Monday, May 7, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • Reflections

WOW! Where to begin!?

First I want to start, exactly where I ended on my final A-Z post, which is to say THANK YOU again to all the folks who visited and commented.  Over the weekend, I reread all the comments from April while I was putting everyone's 'names in a hat' for the earrings drawing I held. It was absolutely wonderful to hear from old friends and make new friends while I posted each day.  A huge shout out to Christine, of One Kiss Creations, and Birgit, of BB Creations, who commented on EVERY post!   There were many others who commented often, and some who commented a little, and some who commented once. Whether it was a little or a lot, every comment meant the world to me.  So THANK YOU AGAIN!

Now with that said, I must admit/confess, that I was absolutely terrible about responding to everyone's wonderful comments, checking out other A-Z Bloggers, and keeping up with my 'regular' blogs that I follow. My excuse? Well, my excuse is I'm generally bad at that anyway. But at the beginning of the month, the company I work for opened a fourth restaurant so I can report with confidence, I was extra busy!  I'm sure I logged enough photos at work in the first two weeks of April to do another A-Z with food & beverage as the subject, like I did back in 2016!

This year's A-Z was definitely one of my favorites.  Come to find out, I REALLY enjoy talking about birds and sharing photos and anecdotes from my sightings and observations.  And during the month of April and in this past week since its conclusion, many more fun birding moments occurred.  So naturally, this A-Z "Reflections" post will leave you with a few more photos and anecdotes!

During the opening of said restaurant, specifically on the day of the letter 'F', I was at work while guests for one our VIP soft openings were beginning to pour in.  It had snowed that day, because well, what else does it do on April 6 in New England!?  Anyway, the snow ended, and the sun was coming out and I glanced out into the parking lot and was floored to see a huge flock of cedar waxwings in a tree in the parking lot!

From afar, I watched them swooping down to the bushes below, which I realized were juniper bushes, and finally I said to one of my colleagues, "I'll be back in 10 minutes, I need to go see these beauties up close."  And I marched over to the other side of the parking lot and enjoyed a few minutes with them!

As I mentioned during the letter "M", I have been observing a great horned owl nest near my house.  These owlets have been growing SO fast and as of Saturday, one of them has fledged, and I"m sure the siblings aren't far behind.

AND in the last two weeks with spring migration barely getting started, I have already clocked THREE life birds! (As mentioned in the letter "I", "life birds", or "lifer" is a term birders use to describe a bird they've seen for the first time in their life!)

The blue-gray gnatcatcher:

The blue-headed vireo:

And my favorite lifer since last year's indigo bunting, is a bird I didn't even know I wanted to see, but took my breath away when I observed it last week, the norther parula! Isn't he a beaut!?  His song wasn't too shabby either!

Finally - it is time to announce the winner of the A-Z drawing.  I entered all the names into a tool on Random Name Picker and on line tool.  I entered a name for every time a person commented, so it is not surprising that with 26 entries, Birgit's name was drawn!  Congratulations Birgit! Birgit was also an A-Z participant.  She is a movie aficionado and a creator of handmade cards.  Go on over and check out her blog: BB Creations!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • Z • Zonotrichia Alibicollias

When I was blogging about sparrows for the letter S, I omitted a certain species for a very important reason.  That reason is because the Latin name of this sparrow begins with Z!  Z is for  Zonotrichia Alibicollias also known as the white throated sparrow.

I am very fond of the white throated sparrow.  I love its striking stripes and the contrast of its white throat.

They are a curious little bird and don't seem to mind posing for a photo now and again! Sometimes they even pose themselves in a bush full of berries in front of a vibrant blue sky!

I cannot believe the A-Z challenge has come to a close.  THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE who stopped by and took a moment to read my posts and gander at my photos.  I haven't had a chance to respond to all the comments, but believe me when I say, it was very meaningful to me every time I received a comment.

May 7 is the date for the "A-Z Reflections" post, and that is when I plan to announce the winner of the drawing for the seven pairs of earrings.  And for the final pair, here is a design by Gwen Fisher, called Ginko Leaf.  These are a really fun cubic right angle weave design!  Thanks to all the folks who commented during the A-Z challenge.  This is the final post to comment to be entered in a drawing to win seven pairs of earrings!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • Y • Yellowthroat

Y is for yellowthroat.  Though it is technically called the "common yellowthroat", I dropped the "common" because it is such a frequent prefix to bird names, and of course, this fits very well into the letter Y!

