golden pheasant

On a recent trip to Georgia to see Nate & Shea, Julius and Dominic we visited an adventure park where I spotted this female golden pheasant, which is native to the forests and mountains of western China.

3.19.17 ~ female golden pheasant ~ Valdosta, Georgia

As I was photographing the rather plain female, I happened to look down and saw a colorful male briskly walking straight toward me. What a face!

3.19.17 ~ male golden pheasant ~ Valdosta, Georgia

I darted out of his way and captured a side view as he quickly made his way over to his mate.

3.19.17 ~ male golden pheasant ~ Valdosta, Georgia

wonder and excitement

3.19.17 ~ Dominic ~ Valdosta, Georgia

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
~ Rachel Carson
(Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature)

3.19.17 ~ Dominic ~ Valdosta, Georgia

weekend in the mountains

12.10.16 ~ cougar, Western North Carolina Nature Center

Last weekend we flew to a different part of North Carolina, where Tim’s brother had rented a vacation house in the southern Appalachians. So we had a little family reunion and an early Christmas there. We spent the better part of Saturday at the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville. It was very cold there in spite of the welcome bright sunshine!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine was very much interested in understanding and using the map

We bundled up and enjoyed seeing many animals native to the Southern Appalachians. All of the animals there are rescues and could not survive in the wild. Katherine especially loved watching the river otters gliding in and out of the water, but I couldn’t get a good picture of them. They were moving too fast!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine studying the brochure
12.10.16 ~ sunshine made the bitter cold easier to bear
12.10.16 ~ Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ watching other children play
12.10.16 ~ sunlit beauty
12.10.16 ~ let’s see, where should we go next?
12.10.16 ~ let’s proceed!
12.10.16 ~ taking in a bit of rock climbing
12.10.16 ~ we didn’t take this trail but I thought the sign was beautiful
12.10.16 ~ deserted picnic area – too cold for a picnic
12.10.16 ~ coyote, Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ another beautiful sign
12.10.16 ~ screech owl, Western North Carolina Nature Center

This little screech owl is blind in one eye and is being used to educate the public about rescuing wildlife. Katherine was paying close attention.

12.10.16 ~ Katherine in Mama’s arms, watching the screech owl and listening attentively to its handler

We stayed in Asheville for dinner out at the Tupelo Honey Cafe, “a southern restaurant with mountain south roots.” Tim enjoyed the food so much he bought their cookbook! And after dinner we took in the Christmas light and music extravaganza at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. There were so many light displays it took us a full hour to drive through the two-mile maze, synchronized holiday music playing on our car radio! It was a pretty dazzling experience.

Sunday we stayed in the cabin, enjoying each other’s company by the fire. Dima, Larisa and Fran whipped up some scrumptious dishes for us. A perfect weekend!

two years old

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9.30.16 ~ Katherine painting with water

We had a wonderful vacation week visiting our granddaughter and her parents in North Carolina. Katherine just turned two years old and what a busy little girl she is! So many interests.

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9.30.16 ~ morning light

One morning Katherine and I took a walk and sat for a little while and shared an apple. A squirrel started digging a hole for his nut very close to us. Then we watched him race up a tree and come back down with another nut which he buried in another spot. Katherine asked me to pick her up so she could follow him with her eyes, up and down the tree, burying one nut after another in the ground under the leaves. After a while Grandpa Tim found us to tell us breakfast was ready and he took the picture below.

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9.30.16 ~ squirrel magic
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9.30.16 ~ Katherine got a lot of practice saying “squirrel”
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9.30.16 ~ back home for breakfast, purse and cell phone in hand

One day we went to the Museum of Life & Science in Durham…

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10.1.16 ~ contemplating mirror images
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10.1.16 ~ Katherine loves making friends with animals
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10.1.16 ~ Katherine and friend
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10.1.16 ~ not sure what kind of animal this one is

Back at home Katherine decided that PB the Penguin needed a walk in her stroller. 🙂

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10.1.16 ~ Katherine has PB strapped in well
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10.1.16 ~ Katherine and her chicken friends
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10.1.16 ~ cute as a button
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10.1.16 ~ deer magic
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10.1.16 ~ time to take PB the Penguin back home
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10.1.16 ~ consulting with Mom about readjusting PB’s safety straps

Needless to say we had a great time on our visit!!!

wild turkeys

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You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.
~ Hal Borland
(Sundial of the Seasons)

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After way too many days of miserable heat and sticky humidity the weather finally changed Sunday afternoon. We celebrated by going to our favorite gluten-free pizza place and having our supper there outside in the fresh air.

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On the way home I spotted six wild turkeys in a field and insisted Tim turn around so I could get some pictures. Most of them had their heads down in the grass, feeding. But the lookout was keeping his eye open for danger or trouble. I’m glad he didn’t seem to think we posed any threat.

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This field is separated from the road by a stone wall. After feeding for a while, the lookout turkey jumped up on the stone wall and started watching the cars go by. It seemed like he was looking for a good opportunity to cross the street with the rafter of turkeys in his charge.

