Saturday, July 31, 2010

Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is an interesting little bird. The male has these bright colors and the female is all brown with a few white markings. I have not included a female in this posting but will add one later, at first chance.

I didn't have to go far to get these shots of this Purple Finch as he is a backyard visitor. The females seem to come into the yard more often but when this fellow shows up, it is special.

My list of backyard birds has grown this summer. So far I have had: Northern Flickers, Tree Swallows, Fox Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, American Goldfinches, Rock Doves, Juncos, Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, Bluejays, American Robins, European Starlings and several sparrows yet unidentified.
I am experimenting with a glaucous blur on some pictures where the background is distracting. This is going to take some time to perfect but is very interesting to work with.

These shots were taken in late June. With the good weather, I am still very slow about organizing all of my new images. Can't miss the opportunity to be outside when possible! There will be enough bad-weather days in the future that will surely nail me to my computer chair. Until then, I am off again today to enjoy all that summer has to offer.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Arkansas or Newfoundland? Where is home? I grew up in Southeast Arkansas and spent only 18 years in the state. In 1972 I immigrated to Canada and came to Newfoundland where I have lived nearly 30 years. It is strange how I have spent almost double the amount of my life in Newfoundland and yet, when I go  to Arkansas I am Home.

What is it about our youth that attaches us to our surroundings so strongly? It has to be Nature because the family and friends are no longer there; the businesses no longer exist as they were; progress has taken over most favorite spots and the only pure remnants of yesteryear are the sights, sounds and smells of the natural surroundings.

The swamp is not akin to a trickling brook. It is expansive and filled with turtles, snakes, alligators, brim, crappie and catfish. The edges of the swamp are teeming with birds and other wildlife. It is alive, and it is the same today as I remember it so many years ago when I used to get in a small motor boat to go fishing.

The air around the swamp is still, hot and humid. The insects hover just above the water and tease the fish below. The silence of the swamp is broken only by the croaking of the frogs, the splash of a turtle diving from a log or a snake falling from a limb. Each sound prompts the senses to be on alert to the potential dangers of the swamp - a natural rush.

And then there are the hallmark Cyprus Trees! There is something very peculiar and captivating about the tilting outcrop of all of those Cyprus Trees rising from beneath the water. The base of the trees resembles the shape of the dresses from the Antebellum South. Very fitting!

On this visit I found myself just standing, staring, smelling and listening to the swamp, and it was as if no time has passed since I hauled up a four pound catfish from its warm waters.

Seeing old friends can't equate that same feeling. Therein are the signs of time that serve to remind me of how many years have slipped away. Nature, on the other hand, grows more grand as it ages and births its young year after year, never looking any worse for the wear.

I think the sea to Newfoundlanders is much like the swamp for Arkansans. The sounds of the ebb and flow on the rocky beaches and the smell of the salt water must strike a similar chord to those who spent their youth around the shoreline, often too busy to consciously notice it. Nevertheless, the sights and sounds are being imprinted for later recall.

Perhaps, it is retirement that has given me a renewed sense of my surroundings. Now, I stop, look and listen to my surroundings instead of my watch. This time I captured images of my favorite places so that I can visit them any time I choose.

P.S. I added over 30 new species to my 2010 bird list. I have begun sorting them and will share them soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Much to come

I'm back.  I have just spent two weeks in Arkansas and I have over a thousand images on my camera card. I am entertaining for the next week or so and may not have time to do any posts for the next few days but they are coming!

Without even venturing into the woods, I have many new birds to add to my list. They were everywhere. It was hard to carry on a conversation outdoors because everywhere I looked - there were birds. Check back at a later time to hear more about the experience and the birds.  It's good to be home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Juvenile Bald Eagle

It is very hard to capture the power and size of a juvenile Bald Eagle. Perhaps it is because they are juveniles and don't have the bold markings of the adults. Yet, there is no mistaking it - they are big and powerful.

I took several shots (in poor lighting) at pretty close range and I realized that the full body shots were not really telling the story. This huge bird was perched at the boat house at Quidi Vidi snacking on a fish that he plucked from the lake. He didn't mind my being there but I was cautious!

The more I looked at him, the more I realized the power was in the head, beak and talons so I began to focus on that.

At the tip of the beak is a very powerful nail that he uses to tear his food apart, very effectively, too.

When he tired of my watching him eat, he decided to take his breakfast and go elsewhere. It was then that I saw how big the fish was. He made a pretty good catch.  This fish was much bigger than the one that was snagged by an Osprey shortly after this event.

Quidi Vidi (any season) is sure to yield some amazing nature events, despite all of the people activity that goes on there.

This may be my last post for a couple of weeks as I will be taking a little time off during July. Please check back at the end of the month.