August 19, 2015

  • Thinking of Winging Away


    Btrfls 1

    Last week, I spotted this red-spotted purple butterfly flitting around on our deck,
    landing on the grill, then the deck, then the grill . . .

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    It made me kind of want to fly away again ~ travel someplace ~ some beautiful somewhere.
    And I don't even like to fly very much!

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    We have traveled so much that when it has been awhile between trips, I start getting the itch to go.

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    Maybe we will just up and get out of here soon ~ go see someplace new;
    I will let you know if we do get to go someplace ~ after we get back ~ :)

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    These are just some random butterfly shots from the Indianapolis Zoo Butterfly House;
    they were taken two years ago and I am just now finding them in my computer ~ :(

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    Golf 1

    A couple weekends ago, Clayton got to go play around on the golf course
    with a couple of our sons and two grandsons ~ this is Jordan, practicing his swing.
    Burke is watching to see if he actually hits the ball ~ :)

    Golf 2

    Jordan wanted to hold the flag stick while his grandpa tried his putt.

    Golf 3

    Bronté and I drove a golf cart around to watch their shenanigans ~ it was a glorious day.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    And since that time, I finally finished the memories book ~ it ended up being 38 pages long
    with inserts and oh yeah, another page of memories I forgot, and more inserts and the covers.
    It is in pretty small print in two columns with several pictures and clip art;
    I kind of thought it would take me all winter, but sooooo thankful it is finished!
    It really was fun and has brought a lot of laughter ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee."
    Genesis 33:12

August 12, 2015

  • Yes, I'm Still Here!

    B walker

    My, where does time go?  It has been way too long since I have checked into Xangaland,
    but I seem to get immersed in tasks and first thing I know, days and weeks are simply gone!
    Last week, we were in Ohio visiting our oldest son's family, to assist with Bronté's activities for a bit.
    In this picture, she was just returning from an intense, hour-long therapy session, and she was
    using her new zebra-striped walker to navigate/hop from our car to the house for the first time.
    She is still not to put any weight on her right leg, but she can now put downward pressure on both arms,
    so she is really happy to be able to get around just a tad bit quicker than using the wheelchair constantly.
    She will still have to use the wheelchair for awhile in public places, such as when she goes back to school soon.
    Hopefully, in another month, she can begin to try walking again!

    Sammy seat

    Sweb 1

    I went out early this morning to wash my window, so that I could try to capture
    the huge cobweb built overnight just beyond the hummingbird feeder.
    The sun is shining through it so beautifully and for some reason,
    it just looked like a photo needing to be taken.

    Sweb 2

    I have been working non-stop for a couple of weeks on a book of memories
    from my parents' and my siblings' childhoods ~ also my recollections;
    projects like that simply consume me and that is why I have not been on Xanga at all.
    It is nearing completion, as far as the writing goes,
    then it will be just finishing touches and assembling it for my family.
    So maybe, I will be back more often soon ~ unless something else entangles my time ~ :)
    Blessings to you all!  Will try to come visit your pages very soon ~ I am missing you!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
    Ecclesiastes 3:1

July 22, 2015

  • Sunday Sunset

    Our granddaughter was released from the hospital last Thursday evening;
    she was one very tickled pink girl to see her home again!
    She will need to use a wheelchair for a few more weeks until she is allowed to start
    putting weight on her right side ~ then she can begin trying to walk again.
    She is very, very anxious for that to happen ~ :)
    Our whole family is so grateful for your caring and prayers ~ thank you!

    071915 sunset 1r

    ". . . and His glory is exalted . . ."
    (from the hymn, Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah)

    I took two pictures of the sunset on Sunday evening as we traveled home from Bible study.
    The photos have not been enhanced in any way ~ these were taken on my phone.

    071915 sunset 2r

    "His Hand Paints the Skies"

    It seemed to be the only title I could give this photo when I noticed the hand,
    complete with thumb, in the clouds.  It just amazed me when I brought it up on the computer!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."
    Mark 13:26

July 13, 2015

  • Granddaughter Update

    B 8

    Her family is still counting their blessings ~ we are so very grateful our grandchildren will be okay!

    B 7

    We absolutely know their guardian angels were near and God's presence was with them.
    We still shake our heads in wonder that they made it out of the accident alive.

    B 4

    Bronté has been undergoing intense therapy the last few days;
    one of her favorite sessions was learning to make some brownies with her left hand.
    They were absolutely delicious!

