What a Beautiful Day!

Today was spectacular! The weather was perfect, and everything about the day warbled spring!

I started the day heading over to pick my mother up for breakfast.  On the way over (less than half a mile, by the way), my daughter and I managed to rescue two animals from being hit by a car.  Granted it was my car, but that’s beside the point.  Before we even got out of the neighborhood, we happened upon a mama bird giving her baby a flying lesson.  Unfortunately, Junior ended up sitting in the middle of the road. My daughter hopped out and got the little fluff-ball out of the road while mama bird watched and squawked a bit nervously.  Then, on my mother’s dirt road, I had to hit the brakes, because there sat a turtle basking in the sun.  My daughter hopped out again and gingerly picked that little guy up and put him on the side of the road out of the way too.  Then it was off to breakfast!

After breakfast, my daughter headed off to work, and Mama decided she wanted to go for a walk (as neither of us really wanted to go home and cut grass).  My feet weren’t quite dressed for the adventure, so we headed back to my house for shoes, water, and of course, my camera.  Then we headed off to Turner Lake Park to walk some trails and photograph whatever caught my fancy.  Boy were there some things to photograph today!

Turtles ruled the pond today!  There were more turtles there today than I have ever seen!  On this log alone, there were 19!

May 02, 2018Turner Lake34.jpg There were at least three different species as far as I could tell, and they were everywhere. I took more photos of turtles on this one day than I have taken in all my years of photography put together.  It was fantastic!

Along the trails, Mama and I talked and talked, and I spotted some small butterflies, a frog, some flowers, some insects…the usual stuff.

As we headed out of the woods and back around the lake, I happened to spot a Great Blue Heron across the water.  I watched him for a bit and took quite a number of photos.  Mama had a bit of trouble seeing him from that distance because he blended in to his environment so well.

As we made our way back toward the car, we stopped by where the geese hang out.  They are pretty used to people hanging about, so they went about their business of preening and napping.  And of course, I sat and watched and photographed.

A couple of squirrels wanted in on the photo shoot too, so I took pictures of their cute little selves.

As we walked away from the geese, however, we saw a very unfortunate little casualty.  A big brown bat was flopping around on the shore.  He seemed very injured and not very interested having anything bother him in what I believe were his final moments.  It was quite sad.  He was quite beautiful.

Then I saw the Great Blue Heron fly over to our side of the pond, so I was able to get a few great shots of him up close.

Then, we headed over to the dock to see the ducks.  There were a few of these guys hanging about.

As we walked out on the dock, I noticed quite a commotion going on in the trees near the water’s edge.  Some birds were having quite a fit over something.  Curious, I headed over to take a look.  I watched them fussing about and carrying on for a bit, and then I noticed what all of the commotion was about.  It appeared that a black racer had invaded the little bluebird couple’s humble abode.  I assume he made a meal out of their future offspring…very sad and unfortunate, but I suppose it is the “circle of life”.  I’ve never really photographed a snake before, so I seized the opportunity born from this unfortunate event.  I was able to get fairly close as he was in a tree and not likely to be able to get at me (though I think he was more afraid of me than the other way around).

We spent about three hours out there at the lake, and we thought we were done with our little adventure.  But just as soon as I turned down the drive to take Mama back home, I had to stop again.  There on the side of that little dirt road sat two little bunny rabbits.  My daughter grabbed the camera from the back of the car, and I was able to get a couple of good shots before they hopped away.

What an amazingly beautiful day!

 

 

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 4)

Charleston, SC 

Wow! So it has only taken me three months to finally finish editing these photos and get around to writing this blog. This hot summer proved to be a busy one! But now I’ll sit down and tell you about a trip to one of my favorite places…Charleston, SC. I absolutely adore this city, and my daughter and I visited here for a mother-daughter trip for the second time in two years. This time we were able to take our time and explore and have fun!

