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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

This past Saturday, while sitting in my kitchen sipping tea, I heard this thud and wondered what it could be. I did assume that something had fallen down but I had no clue what it might be.  But later, as I began mowing grass in my back lawn, there sat a little red breasted nuthatch and I knew then what the thud was, this little bird as it hit a window or the side of my home!

When this happens during the winter months, I usually collect the little birds and cup them in my hands until they warm up and recover. But this was the first day of September and really quite warm. Still, I did not want the little bird to be in danger of my mower or a cat or any other predator. I decided to collect it in my hands anyway and hold it until it had recovered from the shock.

Well, apparently, it had recovered for the most part because it quickly slipped from my hands, landing on my shoulder. I stood very still for a time and when the bird did not seem in much hurry to leave, I decided to take a photograph of it sitting there rather calmly, giving me close inspection!

This photo was taken (slowly so as not to scare the little guy) using my cell phone camera.

After a time, though, I felt that I needed to get back to mowing grass and I gently gave the little tyke the boot.

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I just spent another hour working on my yard and, out of the corner of my eye, I caught site of some “quiet movement” among the branches. It was a hummingbird, I don’t know whether it was female or a juvenile, collecting spiders, at least, that’s what I would presume. I stayed VERY still and quiet and watched as this little wonder of nature worked its way to just about 1-1/2 feet to 2 feet in front of me!!!

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. It was several summers ago, when I kept a deck garden. Oftentimes, I would take one of the deck rail pots down to the floor where I could sit and quietly deadhead the marigolds and geraniums. On one occasion, I suddenly heard this hummer right in front of me and when I looked up, there she was looking straight at me as if to say “What are you doing to my flowers?”

I just love the fearless hummers!

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For a couple of years now, at least, there’s been this mural on the wall of a pizza shop out in Gloucester, MA that I’ve wanted to photograph and post to this blog. But, every time that I’ve passed by the place, the parking lot has been full of cars (apparently, they serve great pizza) and there has been no clear view of the mural. Until today, that is!

Today, a Sunday morning, with comfortable temperatures but still not real warm, the parking lot was empty and I got my chance. Just check it out!

Beginning farthest to the left, that's not a real window! Look at the shadows, the depth created by the patrons farthest inside, the seagull peering in the window at the man eating a slice of pizza.

Beginning farthest to the left, that's not a real window! Look at the shadows, the depth created by the patrons farthest inside, the seagull peering in the window at the man eating a slice of pizza.

Moving to the right, here's an artist (maybe "the" artist) painting "plein air." Notice, again, the shadows cast by the strong sunlight.

Moving to the right, here's an artist (maybe "the" artist) painting "plein air." Notice, again, the shadows cast by the strong sunlight.

And, moving farthest to the right, the end of the building! Look how the artist has created the feeling that you are peering around the corner of the building, standing on the pier looking at Gloucester in the distance!

And, moving farthest to the right, the end of the building! Look how the artist has created the feeling that you are peering around the corner of the building, standing on the pier looking at Gloucester in the distance!

An overall view of the wall.

An overall view of the wall.

Finally, I am and have always been a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due! Here's the artist's signature and phone number.

Finally, I am and have always been a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due! Here's the artist's signature and phone number.

What a great sense of perspective! What a great use of shadow and light!

I just LOVE this mural! Don’t you?!

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To me it is anyway, to see an Eastern Bluebird here in winter? I thought bluebirds were insect eaters.

Photo taken January 26, 2009! My apologies for the poor background, I was just so excited to see an Eastern Bluebird in winter!

Photo taken January 26, 2009! My apologies for the poor background, I was just so excited to see an Eastern Bluebird in winter!

Of course, the northern line has been moving up for many species of birds. Just more evidence of global warming and climate change. Still, this is my first siting of bluebirds, EVER, and just to think, my first siting came in winter!

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My apologies if I sound a bit defensive here, but, whenever I mention to friends, relatives and neighbors that I prefer to trap (in Havahart® traps) and relocate mice (to places like a local park, NOT to another neighbors yard) as opposed to killing them with poisons, more often than not, what I get in return is a little smirk and, sometimes, even a little chuckle. Well, just yesterday, I read an article in Tufts Journal titled “Rescuing the Raptors by Jacqueline Mitchell” that, in my view at least, has finally validated my methods.

In part, the article was about the way in which hawks that dine on rodents that have consumed a commonly available over-the-counter poison (brodifacoum) can eventually die of that same poison! Apparently, this poison, an anticoagulant, “metabolizes slowly and accumulates in the liver, a raptor feeding on poisoned rodents can build up toxic levels over time.” Thus, while the rodent takes several days to die, the hawks can die an even slower death simply because they have not consumed the poison directly.

