Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finally, a Kingfisher!

I have seen many Belted Kingfishers over the years, especially in Florida, but have never been able to get a good picture as they fly away if you get within 100 feet of them.  They are very territorial birds so maybe this is the reason why.  However, yesterday as I was turning into the Park for my walk, I spotted one sitting in the tree in the entrance way.  I took several photos through my car windshield but did manage to get a couple after I opened my window before she flew away -- definitely a female!!  You can't see her fine hairdo in this picture but you can see her brown stripe which differentiates her from the males.

 This is one of the ones through the windshield but you can see her top knot feathers!  LJ called them fat hummingbirds and I was surprised that they were grouped with the hummingbirds in my bird book!

Later she was sitting on one of the extensive Christmas light decorations surrounding the lake.

This was a first year Great Blue Heron who was very suspicious of me.  

A good closeup finally of a Ruddy Duck.  There were two asleep most of the time swimming alongside the Long Tailed Duck who was also sleeping.

This Long Tailed Duck just wouldn't wake up but at least you can see his tail in this picture as opposed to yesterday.

The weather has been cool but sunny for the past few days and we have enjoyed having our oldest daughter down for the holidays.  Now to get some shopping done for that next holiday!  I may not eat again  until then either....

Needless to say, not much machine quilting has gotten done the past few days!  I do want to get all these quilts done so I can start on something new.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Okay, Just One More New One Today!

Our sun is finally back after the several days of clouds and rain and it was starting to set as LJ and I finished our walk down at the lake today.  I didn't expect to see anything new today but as always was surprised.  I got to show off some of my regular ducks to LJ and spotted one I hadn't seen down here before -- although I have seen lots of them in Rochester.
This is a male Long Tailed Duck (formerly known as an Oldsquaw).  They are a really pretty duck in their winter plumage which is much nicer than their summer togs.  I had to lighten up the photo to finally identify the duck as I was looking right into the sun.  I see a lot of these  up on Lake Ontario in the winter even though the bird book describes them as a sea duck.

The White-Winged Scoter was again there today looking a little more awake than yesterday.

This is a better picture of the quilt I just finished.  I finally laid it out on the bed.
I finally finished quilting around all the individual motifs in the Baltimore Album quilt and am now tackling the leaves in the border which should go fairly quickly.  I may just get this done.  If you double-click,  you might be able to see the quilting which is done right next to appliqued bits!

Carolina Beach Birds Addendum!

 All lined up, there is a Lesser Scaup, a Greater Scaup, a Ruddy Duck and a male Bufflehead!  Little did I think that there would be additional birds on my trip to Carolina Beach Lake yesterday but I was pleasantly surprised!  I had seen Ruddy Ducks down there a couple of years ago but not last year.  It was another dull gray day.

This was a duck I hadn't seen down here before -- a White Winged Scoter.  He was off by himself.  I have seen them up on Rochester in the wintertime.
This is a closeup of the Ruddy Duck.
This is a closeup of one of the Pied Billed Grebes before he spotted me and swam far away.

I have certainly seen a ton of these Willets but thought this was an unusual background for one.  Usually they are scampering down the beach and don't allow you to even get this close.  He was  hanging out with the Mallards.

I finished all the machine quilting and put the binding on the very first of the "serendipity" quilts that I made last year.  It was a breeze compared to the last one (the brown one) that I did.  All the blocks were the same in this one although I varied the background a bit.  It is a good size for a double bed bu t here it is draped over a chair in my living room.  I LOVE the final hand stitching you do putting the binding on!!

This is a little of the detail on the quilt.  If you click on it, you can see the quilting in the pink and the meander stitching around the border.  That blue green used in the background (two different fabrics) was a horror to find -- I think it is about a ten  year old color but it was the only one that would do!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Carolina Beach Lake Birds

My beautiful Great Egret was back and posing today after a VERY rainy Sunday (at least four inches).  