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There was just too much traffic! We grew tired of waiting and the other turkeys kept on feeding themselves so we decided to leave. When we drove past him on the road I tried to get a picture of him from that side of the wall, but it came out blurry. But still, it was fun to watch them, and a great way to end the weekend.

before the storm

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9.2.16 ~ juvenile laughing gull

Five days ago there were a lot of birds at the beach, perhaps getting ready for Tropical Storm Hermine… I had some fun trying to identify the different stages of life of the laughing gulls…

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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull
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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull
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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull

We had a few gusts of wind which ruffled some feathers…

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9.2.16 ~ laughing gull with feathers puffed up from a gust of wind

I wondered if the cormorants would be staying out on their island during the storm…

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9.2.16 ~ cormorants on their exclusive off shore island

The baby great black-backed gull wondered if we would be handing out a french fry. Tim had unintentionally dropped one recently, renewing hopes for some of the younger birds…

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9.2.16 ~ juvenile great black-backed gull

My friend knows better — he’s content to visit with us. 🙂

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9.2.16 ~ my herring gull friend with the mangled foot

We also saw a great egret — they don’t often come this close, preferring their island in the middle of one of the salt ponds.

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9.2.16 ~ great egret

The swan’s pond has mostly dried up due to the drought…

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9.2.16 ~ swan

Sharing the estuary by the sea wall, we were amazed to see eight snowy egrets feeding with the great egret, the swan and a flock of Canada geese!

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9.2.16 ~ swan and snowy egrets
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9.2.16 ~ great egret, snowy egrets and Canada goose

The calm before the storm… Hermine gave us mostly gale force winds and drizzle. Several branches and many leaves and twigs came off the trees, but no trees were uprooted in our vicinity. That was more than enough excitement for us!

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9.2.16 ~ swan and Canada geese

sprightly

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8.27.16 ~ probably a juvenile great black-backed gull

So… Yesterday there were three cormorants sitting on the breakwater, closer to land than I’ve ever seen them before. But, confound it, still too far away for a decent picture. And of course, they had no interest in spreading their wings out to dry. So tantalizingly close by, yet still so far away…

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8.27.16 ~ cormorants on the end of the breakwater at high tide

However, in my efforts to get as close as I could to the cormorants, I discovered a large group of gulls wading in the rocky pools created by high tide.

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8.27.16 ~ herring gull, wading
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8.27.16 ~ herring gull, rock climbing
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8.27.16 ~ herring gull, waiting for the next wave to cool off his feet

A few days ago my gull friend with the mangled foot came back! He was sitting on the white post in front of us as we sat down on a bench to eat our supper. 🙂 He took off several times, soaring up high and circling around the beach house and landing each time again on the post in front of us. I think he was trying to demonstrate that he was just fine, thank you. He seems so healthy and energetic now — he must have recovered from whatever malady was troubling him earlier this summer.

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8.27.16 ~ look who is back!!!

Yesterday I spotted him hanging out with the other gulls on the rocks. He was getting a drink of water. Gulls are able to drink salt water or fresh water.

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8.27.16 ~ posing for me – doesn’t he look sprightly?

My family thinks I should come up with a name for him but for some reason I can’t think of one. I’m also not even sure if “he” is male or female.

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8.27.16 ~ more drinking
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8.27.16 ~ so refreshing!
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After his thirst was quenched he decided to walk over to investigate a noisy group of gulls nearby.

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8.27.16 ~ walking with a sense of purpose
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8.27.16 ~ pausing to listen and contemplate

Meanwhile, another herring gull walked into view. He’s pretty handsome, too.

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8.27.16 ~ another herring gull

It seemed like everyone wanted their pictures taken!

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8.27.16 ~ another juvenile great black-backed gull
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8.27.16 ~ juvenile great black-backed gull

I’m still amazed that the juvenile great black-baked gulls are larger than the adult herring gulls. In fact, they are the largest species of gull in the world.

We didn’t see any laughing gulls this day, who are smaller than the herring gulls, but had seen several of them a few days beforehand.

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8.27.16 ~ Mystic Whaler heading out for a dinner cruise…

Summer is winding down, but it’s still hazy, hot and humid. We are close to setting a record for the hottest August in Connecticut weather history. Sigh… Looking forward to October!

doubt

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5.15.15 ~ gull at Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

What we overlook is that underneath the ground of our beliefs, opinions, and concepts is a boundless sea of uncertainty. The concepts we cling to are like tiny boats tossed about in the middle of a vast ocean. We stand on our beliefs and ideas thinking they’re solid, but in fact, they (and we) are on shifting seas. Any ideas or beliefs we hold in our minds are necessarily set against other ideas and beliefs. Thus we cannot help but experience doubt.
~ Steve Hagen
(Buddhism: Plain & Simple)

subtle joy

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7.24.16 ~ Richmond, New Hampshire

In the woods, sitting still, there is subtle joy in listening to the tiniest sounds. There is delight in the textures of light.
~ Joan Tollifson
(Awake in the Heartland)

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7.24.16 ~ Richmond, New Hampshire

We, all of us — blue-green algae, galaxies, and bear grass, philosophers and clams — will some day dissipate into vibrating motes. In the end, all of natural creation is only sound and silence moving through space and time, like music.
~ Kathleen Dean Moore
(The Pine Island Paradox: Making Connections in a Disconnected World)

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7.24.16 ~ Richmond, New Hampshire