Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pretty in Pink


I took this photo last week - it was our first rhododendron blossom of the season. This week it's just one of a bunch.

the Marriage Saver

My sister recommended these headphones to me - she said they are called "the Marriage Saver". They allow the television to be set at any volume (or no volume) and the wearer controls his own volume on the headphones. Perfect for when my husband is watching television and I am reading, or even when we're both watching and he likes the volume louder.
And, as in the above photo, also perfect when a 5 year old is watching cartoons and the adults want to have a conversation.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Impatient impatiens


As I was planting some annuals a few days ago, I was reminded of something that my (then 8 year old) nephew asked years ago: "Why do they call them impatients? Is it because they can't wait to get watered?"


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Squirrel rehab update

I think that weaning him from his formula ...

will be easier than weaning him from his fleece blankies.

Gosling debut

I love spring! Yesterday was our first 2006 view of goslings on Lake Gaston. These little balls of fluff are beyond adorable!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Four's a crowd

Twenty nest boxes to choose from, and these society finches are building a nest in a seed dish ...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Red-tailed hawk

This red-tailed hawk posed nicely for me - you would think I could take a less blurry photo.

He's been hanging around near our house on and off for the past three days. I like hawks, but since I have an aviary full of colorful morsels, I'd prefer that they hang out somewhere else. More than once, a hawk has landed on our deck railing, then rammed directly into the closed window of the aviary, scaring the bejeezus out of my finches. Yesterday a flock of crows helped me out by chasing him away. I'm sure they were protecting their own interests, not my aviary, but I admired their teamwork and appreciated their help.

Friday, April 21, 2006

My first Wildlife Rehab "job"

Last winter I applied for a Volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitator permit (North Carolina). Many people around here know that I raise finches, so I sometimes get calls from people needing help with orphaned birds and I thought it would be good to be able to help...legally. On the permit application, I was able to choose any or all of the following: Song birds, Raptors and/or Small Mammals. I put a check mark next to Song birds, then as an afterthought also checked Small mammals. Hey, I could probably raise a baby bunny or squirrel if one came my way.
Well, I received my permit a couple of weeks ago, and on Saturday received a call from a man who lives on the south side of Lake Gaston. He had found an orphaned baby squirrel (actually two of them, but one had died) and wondered if I could finish raising it. He had found my name on the NC Wildlife Dept website for wildlife rehabilitators. It had never occurred to me that my name might actually be on a list somewhere.

So, now I'm raising this adorable squirrel. Fortunately, (for both him and me), his first few weeks were spent with his biological mommy. When I received him, his eyes were open and he was "fully furred". The man who had found him had been feeding him for a week (he had been on vacation, but needed to go back to work on Monday), so he brought the baby to me on Sunday.

Above: here's a photo taken the first time that I fed him. The man who had been feeding him had been using a spoon, so I thought I'd do the same. Big mistake - the little guy grabbed the spoon, gulped his formula down so fast it was a miracle that he didn't choke and by the time he was done we both needed a bath.
Below: For his next feeding I switched to a syringe, which worked much better for both of us.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

There's excitement in the air!

It was a happy day for the gouldian finches in my aviary. The nest boxes are here! The nest boxes are here! Yippee!! We hadn't even finished putting up the first set of 4 boxes and the birdies were checking them out. We put up a total of 20 boxes for 10 pairs, so they have some choices. They have been apartment hunting all day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Two five year olds

Pup2 gets plenty of exercise when my (step)grandson visits. I tried to take some photos of them while they were playing - lots of blurry motion...

Come on kid - give me a break!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Albino Robin

I received this link from multiple friends and family members in our hometown of Binghamton, NY. There's a photo of a (partial) abino American Robin which was seen hopping around in a yard there.


Pup1 to Savannah: "If you're going to sit in my chair, you need to share it with me!"


Saturday, April 15, 2006

I love iPods!

I love that people use iPods at the beach - it sure beats the days of dueling boom boxes!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I took this photo at the Wildlife Rehabilitation section of the Nature Conservancy. It was feeding time for the herons and the girl in the photo told us that she's allowed to feed the permanent residents (those that can't be released back into the wild) from her hand, but the herons that were there for rehab and release had to eat their fish from their big bowl of water or the pool.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Habitat for Humanity

Soon we will be leaving Naples (Florida) and heading back to Lake Gaston (North Carolina), so we've been going through a whole lot of "last time for this season" moments - last visit to Barnes & Noble (back in NC, the nearest one is 80 miles away), last visit to Baskin-Robbins (we don't have one of those either and I'm addicted to their chocolate chip ice cream) and soon the loss of our high-speed internet service (also, not available where we live, and this I will really miss).

