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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shouts to the Blogroll, Pt. 3

(First, let me apologize for my sporatic blog visits lately [if applicable.] I've been so swamped with art business concerns lately that most of my own, recent posts were prescheduled long in advance!)

This episode of "Shouts to the Blogroll" features
some of my very talented writer-friends. Enjoy!

Razored Zen (my husband's blog)
8 Mile Love Graffiti (Eric's a wonderful poet)
An Innocent, A Blog (A Canadian)
Resonance Murphy (Lots of fun over there)
Cedar's Mountain (Always much to discuss)
Christina Rundle (I don't know how she does everything she does!)
Frankenstein 1959 (Never a dull moment)
Full Throttle and F**k It (Not just a writer, but a talented artist, as well)
JR's Thumbprints (Writing from prison class--as a teacher, not an inmate)
Michelle's Spell (Powerful words from a sweet woman)

In art news, yesterday I donated a bunch of photos to The Nature Conservancy for use in presentations, publications, etc. I've also been featured on Art of Day. Pop over for a gander!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some Random, Recent Shots

A red-shouldered hawk that was circling near the gas station I was refilling at.

Cloudless sulphur butterfly on false foxglove.

One of 3 turkey vultures.

American bird grasshopper. These things are HUGE (usually around 3-4" long.)

A dying cicada. (The Flatwoods are a LOT quieter these days.)

Common buckeye butterfly.

In other news, tomorrow the Bayou Lacombe Art Center fall show opens at the Heart Hospital in Lacombe, LA. See my facebook page (link box on my sidebar,) or my website (listed immediately below my title image,) for more information!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Jaunt to Fontainebleau

It'd been over 4 months since we'd been there, so a little while back Charles and I got up for a dawn hike at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA.

On our way into the park I was able to stop right along side this deer. I didn't dare get out of the car, however, so this was taken through my dusty windshield.

2 snowy egrets.

Family of common moorhens.

A hump in the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world's longest bridge (and the white dot of an egret in the distance.)

Mourning dove.

Mystery marsh flower (any help with an ID would be appreciated.)

Northern mockingbird.

Guttiation on a grape leaf. Thanks to Victor Engel for the info.

Red-headed woodpecker.

Mystery flowering plant in the marsh (IDs always welcome.)

Way off in the distance, a great blue heron.

A teensy, tiny American tree frog (our state amphibian.)

A juvenile moorhen (nowhere near the family group and much older than those chicks.)

Part of the boardwalk through the marsh.

Despite having arrived shortly after sunrise, it was far too hot and muggy to stay very long. Cooler weather is certainly on the way, however. Summer's humidity is dropping and our nightly lows are dipping into the 60s. I just learned about another new park that's opened in our area, so I look forward to getting out much more in the near future!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book Review; Birder's Conservation Handbook

Coming in at 452 pages, the Birder's Conservation Handbook, 100 North American Birds at Risk (by Jeffrey V. Wells,) is a weighty tome of valuable information. The large-format paperback is built to last, with a sturdy binding. I was provided this book by Princeton University Press, but this doesn't influence my review of this comprehensive and enlightening book.
It begins with a forward by John W. Fitzpatrick (Executive Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Past President of the American Ornithologist's Union,) and acknowledgements. After that are some short chapters on various subjects;
~ The scope and purpose of the book.
~ Birds as Indicators," which I found very informative. This portion also included a number of "citizen science" projects such as eBird (which I'm a member of, myself.)
~ The State of N. American Bird Populations explains a bit about the various endangered bird lists in existence and throws a bright spotlight on the extreme plight of Hawaiian birds, among other things.
~ Issues affecting N. American birds, from environmental concerns to incidental mortality.
~ "The State of Bird Conservation in North America and Beyond" goes into some history of bird problems and public reaction to them (i.e.; the rise of birding clubs, etc.) True to the section's name, information is also provided on Mexico, Canada, Latin America and the Carribean.
~ "What You Can Do" offers numerous ways for you to help the cause.
After that come the bird listings, themselves. Each listing contains the bird's name, an illustration of the bird, a map of their complete range, status and distribution information, ecology (i.e.; nesting habits, etc.,) threats, conservation action, conservation needs and references (which are found throughout the book actually, for those who want more information.)
There are 4 appendices after the listings, dealing with;
1. Birds on various endangered species lists,
2. Endangered and extinct Hawaiian species,
3. The Mexican gov't list of endangered species, and
4. Bird conservation agencies and organizations.
There's an index at the back of the book, for easy reference on various subjects.

