Friday, February 28, 2014

Something Is MIssing

I had noticed as the days lengthen and morning arrives just a little earlier that there was something missing in my life.  For two days I could not put my finger on it wondering if perhaps I was coming down with something.  Maybe I was missing a vitamin?  There was some emptiness that I just could not figure out.  March, while not spring, is usually energizing with its dramatic changes and promise of departure, so why did I feel oddly out of kilter?

Later I took a walk around the yard to collect what the wind had blown hither and yon and, as I passed our pull-behind vinyl tube, I saw that the float had tipped over and was upright and the center where the grandkids sit had filled with rain water.  It was like a kiddie swim pool and as I looked closer I saw some dark piece of wood(?) floating on the surface.  I reached in, and as I touched it, I immediately discovered what it was.

Sorry for such a sad sight...hope you have had your coffee!

It felt so soft and smooth like the richest velvet I had ever touched, and of course was weightless.  This little Carolina wren had fallen into the 'pool' perhaps trying to get a drink or perhaps flung in by the strong winds.

I then realized what had been missing from my mornings was his cadenza.  The brave and lyrical music that he sang each morning had not been there.  His/her mate, if there was one, was not around either.  Perhaps she/he was too sad to sing and had flown back into the woods to mourn.  According to zoomusicologist (yes this is a field of study!), Emily Doolittle (don't you love that name?), when measuring frequencies of a wren's song she discovered they are, "singing octaves [an interval spanning eight notes] more often, it was singing perfect fifth and perfect fourths.  Those are the three perfect intervals in Western musical theory...they're actually the simplest interval ratios in sound, and there's probably a shared physical and biological reason why people and birds gravitate towards them."  She went on to share that the wren's range is closer to ranges humans are used to hearing in music and it sings more slowly.  I must admit that she was talking about the musician wren of South America which you can hear here.  I think my Carolina wren is certainly just as lovely!  You can hear him/her here.

While hoping that this spring's orchestra will not be missing its loudest diva singer, I looked toward the bird bath two days later and saw this little one and sighed knowing he/she will find a mate in the spring.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The "dozenth" snow storm to hit this area came in yesterday.  It was so amazing.  Mother nature sent her loveliest luminaries almost as if she knew we were so weary of the white stuff.  It was one of those snow storms that have been described as pillow fights by the gods.  I could almost hear them giggling.

Wet, sloppy, enormous flakes of frozen water drifted down.  They were like cold wet kisses.  For hours it melted as it hit the warm floor of the woods, but after a bit, it finally began to cover everything making it smooth and clean.  Woods are very messy and it is nice to see their rooms get tidied every once in a while.

When I looked closer I could see that the flakes were like luminescent stars that had fallen from heaven and in their final dance to earth they grabbed each others "hands" and whirled about and about.  I could not get a good close up since I was a bit cold, but below I will give a dream of what I saw.

At the very top of the photo above you can see stars dancing.

And while the snow was lovely, it also was a very polite guest and did not overstay its welcome.  By sunset all the white quilt was gone!

UNTIL this morning as I made my coffee and looking out the window saw that there is now one of those icy little snows that have left over an inch of crusty cold stuff EVERYWHERE!  Winter's little bully brother has now come to visit!

Monday, February 24, 2014


As Hilary corrected me (in her most gentle fashion) the bird in the post two posts ago is a reddish heron and not a small blue heron.  I had heard about this bird many years ago and forgotten all about it.  It is white as an adult...sometimes.

Below two birds that I have been having fun photo-painting and trying to camouflage their ID!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weather or Not

"Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it."  Charles Dudley Warner (?) stolen by Mark Twain (?).

The big blue whirling planet must have flicked a wrist in one of its daily pirouettes this week and the winds changed direction just enough that the air warmed into the high 60s melting what was left of the squashy snow against the base of the trees and the gray and silver ice that had frozen on the river.  It was almost as if winter had bid goodbye with the setting sun.

The next morning I had rushed to open the windows and let in the fresh air before heading out on errands on a day that only required wearing a sweater.  The sun darted in and out of cloud cover and the wind whipped up old dry leaves and there was a lightness in everyone's step in the supermarket after having been home bound for days.  In the river the buffle heads were back and the Canadian geese had returned the night before.

Of course,  " Breaking up is hard to do. " Neil Sedaka sings.

The winter does not depart without argument and thrashing and screaming and smashing of branches and tossing of furniture like a woman scorned.  Winter hangs on refusing to leave the stage even when pushed away by warmer giggling winds.  Winter hides backstage for a short time tossing rain and  messing with the sound man and flashing light.

There was a tornado warning as I arrived back in my driveway and I rushed to close windows and watch the radar.  Winter was no longer a cool blue on the screen but an angry red and I could hear winter groaning and thundering before roaring into 60 mile an hour winds and driving back against an early departure.  The rain came like hard bullets against the windows and the skylights.  Winter flung 2 inch tree limbs against the side of the house and tipped over the table on the deck in irs fury.

It will be peaceful and warm tomorrow, but I am told winter is coming back in full force next week.  Such a Prima Donna is this season, but to be fair it is not even March!

(Oh, the bird in the prior post with the hair-do was lifting his crown to intimidate.  I understand they sometimes do this for sex appeal.  He was a little blue reddish heron.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Success in this life requires being in the right place at the right time and having a little luck.  But we must also give credit for powers of observation.

