Monday, December 31, 2007

Gary and Kathleen at Bryce Canyon

Kathleen sent me a few pics of their venture into the Bryce Canyon. The trek to the bottom of the canyon is one mile. The terrain is very steep, icy and they fell a few times, but they are OK. The weather was cold in the 30s, but a beautiful descent and climb of the canyon. I hear the beer is pretty lousy, 3.2.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Starry Starry Night on Cooley Lake

As nightfall concluded Gary & Kathleen's day of departure, the Christmas lights from across the lake illuminated the pristine snowy landscape. Gary & Kathleen were able to get out of Dodge before the roads became treacherous for RV driving.

Gary & Kathleen's Discovery Tour

We bid a fond farewell to our dear friends Gary & Kathleen, as they depart on their tour of America and Mexico. Best Friends in Utah, will be the recipients of their kind hearts and skill with rehabilitating animals. We will miss their friendship, but they are needed out West, and we wish them our very best on their journey.

We will leave the light on for them at the campground, and the free 20 amp hook-up is ready and waiting. Like we said, camping available with magnificent view of Cooley Lake, space for one very large RV, and free electricity and water. One bonus, there is always food, beer and wine in the camp store free for the asking.

See You In The Spring!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two More Birds to Add to My Life List

On Sunday afternoon, with temps in the 40s, I decided to brave the cold winds of November, and visit Robert Long Park in Commerce Twp., MI.
I have been hearing of great birds to be seen at this gem of a nature park right in my town. I took the short drive, and was not disappointed in my mission to add birds to my life list.

Using my Nikon binoculars, I was able to identify a Northern Shoveler and an American Wigeon.
What a personal thrill to see birds that one has never encountered before in the area lakes. Also present were Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Mute Swans, Mallards, Ring Neck Ducks, a Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfishers, Killdeer, Downy Woodpeckers and hundreds of Herring Gulls.

A great day to walk in the woods, add birds to your life list and spent the day with nature's creatures.

There's a New Bird In Town

The magnificent Cooper's Hawk has dropped by for a brief visit, and possibly a meal. On this occasion, this bird was not successful in his hunt, but a few days later I went outside to refill the feeders, and found the tell tale signs of a successful hunt. There was a neat circular pile of plucked Mourning Dove feathers. I felt an immediate sense of sadness for the dove, but also know that the Cooper has to eat too.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Just Dropping By For A Quick Meal.

This tiny female Red Breasted Nuthatch was teasing me with her presence at my birdfeeder. The birdfeeder is placed just outside my kitchen window, and in her curiosity, kept staring at me as she was gathering seeds in her bill. This little moment went on for about 10 minutes. Not to waste an opportunity for a photo of a posing bird, I captured a few photos of this little dynamo as she went about her daily business of cacheing seeds.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pine Siskins Have Arrived - A Life species for me.

A flock of 8 Pine Siskins arrived in my backyard this morning. The flock found my thistle feeder just minutes after I refilled it with seed.

I have been reading about sightings of Pine Siskins in southeast Michigan. I have never seen them in my backyard.

They were joined by one of my resident male American Goldfinches in his winter plumage.

I have never seen a Pine Siskin before, so this is a very special event for this thrilled birder. This is a bird I can add to my life list. A "life list" is a recorded list of birds a birdwatcher has seen in the wild.

To mark this event, I stepped out onto the backyard deck to take this photo, and was allowed to get within 20 ft. of the feeder. After their feed, the Pine Siskins flew deep into the pine tree. I listened to their unique call and will remember it for future reference when I am out in the pines in search of the elusive Pine Siskin. What a thrill for this birder!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Definite Chill In The Air

Sunday morning brought the first hard frost of the season to southeast Michigan. This has been a very mild autumn thus far, with temps in 90s as of a few weeks ago, and summer flowers still in lush bloom.
This morning was decidedly different - more like autumn. The temps were in the 30s, and frost was definitely in the air. Our house top roofs were silvery white, and the grass had a shimmering silver cast to the blades. It was a beautiful sight. The few leaves that have fallen were preserved in visible frost crystals. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I thought I would hang out here and eat!

This Red Bellied Woodpecker stopped by for a bite to eat on my suet cake feeder. This was shot through a window standing about 6 feet away from the suet holder. I used my Canon 20D with a Tamron 70-300 mm lens.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Whitetails in Michigan

A recent visit to a family member's home brought us to an encounter with Michigan Whitetail Deer.

