Sunday, March 1, 2015

Common Loon

Yesterday was in the low forties with a tad nippy wind, but I drove my new 'route' past the Priest Dam. Looking south to the lake there was a flock of waterfowl floating in a V formation making their way to the farther reaches of the lake. I snapped a few quick shots to see if I could identify them in my software later. Turned out they were Redheaded Ducks and no, the images were not usable.

My goal was to drive to Hamilton Creek Recreation Area on Priest Lake which is about ten minutes further south. It was overcast with no evidence of much in the way of birds so I drove to the edge of the boat ramp for the best view. There was a pair of 'something' fishing in the lake far off but just close enough to capture an image. Much to my amazement as I checked the images in my software later, the pair were Common Loons. A life bird for me. Yippee!

After the Loons moved farther off, I drove over to another boat ramp and stopped. The Loons were pretty far away but I had my 300mm so I captured a few more images while, as luck would have it, the sun had peeked out between the cloud cover.

A quick note to everyone. I discovered that my post from earlier in the week on Bear Island turned out to be Goose Island. And Hermitage Island from several weeks ago, well that post was accurate. I can see this is going to be a challenge what with 38 islands situated on Priest Lake. I will persevere. Have a wonderful Sunday all. ENJOY!

Linking to Sunlit Sundays

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter, Goose Island

When I realized I was going to relocate to Nashville, I decided that I should try to find a place close to a natural area albeit a forest or a park. So I chose the east side of the city and ended up only a quick hop, skip and a jump from Percy Priest Lake. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a dam on the north side of the lake. And I have just discovered a map outlining 38 small islands that are situated thoughout Percy Priest Lake. The jury is out on whether the post I put up last week on Hermitage Lake is really Hermitage, as it could be another island name. It is hard to tell from the map.

That being said, on this bitterly cold visit to Percy Priest Lake I captured a few images of the snowy shores along Goose Island. Goose Island is situated far out into the lake south of the dam. There is actually primitive camping allowed on Goose Island. The sun was bright and the sky and water was a beautiful blue which did help considering how cold it was. Most of the gulls and ducks opposite the dam stayed hunkered down while I snapped photos.

As you can see there is are quite a few outdoor surfaces still covered in a thick layer of ice from the ice storm earlier in the week. There was an ice storm two years ago in Louisville that reminded me of this ice storm in Nashville. If you live in the Midwest or South, it's almost a given you will experience an ice storm every couple of years.

The sun would shine on icy surfaces leaving a shimmering sparkle effect. There were entire fields and woods still totally covered on my outing although some surfaces had melted and others were just starting to melt. As you may have noticed, my Spring header is up. For those of you who weren't here last year, it bears mentioning that each February, late in the month, I put up my Spring header. It is my personal afront against Winter. I am soldiering out Winter while ushering in Spring. Nothing would make me happier right now than to see Crocuses peeking up from their Winter's bed. ENJOY!

I revised this post as I discovered Bear Island is actually Goose Island and Hermitage from an earlier post is actually Hermitage.

Linking to Foodie Friday & Everything Else

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mud Hens

After a long week of icy, snowy weather with sub zero temperatures, it was time to get out for a quick trip over to Percy Priest Lake. I was only there for a few minutes, but did manage to snap a few close ups of the American Coot which inhabits the area. These birds are oftentimes called 'Mud Hens' and while most people believe they are ducks, they aren't. They are actually in a distinct order of birds called Rallidae.

Several Coots came up on the shoreline which allowed me a chance to view them up close. These birds are hard to photograph well in water as they have such dark bodies and jet black heads. Their dark red eyes blend right into their heads. The only distinct markings are their white beaks and strangely bright green legs and toes which are scaled and lobed so they can be folded back for walking on dry land. The males have a larger ruff on their head than females.

You will find Coots all over North America and even as far south as Panama. Coots live around wetlands and large bodies of water and prefer areas where the water is sluggish. They eat algae, aquatic plants, vertebrates and invertebrates. In other words, they eat almost everything.

