Friday, December 27, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Yard ~ Rufous Hummingbird ~ Day 50

She's still around feeding numerous times at the feeder daily.  Will she stay all winter or will she fly away South?  Who knows ~ only time will tell!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Memories ~ Stockings

Mom & Dad 1981
Back in the early 80's I was an avid quilter and cross stittcher. I made many gifts for friends including CS stockings.  I branched out from CS to needlepoint and decided I would make my family needlepoint Christmas stockings.  The first stockings made were for my Mom, Jeanne and Dad, Cliff.  Their stockings highlighted their interests as Mom liked birds and Dad was an avid tennis player.  I made stocking for my niece, Lisa as an infant and her brother, Eddie as a toddler.  Then I made one that was designed specially for my husband, Russ. He wanted Santa down on the beach with the gulls. The last stocking I made was for my sister, Leslie.  I never did get mine made as it had mice on it and Russ hated mice.   I should get it out and just get it done.

Dad, Mom and Russ are all in heaven now.  Each Christmas I put out their stockings and think about the many happy Christmas's we had together.  This past year I had a gas fireplace installed in the living room so now have just the best spot to hang the stockings.  On the mantle are the Wallace Christmas balls Russ gave me for each year we were together ~ 26 in all before he died.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cove Pool ~ Northern Harrier

Today was the Christmas Bird Count in Cape May County.  I was asked to be a part so that I could count the Rufous Hummingbird that's been hanging out in my yard.  I spent several hours watching the birds here but the outdoors beckoned me.  I went over to Cove Pool where I was lucky enough to walk in while this Northern Harrier was gliding over the pool and fields looking for his next meal.  He was so close I could almost reach out and touch him.  It was a great day for him to glide around as the winds were about 18 MPH.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Memories

from my childhood
Today is the day to get out my tree and the Christmas decorations.  This is a time for memories as many of my ornaments are from family or friends given as gifts over the years.  Some are from my parents tree when I was a child.  I cherish all of these memories and think about the people who have helped to decorate my tree.  here are some of them

 from Philippa in New Zealand ~ 1993

From Diane & Mike Henry - wedding favor 2003
From Ellyn about 1985
My Christmas Tree 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fabric Postcards

I have been working on my fabric postcards for the fourth quarter swap on Dyehards.  My mind always goes to Christmas at this time of year so I made postcards accordingly. The fabric is some I bought in Minneapolis on the way home from our first Dyehard retreat in Montana  in September 2007.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Yard ~ found Monarch Caterpillar

Today was day 2 of cutting down all of the canna stalks.  I must have cut 300 down yesterday and had another 100 stalks to go. Time to pull out some of the extra bulbs to pass along to friends in the spring.  I also took all of the stalks to the MUA for disposal - a total of 3 trips with the back of the van fairly full of the stalks.  I also took out most of the Tropical Milkweed.  When I was taking out some of the last section I Found a Monarch Caterpillar on the ground by the stalk that was curled into a ball.  that's a defense mechanism when the Monarch cat feels threatened.  I picked it up and the cat opened in my hand and started to explore so I took it over to an area I hadn't cut totally back.  It seems to like it's new surroundings though I might bring it in to rear in an aquarium so it will make it instead of leaving it to the elements and possible freezing weather outside.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Stone Harbor Point ~ Snowy Owl & Snow Buntings

Lots of Snowy Owls are invading this area, which as I understand it, is further South than they are usually found.  Brig reported a Snowy Owl yesterday of which Don Freiday got some great pictures.  Fiday was the annual post Thanksgiving trip to Brig and I thought about going but with so much else going on I stayed home.  Then I heard a report of a Snowy at the Point so off I went.  Stopped at Nummy Island but nothing much seen.  Walked up along the free bridge looking out both sides.  On the spit were about 2 dozen American Oystercatchers, some Dunlin, Sanderlings, other peep, some gulls and in the water a flock of Brant. On the south side there were King Eiders.  Off to the Point where I walked the jetty which had mostly Sanderlings and Dunlin with a few Ruddy Turnstones.  Then the walk out to the Point where I got about 1/2 way and met up with some birders who pointed out the Snowy Owl in front of me.  The views were awesome.  The owl was just beautiful.  My pictures just don't do it justice so I hope to go back and get better pictures.  Also got to see a flock of Snow Buntings flying but not really any close up looks.  After I left the Point I tried the Meadows for closer looks at the Snow Buntings but nothing!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yard Bird #70 ~ Red-tailed Hawk

I was watching and enjoying the birds feeding in my backyard when a hawk swooped in and grabbed a Dark-eyed Junco.  He sat on the fence about 10 ft from the house to eat it.  When he perched I was able to ID the bird as a Red-tailed hawk.  Normally I see Cooper's Hawk picking off my yard birds and not very often at that but who knows what happens while I am at work.  (pictures were taken through the window so the quality isn't as good as I'd like)

My Yard ~ Rufous Hummingbird ~ Day 23

The Rufous Hummingbird first seen in my yard on November 2nd stopped by for a visit this afternoon. Since I am at work most days I am unable to tell if it's been coming by during the week. The hummingbird apparently has also been seen in another yard about 1/3 mile from my house as the crow flies. The birding experts who came out to document the hummingbirds took pictures and recording of both of them. They came to the conclusion that the Rufous Hummingbird is just one bird and is sharing both habitats.  Luckily, I still have some canna's blooming along with the pineapple sage.  Since we are predicted to have a freeze tonight I have no idea how long the plants will last.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Florida Wrap Up

