Friday, December 25, 2009

Melanistic Buteo

Harris's Hawk
(Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi)

While exploring the Texas landscape west of San Antonio, my daughter spotted this beauty. She's not a birder, but she has the eye! Even from a distance, and traveling 65 mph, she was able to tell that this bird was different enough from the hundreds of Red-tail Hawks that dotted the trees along the roadways, to warrant turning around to take a better look.
                                                                                                                                         A buteo of the scrub prairies             found in South Texas and other semi-arid habitats, the Harris's Hawk is probably my most favorite of all the raptors.  Now, those that know me best would tell you it's because they are so easy to identify, knowing how I struggle with identifying  birds of prey.  But the truth of the matter is they are simply gorgeous birds!  You can't see it in my photo, but they are a chocolate brown with chestnut shoulders.  Absolutely stiking!  They have a white band at the tip of a tail, and in flight, sport a bright white rump patch like the Northern Harrier.  For a better view of Harris's Hawks in all their  splendor, check out these captivating photos at:

I find it most interesting that the the Harris's Hawk are such social birds.  They live and hunt in family groups consisting of sometimes up to ten  individuals, but most regularly 2 - 6.  How smart is that?  This gives them the opportunity to snag a jack rabbit once in awhile, a welcome break from snakes, lizards, and large insects!  Another most interesting fact is that the female can be up to 40% larger than the male.  This phenomenon is called reverse sexual dimorphism.  I think, but I'm not sure, that this allows the female to protect herself and her nest and family while her mate is away to ensure survival of the species.  Just a guess. 

Although it's population is declining in the US, the Harris's Hawk was on the 2002 Watchlist, but is not on the 2007 Watchlist.  For more information, go to:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Turned to the Wall

July 9, 2009

There hasn't been much immersion in nature happening these past rainsoaked weeks in Atlantic Canada. Indeed, the only use for my kayak is to maneuver the roads of the village!

Finally beginning to succumb to the desparaging gloom that's hung low over Isle Madame interwoven with the fog, I lumbered out to the shed in my oversized rubber boots to get an armload of dry wood. Perhaps a cheerful fire to ward off the chill and damp would also serve to perk me up!

Beside the shed grows a row of trees, planted many years ago along the border of this property and the next. Now lush and thick with its summer cloak of leaves, this very morning at that exact moment they hosted a flock of Cedar Waxwings, with their distinguisable thin lisping cries filling the air. My heart warmed instantly - no need of a fire!

I stood under the branches of the trees, partly shielded from the rain, looking up - each bird sitting still on his own branch, each bird with is back toward me, totally unnerved by my presence. Time stood still for only a few moments before they lifted as one and flew across the meadow out of sight, their message delivered.

"To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall."
-Thomas Huxley
July 12, 2009
Summer has finally graced Isle Madame with its appearance, at least for a few days. This morning's special treat was a snipe (Gallinago gallinago) in the rock garden!

I've been hearing their "other-worldly" calls from the nearby wet meadows and my heart raced as I slid open the backdoor during the early morning hours to enjoy my first cup of coffee in the rising sun and there he was. I only needed to turn to grab my camera, which is never too far away.

And now that the days are sunny and warm, my favorite attire is jeans and a beautiful, bright, cheery tie-dyed t-shirt from Lizzyoos. A quick visit to her Etsy shop will reveal lots of delightful surprises for every shopper.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beyond the Glass

Off the grid most certainly does not mean 'out of touch', as all of my senses are stimulated by the bounty that lies before me, including my sense of wonder. "Wonder is that extravagant state of bliss induced by something new - the strange, astonishing, mysterious, and unexpected. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow." (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Just this morning, as I stood in my backyard taking in the cool salt air and surveying the lush greens, purples, and pinks awash with 3 days of nourishing rains, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird took center stage of my awareness. Against the backdrop of Tamarack, Balsam Fir, White Spruce and Lupines, he performed his courtship display not 15 feet from where I stood, stock still!

