Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bugs and Butterflies!

I'm in Charlotte for a few days enjoying the beginnings of fall down here in NC.  I took a few odd pictures before I left the beach (where the weather forecast was also awesome for the week).  This is another of those Long Tailed Skippers although you can't see the long tail here but look at those colors for a normally drab small butterfly!  He was sitting on the lawn next to our hibiscus.

I thought he was a rather handsome insect even though he was intent on eating our hibiscus.  Warren shooed him away after I took this picture.  I am now collecting bugs of all kinds I think!  

He is a grasshopper of some kind -- maybe just the common green grasshopper.  An interesting factoid is that all locusts are grasshoppers but not all grasshoppers turn into locusts.

I call this one Robobug as it looks like it has a suit of armor on its triangular head  and is strangely robotic. Found on our third floor porch.  It is definitely an insect!  It is what is called a "true bug" and I believe is a Leaf Legged Bug.

I am hoping to get to the Raptor Center while I am here in Charlotte as I do love those birds!  In the meantime, I am reading, working on hand quilting and scanning ancestral pictures.  It is notable (for me) that it was just a year ago that I met Colin Firth the first time.  Too bad the movie he made in Wilmington still doesn't have an American distributor. Hope it doesn't go right to DVD years after it was made like his last American movie!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Miscellaneous Butterflies and Bugs!

 Down at Ft. Fisher, I saw this grasshopper standing quietly in the sand and took a few pictures.  I am used to green grasshoppers so had no idea what this was.  I believe it is called a Mischievous Bird Grasshopper but could find no reason why!  I think it is depositing eggs here in the sand.  Its face seems also to be covered in bits of sand.

Another view of the grasshopper.

 Before we headed on our boat tour, I spotted bunches of Skippers on the bright  yellow flowers in front of the USS North Carolina from which our tour departed.  These are two pictures of this small butterfly in the Skipper Family.  It is either a European Skipper or a Fiery Skipper -- not sure on this one despite the decent pictures.
These two pictures are of another Skipper -- the Long Tailed Skipper as you can see from the above pictures.  I think I misidentified a butterfly the other day and it was one of these.  I was fascinated by the tail and the greenish color of the body.
There were lots of these butterflies on the flowers and I was pleased with the pictures despite their tendency to flit a great deal!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cape Fear and Black River Tour with Andy Wood

 Today Warren and I took the four hour naturalist tour of the Cape Fear and Black Rivers that I had taken last  year.  The weather was perfect and afforded me the opportunity to take some nice pictures along the banks.  Surprisingly, there were the very strong beginnings of fall color.  The Cape Fear River starts off as brackish in Wilmington and becomes more fresh water as you head north.  It is the draining river for about 1/6 of North Carolina and provides the drinking water for Wilmington.  At the south end of the tour, you see the remnants of the rice industry of the late 1700s and early 1800s where all the wood was clearcut.  As you head north, it is a Cypress and Tupelo swamp.  It was amazing to see no river banks, just a few areas where there was a small hill of dirt.  Numerous creeks feed into the rivers.  You can sign up for the tour here -  Black River Nature Cruise .

 I probably took a hundred of these scenic pictures along the river and it was hard to decide which ones to include in the blog.  The lighting was just about perfect.

 No tour would be complete without a sighting of a Great Blue Heron looking for lunch.

We spotted a number of Great Egrets along the way.  This was in the abandoned rice fields.

The best treat was several sightings of a Bald Eagle.  We saw two adults and a juvenile.  There are only three nesting pairs known in the Southeastern North Carolina area.  They were quite a ways off but certainly distinctive.
 This gives a view of what the old rice fields look like and shows the rainstorm which we eventually succumbed to (but not too bad -- didn't even  get wet).  You can see how different it looks on different parts of the river.  

Our narrator was Andy Wood who has regularly contributes to the local PBS station with a series of narratives and whose book I bought (Backyard Carolina).  He is an ardent ecologist and the savior of a species of snails so it would endear him to my father.  He has the only surviving local ramshorn snails which he saved from extinction.  They won't tolerate salt water as they are a fresh water snail and during the various hurricanes the salt water intrudes on many of the local ponds.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My In House Pastry Chef!

Warren has taken up bread making the last couple of years and his latest challenge has been to make pan au chocolat (chocolate croissants).  This was the third iteration and definitely the best (but  with1/2 lb of butter and chocolate, you can't go too far wrong).  Now just to keep away from them....not sure even my arteries are immune to these!

This is the view from my walk down the Ft. Fisher beach at high tide.  There is definitely no comparison between Rochester in October and Kure Beach!!

This is a Northern Cloudywing (I think).  I thought the wing positioning was interesting.  It is definitely one of the Skippers.

Yesterday, there was a plethora of the Common Buckeyes -- I liked the background for this one.The Painted Daisies are beginning to die down a bit now but there are lots of other wildflowers taking their place.

I think this is a bluebird but it was quite far away but was the right size and color.

Today down at Carolina Beach Lake, there were four new domestic ducks and geese.  Someone must be leaving these off after tiring of them.  They seem to do fairly well there but I think it is sad that people are dumping their pets.  They weren't hanging out with the rest of the gang yet.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Afternoon Walk at Ft. Fisher -- Some Surprises

One of my surprises on my walk today was a flock of Semipalmated Plovers sitting on the rocks while the waves crashed in at high tide.  They were small and there were quite a few of them and I wasn't sure whether I was seeing right.  Don't know whether it is the beginning of a migration or not as I haven't seen these birds down here before (although I have seen them in Florida).  They were small so I thought they were the Semipalmated and not the Wilson's Plover.
You can see how many there were all facing into the wind coming out of the west today.  It was just another beautiful North Carolina day!
This is an Orange Sulfur which is smaller than the more common Cloudy Sulfurs I usually see.  

