Sunday, January 18, 2009

Watercolor Pencil Workshop at SOBA

I always get so excited when it's time to teach a workshop. This time the theme was not the usual "How to Create a Nature Journal," but an "Intro to Watercolor Pencils." I didn't mandate what type of paper or watercolor pencils the participants should bring but, insisted that they get a Niji WaterBrush.

This workshop was part of the Saturday 'Winter Blues' Series at the Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA) Gallery, and they are three hours long. By far the shortest workshop I've given. I will teach a mini "Intro to Nature Journaling" on two consecutive Saturdays, at the end of February. No watercolor pencils then, though. I think it will be best to focus on how to get your subject down on paper and enjoy telling about it :)

Some of my students already owned their wc pencils prior to the workshop, but really hadn't explored the possibilities yet. None had ever used a waterbrush before. What fun we had!

First, they took their pencils out for a spin by creating color charts and mixing colors. Then I did some demo's on how to create marsh grasses, waves and clouds. To my dismay I forgot to show them my technique for spanish moss.......

Then, each went to work recreating their watercolor pencil rendition of a photograph. I hovered and gave pointers/mini demo's when asked. It was a quick three hours!
When the weather warms, I promised to arrange a plein air instruction session. Thank you, Carol, Debbie, Ruth, Donna , Judy and Pat! See you soon!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Breeding Plumage

The other day I saw a Great Egret with the beginnings of breeding plumage! Such a celebration to see these magnificent birds alive and well. To think they were once hunted and killed for their plumes for the millinery trade. Thank you, George Bird Grinnell for creating the Audubon Society in 1886 and for the group of women who started the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1896. They boycotted clothing that used bird feathers! Our voices can be heard!

The day I made the above journal entry, I was in search of Great Egrets in breeding plumage. I went to Pinckney Island NWR and walked to Ibis Pond toting my spotting scope, Nikon coolpix camera, and journaling supplies. When I arrived, there wasn't an egret in sight. Common Moorhens were chattering away. They always make me smile. I walked around the right side of the pond, still nothing. Then, as I reach the far side, I spotted a Great Egret in the reeds. At last! I can set up shop and get this scope off of my shoulder - it gets heavy!

My initial view of the egret was at a weird angle but, I loved it. While my one eye was looking thru the spotting scope the other helped guide my hand with a modified contour sketch. The green of the bird's lores was amazing! Could I do them justice with the colors I had on hand? After my sketch was finished, I watched the bird a little longer, taking some digiscope photos. I chose to create this painting using a different body position that looked more believable. I'll always love my Quasimodo Egret sketch though :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sea Pine Forest Preserve

Lake Mary, at Sea Pine Forest Preserve, on Hilton Head Island, SC is one of our favorite spots to spend the day.

We bring the dogs, our cameras, my scope and most important.... my journaling supplies. The dogs get so excited as we make the turn into the Preserve. We head for the picnic table area off the Anhinga Trail and set up camp for the day. Since we don't have the type of dogs that can be 'off leash,' we bring their x-pen and their picnic carpet pads (no, they are not tooooo spoiled) so Rob and I can do our thing and the dogs can enjoy a snooze in the sunshine. The above journal page is from January 2006. We will be back in our favorite spot in a couple of weeks. I love returning to places and journaling. I love to see the changes and compare observations from season to season. You can really engrave favorite places into your heart this way. I hope the Brown Pelicans will be there. We usually hear a Barred Owl call. Perhaps this year we'll see it!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside! (more journal reflections)

Back in 1981, I was living in Littleton, MA. Frost patterns on the windows have always intrigued me. One of my bedroom windows faced east and I can remember this lovely, cold, January morning as the sun streamed through the window creating such beauty through the frost. Tooooo bad that you can't see the image that's in my memory from looking at this page.... It's beautiful!

I'm sure glad it doesn't get that cold here in SC :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Do You Know Where You Were In January 1976?

For me, the New Year always brings a time of reflection. Back to my journals I go :)

1976 was my second year out of college. The New Year began with reflections of the summer of 1974 when my college friends and I spent our last 'free' summer after college on the Cape (MA). This color pencil rendition was inspired by a photograph I had taken. East Dennis was the home of my (at the time) heart throb :)

My friends, Chrissie and Patty and I worked various jobs that summer. I was a hostess at an IHOP in Hyannis. My claim to fame was being able to carry 12 glasses of water (all at once and w/o a tray) to a table. Oh, I also remember seating Herb Reed of the Platters and he gave me a $10 tip!!

Note the poem by Rod McQuen. I still have three books of his poems that filled our hearts during and after our college years. Sigh........

