Sunday, December 14, 2014

Spending All of My Time Outside in This Beautiful Weather

I couldn't help myself the other day when I went down to Ft. Fisher to see what was there!!  The weather has been gorgeous for the past week and is supposed to stay that way for awhile.  The sun was just right for taking pictures of these Oystercatchers which are one of my favorite birds as they are so graphic.  I have found a number of them with tags as well so am reporting their location to the Oystercatcher study.  There were about fifty of them this day and I had barely seen one or two before!!  It all depends on the wind, how many people are around, tide etc.  These Oystercatchers were cavorting with a bunch of Dunlins, also the first I have seen this season.  Out on the wall, besides the Oystercatchers and a couple of Godwits, the Short-billed Dowitchers were there as well.

A closeup of one of the Oystercatchers -- he is handsome!

It is not often I get to take pictures of the shore birds with nice backgrounds as well and this was certainly fitting for the Oystercatchers and Dunlins.

The Red-breasted Mergansers have continued to hang around the boat ramp as long as the people stay away.  There continues to be quite a presence of Horned Grebes as well.

There were quite a few Savannah Sparrows flitting around as well, this one on the beach.

I headed over to my "secret beach" -- the coquina shell beach at the south end of Kure Beach a couple of days ago.  I managed to see quite a few birds on the rocky out-croppings as well as Black Scoters in the water diving.  I couldn't identify this fellow at first but it is a juvenile Black Scoter for sure.  He was hanging out with a female as well.

My identification was confirmed yesterday when I spotted this adult male Black Scoter fairly close to shore.  He flew away as soon as some people came down to the beach.  I was watching him from the access.

He was hanging out with two female Black Scoters who looks so different from the male -- even their bills which are flatter and smaller.  They are all diving ducks though.  There was a flock out further which I think were Black Scoters as well but they were all sleeping and thus you couldn't seen too much.

This is the first time I have seen Red Knots down on the seaweed strewn rocks.  Here they are with a Willet (one of many).  There were also Sanderlings and one lone Ruddy
Turnstone.  I used to see mostly Ruddy Turnstones and Sanderlings down here.  The sun was so bright, it just bleached out the birds!

One of the little Sanderlings.  He is smaller than the Red Knots and has black legs and a shorter bill.  The Red Knots have greenish-yellowish legs.

The Black Scoter male takes off when people arrive.  He is a diving duck rather than a dabbling duck, much heavier and it takes him a bit to get the lift to fly away.  He seems to dance across the water.

Despite spending so much time outside, I did manage to finish the machine quilting on the "Fiesta" quilt.  It is not great quilting but it is done and I can move onto something else.

I took this picture with my smart phone so not the best.  You can kind of see the dark green I have used for a binding, haven't left the binding I was going to use back in Rochester!!  It will fit on a queen sized bed.  It is my own design and used a Hoffman bird fabric as the main fabric.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ft. Fisher Birds Yet Again!!

Well, since it was a really icky cold day, I decided that there wouldn't be many fisherman at the boat ramp and maybe some birds would show up!!  There were very few but with the binoculars I saw that there were a lot out on the stone wall.  It was a very high tide again and most of the wall was under water but I headed out as far as I could (never did get far enough to see all the birds that I had spotted but was rewarded nonetheless.)  There was a large flock of Dunlins digging around on the Cape Fear River beach.  It is very brackish down this close to the ocean.

Way out I could see that there were quite a few Marbled Godwits but this one fellow was on the beach with the Oystercatchers and Dunlins.  It provided a nicer background for pictures than usual.

You can see how much bigger the Marbled Godwit is than the Dunlins in this picture.  It was windy enough that there were actually waves breaking and some foam which looked like snow (it wasn't).

I think this is my favorite picture ever of one of the Oystercatchers!  I can see he was banded as well in this pic.  There were several down there but he was the only one awake.  Of course some more people came and they all flew away!  You don't usually get to see the bills all nice and sparkly clean as they are usually digging energetically in the muddy shore by the ramp.

Heading back to the ramp, there was still one Red Breasted Merganser present who was diving like crazy -- you can even see his red foot in this pic.  

Two Ruddy Turnstones were pecking at the dock -- not turning stones like usual!  I saw some the day before as well in with the Dowitchers.

Last and least a juvenile Herring Gull.  Have seen a lot of these big birds lately.  There are also a ton of Laughing Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls trying to get hit by the car as you drive through!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oh My, the Boat Ramp on a Cold Monday Morning!

My sister and her husband headed back to Florida via the ferry at Ft. Fisher.  Of course they took the time to go to the boat ramp to see if there were any birds even though it was high tide (and a very high tide at that).  Imagine their surprise to finally see all the birds I had been talking about!!  Crowded in this picture are a flock of Forster's Terns, several Willets, a Marbled Godwit and several Short-billed Dowitchers.  She called me from the ferry to tell me she had seen just tons of birds so I headed straight down!

