Wordless Wednesday

 

April 6, 2016 Parkway 034

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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One Word Photo Challenge: Eigengrau

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Eigengrau, (read: I’-Gen-growl, both g’s hard) is the color your brain sees in the absence of light.

Jenny has chosen a very esoteric color to end her color challenges.  Her final ‘color’ is the absence of color in the absence of light.  Those who understand these things explain that eigengrau is more of a dark grey than a true black, by the way.

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Also explained as ‘brain grey’ or  ‘dark light,’  this color describes what you might see upon opening your eyes in a dark room.

This is a new color term for me, and a fitting way for Jenny to close out this challenge.

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Don’t worry, Jennifer begins a new ‘One Word Photo Challenge’ next week using weather themes.  She starts us off with an easy one:  rain.

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Colonial Williamsburg in late afternoon

Colonial Williamsburg in late afternoon

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I am choosing to interpret eigengrau as the dark grey one sees when an object is seen in silhouette against a background of light, and the deep shadows where light cannot reach.  Although the Germans, who coined this color term, elaborated an entire cult to celebrate the very esoteric ‘Black Sun;’ I celebrate the life giving sun of visible light. 

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The photos I’ve chosen celebrate the light, which nourishes all life, while also showing us the shadows.

With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Eigengrau

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Copper: River Beach, Low Tide

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We stopped at the beach right at sunset, Sunday afternoon.

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It was the lowest tide we can recall ever seeing on this beach along the James River.  It was eerie, how far the river flowed from its usual banks.

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The moon was full, which may account for the unusually low tide.  Whatever the reason, I wanted to capture the beauty of the river, the beach, and the evening.

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It was warm on Sunday, and even as clouds blew in at sunset the breezes off the water remained comfortable.  How nice to wander the beach without shivering!

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Eagles filled the air, hunting and calling to one another.  Gulls zoomed overhead, streamlined bodies looking like jets.  Geese honked in the distance.

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Two Osprey’s investigated a tree, considering whether to continue building their nest.  This battered tree has held a nest every spring for years now.

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There are many coppery tones glinting in these photos.  Jenny gave the option to use the color ‘copper’ with or without its metallic sheen.  Perhaps it was the setting sun, or perhaps just the old bits seldom seen, which seem coppery along the beach.

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Appreciation, as always, to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her One Word Photo Challenge:  Copper.

This is the next to last week for Jenny’s color challenge.  Soon her challenge will shift from colors to the weather.  If you follow the link back to Jenny’s post, you’ll find links to other wonderful photos featuring ‘copper.’

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Black and White Photo Challenge #5

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When the Osprey Eagles re-build their nests and lay the next generation of chicks, I finally trust that it is spring.  After months of “empty nest syndrome,” we happily spotted brooding Ospreys in all of the familiar trees along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Jamestown.

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Bald Eagles call to one another in the skies above, and birds of all descriptions may be seen perching on rotting bits of wood along the river bank.

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Ah, the river has come back to life! 

This is the fifth day of the Black and White Photo Challenge which I accepted from Eliza Waters.

So far, I’ve passed it along to Robin, Sarah, Creekrose, and Jane.  You may recall that Jane completed the challenge last month, and you will find links to her posts in  my fourth post.  I hope you are visiting all of these intriguing writers and photographers.  Their black and white photos, poetry and prose are stunning.

Today I am inviting John of A Walk In the Garden to the challenge.  John, a Master Gardener, enjoys the warmer climate of Charlotte, North Carolina.  John and I share a love for our gardens and flowers. We are “dirty hands” gardeners; trying new cultivars, watching for each leaf and flower to come into its prime, and routinely digging in the dirt.

I’m always inspired by his Monday Vases, a collaboration between him and his beloved “arranger.”   Although John is still pondering this invitation, I hope he will decide to play along.

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There are two bald eagles roosting near their nest in the trees across the creek, to the left of the bridge. When you enlarge this photo, you may be able to see them.

