Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why a Duck

It is snowing yet again today, as this shortest of months crawls by. Trying to find some cheer, here are some recent lovely frost flowers from one of those below-zero nights we are still having. But if yours are this pretty, you might want to consider new windows.

Earlier this month, like a breath of fresh (spring?) air, near sunset at Centennial Beach the temps were still in the mid-forties. There was a super-low tide and many seagulls paddling about, no doubt happy not to be hunkered down in a windchill, as was I.

There has been alot of bird activity over the past few weeks, especially at the bird feeders of a friend's home on the backshore. The variety that came by for me included a piliated woodpecker, some goldfinches in their drabber winter coats, sparrows and chickadees and a spectacular northern flicker. Only the hairy woodpecker (I'm guessing from the description in my Sibley's) sat still long enough for the photo while he was enthusiastically concentrating on the suet.

There seems to be alot more action at the feeders when heavy weather is coming, so perhaps birds are the better predictors for us of what's ahead. My guide Maine Birds says that birds in winter - especially the small ones - must eat continually and that the snowy days make it all that much harder for them. Therefore, the popularity at the seed bar and the birds lack of surprise when the snow starts. I'm still waiting to hear more varied birdsong at dawn, but the crows are still the solitary singers (or rather squawkers) for my mornings. The summer visitors start migrating in during March, so that will slowly start to change soon.

Why a duck? Why not. From the sublminity of the feeder, comes this fairly ridiculous interaction with a mallard who was met walking calming down the middle of New Island Avenue. He was unfazed by being accompanied, qwacked a bit in a talking-to-yourself kind of way, and did not appear injured or unable for fly. It seemed he was just out for a stroll, although I was stumped as to why he was there - food? boredom? Next day there were two drakes and a hen, all waddling along the same street, all looking fine. I read up that they do eat birdseed, so perhaps they heard about the feeder on the duck hotline and were headed up there themselves.

With this most unloved of months nearly over and so few signs of warmer weather to come, I need a reminder that blooming things will again be on my horizon In the interim, here's something lovely to focus on, a big juicy Valentine's floribunda. Spring - even a Maine spring - is three weeks away.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Here at last!

I live on an island in Maine, with all the iconic images that tends to conjure up. A Maine humorist has said that, in light of our image, our "brand recognition" if you will, all vacation shots here must include a lighthouse, a lobster and a moose. Getting all three in one shot would get extra points back home I would think. I've done the first two, but have seen only mink, not moose, out here. My intention in doing this blog is not to write about the islanders - this has already been done superbly by others (I'll give you the links on the next posting)- but the island itself. It's a bit of real estate with a sense of it's own place. I am fascinated that despite the changes of structures, people and fashion Peaks itself remains essentially the same. There are some fine illustrated books on the natural world here: an older one by Dick Baker on birds and wildflowers and a 2010 on wildflowers by islander Chuck Radis and his brother Rick. I recommend both (Peaks Island library has copies)as well as independant booksellers on Amazon.

I am expecting to give updates on what I see here as time passes. I don't expect it to be a nature study (I have no education for that!) but things passing throough or things passing by that caught my eye. I had wanted to start in spring and run through the seasons, but have obviously missed that time line by about 8 months, so will post 2009 and 2010 pictures and some new ones as the winter progresses (I hate snow, no so promises.) I have lots of photos up my sleeve, both on-island and off, on a variety of sights. A sample include those iconic lighthouses et al mentioned earlier, but too many sunset shots can make you crazy.(I read that Flickr has over 8 million and counting.)

I've been working alot with flower macros such as this fabulous amaryllis which bloomed this past November. She gave me some pretty chi-chi red when I was needing a fix for the greys and browns we all crave in that month. She has appeared in shows both here and in Portland.

"Lady in Red"

It's Maine in January so don't forget your woolies! (Common Ground Fair, 2009)