Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Catching The Breeze

Catching The Breeze by JKissnHug
Catching The Breeze, a photo by JKissnHug on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
This young Red-winged Blackbird seemed to enjoy the breezy day at Kensington Metropark. He/she would land on the railing of Wildwing Boardwalk, feel a gust of wind, spread it's wings and fly up into the air. This was happened a few feet before me and I got a front row seat watching this new bird take to the sky on it's new wings.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Widow Skimmer - Male

Widow Skimmer - Male by JKissnHug
Widow Skimmer - Male, a photo by JKissnHug on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
I love the intricate lacy details of the Widow Skimmer dragonfly. This is nature at her finest, when she designed the wings on this magnificent dragonfly.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy 22nd Birthday, Sarah

Happy 22nd Birthday, Sarah by JKissnHug
Happy 22nd Birthday, Sarah, a photo by JKissnHug on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Our daughter Sarah, is celebrating her 22nd birthday, today. She happens to love pandas, so she got her wish for a panda themed birthday cake. Kung Fu Panda rules.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sissy Keeping Watch Over Cocoa

Via Flickr:
Sissy was very sweet throughout the photoshoot. Sissy was very tolerant of us as we watched and admired this gorgeous foal she delivered earlier in the day. Sissy would voice a low sound to her foal, communicating her presence and nurturing reassurance.

The other horses on the farm, knew something was going on in the barn. They sensed a foal was born. The horses kept coming to the barn door wanting to come in and see the foal. One horse was allowed to come in and eat in it's stall, and then was returned to the corral. Sissy was getting a little anxious with the horses nearing the barn door.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Warm Breezes & Boat Rides

Warm Breezes & Boat Rides by JKissnHug
Warm Breezes & Boat Rides, a photo by JKissnHug on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Another picture perfect day on Cooley Lake, topped off by this calming sunset. I took my dog Holly, a Chocolate Labrador.Retriever, out for some fun on the lake. I threw a portion of a 30 ft. training leash into the water and she readily retrieved it. She really likes retrieving ropes and leashes and bringing them back to me. She isn't much of a ball retriever, but she loves retrieving ropes, sticks, leashes and things that float. Last year, she was very timid about jumping into the water from the end of the dock, but after a few tries this evening, she was jumping without much hesitation.

What a lovely way to end the day, some play time with my Holly, enjoying the warm breezes and people out for a sunset boat ride.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Boisterous Bobolink

Boisterous Bobolink by JKissnHug
Boisterous Bobolink, a photo by JKissnHug on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
We hiked around Wetzel State Recreation Area, enjoying the chipping song of the abundant Savannah Sparrows, discovered a Marsh Wren (lifer) singing his gurgling song in the pond reeds, marveled at the Forster's Terns diving acrobatic flights and were greeted by a boisterous Bobolink upon entering his chosen habitat.

We spent a long time watching this male Bobolink putting on a display of song and distracting flight to hold our attention away from a female Bobolink and nestlings a few yards away in the high grassland. She made a brief appearance with a dragonfly in her mouth and a quick diving flight into her nest area. She peaked out a few more times from the high grasses to watch us, watching her. What a delightful encounter with the Bobolink pair at Wetzel State Recreation Area.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bobolink - Male

Bobolink - Male by JKissnHug
Bobolink - Male, a photo by JKissnHug on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
I went to a new state park this morning with my birding friends, Dr. Bob & Judy Setzer. We were in search of Bobolinks and anything interesting in the marshy / grassland habitat in eastern Macomb County. Upon entering the trails, we were greeted with the buoyant song of the abundant Yellow Warblers. We then encountered a few dozen Savannah Sparrows feeding in the grasslands adjacent to the pond. We soon turned our attention to finding the Bobolink, once we got to their chosen habitat. We were not to be denied, after a few minutes of listening and searching, a male Bobolink appeared, putting on a display of music and aerial flight displays. After a short walk, we found his mate, busily gathering up captured insects she dutifully returned to her nestlings for a nutritious meal.

The handsome Bobolink male putting on a display of song and bird dance to keep us distracted away from the nearby nest.

Taken at Wetzel State Recreation Area - Macomb County, Michigan.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How I Became A Birder

My journey as a birder began quite unexpectedly when I was a 10 year old, leaving home and going away to summer camp. I was going to a place I was unfamiliar with and my emotions were brimming with apprehension and excitement. I was leaving the suburban concrete environment of Ferndale, Michigan to experience the sandy beach and cool refreshing waters of Lake Huron. This was a vacation meant just for kids, and secretly one for my parents. Though they never did admit to enjoying the peace and quiet of my being away for those two weeks.