I could go on and on about this magical summer but, not today. See why journals are so priceless? So many memories come flooding back with just a glance of a page :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So What's the Journaling Hold Up?

Here's a bit of what's kept me from getting out-in-the-field!

The Wedding Concertina was a delight to work on. My client was taken with a Marriage Blessing read at a wedding she attended. I was tickled when Judy contacted me and asked what type of calligraphic goodie could be created using the Blessing so the couple could always have a remembrance of their special day.
Upon reading 'A Blessing for a Marriage' by James Dillet Freeman, Silent Unity's founder, I was so moved. This piece needed to be more than a framed calligraphic rendition. It was destined to be more alive. Something that could be used in celebrating each anniversary. The Wedding Concertina was born! It has 12 pages plus the cover. It is laced with a metallic gold ribbon, used as a closure. On the cover, I used metallic acrylic inks. Inside, I chose a copperplate font and created watercolor illustrations to highlight certain passages. I dug into my reference files and found information on the meanings of flowers. I used ivy, asters, phlox, purple hyacinth and a peony to compliment James Dillet Freeman's words. Then I made a slip jacket for the book so it could remain protected and find it's place on a book shelf.

As I worked on this book I decided I must make one for Rob and me. How wonderful it would be to read this beautiful blessing each year and to look back and consider how we measured up to the love and respect we pledged each other so long ago. If you get a chance, click on the title above as it links to Unity's site and page for the blessing.

My next calligraphic commission was a family tree. I came to know Captain Timothy Marshall and Hilly Woodbury of Ipswich, MA. Their union in 1776 produced quite a family tree. During the planning stage as I wrote and rewrote the names, I began to feel like I knew each person. My imagination was quite busy thinking about their lives. I felt blessed to be a part of this family tree. When the project was completed, I let my client know how much I enjoyed getting to know his relatives.

My home portrait business is gathering steam! I call it 'NatureScape Home Portraits.' It's time for me to create a webpage of offerings. There are traditional treatments like this one to the left and Storybook portraits that feature the home or a portion of it, and then around the main illustration are vignettes of special things clients want to highlight about their home. My signature, the thing that really sets my portraits from others, is adding critters, birds and pets. I am a nature artist after all! I want my home portraits to portray what each client loves about their home and property.

This last feature wasn't a commission, but my most favorite Christmas gift that I made for dear, dear friends. You know that I'm big into journaling. How wonderful, I thought, to have a Christmas Keepsake book to write down a few things each year that brought joy to your heart. And, best of all, rereading these memories in years to come!

I usually hand paint ornaments (sea shells) for the children. But, it's been quite a while since I've been to the beach and I didn't have any shells suitable for ornaments in my stash! What to do?? Pressure was on, it was a week before Christmas and no matter what I did I'd be late, as I needed to mail this present to NY!! Why don't I get these Christmas present ideas in July when there's time?? Ho, ho, ho! What's a little more Christmas pressure! Breads to bake, cookies to make, artwork to create........ I had a great time! Not much sleep mind you, but lots of joy in my heart!

And, the blessings of commission work continues :)

Thank you to all my clients for making my year a success!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace to You and Yours!

I would like to share with you a poem my husband, Rob, wrote. His inspiration, his own childhood memories.....
Such love, such blessings.

May you have much love, peace and joy during this holiday season and always!
Pam & Rob

Home for the Holidays

Mama’s home cooking, her comforting voice,
and her loving touch
Dad’s quiet & gentle ways, his feelings conveyed
without words
Familiar holiday sounds filling our days, and
crackling warm fires lending a soft glow to our nights
Brothers and sisters, Aunts and Uncles
Friends of long-standing...and new ones, too
Neighbors, caroling at our door, their smiling
upturned faces brightened by the Christmas star
GrandMoms and GrandDads, some gone now,
but still so alive in our hearts
The smallest of gifts, handmade and filled with love,
that years from now will still draw warm smiles
and bittersweet tears
The sounds, the aromas, the warmth...
...memories of home
You ask me what I wish for you at Christmas?
All of this, and so much more...

R.T. Brickell ‘95

You may read more of Rob's work at StoryTeller - My Creative Fiction Muse

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hello, Winter Solstice!

We had unusually warm weather the last week. It's about to end as winter officially begins. I did notice a few new blooms on the Yellow Jessamine vine at the edge of the wood. The spark of yellow is quite lively against the back drop bare trees.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh Boy! New Watercolor Pencils!

