Friday, February 25, 2011

Refreshed ...

It was such a beautiful day--a bit windy but spring is beginning to burst--



I took a drive to my favorite spot. There is always something to see along the way--never enough rustic barns to satisfy my love of old and weathered wood-(and this makes me wonder why I paint -and yet I love the unpainted look?)



THIS one hides wayyyy off the beaten path-



Finally at Sandhills I parked the car and got out for my walk its about a 2 mile loop around the huge field and a large lake and the frog pond and saw this cool bird nest last yrs model-- 




a couple of yellow rump warblers were hunting insects in the brush maybe that's their old nest?


and WOW heard all these frogs croaking away...take a listen...



Then around by the big lake a few geese floated by...and on the back side of the field are several mature Chestnut trees! These babies are very sharp--OF course I had to test it with my index finger--now sporting a band aid~


I saw a fox squirrel he
did a good
job hiding
but I got
2 not so
hot shots
of him 
anyways.. 








these are much bigger than your average Squirrel  (Yogi  Bear
Voice) with
a long tail!









 
CHECK out the huge
BURL on this tree-
A bowl made from this
would be quite a
conversation piece!
Then...
 
     off to the NEW Pond..this pond is 3 years old, I flushed out a couple of wood ducks, its very secluded and tranquil-
there is a wood duck box way back there on the left side of the pond...so maybe---?




Next stop was the Dove Field ...didn't see any Dove flushed a few white throated sparrows ...I thought the grass was awesome!



Had a great day being out and about enjoying my quiet time communing with nature!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WBW-14- Has the World Gone...

KUKU??
Maybe-
It's been a while since I've seen anything new or different--I usually have to travel for that--but here is a bird that lives right here in SC and is pretty elusive--  I spent hours of my time in the past listening to Birding By Ear and if you haven't taken the plunge yet you should--you know when a song comes on the radio if you've heard it before you can ID the song with only the first few notes played...well birding by ear is like that so you learn the call and you know the bird!! SO that's how I knew what was in the trees and I kept looking until I found it...

The Yellow-Billed Cuckoo- (link to What Bird -check out the tail)


Coccyzus americanus
My photo is not doing this bird justice but he finally came to the wood's edge after I nearly "pished" by brains out..IF only I'd had a screech owl tape (birds will come to investigate a screech owl, a trick I learned from my birding club) I kept hoping he would turn around so I could get a shot of the under tail...to me the tail is what really makes this bird a beauty--(the females are larger but other than that the same) These birds are arboreal and hard to spot...so learning the call is the key to seeing one in the wilds..they range/breed all over the US from Canada to Mexico.  IF You want to hear the call Click Here



So that's my WBW contribution for this week....I hope you will take the time to go listen to the call and consider learning bird calls--its a great edition to birding--You can stand in the busy forest, close your eyes, and single out all those birds just by sound--

Go here to see more Awesome Birds of the World-and show your support of Springman's efforts to enlighten more people to the wonderful world around us!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

~In memory of a friend~

This is one blog I never wanted to write - Today I learned that a man I cared deeply for has passed away.  We never met in person, but Richard and I knew each other for quite a few years via various online venues and via the us mail and email..he was a virtual friend but so much more than that....he was a kindred spirit~
 We shared the same philosophy, loved the outdoors, camping and hiking and photography...and we had similar dreams for the future.  Richard was a very special person...and I will miss him--I had always hoped to meet him --  now I wont get that chance--life is just too short. Don't let this happen to you, if there is someone you have been putting off seeing, Do it asap-



May 27, 1945 - Feb 15, 2011


This is an exert from Richard's last Blog Post....he had a wonderful way with words as you will see-


 "I Really Wonder About Myself"-
By Richard Huff Jan 23, 2011

"...I am also attracted to learning. I believe that the “original sin” is ignorance, and from that springs everything that can not be defined as Love, Happiness, and Contentment. So learning about anything and everything is an addiction for me. I don't want or need to be an expert on any topic, but I do want to understand enough to be able to move on to the next thing.

Abstract concepts that are way beyond my current ability to grasp (Stan Tenen's Meru Project for example) are fascinating
to me, and I return to them frequently, but never stay long. I enjoy the idea that “all limitations are self-imposed”, and I skip
merrily along my way with a totally open mind."

~Richard, I'll meet you when I get to the Rainbow Bridge ~ until then you will be missed my friend~ Peace

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Thing We Can Count ON!

Spring is RIGHT around the corner and I for one will be happy!  I don't like the heat of summer but I am ready for the color of spring, summer and fall to return to the landscapes around me--everything looks so dead and bleak....even the pines look tired--this photo was from a fall trip thats I-26 traveling East--I love those threatening rain clouds...the sky is more dramatic with the violence of hot air hitting early cold fronts---


The land is sleeping now BUT soon it will burst to life--Im ready to see COLOR--like this spot one of my favorites at Sandhills Wildlife Refuge--we take picnics to this place----its so peaceful and beautiful..its burned there  regularly (a little too much for my likes)  and thats why you see those dead pines in the distance...but it does bring up the wildflowers--

The roadside shops will be open again, and I can browse the Junk-and Antiques when I go to the Foothill and Mountain towns...


