Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Egypt Falls
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

It has been my pleasure to visit blogs of every color,
from birds and nature,
to quilts and crafts,
to poetry and photography.

I've made some special friends along this journey.

I have been inspired and motivated by each and every one.
Perhaps that's why I've been too distracted to post on my own blog!

Happy New Year to you all,
and a great big heartfelt thanks
for being a part of my life.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Magic of Nature

Merry Christmas!
I hope everyone can look forward
to a happy, healthy New Year.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book: The Atlas of Birds

I migrate, like the birds, and am sometimes difficult to keep track of.  This book was waiting for me at my Maine location when I arrived today, having missed me in the spring by just a few days.  Since it was published in July,  I have taken the liberty of copying and pasting the review directly from the Princeton University Press, so as not to waste any more time!!  Someone you know might just enjoy this book as a Christmas gift.  So, without further adieu, may I introduce you to:

The Atlas of Birdswhich captures the breathtaking diversity of birds, and illuminates their conservation status around the world. Full-color maps show where birds are found, both by country and terrain, and reveal how an astounding variety of behavioral adaptations--from flight and feeding to nest building and song--have enabled them to thrive in virtually every habitat on Earth. Maps of individual journeys and global flyways chart the amazing phenomenon of bird migration, while bird classification is explained using maps for each order and many key families.

Conservation provides a strong focus throughout, with maps illustrating where and why birds are most under threat, and what is being done to protect them. Separate sections examine key factors influencing their distribution and endangering their survival, from deforestation and climate change to invasive species and the cage-bird trade. Bird groups most affected, such as island endemics, are highlighted, while a fascinating chapter explores the complex historical relationship between birds and humans, with maps and data for everything from poultry farming to birdwatching.

The maps are supported by an authoritative text that uses the very latest data and case studies from BirdLife International. Packed with sumptuous photos, original diagrams, and imaginative graphics that bring the numbers to life, this book is a stunning and timely insight into perhaps the most colorful and intriguing group of organisms on our planet.

  • The premier illustrated atlas of bird diversity, behavior, and conservation
  • Features full-color maps, photos, and diagrams
  • Covers bird evolution, classification, and behavior
  • Describes the complex relationship between birds and their habitats
  • Explores the impact of human activities on species survival
  • Illustrates where and why birds are most under threat--and how to protect them
Mike Unwin is a nature writer and illustrator whose work has appeared in leading publications such as Birds, Bird Watching, and Birdwatch. His many books include the RSPB Guide to Birdwatching and Southern African Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide.

Source:  Princeton University Press

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Late Visitor

    (Icterus galbula)   

This species is not a common visitor to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia,
but more and more are reported every year.

I had a surprise when I looked out the window
Monday morning.

A juvenile male.
Isn't he sweet?

It's pretty late in the season to be hosting orioles.
When I contacted Blake Maybank,
one of Nova Scotia's leading birders,
he sadly informed me that this little fellow is
And, will probably try to survive the winter here.

So, out went the oranges, the grapes, the jelly...
and if he continues to visit,
as he has the last three mornings in a row,
we'll have to get some mealworms!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

And the Winner is....

A huge thank you to everyone who participated
in this give-away,
and especially to those of you who took the extra time
to visit Kim's on-line store
to have a peek at her other wonderful patterns.

Having give-aways is lots of fun because
it gives me an opportunity to become acquainted
with other very talented people I've not yet discovered.
I've enjoyed visiting each and every new-to-me blog!

And now...
Drum roll please..............

The winner is:   Mageezroom


And again, thank you everyone!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

Well, maybe not cocoa puffs,
but big, fuzzy caterpillars would be a nice tasty treat!!

(Coccyzus americanus)
made several rare appearances
in the Northeast and Atlantic Maritimes this fall,

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Range Map

delighting many birders
in my neck of the woods.

Negotiating a seldom used, overgrown dirt road
to access a beautiful stretch of beach and bogland,
we came across this little guy foraging along the edge.
He managed to stay one step ahead of us,
and having never seen one before,
we were stymied!

He wasn't exactly cooperative
when it came to documenting his visit,
always hopping or flying just out of range
at the exact moment it was time to 'click'
for a picture.

The Yellow-bellied Cuckoo is a fairly good sized bird,
10 - 12" in length, with a down-curved bill
that hosts a black upper mandible
and a yellow lower mandible.