These past few weeks the weather has been less than desirable here in Tennessee, however, I am holding out hope as I believe we have slightly warmer temperatures and some sun predicted for the upcoming week, and might I add no real major storms to speak of. I hope this finds you safe and warm and with fairer weather wherever you are. ENJOY!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter Blues

Winter I am done with you! 
Done with ice, sleet, freezing rain, snow, bitter cold, dark and dreary days. 
I am done with dry skin, slipping on sidewalks, sliding in the parking lot, scraping ice off car windows. 
I am done with wrapping my scarf tighter, putting the gloves on, taking the gloves off.
I am done with grabbing more logs for the fire, turning the thermostat up again, reaching for a fresh mug of hot coffee.

I know that most of you have had a much harsher Winter than I have had in Kentucky and Tennessee.
I know here the bitter cold cannot compare to that of the northern States, not to mention the Canadian Provinces. 
So forgive me for being done, but I simply can't take any more.

This week we had an inch of ice, the following day an inch of snow.
The following day the temperature dropped to sub zero whilst we attempted to dig out our lives. 
Then yesterday snow, sleet and freezing rain fell all within one evening's time. 
Today it is raining. A rain that brings icicles crashing to the ground.
A rain that makes for a dark and dreary Winter's day.
A rain that just will not stop and no doubt will bring with it flooding. 
One would expect on such a day to find Noah guiding the animals to the Ark 'two by two.'

I long for sunny days, bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds that slowly move across the sky.
I long for warm breezes that brush against my cheek and turns my frown into a smile.
I long for flowers in every shape, size and configuration on every walk, stroll or hike.
I long for Spring. 
And while I am longing for Winter to be done, I ask, are you with me? ENJOY!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter Jasmine

This past Sunday I spent a brief few minutes walking around Long Hunter State Park near the shore. As I walked over to the edge of a cliff to look out over Couchville Lake, I looked down and saw a plant covered in yellow blooms. That was a shocker considering it's February and the dead of Winter.

It didn't take long to identify the bloom when I did a search online. All I did was type in 'yellow blooms in Winter' and there it was. Yellow Jasmine blooms from November to March. A typically native plant to China, Yellow Jasmine can be found scattered throughout the lower southern states in the U.S. One of the states listed was Tennessee. If you had told me I would discover a flowering Jasmine plant in Winter here in Nashville, I wouldn't have believed it. But here it is. Amazing. ENJOY!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Long Hunter State Park

On Sunday I took a drive before the clouds and storm began to move in from the northwest. One of the places I paid a visit to briefly was Long Hunter State Park, about ten miles south of Percy Priest Dam. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are quite a few recreational areas, wildlife management areas and parks that are situated all up and down Percy Priest Lake.

Looking back across the lake in Long Hunter State Park, the shore reminded me a little of the shoreline in Acadia National Park. While not nearly as beautiful as Acadia, it was still a nice view. It was also the last of the sun I saw that day as the clouds moved in.

As I proceeded to get back in my car to leave the park, I stopped to watch a Cardinal sitting on a branch brightening up the landscape with his beautiful red feathers. But something else caught my eye near to the Cardinal. A Yellow Bellied Sapsucker was flitting all about the branches looking for sap dripping from the holes he had drilled earlier. I don't know how long it takes for sap to drip out at a good drip, but I am positive this woodpecker knows.

By the way, this is a life list bird for me. I had never seen a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker before. I had to look him up to confirm his identify. He hung out for a bit before heading deeper into the trees out of my view.

This week in Tennessee, including Nashville, we are in a State of Emergency. I had not been out on the streets since Sunday. Monday the ice storm dropped a half inch or more of ice on all of the outdoor surfaces. All day long it rained ice pellets. I cleaned my car of all of the ice yesterday late. Then last night it snowed an inch. I knew it was going to snow which is why I cleaned the ice off my car yesterday late. Today by the time I ventured out to the market the sun had melted most of the snow off of my car thankfully, not to mention the black ice on the roads. I went to the grocery and came right back home.

