Late bird, early spring


Robin with worm

It was late in the day when when this fat robin, flying in the face of tradition, once and for all proved that the early bird is not the only one to get the worm.

I start looking for the yellow presence of Jonquils at the tail-end of February and the first week in March. Last year, I found my first ones on February 20, this year, I saw fully developed and happy Jonquils on February 7. In that condition, one can safely presume they have been there a few days.

robin on stump

Click on the bird for another picture of him at Corndancer dot-com

Here in LA, it’s been an anemic, puny winter with days topping out in the high 60 and low 70 degree range. That makes for severe weather, sinus trouble, and plants with their schedule out of whack. Which is why I found the bird.

Earlier in the week, on the way to jury duty, I saw the Jonquils but could not stop to shoot. When I returned late one afternoon a few days later to shoot the flowers, Cock Robin was sitting on the broken stump of a tree which had earlier succumbed to a big wind.

I was able to shoot from the truck so he did not spook as soon as most wild critters do. Since the lot is about two feet higher than the street, I got him eyeball to eyeball in the Nikon glass.

See more of the bird and flowers in our Weekly Grist Gallery

In fact when I arrived, he was on the stump without the worm, took a dive, grabbed the worm and returned to his perch most of which I captured. It is always better to be lucky than good. See the first shot of the robin and the early jonquils I was after where this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We will wait here while you look.

Early spring volunteer jonquils

The target jonquils, despite their lack of human attention, were doing quite well thank you very much. Originally planted by former residents of the long since demolished house, the plants continue to follow the genetic instructions imbued by the Almighty. Some things are best left alone.

Anytime one discusses spring flowers, my across-the-street-neighbor’s yard cannot be overlooked. She is a master gardener and her yard and flower beds are silent witness to her considerable skills. Her horticultural efforts offset the lack of same in my yard. I suppose it is some sort of vegetative equation if there is such a thing.

yellow and black pansy

This stout little pansy at my neigbhors is tougher than it looks. It has survived a couple of sub-freezing nights.

See more of the bird and flowers in our Weekly Grist Gallery

Large jonquil

This is a large Jonquil in my neighbor's yard. This one looks like a bloom on steroids compared to others. Must be the green thumb.

robin on ground

Click on the bird for our Weekly Grist Gallery

Mother Nature is messing with us and it’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. We simply are not in charge. But we can enjoy birds and flowers without too many foot pounds of energy expended.

In fact, with a mere click, you can see more of them in our Weekly Grist Gallery. Click here and take a gander.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Advertisements

Meandering through the Piney Woods


Jonquils on Cross road north of Kingsland Arkansas

My first jonquil sighting of 2011. This is the earliest sighting in several years. The yellow posies are on Cross Road, north of Kingsland, Arkansas.

old service station

See more pictures at Corndancer dot-com

Cross Road north of Kingsland, Arkansas looked promising on the map and lived up to my fondest expectations for Nikon fodder. I had not gone far when I spied my first jonquils of the year. Considering that these flowers were covered with snow not long ago, they are tougher than they look.

Before we go down Cross Road further, you may want to check out how this story started by going to the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot-com. You will see a couple of old buildings in Kingsland.

I followed Cross Road and came to Cross Roads Cemetery. It appeared that some patriotic-minded relatives and/or friends had seen fit to decorate a family plot with a short flag pole from which Old Glory was happily flying in the afternoon breeze. The decorators also festooned the plot with weather-proof flowers. The overall cemetery was cared for much like the fairways of a pro-tour golf course. These country folks are serious about their cemeteries.

Grave site with American flag

The Robinson family plot at Cross Roads Cemetery on Cross Road north of Kingsland Arkansas. The flag pole is wrapped in tinsel. This site called for a salute,

old fire tower

Old fire tower on Arkansas Highway 229 north of Fordyce near the Bunn community. The discolored part of the Pine trees is light from the setting sun.

If you resist the temptation to turn off Cross Road and continue, the road eventually swings due west and butts into US Highway 167 just north of Fordyce, Arkansas. Turn south go a quarter mile or so and turn west on Bunn-McGriff Road and the territory looks about the same, but nothing spectacular. The road eventually butts into Arkansas Highway 229 where I found a couple of good shots.

The first find was an old church which would be on the ground were it not for the Divine intervention of the trees surrounding the building. See a picture of this old church on our Weekly Grist Gallery. As I was preparing to shoot the church, back in the woods 25 yards or so from the highway, a truck pulled up behind my truck and a man got out and began to write down my license plate number.

When I saw him pull up, I reverted to a former life and stood still. Movement is usually what gives up your position. I finally hailed him and asked if he knew anything about the church, not mentioning his note taking procedure. He remembered the church and some animated revival services from his childhood, but not the church name.  Not surprising since the last services were probably in the fifties.

As our conversation continued, I noticed that he wearing a side-arm and his truck had blue lights embedded in the grill. Turns out he was a deputy in training, unusual for a guy with possum-blond hair like mine. Seems some miscreants have been raiding old home sites along the road and I suppose when he stopped he figured he would catch one. We parted on friendly terms.

The second find was the old fire tower you see at the right. At one time there was a large network of these towers spanning the forests of Arkansas which were manned by people you probably did not want to mess with since they regularly climbed what appeared to be a ten story building. Satellite imagery made these a thing of the past.