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It has been an “eye opening” experience for me to see the familiar in a new way through black and white photography, and I hope that John will enjoy this experience as well.

If you would like to participate in the challenge, and have not been invited by a blogging friend, please accept this invitation from me.

I invite you, now, to explore the world of black and white photography.  Please accept my invitation in your first post with a link back to this page.  I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment with a link, as well, so I will make sure to find your post. 

The rules of the Black and White Photo Challenge are simple:

  1. On 5 consecutive days, create a post using either a past or recent photo in black and white.
  2. Each day invite another blogging friend to join in the fun.

Although this is my last official challenge post, I will continue to use black and white photos on occasion because of the unique perspective they offer.  But now I want to share one more photo, taken this afternoon in color. Although technically color, the effect feels very “black and white.”

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These guys watched over us all afternoon as we worked out in the front garden.

My partner says that at times a few more showed up, but these buzzards remained  our faithful companions.  I’m not quite sure what they expected…. or hoped for.... but let’s just say that we are fine this evening, and so is the cat!

Woodland Gnome, 2015

Black and White Photo Challenge #1, #2, #3, #4

One Word Photo Challenge: Livid

Wild grapevines and wild berries growing from between the granite stones of a breakwateron a creek crossing the Colonial Parkway.

Wild grapevines and wild berries growing from between the granite stones of a breakwater on a creek crossing the Colonial Parkway.

 

Livid is a word which usually means white hot  “angry.”  It’s not pretty.

Livid can be used to describe a particularly intense shade of some colors; perhaps a livid red lipstick.

I never noticed a “livid” crayon in the Crayola box… Jennifer has shown me a new color with this challenge.

One meaning of “livid” really is a bluish/grayish color, which borders on some shade of lavender/purple.

A duck blind, taken over by a family of Osprey Eagles, on the James River.  The whole structure has been converted into an eagles nest.

A duck blind, taken over by a family of Osprey Eagles, on the James River.  The whole structure has been converted into an eagles nest.

 

This isn’t a color I would choose to eat, drink, wear, or use to decorate my home.

It is, though, a fairly common color in nature.

I hope you find the photos for this week’s challenge peaceful and beautiful…. the antithesis of “livid.”

May your September find you surrounded with beauty, love, and calmness.

 

With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge: Livid

WPC: Fray

A white egret wades in a pond along the Colonial Parkway this afternoon.

A white egret wades in a pond along the Colonial Parkway this afternoon.  A frayed fringe of grasses frames the pond.

 

“Frayed” is an excellent word to describe the end of August. 

After a long, hot, eventful summer, we may all feel a bit frayed around the edges.

 

Rose of Sharon flowers are still lovely, though the leaves are a bit frayed.

Rose of Sharon flowers are still lovely, though the leaves are a bit frayed.

 

The garden certainly looks a bit frayed after withstanding many weeks of heat and thunderstorms, hungry insects and hungry deer.

And the grasses blooming now along the roadsides offer a “frayed” fringe to all vistas.

 

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“Fray” itself is an interesting word.

Coming to us from middle English, it means that something is worn down, or worn out, to the point of beginning to come apart.

My jeans are nearly always frayed somewhere.

I was raised when it was fashionable to fray them in spots on purpose, which definitely frayed my mother’s nerves.

The first of the reblooming Iris sends up a bud against the old and frayed Comfrey foliage which has lasted the summer.

The first of the reblooming Iris sends up a bud against the old and frayed Comfrey foliage, which has lasted the summer.

 

But to become “frayed” implies that one has been in the thick of the action.

We might choose to “join the fray” as we add our voice to stand up for a good cause; or a bad one, as the case might be.

 

Losing the fray can mean ending up as someone else's dinner in the garden.

Losing the fray can mean ending up as someone else’s dinner in the garden.

 

In our garden, we are in the midst of an ongoing fray with hungry Bambis who steal in through the fences at night  to eat our “shrubberies.”

