Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

December 31, 2012

My Favorite Photos of 2012

Since I started blogging in 2010, I’ve done a wrap-up of my favorite photos of the year.  They aren’t always my more “technically” good photos, but photos I’ve come to enjoy for one reason or another.  I believe these photos have all appeared on the blog already this year, but that is because I am always anxious to share my favorites with you!  The photos that follow are in chronological order approximately one for each month of the year, but in one case I didn’t find anything I liked all that much in a month (February) and for April and July I couldn’t make up my mind between two shots, so you get them both for a baker’s dozen total.

In January, I was finally able to get a close-up shot of a Mr. Cardinal that made me happy:
mrcardinal3

In March, I felt lucky to grab this shot of a soaring hawk, with feathers strongly defined:
hawk1

In April, I went on and on about one of my favorite vacations of all time, the cruise we took. Meghan and Sarah, first day on the ship and taken with my Blackberry, remains a favorite:
IMG-20120416-00079
There were so many beautiful sights from the cruise, but I wanted to share a shot that I love for its simplicity:
IMG_7695
The warm, turquoise Carribbean water brings me back to those precious days when there was little to worry about and happy memories were being made.

May brought me a picture of one of my favorite types of flowers, a bearded iris, that I was very pleased with how it came out. It was the header picture here on the blog until very recently:
IMG_8033

Ah, June! The end of the school year, the start of my favorite season. Yummy raspberries are a nice representation of the many good parts of summer.
fresh raspberries

July is the month when my butterfly bushes start going wild and bring many winged visitors. This monarch was one of my best butterfly shots this year:
King of butterflies

I just love this photo of Sarah from her birthday party. Her braces had been removed and her smile was big and genuine:
Sarah1

As part of a photo hunt that everyone really seemed to enjoy, the “Ends of the Earth”, I took this photo in August from our little mountain here in town:
mountain2

In September, my summer dreams faded away with the weather. This dahlia reminds me of the warmth of the afternoons that I continued to enjoy as long as I could:
Dahlias #2

October brought a blog-along walk over at Robin’s Life in the Bogs. I found myself doing some quiet contemplation while watching birds appear before my lens. I loved this sweet little chickadee:
chickadee

I was happily surprised to have the opportunity to photograph an eastern bluebird for the first time in November. It isn’t a wonderful photo, but I was thrilled with the chance to get this picture:
Eastern bluebird

How ironic that I spent December wishing for a gentle blanket of snow to take pretty pictures in and then ended up sharing this adventure with you just yesterday! (If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead, have a peek!) I still really like this picture of my new snowman ornaments, even if I could now do without the sentiment:
"Let it Snow" 2

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that 2013 brings you good health, and paraphrasing the words of a fellow blogger, enough of what you need most.

November 17, 2012

A Tale of Two Bluebirds

I mentioned in my last post that we had a lovely weekend in store weather-wise last weekend.  Indeed it turned out quite sunny and warm for a November New England Veteran’s Day weekend.  I did take the dogs for the long walk that I promised them.  Before I went out, I stood pondering with my camera: leave the small, lightweight 50mm lens attached or switch to the 55-250mm zoom?  I was feeling like keeping the walk as light as possible so I stuck with the 50mm.

And I regretted it when I got out to the meadow part of my walk!  The eastern bluebird is a fairly common bird, but it is one that I have never managed to spy or photograph.  Lo and behold, what do I see perfectly perched in front of me about 25 yards in the distance but a lovely, male eastern bluebird.  I, of course, tried to take pictures, but this was not the job my 50mm lens was made for.  Sadly, this very tightly cropped shot was the best I could do:
bluebird1

Can you see him there, perched on top of the pine tree?  Slightly blurry and difficult to see, I know.

Today, it turned out, was also sunny and fairly warm.  So the dogs and I headed out for another walk.  I switched to the 55-250mm lens and wondered what the chances were that I’d again see a bluebird in the meadow.  It was around the same time of day as our last walk and same sort of weather conditions so I thought maybe I’d get lucky.