During the courtship display, the male hummer flies back and forth in a wide arc, like the pendulum on a clock, making a whirring, buzzing sound on each dive. Reaching heights of 20+ feet at each end of the arc, he swept down to within 2' of the ground with each pass. There was an ethereal effect to this early morning occurrence as the fog had thickened around me obscuring all by my immediate surroundings. I live in a hollow, my driveway circling around the back of my house, giving me the sense of being in the bottom of a bowl on days when I'm banked in by the fog.

I thought I was so lucky to have observed this behavior through my kitchen window on May 30 and 31st, but now I feel honored, humbled. This small delight will carry me through my day as I wait for the next magical moment to unfold before me.

I leave today with this thought to share:

"There is a real world, beyond the glass, for children who look, for those whose parents encourage them to truly see." Richard Louv, "Last Child in the Woods"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seventh Summer

I have been off the grid since returning to my Cape Breton island retreat on May first and have, with childlike delight, been rewarded over and over again by Mother Nature with gifts large and small.

Without transportation and pretty much confined to my immediate area, I am reminded almost every day of the wonders in our own backyards. My new motto: A little bit of awareness goes a long way. This phenomenon is not necesserily new to me but each time I witness "an event", it gives me great pause, and the whole world stands still as I observe. I feel badly for those that flock to video stores and malls in search of entertainment.

My yard list is already quite impressive, including a couple of uncommon and rare visitors just passing throuogh, one of which was an Orchard Oriole. My attempt to entice him to linger longer was to set out some orange halves and some homemade blueberry jelly. Not surprising, my 2nd year male visitor moved on, but what was a delightful surprise was to discover the resident Song Sparrows frequenting the jelly! It goes without saying that the "jelly cup" is filled each and every morning as part of my routine.

Before I returned to Isle Madame, I purchased some wonderful soap from Long Winter Farm and I often like to end my day soaking in a tub of hot water and lathering up with my favorite scents. This soap is marvelous - a special treat - and I can't wait to afford ssamoling som of her other products. Most days are still cool here, facing the South onto the water, and nothing takes away that deepened chill better.

Many thanks to Peggy from Three Bridges Sewing Co. for sending such a beautiful, well crafted give-away giftr. With much anticipation, I unwrapped a navy blue, nautical print cosmetic bag, too nice to use! I thought waht fun to be able to order a few now, then spend until Christmas picking up little items to fill them for different people. What lovely, fun and personal gifts they would make.

I sit now in the warmth of the waning evening sun, out of the wind, and enjoying all of the bird life around me. I give thanks for another beautiful day and tmy good fortune at being here among my island friends and neighbors.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mother's Day , Spring, and Etsy

A fellow Etsy Maine Teamer, Peggy, is having a Mother's Day Promotion at her store. Stop by and check out her gift items! You won't be disappointed. I have ordered a few little things from this talented and professional crafter and have always been delighted with my purchases, especially the lavender filled goodies!

The Etsy Maine Team has a very clever Spring Promotional Page with lots of "pretties" on display! Another must-see, just in time for Mother's Day!!

The team has also collaborated on developing a Favorites page, as well, to make your shopping experience on Etsy fun and easy. Easy because once you see all the talent Etsy Maine Team has to offer, you won't need to shop anywhere else.

Check out the Maine Team's ARTIST of the MONTH at Stop by her blog to congratulate her!

A New Home?

I love spring and the anticipated arrival of all the species of returning birds. Tuesday morning the Tree Swallows returned to Central Maine and I was entertained by a spectacular aerial display starring 10 or more swallows while I enjoyed my coffee sitting in the warm morning sunshine.
They were checking out some nesting boxes that line the property and I think they found a suitable prospective new home, as this morning they have been going in and out. A Downy Woodpecker was looking for a tasty treat on the post of this house and the swallows were quite upset that he was there. It took several minutes of being dive bombed for the woodpecker to get the message and move on to the next post to continue his foraging!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Pebbled Pixie-cup
Cladonia pyxidata

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stop the car! STOP THE CAR!!!!!!

