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I'm a children's book writer, a campground owner and a special education teacher's assistant. It makes for a very busy year with lots of writing inspiration.
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Sometimes, when I go out in the kayak, I’m intent on finding photo opportunities. Sometimes, I’m looking for time to to let my mind wander in the quiet around me.
Sometimes I need to “be” one with nature, to clear my head and fill my soul. No thinking allowed – only observing all the marvelous sights and sounds around us. How green the leaves are, the sound the water makes as it laps at the shoreline, the shapes of the clouds as they float past, the beads of water on a spider web built between two Water Bulrush.
It was on one of those days that I decided to snuggle my kayak up to the shoreline, and just be. I put my paddle down, raised my camera and waited. I saw little bugs dance across the water. A fish jumped up out to catch one, as birds flitted over to get one, too. And then I heard a commotion in the bushes a short way away. I turned my camera on it and saw a female red-winged blackbird rise from between the leaves, a dragonfly in her mouth.
She hovered there, and at first I wasn’t sure why.
But I understood as soon as a chick rose up to follow her.
She led it on a merry chase to a nearby branch.
The chick hollered and hollered. But Mama bird didn’t go any closer.
Instead she showed off that dragonfly, then turned her head, almost as if to say, “How badly do you want it?”
The little one wouldn’t budge, so she eventually scooted down the branch to give it the dragonfly, it so desperately craved.
I know, that with its mother’s patient teaching, it won’t be long before the little one is grabbing dragonflies of its own.
And perhaps on my next moment of “being”, the bird I see snatching dragonflies from the air, will be this little one.
I’ve often seen birds harass the eagles, driving them from trees and even away from their own eaglets.
But on Friday, I managed to catch a series of photos of it!
I was watching the eaglets , and talking with one of our campers when the eagle swooped into view. It was being chased by small birds who were screaming their frustration.
By the time I’d unpacked my camera, the eagle landed with its eaglets. I’m not sure if it had something for them to eat or not. Regardless, the little, tenacious birds kept swooping and pecking like pesky mosquitoes until the eagle took to the skies again, its tiny bullies in hot pursuit.
I was quite a ways from all the action, but when I zoom in on my photos, it almost looks as if the smaller bird has landed on the poor eagle’s head!
And then pecks at it!
A second bird took to the chase and this one, I’m pretty sure, is a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker.
That poor eagle! It swooped. It dove. It did every move it could to shake the pesky, determined pair.
This is the last shot I caught, before the three of them went around the corner and out of sight. I’m sure that eagle ended up with quite a headache!
I only kayaked out to to see the loon chick three times in two weeks. This was on purpose, because I didn’t want to disturb the family too many times. But I DID want to check on them to see how the chick was doing, since we hadn’t had a chick in two years.
I have an advantage with my 500mm lens. Since I can be further away and still get great photos, the adults aren’t forced or frightened into hiding the chick from my watchful gaze. I was able to witness the parents bring tiny minnows to their little one, dunking the fish several times until the chick took notice and accepted it.
One adult always stayed close by, even when they made quick dives for more food. If they resurfaced more than a few feet from the chick, they’d hoot softly until their little one was close by again.
My very favorite moments, the ones that brought tears to my eyes, were when the chick climbed up on the back of an adult and hid under a wing. One time, I didn’t even know the chick was there, until the second adult surfaced nearby and softly hooted, coaxing it out.
I’m so sad to report, that sometime between my Wednesday night visit (last week) and my Sunday visit, the chick disappeared.
The adult loons were still diving together, hooting softly to each other. But the distances they traveled between dives told me there was no chick in tow.
One of the adults seemed to hang out quite a bit by the original nesting site. Perhaps they will re-nest, but in my experience, it’s late in the season, as the chicks need a lot of time to grow and to learn to fly.
I feel very fortunate to have witnessed this chick’s short, but adorable life. I learned a lot about the interactions between chicks and adult loons. I also grew attached. Very attached. I wish I could have documented this chick through several weeks, until it flew to the coast for the winter months. But alas, it’s not meant to be.
I can always hope for next year.