And I did!  I saw eastern bluebirds again, but this time they were farther away than 25 yards.  My zoom lens couldn’t bring them in as closely as I would have liked, but I think the couple shots I took are a bit sharper.  This is the best one that I managed today:

Eastern bluebird

I think this could possibly be a female bluebird; she was shadowed so I’m not 100% positive, but this bird does have a blue tail and those dusky colored spots near the wings:

femaile bluebird?

These bluebirds could almost count as entries in Scott’s newest assignment, I think!  I do have another post, however, coming soon with my take on color composition.

May my bluebirds bring you a little happiness today! 🙂

October 20, 2012

Accidental Birding

Don’t you love it when you end up with some photos you weren’t expecting to take that you really like?  That happened recently for me and I was able to add some new shots to my bird collection.

I mentioned in my  last post that I actually took two walks for Robin’s blog-along walk, but that I wasn’t overly happy with my photos from the first walk.  Near the end of that walk, I stopped and paused on a little bridge over a creek.

IMG_8977

I tried to just relax and take in the quiet sounds around me: the burbling of the brook, rustling of leaves in the wind, and bird song.  While I leaned on the fence of the bridge, something changed.  My eyes suddenly were able to see birds flitting everywhere right in front of me.  I’m not sure if they appeared there after I stilled my body or if the stilling of my body is what allowed me to see what was already there.

catbird and robin

Catbird and Robin.  (Too bad it wasn’t a “batbird”, huh? 😉  )  These two are birds that I see in my backyard constantly, but I liked having the two of them together in one shot.  The pink leaves and red berries made a nice backdrop too.

Gentle shaking of nearby pine branches caught the corner of my eye.  I refocused my eyes to try to find the cause of the motion and saw one of my favorite little birds, our Massachusetts state bird, the chickadee.
chickadee

Just beyond the chickadee, rustling the dry leaves, no doubt searching for tasty insects, I saw a bird that I’ve seen plenty of times, but of which I’d never managed a photo, a northern flicker.

northern flicker

Later that week while I was lazily staring into my backyard, I spotted a little bird that I couldn’t identify.  It wasn’t an overly distinctive bird, but I thought it was rather sweet looking.

phoebe1

My photos of it aren’t spectacular, as I quickly ran to grab the camera before it flitted away, but I believe this is an Eastern Phoebe, a small species of flycatcher.  That seemed to be about right as I watched it perch in various places around my yard and then suddenly dart into flight – I’m guessing to snag a fly out of the air.  These next two photos are very blurry, but I thought they were still kind of neat.

phoebe2
I see you tasty fly!”

phoebe3
“Coming to get ya!”

I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture of a bird in flight with its wings closed before.  It struck me kind of funny, like someone had picked the bird up and tossed it into the air.

Nice what you can find sometimes when you aren’t really looking!

August 8, 2012

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

It is funny sometimes how blog posts come to be.  I realized yesterday that I hadn’t updated about my proposed birding project despite the fact that I have indeed been doing a bit of work on it.  But then, I never want to post a blog post without pictures, and I didn’t have any new bird photos to share.  It was still fairly early in the morning – yeah, 9 am is early for me in the summertime, got something to say about that? 😉 – so I went out to the backyard to see if any birds would cooperate and pose a little bit.

You know what they say about sometimes forgetting to see the forest for the trees?  While I was outside trying for those bird photos, it suddenly struck me that I was doing that.  Yesterday was one of those beautiful mornings – sunny, blue sky with just a few puffy white clouds, low humidity, temperature only in the upper 60’s.  I stepped back a little bit to breathe and take it all in.  I was getting a little dizzy from looking up into the trees and trying to focus on the fast-flitting birds.

