Monday, December 31, 2012

Black Scoters and Razorbills

Instead of heading to my usual Carolina Beach Lake, I decided to head down to Ft. Fisher and walk back to the secret beach to see if I could see the Razorbills or something else interesting!!  I was rewarded although it was again late in the day and the birds were pretty far off!  There were several female Black Scoters by the coquina rock beach.

The coquina rock was formed during the Pleistocene era and is found primarily in Fl but obviously there is some in NC!  It is a sedimentary rock made up of shells.

This is a Great Cormorant which I saw yesterday.  There are two of these Cormorants sitting on this matched set of old posts for a pier that was washed away during one of the hurricanes in Carolina Beach.  Usually we see the Double Crested Cormorants but this one is a bit bigger and I think darker.

I was very happy to wander back to Ft. Fisher, running into Bruce Smithson again and spotting not only two Razorbills but a Horned Grebe (I didn't get a picture of this one as it was just too far out).  The two Razorbills were literally riding the surf, diving frequently.  Bruce said he had never seen ones in so close to the shore!  It was very late in the day so again the light wasn't great but you can certainly recognize it!!

The wave is just about ready to break over him in this shot!

Here are the two Razorbills.  These are not frequent visitors down here but have been spotted consistently down in Sanibel as well.  

There was a huge flock of Double Crested Cormorants that flew overhead.  The weather has been very nice with lots of sunshine which makes even the cooler days feel warm as long as the wind keeps down.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Visit From My Sister

My sister Gail and her wonderful husband Bill stopped by for a brief visit on their way back to their home in Florida.  I was sure that she just wanted to see the Long Tailed Duck which she had never seen before and which is a frequent visitor to our local lake.  She was not disappointed!  This female Lesser Scaup was hanging out right close to the shore so you could see a lot of her detail.

The Long Tailed Duck was there both days but he was very active today.  The blur is him flapping his wings!

Because I wanted to see if the Oystercatchers and the Marbled Godwit had returned, after we took our lake walk (and we were afraid it was going to rain), we headed down to Ft. Fisher again.  We were amazed to see probably ten of those wind surfers with the big sails (kite surfing maybe) out in the bay.  It was a very brisk day and they were moving fast.  The water temp is about 60 degrees and they all had on wet suits but it was quite a sight.  On the way back I decided I had to take her at least once to the "secret beach", the coquina rock beach down at the south end of Kure Beach.  We had the fabulous luck to run into a former president of the now defunct Wilmington bird club and he pointed out several birds that I am sure neither of us would have seen and added three birds to my sister's life list!  They were very, very far away and of course the light wasn't good.  This is a Red Throated Loon and they sit with their bills pointed slightly up.  I am sure I have seen these before but dismissed them as Cormorants.  We also saw a Common Loon later.

This is a Northern Gannett.  These are generally always found off the coast out away.  I had seen them before but my sister hadn't so it was a treat for her.

My sister got a better picture.  I had left my good camera in the car.  So she gets full credit for this one!

There was also a flock of Buffleheads cavorting in the waves.  There are all males and one lone female in this bunch.

We also got to see a Razorbill but it was too far out to get a decent picture -- just good enough to identify the bird.  Neither Gail nor I had seen one of these before but recently they have been making quite a splash down on Sanibel in Fl as they are a very infrequent visitor down there!

Bruce (our bird guide) was looking for Purple Sandpipers as he said they like this kind of weather.  He also told  us this was the only natural coquina rock beach for quite aways -- didn't know where you would find one like this again.  It is a prime feeding area for birds.  Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy wiped out all the beach accesses for about a mile and the only on foot access is a bit of a way down but I will make an extra effort at low tide now!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sunsets and Oystercatchers

I went out this afternoon to play with my new camera  (Canon 3Ti}  which has more megapixels and  the moveable  screen on the back.  I  used to have this flexibility on my old Lumix and  missed it with my last camera .  My daughter LJ was happy to take the old camera off my hands as it was  an  upgrade to her  older  Canon slr !  Let's hope she gets some good pictures  in  Costa Rica!  I did my usual walk at Carolina Beach Lake but decided to head down to the south end of the island to see if there were any critters hanging out even though it was quite late in the afternoon.

I was happily rewarded with seeing quite a few Oystercatchers even though the light wasn't good and I was looking into the sun.  I lightened this up quite a bit but you have to add even more to see their bright red bills.  I do love this bird as it is so graphic in its black and white plumage with that bright red.

I took this picture as well and when I got home I thought it might be a Godwit as it has such a long skinny bill and small head.  That was my closest guess.  I might just have to visit when the sun is behind me as there was a large flock  of some sort of duck off in the distance.  

The moon was rising as I returned home.  

My sister will be arriving tomorrow and hopefully there will be some of my favorite ducks at the Lake.  I only saw Grebes, some female Buffleheads, the Coots and the Long Tailed duck today.  Even the Scaups and Ruddy Ducks weren't there.

I had to do quite a bit of doctoring so you could see the image but my other little camera got a good enough picture to definitely identify this bird as a Marbled Godwit -- I think I have seen them in Fl once before.

You can also see the bill of the Oystercatcher in this one!  The little camera really does a nice job on telephoto even in the awful light conditions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Diggers and Shovelers

Well, this is the Northern Shoveler that I finally saw for the first time this year on my afternoon walk on this beautiful sunny day.   There were some lady Scaups sleeping behind him.   How coincidental that this morning as I was perched on my porch reading my morning paper, they were filming a reality show called "American Diggers" down on the beach.  It took me a bit of time and some investigating to figure out what was going on!  I thought initially it was people checking out the beach or seeing whales and then I spotted the cameras. 