"Hmmm, wonder what this is all about?"
It does not hurt to have the killer hairdo thing going on.  Throws everyone off their pace and makes them watch you instead of something else.  Give them that intimidating as hell look.

Do not be afraid to jump on it when the opportunity is clear.  Let the others keep their dignity and grace.  You know what rewards dignity and grace give.

And, thus, to the victors go the spoils!!

(Yes, it was bait thrown aside by a fisherman, but food is food even if not as fresh as one is used to.  And as Hilary has corrected me, this is a reddish heron.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Do You Smell That?

Finally the weather has broken for those of us in the more southern east!!  The river has been frozen for over a month...but with today's above 40 temperatures and the beautiful sun I will put on my camouflage uniform, snow boots and cap and head down to the dock.

I hear water dripping and running everywhere.  It is as if the plumbing has broken in earth's bathroom.  The river is still frozen, but thawing as I watch!  I feel as if at least one surreal photo is in order:

Or maybe not...maybe I am ready to face reality.  Wow, that air smells just like the air smells on the top of a snowy mountain.  It is pure and clean and makes me high.  The breeze is cool but gentle as it fingers my gray hair.  I look up and as if someone felt I deserved a little surprise, there not too far over my head glides a bald eagle enjoying the warmer weather.  (He was too acrobatic for a photo, but you can place him and his marvelous air dance in your mind's eye.)

Far out toward the creek where it joins the river I can actually see blue water!  That ice in the foreground is too thin to walk on, so it will be thawed by sunset today.

Can spring be too far behind?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Back Away Slowly

My goodness, what is this hanging off of my suet feeder?  He is way too big to be balancing up there.  This first photo is not the most flattering, but it did catch my attention.  I see that he is a big bird, larger than the downy woodpecker that usually visits, but closer in size to the red bellied woodpecker. 

But he/she is not a woodpecker.  He stops for a brief moment to shake off the cold rain.  He is a rich rusty brown color.

He has bright yellow eyes with a determined look and above he appears to be long and thin...yet...

here he is thick and ball shaped.  This is what makes birds hard to ID unless you watch them for some time.

This photo above, in better focus, reveals his more normal shape.  It is the brown thrasher, which is most often seen 'thrashing' about in the leaves and looking for bugs under them.  Because of his coloring and the fact that he stays low under bushes he is often hard to see.  He has the most interesting song which can be heard here.  (Scroll down to the middle of the page in that link.)

OKAY, I will put the camera down and back away!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Black and White Friday

Almost all of the color has been drained away.  The color plug was pulled and only charcoal bits and pieces remain for the camera's eye.  But this charcoal is busy and flighty and feisty.  It has a hidden fire that warms the heart looking for any energy these days.  While the nasty fight for survival puts off the small colored friends, I feel that these also have their place in this gray, brown and black world that surrounds me.  At morning time there were over a hundred that filled the trees above.

They are red-winged black birds and common grackles, of course.  The grackles are the top dog in this match.  Their yellow-eyed demonic glare, fuzzy through my window, puts off all but the most predatory.

Both species have trouble with the traditional bird feeder designed for smaller birds.  Eating is a balancing awkward ballet above the ground al la Cirque de Soleil, but all that they spill is welcomed by those on the wet snowy ground below.

And a close up reveals that the new black is really made up of many colors!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bye Bye!

I do not have a professional telephoto nor do I have the ability to make those joining me on my vacation wait until I get that perfect shot. While I saw a lot birds, and got a few good shots, there were many that got away. These below are some of those, grainy and blurry photos, but their graceful departures are worth noting, I think!

Take off is the most energy demanding activity for birds.  Imagine that you are standing at the side of the road and something frightens you and you have to immediately run at your very fastest for some time.  Sometimes take-off can only happen for large birds if they face into the wind.  Bird bones are hollow, body lines are streamlined and wing feathers are not symmetrical so that they have a strong side and a light side all of which aids flight.  One research project found that female birds exposed to predators during ovulation produce chicks which grow their wings faster than chicks produced by predator-free females. Their wings are also longer. Both adaptations may make them better at avoiding avian predators.  Flight is used to avoid prey, reach new feeding grounds, avoid bad weather and get food for young.  Sometimes birds that reach islands where there are no predators and plenty of food lose their ability to fly.  

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Spring

As I wrote in my post on my other blog,  this spring that we stayed at for a few days is a geological wonder and an historic site, and only available to us because we are friends of the current owners.  Here is the spring itself where I cropped out the intrusive sonar platform.  This spring is so deep that it does not boil the surface of the water.  It always remains crystal clear and glass calm.

We had to work the canoe around a Federal fence that exists to keep out the riffraff and in our case to keep in the riffraff.  We worked our ancient 18-foot aluminum canoe like a surgeons' needle and broke into this pristine opening above on the other side.  We were now in public waters.

Above you can see the tip of the canoe as we now head north about 0.8 mile into the Helena Run which is the outflow from Lake Denham.  Winter in central Florida means no leaves on the trees, just like at home.

This lake Denham seemed so enormous as we sat on its surface because it was so clear, calm and the distant Florida horizon was stretched flat like a gray fuzzy blanket.  In the distance, not seen in this photo, was one lone bass fisherman with his dozen lines placed all around his boat.  As we moved the glassy water, it sometimes felt as if the polished surface would swallow us up never to be heard from again.

Sometimes we got the feeling that we were the only people left to explore on earth.  There was not a breath of air on this cool day and bird sounds were muffled far back into the woods.  In my next post I will show a few of the aviators seen on this float back in time.