When I see a common yellowthroat at the beginning of the season, I say to myself am I in the jungle or central Massachusetts.  These birds have a tropical feel, perhaps that's because they spend most of the year in central America and only breed here in the US.  The male is striking with its bright yellow throat and black mask.

The female is a bit more bland, but her glowing yellow throat gives her away and lives up to her moniker.

Last year I had the luck and pleasure of viewing some fledged juvenile common yellow throats.  They were so cute with their scruffy feathers, giant gape and awkward stance!

Wow! I cannot believe this is the second to last day of the A-Z challenge!  I hope you will join me on Monday for the final letter, Z!

This earring design is from an old Bead & Button magazine and it was so easy I memorized it!  I believe it was called "Mosaic" and it is a variation of right angle weave.  As a reminder, I will hold a drawing of all the names who commented during the a-z challenge and the drawing winner will receive 7 pairs of earrings!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • X • aiX Sponsa

X is for "aiX Sponsa" ..... okay this is a little bit of a cheat, but there are only a few birds whose Latin name begin with "X" and not only have I never seen them, but they also aren't birds that visit or live in Massachusetts so they never even had a chance to be on my A-Z list.  So for "X" I am taking a little poetic license because when you say "aix sponsa" it sounds lie you are saying "x sponsa" so I stand by my bird choice for the letter x.

Now, without further ado, the aix sponsa is better known as a wood duck.  These are a magnificent specimen of water fowl, sporting such a handsome profile and rich colors.

You would think with this spectacular coloring it might be hard to blend in, but you can see from this photo of a male, and his less colorful mate, that they blend into their environment quite well if they need to.

This wood duck couple lives in the same pond that I view the osprey family, and the green heron family.  Honestly - could I be any luckier to have this opportunity to view such fun and gorgeous birds so frequently!?!?

And if you think just seeing the wood duck and his gal pal are lucky enough, hold onto your hats, because I'm about to deliver you, your daily dose of cuteness! I practically squealed with delight one morning when I approached the shoreline of this favorite pond and this mama wood duck and her babies scurried away!


I was lucky enough to observe these babies for a couple months over the summer.  The clutch size seemed to shrink a smidge as the summer wore on (there are also plenty of snapping turtles and river otters in that pond!), but it seemed that four - six of the wood duck hatchlings continued to thrive.

I am so excited that I have already see the wood duck couple a few times in the same pond this year, so I am crossing my fingers for another clutch this summer.

I hope you will join me for the letter Y tomorrow where there may or may not be some baby birds involved!

Today's challenge earrings are a simple choice, but sometimes less is more! I love using cultured sea glass (from ZnetShows) in my work, and these are such a gorgeous red. Don't forget to comment and you will be entered in a drawing for seven pairs of earrings!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • W • Wren

W is for wren.

Wrens are sweet little birds with distinctive songs.  These birds flit about low bushes and grasses and are also distinguished by their long rectangular tails which is often standing up taller than the wren's head.  Their beaks are long and thin.

There are a few types of wrens that visit New England.  Here is a shot of the house wren that I viewed last summer on one of my regular hiking trails.

One thing I noticed immediately about this wren, was that it had no tail!

It's tail-less status didn't seem to impeded its flying or any other behavior.

A lovely visitor I had to my feeders this winter was this Carolina wren.  It seemed to only visit at dawn so I never had a chance to grab a snap in full light.

Finally, a bird that is somewhat elusive, is the marsh wren.  The marsh wren spends most of its time in the low grasses of a marsh belting out a distinctive song.  Occasionally it will pop up to the top of a reed or straddle some grasses, but if you blink you might miss it!  Here was the only snap I got of a marsh wren last year, though I heard many wrens singing, on a walk one day, through a marsh trail on the coast of Massachusetts!

Only three more days of the A-Z blogging challenge.  Please visit tomorrow for the letter X!

I seem to have a penchant for turquoise this month, as I was drawn to these turquoise Delicas and crystal to create these peyote triangles!  Please comment for a chance to win a week's worth of earrings.