I decided to treat myself to a set of 12 Finest Artists' Quality watercolor pencils by Faber-Castell called Albrecht Durer (there are two dots over the u in Durer). The pesky little tin of 12 was on the expensive side....$24.00. I probably could have picked them up, at a better price on line but, I also wanted to support a new local art store "Coastal Art Supply" in Beaufort. I love not having to travel to Savannah just to go to a legitimate art store (vs. Michaels). I always get lost in Savannah..... but, that's another story.

Upon opening the set, I was immediately disappointed as it included a white pencil. Useless, as far as I'm concerned. I'd really rather have had another color like their # 123 fuchsia, so I could match the color of Beauty Berries :)

The colors: Cadmium Yellow, Dark Cadmium Orange, Deep Scarlet Red, Magenta, Light Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue, Emerald Green, Light Green, Burnt Ochre, Walnut Brown and Black are a lot different than the colors in the Derwent 12 pack. Hmmmmm, let's take these colors out for a spin and see why they were selected for this 12 pack!

WOW! Look at all the color combinations that are available!! And, the purples! I'm in love!

The pencils have a buttery feel when applying the color to my sketch pad. The lead seems to be much softer than the Derwents. I think I'll expose more lead with my jack knife versus using my little sharpener. I tried that with the Derwents but the leads kept braking off when I applied any pressure. I don't think that will happen with these. Can't wait to take them out in the field and really put them to work!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taking a Break

We are starting to have warmer weather again. Thank goodness, as it's felt a lot like January in November and December! When Rob has a day off, we try to get in a golf game. Today was lovely. The low winter sun was diffused with clouds, making the golf balls easier to find among the fallen leaves. Last week was a real challenge as the leaf litter was reflecting the sun's rays, making our golf balls very difficult to see.

Hoards of Black Vultures were near the pond between the 2nd green and 3rd tee at Okatie Creek Golf Course. We had to drive through a few that were roosting on the cart path bridge. They were a bit put off that we golfers were in their way :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gibbous Moon

Learned a new word today. I may have heard of it before, long, long ago in high school but, it's new to me today :)

'Gibbous' Moon. Off to the dictionary. Ah ha! It means that the moon is larger than a semi-circle but not at big as a circle. Better yet is the word origin.... late Middle English: from late Latin gibbosus from latin gibbus 'hump.'

Hump! Now that I can identify with. To me, the day before a full Moon, the lower left side of it looks like the man in the moon needs to put his tongue in his cheek so the 'hump' from his tongue can round out his face. Now I have a visual association for my word-of-the-day. The artist is happy, she'll remember her new word :)

All this came about as I was interested in the meteor shower scheduled for this evening called the Geminids. But, as of 6:30 p.m., we have coudy skies and even if the sky is clear..... the gibbous Moon will be too bright to see all but the brightest meteors. Sigh........

I started the 'last call' dog walk around 11:15 p.m. Dudley always goes first. The sky had just a few clouds and the gibbous Moon was so bright that I really had to hunt for Orion. No sign of any meteors.......

But, when Grizzie and I went out....... well, here's what happened....I'm a happy camper :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Long Night Moon

Just came in from the afternoon dog walk (5:43 p.m.) and the full moon was already high in the sky. It didn't seem that close to
full last night, on the 'last call' dog walk, and I was surprised. Time is going by too fast!

So, off to my favorite star gazing site again to get the skinny on the moon. According to StarDate Online: December's full Moon, which sails across the south tonight, is known as the Long Night Moon. It is in view for more hours than any other full Moon -- a good 13 or 14 hours for most of the country, with up to about 16 hours of moonlight from far-northern latitudes.

Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Right Whales and Great Whites

We often get so caught up in land matters that it's nice to hear about what's happening off our shores. Below, is an article recently published in our local paper, The Bluffton Today. To see the entire article, please click on the highlighted copy.

"SAVANNAH — Highly endangered north Atlantic right whales are making their way back to local waters.

A survey team from the Wildlife Trust spotted a pair of adult females traveling south about seven miles off Charleston harbor on Nov. 23. The next day they saw another adult female about six miles off the Savannah River.

They also spotted the first mother/calf pair of the season, about seven miles off Hilton Head Island, said Dianna Schulte, who leads the South Carolina survey team for the Wildlife Trust.

Right whales, considered America’s urban whales because of their tendency to stay near the East Coast, spend summers feeding in New England and Canadian waters.

The females migrate south in the late fall to their only known calving grounds, off the coast of Georgia and Florida. Last year, 23 calves were born. Once hunted nearly to extinction for their oil, fewer than 400 individuals are thought to be alive now. Their biggest threats today are ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. A new federal regulation that goes into effect Dec. 9 takes aim at the former by requiring large ships to slow to 10 knots (about 12 mph) in areas where the whales feed and reproduce, as well as along migratory routes in between.

