Monday, November 09, 2009

St. George Island State Park

I went camping at St. George Island last week. The weather was fantastic and the beach was beautiful, as always. So of course I took a few pictures:



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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

It was time again for my fall trip to NC. It was a joy for many reasons, including finally escaping from the oppressive heat we have had in Florida since sometime in April.

I didn't get many photos at all--I seem to have taken them all on previous trips! But I couldn't leave without getting at least one of the mountains (and this is that one):

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In the Woods

DH and I went hiking at Ochlockonee State Park yesterday. This is a great park for spotting deer--tame ones near the campground and timid ones along the hiking trails in the woods.

We were on the hiking trail when we saw this one.



It ran off shortly after I took that photo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meet Sawyer

As I mentioned in my paddling blog recently, we tragically lost our youngest dog (she was not quite a year old; she appears in previous posts in this blog). We were enveloped in grief and inconsolable. The house became a black hole that we found reasons to stay away from.

It's too difficult to live with this much sadness; we had to bring joy back to the house. The best way (in our opinion) to do that when the loss of a pet has taken it away is to get a new pet. Not a replacement, but rather a return to happiness.

After much searching for the right breed (our large dogs are all strays and rescues; we tend to go with specific breeds for small dogs), we settled on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are nicknamed "comfort dogs," and seemed right in every way. How fortunate that a litter was available only an hour away!

So here is Sawyer!


Of all the dog beds we have, he chose that one as his favorite, and spends a fair amount of time dozing in it.


He has the trademark "thumbprint" on top of his head, as you can see in this photo.


Here is the story about that mark:

The Duchess of Marlborough is credited with imprinting the characteristic ‘lozenge’ or thumbprint mark on the top of the Blenheim Spaniel’s head. As the story goes, she rubbed a pregnant spaniel’s head with her thumb out of worry for her husband while he was in France, leading his troups to victory against Louis XIV at the battle of Blenheim.

He gets along well with the other pets. Miraculously, when he arrived here at nine weeks of age, he was nearly totally housebroken--I've never experienced such a thing! In a week's time he has had very few accidents in the house, and those were because we were too slow to take him out (he's so good that we forget he is just a puppy and we get lax). He is cuddly and loving and silky soft. He sits on the chair with one of us when we watch TV, and is at my feet whenever I am on the computer. This time around we didn't even attempt to follow proper puppy protocol--he has slept in the bed with us every night from the day I brought him home. He sleeps soundly all night with no problems.

He likes playing in the yard (very closely supervised) with his toys as well.


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I hope that he will make many appearances in this blog as he grows up. He is a pure delight to us and has been a wonderful healing presence in the house. Joy has returned.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Cardinals

About a month or two ago or so a pair of cardinals built a nest in a large shrub right outside our bedroom window. Three eggs appeared and the female spent increasing time on the nest. And then one day I looked out the window to check on them and found that they had hatched! Here's the mother with her babies:



I watched them and took pictures every couple of days. The male would fly away as soon as I appeared at the window, but the female did not seem to mind, and pretty soon the babies were looking right up at me. Here are some more photos from their time in the nest:



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And then one day it was clear they were thinking about leaving. Here is one perched on the side of the nest, about 3 hours before it did successfully fly away.



This one left the nest but stayed in the shrubbery for quite a while before taking off. It kept jumping from branch to branch--getting up its courage, I guess. You can see the distinctive crest that cardinals have, even at this young age.



We've seen them twice so far since they left--once I saw them fly over the roof of the house near where the nest was, and DH saw one with the male in a tree in the back yard. I wish them luck!

Friday, May 01, 2009

North Carolina, April 2009

It was time for the twice-yearly trip to western North Carolina, so off I went.

I went out for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway first thing. It's spring in the low areas and the higher you go, the fewer leaves you see on the trees. Interesting transition time.

Of course when I saw this overlook for Cold Mountain, I had to stop!



I also passed several overlooks with views of Looking Glass Rock.



And I made several stops just to enjoy the view.



I decided to continue on to Graveyard Fields, a very popular spot for hiking and for photographing (and swimming in, weather permitting) waterfalls. I walked to the lower falls and took many photos there and along the path.



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This little stream meandered toward the hiking trail.



On another day, I decided to visit the Nature Center in Asheville. I particularly enjoyed this peacock (they are very strange-looking, don't you agree?).  It was roaming free and made a lot of noise, which could be heard from any spot in the center.



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I watched one of the black bears for a while. It was a warm day and this one decided to go for a dip in the pool they had provided.