I am not willing to be out long as temps are falling all day today to reach below zero tonight which will refreeze all of the water on the roads. First ice, then snow and now bitter bitter cold. Not making for a productive week, and more ice and snow is predicted for Friday. I can't complain, however, as I am reminded by the new reports out of Boston of their 100 inches of snow. I should be grateful this week is probably the worst of Winter I will experience. I pray wherever you are, stay safe, warm and take care. ENJOY!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Percy Priest Lake

A mere hop, skip and a jump from my apartment in Nashville sits Percy Priest Dam. The dam is situated between mile six and seven of the Stones River. The reservoir and lake is so large it is situated within three counties in eastern Nashville. There are parks and wildlife management areas all up and down the reservoir and lake in all three counties. It's a pretty impressive area.

Today I drove over to the opposite side of the dam to Percy Priest Lake. Before you cross in front of the dam, you can park and look out over the lake to the south. This small island is Hermitage Island and couldn't be any bigger than a quarter acre all told. A few days prior I had taken a short road to the back side of the dam to watch the birds feeding. I want to go back there when its sunny and warmer.

Off to the left of Hermitage Island, the shoreline was busy with Gulls. I noticed a Northern Shoveler fishing for a meal in the water off shore.

Once you drive the road crossing in front of the dam there's a parking lot to the left. I pulled in and stopped to take a few images of the Sea Gulls there. I knew this was the last I would probably see of the sun today as a Winter storm is making its way into Nashville. We are expecting several inches of snow and possibly freezing rain.

I really can't complain about this Winter in Kentucky or Tennessee because we have had virtually no snow, but for two quickie storms that dropped a few inches, and just like that the snow was melted and gone. I am, however, ready for Spring to show itself. I promise to post more images of a state park I visited today later in the week. ENJOY!

Linking to Sunlit Sundays and The Scoop

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine Wishes

I wish for you and yours on this special 'day of love' a bouquet of beautiful red roses or perhaps a heart shaped box in bright red filled with sweet, yummy chocolate truffles. Or if you are a serious Valentine romantic, perhaps a romantic dinner for two at your favorite restaurant with a nice bottle of wine and a scrumptuous dessert to wrap it all up. Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spring Dreaming

It is Winter and there is no mistaking that. An cold blast of Arctic air is about to overtake the lower 48 and has already made itself well known in Canada and its Provinces. Many of the folks in the northern States and all of you in Canada are experiencing a brutal Winter with countless inches of snow and yet another snow storm is predicted for this weekend. And yet, I keep thinking about Spring.

Spring with its Crocuses peeking up through the snow. Spring with its Daffodils brightening the landscape with their sunny yellow smiles. Spring with its Tulips in reds and oranges and purples and pinks. Spring with its bright green grasses and newly sprouted leaves. Spring with its warm sunshine and light breezes. Spring with its blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Spring with Easter eggs and Easter bonnets. Spring with Ducklings, Goslings, Bunnies and Chicks. I am dreaming of Spring. I captured this image several Springs back when the Japanese Magnolias were just beginning to bloom at Bernheim in the Arboretum. This pink blossom was one of my favorite images of Spring. I will never forget the year I captured this image. The scent of Magnolia blossoms wafted heavy in the air as I walked among the grove of trees. It was heavenly. I am dreaming of Spring. ENJOY!

Linking to Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunset, Lake Michigan

As I sat on a bench next to the walkway at Holland State Park in mid July, the sun was moving low in the sky, and sadly before dropping to the horizon, a bit of cloud cover set in. I peered way out and saw this lone sailboat adrift on Lake Michigan. It is written in many, many articles that the western Lake Michigan shoreline with its quaint, and I might add, plentiful beach towns is America's best kept secret. And they would be right. Every beach town I visited from Saugatuck, and points south and north, there were very few tourists or visitors compared to the well known beach towns in Florida, or along the Texas or California coasts. This one aspect made for a pleasant journey in and around the small towns, not to mention the shoppes, the beaches and the restaurants.