It has the prettiest rufous coloring to its primaries,
most obvious when it flies away. 
Which I observed ALOT in my futile attempts
to snap a good picture.

In addition to consuming massive quantities of hairy caterpillars,
the Yellow-billed Cuckoo also considers berries, small fruits,
and even small amphibians to be fine dining.

My best guess is that nasty weather
blew them off course
and they ended up wandering far beyond
the northern fringes of their territory.

However, I'm no authority.

For a better view of this lovely bird, check out this post by TexWis
She has some nice clear, beautiful close-ups!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Harbour Quilt Company Give-away

Great Blue Herons and Kingfishers are common
summer residents in the Atlantic Maritimes,
and as you saw in a previous post
Kim, from The Harbour Quilt Company
in Antigonish, Nova Scotia
has captured their beauty and elegance
in one of her quilted wallhangings.

Kim has graciously offered to sponsor a give-away
of this very pattern!

You guessed it!! 
It's my personal favorite,
one of Kim's very own designs,
Captain's Pond,
in which she has embraced
her deep appreciation for nature
and combined it with her talent and skills!

There will be three opportunities for you
to enter this give-away.

1.  Simply leave a comment at the end of this post.

2.  Visit Kim's on-line store,
then return here and tell me
which is your favorite

 3.  Mention this give-away on your own blog,
and come back to let me know.

As an extra bonus, the winner will also receive
a craft-size package of
a fusible batting made from a unique blend
of rayon fiber from bamboo and natural cotton.
This bonus prize is being generously donated
by Trish at the  Fairfield Corp.

I will select the lucky winner
one week from today, Sat. 11/12.
using the random number generator.
Good Luck!!
A special thank you to Kim and Trish
for making this give-away possible!!

*This give-away is now closed!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crossley Bird ID Guide Give-Away

Princeton University Press is celebrating their new facebook page for birds and all other things in nature by giving away posters and signed copies of The Crossley ID Guide.

Richard Crossley has now spoken at well over 20 societies and groups, but if you missed your chance to get a signed copy at one of those events, this is a great opportunity.

On Halloween, they will give away two different prizes – first up is an autographed copy of the book with a poster of the kestrel plate; the second is a poster of the Black-throated Blue Warbler plate. Both posters are professionally printed and gorgeous. They would be a treat for any birder to hang in their den or office.
All you have to do to be entered in the giveaway is to become a fan on the Princeton Birds & Natural History facebook site:

My guess is that we’ll see additional giveaways for other bird and nature books in the future, so if you become a fan you will be eligible for those, too. They’ll also be posting bird/nature specific material there so it’s a great way to keep up to date on what’s coming up in our natural history books.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's in a Name?

Dawn at Sweet as Cinnamon has such imagination! 
She wants to know how we came to name our blogs!!

A few years ago, I was wintering in Maine
with my sister, The Fern Lady. 

A grad student, a mom and wife, and employed part-time, she was a very busy girl.  I was learning the names of plants and making cards from the pictures she had taken over the years, and driving her crazy!  So, she decided to keep me busy and out of her hair.  She had heard about Etsy from a friend who makes the most amazing pottery and came to the conclusion that I should open a little shop and sell my cards.  We labored for hours, trying to come up with a name. 

Finally, she popped up with the fact that growing up and being the younger sibling, every time our mom addressed her, she'd always start with my name, so she would hear "K-Holly".  It was perfect, and we named the Etsy shop KaHolly. 
Then came the blog to promote the store! 

Sadly, the Etsy store went on permanent vacation at the end of the winter months,
never to open again, and
KaHolly morphed into a nature blog.

And you know what?  Her little scheme didn't work.  I bugged her twice as much because she was then the photographer as well as the botanist!! 
And she had all the computer smarts!

How did YOUR blog get it's name?  Dawn is giving away some beautiful fabric to one lucky winner that links up to her post.  {If you are a nature blogger and you want to play, and you win,
you can send the fabric to ME!!:)}

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Harbour Quilt Company

in Antigonish, Nova Scotia,
has designed some amazing quilted wallhangings. 

I couldn't take my eyes off of this one!!
And it's haunting me, now,
so I'll have to make another trip to her store
to purchase the pattern and fabrics!

Here are a few others:

Nature isn't her only theme! 
I had a difficult time resisting her
seasonal table runner kits, too.