In July of 1969, the world was transfixed with the impending Apollo 11 Moon Launch and the giddiness of astronauts walking on the moon. I was excited, and so were my parents, friends and neighbors. All I could think about was the moon and going away to camp. Little did I know, I was about to be introduced to nature and birds in a way that would change my life forever. Camp Stapleton would set the stage for a life long fascination with birds. I would see birds from a new perspective and fall in love with their ability to fly free above the treetops and come down to earth at a moment's turn. Men were flying to the moon on a rocket and I was learning to appreciate winged creatures through the eyes of that curious 10 year old's perspective.

The first stop was in Detroit, where hundreds of kids gathered from the area to embark on a bus trip to Camp Stapleton on the shores of Lake Huron in the harbor town of Lexington, Michigan.  Everything was new to me, a bus trip, meeting kids from all over southeast Michigan and seeing a Great Lake for the first time. There was much to anticipate and take in as we began our drive north to Camp Stapleton.      

The journey was long, hot and tiring as the kids sang the customary camp songs and felt every road imperfection that bus encountered. All I could think of  was getting off that bus and seeing that big blue Lake Huron, I was hungry, too. We arrived at camp where we met our counselors, were assigned our cabins and were introduced to our fellow campers. I was assigned to Cabin Seven, and that is where my fascination began.

The cabin had double bunks and rustic accommodations very typical of a camp setting. I thought it was the neatest thing, having sleepovers with a dozen other girls my age and time to go exploring the outdoors.  As a kid from Ferndale, experiencing the outdoors, playing in a big lake with a vast shoreline of sandy beach was a dream come true. I would be out of the city for two weeks. I would be see birds and mammals I had never seen before. Cabin Seven would be my home for the next two glorious weeks.

Cabin Seven's porch rafters was also the home for a pair of Barn Swallows. We filed in single file to our cabin, putting our sleeping bags and packed clothing in our assigned places. We gathered outside for a snack of freshly baked oatmeal cookies and milk as we introduced ourselves and relaxed after a long bus ride. As I walked out on the cabin porch I heard chattering coming directly from above my head. I looked up and saw a Barn Swallow. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes again and again as I caught a glimpse of these noisy birds building a muddy nest clinging to the wall of our cabin. I became a birder at that very moment. I could think of little else, but to watch these darling creatures making a racket outside our cabin door. Every morning, we would be greeted by this pair of Barn Swallows building a nest for the next generation of swallows. I was smitten, overjoyed and captivated with these iridescent blue and rust feathered birds working for hours and hours building a nest for their young. At camp, all I wanted to do was to watch these noisy and cheerful birds who sang bubbling melodies and performed aerial acrobatic flights with ease and graceful precision.       

Rugged Sandy Beach of Lake Huron, Lexington, Michigan

The Architect

Pine Needles & Wet Mud For Sculpting
Barn Swallow Sculpting The Nest
Adding More Mud

Barn Swallow Fledgling

Those two glorious weeks brought many adventures of swimming in the cold waters of Lake Huron, campfires at night, nature hikes along M-25 to the local roadside park, pot holder weaving, popsicle stick sculptures and countless hours watching those birds who chose my cabin as their summer home.

Lake Huron Roadside Park Overlook - Port Sanilac, Michigan

I would leave that camp after two weeks, and say goodbye to those Barn Swallows and the experience of a lifetime. That day, I wished I would see those birds again and feel that same wonderment of summer camp in 1969. I would, because, I became a birder that summer and have had my eyes on the sky ever since. Not a day goes by where I don't notice a bird and watch with admiration at their life on the wing. The best birding day of the year, is the day I spot my first Barn Swallow of the spring season.

What my future would hold for me would be even more remarkable, for my husband shared that same shoreline in 1969, and spent his summers at the family cottage a mere five miles or so up the shore from Camp Stapleton on Lake Huron. Today, as I visit the Port Sanilac family cottage, and drive by Camp Stapleton, I think of those Barn Swallows and wonder if the descendants of those same birds captivate new campers the same way they did for me, so many summers ago. I thank the Barn Swallow for transforming me into a birder. I am a Birder and forever grateful.

Barn Swallow Fledgling Being Fed A Large Insect