It was definitely a good bird day  at Carolina Beach Lake with the following in about an hour of time on a very cloudy afternoon:

Laughing Gull
Ring billed Gull
Pied Billed Grebe
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Great Blue Heron
Great White Egret
Boat Tailed Grackle   
American Coot
Domestic ducks

I think this is the first time I have seen a Great Blue Heron down here at the Lake although I have certainly seen them elsewhere.  He posed with the Ring Billed Gulls as well as he landed right in the middle of a flock of them!

The Ibis are a common sight this time of year.  They wander in the empty lot across the street almost every day as well as down at the Lake.
This the first time I have ever been able to identify both Greater and Lesser Scaups at the lake at the same time.  Here are some Lesser Scaups swimming with two male Bufflehead ducks.  I usually see the Buffleheads out in the surf rather than in the fresh water lake.  The Lesser Scaup is identified by the head that somewhat peaks in the middle.

You can see the flatter head and the longer bill on this Greater Scaup!!  Exciting to see them both on the same day.  The Greater Scaups were hanging out alone while the Lessers were with the Buffleheads and Coots.

This is a female Bufflehead.
My Pied Billed Grebes were also off by themselves at the other end of the lake.

Last but not least, a nice view of the Cormorant who also is more frequently seen in salt water.

I figured you didn't need to see Laughing Gulls, Ring Billed Gulls or Coots!!

Because of the very rainy days we had this weekend, I got lots of machine quilting done.  I have found the secret is definitely to watch dvds as it helps keep me centered and not so stressed.  The machine has been behaving for me again!  I finished the third of my "serendipity" quilts and am working on the fourth.  Three more to go after this one and then one more quilt after that.  Then I can start something new.  

I have made major progress on my hand quilting project as well and may have to always have one going as I have enjoyed sitting in bed each night quilting for a couple of hours.  It may actually get done by the quilt show.  My left hand fingers are a little ragged though!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Kure Beach Day!

This is our kitty Cheney sitting in the corner of the porch checking out the other cats in the neighborhood.  We had to put up netting on our third floor porch as George took a tumble last year when he was checking out the Christmas lights.  They especially like to be out there in the evening.

I always sit out on the porch with my camera by my side.  For several days, there were a number of vultures circling around our house -- we figured out cells must be dying faster than we thought to attract so many vultures.  They are beautiful creatures in flight though.

The Grebes were back at the Lake today when I went for my walk!  I hadn't seen them yet this year and there were several swimming and fishing today (Pied Billed Grebes).

There were several young cormorants swimming and diving as well in this fresh water lake.

There were a number of Grackles and this was a female enjoying the fruit on one of the palm trees surrounding the lake.  The palms were filled with grackles today.

This was one of the male Grackles also feasting.  They really looked pretty I thought with their iridescent feathers.

I happen to think that the lines filled with Starlings were pretty.  I do love their winter coloration even though I am not particularly fond of the bird!!  They were all lined up about equidistant from each other.

My American Coot count is up to 29 now.  They all stick closely together, I assume to keep warm.  They will top out at a count of about 100 if like previous years.

The weather down here for two days was just very reminiscent of Rochester - blustery, cloudy, cold, with drizzle on and off.  I was impatient to get back to my porch and normal NC weather rather than cocooning myself down on the first floor machine quilting quilts (although I did get a lot done).  It was good to get back out walking today even though I am gimpy on two counts now -- left ankle and right knee!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ducks and Quilts