The trip out was pretty nice, and we listened to our favorite music all the way. We only had to turn around once when Googly Bear told us to “stay right to keep left”. That produced quite the confusion and laughter. Along the way, however, we happened upon a woods fire. I think it was a controlled burn as it was happening on a tree farm. We were on a back road somewhere in South Carolina, so we stopped, got out, and took some photos.

I decided that a couple of these shots would make for some good light glowing in the eerie fog photos, so I doctored them up a bit in post-processsing and came up with these:

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And as for spooky photos, Charleston is a great place to do a little ghost hunting. We headed out every evening for a little ghost hunting and exploring the city at night. We didn’t find any ghosts this time, but we found some places they sure would like. The city is filled with graveyards, old churches, and parks full of haunting stories and pirate tales. If you ever make it out there, be sure to take one of the walking ghost tours.

Aside from ghost hunting, this trip gave me and my daughter some bonding time…mostly in the form of me acting like a teenager again. Our condo had a loft with some pretty good acoustics, so we sang and said silly stuff just to hear our voices bounce around the room. It also made a good spot to throw pillows from. We stayed up late giggling and having a blast!

During the days, we explored the city hitting the Market first to pick up a few things we can only find in Charleston. Then we hit the sidewalks to find all that we could find in a two day span.  There are several interesting historic churches and graveyards to visit,

as well as dozens of historic buildings,

and interesting doors, alleys, parks, and windows.

We were also able to visit the Nathaniel Russel House with its beautiful gardens…

…lovely antique decor…

…and stunning architecture.

(And that gold paint on the crown molding…it has actual 24 kt gold in it! Wow!)

Well, at the end of this trip, we had walked our feet off and had a wonderful little girls’ trip. Of course, as is the case with most of our trips, there must be some disaster along with our adventure. I ran over something in the road and got a hole in my tire just outside of Charleston. Much thanks to the SCDOT for coming to assist me with a tire change and the wonderful guy at Automotive Solutions for repairing the tire and getting us back on the road and headed home.

And that, my friends, is the end of our Spring 2016 girls’ adventures. Keep checking for future adventures! A trip back out to Arkansas and Missouri are soon to come!

 

The Sights and Sounds of Spring

Buzzzzz……

Can anyone guess what that sound is? Yep! A bee. I know spring is here when I step out the door and hear that beautiful sound. Honey bees and bumble bees fill the holly and hawthorn bushes next to the front door collecting nectar from some of the first blooms of spring. I have yet to find where those honey bees live, but I’m sure the honey is sweet.

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And what else says spring? As I sit here and type, Papa Bluebird perches atop the post on my patio guarding Mama Bluebird and her little blue eggs. So many of my little feathered friends have returned home to fill my backyard with song and fight the squirrels for the food in the feeders. When the weather is nice (which would not be today), I sit outside and listen and watch…and photograph of course. And this year, a mockingbird has made its nest in the holly bushes by the front door. I so love to watch the birds. I have photographed a few of my little feathered friends. So far…

Tufted Titmouse

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Cardinal

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Sparrow

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Scarlet Tanager (female)

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House Finch

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Chickadee

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Bluebird

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I hope to add to my bird collection this summer. I even have my Daddy’s old binoculars to aid in my bird watching.

And the flowers. Oh the flowers. So beautiful to behold and so sweet to smell.

Daffodils

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Peach Blossoms

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Cherry Blossoms

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Blueberry Blossoms

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Moonlight Broom Tree Blossoms

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Just to name a few. They fill the world with beauty and color.

I just love Spring. The world wakes up from its winter nap and says hello in such beautiful and amazing ways. So if you haven’t gone out to say hello back, I encourage you to do so. Wake up from Winter’s slumber, take Spring’s hand and go for a little stroll.

Fort Yargo (Part 2: Critters and a Few Other Things)

Welcome to Part 2 of my Fort Yargo hiking adventure! If you haven’t read Part 1, go back and read that now.