It was a wonderful 4 day trip to Florida - a state I haven't visited since 1976.  Now I am excited to plan another trip here.  We saw turtle, frog, lizards plus Gopher Tortoises.  I saw 8 new species of birds along with life bird #300 which was a Roseate Spoonbill.  In total we saw 70 species of birds; 15 species of butterflies with 10 life butterflies.  We also saw many American Alligators and Manatees.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Florida ~ Sawgrass Lake Park

What a gem!  I found this park listed on the Florida Birding Trail and hoped that it would be good because we were coming from a park that had been a dud!  This park was super.  We saw several Anhinga, lots of Common Gallinule, Pied-billed Grebe's, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Green Heron, Wood Stork, lots more birds plus turtles and alligators.  They had 2 trails through the mangroves along with grassed areas.  Later I found out on ebird that there were 5 life birds seen there today that I didn't see. Feeling sad about that but plan to visit in the future.  Also sad to be going home after 4 wonderful days in Florida.


Tri-colored Heron with a snack

Green Heron
American Alligator

Florida ~ Fort DeSoto

One of my motivating factors in visiting the Tampa area was the chance to visit Fort DeSoto.  Looking at all of the pictures taken there make me envious of the great and different birds than what we see here in Cape May County.  I was disappointed to go to the park this AM and find the North Beach is closed because they are making a movie there.  We did get to see the Shorebird Restoration Area.  Among the shorebirds we saw a Reddish Egret (life bird) which was a target bird for me plus a Long-billed Curlew, a species I really love. Some of the other shorebirds we saw were Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Piping Plovers, Wilson Plovers and Snowy Plovers.  An added bonus was a group of Magnificent Frigatebirds flying over the causeway as we left the park.
Reddish Egret

Long-billed Curlew

Wilson's Plover

White Ibis having lunch
Magnificent Frigatebird

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Florida ~ Honeymoon Island State Park

Then off we drove to Honeymoon Island State Park.  There's a causeway over St. Joseph's Sound leading to Honeymoon Island.  Along the causeway we saw shore birds feeding along the edge of the water including Short-billed Dowitchers, Yellow Legs, Dunlin, plovers and sandpipers, gulls and terns.  We only had about 1 1/2 hours to explore before the park closed.  First stop was the beach which was all shells and no sand but the shells were really neat so we had to collect some of them.  Then it was off to the Osprey Trail for a hike.  There were some Ospreys but there were lots of Gopher Tortoises feeding along the path. There were also 2 turtles fighting each other.  What fun to watch! We saw a Kestrel from a distance.  I wish we'd had more time but maybe someday I'll get back there.

Florida ~ Green Key

Next stop was in Green Key at the Robert K Rees Park.  What a great place!  Apparently, it is a migrant magnet in the spring and other times of the year after storms.  There are warblers found along the entrance in the trees.  I saw many Palm and Pine Warblers along with a gorgeous Yellow-throated Warbler.  We didn't find any birds along the beach front but that was probably the time of day and all of the people on the small beach. Then as we were leaving we saw White Ibis, Little Blue Heron and a Dunlin along the water's edge.  We were also surprised to see a horseshoe crab on the same beach.
Yellow-throated Warbler

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Florida ~ Hillsbourgh River State Park

Driving to our first stop we passed by Sandhill Cranes,Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills feeding along the roadside. We also passed by Kingfishers hanging out on the wires. First stop was the Hillsbourgh River State Park where we saw dozens of Zebra Longwing Butterflies, Carolina Satyrs, Gulf Fritillaries, Barred Yellows, Dorantes Longtail Skipper and Long-tailed Skippers. All of the butterflies were new life butterflies except the Long-tailed Skippers.  We hiked 2 trails.  On the first trail over the rapids we saw American Alligators of several sizes but few birds.  The second trail had some birds plus lots of butterflies but nothing we had hoped to see.
Carolina Satyr
Gulf Fritillary
Barred Yellow

Dorantes Longtail Skipper
Long-tailed Skipper (missing it's tail)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Florida ~ Sand Key

After an awesome lunch with Cindy and her son Josh, Bernie and I took a drive along Gulf Avenue along the beaches from Treasure Island to Clearwater Beach.  Over in Clearwater Beach there were hundreds of people walking around and cruising the roads so we backtracked to Sand key Beach. Another one of the suggested sites on the Florida Birding Trail we really enjoyed out time on the beach. As we were driving out we found a fresh water pond that also had some birds so we parked and took a walk around the pond.  On the beach were Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Forster's Tern, Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Snowy Egrets and again some unidentified peep due to distance and not having a scope.  Diving for fish were the terns and the many Brown Pelicans.  They are so much fun to watch.  Back at the parking lot we saw Palm Warblers, Mourning Doves and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Walking around the pond we were treated to close looks of  Egrets, Common Gallinule, Tri-colored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons, Wood Stork, Eastern Phoebe, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  

White Peacock Butterfly
We were also treated to looks at many White Peacock Butterflies, Phoan Butterflies and Cassius Butterflies along with a Monarch Butterfly. Nature is so great!

Cassius Butterfly