I finally finished machine quilting this king sized "serendipity quilt".  As I was doing the freehand quilting, I spent a lot of time (and I mean a LOT of time) fighting with the sewing machine.  I finally put on my Pride and Prejudice dvd and became much more meditative and calm and the machine responded accordingly.  I might add that I also changed how I was quilting the quilt.  I found that using the thin (60 weight) thread I was using, size 14 needles and going over thick seams, I was having constant thread breaks -- I was attempting to do a lot of free hand quilting in the ditch.  You can see by the next two pictures that I switched to a more free pattern on the blocks and things improved a lot.  I still did some "in the ditch" quilting but took it slowly (something I generally don't do impatient person that I am).  The quilting in this quilt will definitely never win any awards (I wouldn't even put it in a quilt show!) as I put some border strips on that were obviously a little too big and so there are a lot of pleats (yes, pleats) in the quilting (they look like seams as I actually pleated them rather than let them bunch up)!!  However, the dark brown hides almost everything so from even a couple of feet away, 
you can't see them.  

 This is the center block where I put a little more quilting in (click on to see closer).

You can see some of the other quilting I did in this view.  I still have five more "serendipity" quilts to quilt but they are all smaller and hopefully I have learned from this one.

 My elegant  Great Egret posed in the late afternoon two days ago.  I put this in Facebook but thought it deserved a place in my blog as well.  Yesterday we had some "Rochester"  (dreary, rainy, chilly) weather just to remind us why we prefer North Carolina this time of  year!!

My very smart egret is again at the lake today and is is really chuck full of fish!

I decided to try to see if I could get to the secret beach this afternoon but the access is gone and it was close to high tide so no go.  I was really quite distant from this very large flock of ducks who were riding the waves and literally playing in the rough surf.  These are American Scoters (black Scoters) which I have seen before down there but not in such numbers -- usually only one or two among the Buffleheads.  These are mostly females and first year birds.  Migration has obviously begun!!!

These are two of the adult male Scoters.  Note the bright orange at the base of the bill which really distinguishes these birds!  There must have been close to 100 and I saw another flock fly over as I was standing there.  I was really quite a distance and the sun was getting very low but the little camera has a pretty good optical zoom (35x) so I was able to get some pictures.  Too bad I couldn't get down the beach.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm Back and So Are My Coots (American Coots, That Is)

The first of my American Coots are back at Carolina Beach Lake.  Last year the first day I saw them, there were ten.  This year there are nine but the count seems too double almost daily until they reach a flock of about a 100 that winter over down here in southeastern North Carolina.  Hopefully soon I will see more of the winter visitors!  It went down to just short of freezing last night which was almost a record cold but still nice enough this morning to drink my coffee out on the porch in the bright sunshine.  Last year was exceptionally mild and hopefully this year won't be too cold.

I took a lot of pictures of this beautiful Great Egret who was fishing in the Lake.  There are a lot of fish there and I was surprised I haven't seen the birds feasting there before.  He didn't seem to mind me taking his picture too much.

I just thought this was a nice picture so didn't put it in the collage!

The Yellow Bellied Sliders have come out of the water to sun which means the water is getting cooler. You don't see them in the warmer weather.

Most of the butterflies have headed south but I have been seeing Monarchs lately including this one that was on one of our palm fronds.  I always keep a camera next to me when I am out on the third floor  porch so that if I see something interesting, I don't miss it.

At LJ's, I sat out on her screened in porch with her kitties and read and took pictures.  This is through a screen and I believe is a Hairy Woodpecker.  I also saw Cardinals and another Yellow Rumped Warbler but the screen just blurred them too much!

 This is one of Lisa's handsome kitties (Paka) who was instrumental in me not getting as much quilting done at her house as I would have liked.  Kitties just love to sit in the middle of quilting hoops.  He just looked at me a purred!  Other times he just plopped on my shoulder and purred in my ear.

Despite kitties, I have made a lot of progress and have 17 out of the 25 motifs quilted around.  Now to get the final 8 done, do the border quilting and then the background (I still have to figure out how to mark that as it will just be straight lines).  The quilting really makes the appliqued motifs pop out.

Maybe if we have some of the predicted rain, I will get some of the machine quilting done on another king sized quilt.  It is going very slowly because of machine problems and weather much too nice to spend much time inside!!