 

Frayed Oakleaf Hydrangea, grazed last night by the deer.

Frayed Oakleaf Hydrangea, grazed last night by the deer.

 

I found two “deer resistant” Oakleaf Hydrangeas “frayed” this morning; their beautiful leaves gone overnight into the maws of gourmet deer.

 

The other Hydrangea nibbled last night is also sadly frayed.

The other Hydrangea nibbled last night is also sadly frayed.

 

I’m often reminded that if I continue to plant, they will continue to come; which frays my expectations for a beautiful, lush garden.  But only a little…

 

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As we drove out to Jamestown this afternoon to visit our favorite vegetable stand for some of the last of this summer’s tomatoes, and some of the first of this year’s apple crop; we watched the frayed edges of storm clouds dip ever lower in the sky.

We waited, as for Gadot, for the promised thunderstorm which never came.

 

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But continuing on to the historic island itself, we noticed a creature running across the lawn near the causeway.

We had spotted it a few times before, always from a distance, and were happily surprised to find it out in the open today where we could photograph it.

 

The fox who came out near Jamestown  Island this afternoon.

The fox who came out near Jamestown Island this afternoon.

 

It was a fox.  A somewhat old and painfully thin fox, with a frayed tail and dull looking coat.

 

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And it had found something lying in the grass it  could eat.  It’s hunger must have fed its courage, and it stayed out in the open, despite our company and the passing traffic.

We are sorry to find the fox looking so thin with autumn coming quickly on.

 

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But that is the way of things in the wild.  Things remain a bit frayed around the edges year round, especially here at the last gasp of summer.

 

Osprey Eagle on the James River today.

Osprey Eagle on the James River today.

 

The elements of sun and wind, rain and lightening work their will on forest, field, and garden alike.

But what is frayed today, is often renewed with fresh growth of leaves and flowers soon enough.

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Whether its own new growth, or that of a conquering vine; it matters little.

Nature always wins, in the end.

 

Autumn Clematis scrambles over shrubs and trees on the river bank.  Its sweet fragrance fills the air with perfume.

Autumn Clematis scrambles over shrubs and trees on the river bank. Its sweet fragrance fills the air with perfume.

 

Getting “frayed” is only a stop along the path of re-newal. 

It is the way of things….

 

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Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Fray

 

With love, to a favorite aunt who let me know she cares enough to follow my ramblings here…..

 

Sweet Autumn Clematis, awash in sweet perfume.

Sweet Autumn Clematis, awash in sweet perfume.

River Beach, July Morning

Beach along the James River

Beach along the James River

We awoke to a morning cool and bright, with a steady breeze energizing the garden, and us.

Every leaf and vine sparkled with raindrops left from the storms which blew through all day yesterday, and late into the evening.

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With the garden already rain soaked, we felt free to take off this morning for a rare visit to the beach.

We wanted to enjoy the early morning quiet, bury our feet in the sand, and enjoy the cool winds  blowing in across the river.

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Most Virginia beaches are  river beaches. 

 

A Bald Cypress grows here along the beach.

A Bald Cypress grows here along the beach.

 

The Chesapeake Bay begins just north of Virginia Beach, and is fed with a succession of rivers which drain thousands of miles of land from the Allegheny mountains to the coast.

The Eastern Shore, as we call it in Virginia, forms a narrow, sandy buffer between the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

 

Osprey eagles have claimed this hunting blind in the middle of the James River.

Osprey eagles have claimed this hunting blind in the middle of the James River.

Our James River begins far to our west across the mountains, at the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers.

It meanders across the state, accepting water brought to it from many other small rivers along the way, through Richmond, until it empties into the Atlantic just to the south of the mouth of the Bay.

 

A Great Blue Heron lands on the opposite shore, at the mouth of College Creek.  The Spanish landed here in 1570, and traveled northwards towards the York River, where they attempted to plant a colony.  It was attacked by the Native American nation living here at the time.

