My webpage (inc. awards, upcoming events, etc.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Carnival's Over

I rec'd an e-mail from Carnival Cruises regarding our impending trip today. They've offered to up the 5 day trip to 7 days at no additional cost, with stops in Nassau, Freeport & Key West. Unfortunately we were all about the Mayan ruins and the extra days conflict with our schedules, so we're opting for a new, 3rd choice; getting our money back. Perhaps we'll try again next Spring.
Instead we've booked 4 nights in a cabin at Roosevelt State Park in the Bienville Nat'l Forest in Mississippi (about a 3 hour drive away.) In anticipation of the cruise (before the swine flu outbreak,) I'd purchased a spare battery and two 4GB CF cards for my EOS Rebel DSLR, so I know I'm set for picture-taking, at any rate!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Painting

November II
Acrylic on 20x16" gallery-wrapped canvas

In this version of this painting, I used metallic gold paint in the yellow leaf, giving it a sheen that catches the light.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Are The Odds?

Back in early March, Charles & I booked a 5-day Western Caribbean trip on Carnival Cruise lines. We've been working hard & greatly looking forward to it since then. We "are" to depart on May 11th with stops in Progreso (with an excursion to the Mayan ruins at Uxmal,) & Cozumel. Yes, that's right...Mexico.
Due to swine flu concerns, Carnival announced today that all cruises departing between now and May 4th will have no stops in Mexican ports. I can appreciate that, but our cruise departs a week later, so where does that leave us? I dislike uncertainty, particularly when a good chunk of money & a real chance at desperately-needed relaxation is at stake.
I strongly suspect (as continues to be borne out by news reports,) that things are going to get worse before they get better. I strongly suspect our trip to the Mayan ruins is "off." Ultimately I still can't complain. We have our health (so far,) & Carnival is offering some reasonable alternatives for affected trips.
Life is still & always good, but it's hard to watch dreams dissipate into mist when they're SO CLOSE you can taste them...

(This photo of the Carnival Fantasy [pre-upgrades] in the Port of New Orleans isn't mine. Unfortunately I don't know who gets the credit.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Town Monday; Evening Hike at the Flatwoods & Etc. Bird News

I went for a hike at the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve after work the other day. It's about a mile from our house & is maintained & protected by The Nature Conservancy. Just as a rainforest couldn't live without rain, our pine forests couldn't live without fire. TNC goes through this area regularly & sets prescribed fires. I could see they'd done this area not too long ago;

Despite the recent burn (or perhaps because of it,) the yellow pitcher plants were everywhere.

I was also delighted to see a pair of brown-headed nuthatches, who rely on our pine forests as much as the forests rely on fire. Although we had a group of them around our house when we first moved here, they seem to have moved on over the past year--our sightings here are scarce now, at best. Listed on the Audubon WatchList, logging is decimating their numbers significantly.

A couple of obligatory sunset shots from the end of my hike;

In other news, our last chipping & white-throated sparrows are headed back north & a brown thrasher has been doing it's thing in our yard the past couple of days. These birds nest & feed on the ground & although we had a pair with 3 chicks last year, the floods caused by Hurricane Gustav were the last we'd seen of them.

My Town Monday is the brainchild of Travis Erwin.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yet ANOTHER Avian Arrival

Blue grosbeak. We had one of these around (briefly) last year as well. It's nice living in the middle of the Mississippi Flyway!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Avian Arrival

I was delighted today to see a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks out back. They first showed up last year, but only stayed for a couple of days, so I didn't get good photos of them. Here's hoping they'll stick around longer this time around!

Update, later this afternoon; 3 male rose-breasted grosbeaks out back (our current record.)


In other news, there's a 2nd pair of brown-headed cowbirds here this afternoon, as well (unfortunately.) Here's a picture of a male displaying for a female's attention;

Random Photos & Digi-Art

Tonight's sunset.

Created from a photo of reflections at a local marsh.

Caspian tern.

Created from a photo of an orchard spider.

White flower macro.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More Yard-Bird Photos & Some News

Common crow.

Chipping sparrow (left) & brown-headed cowbird. (The birdfeeder's roof was broken by raccoons in the 1st week it was up, btw.)

Indigo buntings (left) & red-headed woodpecker.

Female cardinal (left) & male red-bellied woodpecker.

Red-headed woodpecker. Unfortunately these are on Audubon's Watch List. There were 2 here today, so chances of seeing more chicks this year are pretty good.

Cardinal pair.

Some of the indigo buntings are still getting their bright blue breeding plumage in. You can see the pin feathers on this ragged-looking specimen.

I worked hard this weekend trying to get some decent shots of the hard-to-photograph white-throated sparrows. I finally got a few (but not many.) To my surprise, I actually saw 3 of these the other day (I've never seen more than two & usually have only seen one.)

In other bird news, it appears that a pair of Carolina wrens have nested in our shed again. Charles had to go in there today & caught a fluttering out of the corner of his eye. A year ago, yesterday, there were eggs in their nest in our tent. I don't want to disturb them unnecessarily, but will certainly post any photos here if I get any in the next couple of weeks.

Art Market and Another Avian Arrival (Updated)

Sat., April 18th I'll be vending at the Art for Madisonville market along the Tchefuncte River from 10am 'til 4pm. Hope to see you there!
(Update, Sat., 4/18/09, 11am; Although we woke early, got out there & started setting up, the strong winds blew my canopy right out of the ground 2x before the market even opened, so we packed it in & came home.)

This photo is of a red-headed woodpecker I saw out back the other day (last year a pair of them had at least one chick out here, so hopefully we'll have a repeat.) In other news, there were 17 indigo buntings here the other day, completely blowing away last year's record of 7.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Painting

Sunrise at the Falls
24"x12" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

Inspired by a photo of Niagara Falls taken at dawn on Mar. 24, 2002. Unseen in the digitized image is the effect of glossy varnish on the highlights in the water, which reflect light from whatever source is near.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Town Monday; Backyard Birds

For My Town Monday this week, I'm sharing a plethora of our recent backyard visitors (here in sleepy Abita Springs, Louisiana.) April seems to be a pretty full month for us, where birds are concerned...

Carolina wren.

Female red-bellied woodpecker (there are 2 males around, as well.)

Tufted titmouse.

Carolina chickadee.

White-throated sparrow. These are the hardest songbirds to photograph. They never come close to the house & they move quickly & a lot.

The last of our Wintering chipping sparrows. Dozens have dwindled to 3 & these will be headed back north any time now.

Indigo bunting. There were 10 here today (including one female,) blowing away last year's record of 7.

Northern cardinal. The most consistently prolific of "our" birds.

Blue jay. At least one of the local group can mimic a hawk quite well.

Common crows.

A pair of brown-headed cowbirds. These parasitic birds lay their eggs in other birds' nests.

We also have numerous mourning doves chasing each other around & fighting, although I haven't taken their pictures lately.

My Town Monday is the brainchild of Travis Erwin.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fontainebleau is Alive (Updated)

We went for another hike at Fontainebleau State Park today. Although it was overrun with campers & wiley children, there was still plenty to see (as usual, click for larger images.)

Great egrets.

Some type of water snake (not likely a cottonmouth, who's head is more distinct from its body than this one's was.)

Adult bald eagle & nest.

Juvenile bald eagle. (Update, Aug. 25, 2009; Published on the front page of the St. Tammany News Aug. 21, 2009.)

Great horned owl.

2 nutrias (who were doing a strange display, possibly related to mating.)

Caspian tern.

Red-winged blackbird.

Louisiana iris & a spotted cucumber beetle.

A juvenile gull of some sort.

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