Feathery Friday – Portrait of a Western Gull

These gull are EVERYWHERE along the water in California and aren’t really afraid of people. That’s not to say that they won’t fly away from you if you venture too close but unlike some other birds that will take flight if you even get out of your car (I’m talking about your Red-tailed Hawk) but you can get fairly close.

This one was standing on the pier on a grey and gloomy day when I inched my way closer to get a shot. I opted to crop it further to give a better view of the feathers and eyes. But make no mistake, I am still leery of gulls due to my fear of them from the movie The Birds. Guess it wasn’t feeling too animated and I was feeling a bit brave.

Teri 📷

ps. Looks like I was able to get a FF post in this week after all 😊

western gull, headshot, portrait, wildlife, bird photography
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Saying Farewell to a Loved One

It was a beautiful ceremony – the burial at sea – but it was nail biting up until the day it occurred. My father-in-law wanted to have his ashes scattered at sea, so we took him back to California which was where he last saw the ocean four years ago.

Now, if you’ve paid any attention to the news then you know that California has had some atypical weather to say the least. I spent weeks monitoring the weather in case we had to change our date which we did one day before we arrived and even then prayers were said that the day we changed to wouldn’t be rained out. Family and friends came together from four states, England and Canada. It rained EVERY day we were there but on the day that mattered! The sun actually came out a bit that day.

So very thankful!

If you’ve never experienced a burial at sea, it is a beautiful thing but if you are like me and one other family member, take your anti-nausea medication early and maybe even double it. Yeah…two of us got seasick and I have a bruise on my leg from not having sea legs and bumping into something on the boat. But I didn’t have to lean over the side and didn’t turn too green. Because of the recent storms the water was choppy at times with water that wasn’t as clear as normal, so the captain took us four miles instead of the usual two miles out into the Pacific.

After we returned to the harbor (we were all amazed how the captain perfectly backed his boat into his spot) there was much ginger ale consumed at the restaurant by several of us; it and some food helped. Now it’s time to process things and deal with the next stages of emotions. Hopefully I will be back to at least doing the feathery Friday posts next week.


Oceanside Harbor – Sea Star was our boat

oceanside california harbor, boats, sailboats

Pulling out of the harbor – Starboard side

A group of sea lions on their platform in the harbor

Oceanside Harbor sealions

Almost to our destination, we passed some rocks with Brown Pelicans, Western Gulls and Double Crested Cormorants

Brown pelicans, gulls, cormorants

Floral farewells

burial at sea
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Feathery Friday – Black Cap in The Snow

As I mentioned in a prior post, I hit the jackpot with cute little floofy birds on this cold and snowy February day in 2022. There were a lot of Eastern Bluebirds as well as Black Capped Chickadees and each and every one of them was fluffed up to stay warm.

Birds can be adorable on a regular day but when they fluff up to keep warm they are just cute little puffballs. You can see in this image that it was beginning to snow which I feel adds to the “atmosphere” of the photo – get it?

On a side note, this year the weather has been warmer than usual and the birds have been hiding or something because I haven’t seen as many of them so far this year as I did last year. I hope that turns around soon.

Teri 📷

black capped chickadee, snowy day, winter scene
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This image of a Cactus Wren was taken November, 2011. We were in Phoenix, Arizona to have Thanksgiving with DH’s family. It was my first family holiday with the new in-laws, and I was anxious…for no reason at all! They were (and still are) the best in-laws I’ve ever had. They even went so far as to have one side dish at the table that I grew up with that they never ate but there it was for me.

At the time I didn’t know what a blog was and was just trying to get the hang of photography beyond the point and shoot method. I wasn’t super good at it but we all have to start somewhere. This image isn’t very sharp, I have no idea where I was focusing, I only shot in JPEG and I had no idea what bokeh was along with other important things like depth of field, white balance and ISO. We won’t even mention my editing skills at the time!

I think I’ve gotten a bit better since this image 😉

cactus wren, phoenix arizona, desert botanical garden

But this image makes me a bit sad now. This day, we were visiting the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona with DH’s parents, his sister and her daughter. The reason I found this image after all this time was because I was digging through all of my old photo files to find some images that are going to be used for a memorial service. My father-in-law passed away the end of January and very soon we will be going to the west coast to scatter his ashes at sea which was his wish as he was at one time a British Merchant Seaman.

So, after Friday’s feather feature, I will be absent for a while.

Take care of yourselves and hug those that are special to you while you can.


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Feathery Friday – Two for One

There were a lot of birds around the bird feeder in the park but as it was cold and the snow was beginning to pick up, most of them took to the trees to fluff up and hunker down. In this image I was aiming at the female Cardinal but also got the Blue Jay in the back ground. Usually Blue Jays are rambunctious and don’t get along well with the other smaller birds but in this case the weather made for peace on the branches.

While the male Cardinal (Redbird) gets a lot of attention because of his bright red feathers, the female Cardinal ain’t too shabby! I think her coloration, while not as brilliant, is still beautiful. What do you think?

