Thursday, June 22, 2017

A variety of hermits

I created this water mosaic with photos from our walk on Stoney Island Beach. These were taken with my point and shoot, an experiment to see if it's worth taking the time to create a larger mosaic with higher quality photos.
It is my belief that even non birder people can appreciate a lovely bird song. Last year, I often heard tweeting of a non technological variety coming from the forest behind our house, but I wasnt familiar with the song and I could never spot the bird. I recorded it one evening and then posted the sound on facebook, receiving immediate responses that the mysterious crooner was a hermit thrush. According to information on the internet, they are often found in forest understories, especially at the edge or openings.

I never spotted a hermit thrush last year, but recently heard the song again while walking my dogs on the Centennial Trail. I stopped, spent a few minutes trying to track the sound, and I was rewarded with my first sighting. Not a strikingly colourful bird, but a thrill nonetheless.

I came across a hermit of another species on a recent excursion to Beach Meadows. I always collect bits and bobs on our beach walks, and our house is decorated with my finds. Jars of sand dollars, large sea shells, beach glass, and unique stones can be found throughout our home. I love to be surrounded by natural things, and you cant beat the price for decorating on the cheap. I have a unique jar I scored at an auction several years ago, and every now and then I add a small shell to it. Not a memory keeper of particular moments, the jar is a general reminder of how happy I am to live within easy access of the shore.

But I digress. On our recent walk at Beach Meadows, I picked up a shell to add to my jar on the mantle. I turned the shell over to make sure it wasnt inhabited and found a surprise. It wasnt empty, but it wasnt a snails home either. Instead, I was shocked to find legs protruding from the shell and in a momentary panic that revealed my city girl roots, I flung the shell into the water with a yell. My startled husband wanted to know what was wrong. Sheepishly, I told him that I had found a hermit crab and reacted instinctively rather than with any reasoned thought. Hopefully the hermit crab wasnt hurt on his journey through the air into the ocean. Im guessing he was as surprised by the experience as I was.

The only other time during my nine year life on the east coast that I have seen a hermit crab was when walking with a friend on Crescent Beach last year. She made the discovery and we were both enthralled. We gently turned him over and watched as he slowly extended his legs from the shell. I can tell you from experience, its much nicer to watch a hermit crab from several feet away, rather than looking at the spidery type legs just a few inches from your face. Flashbacks from the movie Alien come to mind.

My husband and I try to get to the shore once a week, but really our goal is to take a beach walk at least eight times a month. The air is fresher. The breeze blows away any troubles. And the exercise of a walk along the ocean, for us and for our dogs, just cant be beat. Someone asked me once why I dont live near a beach, since I spend so much time there. Well, thats a good question. Youll have to ask my husband for the answer.

Recently, it was over 30 degrees in town and we decided to escape further down the south west coast to Cape Sable Island. At this time of year, the beaches closer to us get a little more populated so we head to the beaches that tend to have fewer people around. On that 30 plus degree day, it was a cool and breezy 14 at Stoney Island Beach. I thought I had dressed appropriately, taking a cotton hoodie with me. But, no, a short photo shoot on the windy shore by Clarks Harbour had us heading back into Barrington Passage and do a quick shopping expedition to purchase another sweat shirt. A warm woman is a happy woman. Ironic how you can leave one place to escape the heat and then your goal shifts to trying to keep warm.

Shopping trip successful, we headed back across the causeway and to the beach. Happiness is seeing a parking location that is free of any other vehicles and knowing you
ll have the beach to yourself. One of the best walking beaches we have found, firm sand stretches just about as far as you can see. It was the windiest we have experienced there, and the return walk was a lot easier to accomplish. Rarely without a camera, I snapped a lot of quick photos of the water with my point and shoot in order to put together a mock up of a mosaic of photos that I have in mind as a mini project. I thought Id try a mocked up version first, to see if its a good idea, before trucking my larger equipment to the shore.

Feeling free as the seagulls hovering in the wind, and happy about the secluded beach, it occurred to me that I could easily be a hermit too. But those thoughts are the focus for another day. 

published in the South Shore Breaker - June 21, 2017 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Time for a re-boot

There is no need to travel to other destinations for wildlife or landscape photography. Every day life can supply endless opportunities, if we take the time to look. Double Crested Cormorants along the LaHave River.
My disappointment at being turned down for a photographic experience I had applied for recently was quickly tempered by inspiration I received in the same batch of emails. I subscribe to a popular photographers newsletters, and the advice wasnt directed at just me, but it felt like she was talking to me nonetheless:

"I want to encourage you, no matter what negative thoughts you have going on in your mind, to do the thing you feel you cannot.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Single Minded Focus

When driving around without a specific goal for photographs, sometimes its difficult to get enthused and its best to pick something to concentrate on. Bridges was a theme for me on a recent road trip.
I am often lost in my own little world. Im not sure if its escapism, or hyper focus, or what it should be referred to. Its not unusual for me to be there in body, but not in mind.

For instance, my husband and I can be driving somewhere and hell point something along the way that I missed. Ive heard the phrase "How could you not see that?" more times than I could count.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Non Bucket List Events

a small herd of deer crossed the road without my dogs noticing...they were busy sniffing something exciting on the ground
Ill start this column with a warning: the following content may contain elements that are unrelated and not suitable for organized minds. Rambling words ahead.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


A group of double crested cormorants along the flooded St. Johns River in New Brunswick were a perfect photographic subject for me and my newly discovered joy of monochromatic type images.
I'm not a fan of old country music, but there are some classics that I really enjoy and sing along at full throttle, putting my heart into the words. George Jones had some real tear jerkers, including "He Stopped Loving Her Today". But one of my favourites from George was "Choices". I've had choices since the day that I was born...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

On the Road Again

Sometimes size does matter. Without a specialty lens, my moose would have been a small speck in the landscape, instead of an up close and personal image.
I know some people who have had a really tough time adjusting to retirement. They find their days long, and miss the structure of their old work life. My husband was worried that I would miss my business after it sold, but no. Not me. When I retired, I never looked back.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


An early morning photo shoot of local osprey was ruined by forgetting to reset my camera settings. The images were all three photo compilations due to my camera being set to take multiple exposures.
I had an interesting morning recently, in which I discovered that bird-brained can have two quite different meanings. In my meandering way, I will tell you a bit about both my experiences.

Every morning, without fail, I am awakened by two impatient dogs who want to get started with their day. I cant be irritated with them, even if they decide its time to get going while I am still in a sound slumber, because they are just so deliriously happy that it tends to rub off on me. Okay, its time to get up and start the day. This involves letting them out, letting them in, feeding them, getting the coffee ready, feeding the cat and cleaning her box, getting the paper, and on it goes. When I finally get to relax with my coffee, I usually take a look at our backyard birds.