Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter Birds

Unfortunately we do not yet have a feeder-cam and, though we love the old wavy glass in our windows, it does not lend itself to taking pictures through it. even so, we have tried to capture the view from the kitchen. we have had very active feeders this winter. some of the visitor highlights have been a tree sparrow, a carolina wren, a cooper's hawk and a redpoll. regular visitors include a choir of song sparrows, cardinals, chickadees, titmice, juncos, goldfinches, house finches, house sparrows, downy woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches, blue jays, mourning doves, occasional starlings, and a mockingbird (that drinks from the birdbath but doesn't eat from the feeders). here are some blurry, and clear, pictures of a few of these feathered friends...

finches at the nyger (also known as thistle) feeder

i think this might be the tree sparrow...

a house finch

a cardinal in the shrub and a squirrel in the snow

a house finch and a titmouse

female cardinal

blue jay

song sparrows...

and a junco on the top right

Indoor Greenery

one way to help make it through the winter without missing the garden too much is to bring the outdoors indoors. we have been forcing paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs and have a bunch of other greenery that helps to help bring color and cheer to every room.

birthday flowers...



paperwhite and rabbit's foot fern

button fern and vanilla orchid

rosemary- blooming for the first time!!

we dug up a small bit of the swampy woods behind's tim's folks backyard and put it in this terrarium.

it ended up sprouting a little plant we didn't know was in there! it has not be identified yet.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Castle Island (not one of 34)

On a cold and windy day we ventured out with our friend Sarah to Castle Island in South Boston (Southie). It is not one of the 34 Islands that are part of the National Recreation Area. When the movement to create a park was going on in 1996, the Castle Island Association (a Southie community organization) that manages the island along with the Metropolitan District Commission, did not want to become part of the federally run national park. It is the closest harbor island to downtown Boston, though it is actually no longer technically as island (like other "islands" in the harbor) due to a land connection being filled in in the 1930s to bring in streetcars to the beach. It is designated a historical landmark.

The puritans chose Castle Island as a site for a fort when they needed a defensive position overlooking the main channel that could be within the range of a fort's cannons and intercept enemy ships. The first fort built on the island was completed in 1635 and was made of mud and oyster shells. That fort collapsed and a new fort of pine, stone and earth was built, which then rotted. A third fort of brick and wood was built in 1653 and in 1673 a mysterious fire destroyed it. A fourth, stone fort was built. It was originally named Castle William in 1703 when the fort was expanded, after William III of Orange. The fort was rennamed Fort Independence in 1797. The granite, 5 pointed fort that stands today is actually the 8th one built between 1834 and 1851. It remained a defense fort through the second world war...

Our journey there took us through the northern, industrial section of Southie. It feels very much on the edge of Boston- even from the parking lot to the island, the view is mostly of the industrial container shipping area that you don't otherwise see from downtown though it's very close.

Sullivan's is a seasonal take-out spot that we will have to check out on another, warmer visit.

The colored shipping containers block the view of East Boston here, though you can still see the harborside Hyatt just above the last containers on the right. Logan's tower is the farthest vertical structure on the right.

the windowless fort independence

cannons peering over the top of the fort

green roof precedent?

the view out toward Winthrop. Logan is off to the left. there were many winter ducks out and about and we're pretty sure we saw a harbor seal by the pilings!

the monument is for Donald McKay who built clipper ships in East Boston in the 1850s.

Logan airport, and a duck

to the right you can see Deer Island, home of the wastewater treatment plant.

here, tim is most likely naming the islands we can see from the pier. to the left is Spectacle Island, to the right is Thompson.

spectacle and snow...

the icy tundra on the island. it is incredibly windy out here all the time so it was particularly bitter this day.

there were still a few people out and about...

tim became frozen to the ground in the cold...

a korean war memorial

this is a memorial to robert m. greene and boston firefighters that died in the line of duty...

the view over pleasure bay back towards downtown.

there were a whole bunch of cool winter ducks within fairly close range of the island. here is a female common goldeneye.

there was a raft of common eiders enjoying the swift flow of water coming out of pleasure bay.

water gushing out of the bay, towards spectacle island.

on the inland side of pleasure bay there used to be the south boston aquarium as well as a large "head house" with cafes, restrooms and offices.

the fort is closed in the winter, but we hope to make more trips out to castle island during warmer months. even in the winter it was a great spot to visit for the views and the wildlife.

heading back to the car, shipping containers up close...

the drive back into downtown through southie...