I love sunsets

What a striking sunset we had tonight!

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Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Cheers,

Sue

Yummy Tasting Little Gems

I made these for my dinner last night …

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Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Here’s my recipe …

Ingredients

About 15-18 good-sized mushrooms (not huge but not the little button ones either)
¾ lb pork sausage meat – if you like spicy you can use Italian or Hot sausage meat
1 small-ish cooking onion – diced fine
3 garlic cloves – diced fine
2/3 of an 8-oz pkg cream cheese
1 egg yolk
2/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the can)
Salt and Pepper to taste

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Method

Brown and crumble the sausage meat in a fry pan. (It needs to end up in small bits) Set aside to cool.

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems finely. Set aside.

Brown onion and garlic in the sausage drippings. Add the chopped mushroom stems partway through. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and the egg yolk. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cooled sausage meat and the onion mixture.

Put in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Arrange the mushroom caps on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle salt lightly over mushroom caps.

Using a teaspoon, fill the mushroom cavity with the stuffing, pressing it into the hole. Mound it quite high on top. Place filled mushroom caps on the foil-lined cookie sheet. I sprayed the foil first with cooking spray.

Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes before eating – they are really hot inside!

Serve as an appetizer or add a salad to make a whole meal – these are very filling!

They can be made ahead and even frozen – cooked or uncooked. Just thaw and pop them into the oven when you want them. I also had some filling left over, so froze that for later, too.

Man, these were sooo gooooood !!!!

Cheers,
Sue

The Ravens

Not great photos. Lots of cropping and post-processing in these to try to bring out some of the detail that was in the shot, but needed a lot of “help” … some burning and dodging, levels, sats adj, brightness and contrast, a small amount of sharpening otherwise it was VERY noisy and a hard light layer for the trees with a layer mask to bring back the detail in the ravens …

They are not really gray, that was how the light was hitting them. Their eyes were there as you see them – I just burned them in a bit better.

Then we had “lift-off” !!!

Thanks for looking …

The Buffleheads are back …

These ducks were at Chichester Wetlands when I went there yesterday. They are male Bufflehead Ducks. I didn’t see any females. As you can see, they are quite small (compared to a mallard) and they were very shy – I had to hide behind a tree in order for them to come out where I could shoot them. Even so, these are not great pics – but I do get to add them to my Bird List.

Thanks for looking – hope you enjoy them, too!

Red-tailed Hawk – Dark Morph

Got this fellow yesterday coming home from the Chichester Wetlands …
I shot these in RAW and pp is a real b!tch on my puter – everything crawls to a halt. Even just trying to see them with a RAW image viewer is painfully slow.

I have an awful lot of shots – probably over 100 – just of this guy. But, in RAW, they will take a long time to edit. These few were just the tip of the iceberg of great shots I got of him. You should see the one where he’s ripping the guts out of that mouse – eeeewwwww.

This fellow was not even remotely concerned that I was standing so close to him – I was only about 12 – 15 feet from him. If there hadn’t been a snowbank and a ditch between us, I probably would have gotten even braver and tried to see how close he actually would let me get. I had to finally quit shooting and go home because I had filled all my cards and he got tired of me just standing there looking and talking.

It was a good day’s shooting, eh???

A Robin – it’s SPRING!

Found this fellow at Chichester yesterday – he was in no hurry to run from the camera.

These guys are all over the place here now … YAY!!!

Sharp-shinned Hawk – IN MY HOUSE!

Was home sick from work yesterday and was outside in my flannel nightie and slippers chasing this SSH around the yard.

He started off in the neighbour’s grape arbor, then went into my woodshed, to the fence beside the woodshed, then through the open door INTO my house!

He’s been hanging around here lately looking for an easy meal of Songbird Delight – has a damaged wing, so may be having a tough time of it. He didn’t get any dessert yesterday, either!

Too bad I am not a faster shooter! Just managed to get these ones – alas, none in the house!

Here’s where I first see him – on the grape arbor …

From there he flew towards me! … past my van on the other side – then into the woodshed, where I tried to get his pic but he saw me getting closer so flew out the other end and back towards me onto my fence made of pallets. I was still IN the woodshed, but could see him through the field-wire fencing about 6 feet from me …

From there he rounded the bird feeder poles and went straight through the open door INTO my house! The Dawg was out on the porch laying down watching my shenanigans (outside in my nightie and slippers in the snow) and the hawk missed him by only a couple of feet – if that!

The look on the Dawg’s face was priceless as this bird flew over his head and into the house. Dawg looked at me as if to say, “Did that really happen?”

I could see the bird inside, cruisin’ past the open door several times, but there was no way I was going in there – not even for pics of a hawk in my house!

The Dawg and I looked at each other for a few l-o-n-g seconds, just a little stunned, then the Dawg decided to go check it out. When the Dawg went in to investigate, the hawk decided outside was safer so flew out and up into a tree where he paused to ponder where he’d just been – bet he was as surprised as I was!

