Thursday, December 28, 2006

Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge

This big fella was reclining by the road leading into the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge which I visited last weekend while in south Florida.

Two World War II Flying Aces

I recently had the honor of dining with two WWII flying aces. The gentleman on the left is my pop, of course. As you might know, he was a B 24 bomber pilot and squadron leader with 27 (or depending on how you count them, many more) successful missions. The gentleman on the right is Ken Wall. He was a B17 bomber pilot with 40+ successful missions. Both of these aces received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Because of their bravery and survival skills, we are a free nation today. I salute these men and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their service to America! I enjoyed a most interesting evening with many exciting stories and much history last Friday night at Old Port Yacht Club.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Songlines

All these Saturday photos were from my morning trip to the Wacissa, today. I arrived at the headwaters with my coffee and sausage sandwich from the Wacissa shop early and the mist was still fogging the river. Two fellas were getting ready to dive Bluesprings. The birds are very plentiful in the early morning and I immediately saw a bald eagle rising from the mist as I shot down the headwaters.

The house has been crowded and noisy since my prodigy arrived home and I needed some peace and communion. I headed into a small spring on the west side of the river at one point this morning to stay quiet and to see if the pileated woodpeckers would come to me. They did, as you can see. I also heard a noise and turned around to see this little raccoon. I threw him some clementines but he was too timid to snatch them up.

I felt another presence and looked up and right above me was this great big owl, surveying the spring. I was hoping to see an owl and he was magnificent. We shared the spring for a long time and then he went off down the river to watch the raccoon, who had scurried away. I actually saw many pileated woodpeckers and took a number of photos but since they look so much alike I won't put too many up.

Kinda like the old joke (from David Guest) about the penguin who goes into the bar for a drink. After a drink or two, he asks the bartender, "Have you seen my brother?" The bartender says, "I don't know, what does he look like?"

I am hoping that one of these woodepeckers will be an ivory bill so I follow them about with my camera which I am beginning to learn how to use properly, as you can see. It did help to click the AF/MF button on the telephoto lens to AF which I had not done yesterday although I had done it correctly in the past.

Wacissa Barred Owl and turtle log

You can see the vertical barred stripes on this owl.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Blue Spring Fishermen and Mistletoe

This majestic red shouldered hawk was perched over the entrance of Blue Spring this afternoon keeping a close watch for tasty bites of fish. I took a short trip to try out my new camera on the Wacissa and though I tried to get there in time to kayak with Peggy and her new kayak, I only just ran into her as she was about to leave. She raved about her very cool new kayak and we chatted a while and off I went.

I practiced my songlines on the river...mistletoe tree, little river, big cypress, medium cypress, little cypress, reedy things, silver maples, many footed cypress and bluesprings!

I saw a number of different birds having afternoon kippers. I heard knocks and finally spotted a pileated woodpecker on the west side of the river but I couldn't get a photo fast enough. He appeared to have white edged wings when he flew away but perching I knew he was pileated.

Alligators don't feed from November to March so I didn't see any and they wouldn't have frightened me anyway this time of year!

I'm getting very good photos from this new camera, some as good as Peggy's but not being able to put them up in a larger size seems to reduce the quality a great deal.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Choctawhatchee Songlines

I have been doing some walking near the Choctawhatchee of late, to scout ivory bill nesting or feeding sites, mainly feeding sites, and thinking about how I can best use my senses to discover an ivory-bill while not getting lost. In "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales, I came upon a concept which is aboriginal, called "songlines." It is rooted in aboriginal spirituality but in a nutshell, it is the singing of songs about landmarks as one walks the lay lines of Australia. This made a great deal of sense to me as a means of not becoming lost should I venture off a well-worn river path which I have wanted to do.

I can read my compass and tell direction from the sun but forest cover can be disorienting and I do not want to have any mishaps if I am out alone, which I often have been. I don't feel very adept with my GPS as yet and getting lost or tipping over in a kayak are things to avoid! Thus far, I have done neither of those things...