    B 5

    She smiles all the time, it seems like ~ such a day brightener in her unit.
    She is unable to put any weight on her right side, but it is looking like
    she should be able to go home in the next few days with a wheelchair.  It is hard to imagine how much
    she has progressed in just 12 days.  She is a very determined young lady.

    B 6

    One evening while we were at the hospital, with some of her best friends,
    she watched evening fall over the city from the 4th floor patio outside her room.
    It was an evening of praising God with song and with thankful hearts.
    Her family is so very grateful for your prayers ~ thank you so much!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Praise ye the LORD.  Praise God in His sanctuary:
    praise Him in the firmament of His power."
    Psalms 150:1

July 7, 2015

  • Grandchildren in Accident

    B 1

    I am so sorry I have not posted for so long.  Our grandson and granddaughter
    were in a severe auto accident and I have been at the out-of-state hospital for a week.
    Burke was treated and released; Bronté was care-flighted and will be in the hospital for a good while yet.

    She has a fractured neck, collarbone, 3 broken ribs and multiple fractures of her pelvis.
    On Saturday, she had to have a fusion in her neck ~ then they were able to remove this hated halo;
    it was so exceedingly painful for her ~ and so difficult for her family to witness her pain.
    We believe she has turned the corner in her recovery and is now progressing with therapy.

    B 2

    Yesterday morning, she was able to take an unexpected trip to the waiting room
    to see where her friends and family had been hanging out for several days.

    B 3

    Last night, her family was all smiles because she was feeling soooo much better.
    They have been able to cut back on the pain medication and she is alert more now.
    If you have a minute here or there, we would greatly appreciate your prayers for her and her family.
    We are so very grateful to our Heavenly Father for sparing their lives.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him,
    and I am helped:  therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth;
    and with my song will I praise Him."
    Psalm 28:7

June 12, 2015

  • Gene Stratton-Porter Home

    GSP 1

    On the morning of May 12, I was so hoping we could decide to do one more walk on the Magee Marsh boardwalk,
    but the weather had turned decidedly colder, and it was so windy, it really wasn't a good idea.

    GSP 2

    So, we decided instead to visit the Gene Stratton-Porter home near Rome City, Indiana ~ well worth it!

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    The other side of this sign states that 10 million copies of her books sold by 1924.
    She gained financial independence from her writings before many women even had careers at all.
    She eventually organized her own movie production company, producing movies based on her novels.

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    After she started making lots of money, she bought 120 acres on Sylvan Lake with a mile of shoreline
    and had this home built in 1912.  She called the estate Wildflower Woods.
    Our guide told us that the family often slept on the second-story screened porch to escape the heat.

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    I just loved the view from her front porch ~ out over Sylvan Lake.

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    ~ stairway in the entry ~
    We were not permitted to tour the upstairs.

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    ~ Gene Stratton-Porter ~

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    ~ dining room ~

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    Most of the furnishings are original to the home.

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    ~ parlor ~

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    ~ view from parlor window ~

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    ~ parlor fireplace ~
    This fireplace is so interesting ~ each stone was a gift from different friends whom she had told
    to bring her a stone from somewhere they had been.  She designed it, even having the stones
    laid to form a few images ~ you might pick out the Revolutionary War soldier on the right side.

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    I loved her library ~ the room where she sat on that couch to dictate her books to her secretary.

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    ~ her secretary's typewriter ~

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    ~ her favorite fireplace in the home (there are several) ~
    This one is formed completely from puddin' stone (puddingstone) ~ her favorite kind of rock.

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    ~ the conservatory ~
    She sometimes had cages here with injured birds which she nursed back to health.
    She did some of her plant potting in this room.
    I'm sure I could spend a good bit of my life in her library and conservatory,
    reading books and studying birds and nature for days on end.

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    ~ her dark room ~
    She also was an accomplished photographer.

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    ~ kitchen ~ state-of-the-art at the time ~

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    ~ flour and sugar bins ~

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    ~ ice-box refrigerator ~

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    ~ grape arbor ~
    The gardens were stunningly beautiful ~ well-kept by a gardener and volunteers.

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    She was killed in an accident in Los Angeles in 1924 when her limousine mistakenly
    pulled in front of a streetcar.  She was buried in California, but per her wishes,
    was later re-buried at this site in Wildflower Woods beneath her favorite tree,
    a giant chinkapin oak.  Her daughter is buried there, as well.

