Praise – Gratitude

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”     ~ A. W. Tozer


In the winter, I’m grateful for the barrenness of the tree branches, for they give me wonderful views of the neighborhood birds. Even a humble grackle is a glorious representative of feathered beauty as he suns himself in the sunshine of a January morning.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault


A nuthatch having breakfast on a pine cone thrills me, and my heart is filled with gratitude as I witness God’s providence for the birds of the air. God bless you on this Sabbath Day

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault

This post is part of this week’s Skywatch.

Praise – Looking Up

“To bear witness to God the Father, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and to be guided by the Holy Spirit.”
~ Parish of St. Michael the Archangel

I love the mission statement, quoted above, of the Parish of St Michael the Archangel. What an amazing goal and purpose for a church in this modern age.

We were on a drive and spotted this beautiful bird on the steeple of St. Catherine of Sienna. (Merged in 2010 with Parish of St. Michael the Archangel.)

““As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.”
~Henry Ward Beecher

The modern world chooses not to honor God’s truths or hear his voice. In many churches world views contrary to God’s word are condoned in the name of love. I plan to keep looking up, my eyes and spirit focused on God’s truths, instead of being in agreement with what the world considers politically correct.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Phriday Pheathers – Over-wintering

White Egret in Salt Marsh – Fortescue, New Jersey

I read a post today written by Be Creative Mary that spoke of the salty smell of East Coast seashores. My state’s coast, including the Delaware Bay, also has a distinctive fragrance of salt marsh. Even though we are in the throes of cold wintry weather, the first day of the year was filled with amazing birds over-wintering in the salt marshes of the Bay near Fortescue.

The swans were busy grooming, but one lifted its head long enough for me to capture their graceful beauty.

The sparrows, sheltering in bushes near the beach houses, were a cheerful sight to begin the year of 2019. The scrubby brush provided wintry hospitality for the small birds. I felt a sense of gratitude to see and hear the sweet chirping of this small flock.

I am hoping, that although most of the birds seem to be common house sparrows, perhaps there are a few that are a member of the endangered Salt Marsh Sparrow and the species will experience a recovery of numbers in the coming years.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday and Friday Foto Friends.

Photo Challenges – Copper Snow & Candelabra Trees

We had a small snowstorm this week. It took me by surprise; I hadn’t heard the forecast and didn’t know snow was on the way.

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

                                  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Can a snowstorm be perfect? This one was near perfection, quick, never accumulating on roads or sidewalks, in and out of the area in a hurry, leaving behind a beautiful dusting of white to reflect the waning sunlight.

The winter sun gleamed so brightly in the sky it almost seemed as if it had become a supernova for a moment, illuminating the frozen landscape with a burst of copper.

I looked up the street towards my friend‘s house; she would soon be one of the drivers heading home from work. Maybe she had already made plans to open the curtains, heat up a hot drink, and enjoy the beauty outside her window. The tree in her backyard blazed so bright in the sun it resembled a lit candelabra.

In my backyard, the sun continued to set, leaving behind a pure lavender and gold sky…utterly breathtaking! Winter does have its delights after all.

“Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall each one a gem

                                          ~William Hamilton Gibson

Places & Pheathers – Town, Country & The Pied Pipers of Raptor

Small Business Saturday has arrived, and we supported the cause by window-shopping in one of the small towns near us, Pitman, New Jersey. I like the reflection of the Broadway Theater in the door.

It’s fun to check out how the small businesses decorate their windows to draw shoppers inside.

We went from town to a small woods and field behind our home. As we walked, a large bird swooped in front of us, almost as if it was showing off a bit, and flew to a tree on the edge of the field. What excitement filled us to see not just one very large hawk, but two. I zoomed in with my camera and after downloading was able to make out their markings. I believe they are a pair of red-tailed hawks, although one appears to be much older than the other. Not only did we see them, they were very aware of us and split up, one flying into the horizon beyond the woods and one towards the homes nearby.

I followed the hawk that flew to the trees near our neighborhood as if it was the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or as my imagination deemed it while I played catch up with it on foot: The Pied Piper of Raptor. I never did get close enough to get a photograph without using the zoom on my lens. Smart birds! What a perfect Saturday we’ve had, a little bit of town, a little bit of country.

This post is part of Skywatch.