A Great Blue Heron lands on the opposite shore, at the mouth of College Creek. The Spanish landed here in 1570, and traveled northwards towards the York River, where they attempted to plant a colony.  It was attacked by the Native American nation living here at the time, and the Spanish focused their energy elsewhere.

 

The York River, a few miles to our north, is the southernmost Virginia river to empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

Working northwards, there is the Piankatank River, the Rappahannock River,  the Wicomoco River, and finally the Potomac River; whose bank forms Virginia’s northern boundary near the coast.

If these names sound a bit strange to your tongue, it is because they reflect the language of the Native Americans who loved this land before the English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Polish, German, and Africans came to claim it from them.

Looking across the James towards Surry County..  New contruction will begin soon on the point of land to the left.

Looking across the James towards Surry County.   New residential  construction will begin soon on the point of land to the left.

Many of my friends, when I was growing up, spent weekends and summers “at The River.”

Only they spoke it, “At The Rivah.”

Since I grew up near the James and the Dan rivers, this was always a bit of a mystery to me.

The Marina of a large neighboring community

The Marina of a large neighboring community

 

Years later, living along the Rappahannock,  in that secretive and enchanted part of the state known to us as, “The Northern Neck;”  I finally understood them.

Miles and miles of sandy beaches line these narrow fingers of land outstretched into the salty Bay.

 

Beaches just like this one line miles and miles of Virginia's rivers as they near the Chesapeake Bay.

Beaches just like this one line miles and miles of Virginia’s rivers as they near the Chesapeake Bay.

 

This once was the land of oysters and Blue Crabs, fishing boats, thousands of wild shore birds, camp grounds, artists’ colonies, and tiny coastal towns.

It is a slow, clannish, rural way of life lived along country roads lined with wildflowers and farms.

Life has changed, even there, as pollution washing into the Bay kills the sea life which once fueled the local economies.

 

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Still, it is a different world from the land of “Virginia Beach,” tucked into the southeastern most corner of Virginia.

Gateway to the Outer Banks  of North Carolina, and the miles of sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches to our south, the “resort strip” of hotel lined, manufactured beaches and beach cottage rental neighborhoods; the resort city is a place apart from the rest of the state.

It has taken on an urban feel.  Bulldozers rake the beaches each night, and dredges re-build them periodically with sand from the shipping channels.

Container ships and Naval vessels pass just offshore.

 

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While our Atlantic beaches are mostly dead now, with little sea life left for miles offshore; our river beaches teem with life.

Grasses and trees grow right down to the water, sinking their roots into sand, soil, and stone.

Fish jump and birds swim.

Bald eagles converse during their morning hunt.

Bald eagles converse during their morning hunt.

 

Eagles and herons converse during the morning hunt; while cardinals, goldfinches, and red winged blackbirds glide from tree to tree in the thickets.

Dragonflies form thick clouds over the grasslands and marshes.

Empty shells wash up on the beach, evidence that clams and other shellfish can still live here.

 

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The pollution washing into the James from every farm and town it touches along the way has not completely overwhelmed it yet.

This is one of the most “alive” areas along the Virginia coast now.

We never fail to find nesting eagles along the banks of the James.  They are a harbinger of the river’s health and vitality.

 

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While we can never restore a natural environment to its state at some arbitrary point in the past; we can preserve, and sometimes even improve, the environment as we find it.

This has happened here. 

The early colonists clear cut much of this area; overpopulated it;  polluted it;  and planted crops, such as tobacco, which depleted the soil.

 

Native Black Locust trees, full of seedpods, grow along the beach.

Native Black Locust trees, full of seedpods, grow along the beach.

 

Since this strip of land was converted to a National Park early in the 20th Century, and since Federal law limited the most harmful chemicals which destroy bird populations, there has been a resurgence of life along this stretch of the river.

Native species of trees have grown back, grasses have covered the fields, marshes have evolved into their current state of beauty.

 

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Deer populations are stronger now than they were in the 17th century, largely because they are unchallenged by predators and are rarely hunted.