For the last two years, the loons on our lake have lost their eggs after sitting on them for weeks. This year, they picked an amazing nesting spot, in the shadows and under a fallen branch.
I’ve had my fingers crossed for weeks now! Four to be exact. And this weekend I got to witness the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. A loon chick!
One of my lake neighbors told me the loons were off the nest, and had one chick in tow. I think I was afraid to believe it until I saw it with my own eyes.
Now I’m crossing my fingers again for this little one to grow up. Chicks can be prey to pike, snapping turtles, foxes and eagles.
This pair was very protective, as they should be. Whenever a boater came too close, they called out loud and long. They do the same when the eagle flies overhead, too. Giving them plenty of room, ensures they won’t panic and swim too far from their little one, leaving it unprotected.
The adult loons have only twelve weeks to teach the chicks all they know, before heading to the coast ahead of their little ones. Chicks from the surrounding area will gather together before following a few weeks later.
The chicks blackish-brownish coloring really make them blend into the colors of the water. Boaters should take caution on the lakes, giving loons a wide berth in case they have a chick in tow.
I have tons more photos to go through, I’ll post some more very soon! I’m hopeful my shots of them feeding are crisp and clear enough to catch the chick gobbling tiny fish.
Paula Boyce and I
Back on June 3rd, I visited Lake Region’s After School book club. Paula had contacted me to say they’d just finished reading Mystery of Pine Lake, and could I share the inspiration behind the series?
Could I? It’s my favorite presentation to give!
The students were so excited to see my loon and eagle photos. But I was more excited to hear their wildlife stories . . . the foxes, loons and eagles they’d seen. We all had great connections and stories to tell. The time flew by so quickly!!
I signed all their hardcover books . . . as we nibbled on a special s’more trail mix made with a graham cracker cereal, chocolate chips, and mini-marshmallows. It was quite yummy! I’ll have to remember that recipe for our Sunday Morning Storytime at the campground. I’m sure Maxwell Moose would love it.
I forgot to ask how many books they read in a year, but I do know they finished the graphic novel “Lies In the Dust” before starting Pine Lake. Paula had heard about it through Shannon and I, as we taught it in our classroom.
One of the readers mentioned how Mystery of Pine Lake was outside they’re normal reading comfort zone. “I was a little worried when we started it.. But I really, really enjoyed it!” That praise, and the student’s honesty, filled my heart.
I shared my writing process with them too, mentioning how Book 3, Mystery of the Missing Fox, was with my editor at that very moment and I was waiting for my editorial notes. “You still have to make changes and stuff? Even though it’s your third one?”
“Oh yes, yes I do.” I replied. “It always takes a ton of rewrites to make a story better.”
He nodded solemnly, nibbling on the s’more trail mix. I swear I saw wheels turning in his head.
Many in the group were writers themselves, and I was able to hear about their current projects. I really enjoyed spending time with this group of readers!
Thanks for having me Lake Region!
The adult eagles are on and off the nest, bringing food to their two eaglets. They’re never very far away, keeping watch, keeping their little ones safe.
Look at the difference in the talons in these next two pictures. Aren’t they amazing?
So how do they manage to keep from harming their own chicks. By curling them, when they walk on the nest themselves.
Feeding the eaglets is a full time job right now!
Every time I go lakeside, I can hear them crying for attention.
I bet the poor parents are tired!
The view from the back side of the nest isn’t as clear as from the front.
Especially since the eagles have done some rearranging and seem to be moving large sticks to that side as the eaglets get bigger.
Even after all these years, I still manage to record a new-to-me behavior! They’re amazing creatures! Graceful in flight. Great parents. Strong builders.
I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to study them year round, and to use that research in Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest, as well as sharing my nature adventures with campers and readers all over New England.
I can’t wait to see what eagle adventures I witness this coming summer!
Today, after teaching, and after starting a large order for the campground store, I grabbed my camera and headed to the lake. No sooner had I pushed off shore, I spied a loon fishing halfway across the lake.
I drifted toward it, as I fiddled with my camera to get just the right settings for a slightly cloudy, slightly sunny day. Suddenly, it popped up beside the kayak.
