Saturday, January 23, 2016

Plants I'm Growing: In the Garden (January 2016)

I'm always happy to see flowers blooming mid-winter. Our camellia (Camellia sasanqua, a variety called "Chansonette"), which reliably starts blooming as winter comes on (sometimes as early as early October) is finished, but we have a white flowering plum, a dwarf cyclamen (Cyclamen coum), and Manzanitas blooming now. Especially pretty among the Manzanitas is Arctostaphylos pajaroensis, which I sought out for its pink blossoms and orange-tinged new foliage. The cyclamen started blooming on or about January 15 this year. The flowering plum is in full bloom.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Wines I'm Drinking: 2005 Pata Negra Valdepeñas Gran Reserva

The 2005 Pata Negra Valdepeñas Gran Reserva, although heavily discounted, was a pleasant surprise. Medium-deep garnet--pretty in the glass. Cherries, licorice, chocolate, and mint on the nose are echoed on the palate. At ten years old, this wine from Valdepeñas, in central Spain, is soft and supple--perhaps even a little lacking in tannic backbone, but a very pleasant, smooth, easy drink that's a bargain at only $5.99 at Grocery outlet. A decent everyday wine, even if lacking in the up-front fruit consumers used to fruit-forward California wines may expect.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rain: Getting There.... (January 19-23, 2016)

Overnight more rain. I found 1.20 inches of new rain in the rain gauge today after the skies cleared. That brings our total for the 2015-2016 rain year to 14.85 inches. The historical average for this day in Santa Rosa is about 18.54 inches, so we are now less than four inches behind normal—a substantial improvement. But the target keeps moving. More rain is predicted over the weekend and next week, however. A couple more good storms and we might actually overtake the average. Normal annual rainfall in the Santa Rosa area is 36.28 inches.

[Update: By the morning of January 23, we had had another 2.2 inches of rain since last reporting. That brings the total to 17.05 inches at my location in Santa Rosa. We're still below the historical average, which is 19.25 inches for January 23, but this is the closest to normal rainfall we've been in a long time.]

Monday, January 18, 2016

Birds I'm Watching: Great Horned Owl (January 18, 2016)

A Great Horned Owl appeared in a tree across the street from my house this morning. I was alerted to its presence by a neighbor. The bird allowed me to take its portrait. It has a rather amiable look, but Great Horned Owls are among the most powerful predatory birds in North America. They happily eat skunks and have been known to go after fairly large pets. He was mobbed by about 100 crows off and on for several hours today. The  bird appears to be there still but all is quiet now. Yard bird number 68.

For more information about bird watching in Sonoma County, see my Website Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots.
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