Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chill Out

Road Runners are usually only found out west. Guess this guy got blown in by the wind. He does look a little chilled out.(Yes, this is in my back yard.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Winter's Rain

A single thin silver cloud skidded effortlessly across the late winter sky pushed by a cold bone-chilling wind. The puff of moisture threw a scattering of shiny sequins across my lonely empty deck as if in a Mardi Gras parade.   Within seconds this float of airy moisture drifted beyond sight and barely waved adieu, replaced by the twinkle of the sun's slow smile to dry the silver coins that had been left behind.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Flick at Me!

These Flickers live in my woods on the other side of the road,  but after rains, they aerate my lawn with their large slightly curved bills looking for worms and grubs.  They are members of the family of woodpeckers but mostly eat from the ground.  They can be found in the trees also pecking at dead wood.  If you startle them, they will fly with a sound almost like the dove's wing whoop and you can see their flash of white at the rump just like our white tailed deer.  They are certainly handsome birds.  They visited yesterday and were eating the berries from the holly now that a cold front had made them a little sweeter.  All of these photos were taken from inside and through the window since it is difficult for me to get outside these days and thus they are not sharp photos, but the flickers still look dressed for some ball, don't they?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Word Verification Issues

I went back to the old interface and saved the remove word verification process. Would you all let me know if this works. I will leave this setting up for several posts and see if it increases spam comments. I agree with everyone that the new word verification interface that Blogger has implement is a DISASTER. You all keep me posted and I will do the same for you! Then if it seems to work, I will assist anyone else in this process.

Monday, February 20, 2012


There is something powerful about the last two weeks of February as the sun's angles change in my woods.  

I live on the water and that in itself adds a wonderful energy.  The river is a mirror to everything that happens.  It freezes to a standstill when the weather is bitter cold and turns the light dull and gray.  It whips up yellow foam when the winds of winter and early spring decide to skate across its' blue-gray surface. It becomes a hidden buffer for the fog when it drifts low waiting for the sun to burn it away.  And, of course, it becomes the home and pantry to so many living things.

But on a sunny winter late in the afternoon and in late February my river can once again capture the reflection of the sun.  The sun has moved in its arc from behind the peninsula across the way and begins to set behind the farther piece of land giving me many more hours of golden sparkles across the water.  The surface of the water also acts like a mirror as it bounces light back 0nto the undersides of trees.  They get a warm glow with dramatic shadows that cannot be seen unless you are on the shore or on the water.  It is as if a wizard has angled his magic mirror to direct the light right into my back yard.

This wizard of light sends angles of gold and later reds against bark and dried leaves and brick walls changing them to magical paintings.  It it as if a dutch painter saw the light and was given his brush to add dramatic warmth.

There is not much that is beautiful this time of year, but this is worth waiting for before spring hides all the sun's rays with bright green leaves and dark shade.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cat's Tail in the Door

The weather has been mild enough that even with my small handicap I have been able to sit outside more often and watch the brown winter struggle to remain the owner of the season.  

Yesterday the sky was filled with the sound of a cat dying.  Not a pleasant sound unless you are a raptor fan such as I.  A male Red Shouldered Hawk was singing to his mate while dancing high in the blue sky.  He soared up becoming a distant silhouette with a call that is similar to what a cat might make if you slammed its' tail in your front door.  He then spiraled elegantly for a while as the sound echoed again and again in the winter air.  In an instant he then collapsed his wings tightly into two sharp arrows and made a nose dive toward the area of the female.  The fall is so fast and frightening he certainly must be breaking the sound barrier as well as risking his life.  It would be very heart-stopping if you were with him in this command performance.
At the last minute he pulls up and starts the dance all over again.  He must have captured her heart because we saw the pair doing the love dance on the high branch of a locust tree a short time later.  That dance lasted such a short time considering the aerial performance that had seduced her in the beginning.  Oh well, looks like there will be baby red-shoulders in the woods this spring.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Enraptured With Raptors

I recently had an opportunity to visit the Carolina Raptor Center outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.  This is an non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of birds of prey.  There are a least 25 species of eagles, hawks and owls for viewing all in one location in the woods.  All of them are so damaged they cannot be returned to the wild.  They do also house raptors for rehabilitation and release when they can.  You can see from the photo below that some have had serious wing damage.  These photos are photo-shopped extensively since they were somewhat out of focus and had to be taken with a link fence both in front and behind the birds.  To the right of this bird below and hidden behind a screen there was a female sitting on two eggs on a nest!  The nesting could be viewed from a mounted camera in the gift shop.

