The Return of the Mocking Kites

I mentioned this before, and it bears repeating. These birds have a wicked sense of humor.
This time, two of them have shown up, and when I came out with the camera, one of them started to drift closer and closer and lower and lower, until it was circling right above me. But at the time it was right above me, it was so close, that its angular speed was too high for me to be able to keep track of it. So I only have a few blurry pictures from afar. As usual.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Jack’s Walk

Forest Rooster greets us at the entrance to the trail. ©voyager, all rights reserved

This morning Jack and I went to a forest trail a few miles outside of town to the east. We don’t come here often because it’s full of mosquitoes, but it’s still early in the season so I thought we’d take the chance. We did see a few mosquitoes, but we didn’t run into any swarms and neither of us got a single bite. This trail is a lot different than our familiar wee forest path. It’s a mixture of conifer and hardwood with several large open areas and a big pond covered in lily pads. It’s also protected by a large, aggressive forest rooster who did not like the looks of Jack.

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Natural Dyes

Since a few years ago, when I read a very intriguing article, Eastertime has become a time for experimentation – for experimenting with natural dyes! For the eggs, obviously.

Now, tradition has it that you use onion skins – gives a nice warm reddish-brown tone, and if you stick little leaves and shoots and spring flowers around the surface of the egg and wrap it in some extra onion skin and gauze (or old pantyhose), you can get some wonderful imprinting and marbling on your egg, in tones of yellow and green.

My original break with tradition occurred about 5 years ago, when I read about red cabbage – apparently, using boiled red cabbage produces a lovely shade of blue, plus you can also do the usual addition of shoots-and-flowers, and also get marbling effects.

It works.

Also with snowdrops and an onionskin direct on the shell. One of this year’s efforts – and boy is it difficult to get some good focus on eggs! © rq, all rights reserved.

That blue tone at the bottom? If you use red cabbage correctly, it gets even more vivid.

However! In subsequent years I have read about other plant-based materials that can be used as dyes: beets (for raspberry red), turmeric (for deep yellow), blueberries (for dark blue/black), etc. This year I decided to experiment a little again, since I have transferred my knowledge of red cabbage to the immediate family, and it’s time to try something new (the blue colour is no longer original once everyone is doing it).

Meet this year’s subjects:

From left to right: curry and chamomile; red cabbage; beets; hibiscus tea; onion skin. © rq, all rights reserved.

To review the results:

  1. I expected more from the turmeric, but this just proves you can’t trust online blog posts raving about the wonderful shades of golden-yellow, even if you follow their instructions word for word;
  2. Red cabbage is both a stable value and also quite versatile with the patterning, adding an onion skin for colour will not ruin the dye;
  3. Beets are fakers – I tried beets a few years ago with similar results but was willing to give them a second chance, but alas, if this is raspberry red, then someone needs to review their colour wheel;
  4. Hibiscus tea is a keeper and shall be repeated because it has a wonderful deep shade of blue-black and also holds up well with patterning for some very interesting colouring;
  5. Onion skins is old reliable onion skins and to ensure at least a few good-looking eggs should be used every year.

A few close-ups:

Hibiscus tea with dandelion and a few other new leaves. © rq, all rights reserved.

Curry and chamomile, plus some directly applied onion skin, which is what provides the brilliant colour; probably will not repeat this shade in future. © rq, all rights reserved.

Raspbery red, tplrplrplr. The applied botanicals is what saves this one. © rq, all rights reserved.

Paired red cabbage with onion skin again – this colour pairing, along with hibiscus with onion skin, are my favourites for the contrasts it provides. © rq, all rights reserved.

Onion skins with new leaves of goutweed and dandelion blossom. Classic. © rq, all rights reserved.

The family portrait: a nice spectrum of naturally produced colours. © rq, all rights reserved.

So there you have it – low effort and high quality coloured eggs from ordinary things you can find in your kitchen (or get for cheap). If I don’t forget, I might do a tutorial post for next year, because the whole process is ridiculously easy.

(Choir Juventus  cover, original here.)

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I went to the park this morning instead of the woods so we could check the progress of the tulips, but there’s been very little progress since the last time we checked a few days ago. A bit of sunshine might  help, but there hasn’t been much of that in the past few weeks and if the forecast is to be believed 7 of the next 10 days are going to be rainy. Sigh. We really don’t need any rain. The river and creeks are running high with localized areas of flooding and the ground is soggy just about everywhere. I know it’s the season of mud, but does it have to be muddy every single bloody day? Oh well, rain or shine the flowers will bloom eventually and just to prove that point we did find heaps of open daffodils all around the duck pond. They’re making their own sunshine.

Let’s Play: At Legoland 6

My favourite part is probably the mini world, where they rebuild cities and places in Lego. I could have spent hours there.

Also a whiptail found that a balcony in Venice is the perfect place for its nest.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved
The huge dinosaurs are the best thing anyway.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Wednesday Wings: It’s a Hoot!

There have been multiple exasperated conversations here about how wildlife, especially birds, refuse to cooperate with our attempts to get pictures. I swear that there is a memo going around when I leave the house as to whether I carry a camera or not. Last week was no exception. On Monday, when we had our friends over, I took my camera for the walk. I also took many pics the days before, the ones posted on Saturday, so I left the camera at home on Tuesday. When we arrived at our fountain we took a small break and sat down. I looked up at the old willow tree and was like “This branch looks strange. It is fluffy. It also wasn’t there yesterday and trees don’t grow thick, short, fluffy branches over night.” I took a closer look and it turned out to be a young owl, drowsing there in the branches of the willow.

I was so fucking angry. This was the first time in my life that I saw a wild owl. Oh I hear them almost every night, no problem, but seeing them? Only at the zoo. And no camera but the crappy phones.I told Mr “I’m going back and I’m going to get the camera and heaven help this owl if it is no longer there!”

So that’s what I did. 1 km back home, 1 km  back to the fountain, so about half an hour later I was there again and of course the owl had moved! But only a few metres and it was actually two owls. Back home I tried to identify them and my most likely guess is a tawny owl, since they’re also the ones I keep hearing, but honestly the pics I found all look very much alike.

To cut a long story short, I saw owls and here’s the evidence:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

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Jack’s Walk

A cloudy day in early spring. This photo is in full colour. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, it’s rain, rain, rain around here for the next 6 days if you believe the forecast. I don’t usually believe the forecast when the weather is supposed to be good, so why should I believe it when the weather’s supposed to be bad. That might make me an optimist and a pessimist which likely equals out to being a realist, which sounds about right. I’m being stiff upper-lipped about the weather, though. I keep telling myself that April Showers bring May Flowers and that it’s like this every year. Spring is wet, but at least this week it’s rain and not snow and the temps are steadily rising and the sun and the flowers and the birds and the bees will be here soon. Hmm… might be an optimist after all.