Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beautiful Winter Day

Saturday was more reminiscent of an early spring day versus an early winter's day.  Frost was on the boardwalk over the pond early in the morning but quickly burned off as the sun rose higher.  By the end of the day temperatures had risen to about 63.

I didn't stay too long as I had a breakfast get together to attend.  There were lots of Canada Geese on the pond when I first arrived but most of my shots looked horrible.  By the time the light was good, they had all taken off.

I did take one shot of an unusually marked goose that stood out among the other geese.  A quirk of Mother nature.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice - Bare Trees, Gray Days

Winter Solstice will occur locally at 1803 EST today.  The winter solstice occurs when the sun has reached its most southerly declination of 23.5 degrees.  Today we will have 9 hours and 43 minutes of light.  Want to know info about your geographical location?  Check here.

One good thing, it is all up hill from here on with the number of daylight hours gradually increasing.  This morning it is gray, overcast and cool.  These photos seem to match the mood of the day.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


The beavers have been actively working to create a new "pond" area.  It has been interesting to watch over a couple of years as they have built step down ponds in the wetlands.  The area they flooded last year has essentially gone dry this year as the creek has reverted to its original course of flow.

The beavers are now working on a series of mini ponds on the opposite side of the wetlands which is the natural flow of the creek.  During periods of heavy rain, portions of the dam will get washed away but the beavers will generally quickly repair the area.

In their latest effort,  and while there are sections where tree limbs have been used, the majority of this dam building is using packed mud.  They are truly nature's engineers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


The female Kingfisher was quite active at the pond today.  She chattered and flew about fussing at an immature Red-shouldered Hawk that was sitting nearby.

Yesterday my friend caught a shot of what I feel sure is the same hawk chasing after the Kingfisher.  The hawk today did not try to go after it but conserved energy focusing on the small birds under it.

I had hoped that the Northern Shovlers were still there today but no such luck.  This time of year things come through, spend the night on the pond then take off for parts unknown.

The mallards of course were still on the pond.  When the hawk flew down after something close to where this mallard was, it spooked and took off to a safer position in the middle of the pond.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Northern Shovlers

After a rainy, gray day yesterday it was nice to see the sun out this morning.  I headed to the park early and found lots of N. Shovlers had arrived.  I wished I had taken my long lens with me but had planned mostly on doing some macro stuff.

I think I will go back in the morning with the long lens and see what else I can get.  I would like to get some shots of the large group but they were too far out with the lens I had today.

These are such odd looking ducks with their large flat bill.  I get tickled at them swimming in circles with their head under water.  They definitely have their own technique for stirring up food.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Beauty in the common.  The electric emerald green of the drake's head is a sharp contrast to the shades of brown in the landscape this time of year.  The hen, with her patterned feathers in muted colors has a gentle beauty of her own.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Another Gray Day

It has been another gray, cool day with a wind that cuts through you.  The brief period of blue sky this morning was very short.  I had several things to work on here at the house so I did not go out.  It turns out it was a good day to stay home with lots of activity from the hawk.  The photos are definitely not the best as the day was dark and there were lots of small limbs between the camera and the hawk.

First thing this morning I noticed lots of turkey vultures flying around the house which is a good indicator they have something spotted.  I kept hearing and seeing the hawk flying around and on one trip past the window, I spotted it sitting on a limb tearing meat from something unknown.  It was not long before the crows began harassing it and it flew off.

Sometime later, I was again looked out the window and spotted the hawk again but this time with something different.  The hawk sat for ten minutes shredding whatever it was.  After it left I walked out to see if I spotted fur or something that would give me an idea of what it was eating but nothing.

Finally the Turkey Vultures clued in on where the hawk was and moved in for leftovers.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sun, Wind and Hawk

Finally after several days of gray, the sun came out late this morning.  The wind was really kicking up though.  Thankfully the wind took down the last of the leaves on the oak tree so I hope leaf blowing is coming to an end.

The Red-shouldered hawk was on its lookout tree with back to the wind.  The wind was sufficient enough to rock the hawk and it finally flew off to find a more protected place out of the wind.

I am hoping that the rain projected for tomorrow will not materialize.  Just checking the radar it looks like it may be falling apart.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Golden-crowned Kinglet

It has been a misty, gray day with off and on drizzle, a perfect day to be lazy.

