Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Photo Essay: A Piece of Paradise

The drive into Huntington Beach State Park is by way of a narrow causeway that offers a unique view into different habitats as one side is boarded by freshwater and the other by a salt marsh that opens to the ocean.

There exists here strictly freshwater species, strictly salt marsh species and cross-over species, those that have adapted to what each side offers.

By a simple turn of the head you can experience each habitat and its offerings while taking a leisurely hike across the causeway.

These images capture the delight of early morning as a new day begins. It is a piece of paradise for human and for those that make their life here.

Looking out over the salt marsh . . .

. . . and then to the fresh water lake containing American Alligators who've just awoke from a night's slumber.

An Anhinga, at freshwater shore side, catching the morning light while it dries its wings.

A Green Heron waiting for breakfast to cross its gaze.

Great Egrets wading in the quiet of the morning.

While on the salt marsh side, more birds seek a meal in the ebb tide.

A Wood Stork with a White Ibis and Snowy Egrets seeking tidbits of food.

While back on the freshwater side, a Great Egret and Tricolored Heron dwell in the morning glow.

Read more about Huntington Beach State Park.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hungry Baby House Wrens

A hungry baby House Wren looks out from its nest.  "Where is she? I'm starving!"

"Maybe if I make noise, she'll come back."

A second baby Wren appears: "Hey! Move over! Let me have a look."

First baby Wren to second baby Wren: "Maybe she's over there."

Second baby Wren to first: "Maybe she's down there."

First baby Wren to second: "Nope, not up there either."

First baby Wren to second: "Keep squawking! Louder!"

"That's good. Keep it up!"

"As loud as you can . . ."


Now a third baby Wren appears.  "Don't forget about me!"

And Momma is off again to find more food.

The House Wren is a common bird in the Western Hemisphere. They are comfortable using nest boxes, cans, boxes and even old boots to make their nests. Interestingly, they collect spider egg sacs to include in their nest building. It's believed that the spiderlings, once hatched, will rid the nest of any parasites that can take a toll on the hatchlings.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A world went silent

One morning while leaving my home to jog with two of my dogs, I saw something in the road just beyond my driveway. As I moved closer, I could see that it was not a scrap of trash but, from the shape and color, a bird. My heart sank.

Walking tentatively towards the fallen body I could see it was a Robin. Sadness came about me.

About two months or so ago, two Robins had taken up residence in my backyard. I'd see them in the morning and whenever I was around during the day, hopping in the yard enjoying the habitat I'd cultivated for wildlife. Then, about three weeks ago, I heard a constant chirping and saw the Robins nurturing a fledgling.

I stood over the lifeless body and with tears filling my eyes said, "Oh, who would hurt you? Who would hurt you?"

I picked her up and could see that her neck was broken. Most likely she was flying low across the road heading towards my yard where I keep the feeders full and someone struck her while driving past. My thoughts flew to the perpetrator. Did they know they hit her? Did they look in their rear view mirror to see if they did and kept going? Or, were they oblivious on a workday morning in the rush to get somewhere. I dwelt on the different scenarios while anger rose in me.

Not yet a week previous, I picked up a rabbit out of the road, and a week previous to that, a squirrel and a week previous to that another Robin in a different area of my neighborhood, and a week or so before that another rabbit. And just this week, I rescued an injured Box Turtle that was stuck in the middle of the road. Four days later, just outside my neighborhood, I saw a coyote lying prone on the side of the road. Today I moved a baby Box Turtle out of the road but I also saw one that had died under someone’s car wheel.

These deaths happen in a residential neighborhood with a speed limit of 20 miles an hour. And my jogging circuit is about two miles. Multiply the amount I've seen in my small area across the size of the country and the numerous roads crisscrossing it.

It has got to be an enormous carnage.

I buried the fallen Robin in my backyard next to the birdbath and with that a world went silent. Several days later the chirping of the fledgling ceased.

She, her fledgling, her mate and all the others I've seen, not only in my neighborhood, but in all the roads I have driven, are innocent of the folly of humans - our selfishness, our incessant consumerism, our rush to rush somewhere on roads crossed by wildlife who are simply heading somewhere.

Even in death she was beautiful and radiated sweet innocence, a solace that's redolent of the greater things and deeper meanings of this world.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Life of a Cosmos: A Photo Essay

Cosmos, a flowering perennial, native to the Southern United States and south to Mexico, Central America and northern Paraguay.

The delicate bud covered in a thin cellophane membrane with the unfurled petals hinting at the color of this Cosmos.

The deep pink petals have pushed through and slowly . . .

 . . .begin to unfurl. The cellophane membrane now looks small compared to the size of the emerging petals.

The ephemeral petals surround the center awaiting the pollinators to partake of the nectar and spread the pollen assuring a future for this beguiling wildflower.

Its job  complete, the flower begins to decay to return to the Earth and with it its seeds. 

Come the spring, the cycle will repeat itself as it has for eons under the bright sun and warm days.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Vulnerable Turtle

I want to move you. I want to move you to care. I want to move you to action.

So I share with you a reptile who is sharing my backyard with me. An Eastern Box Turtle.

In the wake and busyness of human activity, this reptile is trying to survive. But they are having a difficult time.

They are hit by cars - some intentional by humans who consider it fun, some by accident. Some by loss of their habitat, that is the habitat we take from them as we proliferate at now beyond seven billion on the planet.

I've seen her throughout the years and I believe she's the same turtle. Just yesterday, I finally captured images of her and was able to identify her as a female by her brown eyes. Males are red.

