Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall Bird Observations

Joy of joys, I just heard two Barred Owls talking to each other in the woods behind our home. I've been hooting back to one for weeks. I'm happy it finally found the real thing :)

I've seen Fish Crows in very large flocks lately. One flock decided to roost at my friends home near the May River. Lucky for them the crows moved on. It could have been a noisy winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's New?

Traditionally, October is my busiest month and this year it was no exception: workshops, art shows, learning more photoshop techniques so I can make note cards, a board meeting at the Society of Bluffton Artists Gallery where I'm recording secretary, SOBA Gallery sitting duty (you hang a painting, you work a shift). The list goes on and on :) Thank goodness Rob loves to cook!!

Here are samples of the note cards that are now available. Enjoy! Please contact me ( if your interested in purchasing sets. They make great hostess gifts :)

This Thursday, I've planned a special field trip for my past workshop participants to Nemours Plantation. I think it's important to keep the 'nature journaling juices' alive so I plan field trips that only my alumni can attend.

Nemours Plantation is located in northern Beaufort County and extends for 8 miles along the southern bank of the Combahee River. It lies within the ACE River Basin -"listed as one of the last great places on Earth" by The Nature Conservancy.

I was introduced to Nemours when enrolled in the SC Master Naturalist Program. My class spent a day, at this private plantation, learning about the ACE Basin and how the Nemours Wildlife Foundation was established, as well as its missions. We viewed flocks of shorebirds, white pelicans, a few wood storks, herons & egrets, and learned first hand about rice trunks as we walked along rice field embankments.

I hope to post our journal pages by the weekend. Please check back!

Friday, October 17, 2008

National Wildlife Refuge Week - Pickney Island

In celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week, Water-Dog Outfitters has partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to offer tours of Pinckney Island. Rob and I chose to take the hayride tour. We enjoy Pickney Island but, to date, had not been past Ibis Pond. Here was a chance to scope it out and see if our thin-tired bicycles would handle the trails (not!).

We took the 3 p.m. tour. The weather was Carolina perfect. But, being that time of day, we didn't see a whole lot of wildlife. Rob saw an armadillo off in the woods and we all saw a small flock of White Ibis roosting in a tree near one of the ponds. There were Gulf Fritillary butterflies everywhere. I've decided, after studying these butterflies in flight, that they look like the TIE Fighter ships in Star Wars. The speed of their wing beats is such that my eyes see the shape of these fighters. I see a lot of natures shapes in science fiction movies. Have you noticed this too?

Pickney is beautiful!! The main trail has some large stones that really require a bike with large tires. But, there are also wide grass paths that shoot off of the main trail that are just lovely. We stopped for a break along the NNW shore with a view of Mackay Creek. I always pronounced it Ma ka' (long 'a' in ka) but, our guide pronounced it Mac' key. I need to get a hold of a local and get the scoop on how to pronounce the name.

Our view, at the stop, looked toward Little Harry and Corn Islands. The tide was low enough to see oyster beds across the creek. Thank God for Oysters! They keep our waterways clean. How? Oysters pump 7 gallons an hour through their mucus covered gills! Yes, 7 gallons an hour!!! They can filter water in an estuary system within weeks. This doesn't mean mankind can get lazy about potential pollution though. Town planners and developers need to remember this!

I've linked the title of this blog to the Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge page. Have a peek :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

One More Wildflower

One last wildflower for the season :) Actually, I've had the image done for quite a while but, I wanted just the right calligraphic font for it's title. I played on and off with different styles, most were too static. I think I have the best one now. What do you think?

The Climbing Butterfly Pea is a pretty little trailing or twining perennial herb. The cutting I took was quite interesting to watch. The flowers would last a day. Luckily, there were quite a few buds! It's found along roadsides, fields, fence lines and other disturbed sites (Atlantic Coastal Plain Wildflowers/Gil Nelson).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meandering on the May

October 1st was nature journaling day on the May River. My good friend, Kate, called and said we must take advantage of the extra high tides and journey up the May to its headwaters. OK! I'm there!

We pushed off just after 10 a.m., camera in hand. Not to far into our travels, Kate stopped the boat. "What's going on?" I asked.
"Dolphins." she replied. I didn't see a thing, but my river rat (endearing term) friend saw the ripples on the water and knew we were in for a treat. About 20 feet from the boat they came up for air. Two adults and a calf. We watched them for a while. They too were taking advantage of the tide.

Onward we traveled. The channel through the spartina (cord grass) was getting more and more narrow. We were able to make it within 200 feet of the Palmetto Bluff bridge where the river begins! Love those extra high tides :)

We saw egrets galore - Great and Snowy, Little Blue Herons, a few Great Blues, juvi Black-crowned Night Heron, Kingfishers, Osprey, terns and gulls. And, a special fly over by 12 Wood Storks. I was in heaven :)

On the way back we anchored the skiff along the shady side of the river. We sketched and painted, had a picnic lunch and watched the tide as it changed. The extra high tides seem to get extra low real quick! We headed for the sandbar. It was just becoming visible when we approached. We set out the anchor once again but, between the winds and the tide moving out so quickly, the skiff kept floating back toward the bar. Couldn't take advantage of the sandbar, not without the boat becoming beached. Oh well, how much 'perfect' can you have in one day? :) Please click on the image for a better view of the 2 journal pages I created.