It stretched, and dove and stretched again.
And I must say, this is how I feel to finally feel the sun on my shoulders and the warm breezes on my face.
It took quite awhile, but I spied the nest, too. Our loons have chosen a new nesting spot, and I must admit to being a bit relieved.
They haven’t had chicks in two years, and my fingers are crossed that this new nesting site will be a good one for them.
Only time will tell.
The manuscript for Mystery of the Missing Fox might be in my editors hands for review, bu that doesn’t mean the research stops. Especially when it involves fox kits.
There are five in all, from what I can tell. I sit in the woods, 100 feet from the den. And at first, they stare at me, trying to figure if I’m friend or foe.
When I don’t move closer or make any noise, they relax a bit. But they always know exactly where I am.
Once they feel safe again, the research and fun starts, and I raise my camera.
At first, the kits approach their brothers and sisters very innocently.
They might even give a friendly hey-you-sleeping tap of the paw.
And the next thing you know, they’re nibbling each others ears! Or feet. Or tail.
They roll around on the ground, no noise, no squeaks or growls that I can hear. Which is good, since their mother isn’t in the area to protect them from predators. (She was either out hunting, or watching me, watch her kits)
Just when one kit seems to be getting the best of their sibling, a third comes to the rescue!
When the play has wound down, the kits curl up together. No hard feelings on either side. That’s my cue to go.
I hope the best for this year’s litter.
Stay safe little ones.
Photographing Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds has become a bit of an obsession. I sit on the front lawn by my honeysuckle bush for an hour here, and an hour there, hoping for the chance to snap a photo or two.
But they’re so darn quick!
At first I could only get photos of them sitting on a branch.
But then I graduated to some flight photos. They still aren’t as clear as I’d like, but I’m hoping to learn as I go.
Did you know these delicate creatures weigh less than a penny??
Their hearts beat 600+ times per minute! The normal beat for an average bird is 200! For a human it’s 72.
And they need to feed every ten minutes or so to keep their energy level stabilized.
The way they feed, is by licking nectar three times per second. Try that with your next ice cream cone!
They’re fascinating in so many ways!
I thought you might want an eaglet update. They’re growing very quickly!
And holler? Oh my, can they holler when they’re hungry!
The eagle parents are sticking closely to the nest these days. For some reason, the geese make them crazy; flapping their wings, throwing their heads back and giving the danger call until the geese move out of the area.
When the adult eagles move from side to side in the nest, the eaglets pull themselves across the nest after them, by using their wings and beak.
These two little ones are big and strong. We’re going to have fun watching them grow this summer!
Sorry it took so long to post the winners, but the campground store was hopping busy today! After the long, long winter, it felt awesome to have so many campers and readers in the building.
First, I’d like to say how much I loved reading all the camping memories you posted. Each one was unique and from the heart. Thank you for posting and playing.
I took all the names, wrote them on scraps of paper and tucked them randomly into the pockets of my coat. It doesn’t have as many pockets as Packrat’s, but there were eight to choose from.
Then I waited for just the right contest pickers to come into the office. Eventually, two young men arrived, one of them telling me how much he loved both my books, and how he’d bought one yesterday. “You did?” I exclaimed. “I can sign it for you, if you do me a favor.” I winked at him.
“Sure!” he said.
I explained the rules of the contest, and what I’d done with the names. “I need you each to chose one,” I said.
The first young man chose a pocket from the right side of my coat.
The second young man, chose one from the left side.
Linda Gray and Kim Campbell, you’ve each one a set of Cooper and Packrat books! I’ll need to get your addresses to mail them. My e-mail address is on the contact page.
So very many reasons to celebrate this week ~
First off, it’s Teacher Appreciation week! I’ve met many amazing educators the last few years. I’m blessed to work in RSU16, a district in which the staff is not only knowledgeable, but welcoming and inspiring, too. They’re cheerleaders in and out of the brick and mortar buildings we work in. As a teacher, and a parent, I’ve seen first-hand how they go above and beyond to make sure students get the education, time and attention they need.
I’ve also been privileged to meet incredible teachers and librarians outside my district while promoting and teaching Cooper and Packrat. They have so many creative ideas when it comes to teaching literacy, and I’ve learned so much through my visits to their schools and literacy events, from their tweets and Facebook posts. Thank you all!
This also happens to be Children’s Book Week; the annual celebration of children’s books and reading. I was a little surprised to see Children’s Book Week was instituted in 1919, and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. That’s 96 years, people! 96 years!! BRAVO!
And, last but not least, my campground opened this week, too!
We had a happy, energetic group of campers who raked our sites and roads in exchange for donuts and camping! We couldn’t have had better weather for it, either. We’re off to a great start to the 2015 Season!!
For these reasons and more, I’ve decided it’s time for another Cooper and Packrat giveaway for teachers and librarians, in appreciation for all they do.
I have two sets of Cooper and Packrat, Books 1 and 2, to give away. Teachers and librarians, all you have to do is leave your name, school and favorite summer memory from your childhood in the comments below by midnight, Friday, May 8th. If it’s a camping memory, your name will be entered twice! (Please don’t post on FB or Twitter, even though I’ll promote it there, as I’m afraid of missing someone’s entry)
And this Saturday, I’ll have my camp readers pull two names as winners.
As I walked to the lake yesterday (without boots!) I could hear the unmistakeable cry of an eagle. I hurried, hoping to see the adults switch places on the nest. Or maybe get a glimpse of them bringing food back.
But when I got there, the nesting eagle was alone. Every couple of minutes, it threw back its head to give the squeaky, danger-in-the-area call.
I kept waiting for the mate to fly in, as they usually do, to holler in duet against the danger. For twenty minutes, I waited, with one eye on the sky.
The eagle continued to cry, even though I couldn’t see what had upset it so. The loons weren’t in the area. Nor crows or seagulls. The osprey didn’t appear to be hunting either.
Suddenly, I heard the flapping of a large wingspan. Looking straight up, I realized a juvenile eaglet had been over my head, hidden in the branches of a big pine the whole time! It flew down the shoreline, only to circle around and come back again.
I never did get a good picture of the juvenile, as he soared over the trees I was standing under. I would have kept camera-hunting him, but the black clouds had arrived to let loose a steady stream of big, fat raindrops.
I still have no proof of the eggs hatching, but this eagle did seem to be sitting a little higher on the nest. I’ll check again tomorrow to see what I can see!
Today, my husband and I walked from the Eastern Prom (ME), to the Old Port along a bike/walk path. Casco Bay was on one side of us, the Narrow Gauge Railway on the other. The sun shone down, the birds were singing, kids rode bikes, joggers passed by and the seagulls called out.
It was a glorious day!
Mockingbird singing a happy song from a low branch as people passed by.
Sailing school is in session!
The Narrow Gauge Railway had quite a few passengers.
My husband geo-cached, but I could hear the call of the osprey. So I searched high and low. Finally, I found them. They were quite a ways away, but I had my camera on me.
Check out this nest! All the rope mixed in with the sticks.
The one on the nest was hollering like crazy, and I soon figured out why. Another osprey wanted the nest.
They dove and danced in the air.
Until one of them claimed the platform for themselves.
Even so, the osprey who’d been kicked out, circled overhead for quite awhile, crying out to anyone who would listen.
Lucky for me, it was almost over my head
It looked to me, like he still wasn’t too happy about it.
Yesterday, as I walked the red-blazed trail through the campground and along the shoreline of Lower Range Pond, I looked out over the water and gasped!
My loons were back!
The ice had only been out for a day! Somehow, they always manage to time it perfectly.
The pair called back and forth, location calls. My eyes got teary hearing them, I hadn’t realized just how much I’d missed it.
Whenever their call rings out, people stop what they’re doing to turn toward the sound.
Hopefully, we’ll have a successful nesting season this year, as the last two years did not yield chicks. ( If you click on the Random Loon Tag on the right of this post, you’ll find the blog posts describing why.)
I should be revising, channeling fox kits for book three, as the Mystery of the Missing Fox is due to my editor next month. But the sun has just poked its way through the clouds and I cannot resist going down to the lake to find these gorgeous birds and to hear their call again.