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On another day I went to do some shopping in Biltmore Village. They were having an Earth Day Festival there, and someone had brought some live birds of prey, which he tethered to perches. It's a little odd for me to take a photo of a bird that is leashed, but I couldn't resist this great horned owl.



Another great trip, and the weather was perfect every day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

At the Horse Show

I found out about a horse show that was being held this weekend not too far from where I live. I decided to take the camera and see what I could see. When I got there, the kids were doing their jumping rounds.



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These two beauties were waiting for their turn in the ring.



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It was a great day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Panama City, Florida

It was time to have a little short getaway to someplace nearby; the cold weather we have had combined with the demands of puppy-raising have kept me at home. So off I went for an overnight in Panama City.

I stayed on the east side, very near St. Andrews State Park. That was my first stop after checking in. The day was oddly hazy and so photos were few and far between during the hours I spent there. I was lucky to encounter some deer that were moving through the park, and I took several photos of them.



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I didn't stay long that day. I went back the next day, which was wonderful--sunshine and blue sky and warm temps. This was more like it! My first stop was a viewing platform that overlooks a small pond. There was a gorgeous great blue heron sitting on a nest on an island in the middle of the pond. Unfortunately it was a tad beyond the range of my lens. There are many signs around this area warning people about the resident gators. If you read my paddling blog, you can understand that I was not interested in seeing gators--I see plenty of them on my paddling trips. I did see something fantastic as I was walking on the boardwalk to the viewing platform. A little brown bunny just grazing away in the sand right next to the boardwalk! It took me a moment to comprehend what I was seeing. A bunny??? I happen to be extremely fond of bunnies.



On my way back to the car, someone called to me "There's a gator over there!", indicating the pond edge. I said something along the lines that I spend a lot of time around gators. I wanted to say "There's a BUNNY over here!" but somehow I had a feeling that would not stand up to the excitement of their seeing a gator. So when I got back near my car, the bunny was very close to the parking area, which was alarming. I thought if I just walked near it, it would run back to the sand (and toward the gator....hmmm, gator or cars, which are more threatening?). It didn't seem to mind my being there. I reached down, figuring that would scare it away from the cars. It held still and I was able to pet it for a moment! Totally strange. I got it somewhat away from the cars, and when I started mine, it scared it back to the sandy area. I have spent a lot of time in state parks--never seen a bunny before.

I went to the beach area and watched the surfers for a while.



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I walked around the beach area, taking photos.



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Before I left, I visited the boat ramp area, where I saw this juvenile brown pelican.



I was away from home only a little over 24 hours, but it was a very enjoyable break!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fat Hermit Thrush

I took the new puppy out to the front yard this morning. It's cold here now (in the teens at night...yes, north Florida has winter sometimes!). I saw this hermit thrush perched on a low branch. Didn't have my camera with me at the time. When the puppy was ready to come in, I got the camera and went back out without her. Amazingly, the bird was still there.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

It's been a while since we have been to the refuge! So DH and I headed out there to see what we could see. As often happens, we left home under blue skies and got to the refuge under dark gray overcast. The sun worked at poking through and eventually made it.

A quick note about these photos. They differed from my usual fare, in part because of the lighting (or lack of it) from the deep overcast. I also processed each of them slightly differently for posting on other sites, so they don't blend as well as usual. But this blog does have miscellanea in its name!

It's always interesting how the bird population changes in the large pond near the lighthouse according to the season. At this time it was filled with widgeons, including this male and female.



We first walked the Cedar Point trail, which has the boat ramp inlet on one side and wetlands on the other. We saw this great blue heron behind some tall grass:



It's a great hike, short and simple with wonderful scenery.

After we got back to the main road that leads in and out of the refuge, we walked on that for a while. This osprey was perched on a large branch in the tidal flats area.



And then back to the lighthouse, where we spent a little more time near the water. A cormorant flew in and landed on a short piling. Given the light, it seemed to work well as a black-and-white.



Of course there were gulls all around. They seemed to blend into the water when they landed.



I took a photo of some people coming in from a fishing trip. It was a kind of bland image and I had not planned on using it for anything. However, I ended up doing some manipulation of it for a fun challenge on a photo website, so I will include it here. It seemed to lend itself to being a photo from early morning.



Before we left the refuge we walked the trail by the visitors center near the entrance. It was fantastic! Only 1/3 mile long but different from the other trails we have walked here. A large portion of it is on a boardwalk and winds through pines and palms. I was amazed that we did not spot any deer!

This refuge is a fun trip any time of year and in any kind of weather.