Nature never finds itself completely in balance.  Things are always shifting.

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James City County recently approved construction of a new section of a  neighborhood which fronts this river.  It  will have its own devastating impact on the beaches and wildlife  for years to come.

But for this moment, this morning, the James River beach near us was mostly a place of beauty. 

We hope it will remain a cradle for wildlife, loved and protected, for all those generations yet to come.

Bald Eagle, resting along the river's bank this morning.

Osprey  Eagle, resting along the river’s bank this morning.

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Independence Day

A Bald Eagle nest near Jamestown Island, Virginia.

A Bald Eagle nest near Jamestown Island, Virginia.

Have you noticed that “Independence Day” has devolved into displays of shiny red, white, and blue Mylar decorations across much of our suburban landscape?

It is a time for car sales, summer vacations, huge picnics, and fireworks.

Please don’t misunderstand-  it is a great holiday!  I especially love watching fireworks on a summer sultry summer evening.

I’m just suggesting that it would be wise for us to contemplate the deeper meaning of “independence,” and what it means for us in 2014.

 

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What does “Independence” mean to us today? 

Just something to think about,  this weekend, as we put up our red, white, and blue bunting, hang our flags,  and prepare our picnic dinners.

 

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Here are a few thoughts from Americans who devoted their lives to building our nation.

They are words worth remembering, and perhaps offer an insight into where we go from here in our national journey towards our destiny as a free people.

 

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.

For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.

Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

John F. Kennedy

 

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“America was established not to create wealth but to realize a vision,

to realize an ideal – to discover and maintain liberty among men.”

Woodrow Wilson

 

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“The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.

You have to catch up with it yourself.”

Benjamin Franklin

 

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,

signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,

those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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“I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature

and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping,

and like the grave, cries, ‘Give, give.’ ”

Abigail Adams

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“You are not here merely to make a living.

You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply,

with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.

You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Woodrow Wilson

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“I hope we shall crush in its birth

the aristocracy of our monied corporations

which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength,

and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Thomas Jefferson

I hope that you will have that picnic with loved ones, and that you’ll enjoy the fireworks display on Saturday evening if not Friday.  
It is good to remember exactly what it is we celebrate each July. 

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Our nation was founded on ideals and principles.  We keep them alive as we contemplate them, and share them with those who share our journey.
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Family

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The Colonial Parkway was a popular place for families to gather this Father’s Day weekend.

We were so happy to find Osprey Eagle families in some of the many nests we watch.

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Most of the Osprey and Bald Eagle couples have little ones in their nests now, and so stay busy feeding them.

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This couple found a few minutes to relax and enjoy the river just before sunset yesterday evening.

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Since there is always work at hand which needs attention, and hungry mouths to feed,

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One must take one’s moments of sheer peace and relaxation where one can….

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Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

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The Birds Don’t Mind….

Great Blue Heron on the bank of Halfway Creek

Great Blue Heron on the bank of Halfway Creek

Some might call today “a grey day,”  but the birds don’t mind.

And neither do we.

We’ve enjoyed this cool rainy day.

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A lovely break after the heat earlier this week.  We had hot sunshine and temps over 100 just a few days ago.

But today we have enjoyed the fog and mist.

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The sky is sculpture in motion with great dark clouds, but our garden looks vibrant.

And the birds are loving it!

We took a drive down the Parkway after running some errands this morning.

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And to our surprise we found three swans in Halfway Creek.  They appear to be the same three who were hanging out in College Creek on Sunday afternoon.

My friends believe this is a family of parents and cygnet, who has not yet gone out on her own.

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The three are harmonious together, whatever their relationship might be.

And we were happy to find them again.

The Parkway is alive today with eagles and herons, red winged blackbirds, ravens, and a hawk high up in a pine.

We couldn’t stop for all, but we managed to photograph a few.

And we still made it home before the skies opened up again to give us another delicious shower.

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What a beautiful day.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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