To the far right is Ric Savage who is the owner (with his family) of American Savage which is a firm that hunts for artifacts buried in the ground. They had a tv program last year called American Diggers on Spike TV. This year it will be called Savage Family Diggers.  My beach is about 3/4 mile down the road from Ft. Fisher which was a major fort in the Civil War and the last on the coast to be captured by the North. You can't treasure hunt there which is why I assume they were close by.  Most of the accesses south of us were washed out by Sandy as she went by..

I believe the guy in the middle is one of the Savage sons and the lady on the right is Rita Savage, the wife of Ric Savage.  They guy in green may be the homeowner next to the beach access.  These pictures were taken from my third floor perch a block from the beach with my little Canon SX40.  They were there for about three hours altogether and there was some strange equipment.  Amazing how many fewer people you need to film these reality shows as opposed to the movies.  I only counted about 14 people altogether with three trucks.   There were two shoulder held cameras like they use for news.  For movies it is 5 to 10 times as many people and much more equipment.  You just never know what you will see down here!!  I have seen HBO specials, movies and now a reality show!  I didn't have to leave my porch for this one though!

This insignia on one of the trucks as well as tshirts with the same logo was how I identified what was going on!

Another picture of the Northern Shoveler, one of my last familiar winter ducks.  You can see all his irridescence here and almost see his defining bill.  These are one of my favorites.

I was going to call this blog "Dicks and Ducks" but in deference to Mrs. Savage, decided not to!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bags and Birds

Well, I have made a lot of these Market Bags in the past following the pattern.  However, my oldest daughter says they are just too small so I decided to measure the bags she had and make some more to her liking.  Of course the original bag nicely fits on a yard of fabric without any messing around.  Needless to say, adding two inches to each dimension takes a bit more fabric!  Of course, all I had were assorted half yard pieces that I had grabbed to bring down to the beach with me so I did my best and did by a little fabric for the lining of two of the four bags I cut out.  These don't stand up quite as well as the original bags.  I had to use two different fabrics as they really take about 1 1/4 yards with the new measurements for each bag.  These two are flying as I write out to Seattle for my younger daughter (no, my kids don't ever read my blog so it is safe!)  I do like the new size (14 inches x 16 inches x 8 inches).  The only measurement that stayed the same was the 8 inches!  I also changed the handles to come out of the top between the lining and bag rather than attached to the sides as they are in the original.  Really, the only thing left of the original pattern is the reverse French seams, a treatment I really like!

I also made a "Potato Chip Bag" (Pattern name) making the straps much, much shorter for my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter -- I thought it looked about the right size for her.  Hopefully she will like it.

I finally finished all the quilting and the binding on the fourth of the "serendipity" quilts I have made.  This is one of my favorites and has been claimed by my oldest daughter but first I think I will enter it into our quilt show next spring.  I am very happy with how it turned out even though you really can't see the quilting (and there is a lot of it).  It is about 76 inches by 56 inches.

Hopefully you can see some of the quilting in this closeup of one of the center blocks.

I have started the long process of hand quilting the background of the Baltimore Album style quilt.  I am doing the classic mattress padding in 1" grid.  Hopefully, I will get this done.  It is fairly easy quilting and sateen is very nice to quilt through so maybe....    

 There haven't been any new birds at Carolina Beach Lake (well, the weather has been a bit nasty until today) but this is a female Scaup and there seem to be quite a few of both males and females, Greater and Lesser there each day.

This is the male scaup and you can see a little of the irridescence on his head here.  The Ruddy Ducks, Long Tailed Duck, Grebes,  Buffleheads, Cormorants and Coots are all there as well as the mallards.  I am missing seeing the Northern Shovelers though!

I am looking forward to my new camera for Christmas though -- just a slight upgrade with a few more megapixels to crop down!  These pictures have all been taken with my little Canon point and shoot with the 35x optical zoom recommended by Lillian Stokes!  It's ability to get some of the longer range pictures does  compensate for being so much slower than the SLR!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Back to the Routine...

We were fortunate to be able to treat our guests last week to wonderful North Carolina weather -- 70s each day and lots and lots of sunshine.  Since our guests were from Rochester, this was a bit of a treat!  We were pretty busy but I didn't remember to bring my camera for the one day that I could take pictures!

However, I am back to my daily routine which of course includes my daily walk although it was a bit chilly and cloudy today.  I was very surprised to see this Long Tailed Duck sitting on the little island on Carolina Beach Lake -- I haven't seen one out of the water before and he posed nicely for me before dropping his head to sleep some more.

This was a Kildeer which is a first for me down at the Lake although I have certainly seen them before.

The population of Lesser Scaups has certainly risen. Here are a male in front and two females.  The Grebes are still there as well as the Buffleheads.  Still none of the Northern Shovelers, Redheads or Wood Ducks have arrived.

I finally finished all the machine work on one of my favorite of the Serendipity quilts.  I think it is quilted well enough to be in our quilt show next June (GVQC 2013 Quilt Festival at Rochester Institute of Technology).  You can click on the link in the parentheses to see all the events -- it is easily as big as some of the regional shows with about 60 vendors.