Years ago, when I was a child, I'd visit my cousin whose home was in the country. One day while in the woods, we found a Box Turtle and decided to mark her on the bottom with a number. It was our idea of tracking her hoping we'd find her again but I had little confidence we would ever see her again.

The following year on my visit, we anticipated finding that turtle on our search of the woods. Sure enough we spotted a turtle. Was it the very same one that we marked?  I doubted it. We carefully picked her up and gently turned her over. There it was, the number we had painted on her!

I believe that experience, which so amazed me as a young girl, was my first dawning that animals have homes just like we do. Areas that they consider home.

The Eastern Box Turtle is now listed on the Endangered Species List as Vulnerable, meaning they are only one step up from Endangered. I could not imagine as a child that this species of turtle, beloved by many and probably one of the first turtles a child experiences, being in danger of sliding to extinction. But it is so.

If you see a Box Turtle in the road, stop and give them an assist on their journey to cross our wildlife unfriendly, unsafe roadways. Pick them up towards the back of the shell and cross them to the side of the road they were heading.

It's a kind, considerate and and good thing to do. And what could be better than helping those who are vulnerable.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Sweetest Song

I had seen Wood Thrushes sporadically in my yard but had never heard their song. I had heard they had the sweetest song.

On a recent trip to Mammoth Cave National Park, where I also camped in the national park campground, I heard a bird singing nearly continuously. It was a pretty song and not something easily forgotten. I had never heard the song before and was determined to find out just what bird it was.

I asked several park rangers if they would help me identify the bird and I tried to imitate the call for them. Both times I tried, resulted in each ranger shaking their heads. They had no idea what bird it was.

When I got home, I looked at the images taken, and recall seeing this bird, which I knew as a Wood Thrush.

Could I have finally heard its song? Could the song belong to the Wood Thrush?

I found a recording on the internet and it was indeed the song of this bird.

Hearing this bird, while camping in the quiet solitude of the park, made my vacation exceedingly peaceful and sweet.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day 2014

Heaven is under our feet

As well as over our heads
~Henry David Thoreau~

I love you Earth

Earth is beautiful,
You is beautiful,
I is beautiful,
Sky is beautiful,
Land is beautiful,
Ocean is beautiful,
Plant is beautiful,
Animal is beautiful,
Insect is beautiful,
Bird is beautiful.

The world rejoices.

Monday, March 31, 2014

American Crow

This fellow, is one of two, that have recently started visiting my feeder. The photo at the top of my blog is him, too, giving a scolding to the ever present squirrels to move on.

The two come for the unshelled peanuts that I include in the morning replenishment of the feeder as they are also a favorite of Blue Jays. Both the Crows and Jays keep the resident Hawk at bay from snacking on the little song birds.

I had the darnedest time trying to photograph them as they kept one eye on me, which you can see here, even though I was behind glass and would barely move except to trigger the shutter. I'd move just a tad and they'd be gone. But my diligence paid off with these shots or maybe the crow finally gained some trust in me.

They are terribly handsome birds, impressive and intelligent.

I jog early in the morning, and encounter other Crows flying overhead calling to each other.

Caw! Caw! Caw!

One day I decided to caw back and it's become part of my morning run. They caw, I caw. They seem to know me.

One morning, after I was at the end of the jog and just about to start the walk down my driveway, I heard a loud caw coming from behind. I quickly turned around and saw a crow on the roof of my neighbors house staring at me with several other crows around him. They played a practical joke on me. I have no doubt they secretly followed me home to give me a little surprise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kiss me

A frog garden statue's patina, long faded by the sun, is replaced by green algae that keeps him handsome while he waits for a kiss that will turn him into a prince.

Algae is a diverse group of simple photosynthetic organisms ranging from the very small to that of seaweed, which is the largest. It is often seen growing on fences, pavement, outdoor furniture and garden statues like this handsome frog. And, it is the organism that clings to submerged objects such as sunken ships that becomes the foundation for artificial reefs.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the Cascade range of Washington State, blew its side out on May 18, 1980

In the immensity of the blast, it caused a massive mud flow.

The evidence can still be seen in these images take in 2013. The blast completely altered the landscape and decimated the surrounding forest.

Trees were felled by the thousands as was much of the life that depended on the forest.

But life is tenacious and hangs on despite calamity.

Life is slowly returning to the landscape and it's a delight to see the different kinds of wildflowers blooming where so much destruction took place.

 In the barren yet volcanic rich soil plants are slowly taking root and reseeding the area.

 These durable plants are reminders of the tenacity of life . . .

 . . . and are smiles of resilience against hard times.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mt. Rainier

When I first came upon Mt. Rainier, its snow covered shape seemed familiar. It was splendidly rugged and compelling. I studied the mountain from many angles and realized it reminded me of Mt. Everest.

A day later, I ran into two park rangers and we began to chat. I asked if they knew if there were climbers who trained on Mt. Rainier for a summit of Mt. Everest.

They seemed surprised by my question and both of them affirmed 'yes' at the same time. They explained that Mt. Rainier is the same technical-wise as Mt. Everest and that it makes a splendid training mountain for the greater Mt. Everest. Plus, just as Everest is, it is unpredictable weather-wise.

They then gave me more detailed information and added that the woman who has scaled Everest the most lives in the area and is a trainer on Mt. Rainier for those wishing to attempt Everest.

Note the block-like formation caused by layers of snow
Evidence of an avalanche
I smiled at the rangers and told them I was not surprised by what they said as I had done much reading about the historical summits of Mt. Everest and thought Mt. Rainier looked like Everest hence the reason for my inquiry.

Mt. Rainier is a massive, active stratovolcano and stands at 14,411 feet. It is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.

 Mt. Everest stands at 29,029 feet.