It took me awhile to identify this one as I wasn't totally sure what kind of bug it was! I thought butterfly but it didn't look like any of my butterflies or my dragonflies. I finally found it in with the moths -- it is a Bella Moth and certainly one of the prettiest moths I have ever seen! 

No day at Ft. Fisher would be complete without the hundreds of Gulf Frittilaries that are crowding the wildflowers.

I just liked the wildflower (goldenrod?) posed against the backdrop of the rocks lining the beach.

I have to put a plug in here for Crocs!!  I have had a bad ankle (arthritis, tendonitis or some kind of other "itis") for a couple of years now which has made walking a gimpy business.  I had lifts for the plantar fasciitis which I got from my barefoot habit but diligent wearing of footwear and those lifts fixed that.  I seriously think the lifts caused the ankle problems.  I switched back to my old Crocs with no lifts and in a day, my ankle felt better.  It still has moments of gimpiness but I don't look like a cripple when walking now and even beach walking is not a struggle anymore.  I don't know what there is about Crocs but they certainly have been my life saver this trip!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Catching Up!!

The weather has been really gorgeous except for a couple of days so most of my time is spent outside either walking or at the beach and therefore not a lot of time for blogs or pictures!!  My camera is never far from my side, however, so here are a couple of sunset pictures taken looking back at the woods which are two blocks behind the house.  All the colors are represented I think!
 Just another of the sunset pictures.  I have to lean way out on the side of the porch to get these.

Just love the colors here.  We called this sky blue pink when I was an 8 year old!

Warren spotted this Cicada on our porch one afternoon.  Loved the texture of his body and the transparent wings.

A not very clear picture of the brightest yellow warbler ever -- I believe it is a Yellow Warbler and he was skittering about on a cloudy day at quite a distance.  I think we may start seeing more migratory birds soon.  There was another wrenlike bird which I couldn't identify as well -- grey and very small.  These were down by Carolina Beach Lake.  It was quite cool there yesterday -- almost had to wear long sleeves!

Last (but certainly not least) is the quilt that I have been working on during the very few rainy days we have had.  I got it completely quilted (in the ditch) around each of the triangles and decided to do no more.  As it was just a little stingy for a king sized bed, I used "quilt as you go" techniques and added a border to all the sides.  I had brought a bolt of white cotton cloth down with me.  You can see I used blue thread to do the feathers in the border and then used white to do some background quilting as the fabric really required more to be done.  I am now in the last stages of sewing the pale blue binding down (and have even slept under it the last two coolish nights).  

I simply couldn 't resist Hancock of Paducah's sale of Kaffe Fassett fabrics (even though their maddening web site doesn't tell you until two days later when a fabric is out).  I did manage to get nine out of the 13 I ordered in the end.  The ones on the left are "decorator" fabrics -- a really nice 54 inch wide heavy sateen. and the ones on the right are quilting fabrics.  Can't wait to do something with these!!  I love the bright Fassett colors and have quite a stash of these at home (almost all bought on sale at one time or another).  These were only $5/yd so couldn't say no!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Do Wish I Had Brought My Dyes and Some White Fabric With Me...

I am actually doing some quilting down here finally -- both machine and hand quilting.  This pictures shows the first block I have outline quilted.  There are 25 blocks and I will hand quilt around each of the appliqued pieces and then I will fill in the white background with cross hatch.  I started this quilt probably 30 years ago and all the blocks were done probably in those first five years.  They sat in a box but over the past couple of years I have sewn the blocks together, then appliqued a border (last winter's hand project), and finally pin basted it and am now hopefully going to finish all the quilting this winter.

 This is the first of the quilts I am machine quilting.  Right now I am just straight stitching in the ditch up and down and then cross wise which will effectively outline all the triangles in the quilt.  I will probably  add some additional quilting in the centers of the hexagons but we shall see.  This is a king sized quilt which is destined for the master here which has soft blue walls.  This is one of the few quilts I made for a specific bed!

However, it occurred to me the other night that I have the ideal setup here for doing ice dyeing!!!  Why I didn't think of this before is sad.  I have this wonderful refrigerator here that not only dispenses ice cubes forever but also crushes ice for you as well.  So I could just fill a bucket from my fridge!!  However, I didn't bring any dye or white fabric.  However, if I do find some at Joanns, there may be the first dyeing in NC done while I am down here.  I don't want to make any big investments in fabric or dyes but who knows.....

 The weather has been a little iffey the past couple of days (thus the machine quilting finally) but I did get to the secret beach.  Warren insisted (I ran into him on the beach) that there were no "critters" but that is only because he didn't look too hard!!  My everpresent Ruddy Turnstones were busy as usual as well as the other common visitors (Sanderlings, Willets and Laughing Gulls).
 This is the beach at low tide.  In the distance you can see the sandbags which have been employed to keep the units at the end of the beach from washing away in the next storm!  This strange rock formation is called coquina rock (and I assume is made up of the tiny coquina shells that you see at the surfline at the beach -- they are small and come in all sorts of pastel colors.)

Yesterday, I spotted this double rainbow between the storms.  The darker rainbow was a full arc in front of the house.

 Another butterfly identified -- the Spicebush Swallowtail at my neighbors.  Taken from quite a distance.  It took me several shots to identify the Swallowtail.

This is the pile of remaining quilts ready to be machine quilted this winter.  Hopefully one or two will be good enough for the quilt show next June.  After this batch, I think all the beds will be covered down here!