Sunday, December 11, 2022

Helping Take Flight

It was either Audubon or Cornell Feeder Watch that recently sent me an email survey asking what there is about bird watching that compels me to do it and to collect data for them. It was one of those surveys that end with a request for a donation, which means to me they don't really care what I think or what motivates their supporters.  They just need money, honey!

I imagine the survey data may be collected and then stored on a server somewhere, perhaps never to be reviewed or only pulled out when they feel the data is compelling enough that it should be shared.  Birds are easy to watch whether you are looking in your backyard, taking a walk in the park, or even walking along a shoreline.  They are the easy reward for us elders.  The only real gear is walking shoes, binoculars, and if needed, a notebook and a bird guide.

There are 56 datasets on birds that are of considerable importance and publically available. Go here: to spend a few hours falling down the white rabbit (bluebird) hole if you are addicted to birds and if you do not mind signing in to establish an account.   Or an even easier site to peruse is Cornell Lab of Ornithology with its global data.

Marvelous stuff! Thinking about this group I will mention that the largest bird is the ostrich and the smallest is the hummingbird. Birds can live from one to one hundred years. While they are becoming threatened there are still 10,000 species worldwide.  But 49% of bird species are in decline!  They are forced to live next to or in our artificial environments.

How can you save these descendants of the dinosaurs?  Use reusable containers and paper...not plastic.  Recycle instead of throwing stuff out.  Reduce the lighting around your home during migrating season.  Protect birds from hitting your windows by using decals or strips of foil on the glass to break the reflection of the sky.  Do not use pesticides in your yard.  If you are serious you can plant natives in your yard and provide water and safe places (no cats) for birds to rest during their migration or to nest during spring seasons.

Plant oak trees to increase the Lepidoptera population.  According to Doug Tallamey (a famous author that native gardeners love), the oak trees support 534 species of insects that will feed your birds in the spring.

AND try to reduce your use of fossil fuels for the long-term slowing of climate change that impacts bird (and other wild animals) habitats greatly.  And of course, you can donate to any of the numerous bird conservation societies or groups in your area.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

An Early Morning as Fall Moves On

I was up at 5:30 this morning. A good seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is my best and average time. The plant lights were on in the corner of the kitchen as I opened the bedroom door.  I have saved a few geraniums, a large pot of parsley,  and my two citrus trees.  

It is still very dark outside and will prove to be a cloudy and rainy day. I can see beyond the deck that the holiday lights are still on at most of the docks. This is a new tradition only a few years old and it gives a pretend city festivity to our country environment. I do not feel so isolated. 

An intermittent loneliness sometimes descends on me and I am sure it has to do with aging and knowing my years are limited in this space and the loss of friends and acquaintances this past month. Yes, more than one! 

I see a large oak leaf falling outside the window as the heavier rain begins.  It does not twirl as the others did in early fall but dive bombs down the two stories to the lawn.  

Then a rush of air pushes another dried leaf against the front door making it sound as if a small bird is tapping to get inside...quickly!  

The colder weather keeps me inside and it is not even all that cold! The water in the bird bath is frozen but many plants are still hanging on. I have put out the heated bird bath and the birds come to that in the early dawn, sometimes to even bathe!! 

Oh, if you are still Christmas shopping here is an ad that you might consider.  I somehow or other think Brent is lying about his shape.

Our sunsets have been extraordinary these fall months! The most brilliant was taken with my pixel cell phone. It does such a good job, wonder why I have a camera!

Hubby, who has been fighting a cold for two days, is now up and needing breakfast.  Also, I hear my phone pinging with several text messages, probably from my son and my daughter checking on their dad, or sending another precious photo of that new special baby.  AND the soccer game is about to start!  I am blessed and have no reason to feel sad.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

A Digital Autumn

Those of us who have fun with cameras find catching all the color and light difficult in the autumn since it only lasts a few weeks and we are busy with various holidays. Below is the view from my deck to our neighbor's weekend house across the way. The first has just some clarity and lighting. The second photo was dodging and burning and a filter or two. The third is an abstract filter, heavier saturation, even more dodging, and a vignette and the last is a sketch filter and some contrast to make it look more sketchy.
There is not a lot of difference in each although multiple layers were involved.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

In the MIddle of November

November, which oddly means nine because the Roman calendar had only ten months, is also the blood month, the time of slaughter of the animals to prepare for food for winter.  The days are shorter and colder and we feel the need to store away grain and meat. Even the sunsets seem colder and shorter.

We are in the middle of November and the blood-red colors are just leaving us.  They can be so intense that they make us gasp as if indeed we had just slaughtered some mammal.  