The speed restriction will extend out 20 nautical miles off the coast along much of the whales’ migration route annually from November through April."

The same day the article was published, I received this email from the local SC Master Naturalist Chapter. What do the young ones say......" Way cool?" I think it applies!

Fellow Naturalists,

As Naturalists we're always very curious about any flotsam or jetsam on our beaches..........check out the attachment from Al Segars,'s this for a "biofact" washed up recently on Morris Island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

How about a 13.2 ft female Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias!.........this beauty is quite a rare sighting in SC, several have been caught in recent years, usually by longliners fishing for commercial finfish far offshore........I got a chance to see the 1st two Great Whites ever caught in SC........two 6ft. "pups" caught by a swordfish longliner way back in the early 80's.........Whites are typically here during the colder months, Nov-April, perhaps to feed on migrating Right Whales which calve off Georgia & Florida........they also like our big red and black drum.........this sexually immature female had only a few red drum scales in her gut, though the carcass sat for 7 days and contents could have been digested during that signs of external trauma & internal tissues appear to be healthy.......biologists guess that she's about 10-13 years old and have pulled vertebra for more accurate aging.........they guess that she was feeding in shallow water and became disoriented.......her jaws will be in the collections at the SCDNR lab at Ft. Johnson.

A little more info....
There are two groups whales (the Order of Cetaceans). Toothed and baleen. Right whales are filter-feeding whales (baleen). Only baleen whales used songs during courtship. Only the toothed whales (dolphin, orcas and sperm whales) use sonar.

Sharks have skeletons made of cartilage but no bones. Only the mouth parts of a shark are made of bone but they are not attached to the cartilaginous skull. That's why both jaws project out of its face when prey is attacked. Remember holding onto your seat when you saw the movie JAWS? Yup, that image of the teeth/jawbones extending out kind of stays with you doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rewind to October

Commission jobs are still rolling in and taking most of my time but, I finally finished this journal page from October and had to share :)

Rob and I traveled to Columbia to pick up my painting that didn't sell at the State Fair. It was a beautiful sunny day, and while Rob drove, I sketched. The median along Rt. 26 was filled with scenes like this. The Sea Myrtle was just starting to bloom. The Common Goldenrod and Bur-marigold were really eye-catching. I love how Nature throws in complimentary colors to please the eye!

The unsold but, favorite painting is now hanging at the BAA gallery in Beaufort for the member's show. Hopefully it will find a new home to roost in :) I titled it "Who's the Fairest."

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Rare Alignment..... Venus, Jupiter & Moon

We have had rain since my last post about Venus & Jupiter. I was getting worried that we wouldn't experience this rare alignment. But, the day's clear skies held. And, while we toured our neighborhoods Christmas lights celebration, Rob and I celebrated as we witnessed something near and dear to our hearts..... our celestial wonder, the rare alignment of a crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter ... not to be seen again until 2052. Peace be with you!

My kind of snow....

This morning, I ran into Beaufort to drop off a painting for the member show at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery. It's a windy day, wsw winds from 15 to 25 mph. with temps in the low 50's. Along Rt. 170, I encountered a flurry of large white snow flakes - the kind that are perfect for catching on you tongue! What a beautiful sight! The sun was shinning, the sky blue, and snow flakes everywhere! Well........... OK, it wasn't really snow but, the flying seeds of the Sea Myrtle sure did make a fine imitation of snow flakes :) Like I say..... my kind of snow. I'm living in the right place :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Venus & Jupiter

Don't know if you've noticed but Venus and Jupiter, which are the brightest objects in the night sky after the moon, are appearing one on top of the other in the southwest as the sky begins to grow dark. Venus is the brighter of the two. Jupiter is above it. They set around 8 p.m. I noticed them a few nights ago, knew they were planets, but which ones?? So, off to one of my favorite websites - StarDate online. I always check out the moon phases on this site. They have a wealth of information. According to the Weekly Stargazing Tips page, Venus and Jupiter will join the crescent moon on Nov. 30th and continue to change positions over the next few days. Don't you just love looking at the night sky?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Creating an Illustrated Nature Journal Workshop

It's been a few weeks since this workshop occurred but I so wanted to share the fun! There were only two participants, but we got to take our time and some quality journal pages were created. Here's a peak!
Due to unusually cold weather, we opted to hold our 'in-the-field' session indoors. I brought in some Sea Myrtle clippings and photographs of the shrub. Judy and Carol then created a journal page using these elements.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weather and Autumn Colors

The South Carolina Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest has a great blog. Changing Seasons is a recent post that tells how weather can affect autumn color.