The flowers and insects come out again



---and the BIRDS nest and we have more birds in the yard--especially Carolina Wrens like these...

And Northern Cardinals-- that nest in the bushes under our front windows---I cant wait to open the Doors and throw up the Windows and hear the gentle breezes bring the wind chimes back to life--


Hang in there its on the way.....it was nearly 70 here today!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WBW 13- The Hoodies-

On my last visit to Oak Grove Lake in Greer SC it was a snowy but sunny day and I saw this small group of Hooded Mergansers.  The lake is not too big but just big enough that my camera couldnt get a decent zoom on them as they tried very hard to stay clear of me...so this is what I was able to get of these beautiful waterfowl...
This is Oak Grove Lake:

mergansers 034

When I went to the East side they swam West, if I drove to the South side they flew North!  Im pretty sure they KNEW I was following them..and they did a really good job evading me.  When they were within range they dove under water only to pop back up many yards away from where I stood..meanwhile I got the floor mats of the car totally dirty with my in and out of the slush n mud driving from one side to the other-

--I like this shot because the Mallard got in there and you can see the size of the Hoodies-(Lophodytes cucullatus) they are kinda small.  Check out those HOODS- pretty cool right?

mergansers 080

I think at least one of these is actually a first yr male and not a female...you can barely see the light whisp of feather at the back of the eye...barely

This retreating shot is really awful but this Male (left)  had his Hood opened so you can see why its called a Hood-and the one on the right had his all slicked back--

mergansers 058a

They have serrated bills and dive for food--sometimes they are confused with Buffleheads..But the sharp pointed beak is one sure way to know since buffleheads have a shorter rounded beak tip. 





I heavily cropped this out of one shot so you can get a little better look at the beautiful male....such a striking bird!

Merganz Xup

And here they are moving to the other end of the lake...and I bid them farewell and gave up!!

mergansers 024


Wont you please visit all the WBW contributors to see other Birds of the World!  Click this link to get started-AND happy Birding!
Peace-





Friday, February 11, 2011

Celebrate!

Today my son says goodbye to his 20's and hello to 30! What a wonderful age to be...you're not old and yet you are an adult--IF only I'd known then what I know now comes to mind for that age---when I was a young girl- a preteen- I entertained the idea of being a mounted policewoman---and it was not until I was 46 that I realized I could have made that dream a reality--if only--

...that night back in 1981 when my son came into the world the moon was in its first quarter that cold windy February night...I went into labor on Feb 10th at 11 pm, he wasnt born until Feb 11 at 8:15 pm!  I was supposed to bowl that night on my league! 

This is not todays moon, but I did notice its a very similar moon to this today...I took this photo a month ago--Today I had some errands to do in "town" and when I got out of my car I saw the moon hanging up in the Southern sky and right in front of the moon was a Bald Eagle soaring...did I have my camera? NOOOOO and If I had Im sure I would have missed the shot, but that image sort of burned itself on my retina--what a sight to see...on this the anniversary of my sons birth!  I was trying to figure out how many full moons my son has seen in his short 30 yrs--its such an amazing thing---the people of Egypt as they shouted in exhaustion today for their freedom--it was this SAME moon hanging over them--that just blows my mind sometimes I forget its everyone's moon and not just mine--


...about 2 weeks ago..it was quite early the sun hadnt long been up--I saw that cresent moon and thought it was such a beautiful sight---and then this plane went streaking by--I wondered if the people on board were checking out that moon below that shared the sky with them--my Moon! 

 What a day to Celebrate!         

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

WBW 12- Watch the Birdie~

This week and next --very busy for me, sometimes we have to earn a living--and Im trying as hard as I can to do it from home--NOT easy! You have to scrimp and save and put lots of things on hold so no trips to report back about on this post.  However that doesnt stop me from sharing birds I ran into -mostly the local yokels-- so here goes--I did take a drive down a different country lane last week--(left) and I found this nice setting--

...and did you ever notice that birds have a favorite past time of watching US as we watch them?  Well, watching me intently was the Northern Mockingbird--he kept his yellow eye on me till I moved on down the lane--nothing matches the aggression of these guys they are highly territorial-

Mimus polyglottos
When I dropped my plastic and cardboard at the recycle center I was spotted by this fellow overseeing everything-making sure I put all my stuff in the correct bins--this is the Loggerhead Shrike-notice the almost raptor shaped tip on the beak--this bird is a hunter!

Lanius ludovicianus

In the afternoon I was busy filling up the feeders in the yard and many birds waited and watched including this curious little fellow-the Chipping Sparrow-

Spizella passerina
I enjoy comparisons so here is the Carolina Chickadee seen in my backyard...