The Dowitchers and several other birds were all crowded on the rocks by the boat ramp.  I stayed in the car (using it as a blind) so I could get pictures of as many birds as possible so I could identify them when I got home.  Most were asleep when I arrived but all flew off when a fisherman came by but did come back and roost and were awake!!  The rocks were completely covered as they were one other morning when I spotted them.

There were also two Marbled Godwits in the midst of the Dowitchers.

There were also Horned Grebes up close and keeping above the water for picture taking -- they tend to dive a lot in a whole flock usually!

A closeup of one of the Grebes.

A closeup of one of the Forster's Terns -- about the most common one down here but usually seen diving for food from high in the sky.

I may be mistaken but I think there is a Red Knot in the bunch here!  It is the one with the much shorter black bill.  They have slightly darker greenish legs as well but are about the same size as the Dowitchers.

There were also two Red Breasted Mergansers swimming around.  This was a life bird for Gail so we succeeded again as last time she added a Long Tailed Duck to her list.  Too bad the White Winged Scoters didn't show up this time.

Eventually a fishing boat came to use the ramp and all the birds flew off -- most are Dowitchers but you can see a Willet or two in the bunch.  If you look closely you can spot the white patches on the back of the Dowitchers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Visit from Gail and Bill!!

We weren't totally successful at providing nice weather for our "fair weather" Florida relatives this past weekend!  My sister and her hubby came up for a short visit and we tried to provide some birding for them and managed a little before they left.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) the weather deteriorated but the birding improved just as they left!!  Our first day we went to the Basin trail to see the Hooded Mergansers and down to Carolina Beach State Park..  We also made frequent visits to the boat ramp at Ft. Fisher as you just never know....  The second day we took them to Greenfield Lake and the Arboretum but both were free of birds for the most part.  This scene is of some of the swampy part of Greenfield Lake and one of my favorite scenes with the cypress and the algae.  The alligators like it over here but it was far too cold for any alligators!

The Hooded Mergansers were showing off their fine feathers and were doing all sorts of dancing behaviors and Bill and I watched for some time.

There were also some Ruddy Ducks mostly sleeping and a female Hooded Merganser in the foreground.  No diving today!!

There were a lot of Horned Grebes down by the boat ramp.

We spotted this juvenile Cooper's Hawk sitting in a tree at Carolina Beach State Park.

Sunday morning brought extra icky cold windy weather which is perfect for sighting Northern Gannets from the porch!!  Gail was the first to see them!  They are a beautiful very large elegant bird which usually spends its time out over the ocean except for these stormy days when you see lots of them.

All we saw at Greenfield Lake were a Pied Billed Grebe and another Ruddy Duck.  There was an area which was just filled with Great Egrets which only I got out in the cold and photographed!!  I liked the background of the trees.

This is my sister Gail and her husband Bill in front of the most beautiful Japanese maple (which doesn't show unfortunately) at the Arboretum.

The Camellias were blooming and this is a nice pansy garden for all my northern friends!!  It is cold but we have flowers here all year round!!

Tomorrow pictures of all the birds that came down to the boat ramp on the morning that they left (but fortunately which they were able to see on their way to the ferry and going home).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dyeing Day with Dianne

Not a lot of pictures with this blog as I managed to leave my camera at home!

However, Dianne decided she wanted to do one of my "extreme overdyeing" sessions (Extreme Overdyeing Technique).  We decided to do 1/2 yard pieces of fabric for each color.

The technique uses 10 dye pots to achieve 35 different colors.  You start with six pieces of whatever size you want in each of the pots, all with numbers A-0 through E-5 and an additional 01 -05.  First time around you put all the A's in one color, all the B's etc.  The second time you sort them by number and place in the colors leaving out the 0s from the first batch.

We used for the rows here, Dharma Wisteria (very very light lavender), Dharma Chinese Red (an orangey red), ProChem Mixing Red (a bluish red), ProChem Strong Orange (very strong orange and a pure color) and ProChem Sun Yellow (a nice bright yellow).  The columns were ProChem Basic Brown, ProChem New Black, ProChem Intense Blue, ProChem Deep Navy (pure color) and Dharma Turquoise.  I didn't have a scale and kept very poor track of how much was dumped into each pot but tried to approximate a tbsp for 5 1/2 yards of fabric which is roughly a 3% solution but I was VERY inacccurate!  In my bunch you can see one very un-pfd fabric the second from the right on the bottom row which should have been a nice deep green -- really obvious here!!

Unlike my usual process of putting the fabric in the pots dry, we wet them first so that we would get more patterning and color separation as water acts somewhat as a resist.  You can get even more patterning by soaking the fabric in soda ash first as well.  

Getting ready for a visit from my sister and her husband!!  Should be fun and hopefully they won't be too grossed out by the house!!