Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Big Week

If you are even mildly interested in birds, do yourself a favor and rent "The Big Year" with Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. Basically, three birders compete against each other to record the most amount of birds on their list in one year's time. They travel all over the world to accomplish this feat, and one of the characters is pretty cutthroat about the whole thing, so there's some nerdy drama.

Well, I had a Big Week last week, sighting four new species of birds. Here's another one I spotted: the blue grosbeak. I think I love him as much as the indigo bunting.

Either a female or young male

All but one of the new species were seen from my secret vantage point inside a bird blind. Not only was I able to get very close to these birds unnoticed, my shots are so much sharper! Here I've been spending money on the best gear I could afford, when all I really needed was a $75 bird blind. This has been the most exciting revelation during my six years of photography and birding. I had talked about getting a bird blind last year, then talked myself out of it. When one of the volunteer birders at Bluebonnet Swamp erected one this year and told me he didn't mind sharing, I was excited to try it. Best decision ever. So I ordered a chair blind for my yard that is scheduled to arrive today. Yippee!

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday. Please check out exciting birds from around the world. Thanks, Stewart!

Many thanks to Hilary for selecting this post for Post of the Week! I am so honored. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dirt Bath

Last week I was chatting with a visitor at Bluebonnet Swamp who hailed from Seattle. He was quite taken with our migratory and summer birds. As we stood by the mulberry tree, a couple of brown thrashers started...well...thrashing around in the dirt. I had never seen that activity before and since my new-found friend seemed to know a lot about birds, I asked him what they were doing. He said they sometimes take a dirt bath to rid themselves of mites. It was quite a spectacle.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Under The Mulberry Tree

How exciting to finally get a good look at the scarlet tanager last week. As I was standing under a mulberry tree watching the cedar waxwings devour the mostly unripened berries, a red bird peeked out from the leaves high above me. At first I thought it was a cardinal, but then I noticed it had a black tail and no crest. After several clicks, I realized it was the elusive scarlet tanager. Lesson: when unsure, just shoot!

I have got to get a berry tree for my yard. There are a large number of summer, berry-eating birds in Louisiana. The scarlet tanager is mostly insectivorous in summer, but also consumes berries during winter and migration. Unlike the cardinal who forages mostly on the ground, the scarlet tanager prefers hiding among the leaves of deciduous trees high in the forest canopy, making them difficult to see.


I hated that leaf obscuring his black wing. :(

Stay tuned for a new lifer I added to my list recently!

Please visit other birds from around the world.
Thanks, Anni!!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pink-eyed Rock Star

This snowy egret reminded me of a 1980s rock star from the hair band era. What do you think? Flock of Seagulls? Cinderella? Bon Jovi? I googled "hair bands" and had myself a good laugh.

Renae of Simple Sequins is going through her first chemo treatment today. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. "When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too." Terri Clark

Have a great weekend, y'all. Rock on!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Ever since my daughter moved to Portland I've been lost. After she graduated college and subsequently moved back to Dallas, she and I spent many weekends together. We took up photography at the same time, though she got a Nikon and I went with Canon. We've been on many, many photography outings together, usually with our friend, Jay. One of our more memorable trips was traveling the bluebonnet trails in Ennis, Texas. These are some candid shots of Autumn and Jay trying to capture the perfect bluebonnet shot in April, 2009. As you can see, I still had a lot to learn, but the memories of these photos are the most important thing to me.
Just like her mama. On the ground, not afraid to get dirty.

The sky is blown, but I still like the composition of this photo.
Autumn, if you're reading this, I'm not trying to lay a guilt trip. I know you're happy in Oregon and that makes me happy. But I still miss you so much!!

 Linking to TexWisGirl's Good Fences meme. Thank you Tex!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Swamp Blues

The day after our taxes were filed I treated myself to a day at the swamp. Sounds weird, huh? Like I should've said "a day at the spa." Well, I'm not one of those women who can spend hours at the salon. Never have and probably never will. Just not my thing--nothing against it or anything.

Despite the chaos of school children (again), I managed to spot half a dozen indigo buntings. Sure wish I could see the painted bunting this year. One was netted and banded on Easter Sunday. It's there! And it's high up on my wish list.

For these shots I sat inside a bird blind which is placed right next to a feeder. Getting close to the birds makes a huge difference, even if you have a long lens. The only adjustments I made was to size for the blog, crop, and a slight sharpen.

Oh, by the way, I returned the Canon SX50. Like my sweet friend, Linda, the viewfinder became a deal breaker in the end. It's pretty much useless, which is a shame. Besides, the quality of the images aren't even close to a DSLR. Although some people manage quite well with the SX50, I am not one of those able to deal with its limitations. Maybe I just need to enjoy kayaking without taking photos.

