Wednesday, December 31, 2008
One of my favorite motivational quotes comes from Neal Donald Walsh: "Yet here is a secret of all Masters: keep choosing the same thing....over and over until your will is made manifest in your reality." And when the going gets tough, which is sometimes the moment before reaching the finish line, I recite this encouragement in my mind..."just keep chosing the same thing". And whatever project or activity I'm struggling with seems to finish itself!
I also recently came across a fun way to think of these goals. Artist Karen Winters refers to them as "the things I'm looking forward to in 2009"on her blog The Creative Journey. And since I began both my blog and a facebook page in 2008, I will celebrate the launching of these two activities and the coming year by posting a few of the things I'm looking forward to in 2009.
--sending out query letters to find an agent for my novel
--finishing the last few pages of a whooping crane coloring book project and zipping it off to my layout partner in this endeavor
--spending a week of watercolor practice with Ann K. Lindsay and art friends in New York
--visiting Cape May and enjoying nature in a few other new places
--spending more time painting watercolor landscapes and the birds I've photographed
--developing a notecard series (or two) of backyard birds
--spending more time in the outdoors, hiking, sketching, photographing, kayaking
--creating a handmade moleskin sketchbook and filling it with a year's observations, stories and sketches
--creating new ways to display and market my art!Okay, that's enough for now. I noticed there is a lot of playing on my list. Welcome 2009!
Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year with many things to look forward to!
Photo: Greater sandhill cranes flying to roost at the Hiwassee Island, Dayton, TN.
Art: "The Return", original watercolor by Vickie Henderson.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I would have missed this new visitor altogether, had I not been sitting in the chair that looks out on the feeder while talking with a friend on the phone. When the chickadees and titmice cleared out, this bird sat quietly for a long time, picking up sunflower seeds, dropping them, picking up another. Swallowing a few. Maybe the ones he dropped were empty shells?
When I hung up the phone, I picked up the camera and shot these images through the glass knowing that if I opened the door the opportunity would be lost. As it was, he only lingered a few minutes longer.
I would have never seen the bit of yellow on his wing without the photos, nor had the opportunity to really look at his unique beak which is so sharply pointed.
And even though my Peterson's doesn't show white wing stripes, it was that bit of yellow on his wing that steered me toward the pine siskins. Would love to hear your comments.
I sometimes wonder why its so much fun to see a new bird. But it is! I've just started a new feeder list!
Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #18 at Birdfreak.com to support the conservation of our world's birds.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Cornell says this species mates for life and the pair stays on territory together year around in the southeast. "Loud" was another description offered, which is short but accurate for the "teakettle-teakettle" song the male belts out. And if I were going to add another it would be "persistent". One captive bird was reported to have sung 3000 songs in one day. And did I mention sweet? Isn't the image below one of the sweetest?!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #17 at Birdfreak.com to celebrate the conservation of our world's birds.
Friday, December 19, 2008
For the past three days we've been deluged with rain, soaking rain. But on this overcast day the wind took center stage, ebbing and flowing, sometimes whispering for an instant, then roaring through the tree limbs like an ocean tide. You can feel the air changing. We have colder temps promised and snow in the forecast, so I went out to get some bird feeding supplies. More on that later.It was also a perfect morning to play with paints. Over the past week, I have sketched the golden-crowned kinglet that I photographed in my yard. The nice thing about drawing is you don't have to have a perfect image, just a good reference for shapes and habitat. And while I sketched, I rediscovered how much I enjoy drawing. I forget sometimes when I'm away from it and then I reconnect with what keeps me coming back to it over and over again.
I used my sketchbook to get an idea of the values and colors I wanted to use, to see where I want to place the darks and lights. I tried different mixes of colors, too, so that when I begin on my watercolor paper, I'm warmed up and have a better idea of where I'm going. This is a second sketch of the kinglet on watercolor paper taped to a backboard and ready to paint.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
To be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly what a blog meme was until I was tagged with this one. So, I checked it out. And I realized after reading Alan and Kyle’s memes how I appreciated having this brief glimpse into their lives. So here goes with six of my own little-knowns.
1) My most intimate experience in nature happened during a visit to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains several springs ago. Initially, venturing into wild places alone was intimidating for me. But in Cades Cove you are not exactly alone! When I came upon a “bear crowd” I pulled over to discover there was a sow high in the tulip poplar who had stashed three cubs on the hill side behind a log. When she came down, I watched her from a safe distance. And when she laid down to nurse her cubs right in front of me, I could not have been more breathless!