Along with the chickadee eating out of my hand last week, this day will stand out in my memory.

Hope you enjoy him!

The Great Backyard Bird Count – Day 4

My tally for Monday, the 16th

Number of Species: 15

Checklist:
Mallard – 200
California Quail – 32
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 7
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) – 2
American Crow – 9
Common Raven – 2
Black-capped Chickadee – 4
European Starling – 50
Song Sparrow – 5
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 2
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) – 12
House Finch – 25
American Goldfinch – 8
House Sparrow – 25

I am soooo excited! Look what I did !!!!

Yeehawwwwwwwww!!! What a thrill!


I have been working really hard to get my feeder birds used to me, but for the most part, they keep their distance while I am outside.

Today was different for some reason. I went out to fill the feeders and try to get pics of a new little bird I didn’t recognize but which had been hanging around the past few days. Got the pics of it, and will post them separately, but then I decided to take a pan of water out for the birds and as I was setting it down on the table, a chickadee came and sat on the feeder about a foot away from my shoulder. So I grabbed a small handful of black oil sunflower seeds out of the train engine and held it out for him.

I thought my heart was gonna stop when he landed on my finger!!! WOW!

Then I picked up the camera again and was just getting it focused on the seeds in my hand when he came back for more. Just caught that shot, then he came back time and time again and each time I managed to get one or two shots of him.

At one point, I just stood and watched him. He sat there on my hand and looked back at me for quite a long heart-stopping moment. We just stood there quietly looking at each other, making eye contact, we blinked and I talked softly to him Then he picked up another seed and took off with it. He wasn’t in the least afraid of me. The Dawg was even right out there with me and there was no fear of him either.

This has got to be one of those days that goes down in history for me. It’s four hours later and I am still in awe.

Now to work on those brilliant male house finches! I bet it’s not impossible …

The Great Backyard Bird Count – Day 3

My count for Sun., Feb. 15 …

Number of Species: 12

Checklist:
Bald Eagle – 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1 (in my woodshed again!)
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) – 2
Black-billed Magpie – 1
American Crow – 6
Black-capped Chickadee – 4
Song Sparrow – 2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) – 10
House Finch – 25
American Goldfinch – 6
House Sparrow – 25

I also got these shots of a House Finch with mycoplasmal conjunctivitis

I will report it.

The Great Backyard Bird Count – Day 2

Nothing special today and limited time for watching and recording – work does get in the way of my fun stuff!

DAY 2 FEB 14.2009 – REPORT

Weather: excellent

Snow Depth: 10 – 12 in (25.4 – 30.5 cm)

Habitat(s):

agricultural

rural

urban

Number of Species: 10

Checklist:

Bald Eagle – 1

Ring-billed Gull – 7

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) – 1

Black-billed Magpie – 1

American Crow – 6

Black-capped Chickadee – 2

Song Sparrow – 2

Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) – 12

House Finch – 20

House Sparrow – 20

The Bald Eagle was soaring in the sky just as I was turning into my driveway – being chased by six crows. No camera. As I was watching the eagle, a Northern Flicker landed on the bank  by Stan’s driveway and was pecking around in the dirt there. I didn’t see the Slate Junco today but I got pics of the Oregon variety.

Oregon Junco

The Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count happens every February and this is the first time I have participated in it. This year it’s Feb. 13-16th. It has been great fun watching everywhere for whatever wild bird species I can identify and record. Each evening I fill out a report form online and email it in. They email me back with a printable record so I can put it in my birding binder.

My greatest “catch” was two American Bald Eagles!!! I have never seen them here before and they landed in a tree up on the hill where I could see them from my front porch. I got pics, but they are VERY crappy – just too far out of range for even my biggest lens with the doubler on it. They make #54 on my Bird List. So nice of them to show up for my count!!! Yipeeee!!!

Bald Eagles

A special treat for me this year was the early arrival of the robins – just in time for the count. They stayed in Marlowe’s weeping birch tree for about 20 minutes.

Two American Robins

The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.

DAY 1 FEB 13.2009 – REPORT

Weather: excellent

Snow Depth: 8 – 10 in (20.3 – 25.4 cm)

Habitat(s):

coniferous woods

grassland

agricultural

rural

suburban

Number of Species: 22

Checklist:

Mallard – 2

California Quail – 40+

Bald Eagle – 2

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1

Cooper’s Hawk – 1

Red-tailed Hawk – 2

Mourning Dove – 4

Downy Woodpecker – 1

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) – 10+

Steller’s Jay – 2

Black-billed Magpie – 4

Common Raven – 10

Black-capped Chickadee – 6

American Robin – 6

European Starling – 100+

Song Sparrow – 2

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 2

Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) – 20+

Red-winged Blackbird – 4

House Finch – 20+

American Goldfinch – 10

House Sparrow – 30

Will post tomorrow’s results too, but they won’t be as high because I have to work all day.