One might ask, why would I want to travel from Kentucky to the shores of Lake Michigan in the Lower Peninsula. All you need do is visit there once to discover exactly what I did. Spending several nights in Holland, driving north and south to visit the beach towns, then driving slightly farther north to Traverse City, and again visiting more beach towns, made for the perfect itinerary. For the second time in my life, I was able to take in beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes, and finally make the mile long hike to Empire Bluff. As I drove up and down the peninsula, I was treated to many a cherry farm with red ripe cherries, heavily laden hanging from the trees, row after row. I passed many a blueberry field resplendent with ripe blueberries as I drove north along the shore. On my initial trip to Michigan I drove to the Upper Peninsula and photographed the Pictured Rocks National Seashore. What a gorgeous area, rugged and virtually untamed. Love to get back there some day to photograph the Moose which are plentiful in that area. I hope you enjoyed my look back at my travels to Michigan. It's such a beautiful place to spend time outdoors. I hope a beautiful sunset graces your horizon today. ENJOY!

Linking to Sunlit Sundays

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Duck, Duck, Goose

A few more of the images I captured in Lexington, Kentucky back in December near Maine Chance Farm. These I believe are Greylag Geese.

Domestic Geese are so interesting to me because of their coloring which is muted in many variations and they seem larger than the average Goose and especially Canadian Geese which seem a tad slender.

As I looked back over the past few posts, I realized I keep posting bird images. I have yet to get out in Tennessee and take photos, but I am getting closer to the possibility. I am gradually finding my way around this quite large laid out city which they call Music City USA. It's beautiful in so many ways and has fabulous estates and farms everywhere you look. Hopefully, I can get out soon and take a few images to share. Wherever you are or whatever the weather, I hope you are having a great week. ENJOY!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bluejay in Winter

My most recent visit to Bernheim shortly after the New Year would be my last before making my departure to the south. A chilly day with little, if any sunshine, would keep most visitors away, but not me. In this setting I have come to learn that there is a quiet peacefulness that envelopes you as you walk the paths throughout the Arboretum during the Winter months. As I drove the main road around the prairie and the Arboretum, I stopped to capture an image of a beautiful Bluejay sitting on a branch surveying his landscape.

Sharing this image today was important to me for several reasons. It is a dreary, rainy Sunday here in Tennessee, yet I am already feeling more at home here, not to mention anxious to get out and take some new images. However, that will have to wait til next weekend perhaps when the weather is a bit more cooperative.

I take comfort in having my furniture and personal belongings close at hand to help me feel more at home here. And already I have had several fires in my fireplace. When the apartment I chose to move into came with a fireplace, it definitely sealed the deal. I love feeling the warmth of a wood burning fire in the fireplace on a cold Winter's night. I hope wherever you are you are staying safe and warm, as we have had our share of snowstorms, and are on our third storm in a week's time here in the States. I chose to add some warmth to this image as the warmth of the sun was missing on that particular day and I like the feel of it. ENJOY!

Linking to Wednesday Around the World

Monday, January 26, 2015

Oh Kentucky!

As I sit and write this post, I am officially a Tennessean, a resident of the Volunteer State. It bears mentioning here that I will miss my Bernheim Arboretum with its gorgeous bushes, trees, lakes and drives. And the Bluegrass Region which was right out my back door with only a 40 minute drive and Cave Hill Cemetery with its gorgeous landscapes and ponds, and on and on I could go.

Yet, here I am in a whole new environment with countless possibilities. There are many a river and lake around me literally. Just down the road is Percy Pierce Dam and the lake, and north of me is Old Hickory Lake and then there's the Stones River and the Cumberland River. Did I mention quite a few wildlife refuges in the midst of middle Tennessee. And that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an hour closer to me now.

As I settle in and attempt to stand in the middle of my kitchen trying to determine which drawer or cabinet I put this in and that in, I write this note to all of my faithful friends and tell you there are new images on the horizon. That I am sure. And so I leave you with this image of a Mallard Duck floating aimlessly on the lake at Cave Hill back in late Fall. Dare I mention as I was moving my life, boxes and furniture all on Saturday, I did so in the midst of a gorgeous overnight snowfall in Louisville with every twig, branch, bush and lawn totally covered in beautiful fluffy white snow. Sadly, there was no time to stop and snap an image. However, I truly believe God blessed me with that scene as a reminder that wherever I may travel, I will always find beauty in the landscape. ENJOY!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Beautiful Mute Swan

Last Winter in early January I spent a few hours at Cave Hill Cemetery, located in downtown Louisville, photographing the beautiful lake and a pair of Mute Swans that make their home there. The Swans are such graceful, beautiful creatures and watching them as they moved about the lake side by side, always staying within a few feet of each other, was heartwarming

There are so many aspects of Cave Hill I will miss as I soon make my way South to Nashville. Yet, I realize there are many new adventures waiting for me in Nashville. Percy Pierce Dam, the Cumberland River and Old Hickory Lake are just a few of the areas I plan to explore.