2) I took my first flight in an ultralight aircraft on impulse with a perfect stranger at a festival in 2002, forgetting momentarily that I’m afraid of heights. (Yes, my mind was on the magic of whooping crane migration.) But when the aircraft leveled out and I saw the distance to the ground, about 500 ft, I had my first full blown panic attack. Luckily I managed to conceal it and not terrify the pilot as well, and when we landed safely, I was elated with the whole experience. I went on to take ultralight pilot lessons.
3) I learned to ride horses when I was five and will always love them. During a period of owning my own, I helped my mare give birth to her first foal and later milked her when the foal couldn’t nurse. It was like hand-milking a cow only it was a horse. She was in so much discomfort, she seemed to understand. This saved the valuable colostrum, the “first milk” that protects the foal from disease and infection and provides vital energy. The vet arrived to tube feed the baby the next morning and by the end of the day the foal perked up and life settled into a normal routine.
4) I hate to shop. It doesn’t matter what kind of shopping. Either coffee or toilet paper will eventually get me to the grocery.
5) I love to dance. Jazzercise is my main way of expressing that energy. It keeps me fit, makes me laugh and gives me my dance fix during the week. As an added bonus, it’s another great community! 6) A novel that I began writing ten years ago and finished earlier this year, has changed my life, giving me the courage to try many new things. In fact, it was while researching a novel character that I went out in the field with a wildlife photographer and discovered this intimate way of relating to nature. The work of getting the novel published is my main goal in 2009.
That's me holding a golden eaglet in Wyoming in 2000. What a joy! Photo by Bruce Anderson, TWRA.
Here are the rules to the Six Random Facts Meme:
1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog.
3) Write six random things about yourself.
4) Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Here are my six tags: 1. The Northwest Nature Nut, 2. Michele at Creative Freedom Photography, 3. Mick at Sandy Straits and Beyond 4. Toni at A Spattering, 5. Monika at Orca Watcher, 6. Shelly at Birding in Michigan.
I hope there are no repeat tags here. And of course, the meme is completely optional. I tagged some friends whose blogs I particularly enjoy. So pay them a visit when you have a chance. And enjoy the season!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Just last month I saw my first ruby-crowned kinglet. And this golden-crowned was another big surprise. It happened during one of those times you have a million things to do indoors and despite it all, you have to take a break and get outside. When I do this, I'm never disappointed. And this cutie was on the move! I could hear her "see-see" call but it took some concentrated effort to locate her. Even when I knew where she was, much of the time she was obscured by pine needles.
Her quickness made for many non-descript tail shots as she flipped about and the end result was these unclear images. But they were enough for me to identify a new bird for me. Below, a chance crown shot.
I love that bright yellow crown!
I assume this is a female unless their plumage changes in the winter. Anyone with more knowledge of this species, feel free to chime in.
Backyard fun! Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #16 at Birdfreak.com to help promote the conservation of our world's birds!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Painting: "Peaceful Morning", 29" x 21" original watercolor by Vickie Henderson, 2004.
Monday, December 8, 2008
The situation gave me pause. I had a five hour drive ahead of me but could I pass up this opportunity to at least see if I could find him? I put everything on hold, retrieved my camera from the car and began scanning the nearby hardwoods. And my efforts were rewarded.Aided by his calls and movement, I located him on a long horizontal limb, well out of range of my 300 mm lens, but not so far that I can't give you some soft images of this beautiful bird, the largest of our local woodpeckers, measuring 16-19 inches with a wingspan of 26-30 inches. There was enough detail in the images for me to make out the red in his black mustache stripe and you can see his red forehead, both of which distinguish him from the females who have a dark forehead and no red in their mustache.
I could see wood chips flying as I watched through the lens, but this was not so easy to capture. His movements were not the lingering, steady pounding of the sapsucker but rather quick jabs intermixed with scooting, so that my only chance of capturing him were his moments of pause. He moved around the limb with agility and hung beneath it working with the same ease as he hammered it from above. According to Cornell, the pileated woodpecker makes deep rectangular shaped excavations and often pries off slivers of wood to uncover ants.
As I stood photographing him, I heard an exchange of calls and when he took flight, another pileated woodpecker followed him. It was a treat to see his wing span, the white feathers beneath his wings and his long slender neck as he held his head upright in flight.
Whether this was our resident male and his mate, I can only speculate. Pileated woodpeckers maintain a strong pair bond and live on territory in TN year-round. But we also have many visitors that winter over or pass through and residents are said to tolerate the presence of a few visitors in their territory during wintering months.
As Richard flew over the viewers, his trike's passenger pod rocked in the wind beneath the wing which makes for a very rough ride and impossible conditions for flying with birds.
Above you can see the viewing site in Hardin Co. with some of the viewers gathered in Sunday's early morning cold. Below Liz Conde answers questions as we wait for the final decision.
For the Love of It...