This was Brekkie Today

I needed to do a shoot for a theme – Oranges and/or Lemons, so a few days ago I went searching for “props”.  I came home with two scrumptious cream puffs. The bakery built them special for me and I asked for a cherry on top of one of them. I hadn’t made up my mind if I wanted the cherry in the pic or not – turns out I did.

This one was breakfast today  ….

Orange Cream Puff for Brekkie

Here’s a few more (but I like the first one best)

Cherry on Top

Yummmmm …

Female (or Juvie ?) Red-wing Blackbird

Found this one in my archives … ignored and passed over because there was a really cool male showing off and I chose to process that one instead. But here’s her ladyship for you to enjoy now …

FIRE!

Fire in the Sky Reflected

No, not in the building …

The fire is in the SKY! What a sunset!!!

Fire in the Sky

A Downy Day

A new bird turned up at my feeders today – a Downy Woodpecker!!! This now makes 53 different birds I have photographed – almost all of them at my feeders or in my yard and the orchard!!!

I am amazed they are so tiny!!!

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Another Hawk

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting here at the computer and looked up out the window …

Somebody over at BirdPhotographers.net seems to think its a Cooper’s Hawk, but it looks a lot like the one they identified earlier as a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

If you are into bird photography, there’s some amazing photographers there!

No, I don’t have a dirty sensor …

Somebody —- PLEASE make this #&($I*O&)* snow stop!!! I had six inches in 3 hours this morning! The snow is over my knees in some places. My van is snowed in and I am sick of shoveling to get my gate open or bring  firewood in for the night.

My roof has a 2-inch layer of ice under a foot or more of snow.

Cripes!

It is not pretty any more. I hate it. Anybody want to adopt me ???? (I come with a dawg)

I’m fed up with winter!!!

The hawk was back again today … went away empty-handed – TG!!!

Cooper’s??? Sharp-shinned???

Lordy, but it’s hard to tell, eh???

I think I’m going with Sharp-shinned … eye stripe, square tail, dark nape, maybe a thin white band on the tip of his tail, eyes closer to the beak …

What do you all think??? Here’s an ID guide … http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/Abo…terIDtable.htm

If You’re Squeamish, Close Yer Eyes!

I was sooo dismayed about this hawk hunting my songbirds at my feeders. Felt like such a traitor – like I wasn’t looking after my birdies properly or well enough. Even had nightmares last night about it.

He managed to nail two that I know of for sure. These pics are from the first kill. The second one was right in on the table under my porch roof – and he sat there and was de-feathering it when I saw him and dashed out there, which made him fly off with it. No pics of that one.

These pics are taken inside my wood shed and where the landlord keeps his herbicide sprayer. That’s what the tank and the gauge are.

When I first saw him, he was sitting up on the gate the landlord had there and I was about 12 feet away from him, waving my arms and telling him to get lost. But he just sat there and looked at me. Because the sunlight was behind him, I could mostly just see his silhouette and didn’t realize he had a bird already, but couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t leave. Then I saw the bird, which is a female house sparrow. Then he picked up that little bird and brought it INTO the shed and only about 8-10 feet away from me.

Like an idiot, I was snapping pics like mad and forgot to compensate for the sunlight behind him while he was still on the gate. This first pic was shot with the natural light that just happened to hit him the right way, and was the only one that turned out while he was on the gate. The sparrow is still alive in this pic and you can see the protective covering on the hawk’s eyes.

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The rest of the pics are taken when he moved inside out of the sunlight and I finally figured out to turn the flash on. What a dummy I am, eh??? They are rather self-explanatory and if you look closely, you can even see the feathers flying before he decided it was chow time. After he de-feathered it, he picked it up and took off with it, so these are all I managed to get … but I am pleased with being able to document the process. All I have done with these is resize and a touch of sharpening. No crops or colour adjustments at all….

NOW, close your eyes if the sight of a kill bothers you … more about that later …

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Due to my less than perfect night’s sleep, I went online this morning to see if I could find some way to discourage him or to protect the little birds better. Not a lot of help there, mostly they say this is Ma Nature at her finest – and the survival of the best of the species. They said 85% of all raptors don’t survive the first year and that they miss far more prey than they actually get. (Two in one day was MORE than enough for me!) The experts say the ones they catch are usually older or sick – or just not paying attention.

So, I guess I will just have to accept that this is how it is supposed to be – or else take down my feeders and let the little birds fend for themselves for a month or so. By then, the hawk will have found a new hunting ground and moved off, and I can put the feeders back up. They say the little birds will be back.

What to do … what to do ……

Edited to add: I am just guessing this is a Cooper’s Hawk … it may be a Sharp-shinned Hawk. If anyone knows for absolutely positive which one it is, please let me know. I used this to try to decide, but it looks like a little of each Thanks.