Friday, January 28, 2011


After looking at numerous ponds and hearing of people seeing Wood Ducks, I knew that some time my day would come!! And where else but....yes, Carolina Beach Lake. I certainly had never seen one there before and ran into a real "birder" who told me that they had seen one in the Christmas count (she hadn't) but that it was highly unusual. She was sitting in her car with her binoculars. I had gone over and knocked on her window and told her about the wood duck so she put up her hoodie and trudged over for a look -- I knew that would get some attention!!

She tells me that I missed some dowagers as well which had been there a couple of weeks ago -- will have to go re-inspect my pictures to see if I have mis-identified anything.
I couldn't help myself and took almost 150 pictures of this one duck. I was there so long that you can see a definite change in the amount of light I had!! But they are so beautiful -- nothing comes close! Be thankful I only put up a few -- it is hard to take a bad picture of a Wood Duck!!

I have been taking pictures of Grackles lately as well as I love their irridescent colors!

There were actually two daily walks where I saw no new birds -- almost shocking these days!

Despite all the lousy weather up north, I am looking forward to heading over to the Lake Ontario outlet to Irondequoit Bay near my house and taking pictures of all the various ducks up there which are different than down here!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not More Birds.....A Duck by Any Other Name

The weather cleared for a bit and I went for my walk this afternoon. There were huge backhoes cleaning up the sides of the pond and that seemed to scare most of the wildlife away as that side of the pond had nothing where there are usually all sorts of birds. I figured this would be my first day of not spotting a new bird but much to my surprise, I did spot a new one - a Greater Scaup. I have seen a lot of the Lesser Scaups and supposedly they travel together. There were no Lesser Scaups there today but there were several of the Greaters. They can best be diffentiated according to Stokes by the fact that the Lesser Scaups have a peak in their head and a smaller bill while the Greater Scaups have a larger bill and no peak. I looked at my other pictures and they certainly do look different to me.
The Northern Shovelers were hanging around a little closer to one side than before so I managed to get a few pictures showing their greenish heads and even their orange feet in a couple of shots.
These are both males. The females look a lot like the female mallards.

Okay, enough birds! They are one of my inspirations but here is another of the many, many quilt tops I have made during this vacation. I will certainly be busy putting these tops together into quilts when I get home. That should be fast though and I LOVE to sew on the binding and watch my favorite British mystery series -- Midsomer Murders!! I should have two sets to view by the time I get home! My only dvd collection as I have all seasons of this BBC show -- it is my favorite cozy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just a Few More Bird Pictures...

The weather has gotten a bit rainy the last couple of days but before that I managed a walk down at my now favorite place! There were a ton of people as it was Sunday but I still managed to see a new bird for me. This is a Dunlin which is a relatively small sandpiper with a very long bill! They kind of look like the Sanderlings with a long beak!! There was just one there. There were a lot of Sanderlings though!! I have a feeling I have seen these birds before but wasn't looking carefully enough. Like working in a series, you start to see the pattern and then look for divergent images. Eventually your observing skills become keener.

It was a day for peculiar behaviors though -- look at t his cute little Pied Billed Grebe with his feathers all fluffed out. Both the grebes were doing this.

There were three Shovelers there today and at one point they were kind of dancing on the water next to each other. They were very far away but you can see his "shoveled" bill here better than the last pictures!

In amongst all the Kildeers was one lone Ruddy Turnstone with his bright orange legs. It would be fun to see all these birds in their brighter breeding plummage.
I know I said no more Coot pictures but look at this closeup where you can see the red on his forehead. They certainly look like their cousins the Moorhens.

Later I picked up Warren from his walk down at Ft. Fisher and this Boat Tailed Grackle was sitting right in front of me. I liked his pose even though these are all over the place!

These birds all continue to inspire me and I definitely see a few more pictoral quilts with some of my favorites! (Lisa may even let me put them up on the walls here!)

In the meantime, I have finished 4 more tops and have 5 more well along so that will be 29 down and 1 to go with 2 weeks to do it. It is amazing how much regular thread I have used as well as how heavy the pile of these tops is! I haven't even touched the strips yet!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

He Finally Woke Up!

Well, on my fifth day of walking in Carolina Beach Lake Park, the heron finally was sitting up and awake! I am quite certain now that he is in fact a Black Crowned Night Heron juvenile, especially because of his habit of sleeping all day! He has more the look of a night heron than the other pictures I have taken.

Now in amongst the zillion Coots, I spotted this duck who didn't look like anything I had seen before! He spent a lot of his time with his head down straining the water but I could tell he had a very large bill which was bigger at the end like the spoonbills. Finally I got a couple of shots that showed the bill a bit better. I had a tough time identifying him as he didn't look like the Northern Shoveler pictured in my book. Going through all the photos I took, I found one with different lighting and yes, the head is iridescent green! So a new bird for me!! This 3/4 mile walk around this empty drainage pond in the middle of the next town has certainly been amazing -- amost every day I have seen a new bird!

My Greater Yellowlegs was back and posed a bit for me!
Here he is again with his reflection.
I liked this Tri-Color Heron. I have seen these almost each time I have been to this park. He definitely saw something!
Even the domestic ducks (which are close relatives of the mallards) were awake and swimming on this nice warmer day.

The young pelicans were swimming along too.
Grebes were there yesterday and today again.

I promised no more Coots but this one was out of the water and they look sooo different on land -- much more like their close relative the Moorhen.
I couldn't resist this Great Egret and Snowy Egret posing on the mud flats.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh My -- Another Walk Around Carolina Beach Lake.

