Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

This was quite a challenge, one that I thought would pass me by. BUT, as you can see, I did find a photo-op that fits the bill! A few days ago I saw a bird out on the deck I had never seen before. It was rather illusive and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to capture its image. Even when there were five or six of the birds, they didn’t hang around long enough for me to do my work! Then two days ago, I ventured out with the camera mounted on a tripod, sat stone still for a very long time hoping to see a bluejay, barely breathing, legs asleep and back aching, when one of the foreign birds lit nearby and began hopping around picking up seed and insects (I suppose) from the deck. Surprisingly, the little guy (or gal) hopped over close to where I sat, long enough for me to get the following shots. Later I pulled out my National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America to identify this beauty. I could find nothing that matched it in the northeastern US. I then checked out the bird application on by iPod, but nothing came up that matched. I returned to the field guide and searched through the book, page by page, until I found an image of what could be my bird. While the likeness was not exact, it was strikingly similar to the photos shown here.  The problem is that even though these are migratory birds, they are found only in the extreme southwestern US, and down into Mexico. How did they end up coming through northeastern Ohio? Take a look for yourselves. Maybe I’ve misidentified the bird. If so, help me out. But for now this bird looks like a Black Phoebe of the southwestern US and Mexico!

I never did get a shot of a bluejay. And the bird pictured here, along with its cohorts have left the area now, I guess on their way south . . . or to the southwest. Maybe they are some other type of bird that is more common to this area, but for now, to me, they are foreigners passing through. 🙂


p.s. After searching further, I’m not so sure now about the identification of this bird. I’m looking to y’all to help me out. It may be a warbler of some sort, but it doesn’t match pictures in any of my bird books or apps.


New Home, New Friends!

It’s late at night and my brain is fried! The studies are intense as I head into the final two weeks of the quarter. I “should” be working on a paper but I had to stop and share an experience from this morning! Recently I discovered a stack of pie tins, all sizes and shapes, that had been left here by the previous owner. We can’t use them but I hate to throw them away, so I made a bird feeder (the squirrels enjoy it, too) and bird baths out on our deck. Nothing fancy, but they will do for now. I have enjoyed looking out our windows at all the activity. We’ve had Robins, Purple Finches,  Crows, Tree Sparrows, Blue Jays, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Cardinals, a Common Grackle, House Sparrow, Mourning Doves, Song Sparrows, and more (that I can’t name!)  I have taken great delight in watching them and then identifying them via an app on my iPod (Chirp! U.S.A.)

Additionally, we have watched chipmunks, rabbits and deer in our yard (yes, deer) and of course, squirrels! Well, this morning I got “up close and personal” with a new squirrel friend! He was on the deck when I went out to fill the feeder and baths. At first we just stared at each other, his body tense, ready for flight. I spoke softly and inched my way closer and closer; several times he turned to run, but then he turned back and edged closer to me. We carried on like this for a few minutes until we were within reach of each other. That was as close as I wanted to get this time. I had my camera in hand so I shot photos as I talked to him. After a while I could see that he was more relaxed and was enjoying the “bird” food. I expect he’ll come around again tomorrow. Hopefully at some point in the future he will eat from my hand. (Maybe the birds will, too, eventually.)

So, enjoy some photos from this morning’s serendipitous encounter, along with other photos of the wildlife in our yard!

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PC vs MAC: My Dilemma

My computer finally bit the dust.  I wrote of its impending demise some time back, and it finally happened.  I have been a pc user for all of my computer years.  Microsoft is my computer bible.  There are problems with pc’s, to be sure.  Frequent virus attacks are what finally did me in.  No virus protection in the world was capable of guarding my laptop from the ever-evolving hacks out there whose sole intent is to wreak havoc with folks like you and me.  Despite the risks, the headaches, and the frustration that pc users are bound to encounter from time to time, I was comfortable with my laptop.   From editing photographs to creating cards to writing epistles and creating Powerpoint presentations, I could do just about anything I wanted on my pc.


Regardless of comfort level, however, there comes a time when one must move on and embrace the new…or so “they” say.  My kids have sung the praises of Apple computers for years.  Try as they might, though, I have not been persuaded to make the switch.  But times change, and so do needs.  The Apple is famous for its creative and artistic applications.  As a photographer working toward setting up a little cottage industry creating and selling notecards, the Apple Mac looked like the route to go.   For months I’ve researched the Apple to make sure it would/could do everything I wanted it to do: edit photos, create cards, write papers in word format, etc.  Switching brands was a scary proposition for me.  Finally, after much consternation, and when my pc crashed for the last time, I purchased my first Apple computer, a Mac Pro.  It helped that there was a student special running at the time, so I saved some money in the process and got a free iPod to boot!  (What am I going to do with an iPod?  I need WiFi to use it, so it mainly gets used at home or at Border’s, but this is beside the point.)


Buying a Mac is an experience.  Shortly after the purchase, I returned to the Apple store with my old pc and the Mac in tow.  I left both computers with the experts so that they could take all my personal data from the pc and transfer it to the Mac.  Great service, don’t you think?  Two days later I returned to “meet my Mac.”  At that time a customer service representative spent about an hour showing me where everything was on the computer.  I was discovering that a Mac and a pc have very little in common, and just because I was proficient on a pc did not mean I could navigate a Mac. Try as I might I was not doing so well on the Mac and was regretting my purchase. I scheduled a second appointment to return for a tutoring session. That was a good move because I learned some shortcuts and nifty features on the Mac (no, I’m not going into detail…don’t have the patience to write about it.) The good thing about Apple is that for the first year I get all the tutoring I need to learn how to use the thing.  At this rate I will be making full use of the plan.  My next appointment will be about working with digital photography on the Mac.


Now, two weeks later, there is still a lot to learn about this Mac.  I go through periods of intense frustration as I experiment, explore and try to create new artwork or post blogs (yup, that changed, too….making me crazy.)  At least once a day I wish I had my old pc back.  But I’m learning.  And there are things about the Mac that are really cool, so it appears that I will stick with it.  But just so ya know, I’m still missing my pc.