Another Zinnia Lover

So…turns out I’m not the only Zinnia lover around!

This glorious male goldfinch (and a handful of his friends) have taken quite a liking to our colorful front yard flowers. So much beauty!

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A Wonderful Water-full Weekend

What makes a wonderful weekend?
Well, if you ask Tucker, it’s any weekend that involves water…and since this weekend included not one, but two river romps…well…he was one happy labramutt!

Usually, when we take him to the river or to the lake, all of my pictures are of him with a fluorescent  fetch stick dangling from his mouth, so this time I tried to position myself to snap some shots where he was running toward me, en-route to retrieve his toy.

I had to laugh when I downloaded the pictures, because instead of the glowing green wand, his flopping tongue was prominent in all the pictures!

The water starts off such a lovely grayish-green, but this fellow can churn up some mud in a heartbeat.
Still, when I watch him racing and splashing, he exudes such pure joy that I can’t help but feel the same.

By the end of each trip he was a scruffy, sloppy, muddy, drippy, but oh so happy mess!

Yep, if you were to ask, I’m pretty sure Tucker would tell you he had a wonderful, water-full weekend!


Life really is more fun with a Lab!

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Guard, Grab, and Gobble

This Red-bellied Woodpecker landed on the Bark Butter Branch, brandishing his beak like a double-edged sword.  Clearly, he wanted no company and no competition!

After guarding the area for a moment or two, he proceeded to scoop up a hearty portion of this suety-snack.

The slightly ruffled head feathers in the picture below are another way of his sending the message that he was to be the sole occupant of the branch at this time.

Once he flew off, his aggressive behavior made a lot more sense.
He had a little guy anxiously waiting in another part of the yard, who greedily gobbled up Dad’s offering.

I have to say, my backyard birds are far better than any reality television show!

 

 

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Oh For A Zillion Zinnias!

Oh for a zillion zinnias!

These brilliant bursts of color brighten the summer season with their beauty -and also with the beauty they bring!

As I stood outside with my camera, several butterflies stopped by to sip of their sweetness.

A hummingbird moth also hovered about, greedily slurping up nectar.

When I see these Starburst candy colored flowers, I can’t help but smile.  I’m pretty sure they give off the fragrance of happiness.

I really do wish I had a zillion zinnias!

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There’s No Place Like Home

A week ago we were just getting back from Orcas Island, where we watched whales…

…explored trails…

…and enjoyed the beauty of land and sea.

And while our trip was beyond wonderful, I think Dorothy was right when she said, “There’s no place like home!”

This afternoon I got a bit of time to take the camera out in my own front yard and was delighted to see my first Monarch of the season.

I like the splash of purple in the picture from the nearby butterfly bush.

There truly is beauty everywhere!
And now that we’re home, I guess it’s time to start daydreaming about our next adventure! 🙂

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Same Kind of Different As Me

There’s a popular book that bears the title Same Kind of Different as Me, as well as a movie based on the book, but it also seemed a fitting title for this post.

While in Orcas Island, I would wake-up early each morning and head out to the deck with my coffee and camera to see what kind of birds showed up.  Many were the same birds that are regular visitors in my own backyard, only slightly different.

For example, this Spotted Towhee looks a lot like my Eastern Towhee.

And this Red-shafted Flicker is close to the Yellow-shafted Flicker who occasionally makes an appearance at my feeders.

This Robin looks different from my Robins, but I think it might just be a juvenile.

And this Steller’s Jay, though slightly different in markings than my Jays…

…still has the same preference for peanuts that mine do! And yes, I did go out and buy some peanuts and sunflower seeds to put out each morning.


I also saw a couple of birds that I don’t get to see in my backyard – like this cutie that I haven’t taken the time to look up.  Any west coast friends care to lend some identification aid?

And this majestic Bald Eagle.  I saw them fairly often during our trip but they were usually too far away to get a clear shot.

Hanging out with birds makes every vacation better, though it doesn’t quite compare to hanging out with killer whales!

 

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A Fintastic Experience

When I was a little girl, I daydreamed of sailing the Calypso in search of dolphins and killer whales.  Creatures of the sea have always fascinated me, and while I never had the chance to join Cousteau’s crew, I did have the chance to live out a childhood dream this past week.

Hubby and I spent five full days on Orcas Island (off the coast of the state of Washington) hiking, kayaking, and yes…killer whale watching.

We signed up for a Tuesday morning tour with Outer Island Excursions -and for you Gilligan’s Island fans, it was indeed a three hour tour! I showed up with a camera in my hand and a prayer in my heart, hoping that we would actually get to encounter some of these beautiful beasts.

Our captain had initially planned on heading toward a Mama and her calf that had been spotted about an hour away, but shortly after we left the harbor, a cluster of fins broke the surface near our boat.

Soon, Orcas were swimming and splashing all around us.

This pod was a transient pod, known to travel the area in search of food.

At times, they were close enough to the boat to truly see their immense power and their incredible majesty. These pictures below are two of my favorites from the trip.

If I zoom in a little bit more, you can truly get a feel for how breathtaking they are!

We had the whales all to ourselves for a bit, but then our sister ship joined us, as well as a few others when they heard the report.

After swimming about the boat for awhile, the Orcas allowed us to accompany them across the water to a seal-laden island for a hunt. I promise you, it was like being on a National Geographic show!

If you look carefully, you can see that there are a tons of seals, well camouflaged with the water and the rocks.

The pod stuck close together as they patrolled the coastline, amazing me by how close they got to the shore.

At times they would swim toward the seals (you can see two on the rocks in the photo below) and at other times they would splash and try to frighten them into the water.

Some of the seals clustered together in a little cove where they clearly felt safe from harm.

To say that it was mesmerizing to watch these whales lurk about, waiting for their prey, would be an understatement.

When the hunt was done the orcas relaxed a bit, and almost playfully celebrated.

This shot below is one that hubby captured, since he had a second camera in hand.

Words really can’t convey how incredible this experience was – if I had to pick a single adjective, I’d have to say it was simply fintastic!

It only seems fitting to end with a quote from Jacques himself – “The sea, once it cast its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

 

 

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