Written in an easily-understood and straightforward style, even if you "know your stuff," I'm sure you'll learn plenty from this book (as I did.) Much of the information contained within may be hard to take, but it needs to be conveyed, nonetheless. It is both an extreme warning and a call to action that should be shouted from every mountaintop, across the swamps and grasslands and through the forests, towns, and cities. It would have been nice to have full color photos of the birds listed, but that probably would've made the price too prohibitive. Fortunately, in the Age of the Internet, full-color images are just a few clicks away. This book would make a great gift for birders and non-birders, alike. In a similar vein, if your local library doesn't have it, you may want to suggest that they order it for their collection.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Painting; Louisiana Iris

Louisiana Iris
24x18" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

Featuring Louisiana's state symbol (the fleur de lis,) state wildflower (the title & general subject,) and the colors of Mardi Gras (purple, green and gold.) Contact me for pricing information.

(Note; Sept. 15th is the 2nd anniversary of Rick Wright's death. He is still missed.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Romp at the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve

Charles and I went for another hike at the Flatwoods (it's so close to home--and so beautiful--who can resist?)

One of a few whirlygig beetles.

Horace's Duskywing.

Atlantic grasshopper.

A chrysallis under one of the boardwalk railings. From the look of it, I suspect gulf fritillary.

We sometimes see cottonmouths from this bridge over the Abita Creek. Nice to have that kind of access AND separation from them!

American beautyberries. So pretty!

A recent favorite of mine; a male blue dasher in obelisk posture.

The setting sun slanting through the trees. Due to the continuing heat in our area, we've typically been hiking around sunset.

Here ends the non-spider section of this post.

This female golden orb weaver had built a massive web all the way across the boardwalk. We crawled on hands and knees to get past it without disturbing it. Click on the picture for a larger and much better view!

In other news, after some correspondence with the local office of The Nature Conservancy (who manage the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve,) I agreed to let them use some of my photos in presentations, publications, etc.

In yet, other news, I've been strict on the migraine diet for about 20 days now. I'd almost kill for a single piece of chocolate, but I feel so much better and am not wobbling all over the place. The extreme restrictions are hard, for sure, but they're also definitely worth it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New State Park

A new park recently opened up about an hour from home; Bogue Chitto State Park. "Bogue Chitto" (the name of the river the park runs along and where my friend and I went tubing a couple of years back,) is Choctaw for "big creek." I've been just itching to go, although crowds have been large since it opened 2 weekends ago. Despite it being a holiday weekend, Charles and I went to check it out the other day. Admission for day use is a mere $1 per person. Who says our gov't doesn't sometimes get things right?

The park is sizeable and has a beach along the river for swimming, picnics or BBQ. The picture above is one of the funkier plants that grow in the beach area. Here's a wider shot of the river, itself;

(There was a great blue heron across the river just before I took this shot, but he flew away before I could get my camera up.)

The (noisy, crowded,) day use area (not shown,) has lots of splashy, water-based fountains and fun for the kids (and more BBQ pits.) We headed away from that, toward the hiking trails, where Charles spotted this small, American toad. In this area I also found a red-headed woodpecker's primary flight feather and we saw a prothonotary warbler.

There is "water, water everywhere" around this park, but here in S. Louisiana, that usually means gators, too.

See what I mean?

The river is beautifully clear. After checking out some of the upland trails, we went down to the boardwalk in the gorge.

Ebony jewelwing, a local damselfly (slightly different from dragonflies, although we saw plenty of those, as well.)

As temperatures increased, we appreciated the shade of the boardwalk. There's an area down here commonly known as "Frickes Cave," although that's a bit of a misnomer. Some people mistake the delicate sandstone spires for stalagmites, but the two are completely unrelated.

We didn't get down by Frickes Cave (where the spires stand a couple of feet tall,) but I did see some of the sandstone spire process not far from where I'd parked.

Summer azure butterfly (thanks to Ray Simpson for the ID.)

There were lots of people fishing (and lots of places to do it.) We didn't manage to explore the whole park--there are 7 miles of hiking trails (and 14 miles of equestrian trails,) after all--but we'll definitely go back to this beautiful area once things cool down a bit.

(Also, happy belated birthday to Roger Waters, who turned 67 on Sept. 6th.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Contest and Bird News

In an effort to further promote my art business, I'm running a contest of sorts. Every month I'll choose either a subscriber to the posts of my Eye Candy Visual Arts newsletter or someone who "likes" the Eye Candy Facebook page to receive (free) one of my 8x10" photos.* Details, terms and conditions can be seen at either of those sites.
Please spread the love--share this info with your friends!
(Note that people who "like" my Facebook page also get 10% off all purchases made on the "shop now" tab there.)

And now, a few shots from around the homestead...

Still plenty of "the regulars" around.

Blue jay, Carolina chickadee and a pair of Northern cardinals.

Carolina wren.

Tufted titmouse.

To my delight, I've seen a couple of brown-headed nuthatches lately. They were regulars here before Hurricane Gustav (even nesting along our driveway,) but they virtually disappeared after the storm. I love these little, endangered birds and am thrilled that they're returning to our yard.

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