Friday, March 4, 2011

Being 60, Winter Trims Adventure Possibilities #36-41

by Donna L. Watkins

I love being outdoors, so I generally look for adventures that have something to do with being outside. Since I currently have rheumatoid arthritis, I don't go outdoors unless I have to in winter. So, winter has definitely thinned out the possibilities for adventures during cold weather.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins
Female Pileated Woodpecker at Suet Feeder on Front Porch
Just because it's cold and my outdoor time is limited, doesn't mean that winter is boring. It's a time when I get to read a lot of books that I've wanted to read. Wildlife viewing is at its peak being able to see birds easier in trees and our front porch bird buffet gives me an up close and personal look at so many species of birds.

As you can see we even get the pileated woodpeckers to visit the porch for the suet they love so much. They are 16-19 inches long, so it's quite a show to watch them swing around on the suet feeder only 8 feet from my eyes.

Gathering up my 60 new adventures for my 60th year of life has slowed down, but I'm going to catch up in this post and then Spring will be here with many more.  I already have some new adventures scheduled to begin later in the month.  What are you planning for Springtime?  It's almost here and some days you would think it has arrived.  Dream about a getaway to a natural area and plan on it.  Use to find a place nearby to get outdoors.

©2011 Donna L. Watkins - Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus Michauxii) 
Planted circa 1894 - Historic Rosedale Plantation - Charlotte, NC
#36 of 60 - Our trip to Charlotte, NC, back in November included a visit to Historic Rosedale Plantation which has a Mecklenburg County Treasure Tree.

This Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus Michauxii) was planted circa 1894. It was magnificent to see and chat with and much more "alive" than the historic home nearby, but then I love trees and can't imagine a home setting without them.

The amount of land preserved included a nature walk which we enjoyed and the grounds around the house were lovely with historic gardens and even some ruins.  Read more about our visit to Rosedale Plantation and/or view the photo album.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Dragonfly Pond
Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve
#37 of 60 - Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve was a really cool place to visit in the Charlotte, NC area.  The city really is serious about green space and we took advantage of as much as we could on our visit there.

Reedy Creek has a nature center, lots of trail options and a wonderful place to sit by this peaceful pond along the trail.  Normally I'm not a sit around person when it comes to getting to walk a nature trail, but with the water lapping at our feet, it was rather hard to leave.

Read more about our Reedy Creek visit and/or view the photo album.  I guess I was absorbed in the beauty of it all since I didn't take many photos of this place.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Juvenile Cooper's Hawk
#38 of 60 - Juvenile Cooper's Hawk - We love getting to see something new in our backyard wildlife habitat since our first choice for entertainment is to be content at home enjoying the antics and character lessons given by the wildlife that visit.

However, it's a bittersweet experience when you see a hawk.  We've had red-shouldered hawks nesting in the woods behind us for the past few years and last Fall a red-shouldered hawk grabbed our biggest Green Frog from the side of the little pond we put in.  It was so sad.  I know they have to eat, but you don't want it to be from those creatures you personally love.

January 15th I saw a juvenile Cooper's Hawk land on our front path near where I put food for the ground-feeding birds.  I got photos of him between the rails of the front porch, but the one shown is from a later visit since it's a much better photo.  Our wildlife friend neighbor who moved to Knoxville in November used to get Cooper's Hawks over at his place, but we never saw one in our yard.  Only the Sharp-shinned and Red-shouldered.  So, it's a new adventure but one with mixed feelings.  He's been back too many times and I did find some feathers from a grackles a couple of days ago.

#39 of 60 - After using the same inexpensive binoculars that we had purchased in the early 80's, we decided to invest in a quality pair of Nikon Monarch Binoculars that would certainly last even longer than the ones we had for 30 years.  

It didn't seem like a big deal at the time until they arrived and we began to use them.  It has been a great adventure for sure.  I guess you could liken it to somebody who has poor eyesight and has never had glasses.  When we looked through those lenses we were amazed at the difference.  It was like somebody had turned on the lights and cleaned off the windows.  

We've been very excited to have them.  The best thing is that technically, we got them for free, even though we paid $278 for them.  Does that sound like a riddle?  It's not.  We shop through when ever we can you get a rebate on whatever purchases you make. They also give you $5 for everybody you refer and that's where how most of our money adds up since we aren't big shoppers .... as you can tell by us waiting 30 years for a good pair of binoculars as much as we love birds and nature trails.  Seems silly now.  Visit if you want to know more on the rebates.

Sweet Heart Farm For Sale
#40 of 60 - Do you ever travel a highway numerous times and see a sign that you wonder what it means ... only to keep passing it by and never checking it out?  Well, we did that with a sign on U.S. Highway 15 for Green Springs Historic District.  If this was at the entrance to a small town or something it would make sense, but it's out in rural country.  For Valentine's Day we decided to check it out and in doing so, were surprised at how many 'valentines' the Lord had for us along the way, each one saying to us from Him, "I love you!"

The Green Springs National Historic Landmark District encompasses over 14,000 acres in the piedmont of central Virginia. The homes and farms are a continuum of Virginia rural vernacular architecture, reflective and respectful of their location, preserved in their original context with little alteration. Here the landscape has been enhanced, rather than despoiled, by the presence of civilization. It is privately owned land, includes no public facilities, but is visible from public highways, sitting astride Route 15 in Louisa County, Virginia.  View our Valentine's Day photo album.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Bald Eagle in Front Yard
#41 of 60 - A Bald Eagle in our front yard!  I was excited about doing the annual Great Backyard Bird Count in February and began counting a couple days ahead hoping that on the actual day I would get counts as good as those two days.  On the actual day I designated an hour and counted from indoors and was up to 18 species which was better than the two days before.  My largest count was Pine Siskins with a group of 40 feeding.  I was thrilled.

With 7 minutes left, I thought I'd go out front to see if I could add a larger count to any of the species I'd already seen.  Right away I saw a raptor in the sky and wondered what kind of hawk it was that I was going to get to add to my list.  I raised my binoculars and it was a Bald Eagle.  I ran indoors for my camera just as it decided to land in our yard on a young broken off tree.  He posed while I took photographs and videos, being quite entertained with the crows mobbing and screaming.

As I was filming I heard a red-shouldered hawk with warning calls from across the street as it came in and joined the mob scene.  So, I finished up with two great species to total 20 species in an hour here at Bluebird Cove.  I actually had 21 because I was so overjoyed I didn't even count the crows that had come after the eagle landed.  Wow, Lord!  You really do a great grand finale!

View eagle photos.
View eagle videos.
Continue the adventure with me.

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