My persimmon puts on its show of gold and peach and wine to compete with the taller red maples that are dancing deeper in the forest.  It even hides its fruit as a challenge.

It is the time of year when man and dog get to put on their show of talent and discipline.  The hunting season is already upon us.

If you are lucky enough to live on the water you can see the sunlight with its low autumnal angle as it bounces off the river and lights up the trees with a bit of pretend warmth.  Well, indeed, now, it is time for me to collect the broken wood scattered across the yard to be used in a fire this evening.

Friday, November 04, 2022

Time To Slow Down

Seems that autumn reminds us of the rhythm of life and seems to suggest that we slow down. Yet, she rushes by in a matter of weeks and is not a good example of what she preaches. But are we not all guilty of that in some ways? Below are some pausing (passing?) photos from my recent trip to Pennsylvania and Michigan. All below were taken in the small community of Troy as I tried to stop time for this season.
Troy Michigan

Saturday, October 15, 2022

May I Introduce Something Often Overlooked

The world is full of plants that we drive by or walk by and ignore, overlook, or fail to see because they are common, unattractive, or weedy.  My shoreline is dotted with Baccharis halimifolia, a native of eastern North America.  Common names are groundsel, sea myrtle, and saltbush.  You can guess that it likes salty soil.  It is a member of the huge aster family.

It flowers in the fall and is dioecious which means it has male and female flowers on separate plants.  It is found in ditches and in salt marshes and along shorelines and because of its abundance, often overlooked.

This shrub provides food for over a dozen species of moths as well as other pollinators.

The flowers that bloom in the fall are long white paintbrushes that glow in the reflected sun and then burst into long-legged white spiders and sail across the air to form new plants.  Depending on the wind they can fly a good long way.  While it is native to my backyard, it can be considered invasive in other parts of the globe.

It is usually only noticed in autumn when the bush looks like a snow-topped shrub against the autumn colors.

And below, I actually managed to catch a few wind-born seeds using a long-range lens from my deck!!  Pat me on the back.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Small Friends and Even Smaller Acquaintances

Our week has been all rain and much cooler weather (think Ireland) with the collision of Ian and a cold front from the north. This made me wish for spring or sun or something alive outside and not wet and bedraggled. So I will share some insect photos from last April and May. I hope they bring some beauty into your day whether you need that or not. The first one has been manipulated like an acrylic painting, of course.

One of the very earliest of butterflies.  Clearly arrived after a long struggle.  Early April.
Saw these on the walls of my house in early spring and while they look like ants, they are not.

They are praying mantis.  I had forgotten I brought in an egg case inside as a keepsake and it was lying dormant on my bookshelf until spring!  Many people love praying mantis, but they are equal-opportunity dieters, eating both good and bad insects.  I took them outside in small groups by scooping them up on pieces of paper.

Such lovely early spring arrivals and I am looking forward to spring already!  How will I make it through the winter?

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Review of the Trip with Some Imagination

I was running a mild temperature when I took most of the photos below, so focus and composition can really be off. Just remember that I did not realize I was sick at the time. Below are the only real elk that we saw. They were young ones avoiding the rut on the hill up the road.
You can see from the collars that the herd is monitored closely. There is a hunting season that allows the killing of elk with strict limits and regulations. 

Above is one of the meadows that provide a view of where the elk males leave the cover of the woods to fight with each other and begin their fall harem.   We saw nothing but the familiar and beautiful goldenrod.


We did take a small hike the following day and saw some  more fall color and a small wide lake area where boats awaited the weekend fishermen and fisher women.  

And the ancient spirits of former elk still haunted us.

It is a lovely and vast area and we just touched a small portion and will return in the future with better focus and energy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Sharing Some Stuff

The world goes round and round.  Someone you love moves away or gets seriously ill or even dies and the dear world does not glance back but greets the new sunrise with bold determination.  You can lag behind and be sad or bereft or even a bit angry, but she does not care because she has far more important work to do.  "Time stops for no man."

Andros Island sunrise.

The sun slaps you in the face and reminds you that there are things to do.  Mother earth has to grow plants and dry up a flood or two. She has to turn the front yard toward the sun for just a bit to dry the dew..

She spins the morning air to dry the butterfly wings that were washed in last night's rain.  She dries the dew from the bee so that he can get off the ground.

Eventually, the cosmos will recover from that pouring rain that bent it low to the ground.

And just as you adjust to there being a new day,  just as you begin to put one foot in front of the other, the day is ending and everything is getting quiet once again and you can stop in thought..