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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!
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!
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.
Author: Fiona Wood
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
ARC provided by publisher
Wildlife is Australian author Fiona Wood's US debut, and my love for Australian YA grows.
Wildlife is a dual narration novel, with Sibylla telling one story and Lou telling another. Both live in the same dorm during a wilderness semester at
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.
|John the Lion, the handsome fellow I have sketched several times at the Cincinnati Zoo|
I have a sketch for sale of John the Lion that will benefit The Wild Animal Sanctuary
in Colorado to build funds in order for them to bring in and care for 33 lions and 1 Andean bear just being rescued from circuses.
Spread the word; Share and enjoy!http://us.ebid.net/for-sale/john-the-lion-by-christina-wald-138219609.htm
|From a trip last summer...|
You can see all the art and prints available here:http://us.ebid.net/perl/main.cgi?mo=user-store&title=wildlife-art-for-the-wild-animal-sanctuary
Also for sale is a signed copy of my book Big Cats
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.
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.
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.
Post by Heather Ryerson
Holly Exley’s expressive, saturated colour palettes feel realer than life. Her food illustrations beg to be eaten; her watercolour paintings of British wildlife threaten to flit off the page. Since graduating from Middlesex University, Exley has worked with clients Marks & Spencer, Whole Foods, Topshop, Chronicle Books, BBC Wildlife and more. She lives and paints in London.
Visit her website and her blog.
Blog: Perpetually Adolescent
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It is the time to celebrate the CBCA Books of the Year: a plethora of excellent books. No one will be be surprised that Shaun Tan’s inimitable Rules of Summer has won Picture Book of the Year. From a visual literacy perspective, it excels in composition – what is put where and how distance and […]
So much has happened in the month since I last posted. The campground was super busy with our themed weekends, especially our Halloween ones!
And mid-month, Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest launched! Over 200 people came to the campground, and sat on my front lawn to celebrate with me, my family and Islandport Press. For a special treat, we invited Hope from Wind Over Wings to give a presentation on raptors and ravens.
Teddy – A Northern Saw-whet Owl
The crowd was enchanted with each and bird, and their hearts were touched by their stories and how they came to stay with Wind Over Wings.
Zachariah – Common Raven
Hope and Skywalker have a special bond, it was easy to see. Sky sang to Hope, as Hope told Sky’s story on how he was shot out of the sky. He came close to death, but pulled through, only to find one wing had to be amputated. Can you imagine being an eagle, only to find yourself grounded?
Angry, Sky turned his back on his caregivers. Literally. It was only after much patience, love and special care on the part of Hope and her staff, that Sky turned back to the world.
Hope with Sky – a golden eagle
Now he stars in many presentations each year to educate humans on the life and adventures of being an eagle.
The photo below shows Sky saluting me for my work on Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest. I was very honored.
While my staff helped children make s’mores, and Maxwell Moose wandered around showing everyone who would listen about how he was a character in Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest, I signed books for my readers and campers and friends.
The campground was still in full swing, but I did find time for a few kayaking trips to see the loons
They are preening . . .
and gathering in preparation for their journey to the coast for the winter.
And I even caught the heron, who frequents the marshy area every Fall . . .
School has started as well, and it feels good to be back in the classroom, talking up books, and writing and helping students make the most of each and every day. We are planning an event at the school which will include Hope, and Wind Over Wings.
Going through my photos tonight, I realized I’ve taken many, but posted few. This is mainly due to the time involved in editing them. But now that the campground is slowing down, I can start going through them and will be be able to post summer-time photos well into the winter months!
And you’re going to have to hear all about my research and writing ups and downs, while I tackle book 3: Mystery of the Missing Fox!
Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed, and fumbled for my sweatpants and sneakers. Running my fingers through my hair, I glanced out at the pre-dawn darkness, then at the thermometer. I chuckled.
I might have crawled right back into the warmth of the bed covers, but I had a kayak date. When the first drips of coffee began plopping into the camp office coffee pot, I heard a gentle knock on the front door and looked to see Cindy Lord’s smiling face peeking through the window. I let her in to choose her favorite kayak paddle and life vest.
“The sky was awfully pretty as I drove over the hills of Rt. 26,” she said. So I hurried, screwing the lid on my stainless steel coffee cup and hoisting my camera bag over my shoulder. Checking one last time for my kayak key, we headed out the front door, locking it behind us.
We talked and walked. Rounding the last corner before the lake front, my breath caught. Cindy hadn’t exaggerated. The sky was glorious. I wasn’t even a foot off shore with the kayak, when I lifted the camera from my bag and began shooting.
Cindy led the way past the eagle’s island to our favorite sunrise viewing spot.
I sipped my coffee and watched the new-day sun, slowly rise over the treetops.
Basking in its glow, Cindy asked, “Where to next?” We decided to continue on, down the shoreline until we glided into my favorite cove. I was looking for deer, or the muskrat, or a loon.
