Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30-Fan of Paradise

I was gone most of the day on a photo shoot, so I just noticed that my bird of paradise bloomed. The bud started forming a couple of weeks ago. Usually I see a bloom, sometimes two, in late November or early December. The later bloom is probably because I pulled the 6-foot-tall plant out of the pot last summer to replace the soil. The bloom usually lasts about a month. I have two bird of paradise and a tropical hibiscus in a warm bright stairway. It's like a tropical microclimate.

This bird of paradise only blooms in late fall and winter. The hibiscus blooms year round. All three plants are about 10 years old. I bought one of the bird of paradise plants in Phoenix and brought it up here in a suitcase. The one that is blooming, though, I bought in Tacoma at the Jungle Fever plant nursery.

Fan of Paradise by Kate Lynch
Fan of Paradise by Kate Lynch

The painting behind the bloom is by my old friend Christine Smith Anderson of Aspen, Colorado. I think it's from the late 1970s and based on a map of Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29-Ancient Grounds

I met my old friend Q and my new friend Tu in downtown Seattle this afternoon. They were in town for a conference. We spent some time poking around Pike Place Market, then headed for Ivar's Acres of Clams for happy hour. We ended up at a very unique coffeehouse and gallery called Ancient Grounds.  What a fabulous place! Recently I added a new Seattle gallery on my website. Take a look.

I met Q 13 years ago when she was a delegate and I was on staff at Anytown USA, a diversity, leadership, and social justice program sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice. Anytown is a 50-year-old program that started out as a weeklong camp for high school students. Now camps are offered for junior high and college students. Most people - both delegates and staff - who take part describe Anytown as a life-changing experience. I was on staff for camps in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Q was a delegate in 1997, then on staff in 1998 and 1999. Anytown in Arizona is now managed by the YMCA.

Q went on to get her bachelor's, master's and, most recently, doctorate in psychology. Now she's a National Institute of Mental Health fellow at San Diego State. Her research has centered on prejudice and discrimination, bicultural identities, and acculturation. She credits Anytown with setting her on this path.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wandering kestrel

The American kestrel is small and quick. About the size of a bluejay or robin, it is also called a sparrow hawk because a favorite prey is the house sparrow.

This female was easier to spot at the wildlife refuge but she was still a bit too far to get really clear closeups with the lens I have.

Unlike other falcons, she catches prey on the ground instead of mid-air.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22-Fish like an eagle

My son and I spent late afternoon at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge which is, happily, five miles from our house - less than three miles if we walked there.

We live right above the refuge, a little to the left of the tree in the photo on the left.

We see bald eagles at least once each day, usually flying down to the refuge for lunch or dinner, then back up above our hill to glide on the winds and torment the local birds. We saw three balds on this visit, a kestrel, a few herons, and lots of Canada geese.

When I see a bald eagle in the sky I follow and shoot as fast as I can. I'm often surprised at the result. This time, I managed to capture a eagle fishing in McAllister (Medicine) Creek.

I see a 500mm lens rental in my future. I got some great shots but was too far away for the 300mm lens. More images in my Nisqually gallery and Hawks & Eagles gallery.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17-Windy in the birdie spa

The sun returned to chase away the rain today. Jim and the other Anna's hummingbirds were challenged by wind though. They usually feed more heavily in late afternoon, tanking up for a cold night.

Even with sunlight, it is still challenging to stop action on those wings in low light. These were photographed about 4, about 45 minutes before sundown. I will be adding favorites to my Hummer gallery.

You can help me by letting me know your favorites too. You don't have to log on to leave a comment here or on my other blog entries. Thanks for your help!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 6-Three puzzled birds

Winter wren © Kate Lynch
January 6 is the 12th Day of Christmas, Feast of the Epiphany, El Día de los Reyes, Three Kings Day. While in Ireland "wren day" is celebrated on the Feast of Stephen (December 26), in Wales Ystwyll is celebrated on January 6 with Hunting of the Wren. The tradition doesn't seem to be quite as gruesome as in Ireland, but it entails capturing a wren and parading it around town in a cage.

Purple finch © Kate Lynch
I occasionally see a winter wren or two in the front yard birdie spa. All the birds are quite puzzled by the camera sound, so cock their heads to see if they can figure out what kind of bird I am.

There are always lots of finches in the birdie spa. In winter, I see purple finches, house finches, and pine siskins. The purple finches and house finches are tough to tell apart. Purple finches look like were dipped in raspberry jam and have more distinct brown markings. House finches are red but more orange-red.

Raspberries to you © Kate Lynch
Ok, so I'm really posting four puzzled birds. Here's Jim, for once not looking ticked off at that annoying camera sound. This time he looks curious. Or he seems that way to me.

Quizzical Jim © Kate Lynch

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hummer Jim and a lady friend

Jim and I spent some time dancing around the feeders this weekend. He still hasn't figured out that I'm the one who brings the feeders out every morning (we've had several below 25 degree mornings). He challenges me on a regular basis. If I touch a feeder after hanging it, he will buzz close to the feeder and spread out his tail feathers like I'm a rival hummer.

I managed to get a few shots of his aerobatics at the feeder. Mostly, though, he would station himself on the far side of the feeder, where it was tougher to get him in focus. By the way, if you missed my entry about naming this hummer Jim, here it is.

Then he zips back to one of his posts in the plum tree. When I walk into the front yard, still about 10 feet from the feeders, he will move higher in the tree or move to the plum tree in my neighbor's yard. This time, though, he positioned himself in one of the shrubs about two feet from the porch and directly below one of the feeders.

A moment later, a female Anna's hummingbird landed on the feeder close to me - about 4 feet away. She sat and slowly ate. I don't know if she was able to slip in because I was there and she knew Jim wouldn't come over or he was protecting the space so that she could feed. I will gradually add to my Hummer gallery. In the meantime, stay tuned for hummer adventures in the birdie spa.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year-Rare Egret

A great egret made a surprise appearance at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and seems to be quite at home. He certainly seems to enjoy all the attention he's getting, sitting picture-perfect on the edge of the water.

Great egrets are rare in the Puget Sound region any time of year and rare in the rest of Washington in winter. An all-white heron, these birds nearly went extinct in the late 19th century. Those beautiful feathers were prized for hats. According the Audubon Society, the first nesting for a great egret in Washington state was recorded in 1979.