Before the towers there was a network of “Look-see” trees. These were tall trees on high points which afforded rangers a view nearly as good as the towers. And it was probably more fun to climb a tree than a tower. And – not nearly so far to climb.

There is more to discover.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

fire tower house

Weekly Grist Gallery - More pictures

See a close-up of the old tower-top “house,” another look at the flowers, and see the old church where the law and I had our friendly conversation. It’s all on our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll also see larger versions of the Corndancer pictures and the ones you’ve seen here, plus another old home site,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

You belong in a zoo II


bears having a spat in a pond

This pair of grizzlies in the new Memphis Zoo Teton Track exhibit were feeling frisky. The huge enclosure area looks like more area than a football field to me. It has rocks, streams, a pond, and miscellaneous other appurtenances to make grizzlies feel right at home. This bear family, there are three, like a lot of other families, was showing a difference of opinion on some thorny matter.

A great day for bears

Memphis Zoo panda

See panda pictures >>>

Per chance it was something in the water or air, but It was a great day for bears at the Memphis Zoo. Much to the delight of a respectable size crowd, a rare panda, three grizzlies, and a polar bear were all strutting their stuff on a steamy mid-south afternoon. A short rainfall also invigorated some otherwise sleepy critters.

You can see a couple of panda pictures, a shaking polar bear, and a big tiger “making a face,” all on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, where this story started. Click here to go there, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait while you look. The click is worth the trip.

Support your local meerkat

Much less ferocious and high on the “… awwwwww … ” scale, the Memphis Meerkat family was on its best behavior, calmly standing for endless portraits. Social in nature, if you see one, others are certain to be nearby.

Meerkats at Memphis Zoo

These small critters were welcomed to the Memphis Zoo with giant city-wide fanfare in the early nineties. The meerkat display continues to be one of the most popular exhibits in the zoo.

Unlike his cousin at the Little Rock Zoo who has shown a profound personal dislike for me, this lowland gorilla was gracious enough to strike a good pose. His generosity was short lived. A few seconds after this shot, he turned his back to me. Must be a karma thing.

lowland gorilla at memphis zoo

This big boy is king of all he sees. It’s a good thing to be the 800 pound gorilla.

After the short rain which interrupted this trip to the zoo, several of the critters showed renewed vigor and movement. Though this tiger remained where he (or she) was, he (or she) showed a great deal of interest watching the other tiger in the enclosure cavort and show off. You can see the tiger making a face on the Corndancer Photo of the Weekpage or in our consolidated weekly gallery.

Memphis zoo tiger

This huge kitty looks a bit disgusted observing the other tiger in the enclosure emit a substantial roar and then “make a face” at surprised onlookers.

The Memphis Zoo has a pair of good looking Cheetahs. They were at rest for the most part during my visit. As I arrived at the Cheetah enclosure, the Cheetah below was pacing and showing off her body made for speed. It was just after the rain and by the time I had removed the Nikon from the bag, the cat had showed her catness, and taken her place of rest. As a long-time cat owner, I am painfully experienced at seeing photo ops instantly vanish once the camera is in hand.

reclining cheetah

The speed demon rests. Seconds before I brought the camera to bear, she was strolling the Cheetah stroll. Typical cat. Wait until the camera is in hand and stop doing what you are doing!

Despite a persnickety cat, a great visit to the zoo. This zoo points out that recent surveys place it as the nation’s number one zoo in popularity. They’ve got me convinced. Tired and sweaty, I still did not want to leave. Finally temporal needs overwhelmed unsatisfied curiosity and quite simply, “I split for the crib.”

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MUCH MORE!

Mother duck and ducklings

Click on the ducks for more critters

Every week we shoot more than there is room to display on this blog and the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. This week there is a bumper crop of additional 17 panda pictures, 11 more grizzly pictures, a couple of ape, polar bears, and ducks. Click here to see those cool shots. You’ll see larger, higher quality pictures of everything. Some not published any where else.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/grist-june5-10/index.html


The reluctant natural enemy


This started out as man versus pelican tale and wound up as an object lesson in the value of humility. See the first part of the story on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com, a very cool thing to do.

Bottom line was, I wanted to shoot pelicans (the Nikon way). Despite my good intentions, the subject pelicans declared me a natural enemy, rejected my intrusion and swam out of range after just a few shots.

After just a few frames, the wily birds said “no more” and turned tail, following their leader to a perceived safer distance.

After just a few frames, the wily birds said "no more" and turned tail, following their leader to a perceived safer distance.

Further west, in what many believe to be the lake slums, is the cormorant tree. It is a deceased cypress tree, adopted by cormorants. I’ve seen them in this same configuration at just about any given time of the year. From what I can tell, cormorants enjoy little appreciation from anyone or thing except other cormorants. Their only saving grace so far as I’m concerned is as an interesting picture.

The slums of the lake, according those not enamored with cormorants. This deceased cypress tenement is populated year-round by cormorants.

The slums of the lake, according those not enamored with cormorants. This deceased cypress tenement is populated year-round by cormorants. One can note their social habits. They will seek out pelicans for company. The reverse of that is not true to the best of my observations.

Far be it from me to challenge The Almighty, however I’ve yet to come up with a good reason for poison ivy, chiggers, gnats, jellyfish, cockroaches, obnoxious people and perhaps, cormorants. The message from Above is, in this case, ” … boy if I’d needed your advice, I would have asked. Learn to live with it. Amen.” OK Big Guy, you’re the boss.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey