tailed hawk way out in the willow tree



Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse captures a sunflower seed!

Rose-breasted Nuthatch

Rose-breasted Nuthatch

Blue Jay

Blue jay-jay-jay! Squwaaawk!

Northern Cardinal

Really? Why are you taking my picture!

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird up close and personal!

Dark-eyed Junco

I’m eating, don’t bother me! says the Dark-eyed Junco.

Northern Cardinal

Looking good, Mrs. Cardinal!

Carolina Wren and Tufted Titmouse

Carolina Wren and House Sparrows with Tufted Titmouse peeking in on the action!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker on the post!

The Northern Mockingbird was an unusual one to see – he showed up for the Great Backyard Bird Count and I hadn’t seen him there before or since then! Good thing I was able to take a picture to document it! Do you have any feeders out? What birds are you seeing?

February 16, 2013

Birdwatching: Downy Woodpecker

Filed under: Birdwatching,Creatures,Winter — Judy @ 6:15 pm

Today was a great day for birdwatching and I was watching this little guy. Can you see him up there near the top of the tree?

Downy woodpecker

Today was also the second day of the GBBC, otherwise known as the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint venture between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with their Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. This is a four day event where folks of all ages and experience all over the world count birds in their backyards, in the parks, where ever they are and submit their lists online. This is citizen science at its best and the information obtained gives researchers great insight into where the birds are in real-time. If you want to know more, go here and check it out. You can even find out what birds are being found in your area right as the checklists are being submitted!

The Downy Woodpecker is one of those sort of tricky birds to identify in that it looks so much like its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. Both have that black and white checkered appearance with a wide white stripe down the back. The males of both species have red splotches on the backs of their heads. Besides other smaller differences, the key distinguishing features are the smaller overall size of the Downy (about 6″ long versus about 9-11″ for the Hairy) and the smaller and daintier bill. The long, chisel-like bill for the Hairy is about the same size as the distance from the base of the bill to the back of the head. The Downy’s bill is only about one-third to one-half of that distance.

Downy woodpecker


This one was definitely a Downy woodpecker judging from his size (compare it to the size of the branches around him) and the size of his bill. Downys are often found in suburban areas, are bolder and more curious, even coming down to eat seed from one’s hand in some cases, than the Hairy, which stays deeper in the forested areas. They are also fairly noisy little birds and quite acrobatic – cute!

Downy woodpecker


Both Downy and Hairy woodpeckers make their nests in tree cavities, but the Downy woodpeckers excavate smaller, round cavities while Hairy woodpeckers have larger, more oval-shaped cavities. I believe this little guy is prepping a future home for his little ones. I will have to keep an eye out to see if the mama comes around.

Downy woodpecker close up


If you want to know more about the Downy woodpecker, how to distinguish it from the Hairy, and to hear its chatter, go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website here.


Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress