Friday, January 22, 2021

Mountain Bluebirds

Last summer I put hummingbird feeders up on my deck and have been watching those fascinating little birds and snapping photos of them. I could almost say that hummingbirds are my favorite. But then I remember another time and place and a different bird. Years ago I had a summer place in Montana where I was blessed with lots of Mountain Bluebirds. I set up a nest box, watched, and took photos. The Mountain Bluebird family story is in the photos below. For many years I considered them my favorite birds.

 Click on images for a better view. 

Nest box on the left.
Storm brews in the distance.
This is in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.

Solitary nest box.
Selected as home by Mountain Bluebirds
in late May.



Yes, the eggs are BLUE too. 😊

Mom doing her duty.

First egg hatched.
Look carefully.
The beek is easy to spot.

Checking on the family.

Feeding is a busy project.

Mom and Dad both bring food.

These little ones are hungry.

Trying to pretend they are not there.

More food please.

Getting bigger.

So big it is getting crowded.
Note poop stuck on walls.
Sometimes the parents could be seen
bringing the poop out of the nest.

Almost ready to leave the nest.

Box cleaned out and ready for next year.

I miss the storm clouds in Montana's
big sky country.
And the Mountain Bluebirds!

If you enjoy critters like I do check out Eileen's Saturday's Critters.  Thanks, Eileen, for hosting and sharing.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Birds of a feather ...

Click on images for a better view.

Midday Thursday (yesterday) I looked out my window to see the scene above. Although not unusual to see birds grouping together it seemed odd for them to be so still for several minutes in that tree with almost no leaves. In summer I would probably not have noticed it at all. So, I picked up the camera to snap a photo. The tree is about 50 feet from the window. Zooming in on a part of the photo I now know they are all American Robins.

The photo brings to mind the expression, "Birds of a feather flock together." Found the following in the dictionary ...

So, it's a proverb, meaning ... people of the same sort or with the same tastes and interests will be found together. Wow, that does sound like what happened last Wednesday on Capitol Hill. What a tragedy!

Now, getting back to my birds, here's a little more info on American Robins. ...

Even earlier in the week, Monday, during a fairly heavy rain, I noticed one of my hummers perched in a tree in the front yard. Even for my 40x Canon SX730HS it's a long zoom down to that branch and without a tripod you'll notice the focus isn't perfect. But it does convey a sense that the little bird is not too happy out there in the rain.

If you enjoy critters like I do check out Eileen's Saturday's Critters. Thanks, Eileen, for hosting and sharing.

To close out this post, here are a couple of sky photos to start off 2021.

First colorful sunset of  '21.
January 3.

January 6, 2021

Closing thought ...

    America is divided by people who think they are right.

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 - A New Year Dawns


2021 is finally here. The image above is not exactly how things look here at John's Island but similar in a few ways. I'm feeling optimistic about the new year. Going to take a break for a while. In the meantime, best regards to you from John's Island. 

(Comments will return with my next post.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bye Bye 2020

Looking back over 2020 ... 

Some good ...

Lots of beautiful skies.
I am a skywatcher! 👆

January 1, 2020, evening sky.

Enjoyed spotting lots of big ships.
Seattle is a busy port and major shipping point.

Summer sunset.

Discovered the joy of watching hummingbirds.
Big time fun for an old guy! 😊

And the not good ...

My view has been missing the big cruise ships all year.
Looking out over Cruise Terminal, Elliott Bay Marina, and to Olympic Mountains
in the distance.

Tough year for the city I love.
Seattle Time's 2020 in Review Video
(7 min 58 sec)

Closing thought ...

The end of the worst, bring on the better!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Alone in Alaska Wildnerness

Surviving in wildnerness a 2020 fascination.

→   No, not because I'm going to try it. 👦   

The fascination was sparked by watching the History Channel's ALONE, Season 7, as I described in a previous post**  (**See Note at bottom of this page.)  I Googled to see who had existed, for years, all alone, in the wildnerness. My interesting find was Richard Proenneke. In 1968, at age 52, Richard went to a spot, in wildnerness, on the shores of Twin Lakes, Alaska, and single-handedly built a log cabin. He lived there for most of the next 30 years. He had a unique combination of skills:  he was an excellent carpenter/craftsman, an avid and accomplished photographer, and he kept detailed, almost daily, journals of his adventures.

Richard Proenneke built his cabin, without help, in 1968,
in a part of Alaskan Wildnerness.

Richard loved photography and recorded lots of his
adventure on a motion picture camera, which is kind of
amazing, given how challenging that was at the time.

Some of Richard's photography was used in the creation of a movie, "Alone in the Wildnerness." Here is a portion of that via YouTube, which includes how Richard started construction of his cabin all by himself ... (9 min 33 sec via YouTube ... over 12 million views!) ...