Phriday Phads, Pheathers & A Photo Challenge – Pull Up a Seat

I was pulling the trash cans to the curb when my neighbor across the street called out to me, “Look up.” I did, immediately ditched the trash can, and ran for my camera. I was lucky and the bronze and brown hawk wasn’t disrupted by my motion beneath him. He sat prettily for his portrait against the overcast sky. He’s a beauty, and I believe he is the same hawk I’ve written of in past posts.

For some reason he brought to mind pole-sitters. I’m assuming that in the generations born after me, most people have no idea what constitutes a pole-sitter. Pole-sitting didn’t take a lot of skill, just a bit of bravado and endurance.

Wikipedia says: “Pole sitting is the practice of sitting on top of a pole (such as a flagpole) for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is typically placed at the top of the pole for the sitter. Led by the stunt actor and former sailor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, flagpole sitting was a fad in the mid-to-late 1920s, but mostly died out after the start of the Great Depression.”

If you have never heard of pole-sitting, take a look at this quick Youtube video:

This post is part of Pull Up A Seat Challenge.

Pheathers – Russets

Autumn walks are glorious. I enjoy looking up and finding sunlit leaves to photograph.

Yesterday, I noticed an especially tall tree with brilliant color in the distance. In a patch of barren branches glowed one shining leaf. When I zoomed in with my camera lens, I found my single leaf was a robin basking in the sun, his feathers perfectly matching the russet of the leaves. Robins, like geese, don’t seem to fly south anymore, but winter over in many northern areas.

Journey North has an excellent article on why robins winter-over in the north. One reason I might see so many in my area is the abundance of natural food source trees and bushes in our area.

Here’s a few of the Autumn trees in my area of New Jersey this week. I can’t wait until the leaves lay ankle-deep on the sidewalks like a gigantic potpourri of color. What fun it is to kick through the piles, enjoying the inimitable fragrance and crunch of the dry leaves beneath my feet. This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Photo Challenge – Fore #2/Pitman Golf Club

Today’s Weather Vane Wednesday post is once again a golf theme. The weather vane is quite large in comparison to the first golf vane post. You can find this nattily-dressed golfer atop the Pitman Golf Club in Pitman, New Jersey.

A little closer…

The photo is a bit blurry since I zoomed in from afar, but you can see by the weathered surface the weather vane has been there quite awhile. I like his jaunty cap.

Thanks so much to the 59 Club for two weeks of #weathervaneweds posts.

The 59 Club/Faith During Calm and Turbulent Times
…and…
The 59 Club/Dock Duty

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

This post is part of Skywatch Friday/September 11th Edition.

Psalm & Peculiarities – Sky Surprises

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” ~ Psalm 19:1

The sky was full of God’s glory this morning; the moon visible against the brilliant blue of the heavens.

The geese noisily serenaded the morning as they flew toward the local lake.

The birds perched on the pines and added their songs.

An odd sound whooshed into the morning chorus. A hot air balloon moved across the sky, probably on its way to programs at Rowan University, only a mile or two from my home.

The balloon flew close enough to zoom in on the people in the basket.

God bless you on this Sabbath Day.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Phriday Pheathers – Woody Woodpecker

I loved the cartoon Woody Woodpecker when I was a child. I haven’t seen Woody on television for years; he’s been replaced by cartoons full of gadgets and superheroes. I miss his ornery laugh and pecking. Here are a few woodpeckers and what I think might be a Northern Flicker. I have found a camera with a powerful zoom helps me get an up-close glimpse of the birds I see on bare branches.

These photographs are part of Skywatch Friday.
The post is also linked to: Dear Kitty, Some Blog – Great Spotted Woodpecker

Phriday Pheathers – Epic Photograph

I often see hummingbirds in my yard, usually sipping nectar from flowers, but by the time I get my camera they disappear. Yesterday, I was lucky and had camera in hand when I spotted a hummingbird land on a bare branch in the pine tree.

Being able to photograph this beautiful and very fast little bird, was, for me, epic. That brings me in a roundabout way to a new blog challenge I’m taking part in on the Pix to Words blog. Why is it the perfect day to take part? Well, the photo I took might be ordinary to you, but it is EPIC for me, and that is the challenge word for the week. A big thank you to everyone who takes time to offer challenges for bloggers to take part in. Maybe something epic is happening in your week too.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Phriday Pheathers

A few weeks ago a mother robin built a nest in the boughs of our crape myrtle tree. It’s a beauty, compact and perfectly fit into the crook of the branches. Eventually, we heard peeping, and once, from my vantage point at ground level, I saw a little beak and head rise above the edge of the nest.