What we spied through the fog and shoreline shadows, was a heron, wading through shallow water.
It stood perfectly still for the longest time. From a distance, it could be mistaken for a bare branch. But I knew what I was looking for. They’re one of my favorite subjects to photograph.
Cindy and I took a few photos. Silently paddled a little closer. Took a few photos. Paddled a little closer.
Suddenly, the heron lunged downward like a lightening strike. He came back up with a fish!
Oh, how I wished he wasn’t behind the fog and in the shadows! Getting a feeding shot was on my bucket list of subjects . . . the photo above was okay, but not the bright, clear, striking photo I longed for.
Then the heron spread his wings, and took flight to land on a nearby branch.
He rubbed his beak on the tree branch, cleaning it off after breakfast.
This branching pose was a first for me! While he sunned himself, I took photo after photo after photo.
Cindy and I were in awe.
Mornings like this are always so much more special when you have friends to share them with.
Slowly we paddled back. It was time for me to open the store and then we had a special event to attend; lunch with Patience Mason before her book signing at Books N Things in Norway.
What an awesome day . . . Good friends, good weather and good food.
Couldn’t ask for more.
Like most of you, I took advantage of the gorgeous sunshine and warm temps this weekend . . . .
sneaking out of the office and out of my writing duties to get on the lake both mornings. Sunday morning, I managed to push off shore at 6:30am and the view looked like this.
As I meandered through the cove next to our swimming area, I heard the soft hoot of a loon on the other side of the eagle’s island. They were still here!
I paddled silently to find two of them, swimming around each other, hooting and fishing. Before I had a chance to raise my camera, one took off down the lake, circled above us, then flew off to another location.
The one remaining, looked at me curiously.
I remember the first time I saw a fall loon, with its white face and neck. I thought it was sick. Or old.
Of course, it’s neither. They are simply molting, getting rid of worn and frayed feathers so they can grow stronger, new feathers.
This is why we see them preening so much in August. These new feathers will keep them warm in the cold ocean waters, where they will spend the winter.
Oh, how I’ll hate to see them go . ..
But at least I have the thousand photos I took of them, while they were here, to help pass the time until they come back next May.
My elusive Kingfisher.
After an entire summer of chasing him all over the lake, he finally came to me, flying across the top of the water, and landing in the branch above me.
He posed for quite awhile, chattering at me twice.
I’d like to think he was saying, “Have a nice winter. See you in the Spring.”
It was late twilight, and I was walking the red-blazed trail that follows the shoreline, when I saw two figures moving toward me from the middle of the lake. I hid behind some brush thinking they were ducks, but wanting a closer look.
Mind you, I had no monopod. The camera lens was fully extended. Not the most ideal conditions for taking wildlife photos.
As they got closer I gasped in amazement. The very creatures I’d been trying to capture on camera since late summer, in person and on the trail camera were moving toward me!
I snapped several photos and had to edit them heavily, but this is what I got!
Oh, how I wish they’d come out to play in the daytime!
The campground is silent, blanketed in our first snowfall. Today I walked my trail, the first human footprints made. I say human, because I could see where the fox had trekked ahead of me.
It was a beautiful walk, although I didn’t see any wildlife to take photos of until I returned to my own front yard, where the birds were feasting on the sunflower seeds I’d put out before I left. I caught these images of a chickadee digging into one . . .
First he peeled the outer layer
When my camera made its clicking sound, he looked right at me, as if to say, “Mine!”
Then he went back to it, checking me out every so often to see if I was still there.
Eventually he pulled the meat out.
I thought he’d swallow it whole, but no, he put it back between his feet and proceeded to have his Thanksgiving dinner.
And as he swallowed the last bite, he looked back up at the feeder, wondering he had room for seconds.
I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. May the weeks and days leading up to Christmas be joyful.
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.
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A local newspaper based out of Manchester, Indiana has written an article profiling Neil Wollman and Abigail Fuller, the co-authors of the recently published What Animal Needs a Wig?
! The article (which can be expanded above) highlights both the lives of the co-authors, as well as the background on their hilarious new book.
In contrast to the research-based academic reports and activism publications that both Neil Wollman, a former psychology professor, and wife Abigail fuller, a current sociology professor, are accustomed to working on, What Animal Needs a Wig?
came about much more casually. During long trips to visit Fuller's family in Massachusetts,
Wollman would make jokes and puns with his family regarding animals. Curious to see if anything could come of it, Wollman decided to team up with Fuller and her sister, illustrator Frances Baldwin, to construct a compilation of well-researched, interesting, and funny factoids and puns about nature.
Everyone at Star Bright Books would like to extend congratulate Neil Wollman and Abigail Fuller for writing such an amazing book, and our warmest thanks to writer Eric Seaman for writing this article. For more information regarding What Animal Needs a Wig?,
please visit our website, starbrightbooks.com
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!!
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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 . . . .