The manuscript will be there when I get back.
Yesterday, the weather turned glorious! Warm breezes blew over the still frozen lake, as birds chirped from every corner of the forest.
I took a long walk along the shoreline, camera slung around my neck, ready to shoot.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
I was just in time to watch the eagles switch places sitting on the eggs.
And this time, the departing eagle flew right over my head!
Only two or three minutes passed before the eagle left on the nest hunkered down for their watch over the little ones.
Lately, there’s been a pair of seagulls who soar high overhead the small patch of open water on the lake. The eagles don’t like this, not at all! The one on the nest will call out, and the mate flies in to help protect the family.
Such good parents!
April vacation arrives soon. And with it, my walks will increase. My notes from 2014 tell me that the eaglets were born right around April 18th, so you can bet I’ll be down at the lake as often as I can!
And I’ll keep you posted too.
Somewhere around March 24th, the eagle pair settled in on their eggs.
Look at that smile!
Each egg was laid three days apart and thirty-five days from then, chicks will be born. Both adults take turns sitting on the nest, and they’ll turn the eggs approximately every two hours.
After the eggs are laid and the eagles start their long sit-in, or as I like to call it, a snuggle-in, I will always see one on the nest. They won’t leave those eggs alone. They’ll keep them warm and dry and safe to predators in the air, such as ravens. Or predators from down below, like raccoons.
When I trudge to the lake now, through the 6 inches of snow which lays over most of the campground, I can count on seeing the one on the beautiful nest they built.
Eyes to the sky though, I’m looking for the mate not on the nest. And if I’m lucky, I’ll witness something amazing like this . . .
One eagle bringing sticks to the nest, adding on to the castle, so to speak.
Or a juvenile, soaring overhead, but not daring to come near.
A hawk looking for its next meal.
But what I’m most anxious for, is eaglets.
It won’t be long now.
Loving Christmas break from school for many reasons, but mostly for the many long walks through the woods I’m allowed.
Santa brought me a new trail camera, so I’ve put the old one down by the beaver hut, since they’re so elusive and it’s pretty obvious they’ve been working hard on the den lately. Of course, once I put it there, I’m not content to just let it sit, I have to hike down every day to see what images it’s caught.
While I was there yesterday, I heard the call of the eagle. The dead tree they like to sit in is very close to the beaver hut, but can’t be seen by line of sight. Even if I hadn’t heard them, I would have known they were there, because I could see cars stopping on the causeway to get a look.
So I waited. And waited. And after fifteen minutes, I got my wish. I’m sure my gasp of surprise could be heard across the lake!
This adult was headed toward the nest, quite a ways from the beaver hut! They were adding to the nest!
I could see a speck of white on the nest, which told me the other adult was waiting patiently for this addition. Or perhaps its an offering? A sign they were agreeing to reconnect?
But alas, halfway to the nest, the eagle began to drift downward, the weight of the stick was too much.
Once again, I gave thanks for my long lens. Those of you who are familiar with Lower Range Pond, know how great the distance is from from the beaver hut to the golf course side. I was able to watch as the eagle tried to keep a hold of its prize.
But alas, he couldn’t do it. I picked up a four foot stick that lay on top the beaver hut and felt the weight of it in my hand. I was amazed the eagle carried a stick that large for as far as it did!
He bit it. He moved it back and forth.
He thought about it for quite a bit.
When the second adult called from the nest, he decided to abandon it in favor of joining his mate.
I hurried down the trail, hoping to catch them both on the nest with my camera, and managed to take this one shot.
I know from experience that mating doesn’t happen until March. But this is a sure sign the process has begun. And even though I’ve seen, documented and reported the ritual many, many times, I still get teary when I realize they’re going to start another family in my backyard.
As I approached our lakefront last week, I spied an adult eagle soaring overhead. I ran, camera in hand, which isn’t easy to do! And I made it just in time to point and shoot . . .
praying the settings were good enough.
Such a graceful landing!
This adult appeared to be checking out the nest, looking down upon it several times before flying off again.
Can you tell how excited I am that we’ll have eaglets to watch again this year!!
These are the months where I have the most time to play with my camera, but the subject matter is limited. My loons have gone to the coast. The eagles roam, not yet tied to a nest full of chicks, the heron has migrated, turtles are buried deep and the fox kits are just a gleam in their parent’s eyes . . .
So I turn to my backyard chicks. If they were my children, they’d roll their eyes at the number of times I stand in my little front yard with my biggest lens trained on their feeders. You can almost hear them say, “Really? Really? Isn’t that a little bit of overkill there? Go find a snowy owl for goodness sake!”
But it’s more challenging than one would think. Over the last couple of days, whenever I was stuck in my manuscript, I’d take the camera outside for a few minutes. Then at night I’d pour through the photos to see what I’d caught. From the five hundred I took over the last couple of days, perhaps twenty to twenty-five were salvaged. Ten of those are sharp and crisp. Some I wish I had do-overs for . . .
Grand Central Station
Right before a storm is best. The feeders are a hub-bub of activity, the birds almost don’t pay me any mind at all as they choose their seeds.
Finches devour the seed, leaving a chickadee waiting in the wings
Emotions are high on these days . . . . everyone wants their turn at the feeder.
Wait your turn!
Mourning Dove with snow for a hat
Focusing and shooting birds who are perched and chowing down is fun, but I longed for a bigger challenge. Incredible photos.
So I turned my camera on my newest feeder, a shiny glass ball, where the flight in and out was constant.
Well, almost constant.
With a little guidance from my husband, the photos became sharper and more interesting.
But there were still a lot of photos I had to cut, interesting photos, but not clear enough, crisp enough to save. I had to take comfort in the knowledge that I could try again another day.
Last night it hit me, for me, revising a manuscript is a lot like revising my photos. For every 1,000 strings of words, perhaps two hundred make the cut. Some need a little sharpening and re-focusing from a editor. Some are put aside as a maybe. Some you never need to touch, perfect in their rawness, from the minute you first wrote the words. Some are junk and just have to go.
Add color and substance here. Move a chapter there. Try to find the very perfect combination of contrast, exposure and depth . . . .
And cheekiness . . . .
Cooper and Packrat had the distinct honor of being the book chosen for Fisher Mitchell’s One Book, One School Project 2015. Two hundred and sixty hardcover copies of Mystery of Pine Lake was distributed through the school, thanks to a generous grant from the Tabitha and Stephen King Foundation, and support from the Bath Elementary Schools PTA.
260 copies! Whoa!
Joan Newkirk (my contact at Fisher Mitchell), and the rest of the teachers and librarians, had many wonderful activities planned to go along with the event. Dress like a loon day, dress like your favorite character day, two breakfasts with read-alouds from the book, my two-day visit and a Pot Luck evening event, just to name a few.
And look at this bulletin board!
A poem by Mary Oliver – The Loon on Oak-Head Pond
I was very disappointed when after waiting months, my first day to visit was snowed out – but the second day was still a go!
When I arrived, I was given a fabulous space in the library and told to “make it my own for the day”. Heaven!
As I waited patiently for students to arrive, several students and teachers poked their heads in the library to ask, “Are you Tamra Wight?” When I said yes, they’d grin and continue on their way. A few brought their books in to have me sign.
There were four sessions in all, spanning grades 3 and 4. We talked about ideas, the inspiration behind Cooper and Packrat, and how my photography is my way of researching and documenting wildlife notes. But mostly we talked about descriptive language and how important it is.
Playing What’s in Packrat’s Coat?: Descriptive Language Game
The students had wonderful comments, connections and questions. One young lady, when asked where ideas come from, responded, “Your heart.”
She stole mine, with that answer.
Next Thursday, I’ll return to meet the fifth graders. The snow better stay away!
We managed to squeeze in the Pot Luck Dinner and Author Presentation that same evening before the big Friday storm. Rather than go home between the classroom presentations and the Pot Luck, Cindy Lord and Mona Pease agreed to meet me for latte’s and chai at Cafe Creme.
