Close up

This red-tailed hawk hung out at my parents’ house Christmas Day. At one point, it was sitting directly above the road on a power line. My dad had the bright idea of opening his truck’s sunroof so I could get a picture as we drove underneath the hawk. The hawk kind of seemed scandalized by the ordeal but it still remained nearby for the rest of the day.

A kinglet for Grandpa

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I recently visited my grandma at the farm in Wynne. And anytime I visit, I have to walk to the pond to see what I can find. This trip’s golden find was a golden-crowned kinglet, which always reminds me of my late grandpa.

Fall tradition

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It has become a fall tradition to travel about 30 minute south of Jonesboro to White Hall (a tiny town six miles south of Harrisburg) to visit Parker Homestead with my niece and Mom. This year, my sister, Dad and the latest addition to the family, my fourth-month-old niece, joined us.

Parker Homestead is a recreated 19th century town with buildings and artifacts from White Hall’s past. The neat part is my Dad’s mother grew up in White Hall (her sister still lives there in their family home) and Parker Homestead actually displays homework of their older brother in a school house on the property. My family searches for my uncle’s work each time we visit.

I may be drawn to the school house but my 3-year-old niece is drawn to the church where an old piano is located. If given the chance, I think she would remain on that piano bench all day.

Here’s some pictures from Parker Homestead:

Vulture circling

Turkey Vulture

A lone turkey vulture circled Branson as we conducted some major shopping at Tanger Outlets. The weather was perfect and we stopped at Garfields Restaurant and Pub along the river for lunch/dinner.

Yum and what a view. I watched a heron fly by along with five or six geese. House sparrows perched above the stores lining Garfields.

We ended up stopping by Cakes and Creams Desserts for the Ozark Mountain Sundae or the funnel cake with fresh strawberries with ice cream. It was the perfect ending to the day (well, along with a stop by the hotel’s pool and hot tub)! The only downfall was that the sundae and funnel cake was too good – we were completely full by the time we left. We’re planning a second visit before we leave!

Our sole other stop was to the Festival of Lights. Slightly disappointed by it, but still interesting. My aunt and grandmother loved it.

Here’s some pictures:

House Sparrow
House Sparrow

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Branson arrival

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We arrived in Branson, Mo., late last night for a four-day getaway with my aunt and grandmother.

The decor at the Stone Castle Inn tickles me. The hotel is jammed packed. Christmas lights are already going up and, while traffic is busy, it’s not too bad.

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For once, we have no plans. It’s off to shop and visit a nearby state park.

Marshes and autoliners

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It has rained every day.

The rain comes typically in the afternoon giving us plenty of time to do all we want to. So far, we’ve mainly wanted to look around, reacquainting ourselves with the island. We last visited more than 10 years ago.

Jekyll Island was originally an exclusive winter retreat, The Jekyll Island Club, for U.S. elite. It was purchased in 1886 and hosted families such as the Rockefellers, Morgans and Pulitzers.

It became a Georgia state park in 1950 – unique to me since it is a “barrier island” off Georgia’s southeastern coast. It has tons of marshes, hotels and tourist-minded businesses.

We spent part of Saturday and some Sunday just looking around. The views are great, and Dad was fascinated with the huge ships carrying cars (Hoegh Autoliners). My only complaint? As the sole birder, I am unable to get pictures of some of the birds we pass in the marshes bordering the road. One such bird – a Roseate Spoonbill.

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Our home away from home

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We’ve finally arrived at our Jekyll Island rental. After 15 hours in a car (we stopped and napped along the way), my first priority was a shower.

We’re now about to unpack and head out to reacquaint ourselves with the place until it’s time to pick my sister and her husband up at the Jacksonville airport.

Here’s some pictures so far:

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Georgia bound

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I’m on the road, just five hours late. My sister, her husband and I loaded up my car with our gear, two boogie boards and tons of food and drinks.

Next? The task of fitting my carload into my parents already half-full impala.

It was a close fit but we did it. We’ve also managed to kill most of the mosquitoes that were in the car.

Now, we’re finally on our way to Jekyll Island. Only 11 hours and 13 minutes to go.

Photo essay: Gigi & I

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

My grandmother, Gigi, and I share a love of birds. So, a hummingbird banding workshop was the perfecting outing for us to spend some time together. Luckily, the Saturday workshop was from 1-4 p.m. at the Potlatch Conservation Education Center in Casscoe, which gave me plenty of time to pick her up in Jonesboro and stop at Jack Ryan’s Convenience store to pick up some of their oh-so-good sandwiches for lunch.

I’ve been going to the workshop for three years now and I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with it. There were no little kids this time so Gigi and I were both able to release a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird after they were banded. It was a pretty neat experience since the hummingbirds sat for a moment before flying off. Later, we drove down to the dock to see how high the White River was.

Here’s pictures:

Banding the first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
Banding the first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
Gigi releasing the first hummingbird.
Gigi releasing the first hummingbird, a male.
I got to release the last.
I got to release the last, a female who was also the rowdiest.
Close up of mine.
Close up of mine.
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
This one was already banded.
This one was already banded.
Already banded.
Another look at the already-banded hummingbird.
Eastern Bluebird that posed as we headed down to the dock.
Eastern Bluebird that posed as we headed down to the dock.
The White River water level is pretty high right now.
The White River water level is pretty high right now.
The dock at the White River. We were still able to access the floating ramp.
The dock at the White River. We were still able to access the floating ramp.
We found this lady bug on the floating ramp along with ...
We found this lady bug on the floating ramp along with …
This Broad-headed Skink (lizard) and ...
This Broad-headed Skink (lizard) and …
This frog who jumped off the ramp as I approached.
This frog who jumped off the ramp as I approached.
We spent our trip back to Jonesboro look for any wildlife. We saw very few.
We spent our trip back to Jonesboro look for any wildlife. We saw very few.

It was a day well spent.

 

Photo essay: An overflowing garden

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To say my aunt is a gardener is putting it lightly. Her yard is her pride and joy as well as a year-round showcase. I love visiting her to discover what’s new in her garden (and plus because she’s simply amazing). It kills me that the gardening gene went to my sister and not me. I have a black thumb.

Anyway, here’s what was blooming at my last visit:

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