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday. Thank you, Stewart!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Melanerpes Carolinus

Red-bellieds and other woodpeckers are extremely attracted to suet placed in cracks and crevices of fallen logs and tree trunks. This is a great way to get photos of them away from the feeders.

Thank you for visiting my little ol' blog and for your friendship. I don't say 'thank you' enough. Blogging can be very time-consuming, so the fact that you took time out of your day to visit me means so much. As the days get prettier, I am out and about with my camera, and catching up with my blogging friends in the evenings. That will be my current schedule until it's too hot to be outside. Thanks for your understanding. :)

Sharing with

Thanks, Anni!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Northern Parula

The Northern Parula is a small (4-1/2"/11cm) warbler with blue-gray upper parts, yellow throat, white belly, two wing bars, and a yellowish-green "saddle" on its back. It's a summer resident in Louisiana, breeding in swamps, lakes and ponds. They are very dependent on Spanish moss for their nests.

We discussed this bird in our class⎯the first I'd heard of it⎯so it was quickly added to my wish list. Our instructor heard it first, then found it. That's the way we discovered most of the birds, by hearing first. I wish these photos had been better. Besides the bird being small, it flitted around quickly and the lighting was poor. I am no longer striving for photographic perfection since it would limit the variety of birds to post on my blog.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Think Pink

My dear friend, Renae, of Simple Sequins, asked her blogging circle to adorn their blogs with pink today. It was supposed to be her first day of chemotherapy, but it's been postponed. She still wanted us to "Think Pink" in her honor and others! The photo below is special to me because it was taken on my 50th birthday in Portland, OR.

The prayer I found online is beautiful and I offer it to all my friends⎯those in the blogging community and in my own neighborhood⎯who are dealing with this terrible illness. The numbers of those I know struggling with cancer is really quite astounding. Scary even.
Bless, O God,
all who struggle with cancer.
Empower them with hope
for each and every day.
Provide them with loving
and tender care, laughter,
and the support of love.
Grant them
courage when they are afraid,
comfort when they are in pain,
and your blessing
when all else seems hopeless,
that in their fight with illness
they may continue to praise you
and glorify your name.

Happy Easter to all of you! May you be blessed exponentially during this Holy Season. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Meet Socks. In 2011 I decided to take horseback riding lessons, something I've always wanted to do. It was my 50th year of life and I needed some excitement, I guess. My husband has a client that owns a ranch near Denton, Texas, so set up was easy peasy. What was NOT easy peasy was learning to ride. The instructor was very particular on how he wanted me to sit, along with a number of other rules he was very strict about. Trying to be perfect while learning something new makes me extremely nervous. During my second lesson, the horse (not Socks) started going way too fast. Branches were hitting me in the face and I felt like I was going to fall off any moment and break every bone in my body. I was on a living, breathing roller coaster. The end.
So, that was my brief foray into horseback riding. I had more fun taking photos of the horses than riding them.

Please visit the Good Fences meme and see interesting fences from around the world.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Day I Fell In Love

We do not owe the tax man!! There's still the regular quarterly payment, but at least we don't have to send anything else. Hallelujah and whoop dee doo! These statements have nothing to do with this post. Just wanted to have a mini-celebration since it's such an anomaly.

These are photos from our March 22nd field trip with our birding class, also known as, "the day Gail fell in love with kayaking." No boating images; only nesting egrets doing their thing. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SX50 Round 2

I'm still trying to work with the Canon SX50. Most of the usable shots have been with the tripod attached. Some shots have come out okay hand-held, but image quality is obviously better with the tripod. The reason I bought the camera was to take it on the kayak, so it remains to be seen whether the image stabilization is as good as they say as I float on water. That'll be the final test. On Good Friday we are taking three of my cousins for their first time kayaking. I plan to have fun whether the camera is cooperating or not.

I'm in a Picture of the Day (POD) Group on Facebook and it amazes me to see how many people are using this camera in place of their DSLR! I don't think I could go that far. Only if I get really lazy and don't want to carry my gear, or develop arthritis in my hands or something. Nope, I don't see the SX50 as a DSLR replacement, but it'll sure do in a pinch.

Shots from yesterday and today. Still not sold; however, it's getting better and I can see potential.

I added dead limbs and spanish moss to the feeding station. The birds love to sit on the extra limbs
and I think the moss adds a bit of security for them.
Hope our CPA comes through today! Double D delivered the tax paperwork to him in Dallas on the 9th. I'm dreading the dollars that are sure to leave us for Uncle Sam. Ugh, I hate April 15th! Unless it's your birthday, then I love it! :) All will be well!!!