Why not stop by her online store
She has a blog, too, that you can also access from her sidebar,
and I'll bet, with a little encouragement,
we can get her to post more!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Extraordinary Owl Pellet

High atop Monkey Rock at Baleine Peninsula,
one of the properties Nova Scotia
is considering declaring a protected area,

while observing migrating whimbrels
feeding on the crowberry barrens,
I decided to explore.

Resting on top of a rock pillar that was split apart from the rest
of this massive boulder was the most interesting 'owl pellet'. 
When I spotted it through my binoculars, my curiousity got
the best of me and employing a little gall in my old age,
I managed to breach the gap to investigate further. 
There were 3 or 4 regular but older pellets
containing the usual rodent bones,
but this one was fresh and new.  And very strange.

Yes, those are somebody's feet!  I didn't throw down
anything for scale, but I carry an assortment of containers
in my backpack for just such finds,
and this fit perfectly into an old discarded pill bottle
that measured 3" high and 2" in diameter.
It also contained a bone, .5 inches in diameter and 2.5" long
and some feathers.

You know what?  It kind of gave me the willies. 
I couldn't bring myself to pick it apart:)!
Now that it's been discarded, I'm sorry I didn't.

The Ranger suggests a very hungry Great Horned Owl left this behind,
and I'll wager a very confident guess
based on the freshness of the pellet,
the size and color of the feet,
and the numbers of Whimbrel passing through,
that these feet, indeed, belong to a Whimbrel.

For an excellent, well laid out post about owl pellets,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Tis the Season of Migration

And my favorite bird to observe is the Whimbrel.  I feel honored to be in such a place as this, where I can sit at my sewing machine with the sliding glass door open and hear them pass over to the point near my house where they feed.

They feed in flocks and do not allow you to get very close.  However, here are a few pictures from a distance and zoomed in.  Here is the sentinel, poised atop a bluff while the rest of the flock feeds below, just out of sight.

And one in flight -  just enough of a view to see that
remarkable curved bill, evidence that they are
a member of the curlew species.
Whimbrels eat berries during migration
and come to rest along the crowberry barrens
of the Atlantic Maritimes. 
Berries are pulled off a branch with the tips of the bill.
The bird then flips its head back and swallows. 

They breed among the tundra in the arctic
where they feed on small crustaceans. 
Their long, curved bill is perfect for probing in the mud.

Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum)
The botanical name, Empetrum, is derived
from the Greek EN (upon) and PETROS (rock).
Nigrum means black.

Although I do not believe the Whimbrel is listed
as a species of concern any longer,
the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan
places this species in the category of shorebirds
that have shown to be in significant decline. 
The Hudson bay population has declined
from an estimated 42,500 in 1973 to only 17,000 in 2007.

For a short, and fascinating read about one migrating whimbrel,
check out this recent post on 10,000 Birds.
If you'd like to read a little more about it,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Project Linus Call for BLANKETS for BASTROP (Texas)

Bastrop, Texas, a small community SE of Austin,
is among the latest towns to fall prey to wildfires. 

The Quilt Haus of New Braunfels, together with Project Linus,
has already put out the word for quilts.
This from their most recent newletter,
dated in the wee hours of this very morning:

Project Linus Call for BLANKETS for BASTROP
Our Project Linus chapter is one of the closest to the Bastrop area, where nearly 500 homes have been destroyed by the wildfires, and evacuations are ongoing.

WE NEED BLANKETS to deliver to the shelters!! We'll gladly accept baby/toddler sized blankets, up to lap/throw sizes for the teenagers affected.

Please help! We need:

•donations of finished quilts/blankets (made with a personal touch, of new materials)

•donations of crib size batting (45x60")

•donations of backing fabrics (1-3/4 to 2 yard pieces)

•machine quilters who will volunteer to quilt the many tops we have on hand

•volunteers to bind quilts

•volunteers to wash and label finish quilts

You can also help by spreading the word to all your friends! Thank you in advance for your generosity to those many, many families affected by the Central Texas wildfires.