As many of you are aware if you live in the States, there is a fairly good sized storm making its way across the United States tonight heading northeast and yet a second storm will be moving through the Ohio River Valley later this weekend. Everyone travel safely. ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Late Fall Calicarpa Berries

As Fall approaches each year, I find these beautiful purple berries hanging off the stems of large bushes in Bernheim's Arboertum. Yet, I had never really Googled to find out what they are called. Earlier this week I was 'archive surfing' and found this photo I had captured in late Fall. Immediately I knew it would make for a great image to pair up with a Winter quote. After Googling I discovered these are Calicarpa Berries.

The bushes are best known in Asia, but are found in Australia and in North America. I didn't realize it, but the berries last well into Winter. All I really know is I love their hue. It is so warm and inviting and finding the perfect quotation to add to the image by John Steinbeck was so fitting. We have snow coming across from the Western states here in the United States moving East this week. It will get to Kentucky on Friday night and Saturday. I hope wherever you are you are staying warm and cozy. So far this Winter has been very very mild which only makes me wonder what February will bring. ENJOY!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Bluegrass Winter

Winter in Kentucky, the Bluegrass State.
Icicles form on every surface creating needle like patterns.
Evergreen branches hang low to the ground heavily laden with snow.
A snowy bridge crosses a soon frozen pond as bitter cold sets in.
A new blanket of snow hugs the sides of a Fir tree in the Arboretum.
Snow covered limestone steps lead to a path unknown.
Winter wind whips around the Pavilion while layers of snow lay across its rooftop.
Crab Apple trees sit dormant as a blanket of fresh snow covers every surface.
Freezing rain clings to every twig and branch forming an intricate patchwork of art.

Winter in the Bluegrass State brings snow and ice and bitter winds while we seek shelter from the cold.
Wood sits ready on hearths waiting its turn on the warm crackling fire.
Blankets hang loosely off the arm of the chair ready for wrapping ourselves in warmth.
Travel slowly on the icy snow covered roads and stay warm from the cold all. ENJOY!

Linking to The Scoop at Stonegable

Linking to Our World Tuesday

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter's Landscape

At this time last year, there were several inches of fresh snow covering the ground at Bernheim. One of the many places I visited during that Winter was the Arboretum. I have spent many seasons at Bernheim. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. I have walked the snow covered paths, felt the bitter cold seeping through my jacket and knew my toes would be frost bit soon if I did not soon retreat to the warmth of my car.

I have spent a considerable amount of time photographing here capturing countless images of the birds, the animals, the insects, the plants, the lakes, the flowers, the trees, the blooms. There is nothing so beautiful in Spring as the Arboretum. First comes the crocuses, and then the Daffodils break free from their Winter's ground. Later the Japanese Magnolias burst forth in bloom with varying colors of blush pink to bright yellow. Shortly thereafter, the Crab Apples sprout their tiny blossoms. Colors of bright pink and soft white cover the tree branches and hang low to the ground draped like a carpet surrounding the base of each tree.

As the days grow warmer and the sun shines longer in the sky, the Goslings begin to crack free of their shells. Slowly, they wobble their way among the reeds and grasses along Lake Nevin waddling in single file behind Mom and Dad, pecking about the ground for food. The Robins sing a new song heralding in Spring while the Butterflies begin to emerge from their cocoons and flitter away in the breeze.

Yet before these wondrous, beautiful scenes take place, there lies a carpet of white blanketing the landscape covering the bushes, the trees, the prairie. Tree branches lay bare whilst waiting for their buds to burst forth harkening Spring. Layer upon layer of buds cling to their twigs and branches as Winter's harsh winds blow through.