Always a new surprise at this pond!! Today was no exception. Unfortunately, I went very late so the pictures aren't as good as they could be. It was very cold today and layers were called for before heading out for my walk.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this Greater Yellowlegs! He can be differentiated by the length of his bill which is much longer than that of the Lesser. I had seen one of these in Florida before but really got a good look here despite the lateness of the hour.

And then I thought I saw more Ruddy Ducks but they were definitely Pied-Billed Grebes with their itsy chubby little bills.

There were also Ring Necked Ducks which I had seen up north but not down here before.

I know I said no more Coot pictures but these Coots were out of the water walking around and I hadn't seen that before!

A lone cormorant was swimming in what little water there was.

And as it was getting duskier, there were a number of Kildeers walking along the shore.

Still working on quilt tops and here are two more. I decided to just go with high contrast so pulled lights and darks and combined them. Hard to go too far wrong when going for contrast. I have finished twenty now and 4 more in end stage. I have done 13 of the disappearing nine-patch novelty ones and 7 like this one.

Hopefully I will have enough batting at home so that I don't have to spend a lot to get these done. I KNOW I have

backing fabric!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another Walk at the Park

The weather was downright chilly this morning although by noon we could sit outside without freezing (the wind was coming from the northwest so the house effectively blocks it). For my afternoon walk, I again chose Carolina Beach Lake Park and its nice (but smelly) walk around the drained freshwater pond. In amongst the reeds I spotted this Common Moorhen who was easy to identify. He quickly escaped deep in the reeds once he saw me.
The scaups were there as well and this was a good closeup of one of the male Lesser Scaups. Of course there were lots of Coots as well but even I think I have enough Coot pictures!

The pelicans were on parade today and they are beginning to get their mating plummage.

I loved the beautiful green on the rather common male Mallard! Common doesn't negate pretty.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Afternoon Walk at the Carolina Beach Lake

Okay, I have no idea what this sleeping bird is! It appears to be some sort of heron and my best guess was an immature yellow crowned night heron but I may be way off. He simply refused to wake up and was quite a distance away.

It's hard to call this a lake as it is really a small pond with a nice walkway around it (less than a mile) but there are always a variety of ducks and gulls there. The water has been relatively high lately when I drove by so I thought today would be a good day to take my camera and see what was there! Imagine my surprise when I found that the lake was almost completely drained and mostly just black muck remained. However, the good news was that the birds just loved it!! I got closer to some species than I ever have before (they had nowhere to run and hide). There were a plethora of birds of all kinds and even one I hadn't seen before! I felt like I was back in Florida as there were herons, snowy and great egrets, ibis and lots of Coots!

This is a pair of Lesser Scaups. Again according to my Stokes Field Guide to Birds, they can be differentiated by the shape of their heads and beaks with the Lesser Scaups having a peak on their heads while the Greater Scaups don't. I see the Greater Scaups on Lake Ontario. The male has the prettier black and white plummage.

I couldn't resist these Canada Geese who common as they are, still are quite a sight close up.

These are the American Coots which I have seen many times but usually at quite a distance.

Many many coots!

This is one of the Ruddy Ducks that were constantly diving while I was there. Here he perked up his tail just for picture taking.

Again another Ruddy Duck.

Even a Turkey Vulture flew right over my head!

Of course a snowy egret with his reflection in what little water there was.
There were also a lot of pelicans, gulls, a tri-color heron, fish crows and cowbirds. It was a nice afternoon treat!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quilts and Inspirations

Not very exciting, but this ring billed gull (the most common here and in Florida too) just stood next to me and begged me to take his picture on my walk down to Fort Fisher.

Fort Fisher is just a mile south of where I am and there are always a lot of birds off shore. Most of them are way off shore, unfortunately, but you can identify them with binoculars (I get my Christmas binoculars this weekend --yeh).
I continue to try to sew nights but George inevitably plops in the middle of whatever I am doing and halts progress -- as you can see here I was attempting to rotary cut some squares from the yellow fabric. He proceeded to fall asleep after purring continuously and he knows I can't move a purring kitty.

The following three pictures describe the "disappearing 4-patch" cutting and assembling. This one is the four patch with matching fabrics in the opposing corners. I have discovered the a lot of contrast works best.
My beginning squares were each 6 1/2 inches. I measured over 1 3/4 inches from the center seam and made the cuts.

You can see that all you do is then twist those rectangular units around and then sew back together as a nine-patch. It is very fast.

I have taken to just throwing these squares together as they really don't match. I think maybe a border will help a little.

Here is another that looks a little less random! I have 12 done now with 18 to go but after today I should have another five completed so that will mean only 13 to go! The piles don't seem to get any smaller though....

My walk today began with a rainbow out over the ocean down by Fort Fisher.

I believe this is a Surf Scoter which is a type of duck. Lots of ducks down here! He was way out so the picture is not too good. There were a lot of male and female Buffleheads diving today as well.

There is no way you can tell from this picture as the birds were much too far away, but these are Northern Gannets which I had seen before but hadn't identified until a woman with binoculars allowed me to look through them. Beautiful large white birds. I had taken this pic the day before from my third floor porch. They must have been at least 1/2 mile away. I had thought at the time they must be ibis but they were diving so I filed the pictures away.

This is the view looking back to Fort Fisher from the beach and the extensive growth of Live Oaks with their twisted trunks.