When you are driving with a birder in the passenger seat, these are the three words you must be prepared at all times to hear, even on the highway!

On a weekend trip to Caribou, Maine, a four hour drive, a very large bird flew in the air space in front of the car. I, of course, was sitting in the backseat, engrossed in an audio book and working on a flying geese quilt. All of a sudden, we pulled over and stopped. My first clue was the da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da noise from the rumble strips at the edge of the road, then the abrupt application of the brakes. My brother-in-law already had binoculars in hand and jumped out practically before we had stopped.

Fortunately there isn't much traffic on the way to Caribou, Maine.

I fumbled in my bag for my binocs, tangled in my camera strap, and jumped out just in time to get a very good look at a very rare treat.....a GOLDEN EAGLE, riding the thermals and making his way across the horizon.

The Golden Eagle is a bird from the West, most commonly associated with the mountains. In the sky, can first be mistaken for a Turkey Vulture as unlike the Bald Eagle, it has a V-shape to it's wing spread, and that's exactly what the front seat occupants initially thought they had in their sight. But as it soared closer, Don let out "the call".

Check out the size of this bird!!

Although not a lifer for me, it was still very exciting and the best view I've ever had. I DID add a lifer that very same evening, however. There was a large flock of seagulls in the old potato fields near Don's parent's home. He scanned the crowd and found not one, but two Lesser Black-backed gulls! They are a European bird whose winter numbers are increasing along our eastern coast.

I must mention we stopped once upon our approach to Caribou to scan a pond known for breeding Ruddy Ducks, and sure enough, there they were, along with one pair of Redhead Ducks and a flock of Ring-necks. I believe the Redhead is a life bird for me, as well, but I, of course, left my life list in Cape Breton.

The following morning I spotted 2 Snipe along the forested edge of a pool behind the old homestead.

Birds, birds, everywhere!!!! I'm so glad it's spring.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Worthy Award

I was so surprised and delighted to receive this award from
Audrey's Country Crafts.
Thank you, Audrey!

"The Renee Award. This Award was created by Bella and Ces in honour of their friend Renee, an incredible lady who in the face of a frightening life battle is tackling each day with great spirit and courage. Please check out the blogs of these three creative ladies."

"Here is what Bella says of this award:
"this is a brand new award and I have the pleasure and honor of spreading the seed, watching it grow. I hope it finds it's way to those who are like Renee: the acorn, a small package becoming a tall and sturdy oak, giving more acorns, becoming tall and sturdy oaks, giving acorns...""

And now the daunting task of passing this award on to 7 bloggers who, in my opinion, are so deserving. I follow so many blogs that inspire and motivate me both in the Crafting World and in the World of Nature that it is going to be a difficult to only choose 7.

My choices are: (drum roll, please)

Jamie Ribisi-Brayley, who, along with her twin sister and her husband, are creating a venue for artists to find inspiration, creative energy, and a home away from home. Jamie is very involved with the Etsy Maine Team and is so giving of herself. How she finds the time is beyond me.

Laura Trevey, another Etsian who has brightened my life with her beautiful watercolors, her positive attitude, and her friendship.

Amanda Beth , a young spirit who keeps me abreast of fashion in her most creative way and warms my heart.

Heather, one of my many nature bloggers that has inspired my photographic attempts with her beautiful dialogue and glorious photos. Heather patiently waited me out while I experienced a hic-cup in my blogging, along with Poetikat, an insipiring poet/wordsmith who encourages with her variety of original posts.

Stephanie, at Loft Creations, is one of the true motivators that I follow. I have trouble keeping up with her incredible creative energies! It is through her blog that I have found so many other inspiring quilters to follow.