When I took the time to be in the moment, I also noticed the cool feel of the morning dew on my toes,

dewy toes

that the moon was out,

morning moon

that the lantana was coming back for a second round of blooming,

lantana

and that the squirrel that has been vigorously picking acorns and knocking them out of my oak tree was up to some morning acrobatics.

squirrel

So did I get any new bird photos to share?  Yes and no.  I saw the bright orange flash of the Baltimore orioles near the tip-top of a tree, but this underside of the belly and tail was the best I could catch:

baltimore oriole

A bird I’ve photographed plenty of times before, an American robin, stayed fairly close for a photo.

robin

A gray catbird also posed for me.  The only photo I’d ever gotten in the past of this bird was hidden among branches and badly blurred.

gray catbird

And I was able to add a photo of a bird that I’ve seen before but hadn’t been positive about identifying and had no photos of one in my collection, a northern mockingbird.  This bird was at the top of a very tall tree, so this is very tightly cropped, but I think it came out okay:

northern mockingbird

So, progress on the birding project: I have a “confirmed” life list of 59 species of birds.  This does not include many birds I’ve seen in captivity such as parrots, parakeets, cockatiels, flamigoes and penguins.  I’m never likely to see those birds “in the wild” so my list would be well over 60 if those were included.  I’ll definitely be bringing my checklist with me to Maine in the hopes of adding a few more “lifers”.

I hope you’ll remember to step back and enjoy a few beautiful moments too.  Summer is quickly passing us by – enjoy it!

August 4, 2012

Halo and Hummingbird

As many of you may remember, the deck in my backyard is my “happy place” for the summer.  With the exception of the beach, it is my favorite spot and I spend many hours there when the weather allows.  Over the past couple of days, I captured a few photos from my deck that I’d like to share.

One sunny afternoon, I ambled outside, stretched my limbs and peered around the yard.  A quick glance at the sky caused me to do a double-take:

sun halo

I pulled my sunglasses off my face and looked again.  It wasn’t there.  Was that arc around the sun really there?  Put the sunglasses back and it was indeed there.  Meghan had followed me outside, wondering what I was looking at.  She pulled my sunglasses from my face, and had a look for herself.  I stood there wondering, since I couldn’t see it without my sunglasses, could my camera see it?  Meghan said to me, “Wouldn’t that filter-thingy you have work?”  Duh!  Why didn’t I think of the polarizing filter?  I went inside to get the camera and attach the filter and took these shots.
sun halo

I knew it wasn’t a rainbow, but I wasn’t sure what it was.  I searched online and found some information about sun halos. Apparently, ice crystals from high-level (about 20,000 feet) cirrus clouds are what cause these halos to be seen.

Just yesterday, I spent more time on the deck.  It was an unusual day because once hubby left for work, I was completely on my own.  It is rare that both of the girls are out of the house at the same time, but yesterday they spent the day at Six Flags with friends.  So I was on my own for dinner.  Not feeling like going out to get something to eat, this is what I made up for myself:
Dinner on my own

Looks pretty tasty, no?  That tomato is one of the very first I’ve enjoyed from my garden – it was delicious.  I ate it with just a sprinkle of salt, no dressing needed.  I remained outside after dinner for quite a while, reading a book I checked out of the library, 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  I’m only 78 pages into this 849 page tome, but I think I’m going to like it.

I had my camera outside with me because for the past few evenings, I’ve seen my local hummingbirds hovering around the butterfly bushes and at my feeder.  The bird that I’ve seen most often, I believe to be a juvenile male ruby-throated.  The bright red throat is yet to develop, but the vibrant green of the back and wings is there.  Perhaps it is just my own musing, but the bird seems young to me in the way it approaches the feeder.  It hovers up, down, all around before taking tentative sips.  Last evening, he stayed long enough for me to take some shots.  The light was getting low, so I couldn’t have as fast of a shutter speed as I would have liked, but here are the better shots that I took:

hum2

hum1

I just love these adorable little birds!

One week from today we leave for our family vacation in Maine.  I’m sure I’ll be busy doing laundry and packing and getting ready, so I don’t know how often I will post this week, but I’ll definitely still be checking in with all of you.