Parus carolinensis

...then the  Black Capped Chickadee--differences to look for are the black bibb is not as neatly outlined as the Carolina-and the wing feathers have more detailed /heavier streaking along the edges--this one shot in the northern part of SC in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains-in my sisters back yard....although this shot doesnt show either of those ID tips...very well

Parus atricapillus
...and the Mountain Chickadee-I found this one out west in my other sister's back yard in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains..the difference is striking as
you see -- white stripes on the head-this guy was really staring me down!

Parus gambeli
And another shot of that stripped head on this Mountain Chickadee in Bryce Canyon, Utah HE pretended to ignore me, but as you can see he styled for me so he knew I was there-



Just to sort of throw a monkey wrench into this string of song birds I wanted to show an -update photo-...one WBW post i did was about a Muscovy Duckling--and this is how he/she looked on my last visit to the Oak Grove Lake-he was slipping on the ice a bit--looking sort of clumbsy out of water-



             his baby picture:                                   Adult Muscovy Duck someone requested a better look-

Muscovy Duckling            
cairina moschata

I hope you all found something of interest here today--make sure to visit Springman's blog and post your own World Bird Wednesday adventure or just to see other bloggers offerings! Thanks for stopping by-


Friday, February 4, 2011

Thoughts of an Old Friend~

February 1 is always a reflection day for me- a time to recall some of the best days of my life-shared with my old friend Sundance! He was not a special horse, he was just my buddy--most people considered him ugly and difficult to manage but I loved him and he loved me!
The only reason I bought him back in 1976 was to give him a better life.  I happed to learn of him by accident and when I saw him he was quite thin and I had the feeling he was being mistreated  he jumped every time that man came near him so that told me he was scared of the guy....so thats how he came to be in my care. He was such a character, he was always watching to see a gate left ajar and then away he would go on an adventrue all on his own visiting neighboring horses, he jumped IN.  Mr Young had a small herd of horses and some mornings he went to feed his stock and would find a 4th horse walking single file up the trail to the barn for breakfast-YEP Sunny strolled up with the rest and he would generally feed him then call me--LOL One day Mr. Young witnessed one of Sunny's Bucking Spells as I called them.    I went over to ride with Mr Young (he was in his 80's) on a regular basis.  His horses saw Sunny and Me coming up the lane and they ran out to meet us by the fence.  All this running got Sunny so excited he began to buck and he literally had my head UP in the branches of a large tree that we were under--I hung on for dear life and I could hear Mr Young yelling "YEEE HAWWW" he was really hooping it up at my expense...lol I hung on but I swear he would have had me with one more buck, I had one foot out of one stirrup and the other was hanging on by the toe of my boot--I finally got his head up....he stopped bucking-- spread out squarely on all four legs and SHOOK HIMSELF---I felt like scrambled eggs!  MR Young was laughing so hard and he loved to tell that story to anyone who would listen--

We had other horses from time to time, horses that needed homes, lame and going to be put down, unwanted, old, or wild, so we kept them until we could find permanent homes for them.. he had pasture mates come and go..but then he got old and they would take his food and bite him and chase him so I said no more stable mates, he was retired from riding in 1995-
He passed at age 28-(I was told her was around 7 yrs old when I found him...so its just a guess) he is buried out in the field where he lived...that photo is his marker-I do think I gave him a good life he was happy n healthy right up to the last week of his life, the vet told me the cause of his weakness was old age..
This link takes you to his tribute page,


Me and Sunny
     Sundance 1968-2/1/1996


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WBW-11 The Purple House Finch


Carpodacus mexicanus

I probably should have saved the recent Cliff Swallow post for the WBW but I didn't realize it was so close to Wednesday already! SO I decided to post about the purple house finch! (never heard of it you say) These two species are so similar that I just started calling them the purple house finch when I saw them at the feeders getting lazy about gathering info to make a positive ID-- and with that newly created word purple house finch I had it covered either way-RIGHT? But as all serious birders must do...I recanted and started to get serious again and stop being so lazy---So here is my comparison data for you to ponder and maybe you have a species you do this with also (like the black capped chickadee and the Carolina chickadee)...the differences are so subtle that honestly most of the time I CANT TELL them apart! So this is an adult male house finch-sometimes he is quite red (photo left)--but if I can see the side of the face like the shots below I look for the bolder looking eye streak that is present in the Purple Finch (right)
not so prominent in the house ( left)

Male Purple Finch -Carpodacus purpureus



 
Male House Finch

To me the Purple Finch has a darker chocolate brown feather color on his back and wings and the red is more purplish looking rather than regal red--and they have less streaking on the chest...but the females in comparison have heavy streaking and the Purple Finch Female has a noticeable eye streak where the house finch female doesn't.  The females are easier to ID to me.
                                                                                                                     purple finch female
house finch female               


Another female purple finch
Here in my area the Midlands of SC I see more Purple Finches in Fall and Winter, more House Finch in Spring, Summer, & Fall, so sometimes they are there together!
If you want to participate or just enjoy blogs about other Birds from around the world click this link and YOU don't have to be a Bird Watcher to join in--just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature.
-Peace-