One of my favorite birds that come in for the winter are the Golden-crowned Kinglets.  Unlike the Ruby-crowned that show very little fear on being close to you, the Golden-crowned is a bit more elusive.

Their golden crown will turn a brilliant orange when they are excited.  During the winter, whether it is the gold or orange splash, it is a welcome spot of color.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Eastern Gray Squirrel

If you live within the range of these squirrels, you have probably noticed increased activity this month with them chasing each other and vocalizing.  I watched some yesterday chasing each other so quickly around the tree it was surprising they did not lose traction.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis,  generally mates twice each year.  Once in Dec-Feb time frame and again May - June.  Litter size is between 1-9 with a general litter size of 2-3.  Gestation period is 44 days.

The young begin exploring outside of the nest between day 42-49.  By day 56-70, the female weans the young.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tree Zombie

Have you ever been walking in the woods and felt like something was watching you? You feel a chill run up your spine as you look around.  Then you spot it...a tree zombie!

Okay, so it really did not have red glowing eyes (borrowed the eye from the Black-crowned Night Heron).  I just thought it looked like something fun for a change.

I think it is neat the shapes holes and broken trees can take on if you just let your imagination take over.

The real photo below.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cape Fear River

A shot of the Cape Fear river bathed in the soft golden glow of sunrise and early morning mist.

The Cape Fear river, 202 miles long,  is located in the east-central part of North Carolina.  The river runs into the Atlantic Ocean at Bald Head Island.  When the river was first explored and charted, the river was named Cape Fair.

Frying Pan Shoals which extends beyond Bald Head Island, is a shallow rock ledge and shifting sands that lines the outflow of the Cape Fear. This is the southern boundary of the "Graveyard of the Atlantic".

In early times of exploration, many ships fell victim to the rock ledge and were shipwrecked which led to calling the river Cape Fear versus Cape Fair. Despite several attempts in the early years to give the river a more gentle name, i.e., Cape Fair, Cape Faire, the fear explorers felt when navigating ships in the area, Cape Fear stuck.

a Great Blue Heron flies across the river
Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower, which marked the outflow rock ledge from the Cape Fear,  is an off-shore "lighthouse"  that was originally operated by the USCG.  The light station was automated in 1976 and deactivated in 2003.  The platform tower was purchased by a private citizen and is now being turned into a unique Bed and Breakfast.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Red-headed Woodpecker

Several weeks ago while scouting the river's edge, my friend and I came across this tree where we watched the woodpecker flying to and from.  The light at that time was not very good so we just watched.

Yesterday we walked back to the area and once again the woodpecker was there.  We watched as it flew back and forth, sometimes bringing in new nuts, sometimes taking food out of the stash holes.

In addition to holes that were obviously nesting holes, there were smaller ones where the woodpecker was stashing food.  Not only was this the nesting tree but a food locker.  Observing this only illustrated the importance of leaving dead trees that are being used by woodpeckers.

There are a couple of trees around the house that are dead but are also used for nesting by various woodpeckers.  With pleasure,  I would definitely forego a pristine, well manicured lawn  to leave essential nesting trees.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Meteorological Winter and the Woolly Worm

Happy Meteorological Winter Day.

What is it?  A three month period, Dec, Jan and Feb which are generally the coldest months in the Northern Hemisphere.

 "Astronomical winter is what we associate with the winter solstice which is when the sun reaches its southern most point relative to the globe and is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn."  Most people think of 21 December (winter solstice) as the beginning of winter.

So what does the Woolly Worm have to do with winter?  Depending on your geographical location as to what it is called, the Woolly Worm or Woolly Bear which is the larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia Isabella has been used in folklore to predict the severity of winter weather.

Folklore has it that the wider the brown band on the caterpillar, the milder the winter.  Actually variations in the coloration depends on where the caterpillar is in the larval stage, food availability, temperature and moisture during developmental period, species and age.

So what does this one say.....sort of mild.  If today with a temperature of 75 is an indication of the winter prediction....I will take it.

Is it accurate, no, but fun.  I saw one last week that had a very narrow band of brown which meant a hard winter.  I believe I like the prediction from this one better.