Teri 📷

Blue Jay, female Northern Cardinal, winter birds
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Feathery Friday – Juvenile Red Shouldered Hawk

In all the years I’ve been visiting this park to see the little birds that come visit the bird feeders the park puts out, I’ve never seen a hawk come this close to the area. I mean close close. I’ve seen hawks in the park before but usually they were way out in the woods and not near the feeders where hoomans hang out. Perhaps he thought he could get a quick snack of a little bird but they were not having any of it.

The Blue Jays would buzz him and the other birds were just too quick for this inexperienced hunter. It did make for some closer than normal shots of a hawk though which I was quite happy about. But for the other birds, they were not pleased with this dangerous (but lacking in hunting skills) interloper. I believe in this image he was trying to figure out what was going wrong with his hunting for the day.

Live and learn, young one, live and learn….

Teri 📷

red shouldered hawk, ohio nature, bird of prey
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For the birds… Swans are pretty darn big!

(Still keeping with the Feathery Friday theme; this was a post I meant to publish last year but it got lost in the shuffle so here we go now!)

Driving along at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and here we have a Trumpeter Swan. Trumpeter Swans are the heaviest living bird native to North America with a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet and can weigh from 15 to 30 pounds. This day I got close to seeing just how big was big!

This one flew practically in front of me and at 400mm there is no cropping in this image; it was just that close.

trumpeter swan , bird photography, swan, ohio  nature , Ottawa national wildlife reserve

While the one that gave me a bit of a fright, flew right at me and then over my head, it really wasn’t close close to me (10 feet or so above me) it just seemed bigger with it’s wings fully expanded making quite the whoosh noise as it flapped to gain altitude. It reminded me of movies where you hear the flapping of a dragon or pterosaur coming at you.

It’s a pretty bird but is it ever a big one! I felt better just watching them swim gracefully out in the water.

trumpeter swans

Teri 📷

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A brief stop on the Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park

After leaving Mabry Mills in Virginia we got back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed for the next national park on our road trip, the Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park. By this time I was a bit burned out on the landscape as it had begun to become just one big line of mountains and trees to me so there are hardly any images from this leg of the trip.

Although at one stop there was this huge Maple tree that I just had to take a photo of and some of the pullovers were picturesque but in my opinion, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the best drive for the sheer thrill of it as well as so much to see.

Virginia, skyline drive
Skyline Drive, maple tree

We made a stop at a visitors center in Shenandoah and went for a what we thought was going to be a short one mile loop hike…we were wrong! That one mile hike turned into a four mile one as we made a wrong turn somewhere in the woods and ended up waaaaaayyyyy over into the camp grounds of the park. I was a bit nervous (and getting tired; didn’t bring any water or snacks either) about how to get back to the visitors center when I saw a check in point for the campgrounds. At least on our “lost” hike we were treated to some Goldfinches going all out for some seeds from spent flowers.

Shenandoah National Park, Goldfinch

The rangers at the camp grounds pointed us in the right direction and we made it back to the car and on to the hotel for that night before hitting the final leg of our road trip in yet another state!

Teri 📷

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Feathery Friday – Female Cardinal

I wanted to share this photo with you because it was a first for me to see this on a Cardinal. Look at the color of the feathers near her skin around her neck that have been blown upwards from the wind. Who knew they were a different color?

female northern cardinal, ohio birds

Teri 📷

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Just made it! Mabry Mills

We had one more stop to make on our Blue Ridge Parkway road trip and time was running out on us but as it turned out that was a good thing. After we left the falls we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and made as much of a bee line as we could to Mabry Mills; completed in 1910. It was a MUST see and photograph for me.

At milepost 176 on the parkway, it is considered one of the most picturesque places along the parkway especially in spring, summer and autumn. It’s one of those places that everyone likes to take a photo of the same thing – the mill. Everyone and me 😉

The mill is located in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. By this time on our road trip, this was the 4th state we had driven in, not including our own of Ohio and we had one more state to go; more about that in the next post. The mill is run by the national park service and has a restaurant, gift shop and demonstrations of basket making, spinning, black smithing and local folk and mountain music during the summer and fall.

Besides the mill, you can walk the grounds to see the cabin of the original owners – Ed and Lizzie Mabry – or just hike the beautiful grounds. After the delay from snow and detours and our time at the Linville Falls, we arrived at the mill after it was closed and just about everyone was gone. The grounds were still open which was fine with me because I just wanted to see the mill anyway. And because we arrived later in the day, the sun was beginning to set and only a couple of people were in the way of getting a clear shot of the mill.

This time arriving late worked out perfectly and I was so happy with the results. DH had to pull me away as I kept shooting as the light went down but yes, we needed to hit the road to find our hotel near Roanoke, Virginia before it got dark.

Mabry Mill in Autumn:

Mabry Mills, Blue ridge parkway, Virginia, historic

Next time on our road trip… another day, another national park.

Teri 📷

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