Time passed by, and when the nest became crowded, we could see two additional heads; the nest held three babies.

The mother robin was so diligent feeding them.

Soon they fledged and became bold, standing on the edge of the nest, one at a time, contemplating their first flight.

One by one they flew away. Now I hear them in the pines surrounding our backyard, peeping to their mother. She calls back with the distinctive chirping of a protective mother robin.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday and is cross-posted in Birdy, Birdy. Thanks for birdwatching with me.

 

 

 

Planting & Phlowers – Wildflower Packets

I planted three small garden patches with an inexpensive wildflower packet this year. I think I paid about 20 cents each for a handful of packets. They grew with hardy exuberance, filling the patches with foliage. When the temperatures warmed up they began to bloom in a glorious array of variety and colors.

The nectar and pollen draw all types of pollinators, both large and small, and today when taking photographs I saw a few butterflies hovering over the patches.

The foliage can look a little weedy and that’s okay because, in reality, many of these wildflowers are considered weeds.

I love the Black-Eyed Susans that grew from the packets. The close-up details fill me with awe over what the good Lord has created in miniature. This photo is part of Skywatch Friday. The burst of petals is reminiscent of the fireworks on Wednesday night.

Sir Water Scott perfectly describes the way my wildflower garden grows and how I want to live my life. I like orderly garden beds that bloom with decorum at the right time and in the right place, but I prefer the glorious action and surprises in a patch of mixed wildflowers.

If you press flowers, you will find that many of these wildflowers make terrific candidates for pressing, as does their sparse foliage.

Sketching, painting and other forms of art using wildflowers becomes easier by isolating single varieties with a large sheet of posterboard.

It’s not too late to plant wildflowers. I will be adding fresh seeds to my gardens for a few weeks yet in hopes of enjoying wildflowers throughout the entire summer and fall.

Perspective, Photograph & Quote – Waiting

The mountain laurel, late in blooming this year, is finally flowering. It blooms in a small woods near our home. I like to photograph the pristine white flowers illuminated by the canopy of trees and sky.

This Spring, everything has been late in coming into leaf or flower, we’ve waited on just about everything, including the warm weather. I found quite a few quotes on waiting and some lauded the ability to wait while others criticized the tendency. I liked this one by Lincoln…

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

                                      ~ Abraham Lincoln

Today I think I will choose to hustle!

Pheathers – Lovebirds

I love to take morning walks. This week when I opened the door I immediately saw the silhouette of two large lovebirds on a distant tree. I grabbed my camera and actually jogged toward them, intent on getting a photograph before they flew away. I was sure they must be a pair of eagles. We have spotted one flying high overhead in our vicinity more than once. Perhaps the lone eagle had found a mate.

By the time I neared the tree where they roosted, I was a bit out of breath, but able to zoom in with my camera and check out the photo in the viewfinder. Oh, the pain of it! I was out of breath and wildly disheveled just to get a picture of a pair of old turkey buzzards.

Oh well, I guess buzzards can be lovebirds too. They are very prolific in this area. There is usually not a day goes by that I don’t see a few gracefully circling high in the air. Maybe next time I’ll be able to capture that elusive image of our neighborhood eagle. For now, I’ll have to enjoy the buzzards.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Pheathers – Alone

Our local wetlands have several stands of snags, dead trees that form homes for various types of wildlife. Recently, we saw one of these snags with a big bird on top. If he hadn’t briefly raised his wings, we would have never seen him.

He was alone, perched like a statue against the sky. I zoomed in with my camera, close—

Closer—

Closest—

When we saw his image in the camera’s window we realized he was a great blue heron. I am hoping he wasn’t alone at all, but has a partner and a nest in the wetlands, and will soon raise more baby herons to fill the sky.

This post is part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Alone. It is also a testament to hope for the clean-up of toxic sites all around the country and world. This area, running parallel to Lipari Landfill, was once in the top ten of worst Superfund sites in the US. The toxic chemicals have been cleaned up and now the wetlands nearby are home to many birds and other wildlife.