The fall colors, in my part of Beaufort County, have inspired me this year. I'd say peak color was 2 weeks ago but, there are still some pockets of color that stir my memories of New England autumn days. The ferns have been especially colorful. Almost a burnt orange! I have many pages to journal........ But first, work for hire must be finished :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November's workshop news to come

I have been very blessed with commission work. Keeping my blog current suffers, though. Please check back as I have lots to tell you about my last workshop and other goodies :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wow! Great Free Press :)

Bluffton Today's education writer, Sara Wright, thrilled me with some free press. Thank you, Sara!

Just click the Bluffton Today link above. To check out the front page (yes, I made it there too!), just move the blue button, to the left of the main article, up to the top.

WoooHooo, star for a day :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nemours Plantation Field Trip

I held my inaugural nature journaling field trip, for past workshop participants, at Nemours Plantation on October 30th. Nemours, a private 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 Basin - a low country treasure that includes approxamately 170,000 protected acres within the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto River Basins.

Eugene duPont III began assembling Nemours in the early 1960's by purchasing several smaller plantations. It now includes 9,800 acres and contains a rich diversity of habitats including remnant rice fields, fresh and brackish water marshes, upland pine and hardwood forests, bottomland hardwoods, and cypress/tupelo swamps.

Most of the wetlands associated with the Combahee River were diked in the 1700's and converted to fields for growing rice. Rice farming in SC disappeared by the 1920's but the dikes and water control structures (rice trunks) have been maintained and are used today to create habitats for wetland dependent wildlife.

Mr. duPont had the vision to protect this plantation forever and upon his passing in 1995 the Nemours Wildlife Foundation was established. In 1999, the Foundation hired Dr. Ernie Wiggers as its first Executive Director. In Dr. Wiggers words, "Our vision for the Foundation is to continue the legacy of Eugene duPont, III and his family through excellence in land stewardship, education, and science."

Back in March, after the Master Naturalist field trip to Nemours, I proposed my nature journaling field trip idea to Ernie. One of my ongoing goals is to keep workshop participants actively journaling and what better way to accomplish this than to plan special educational trips? Thank you, Ernie, for helping me achieve this goal!

I sent out 26 invitations and received a lot of interest from workshop alumni. However, between some folks still being out of town for the summer and some cancelations due to unexpected circumstances, the RSVP list dwindled down to 3. We were a small group but had lots of heart! Ernie met us inside the Nemours' educational building and while the crisp fall air warmed, he shared information about the plantation and the Foundation's mission and goals. Ernie was very generous with his time and luckily by the time we headed out to discover nature's wonders, the only thing we needed to do was find shelter from the north wind. We found some reeds along the rice impoundment dike in front of the main house. We settled in and as we became quiet, nature came alive around us.

Sharon found a Common Buckeye butterfly. It was very cooperative about being photographed! My guide book states they love to alight on bare soil or gravel (that's where it was) but, that it's extremely wary and difficult to approach. They do not withstand freezing temperatures and will migrate to the gulf coast, so perhaps the 40 degree morning temps made it sluggish.

While Sharon, Lynda and Kate sketched, I handed out guide sheets on waterbirds and discussed how to ID birds by their silhouette and field marks versus color. We didn't see any migrating birds but, we had a good look at a Bald Eagle, 18 soaring White Pelicans, Great Egrets, a Snowy Egret, a couple of Great Blue Herons, a Cormorant, a few Common Terns, Turkey Vultures and 4 Jet Fighters from the Marine base!

The marsh grass was begining to turn golden. We were discussing a few plants that were flowering and I had the perfect opportunity to explain whay scientific names are so important to record in journals. Case in point 'Sea Myrtle.' Lynda said she knew this shrub by the name Groundsel-tree. Also correct! Another common name for it is Consumption Weed. By including the scientific name in your notes there will be no question as to the plants identity.

Scientific names of plants are a universally accepted, standardized system governed by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). According to my Wildflowers of SC guide book by R.D. Porcher and D.A. Rayner, the scientific name always consists of two Latin or latinized words: a genus or generic name and a specific epithet for the species. The specific epithet is followed by the name of the person(s) who first described the plant. This subject, alone, could fill many blog posts so I'll end it here :)

After lunch we moved back up to the lawn. The tide must have turned as the north wind picked up again. We kept having to move so we'd stay in the sunshine!

Kate added memory drawings and a poem, on the bottom of her journal page, from her recent trip to Washington state. That's what I love about journaling. You can do anything you want :)

We had a great time. Renewed friendships and as Lynda so nicely put it - we were with kindred spirits in beautiful surroundings. Thank you, Lynda, Kate and Sharon for making this inaugural workshop great!

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.