And Kajsa who is like the little energizer bunny and is probably the most original crafter I've ever met!

Please take the time to visit these ladies and introduce yourselves. And my thanks to them for bringing sunshine into my life during this past long, cold winter!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Etsy Treasury

My friend, MaggieHallam, has selected a most beautiful treasury! It's definitely a MUST SEE! It will expire Saturday morning, so don't miss it!


I Brake for Frogs: Spring-time Frog Migration
Spring is in the air, and amphibians are on the move. After a long, cold winter, frogs, toads, newts and salamanders prepare themselves for the annual migration to mate and lay their eggs.

Last night, my sister, her husband, and I went on a rescue mission. We creeped along the roads for over two hours, stopping and assisting the frogs, toads, and salamanders across the road. Sadly, there were many who had already been squished by traffic. I can't help but think that more publicity to increase public awareness would help their plight. I know that if I was a frog, I'd have waited until it was a little warmer! We came across 4 different species of frogs, toads, and 2 different species of salamander, including one blue-spotted, an uncommon find!

What really freaked us out and peaked our curiosity were the hundreds and hundreds of worms stretched vertically across the roads. Where did they think they were going? Do they migrate, too?

Check out the frog migration in your area, often referred to as "Big Night", get involved, or at least become aware and spread the word.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quilt Festival - 2009

Quilt Festival, 2009

Amy, at Park City Girl, is hosting a fun Quilt Festival!

I found Amy's site during my daily visit to A Passion for Applique. I think I'd like to participate, so here is my quilt! I didn't have to think twice about which one to enter.

For several years, I worked with a woman who became very dear to me. We team taught a self-contained classroom for children with severe behavior disorders at the elementary level in a small North Texas town. She had a passion for Angels. I had a passion for quilting.

During all those years, I made quilt after quilt after quilt. But I never made her a darned thing. Eleven years ago, I moved away and she remained a true friend despite the miles between us. I worried over the fact that I'd never made her a quilt. Both of her girls graduated from high school, and they each received a quilt. For her birthday one year, I bought her a puzzle of a quilt, and attached a note that said, "Guess you'll just have to make your own."

One day I saw this pattern in an issue of an Australian quilt magazine, and knew it was for her! I ordered the pattern without thinking twice. I'd decided to construct it all from scraps. I'd work on it for a little while, then put it away and finish other things. I drag it out and work on it some more, then away it would go, and other projects were started and completed. I should mention that each block is hand appliqued using the blanket stitch. The blocks and borders are machine stitched, the layers hand quilted.

Finally, after I had been gone for 9 years, 7 years after I purchased the pattern, I completed her quilt and was able to send it for Christmas~2006. She was so delighted, she re-designed her guest room around it!

This is my only photo, I'm sorry to say. It would fit a double bed.

Audrey's Awesome Give-Away

Audrey's having a birthday!
Help her celebrate her special day
by visiting her blog
entering her awesome give-away.
She has made a special tote bag and filled it
with quite an assortment of items
that I'm sure you'll enjoy!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Muddy Moose Bath Boutique Give-Away

is having another of her fabulous give-aways!
It's always a delight to check out her site at:
Or, find a link to her page by scrolling down at the right-hand side of my blog.

The prize is a scented body candle. "Never heard of a Body Candle? Well, you don't know what you are missing! These "candles" are chocked full with loads of skin loving oils. They contain shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado oil and soy wax. They are so simple to use. Light your Body Candle and allow all those wonderful oils melt. Once you have enough oil, extinguish the flame and pour the melted oils into your hand. Rub into your parched, dry skin. Enjoy alone or with someone special. Pure bliss (even if I do say so myself). The oils will be a bit greasy at first to allow for you to massage those dry areas, but will quickly absorb into your skin."

Good Luck!!

Etsy Maine Team Spring Photo Challenge

Is Your Mama a Llama?

Hobble Bush, Viburnum alnifolia