This is my first post in the month of August so it seems like a good time to remind you about the August Ends of the Earth Photo Hunt.  Please pop over and have a peek if you haven’t already.

July 20, 2012

Thinking about Birding

Filed under: For the Birds — Karma @ 12:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been giving birds a lot of thought recently. I’ve got a photo set on Flickr with 83 pictures of birds in it, and I’ve got a category here on the blog called “For the Birds”.  I recenty watched a movie called “The Big Year” with Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin about a competition to see the highest number of bird species in one year.  That movie got me thinking about my “life list” – meaning, I’m wondering just how many different species of birds I’ve seen.

I contacted Bob Zeller over at Texas Tweeties for some advice about getting my list going.  He kindly gave me some ideas.  I’ve also been over to Ebird.org to have a look at their bird checklists.  I spent some time on Flickr going through my bird photos – the collage above was created from my Flickr set.  And now, I’m sharing my thoughts with you.

My plan is to spend some time getting a list of what I’ve already seen started.  I’ve saved a list of Massachusetts birds and I thought I could start by going through that list and checking off what I already know for sure that I’ve seen.  With the help of my go-to bird identification website, Cornell’s All About Birds, I figure I can tackle identifying birds that I’ve seen, but wasn’t quite sure exactly what they were.  Then, eventually, I hope to be able to add to my list and to my photo collection – like when I saw that ruffled grouse this past weekend.

My hope is now that I’ve put my plans here in the blogosphere for you all to see, I will follow through.  I hope to be back soon with what I believe to be my “life list” number.  Have you ever given any thought to just how many species of birds you’ve seen?

July 17, 2012

Camping Critters

No, the critters didn’t go camping, but I did see quite a variety on our camping trip to Goshen, MA last weekend.
dar

A morning hike to a fire-tower brought me my first dragonfly shot of the season:
dfly

as well as an encounter with a bird that I’d never seen before:

grouse

We wondered at first if it was a quail, but the members of our group believed this nearly chicken-sized bird to be too large to be a quail.  Later in the day, the word for this bird just popped into my head, unbidden: grouse!

When I came home, I double checked my thought on the computer and the description of this bird seems to match that of a ruffled grouse.

An afternoon walk to the small lake beach provided a couple more interesting creature encounters.  This creature was of a very familiar type, but I’d never seen one quite doing this before:

dogswim

I know many dogs, especially retrievers (not MY retriever of course!), enjoy swimming, but I’d never seen one swimming along side a cayak.

A pair of ducks made their way into the swimming area too.  They were unafraid of the people in the area.  I took a few pictures out of habit, but then I was happily surprised to capture this one:

duck2

I don’t know if this was the he or the she of the pair, as both ducks looked virtually identical.  I think he/she looks ready to conduct a symphony!

A far less symphonic critter was the next to slither by my lens:

snake

I’m not generally bothered all that much by snakes, not that I’d like to have one for a pet or anything mind you, so getting this photo didn’t require much bravery on my part.  Later, however, my friends at the campsite looked at this picture zoomed in and believe we were in the company of a small copperhead snake – a venomous, but not overly dangerous or agressive snake.

There were also the usual chattering, curious red squirrels and chipmunks that ran around our campsite, but I somehow didn’t manage any photos of those.  One brave chipmunk that chose to come a little closer to us was rewarded with a treat of peanuts – I wish I had gotten a picture of those stuffed up cheeks.

Heat and humidity have taken over this region once again; upper 90’s are forecast and we are under a heat advisory.  Hope you are keeping cool today, whatever you are doing.

May 28, 2012

Feeling Accomplished and Tired!

Here we are at the end of a glorious 3-day weekend – (thank you service people who made it possible).  I made use of every moment and accomplished plenty in that time span.  Some of the accomplishments were enjoying time with friends and relaxing on my deck, but those are important too, right?

