Feels more like Florida than Arkansas in winter today. Daffodils have run amok everywhere, as have henbit, spring beauties, dandelions, quinces and even the tree buds are swelling, getting ready to birth the first leaves.
The lawn this afternoon was full of tiny flowers that look like four-petaled forget-me-nots and the mysterious sweet jasmine-like flowers that pull honeybees out of hiding.
Cardinals have been a family favorite bird. In the northeastern U.S., they brighten up a winter landscape like no other.
This morning, our local cardinal and his mate were whooshing through the small pines at the back of the house. Himself decided to take a commanding spot in a leafless tree.
Grabbed the camera between fixing Sunday morning espresso and popovers and fired away through the kitchen window.
In unloading the shots to the laptop, noticed something alarming about the bird — he appears to have a hump of some sort on his right shoulder. At first it appeared that he was just balling up, as birds do, against the cold. But on closer examination, the hump is very distinct and stands out no matter how he carries himself. Fortunately, the growth doesn’t appear to impair his ability to fly or do other cardinal things.
On a somewhat lighter note, in going through the Peterson Field Guide to Birds, there was an interesting fellow included in the pages for “Cardinals, Buntings, and Allies,” called Pyrrhuloxia. What he looks like is a cardinal that’s gone through a bleach bath. It reminded me of a photo that colleague Donna shot back in the spring of 2010. Too grayish to be a female cardinal. What she did shoot appears to be this Pyrrhuloxia — quite a bit east of its normal range which appears to be SW Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, with the occasional wandering as far north as the Texas Panhandle.
Not feeling terribly creative this morning, but felt compelled to post these two photos. One of a goldfinch who stopped at the net bag holding the outside temperature sensor and the second with another sort of netting, chomped out by hungry larvae no doubt.
The parade of wildlife outside the office window is amazing, and at times, distracting. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. [The photos aren’t great — hard to shoot through double-pane energy-efficient windows with a reflective coating. Still …]
One hot summer day, this garden snail decided the best course of action was to climb up the cool glass of the front door. This turned out to be a bad life choice. So too was the laying of eggs somewhere on the front porch. The dozens of hatchlings with their dark spiral shells struggled a few feet before the hot concrete boiled the life from them.
It is a moment of pathos. We have not been able to bring ourselves to remove it.
The continued quest to take decent bird pictures meant a stop by the pond on the way to work on Feb. 7. The buffleheads were sailing around in the mist and the sunrise was glowing coral. Rolled down the roadster window to snap a couple of frames and then continued the morning commute. Not until this morning when the shots were downloaded did something else appear — white head and tail feathers at the far side of the lake. We’d seen the Ferndale eagle around New Year’s Day flying straight over the house, with no camera in hand, and wondered if we’d see him again.
As noted in the previous post, we’re tough on our tools. Aside from cameras, our keyboards are relentlessly hammered. And not that we have anything against “e.” Quite the contrary, “e” gets used plenty (abusively?) during the the writing hundreds of news and feature stories and thousands of emails in the course of a year. Below are the craters in the Mac and the laptop keyboards. (A, I, O,S and period seem to have gathered significant wear as well, at least on the laptop. R, F, and D are showing some wear below.)
Reached a landmark this week … on Feb. 1, the shutter on the little Sony clicked off its 10,000th image. Since unwrapping it Christmas 2009, the little camera-that-could has withstood cold, rain, heat and dust to shoot family gatherings, professional development meetings, fencing tournaments, crops, horse shows, food, small wonders of nature and all manner of feature story illustrations.
No. 10,000 was this dreamlike frame below (read: handheld and out of focus), a sunset with fog in the valley below taking the color of the sky.
Sadly, this was the week we also discovered that time and use had taken its toll. The flash no longer works.