There were 4 one-hour movies produced on Proenneke's life at Twin Lakes. The first movie, produced by friend Bob Swerer, was the movie mentioned above, Alone in the Wilderness.  "Alaska Silence & Solitude" is a follow up and here is a preview ... (16 min 45 sec via YouTube)

Don't miss the Grizzly Bears at 8:40 

I purchased all 4 of the movies, on DVDs, from Bob Swerer Productions. They are great. Trying to put the DVDs on my iPad was a great challenge too. I got it done!

My grandmother kept a daily journal for most of her adult life. I have a suitcase full of them. I believe I inherited her passion for journaling and that may be another reason I found Proenneke fascinating ... he kept detailed journals. He was a prolific writer ... his journals fill up 5 large books. When I have a spare moment I like to pick up one of these books and take a look at what Richard was doing on the same day years ago.

All of these books are available through
The Richard Proenneke Museum

Closing Thought 
The greatest thing you can do, in this world, is not contribute to the collective unhappiness in the world.
     Eckhart Tolle

Thank you for stopping by John's Island.

**Note: I was a bit surprised that so many commenters on my ALONE post said they had never heard of it or didn't watch TV. The thing is, I don't watch that much TV myself. The serials that these TV networks come up with usually have little or no appeal to me. I guess I'm not your average viewer. 😊 Anyway, ALONE is not your ordinary TV. The video is all captured by the participants themselves and they have no crew helping them, camera or otherwise. In Season 7 they all had to survive for over 3 months using their own wits and skills. There may be moments that are a bit disgusting ... eating some nasty looking things, for example. But, overall, this is a great story of human endurance.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas to All

The image above is a scan of a card I received from my good friend, Richard, who lives in the United Kingdom. He has been following John's Island for years. The image is beautiful and I couldn't resist sharing it here for everyone to enjoy. It does a good job of capturing the essence of the season. Thank you Richard!

Now, something old ...

Below you will see the same post I published five years ago on December 25. I was looking back to see what I'd posted on Christmas in years past. This post features a favorite holiday card from my vintage postcard collection.

Merry Christmas [1908]

From our collection of old postcards ...

Copyrighted 1908 by Julius Bien & Co. N. Y.
Embossed and with a bit of glitter as well.

Back of the unused card.
One Cent domestic postage!

And something new ...

Two of my favorite things to photo ... hummingbirds and sunset rolled into one. Taken yesterday, Dec 23, when the skies were mostly clear and outdoor temp was about 40F (4.4C).

Regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, best wishes from John's Island. Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hummer Update

Here in mid-December Anna's Hummingbirds are still daily visitors to my feeders. Hummers feed on the nectar in blooming flowers, tiny insects, and the sugar-water humans put in feeders. This time of year, in Seattle, blooming flowers are rare. So, I think these little birds are especially dependent now on our feeders. 

Note bare tree limbs in lower left.

I am committed to keeping my feeders clean with fresh food for the hummers all winter this year. Honestly, I don't know if it is a good thing. Clearly, we humans are stretching the area nature intended for hummingbirds. However, since humans have created this "no need to migrate" situation, I will do my part to make it work for the hummers. And, it does bring joy to my day to watch them.

Between feedings the hummers can be found
relaxing in a tree about 10 meters away.

The "experts" say hummers spend about 60% of their day relaxing like the little bird in the photo above. Hummingbirds have a very high metabolism and must eat all day long just to survive. They consume daily about half their body weight in bugs and nectar.

At sunset it is tough to get more than a silhouette.
However, hummers are heavy feeders around this time
which makes it a good time to snap a photo.

I have found hummers feed the most right around sunrise and then again right before sunset. 
When they sleep, they go into a hibernation-like state called Torpor (pronounced TOR-per). This is a really deep sleep. Their metabolism will lower to one-fifteenth (1/15) of normal.

The little hummer seems to be looking in the direction of the
setting sun. Enjoying the sunset?

I wonder how hummers find a place they feel is safe for sleep, and which provides protection from wind and rain. We've had some stormy nights and I wondered if they would make it through. So far, they seem to be doing well.

In the photo below the cloud formations in the upper half of the picture are quite rare. We had a low pressure, stormy weather pass through the night before. I am wondering if this is similar to the area around the center of a hurricane, often called the "eye." Something unusual caused the clouds to be in that circular formation.

Interesting and unusual cloud formation.
December 17, 2020

NASA photo of Earth from space.
Reality = No sunrise, no sunset.
Just illuminated and not.

Sunrise and sunset exist only from our perspective here on the surface of the planet. The daily phenomena, often beautiful, is created by our view through the atmosphere, especially the clouds. I smile everytime I think about those people who still believe the earth is flat. Apparently, you can convince some humans of just about anything.

Closing Thoughtbrought to my attention by one of my favorite bloggers, Eileen, who happens to host Saturday's Critters, where I'm linking up today. 

The best things in life are the people we love, the places we've been and the memories we made along the way.

Thank you Eileen.

Mountain Bluebirds

Last summer I put hummingbird feeders up on my deck and have been watching those fascinating little birds and snapping photos of them. I co...