Winter, in all its wonder, is still and quiet now, while Spring patiently waits its turn. ENJOY!

NOTE: It has been a busy yet stressful week as I attempt to pick up my roots and slowly prepare to relocate my life. Thank you for all of your kind thoughts from my last post and for allowing me to share. Your words and comments give me strength.

Linking to Weekend Reflections

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Burnt Cove, Deer Isle, Maine

Sometimes in life we find ourselves in the midst of major controversy and upheaval. I found myself there these past few weeks. 
Some days I ask God why. Others days I say to God I will endure. Each day brings a new beginning and a hope for a better day.

When I seek strength and courage, I oftentimes look back at better days. And today I found refuge in a familiar place,
where I spent a good deal of time one midday in the Summer of 2008 capturing several images of this beautiful place called Burnt Cove, 
on remote Deer Isle, in Down East Maine.

My dream is to get back to Maine this year. Yet, I have a daunting task ahead of me.
I will find the strength and courage I am looking for, as I know it is within me.
The problem is whether I can find a way to help those around me better understand.

I realize more each day this is a difficult task to achieve . . . to find understanding.
This is where I find myself today. This is where I remind myself to step softly and pray for grace. 

And there it is . . . my resolution I made nonchalantly at the start of this new year. 
To be more kind and graceful. 
I have come full circle. 

Knowing I can be strong and courageous. 
Praying that I can find the grace to help others better understand.

How amazing life can be.  One can find what one needs from within.
But one cannot always find the words to help others better understand.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you today.
You, my dear friends and followers, are also my refuge. ENJOY!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beautiful Cade's Cove

Many years ago I captured this image of the beautiful sunshine highlighting the mosses growing on these hardwood trees along the auto tour in Cade's Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. In every photographer's life, there are a mere handful of images that one considers their very favorites. This is one of mine.

Sunlit Sundays

Trees are one of my weaknesses. I love to photograph them because they stand tall and persevere against all of the odds. Wind and rain, in all seasons, and bitter cold, snow and ice, in the Winter months. They thrive literally to survive. And yet after these living creatures of Mother Earth fall to the ground, their life is not done. For they lay close to the Earth and provide a valuable source of food and refuge for animals and insects and small plant life. Their life seemingly goes on and on. I hope you like this image and wherever this day finds you, I wish you beautiful sunshine. ENJOY!

Linking to Sunlit Sundays
Linking to Our World Tuesday

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Red Barn & News

It is a beautiful red barn that you will find as you walk the grounds at Jim Beam Brands. The company transformed this old barn into one of the centerpieces on the distillery grounds. An old well sits just in front of the barn, while an old distillery building filled with whiskey barrels going through the aging process, sits directly behind it. This distillery is a great place to visit and tour. There is also a huge new grey barn with Jim Beam logos which is now a Stillhouse where visitors can wander in and out. You are welcome to walk the grounds and check out all of the beautiful buildings. Believe it or not, the distillery sits a mere quarter of a mile down the road from Bernheim Arboretum, my favorite stomping grounds.

And just a quick note to all of my friends and followers across the globe. As you may or may not know, I am based out of Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby and home to the Bluegrass Region with its beautiful horse farms. But soon I will living in Nashville, Tennessee, as my job as been transferred and I chose to stay on with my company and make this move. While this is not how I had planned to spend my January, pulling up stakes, and moving three hundreds miles south, I am looking at the positives. I will be two and a half hours from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which cuts that drive almost in half. And I will be able to visit the beautiful town of Franklin, south of Nashville, which is known for its rolling farm fields and quaint small town with wonderful shops and restaurants. And I will even be closer to the Land Between the Lakes which is in southwest Kentucky, but will be a shorter drive for me living in Nashville. There are many other positives too, I wanted to travel to Charleston and Savannah in the next few years on a photo trip. Well, now I will be able to drive there as it will be close enough to drive in an easy day's time. I hope that all of you will wish me well as I make my way South to the Country Music Capital of the World. ENJOY!

Linking to Barn Collective
Linking to Wednesday Around the World