Did you finish Part 1? Very good…now on to Part 2, the really exciting stuff…

Sometime between noon and one, my husband and I stopped for some really yucky organic meal shakes and water. I noticed the webbing of some tent caterpillars and strolled over for a look. As I was examining the nest looking for signs of the inhabitants, my husband pointed out another web near the water on the other side of the bench. Being a bit nearsighted, it took me a minute to find what he was pointing to. As he was verbally directing me to the wonder, he held our bouncing furry companion at bay so that she would not inadvertently destroy said wonder with a swish of her tail. Eventually I too discovered the web and was both amazed and disturbed by the scene that I found…

Writing Spider with prey

It seems that a lovely Writing Spider was also enjoying her lunch…or perhaps storing the rest of it away for later. Either way, her feast of dragonfly was rudely interrupted by a crazy photographer lady (that would be me). As I maneuvered my way around the web to the other side to get a better vantage point (and being careful not to lose my balance and fall into the lake), I heard my husband shout, “It’s coming after you!”

And indeed she was! Apparently I had jostled the web a bit, and this beauty decided she was about to catch some dinner! Alas, her hopes were dashed when she viewed the size of her new prey. Rather than give up, however, she perched herself delicately on her strings of silk ready to be my model. And who could ask for a more terrifyingly beautiful model.

Her lovely black and gold body shone brightly in the sunlight.

Writing spider (top view)

With her head of silver fur and her many dark black eyes, she was both captivating and unnerving.

Writing Spider (head close-up)

Even more unnerving were the fangs she sported underneath these beady black eyes. But aside from the fangs, the underside of her body was fascinating. I captured a very detailed shot of her thorax where her eight long legs connect to her large shiny exoskeleton. And what the photos capture that the naked eye rarely sees (mostly because you aren’t going to dare to get close enough to view it) are the spiky hairs all over the spider’s body.

Writing Spider (close-up of thorax and fangs) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

This lovely orb spider had woven her beautiful web next to the lake with the tell-tale zig-zag which is the signature feature of the writing spider. When we were young, my cousin and I were of the understanding that a writing spider could actually write. We offered many a paper with words on it to our writing friends one summer. Now that I’m older, I know that unless they are named Charlotte, they can’t really write anything other than z’s, but it made for a fun summer nonetheless. On this particular occasion, however, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of this lovely lady extruding silk from her spinneret to weave her web.

Writing Spider (abdomen close-up with spinnerette extruding silk)

These amazing creatures are both beautiful and frightening, and I feel privileged to have been allowed the chance to photograph one at such close range without conflict.

Writing Spider (side view with lake in the background) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

The next little critter I happened upon was a nervous little tufted titmouse. He lit on a branch just long enough for me to snap a slightly blurred photo.

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Then there were the butterflies flitting about the edge of the lake drinking in the nectar of wildflowers. The most beautiful of the two that I captured, and the one I got the best photos of, was the Common Buckeye.

Common Buckeye Common Buckeye Common Buckeye

And the other little guy was a Red-banded Hairstreak. The pictures of him were not quite so clear, but they turned out okay.

Red-banded Hairstreak Red-banded Hairstreak

I also got a few scenic photos, two of which I displayed as the feature image for the posts. The rest of them I will show you now.

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Our hiking trip was cut a little short due to my sister needing a last minute babysitter, so we kicked it into high gear to get ourselves out of the woods and back to the car. This unfortunately proved to be a mistake as I tripped over an exposed tree root and went sailing across the path. No permanent harm done, though, just a bruised up knee and some minor scrapes.

When we arrived home, our hurry was for naught, as my mother returned home just in time to babysit. But the evening was not wasted. My husband went into the backyard and found a baby fence lizard which apparently had no problem sitting peacefully on his hand. He was also rather fond of the camera, so I got quite a few close-ups of this little guy.

Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard

And I shall end my tale with a couple of rather good photos of my hiking companions…

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