Memorial Day weekend is planting weekend for me.  It is always when I have the time to plant my veggie garden and generally have no more worry of a hard frost in this area.  Tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini make up this year’s patch.
IMG_8094
That took most of my day yesterday, a sunny day with the temperature around 90 degrees. I continued today (after mowing the lawn this morning before it reached into the 90’s again this afternoon) with my traditional row of marigold “sentinels” at the edge of the garden.
IMG_8095
You know, I was under the impression that the scent of marigolds was supposed to help repel critters who’d like to get their paws on what the garden has to give, but not two hours after I finished planting those marigolds did I find a chipmunk happily digging away and stuffing his cheeks right next to one of those marigolds! Curious, eh?

I also planted my herb bucket with basil and parsley after mercilessly hacking away about half of the chives that have a tendency to take over the whole bucket.
IMG_8096

I started filling some of my containers with annual flowers as well, but those don’t look too impressive yet, so I’ll save those for another day.

Another color of peony opened this weekend too:
peony1

While in one of those quiet moments relaxing and appreciating on my deck, I caught sight of a bird I’ve been wanting to photograph for a while now:
oriole1
This gentleman was fairly high up in my oak tree, so I wasn’t entirely sure at first that I was seeing a Baltimore oriole. But then he turned his backside toward me, and that made me sure I wasn’t just seeing a robin with a really dark head and a really bright chest!
oriole2

And so, dear readers, I’m quite tired as I type this late Monday evening, but it is a good kind of tired.  Memorial Day weekend was all that I could have asked for and I truly appreciated it.  How was your weekend?

May 22, 2012

Happenings

Filed under: For the Birds,What's Blooming — Karma @ 4:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

It has been more than a week since I posted – I’ve been a bit of a slacker, I suppose, but then this tends to be the “When I Feel Like It” way.  It has been a busy week as we approach the end of the school year (16 days of school left for me!), recital around the corner and spring in full bloom.  In addition to all the good, a drop of the bad had to rear its ugly head as well.  On my way home from work yesterday I was the victim of a motor vehicle accident.  While I was stopped behind several cars waiting to take a left turn, a very young and newly licensed driver hit my car from behind.  I am fine, but my poor car is damaged yet again and having a reunion with the body shop it has already visited 3 times in its past (none of those incidents my fault, by the way!)  So how about the photos of the nice stuff that happened this week?

IMG_7977

Mandaville hanging flower basket from my daughter for Mother’s Day

IMG_8000
Peonies, ready to bust open

IMG_8021
My little lupin, in light and shadow

ducks
Mr. & Mrs. Duck, stopping by my still covered pool – the water on the cover is sure to contain a variety of tasty insects

A pair of hummingbirds has returned to my yard. I was distracted getting ready for work one morning in my attempt to take these pictures:
humming1

humming2

My dearly loved bearded irises have started to bloom:
IMG_8015

While sitting outside hoping to find a nice shot for Scott’s Blue Hour assignment, due this week, I was thrilled to come up with this iris photo:
IMG_8033

I’m particularly happy with how that one came out.

I’m not as happy with how my blue hour attempts came out. I’m still deciding whether I will choose to post them tomorrow for Scott’s deadline.

What’s been happening with you?

March 11, 2012

Fly Like a…

Filed under: For the Birds — Karma @ 7:43 pm
Tags: , , , ,

hawk1

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

Into the future

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle

To the sea

Fly like an eagle

Let my spirit carry me

I want to fly like an eagle

Till I’m free

– Steve Miller

This isn’t an eagle, of course.  It’s a hawk: red-tailed, Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned, I’m not sure.  That classic song by the Steve Miller Band came to mind this afternoon while I watched this beautiful bird in the clear, blue sky.  Every time I see one of these gorgeous birds of prey, I’m drawn in.  I breathe deep, appreciate and try to imagine what it must be like to soar so freely above.

The days do keep slipping away, the future at our doorstep.  Have I become all I will ever be or does the future have more in store?

Some days, I really do want to be just like that bird, free to be whoever I want to be.  Free to explore, off into the blue.

hawk2

« Previous PageNext Page »