Okay, I admit, I knew nothing of this before reading the article! I also admit that I used to use those poisons but, after seeing a mouse convulsing on my cellar floor shortly after setting out trays of the poison, … well, that just “turned me off” from that method of ridding my home of the little critters. It was then that I turned to the Havahart® traps instead.

So, go ahead and smirk, go ahead an chuckle! I have been a bird lover for several decades and, I especially love raptors. And that I turned to “trapping and relocating” rodents just may have saved even one red-tailed hawk?! Well, I say that’s all the better.

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Well, I sure hope so! I can tell you one thing for certain though, I know that I’ve missed blogging and now, I’ve got so much to catch up with that I don’t really know where to begin! And, I’ve never really been far away either, just incredibly busy.

For one thing, I finished another decoy head painting, a Mallard this time. (Hey Bill, looks like I’ve got a series going now too. However, with your third painting,

This is from a Charles Hart Mallard drake decoy in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

This is from a Charles Hart Mallard drake decoy in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

you’re still one ahead of me.) I’ve been using these decoy paintings to experiment with different media or methods for the details and such. For example, on the Canvasback painting, I used watercolor with airbrush and traditional brush and on the Mallard, it’s watercolor with airbrush, traditional brush and colored pencils with “stumps,” specifically on the bill (and no, that’s not Bill) and the neck. I’ve also been laying down the background color first which worked well on the Canvasback but not so well on the Mallard.

I’ve now started working on a decorative Green Wing Teal carving that was done by a friend named Francis X. McHugh. He passed away in late 2000 from lung cancer and, to my knowledge at least, he never smoked a day in his life! But he did carve decoys, which creates a very fine sawdust that’s more like baking flour and he used acrylics in an airbrush without wearing a mask or using some other means of ventilation. There’s a lesson in there folks! But, enough of that, now back to the painting. This time, I won’t lay down the background until I’m finished with painting the head, we’ll see how that works. In addition, I thought I might take photos of the work in progress then post them on this blog (or maybe another blog I’ve been putting together [on WordPress, of course]).

Another project that has been keeping me busy is my latest “e-commerce” venture. I’m now on CafePress! (Have patience, though, it’s brand new! A work in progress. I’m still learnin’ how the site works, how to promote it, and so on.) You see, I noticed a number of my images from this blog that many of my visitors seemed especially drawn to, so, I decided to open a CafePress shop where I submit my images, select products that I want my images to be printed on such as post cards, note cards, mousepads, mugs, sweatshirts, etc. and CafePress does the rest. Earlier, I had started putting my images on Etsy (note my Etsy page), however, that site took on a life of its own and became more of an outlet for my sewing or handmade items. CafePress will remain for photos and art from this blog as well as some new stuff.

So, what do you think? I’ve got so much more to write about but I’m still busy with other things too. I promise, though, I’ll be back with blog entries a bit more often ’cause I just can’t stay away from it! It’s addictive! 😀

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Just yesterday, I was reminded (via an e-newsletter) about an art festival that I had attended far too many years ago yet the memory of that event stays with me as though I had attended just yesterday!

It is held each November (the 14th through the 16th of this year) in Easton, MD and this year’s event marks the 38th. It’s “official” title is, simply, the Waterfowl Festival, however, most folks refer to it as the Easton Waterfowl Festival. The whole community gets involved, closing off the colonial center to automobile traffic and using its many fine shops and galleries as venues to display wildlife art, prints, decoys, crafts, etc.

When I attended the event, the Tidewater Inn was the “centerpiece” so to speak. One room called the “Gold Room” was used to display the original works and many of the artists were there, too, to talk to visitors, sign autographs, and so on.

Folks lining up to enter the Gold Room in the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

Folks lining up to enter the Gold Room in the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

Hot refreshments are provided to visitors by street vendors.

Hot refreshments are provided to visitors by street vendors.

At least in past years, and probably so even today, a World Class waterfowl carver is invited to create a special piece that is then displayed in the lobby of the Tidewater Inn. During the year that I was there, the carving was that of our nation’s symbol, the Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle displayed in the lobby of the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

Bald Eagle carving by Jett Brunet displayed in the lobby of the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

I know, I know! This is just a tiny sampling of what you would see there and, I really can’t show you any art. There are those artists who are opposed to having their works photographed by the general public. But, really, if you love art, especially wildlife art, then you MUST attend this event at least once in your lifetime. It is, after all, an art festival extraordinaire!

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