I created this scrapbook page as a dedication to these tame deer who let us get so close, pet them, yet kept their distance.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak at feeder

This stunningly beautiful male Rose Breasted Grosbeak stopped by the feeder in May of '06 for a quick refueling on his migratory route. His mate was a little more shy about coming to the feeder. This bird stayed around for a few days and then disappeared. I was lucky to get these photos since they are here for such a short time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Handmade by Me - A Garden Journal

I created this garden journal to document my backyard garden observations.
This was once a children's composition book that I decorated with paper weaving, rubber stamping, water brush coloring techniques and liquid glaze to enhance the decorative elements.
Copyright - Close To My Heart

Michigan Backyard Bird Photos

Here is a sampling of the birds that visited this afternoon. A beautiful sunset photo to close a great birding day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Scrapbook Necklaces by Janet

I made these mini-scrapbook necklaces at a recent workshop. I used 1-1/2 inch photos on 2 x 2 scrapbook pages inserted to 2 x 2 glass frame. Miniaturized scrapbook pages are constructed just like the large 8-1/2 x 11, and 12 x 12 pages, only tiny so you can insert them into these frames. You can wear these, or hang them on your refrigerator with magnets or whatever suits your fancy.

Fall Themed Greeting Cards by Janet

Copyright - Close To My Heart
A Fall Birthday Card.
Copyright - Close To My Heart

Fall Themed Greeting Cards by Janet

Here are a few of my greetings cards that I share with friends.

Copyright - Close To My Heart

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red Breasted Nuthatches ..... Everywhere!

In my backyard, suddenly I have a few new winter migrants who have chosen my backyard as their favorite, and, hopefully, winter feeding grounds. It all started with some fellow birding people mentioning them appearing in SE Michigan. This started about a month ago. I went listening for them, because listening is easier at first than looking for them. Just ask any birder. Listen first and then look. Well to my delight and surprise, my backyard has been chosen as a favorite feeding spot for this group of winged travelers. I have at least two Red Breasted Nuthatches, and possibly more. When they start chattering to one another, it is hard distinguish how many there are making their cute nasal "yank... yank" sound. These birds are tiny, and very quick to grab a seed and fly off to God knows where to store his stash. These birds compete with the White Breasted variety, and all of the other much larger birds at the feeder. They are very bold and very comfortable with me in the backyard. They will let me walk within a few feet of the feeders to get a look at them. They are absolutely cute and beautiful little birds. I am so thrilled to have them as my temporary guests, and bring along some of your other friends from the north country - Purple Finches, Common Redpolls and a few Pine Siskins sure would be welcome in my backyard, too. Come on down, the weather is fine, and the food supply is a smorgasbord for your delight.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thoughts about a wonderful Chocolate Labrador Retriever

My dear Chip was bought as a Christmas gift for our daughter Sarah in 1998. Sarah wanted a more lively dog, and Chip came into our life. We also had a 12 year old Golden Retriever that was slowing down a bit, and we felt needed a companion. Chip was his companion for 2 years. Scotty did his job well, and showed Chip the yard, and how to go outside properly. Chip was housetrained in one day. This 6 week old puppy was housetrained in one day, and he let us know just how intellegent he would become as an adult dog. As it turned out, Chip became my dog. While he has always loved Sarah and always sleeps under her bed, he chose me as his human. That has not changed in 9 years together. He waits by the front window for me whenever I leave the house, and comes to the kitchen /garage entry door awaiting me with a big kiss and wag of the tail. Once I am home, he is at ease, and then becomes my shadow. I can't count the number of times I have tripped over him, tried to squeeze my feet between him and the sofa so I can put my feet on the floor, or just plain had to move him to get out of my way. This is his way of gently saying, I am watching over you, because I love you so much. As he is recovering from his paralysis, I will show him the same devotion and love he has shown me with his various funny antics and constancy. I will go out and assist him in the middle of a cool Michigan autumn night (while in my jammies), bathe him after a skunk spray, help him up the stairs when he barks, lift him when he needs a gentle lift, and feed him his special chicken to keep the pancreatitis away. He deserves all of this because that is what I will do for this dog that would do everything I have ever asked of him, and mostly because he chose me to be his human.Tomorrow, we start our physical therapy together. We will get that right leg strong again, and with continued prayers, he will live to run strong again. While he may show the wear and tear of his FCE's, we will enjoy our time together improving him to as much of his former self as possible. Perhaps, with his life preserver on, we can go for one last boat ride for the season before we pull the dock and store the boat for the season.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why I chose "Some birds aren't meant to be caged" as my blog title.

This blog title is an inspiration from my daughter, Sarah. She happens to cherish this line from the movie, Shawshank Redemption. Some birds aren't meant to be caged.....their feathers are too bright. Her insight into this title is what I wish to share with people; find beauty in everything around you, don't confine it or cage it, enjoy it and share it with others. Beautiful birds should fly free to show the world their beautiful bright feathers.

I dedicate this blog to the birds that are flying free in my backyard and who bring joy with their very presence. They are beautiful creatures to be observed and enjoyed.

I am the proud owner of a 9 year old Chocolate Labrador Retriever named Chip. He is a great retriever and loyal companion. He is always there with a doggie smile and a wag of his tail for me when I walk through the door. Nothing beats that tail!

My deepest affection is for my husband and our daughter. To them, I am most grateful. I dedicate this blog to them because they are my source of love, support and inspiration. They are my nest of comfort. I could not do this without them by my side giving me confidence and inspiration.