I had been noting landmarks on my walks but singing landmarks makes a great deal of sense to me since I can easily remember them in a song, being a singer of reasonably good memory when I want to remember a song. So I can sing "gully, robins nest, gopher hole, chinkapin, bark stripped pine" and the like as a means of remembering just a little better when out.

I'll have more to say about this as I practice and read about aboriginal spirituality and how this concept fits into their spiritual beliefs.

Notably this book has also given me a great deal of information about what behavior and mental and emotional attitudes make for survival in dicey or dangerous situations. I decided a long time ago to use my skills more effectively with regard to sizing up humans. Being outdoors walking in forest requires sharper survival skills than I have had thus far.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Choctawhatchee Robin

Monday, I journeyed to Pensacola to help Nathan pack up his apartment ( and to clean it to mom standards, of course) before his last final. He is going to be attending Flagler College to finish up his business administration degree. I expect he will live at home for a while then fledge again....They got their four hundred dollar deposit back so it was worth the trip! My side trip did add some time and I ended up getting home with a full van at 11pm. After a weekend with Rick and Tina, I am still a bit tired!

I stopped at the Choctawhatchee to see if the ivory bills would reveal themselves to me. I saw lots of robins wintering over and a gopher tortoise hole which I photographed. I won't say exactly where I was, but I know it's the right area.... I had my camera on and ready, carrying it up by my head. It's a bit challenging to look both up and down at the same time. The trail I was on is a bit rough and one must watch one's footing. But you have to look up to see the birds flush as you walk. I saw but did not photograph, on pileated woodpecker. I heard LOTS of woodpeckers and I expect full winter will be good viewing in a few weeks! Maybe I'll even stop at the Bruce Cafe...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pals from Wyoming

Rick and Tina took Buddy and I out speed walking on Lafayette Heritage Trail this afternoon. I had to take pictures of them to get them to stop so I could rest my knees! Buddy was very happy to be exploring the park but we kept him on the leash near the water so an alligator wouldn't snatch him up for a mid-afternoon snack. We have been to the Capitol, The Gray Museum, the downtown market, and various other spots for shopping a dining. I am getting reacquainted with my city!

Tina and Rick live in Wyoming and do lots of outdoor camping and such so they are at home outdoors and fine afternoon companions. Tonight is the blues club and Thai food.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Feathered Pal"

I've been saying I am a wild bird whisperer to anyone who will listen to my boasts. But of my feathered pals dropped in to visit me to say good morning this morning. As I said before, he and his mate like the fact that I feed lots of critters in my yard. I had just thrown out peanuts for the squirrels and he came down to perch in the dogwood and to survey the yard to see if anyone came scurrying over for a peanut!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First Fire

I'm usually late getting ready for Christmas but this year I am excited because my best friend from high school who lived next door to me, and his wife are coming in to town in their new motor home to stay around to visit for a few days. I wanted to have the decorations up and it makes me feel good instead of worrying about mom, to have this cheery scene and old friends to share my hearth.

I can't wait for Rick(y) and Tina to come Thursday but I do have lots of cleaning to do still! So I thought I'd put this up for you to enjoy! Wish you were here, too.

Nathan comes home next week after finals and I have to haul a few things home for him next week. The painting is of The San Pedro River. The moon is still at 99% and I may get a kayaking trip or two in in the next couple of weeks. The wood storks are back on the local lakes and I am happy! Life is good. I may even get in a trip to hunt for ivory bills if I get all my chores done.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Mary shows off one of her new tie dye dresses. Does the Scot look a little lighter in the wallet?

White Springs Pals

These fine folks were visiting the tie dye booth at White Springs this past weekend. Left to right are Kate Taluga, dulcimer player and announcer extraordinaire, Susan Boyer Haley, a fine Florida folk musician from Clearwater, Bryan and Mary.

Autoharp by Donovan and Dora Anne

This adorable little fella was a participant at this past weekend's autoharp workshops at White Springs. He sat quietly with all of us big people while Bryan Bowers shared the secrets of his harp. His grandmother is an excellent player as well, and is well-known for her yodeling! This photo was actually taken at our guerilla autoharp workshop at last year's Florida Folk Festival(2006). Donovan holds his own in any autoharp group!