Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quilt Club and More Birds (of Course)!

We had a "meet and greet" meeting this month at the Quilters by the Sea Guild that I belong to down here in NC.  This incredible top was shown by one of the members -- I think each of those English paper-pieced hexagons was only about 1 inch across.  She is bound and determined to hand quilt it which will be an incredible challenge.  Stunning quilt!

This is one of the Habitat for Humanity quilts.  These are done for each of the new houses -- basically made with just strips.

What a surprise to see another new member this month who brought in a quilt she had done in a Ruth McDowell workshop.  My pelican that I did in her workshop was the quilt I chose to show as well!

I brought a whole raft of quilts with me but because basically everyone was getting their one minute, we were only allowed one item to show.  I cheated a little as I wore the jacket that I  made and did show the pelican quilt as well!  The program person asked if I could do a trunk show.  I probably have enough stuff down here to do that.  She also asked if I could do a workshop at some point so we will decide what to do it on later.  Amazingly, there were an awful lot of people from the upstate NY area.  One woman from NC said she thought she was the only native Carolinian in the group!!  I ran into one woman who frequently visits Rochester and her sister is a member of GVQC!  Another went to Geneseo and yet two others were from Rochester itself.  Small world.

I have taken a couple of new paths this week and one was around the actual fort at Ft. Fisher.  What a lovely walk with lots of live oaks and these wonderful marshes.  Didn't spot any wildlife though!

This group of mostly Oystercatchers was hanging out on the big stone wall that separates the ocean from the Cape Fear River.  It was high tide and during high tide the wall is mostly submerged.  They are all facing into the wind which was coming from the SW so no pretty faces to show and no Avocet (who sometimes hangs out with this group).  I think some of the smaller birds are probably Dunlins but hard to tell from this angle.

There has been an invasion of Cedar Waxwings and even more so, the Yellow Rumped Warblers.  Another birder suggested going by the small pond by the aquarium to see the Waxwings.  There were a lot of them but hard to get pictures with all the branches.  I hadn't seen one of these before.

Still a ton of Hooded Mergansers by the larger pond.  I like the males with their crests prominently displayed.

Of course, another Yellow Rumped Warbler.  They are overrunning the place!!

You should be able to see the iridescence on the male Buffleheads off in the ocean.

There continue to be both Common and Red-throated Loons down off the beach at Ft. Fisher as well.  This is a Common Loon  with his winter plumage.

This is a Red-throated Loon.  You can see how much more white he has and how regular the division is from the dark feathers.  On the Common Loon, it is much more irregular.  Also the Red-throated Loon tends to hold his bill up in the air like a Cormorant.

Last but not least, this is the male Kingfisher that hangs out on the boat launch.  He looks very angry here.

I am heading to Fl for several days to visit my sister while DH minds the home front.  Should have lots of bird pictures and maybe even some quilt pictures eventually!

If you are interested in great teachers, a great city and some great quilts, come to the North Carolina Symposium which is being held on May 29 through June 1 of this year at the University of North Carolina- Wilmington.  The website with  all the information is:  North Carolina Symposium.  The Quilters by the Sea Guild (QBTS) is hosting and I have volunteered to be the photographer.  Let me know if you are looking for a place to stay!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Birds and Purses and More Birds

Before leaving Rochester, I made  up "kits" for making purses using my modified pattern.  In many cases, I didn't put in any extra fabric so had to improvise on the straps from what I had on hand.  These were all made with 1/3 yard pieces of "Japanese" fabrics I bought in a bundle in California many many years ago.  I knew I had to do something with them and am relatively pleased with how they turned out.  I tried to "fussy-cut" to put the best pattern on those middle panels.

Of course, afternoons are still for my walks and trying to find birds of which to take pictures.  This was the closest I have come to a Horned Grebe on a very cloudy day.  He popped up right in front of me!

You can see a closeup of his face here with the red eye and the peculiar red stripe that goes down to his bill.  

My Oystercatchers  have been particularly entertaining this last week making lots of noise and chasing each other around.

These three were particularly talkative.  These were really far away and I am so pleased with the new lens and the ability to capture pictures I couldn't before!

While I was watching the Oystercatchers, the beautiful Great Black-backed Gull flew over.  He was huge!  Wish I had caught him sooner with his graphic plummage.  The next day I saw a juvenile version of this gull.

This bird was really far out and even through the lens of the camera I couldn't make out what it was.  I was amazed at how good the photo came out.  I believe this is a Common Loon.   There was also a flock of Red-throated Loons flying through as well.

Last but not lease, I couldn't resist taking a picture of this beautiful female Boat Tailed Grackle. They are so common down here but the light was just right and you can see all her shades of brown.  I ran into some of my new birding friends and they told me of another site I have to investigate as well -- where the woodpeckers hang out also right down the road!  There will be a Civil War re-enactment this weekend so I have a feeling that will scare away everyone as they will shoot off the canons which even shake this house a mile away!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Another Basin Walk but Today a Little Sunshine!

It was a beautiful day today even though it wasn't supposed to be.  I headed out early to walk the Basin Trail which will now be my main walking trail I think as it is filled with birds (although most are the annoying Yellow-Rumped Warblers which are everywhere).  The light was good today so I got lots of Hooded Merganser pictures and they are slowly being relegated to my BIL Bill's flivvers as there are so many on the East Pond!  He will definitely find his way into a quilt one day!!