    GSP 46

    GSP 47

    I am determined to make a concerted effort now to read more of her books;
    I have only read a couple of them ~ it is time to change that.
    "Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:  then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice."

    Psalms 96:12

June 5, 2015

  • Cedar Point Refuge

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    On the evening of Mother's Day, we dined at the Maumee State Park lodge;
    we had a window table overlooking Lake Erie.  We tasted such yummy fare as
    hot German potato salad (more like a soup) and jalapeño cornbread ~ so delicious!

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    The next morning, we were up bright and early ~ on the way to the Ottawa Refuge to catch a 7:00 a.m. bus tour
    to the Cedar Point Refuge, which is not open to the public, except a few times a year on these bus tours.

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    The bus only held 14 people ~ mostly avid birders and a spouse or two who just rode along for the fun of it ~ ;)

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    At the place that is called Cedar Point, the bus stopped so we could all debark, walk ahead of the bus,
    gaze through binoculars and try to capture photos to our hearts' content ~ it was a beautiful morning.

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    ~ yellow warbler ~
    One lady seemed disappointed that we were spotting so many yellow warblers
    instead of something a little less uncommon.  She said, "They are almost becoming a 'trash bird'!"
    I was actually just glad to be able to figure out what they were!  :)

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    I believe this to be an Acadian Flycatcher, but am awaiting validation of that from Cornell.
    *edit ~ Cornell agrees that it is most likely an Acadian.

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    Much of the time, this is the type of vegetation at which we were gazing,
    trying to figure out where the bird we heard was perching ~ almost impossible to spot sometimes.

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    On the bus again, just as we passed a stand of trees, I spotted a pair of sandhill cranes very near the bus.

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    My fellow birders were ecstatic!
    We see them often near our area, as they migrate through, but some of the people
    on the bus acted as though they had never seen one before ~ a thrill for them.

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    A thrill for me was to spot their one lone baby tagging along behind them ~ awwww!

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    The bus driver paused for a bit so we could try to photograph this belted kingfisher;
    I wasn't very successful ~ the ornery thing decided to move too soon for me.

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    ~ spotted sandpiper ~ 

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    ~ great blue heron ~
    There were many great blues at the refuge ~ but I never tire of seeing them.

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    A great blue heron was perched atop a muskrat's hut and a bald eagle can be seen
    standing at the edge of the water on the far side.  Our driver told us that when
    any of the multitude of muskrat dens in the refuge stop being used by their builders,
    geese or herons sometimes take them over and build their nests on top of them.
    This photo was shot from a very great distance ~ the eagle looked like a dot to us.

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    ~ Baltimore orioles ~ 

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    ~ Eastern Kingbird ~

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    It stayed around quite awhile for photos . . .

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    . . . but finally decided to move on.

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    I have no idea what this bird was, but just liked the way the picture looked.

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    ~ juvenile bald eagles ~
    They were perched high above the trail ~ the driver stopped to show us, but we were not allowed off the bus;
    Since we were in the front seat, I was able to capture several shots through the front window.

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    If you look closely, you can see an adult bald eagle on its nest.
    The driver wasn't even allowed to stop at all after a certain point ~ just shot this photo on the fly.

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    Seven bald eagles were perched in this tree ~ mostly juveniles.
    We were not allowed to stop; this is the best I could do through the bus window ~ so blurry ~ :(

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    ~ juvenile bald eagle ~

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    You may have to look closely to see the deer nearly hidden in the brush.

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    These were not so hidden ~ I just love the serenity of this scene.

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    After the 4-hour tour, we again drove to Magee Marsh, then hiked a trail which wound out to Lake Erie.

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    It was fun to see a mama yellow warbler on her nest.

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    ~ hubby heading toward the lake ~

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    ~ common terns ~

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    On the return hike, a crowd of birders were gazing into the top of a very tall tree,
    because someone said there was an orange-crowned warbler up there somewhere.

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    I could see it flitting around, but it looked larger than a warbler to me ~ more the size of an oriole;
    I shot about a dozen photos of the top of the tree, trying to capture it with my lens,
    but when I brought the pics up on the computer, it was nowhere to be seen.
    I am still pretty skeptical that it was actually the bird they thought ~ not sure how anyone
    could have seen the little orange crown on top of its head from that distance, but who knows!?
    I've seen one close up before ~ in Texas ~ so I wasn't hyperventilating like some of the others ~ :D

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    I was more excited about finally getting a picture of this bird.  It was staying in the underbrush,
    only venturing out for a few seconds at a time, and insisting on turning its back to us.
    Fellow birders said it was a gray-cheeked thrush ~ they are so difficult to spot ~ was glad for one decent photo.

