Duck, duck, goose!

I took a break this week from spying on my “yard birds,” and found some water birds at Joyner Park. We spied them while walking, and after we were through, I picked up the camera and was happy to see the flock of geese, and a mallard duck and his mate.

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Mama duck blends in with the leaves so well, I didn’t even see her until I started editing my photos!

It’s easy to lose track of time when taking pictures. But birds are so much prettier up close!

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This is one of many Canadian geese we saw this week.
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We see lots of these Canadian geese in this part of North Carolina.

Beauty in December

You don’t have to travel far to find scenes worthy of a photograph. Bill and I had some free time this week, and found we were overdue for a visit to Umstead State Park. I have some vivid memories of that place, mostly involving a copperhead and a “death march” I took with him a few years back, but that is another story.

This time, I had a new camera in hand, and we searched out photo opportunities.

December is not the most colorful time of year in Raleigh. I think we’ve had a late fall; still, most of the leaves have turned and nearly all have fallen, but there are a few, colorful stragglers here and there.

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Gumball trees are an annoyance when they get big and start to reproduce.

We took off from the visitor’s station, which Bill warned was a bit of a walk to the main park, but I shrugged off his suggestion to drive in further and off we went.

I kept hearing birds I didn’t recognize, and managed to locate one with the zoom lens.

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I identified this white-throated sparrow by the patch of yellow just above its eyes (and some help from the Internet).

We walked on the road for a while, but the trails along the creeks offered the best views.

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The play of light through the trees makes for interesting patterns, even in late fall.

After 90 minutes or so of walking and stopping, we decided it was time to head back to civilization to find some lunch. But not before discovering a few more birds.

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Nuthatches are one of my favorites.

Another beauty perched above our heads. I’m not sure, because of the winter feathers, but I think it’s an American redstart. My first time seeing this bird, as well.

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I’m still working on getting the camera to focus on the bird, not the branches.
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The same bird, from another angle. It’s about the size of a robin.

I’ve got four feeders set up around my house, but the birds have been scarce this fall. I’m not sure if it’s the location, the mild weather, or the number of hawks in the neighborhood. The squirrels are another story.

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This clear creek runs through Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC.

October: my favorite color

Quite recently, I’ve rediscovered mornings. Sleeping in used to be a cherished luxury. After my children were born, my body clock eventually adjusted to getting up early, and then my career took a detour. I started working evenings, not getting to bed until after midnight. So, again, I slept late, pretty much on a daily basis.

My new job has more regular, daytime hours, which I appreciate. But I still don’t get up and walk every morning as I’d like to. After a recent day-long drive back to West Virginia, my tight muscles were aching to stretch, and I was ready for a walk “around the hill.”

When I started out, it was just getting light. The birds – mostly robins – chirped greetings to each other.  As the darkness lifted, and the sun peeked over the hills, my power walk became a quest to capture the sunrise.

I walked around the circle, catching glimpses of daybreak – and the mist. Stopping every few minutes, standing on tiptoe, I darted looks between houses and through the woods, trying not to alarm the neighbors.

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An October morning surprise.
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How many of these sunrises did I just not see as a child?

The woods on this road were thick, so I hurried on, and remembered the nearby stub of a road that looks about level with the airport, which is on another hill, on the other side of the river. I might capture a good view there. I walked up and down that street a few times, looking for the right spot to snap a picture.

I must’ve hurried up and down that particular road three times looking for just the right scene, knowing my chance to capture the best colors was quickly fading.

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The sun gave the fog here an orange glow.
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October isn’t just orange, red, and yellow – there are hints of pink, too.

I headed farther on down the hill, then, toward the playground, where our bus stop used to be. On the way down, I found the sun . . .

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You never know what’s waiting behind a West Virginia hill.

And, a little farther down, one of my favorite trees. Not quite all its leaves were gone . . .

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It was past peak season for fall colors, but I thought this tree was still picture-worthy.

Down and around I went, looking at the old neighborhood, remembering when. Then it was light, and time to head up one of the many, steep hills I used to dread walking up as a child. It’s funny how things change.

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The last big hill.

The sun, the sand, and the sea

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Dazzling: the morning sun over the ocean.

I’m a writer, but . . . I’m at a loss for words to describe the beauty I experienced on my latest trip to the ocean side in Florida. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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I’m used to deciduous trees, but palm trees are lovely, too!
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This is what you could see when the tide went out.
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Several storms blew through during our stay. We found this after Hermine shot through Florida.
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Another morning shot from the balcony off our room. I highly recommend an ocean view!
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Evening walks by the sea are incredibly nice.
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The longer you watch the ocean, the more colors you see.
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The sunrise may be dazzling, but the sunsets offer their own kind of beauty.
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The best part about evening is knowing morning is on the way.

Fleeting beauties

Is it my imagination, or are there fewer butterflies around? Or maybe like me, they’ve been avoiding the heat. I’ve managed to see a few . . .

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I’ve learned to take my camera, or at least my phone, when I walk for exercise.
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This little guy was attracted to something on my front porch.