Here is the female of the species!!  I think a lot of the mergansers are first year birds.

Here is one of the Hooded Mergansers with his crest down swimming with a Male Ruddy Duck.  There were quite a few of those today as well, male and female.

I think this is a Greater Scaup from the shape of his head.  I am trying to take pictures of all my ducks with this new lens which I LOVE.

This is the best picture I have gotten of a female Bufflehead.  There were no males down there though and they are a bit showier.

I keep taking pictures of the small birds I see and they always end up being Yellow Rumped Warblers!!  You can see a little bit of the yellow that gives him his name in this picture.

On my way back on the path, I ran into a man who said there was a snake up ahead figuring that I would be afraid.  Of course, I just looked at it as a photo opportunity!!!  This I believe is a Red Bellied Water Snake out sunning on such a nice day!

Of course I couldn't resist heading down to the Ft. Fisher boat ramp.  Pied Billed Grebes had joined the usual Horned Grebes and a male Hooded Merganser was hidden under the dock.  I spotted this Red Breasted Merganser female in among all the Grebes!

A Forster's Tern was diving for food.

The pretty little Snowy Egret was back joining the Kingfisher who was again there on the dock.

Well, it is supposed to rain tomorrow but no more ultra cold weather until next weekend.  Maybe I will get some quilting done, maybe....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

We'll Just Rename this Beth's Birding Blog or I Finally Know Where all the Birds Have Been Hiding!!

Less and less quilting is getting done as low tide has beckoned me and my new lens to the beach.  How about this very colorful Great Blue Heron who was standing in the weeds at the Ft. Fisher basin.

It was a cloudy cold day but this male Kingfisher was hanging out on the pier.

The Dunlins were back in great number!!
This beautiful Snowy Egret made a visit and was joined by an Ibis and another Great Blue Heron.

He also took to standing on the pier near the Kingfisher.

This was the first time I had seen the  Hooded Mergansers and they were down by the basin on one of our very cold days.

Today, however, I met some fellow birders that I had met down here before.  They were heading to the elusive pond and took me along!!  Oh, my -- that is where all my ducks have been hiding plus a few that I hadn't seen before down here!

This of course is a Hooded Merganser with his crest up as opposed to the picture above. They are a beautiful bird and there were lots of them in this pond down by the Ft. Fisher aquarium.

This is a female Ruddy Duck -- I have seen these before at Carolina Beach Lake.

This is the male Ruddy Duck and I have only seen this one once before.

I believe this is a Common Goldeneye which I haven't seen down here before but have seen in Rochester.

I believe this is a male Gadwall in his mating plummage.

This is the female Gadwall.

This was a male and female Scaup.  I believe the female may be a Greater and the male a Lesser (he is on the right).  This is the first I have seen of these down here this year although I have seen many previous years.

I think this is a female Hooded Merganser but think I spotted a Common Merganser in the crowd as well.

This is a Pied Billed Grebe.  I have been seeing these at Carolina Beach Lake as well.

This is a closeup of the Pied Billed Grebe down at Carolina Beach Lake on a sunny day.

This is a Forster's Tern which was diving for fish as I watched over the basin.  They dart around unlike the gulls.

I am pretty sure t his is a Yellow Rumped Warbler from below. They are everywhere down here even in this ultra cold weather we have been having.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's So Cold Down Here, We Were Even Graced with a Visit from Tundra Swans!

Well, it is certainly unusual to hear me complaining about the cold, but it has been downright chilly here the past couple of days.  I actually had to wear my coat while heading out to see what birds were down at Ft. Fisher.  You can see here a group of four Horned Grebes.  With the new lens, I can get some pretty good closeups even in terrible light and pretty far away!  There were about eight of these diving near the boat ramp.

You can see his bright red eye here!

I liked this pose of the two birds looking over at me.

The sun had already set pretty much when I took this picture of the Oystercatcher where you can see his bright red beak.  Another birder locally posted some awesome pictures she took of a flock of all sorts of birds down at the rocks at Ft. Fisher.

On my way to the path at Ft. Fisher, this young buck crossed the road in front of me.  I very often see deer and an occasional fox on my way back home.

I can't believe that the Yellow Rumped Warblers are still hanging out and in large numbers with the Savannah Sparrows.

I spotted this Red Throated Loon offshore very late in the afternoon.  Too bad they don't have their pretty colors and markings in the winter.

I finally also saw a very small flock of Black Scoters off the coast.  You could not see these without binoculars and I wasn't sure what they were until I got home.  I almost always see these down by the rocks.  The male is on the left and the female on the right.

Last but not least, as I was taking the above two pictures, I spotted these two very large birds.  At first I thought they were Mute Swans as we have so many of those up in Rochester.  However, they have black bills and on the one in back you can see a small yellow dot as well which identifies them as Tundra Swans.  My birding friend Bruce told me that they usually stay a bit further north both on the Outer Banks and at a lake about two hours north of here but there is one flock south of Charleston.  So maybe they brought all this cold air from the Arctic along with their friends the Snowy Owls which have been spotted so far south this year.