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    As we headed for our motel, hot and tired, Clayton suddenly pulled the car to the side
    and asked me to photograph this sweet little family ~ yep, the babies are downright cute!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times . . . and the crane and the swallow
    observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD."
    Jeremiah 8:7

May 27, 2015

  • Birds in the Afternoon

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    When we first arrived at Magee Marsh on Sunday (Mother's Day), we took a short cut through a roped-off area at the edge
    of the parking lot that we thought was simply restricting vehicle traffic.
    We were soon told by a conservation person to return outside the ropes!  :(
    This bald eagle's nest was nearby and they did not want people approaching it ~ we had no clue!

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    ~ a tiny nest ~

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    In the afternoon, as we drove to the nearby Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge,
    we saw purple martins near the visitor's center.

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    Canada geese and goslings were around every bend, it seemed.

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    At Ottawa, the marsh grass stretched for miles.

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    ~ great egrets ~

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    ~ lesser yellowlegs ~
    At first, I thought it was a greater yellowlegs, but after conferring with Cornell, I now think it is a lesser.
    They taught me how to tell by the head/beak ratio.

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    ~ tree swallow ~

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    The tree swallow posed pretty as a picture for me.

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    ~ great egret ~

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    We started seeing these swans and I was puzzled as to what kind they were.

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    Their dark necks and heads were throwing me off ~ I finally decided they had to be
    juvenile trumpeter swans, since their necks and heads were not pure white.

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    But, we later learned that they actually were adult trumpeters
    which were simply stained from the tannin in the water.

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    This one was busily adding grass and reeds to its nest.

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    There were several in the refuge ~ my first sighting of trumpeters in the wild ~ exciting for me!

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    I guess this one was exercising ~ :)

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    He did strike a pretty pose finally, standing on one foot.

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    Next, we drove to nearby Metzger Marsh.

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    Clayton soon returned to the car ~ he was ready to rest a bit.
    I followed a trail into a small copse of trees along Lake Erie.

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    Several birders were spotting different warblers ~ I was able to see a blackpoll warbler through the binoculars,
    but was unable to get a clear shot with the camera ~ it stayed hidden much of the time.
    Another birder identified it for me ~ I needed lots of help, since this was my first time observing warblers.

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    ~ another small nest ~

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    This bird was really far away and in deep shade ~ had no clue what it was until I brought the photo up
    on the computer screen ~ was delighted to discover I had a picture of a black-throated blue warbler ~ another first!

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    Back near the entrance, I captured a couple shots of a semi-palmated plover.

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    ~ lesser yellowlegs.

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    Cornell Lab of Ornithology informed me this is a solitary sandpiper ~ sure appreciate their help!

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    We finally had to stop birdwatching for the day ~ a rain was coming.  We dined at
    a Hungarian restaurant that evening ~ I had stuffed cabbage rolls.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "And these are they which . . . shall not be eaten . . .
    the swan, and the pelican . . . the stork, the heron . . ."

    Leviticus 11:13, 18-19

May 18, 2015

  • Warbler Watching ~ Two

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    On Mother's Day morning, we arrived at the marsh very early ~ I could hardly wait to get on the trail!

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    The first bird I was able to get a good shot of was a female Cape May warbler.

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    ~ yellow-rumped warbler (Myrtle) ~

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    This crowd of birdwatchers was trying to catch sight of a mourning warbler that was out there somewhere.
    The guide was following it through the brambles and underbrush and fallen logs with a laser light,
    but I never was able to spot it ~ these birders were determined to catch sight of it, though!  :)

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    ~ bay-breasted warbler ~

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    I felt very fortunate to get this photo ~ I was trying to get another shot of the bay-breasted warbler;
    just as I snapped the photo, a yellow warbler landed right beside it!  :)

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    But this bird ~ a scarlet tanager ~ took the cake for me.  It was in a very tall (35-40 foot) tree
    which was at least 50 feet away from us.  With my small camera, I was very skeptical that
    I could even capture a shot at all.  But, wow, this new little camera continues to impress me!