They also had a golden eagle building a nest for his sweetheart.  If you are ever in the area of Huntersville, North Carolina, this is a great place to stop.

And if watching raptors makes you hungry there is a great BBQ place just a few miles down the road.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Distant Purr

Late last week we were warned of a cold front (finally) coming through.  Thus a few errands were in quick order two of which involved our family of birds.  We made sure the feeders were full and the water dish filled to the rim with fresh water.  It was getting dark before we finished outside chores.

As we were tying down the cover to the BBQ on the deck we heard a deep gentle repetitive sound in the ravine on the right side of the house.  There is something so magical when some small life form sings its territorial song with such bravery and self-confidence across the darkening and mysterious woods.  You cannot help but stop and listen.

My husband thought it was a frog because of the warmer weather.  But I knew in my heart that it was some type of owl.  I do not know why I knew this, because I am not an owl expert, but something made me sure.  I searched for owl calls on the Internet once I got inside and found out it was a screech owl, megascops aslo.  The sound was not at all what I expected from that sound and the owl's common name.  If you want to know what a screech owl sounds like, at least one of their more common sounds, click  here.  The sound that we heard was most like the first part of this sound and a little slower.  We never heard the horse neighing sound that comes later on this link.

Anyway, I hope my ankle heals sooner rather than later so that I may go searching for a screech owl nest.  These owls are very small, fluffy, and the color of the bark on the trees.  They will be hard to see.  Thus far in my small woods we have heard a screech owl and the great horned owl but I only saw the horned owl once and that was years ago.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

On the Catwalk

These beauties have been hanging out at my feeders in abundance throughout this mild winter.

Sometimes I get lucky and several of the colored flags are on the catwalk all at once!

If you want a chance to win a reproduction of one of my many photos, please visit my other blog before Thursday P.M.

Friday, February 03, 2012


Here she comes again with that camera...

OMG...she gives me SUCH a headache.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Big Maw

Does not this photo above look as though some prehistoric animal is crying in pain?  Granny Annie  gave me the theme for this post and I have thought her exact thought many times as I stare from my bedroom window and see this fallen tulip poplar that fell two years ago.  Had it fallen toward my house it would have damaged the roof.   She is right.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Bones in the Graveyard

Just the smallest of powder dusting.  That is the extent of the white winter we have received as we enter this February 2012.  It is as if winter spilled a cup of flour on her way rushing who knows where.

This "new-time" winter has been bittersweet in its gifts.  I love the warmer air and the crystal sound of the birds in the morning.  I love sitting on my deck and smelling the unusual warmth of plants and new earth that are rising from their too short nap.  Temperatures are in the 50's and 60's, breathtakingly uncommon for early February.  

Even as I love the warmer air kisses on my shoulders and the sweeter songs filling my ears, it also comes with the sound of wood cutters.  I fear for what this really means for the planet.  Is Mother Earth going through her hot flashes as she comes to the end of her life?  Is this change happening too fast as the scientists indicate such that plants and animals cannot keep ahead of the game of changing climate?  Are my trees dying because they do not have a long enough winter rest?  Are they dying because of the increase in stronger storms and heavier rains in the summer?  Are they dying because of the increase in disease and insects that survive these milder winters?  

Or are the trees dying because it is naturally their time and I am just being too dramatic about the changes to the beauty that surrounds me?  Maybe this love affair is just naturally coming to an end and earth is awaiting a re-birth.  That is what I can certainly hope.   This 'widowmaker' in the photo above leaning precariously and over 100 feet high and reaching her long arms across the path to the dock tore free from the earth's tether just fifteen minutes after my husband passed to meet with dock repairmen.  She did not even scream in pain as the ribbons of her years of life were revealed.
Oddly enough a verse from Paul Simon rings in my head.

"Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard
Bone digger, bone digger
Dogs in the moonlight"  Paul Simon