The drinks were warm, and the conversation light. I just love these two ladies and their readiness to keep me company, in spite of my last minute wanna-meet-up, shout out . Not only did they brave the cold to come see me, they returned to the school to watch my little presentation and take a few photos of it.
The line for the pot luck was long! So many wonderful families came! One young man told me it was “an amazing turn out. You never know how these things will go.”
While everyone ate, it was time for me to read from Cooper and Packrat. Since many of the students had already begun the book, I chose Chapter 10: a chapter about meeting and greeting around the campfire, old friends and new, coming together. It felt appropriate, considering the meeting and greeting that was happening at the Pot Luck.
Being introduced by Principal Berkowitz
My little thank you speech
Reading Chapter 10
My favorite part, of course, was talking to parents, teachers, PTA members and of course the students themselves.
I signed many books, and I will get the rest next Thursday for sure.
Some students snuck a peek at Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest, while they had a chance.
This young lady, had a hard time giving it back to me. She left happy though, when I told her the library had gained an extra copy for loaning that day.
And the frosting on the cake, in an already amazing day, was having this cool cake presented for desert.
None of the students would allow the servers to cut into Cooper and Packrat’s faces . . . so one Mom took Cooper home, and I took Packrat.
So glad those two are well loved!
Last week, I was fortunate enough to escape to Florida for a few days. Some of that time, was spent taking my son on college campus tours.
But the rest of the time was spent walking Sanibel beaches and paths with my camera.
Soaking up sunshine.
In my bare feet.
Pelicans were the bird of the week for me. Every time I turned around, they were there.
But I also saw an Anhinga, drying its wings by the side of the road. They dive like a cormorant, but their markings are more stunning.
Quite to my surprise, I caught a great photo of a Pileated Woodpecker, who was skirting the woods near the beach.
I took sunrise photos
And sunset photos, all in the same day.
But I think my very favorite photos, were those of a little Western Sandpiper, taking a salt water bath . . .
Because he looked like he was enjoying it so . . .
I haven’t even begun to wade through the hundreds of photos I’d taken while on Sanibel. Stop back again, because I’m sure to have another batch to share . . .
Can you see the diffference? And today, there were even more branches on the nest! Ice fisherman told me the eagles had added to it all morning long.
The eagles are getting ready to lay their eggs!
I’ve snowshoed down every day, hoping to see the tell-tale sign, of one eagle, nestled in the nest. When she does, we’ll only see the very top of her white head. Last year, she was sitting on eggs March 8th.
Until then, the eagles continue to visit the nest and add to it.
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I’ve been fortunate to visit a few schools full of readers and writers over the last couple months. And every visit was so special!
In February, I was able to meet Librarian Lynn Howker and the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students of Monmouth Middle School.
We talked about descriptive language, and how fun it can be to build a boring, short sentence into a long, interesting one. And we practiced how to find those descriptive words with Packrat’s Pocket Game.
One student wears a coat/vest like Packrat’s, and they choose one of the many pockets it holds. While they look away, I show their peers the item in the pocket. The challenge is for the peers to describe the item without staying its name, and for the student to guess what it is. It’s harder than it sounds!
On March 4th, I Skyped with two third grade classes in Buxton for World Read Aloud Day.
Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest was the book they chose. One classroom asked for Chapter 1, as they were just about to start it. The other had finished, and asked me to pick a favorite. So of course, I had to choose a bathroom scene. Afterward, I answered questions from the students. Always my favorite part! And what fabulous questions they had! I especially liked showing them the campground office, through my laptop, from my house office window.
I wish I had a photos, but alas, it’s hard to read, Skype and take a pic too.
Just last week, I visited with the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from Mast Landing in Freeport.
Mast Landing has such a pretty, two story library. I could have spent a whole afternoon, lost in the stacks.
My presentations were held under great art, of Maine treasures.
It was such a special treat to have lunch with the Library Pages, a group of volunteer students who give their free time to help with the numerous Library tasks. They asked wonderful questions about writing, reading and what it felt like to be on the Maine Student Book Award list.
And there was ice cream!
Thank you to all the schools I’ve visited! I hope you’re enjoying Cooper and Packrat’s adventures!