The Quilt Haus
651 N Business Ih 35 Ste 510
New Braunfels, TX 78130
(830) 620-1382
Project Linus
Creative Sewlutions @ The Quilt Haus is the proud home of the New Braunfels Area Chapter of Project Linus, a non-profit charitable organization devoted to bringing comfort in the form of handmade blankets to children in need. We meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month, at 10am. We would love to have you become one of our "blanketeers"; bring your sewing machine and basic sewing supplies, your rotary cutter and ruler, &/or your donations of fabric, batting, etc. and help us "blanket" the New Braunfels/Seguin/San Marcos Area.

Thanks!! ~karen

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wood Turtle

Species at Risk

The Wood Turtle, (Glyptemys insculpta) 
can be found primarily
in forestry and agriculture areas.

In some areas, the wood turtle is commonly called
"red legs" because the back of the legs vary in colour
from bright orange to red.
The underside of the neck and tail are also orange to red.

It lives mostly in the northeastern mainland
and the River Inhabitants in southeastern Cape Breton.

In mid to late June,
females usually dig a nest in a sandy gravel bank
on a bend in the river.
They deposit 8 to 10 leathery eggs.

In other parts of North America,
this turtle is also threatened or endangered
throughout much of its range.

(Photos courtesy of The Ranger,
taken June, 2011,
River Inhabitants, CB, NS)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Keeping a Nature Journal

Keeping a Nature Journal
Discover a Whole New Way of
Seeing the World Around You
by Clare Walker Leslie
& Charles E. Roth

I picked up this book as incentive to start
to draw in my journal(s).
My sister, The Fern Lady, was born with
the creative genes in the family.
She can draw,
she can play almost any musical instrument
                            she puts her hands on,
she can cook,
                                 and as if that isn't enough,
                                 she's smart.

Me?  I need lots of instruction!

I am delighted with my purchase.  If you would like
to encourage someone to
pay a little closer attention to nature,
this book would make a great gift!

I really wanted to do a post about this book
because I wanted to share this picture!

It's classic!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pigeon Milk

We were musing today about why, when we have so many Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), we never see babies.  It led me to look up Mourning Doves in one of my favorite books, Kenn Kaufman's, Lives of North American Birds.

And I learned something I never knew before!
One of my favorite things!

Both the male and the female dove feed their babies
pigeon milk.
That's what I said!  Pigeon Milk!

According to Kenn,
"Birds that are mostly vegetarians as adults often feed their young mostly on insects.  But pigeons and doves have another way to give their young protein: by producing "pigeon milk."  This substance is produced in the crop, an enlarged pocket of the upper esophagus.  During the nesting season, the walls of the crop secrete a milky fluid that is rich in fat and protein.  For the first few days after hatching, the young are fed a pure diet of pigeon milk.  Then they begin to receive a mixture that includes some partially digested seeds or fruit, but their diet continues to include some pigeon milk for at least a couple of weeks.  To be fed, the young bird will insert its bill into the corner of the parent's mouth, and the adult will regurgitate the pigeon milk or the mixture for the young to eat."

There you have it!
Pigeon Milk!

No, I didn't figure out why we don't see babies.
All the other nesting species,
I've counted 12,
bring their babies around!
Maybe they are just so large by the time they fledge,
we don't notice?

I think they are so sweet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Avian Architecture WINNER!

Before I even go to the Random Number Generator, I'd like to thank Carrie for making this fun for me by posting it on her blog.  It gave me an opportunity to explore many new-to-me blogs and I've enjoyed visiting every one of them.  I had to make a separate list in order to insert Carrie's name inbetween commenters.

And now for the drum roll, please......................

   Carrie, You are the winner
   of Avian Architecture !! 
   I am not  surprised in the least! 
   I will forward your address
   to the publisher!!

A very special thank you to everyone who entered.
It was fun to have a new distraction
to help me ride out this terrible
weather system that's hovered
over Cape Breton the past few weeks!!

And a very special thank you to
for sponsoring this give-away!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avian Architecture: Book Review and Give-away

How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build
by Peter Goodfellow

When Peter Goodfellow was growing up in England, he must have been one of those affectionately annoying little boys that asked a lot of questions, all the time. “How does this work?”, “Why does that happen?”, Where do you imagine that goes?”. And now, as an adult, Peter has taken that need for knowledge, that childlike curiosity, to a whole new level.

It is more than curiosity that drives an author such as Peter to write such a wonderful book. It is that need to know, that desire to connect with nature through knowledge and understanding, and the thrill of sharing it with others.

Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build
 AVIAN ARCHITECTURE, How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build, however, is not just about the ‘how’.  The interesting text, the well-drawn illustrations, and the beautiful photographs are cleverly punctuated with facts that also reveal the 'who, what, when, where and why'. The introduction gives a clear and precise accounting of what you can expect to find between the covers. Due to the fact that the focus is on the construction of different types of nests, the book covers every habitat, and how birds adapt, from all over the world. This makes it the perfect book for everyone.   In his own words, Peter's book "celebrates the diverse ingenuity and great dexterity of the finest of avian architects and builders".

While leafing through the book the first time I held it in my hands, I was naturally attracted to the chapter on community nesting because I spend most of my time on the rugged, rocky bound coast along the north Atlantic near terns and herons and the like. Not only does Peter explain about these nesting grounds, he also relates, in an ‘easy-to-read and understand’ way, the advantages and disadvantages of nesting in this manner, as well as, the social dynamics involved.  Now, with this knowledge, when I am observing these nesting grounds, I'll feel like a little more than just a mere 'observer'.

At the end of my busy day, when all was quiet and calm around me and I sat down to devote some serious time to reading , it wasn’t long before I realized that this is a book that made me want MORE. I barely started reading - I was only on pages 12 and 13, as a matter of fact, and I didn’t want to stop. Peter has embedded many interesting little facts throughout the text and I could hardly help myself from calling out to whomever might be nearby, “Hey, listen to this!” For instance, were you aware that the Short-eared Owl (Asia flammeus) builds a scrape nest?

Peter introduces each thematic chapter
with an overview of a specific nest type,

discusses the construction of the nest 
with accompanying blueprint drawings,

and showcases a few of the species of birds
that create such inventiveness
as 'case studies', "providing examples
of how different species adapt the nest type
to their specific habitat and requirements."

And somewhere inbetween these amazing pages
he covers "materials and features' and 'building techniques'.

Like Peter, I am also one of those people who needs to know.   (I just wish I could always remember!!)  I find it so fulfilling to glance up in the sky and be able to appreciate without second thought that the big bird I see is an osprey, not a gull or an eagle.  How I love to be paddling in my kayak and able to hear the birds and recognize the species.  I take great pleasure in hiking a trail, finding sign and being able to comprehend it’s origin.

'Knowing' fosters a sense of familiarity which, for me, breeds, not contempt, but a feeling of profound intimacy with nature. It embodies a purity, a spirit, and an emotion that swells up inside me, and yes, sometimes moves me to tears.

I’ve always wondered about nests, I’ve always wanted to know more about them.  By going beyond that of a guide book, Peter has unraveled this mystery, one of the many marvels of nature, with this first rate book, Avian Architecture.  It will be with great delight that I will now understand and appreciate the 'who, what, when, where, why and how' of the nests that I discover abandoned with the approach of fall, making yet another personal connection with our natural world.

Princeton University Press, is graciously offering a copy of Peter’s new book to one of my readers.  Leave a comment, spread the word, and in one week’s time, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner.  Because this is such a fine book, to increase the odds, I'll give you an additional entry for anyone that stops by and mentions that you sent them! 

This is a must have book for anyone with
a curious mind!
Good Luck,
THANK YOU, Princeton University Press!!

Visit Nature Notes!!

P.S.  I noticed one or two of the commenters are no-reply bloggers!
Be sure to include your e-mail address in your comment
if this applies to you!  Thanks.

*This give-away is now closed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Small Community Quilt Show

Friday dawned a gloriously sunny and calm day,
 perfect weather for a day trip to Albert Bridge, Nova Scotia.

A quaint little community straddling the Mira River
in the northeastern corner of Cape Breton,
Albert Bridge boasted an overwhelming population
of 159 in 2001.

After a leisurely, scenic, 2 hour ride,
my quilting friend and I
arrived at this quaint little church

to find the doors opened and welcoming us inside.
Built in 1857, the Union Presbyterian Church and Memorial Hall
is the oldest Presbyterian church in all of Cape Breton.

I was especially smitten with the
driftwood adornment in each window!
I was told that they embellish these
during special seasons and events.

Inside, indeed!!  The church was filled with beautiful quilts
tenderly stitched at every skill level.
Although it was just a small church,

the display was overwhelming!

This was my personal favorite!

All of the ladies did an amazing job
and we had the most delightful time!