We've also worked our last Monday of the season for Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. And like last year, I'm just amazed at what has been accomplished. Before we left, I counted 48 houses (completed or in process) that have gone up in Immokalee since we started there in January. The Collier County (south Florida) branch is the largest Habitat for Humanity affilliate in the world and I think that they are on schedule to complete their 1000th house next year.

My husband and I have really enjoyed volunteering there, and I think we went every Monday except the one in January when it was only 30F degrees (we're wimps when it comes to cold weather). Normally each Monday when we arrived at the site, a few more foundations would have been poured since the previous week and there would be about 8 to 10 houses in various stages of completion. We would usually have our choice of jobs and usually chose painting or floor tiling.

A few weeks ago there was some delay in the county's permitting process which caused houses to be completed faster than new foundations could be poured. We arrived one Monday (a bit late as usual) and there were about 100 volunteers with only 3 houses to be worked on. We wandered around looking for work and found that the volunteers who had arrived earlier (which was almost everybody) were fiercely protective of the little jobs that they found. Typically our short conversations with the other volunteers went like this: (Us) "Do you need any help?" (Them) "No, we've got things covered here". We were quite discouraged and about ready to give up and head home when we ran into a supervisor who found a job for us. Not much, but we were thrilled to be able to look useful.
We had been at it for about 10 minutes when another volunteer (who had actually arrived later than us) came over and asked "Do you need any help?" My husband turned to him and said "No, I think we've got it covered here." What??? Did he forget how unwanted we had felt just 20 minutes ago when nobody wanted our help? I glared at my husband and told the new arrival "Sure, we could use some help." Consequently, we finished the work in no time, spent lots of time at coffee break, then I wandered around with my camera snapping photos.

Above: coffee break
Below: some of the completed houses

Below: Grandfather / Grandson volunteers:

Smallest post office - Ochopee Florida

smallest post office

Last Friday we headed out to the Everglades with my husband's daughter and family. We wanted the kids to see alligators and our neighbor gave us directions to a place where "tons of them hang out". Ironically, it was just about 1/2 mile beyond the point where we had driven on our unsuccessful alligator hunt of two evenings earlier. Anyway his directions included this post office as a landmark. We had driven past it numerous times, but had never noticed it before. The postmaster said that they deliver mail to about 900 homes.

smallest post office sign

Monday, April 10, 2006

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Keeping some distance

Brennan was a bit timid about getting any closer to this turtle. Not sure that I blame him ...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Magnificent frigatebird

Wednesday some friends came down from central Florida for a one day visit. We used to take first time visitors on the Naples Trolley tour, but we've now decided that our own tour is better. They arrived just in time for lunch, so we went to our favorite restaurant, Buzz's Lighthouse Inn, where we ate grouper reuben sandwiches on the deck overlooking the bay. Next we went to the Nature Conservancy. We are members and always drag our guests there for a visit. I don't think any of them are as excited as I am to see 5 or 6 nesting pairs of yellow-crowned night herons on a mangrove island, but everyone always enjoys the pleasant electric boat ride along the Gordon River.

I tried my hand again at photographing fish in the aquarium, and had more success this time. I think that the animal in the above photo is called a toadfish.

Next we drove to the Gulf and walked out on the Naples Pier. We watched three dolphins playing near the pier for at least 20 minutes, then saw a Magnificent Frigatebird flying overhead. This was a first for us and I took a whole bunch of photos. But that darn delay between the time I pressed the camera button and the time that the shutter actually opened made it very difficult to catch the bird in the frame. Below, is a little collage showing my not-so-great shots.

I found that the only way to actually get the bird in the photo and not just end up with a photo of blue sky, was to move the camera viewfinder ahead of the bird's flight path and click away. The next two photos are the cropped versions of the best photos that I was able to take.

Next we drove along Gulf Shore Drive and Gordon Drive to show them the huge houses along the beach. The house in the next photo isn't the biggest, but it's definitely is the most brightly colored.

Last on our tour was a drive into the Everglades to show them alligators, and we may be the first people in history to drive 30 miles into the Everglades and not see an alligator. We blamed it on the lateness of the day. The next photo is one that I took a couple of months ago at Shark Valley.