Bird’s Eye View

May 12, 2009

Sometimes things get pretty fowl around here.

For instance, you can’t be here very long before you’d notice there is always some kind of fowl racket.  There are chickens clucking, bird song, peafowl screeching, and always, always, always, guineas making noise of some sort.

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Log Ness Turtle

April 28, 2009

Like Bessie at Loch Ness, getting a clear photo of the turtle in our pond just doesn’t happen.

Turtle In Pond

I just can’t get close enough to get a good picture before the turtle sees me and dives under.  At best, there’s just a nose and the top most part of the shell showing when the turtle comes up for air.  A lot of the time, all you can see is the tip of his nose.

In view of that (pun intended), I told The Farmer what this poor deprived turtle needed was a log to sun on.  After all, it must get pretty tired paddling away while getting a breath of fresh air, right?  (Of course, no mention was made of my ulterior motive of being able to get a better picture of a turtle on a log as compared to one mostly submerged. smile )

The Farmer readily agreed, though I suspect he knew both my motives for the idea of a floating log in the pond.  However, since he had all that wood from the big tree limbs that fell on the house, he decided he’d take up the challenge and yes, put a log in the pond.  For the turtle, of course.

Being a most excellent MacGyver sorta clone, he knew if he just threw the log in the pond, the wind would have it swept up against the banks most of the time.  What I… uh, the turtle… needed was the log staying out more towards the middle of the pond.

Farmer MacGyver had a plan.

Getting Ready To Put Log In Pond

It required a couple of posts and some slender waterproof rope.

He pounded a stake in the bank on one side of the pond, then tied one end of the rope to the stake, and another part of the rope around the log.

Then he threw the log in the water.

The Farmer throwing a log into the pond.

Once he had it in the water, he adjusted the bright orange rope around the log in what he considered the best position.

Adjusting the rope around the log.

It was getting a little warm, so The Farmer took off his vest, and walked around to the opposite side of the pond.  He pounded in another stake and tied the other end of the rope to it.

The Farmer tying the other end of the rope to the second stake.

Once he did that, he went back around to the other side and made some final adjustments.

Adjusting the rope on the log in the pond.

And there it is, a nice log floating in the pond, holding serenely in one place.

Pond with log floating in it.

Now, if only that turtle would crawl up there sometime to enjoy the sunshine while I’m out there with a camera in my hand!

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P.S. I went out to the mailbox after I finished this post, and guess what I saw?  Yep, a turtle trying to crawl up on the log.  Only it wasn’t the big turtle we’ve been seeing, it was a much smaller one!

Two turtles in the pond.

We have not one, but TWO turtles! Or maybe I should say, at least two turtles, cause for all I know there might be more.   There’s the big one we’ve been seeing, and you can see that one’s head in the lower part of the picture, a little to the right of center.  And now the little one trying to get up on that big log.

Turtley Awesome!

The Hummers Are Here

April 23, 2009

I love to watch hummingbirds.  It’s always a thrill when I see the first one in the spring.  I can’t remember when I first saw one this year and got the feeder hung up, but they’ve been here at least a couple of weeks. 

I just happened to be fairly closeby with a camera when I saw one visiting the honeysuckle nectar bar.

Hummingbird sipping from Alabama Crimson Tide Honeysuckle blossoms.

And here’s a little closer shot…

Hummingbird enjoying nectar from Alabama Crimson Tide Honeysuckle.

It’s one of my ambitions to someday get a really nice, sharp clear picture of a hummingbird.

But for now it’s just nice to see them flitting about.

There’s Something Fishy About The Woods

March 31, 2009

I decided to meander around in the woods after the flood waters receded, just to see what might have been left behind.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the woods was the Trillium is finally up and blooming! 

Trillium cuneatum

Most of the buds aren’t fully opened yet, but these are some of the first flowers around here to welcome spring.

Whippoorwill Flower

This particular variety, Trillium cuneatum,  is also known as Whip-Poor-Will Flower, Cuneate Trillium, Large Toadshade, Purple Toadshade, Bloody Butcher, and Sweet Betsy.  That’s sure a lot of different names for one little plant!

Nearby there was some Virginia Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica) blooming.

Virginia Springbeauty Flowers

These little flowers pop up all over the place in the woods.  Of course, after the flood waters had been through, they weren’t the only buds in the woods.