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    He was beginning to wonder about me ~ by then, I had taken at least a dozen photos of him.

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    He decided to just move on ~ :)

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    The only glimpse all day that I got of a Blackburnian warbler.

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    ~ Tennessee warbler ~
    I only know what this one is because I sent the photo along with others to Cornell and asked them ~ ;)

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    ~ different partial photos of a Northern Parula ~
    At about this time, with the help of a fellow birder, I was able to see a black and white warbler through my binoculars.
    It was soooo striking ~ just a beautiful bird ~ but by the time, I raised my camera, it flew away ~ :(
    I'm adding it to my life list, though, because I truly did see it ~ :)

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    ~ Eastern pewee ~
    Just after taking this photo, a nearby guide spotted another mourning warbler.
    This time, I easily spotted it with my binoculars, several times, but was never able to
    capture a photograph, because it insisted on staying deep in the underbrush.
    But I saw it clearly, so I am able to add it to my life list ~ :)

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    ~ Baltimore oriole ~

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    After we left the boardwalk, we walked down to the shore of Lake Erie ~ still hazy out there.

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    On the way back to the parking lot, I found this tree swallow at the mouth of its nest.

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    ~ loved this shot ~

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    I was one very happy mama this Mother's Day ~ the only missing pieces were our children and grandchildren.
    We ate a bite of lunch in our vehicle before setting out again ~ more pictures next time!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ". . . the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young . . ."
    Psalms 84:3

May 14, 2015

  • Warbler Watching ~ One

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    Last Saturday, we drove northeast for several hours to the shores of Lake Erie.
    I was on a mission ~ for the first time, we were going to experience the spring warbler migration.

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    Our main goal was to spend time at Magee Marsh; a multitude of different warblers arrive there
    in early to mid-May of each year, on their way to their breeding grounds further north.
    They rest and rejuvenate for awhile before attempting the long flight across Lake Erie.

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    Magee Marsh lies right along the lakeshore ~ we arrived in mid-afternoon on Saturday ~ haze blanketed the lake.

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    Many interesting displays graced the walls of the visitor center.

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    Thousands of birders from all over the world flock to the area during the migration;
    we spotted license plates from well over half the states and some from Canada.

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    My first new sighting happened quickly ~ this is a prothonotary warbler, looking down into its nest.
    There was a glut of birders watching this bird hopping in and out of the nest ~ this was the best photo I could get of it.
    I should have been more patient, waiting on a better shot, but most of the birds we saw
    during the time we were there were so far away, as this one was ~ it was very difficult to get photos.
    Also, warblers do not seem to understand that they need to sit still for a bit to pose for photos;
    they are quite jumpy and flit here and there nearly constantly.

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    Because of the brambly undergrowth and dense foliage, many of my photos ended up
    looking something like this, with nary a bird in sight ~

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    ~ or this ~ by the time I clicked the camera, the bird would be gone ~ :(

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    Or one might spend a good bit of time trying to capture a picture of a bird that would not emerge
    from the underbrush ~ and when it finally did, it would just be another female red-winged blackbird.
    The birders were calling red-winged blackbirds "trash birds" ~ because there were so very many of them in the marsh.

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    There were several catbirds in the area too ~ I enjoy hearing their "meow" call.

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    Sometimes, I just shot in the direction of a bird, hoping when I brought the image up on the computer,
    it would be wonderful ~ but many times, it was like this ~ just a small part of the bird I wanted ~ :D

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    And then, when I actually did capture a photo, it was many times just the blurred underpart of a bird,
    making it unidentifiable, although this may be another shot of the prothonotary.

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    This rose-breasted grosbeak was easily identifiable.

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    As my eyes eventually adjusted to the environment, I was excited to catch sight of a veery ~ a first for me.

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    I would hear a fellow birder say, "Ahhhh!" and start gazing at the place they were watching;
    then I would wonder, "What is that one?" while aiming the camera in that direction.

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    It was a magnolia warbler ~ okay, this was really starting to be great fun ~ :)

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    There was quite a crowd on the boardwalk watching this Eastern screech owl.

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    Since we arrived in late afternoon, and we kept having to wait out little showers of rain,
    our time for that first day on the marsh soon came to an end.  But just before we left, I spotted a morel mushroom.
    We couldn't pick it, of course, but it was fun to find anyway.  I could hardly wait for the next day to arrive.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    " . . . the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest."
    Isaiah 34:14