Bud Light

Nestled among the other flowers, there was a special metallic version known as “Bud Light”.  It’s frustratingly long lasting in the woods, and the only flowers that appear with it are the blooming idiots who consume a little too much of this bud’s nectar.

I don’t know if this particular denizen of our woods tried any Bud Light, but he was certainly laid back.

Box Turtle - Male

In fact, this male box turtle was totally unconcerned by my presence and happy to pose for pictures.  How do you like those bright red-orange eyes?  That’s what makes it easy to tell this turtle is a guy!  (The females have brown or light orange eyes.)

He was wandering near yet another patch of flowers, some Yellow Trout Lilies, also known as Dogtooth Violet.

Trout Lilies

They’re another one of the first wildflowers to bloom around here come spring.  They are such a pretty bright yellow, and look particularly cheerful after the drab browns of winter.

Trout Lily

Supposedly, this plant is called a TROUT Lily because the mottled leaves resemble the patterns seen on trout fish.

But these weren’t the only fishy things in the woods.  Oh no.  You see, along side one of my regular paths in the middle of the woods, I found a fish.  Yep, that’s right, a fish.  You want proof?  Here’s a picture:

Fish in the woods.

See, told ya!

At first I thought it was dead, considering the flood waters were long gone and there was only a little puddle of water left underneath it.  However, when I touched the fish, it moved!  Whoa! time for a rescue operation – get it to the creek quick!

I tried scooping it up with what little water there was, but the fish was unimpressed with my rescue efforts and flopped out onto some leaves.  Now here’s where I wish I had someone following me around and taking movies of some of my misadventures.  I mean, surely ONE of them would go over well enough on Funniest Home Videos to win the big prize!

Just picture a chubby old lady chasing after a little fish flopping all over the fallen leaves in the middle of the woods.  I picked it up several times, but it was a slippery little devil and would manage to get loose once more, and there we’d go again… fish flopping, me hopping.

Finally I sandwiched it between some leaves to hold it fast and ran … well, stumbled really, as fast as I could to the creek, trying to get there before the fish ran out of air.  I’m not sure which one of us was gulping for air the most by the time we made it to the creek.

Despite the prolonged lack of water, after I deposited the fish sandwich in the creek it wasn’t long until the fish was swimming off.

Fish in creek.

I took two pictures in quick succession, but by the second one he (she?) was long gone!  (Do you suppose he’ll tell his buddies about his remarkable experience when a strange alien plucked him out of the woods?  Maybe he’ll even appear on the Fishy Springer show on Small Fry TV!)

Since we were by the creek, our Farm Collie decided it was a good time to wade right in.

Farm Collie in creek.

Toby loves playing in water no matter what the temperature is!

As you can see here, the flood waters left a lot of debris.  All kinds of leaves and stuff caught in the branches of this fallen tree.

Tree fallen across creek.

On the bank nearby, I found a black plastic milk crate which I carried back to the feed shed.  I even found something to carry in it on my way out of the woods.

Yes, there was one last interesting thing Cast Away by the flood waters:

Ball by creek.

Like Wilson, this ball was washed to shore. I think it needs a name. Should it be another Wilson or something entirely different? It’s generic, with no name imprinted on it anywhere.  What would you call a little mini-basketball left behind after a flood?

What with spring flowers, stranded fish, a turtle and cast away basketball, this was definitely one of the most interesting walks in the woods I’ve had in a while!

Cruising the St. John’s River

December 1, 2008

While we were in Florida we got to cruise along the St. John’s River on a pontoon boat.  It was AWESOME!

Before we even got away from the dock, there were things to see, like other boats heading out.

There was also a little blue heron feeding in the grasses by the dock.

We traveled towards Blue Spring State Park, a designated manatee refuge. It’s a favorite winter hang-out (mid-November through March) of these West Indian Manatees, since the waters stay nice and warm at 73 degrees.

It’s also the largest spring on the St. Johns River.  Although we got a glimpse or two of manatees in the river, we never got a clear enough look to make a worthwhile picture. Maybe next time!

There were lots of birds in the trees though.

And every once in a while we saw a bright splash of color from flowers growing among the trees and grasses.

We got really excited when we saw our first alligator.

Cruising along we saw great reflections in the water from the trees and sky.

Then we got even more excited when we saw another alligator, bigger than the first one we saw!

There were herons and other birds almost everywhere we looked.

But the BIGGEST thrill of the day was seeing this HUMONGOUS GATOR!

No way we could top that!  All in all, it was a great day of cruising! And a great part of our relatives world to visit!