Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Last Week in Florida

I sure am going to miss these cute little guys when we leave later this week to return to Colorado!

Birding has been good the last week as the summer birds return.

These are the first Eastern Kingbirds I've ever seen in the back. We see them everyday now.

Eastern Kingbird sitting atop a thistle and hiding behind the growing wildflowers and weeds.

A small flock was migrating through on Easter morning with several Blue Grosbeaks. Delightful eye candy!

They were pretty far out in the back.

The Savannah Sparrows are regular visitors.

Another not-so-regular visitor is this Great-crested Flycatcher.

Ah-h-h. Aren't my love birds cute? Don't you just wonder what they are saying to each other?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finishing Up Some Quilts!

I just LOVE my new sewing studio! ...and I really have been sewing every day between bocce, Mah Jongg, Hand & Foot, birding, dinner parties and going to the pool. Retirement is wonderful and living in this retirement community of On Top of the World is the BEST!

I just finished this quilt top for a dear friend back in Colorado. The squares are "Disappearing 4-Patch" which looks more complicated than it is.

This is the completed square. There are lots of tutorials for Disappearing 4-Patch (D4P) online so no reason for me to repeat the information here. One important thing I learned is that if you sew every square exactly the same way - all your seams will lock up perfectly with one seam going one way and the other seam going the opposite way. After completing the original 4-patch and making the four cuts, only the four rectangular two-material sections are turned.

My kitty-cat quilt just came back from the longarm quilter and I'm working on the binding. I like that it looks sorta folk art-ish.

This is the border (and my inspiration kitty-cat fabric) and a completed section of the binding. I made double-sided binding for this quilt.

It's blue on the back...

...and black on the front.

This is the binding sewn into place but before I turn it back and hand sew it.

There are lots of different instructions for this technique but I used 1 7/8 inch wide strips for the blue (back) and 1 inch strips for the black (front). I sewed the long strips together and ironed the 1/4 inch seam open before folding the long strip in half lengthwise and sewing to the edge of the quilt with a 1/4 inch seam. Some of the tutorials use wider strips and say to sew it with a 1/2 inch seam then cut off 1/4 inch around the entire quilt - but that's just plain silly and more work with no additional benefit!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Swallow-tailed Kite

Bill and I know it's time to think about heading back to Colorado when the Swallow-tailed Kites return to Florida.

I've seen a half dozen over the last couple of weeks, but today was my first chance to take pictures. We were on a short hike at Half Moon Wildlife Management Area just west of Inverness.

Their distinctive shape makes identification easy. I'd love to see one perched.

This is all that's left of an Armadillo.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Birds at the Feeders!

Look what came to visit today - turkeys!! Two Wild Turkeys just beyond the feeders were strutting their stuff as they walked on by.

Look at their beautiful colors.

We still have a few American Goldfinches, but the great masses have moved on.

Bill and I made an afternoon run to Emeralda Swamp.

The wildflowers were amazing!

I love this shot of a Great Blue Heron that Bill took out the car window.

...he landed near by.

The Glossy Ibis were out in numbers.

Lots of Common Moorhens (now Gallinules).

The Tricolor Herons are much smaller than the Great Blue Herons.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Florida's Endangered Sherman Fox Squirrel

Whatever you call them, fox squirrels, monkey squirrels, raccoon-face squirrels or Sherman Fox Squirrels, they are a species of "special concern" here in Florida - but NOT in our backyard! Today we had FIVE visiting the feeders at the same time!

They seem to have two color variations - grey and red.

These squirrels are much larger than their common grey cousins. This is one of the red ones.

And this one is much lighter - grey and buff.

Their tails are as long as their bodies.

This is our short-tailed Fox Squirrel. We assume he lost his tail in an accident. We first saw him last year. This year his tail has actually grown the white tuft of fur at the end.

Bill took this shot to show his l-o-n-g tail. We certainly enjoy our daily visitors.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring has Sprung!

It's Spring in Ocala and the birds are getting more and more colorful and we are seeing more pairs. Last week was Spring Break and we had visitors from Colorado, Bill's daughter and her family, and naturally, we took them birding!

We didn't have to go very far to see this beautiful Bluebird...

..or this pair of Goldfinches. The American Goldfinches are sporting their vivid yellow colors and are showing up in huge flocks - eating us out of house and home - getting ready to head north.

Our Sherman Fox Squirrels are still showing up every day. We have as many as three at a time.

The Cedar Waxwings came by in huge numbers - but boy they are hard to photograph!!

We took the family to Rainbow Springs State Park and Bill and I walked around while the kids kayaked. We saw tons of Cardinals.

 It's always an especially good day when we see a Pileated Woodpecker!

I don't usually bother with the Grey Squirrels - but this little guy was just so cute!

This was the day of the Carolina Wrens - they were everywhere singing their little hearts out!

We wanted the kids to see Alligators - up close and personal - so we spent a day at Paines Prairie. Even this Boat-tailed Grackle is showing beautiful colors!

All of the usual herons, egrets and ibis were there - including this Snowy Egret. You can see that he is growing his breeding feathers.

Ms. Cardinal with a dirty beak. She's been playing in the mud.

The kids saw lots and lots of huge alligators - and this baby one.

This might be my best picture of a Palm Warbler.

I finished the quilt with the vegetable theme. I named it "Eat Your Veggies." It is a gift for an avid gardener.

The house is quiet now that our company is gone, but we had a great visit. The grandchildren were a delight. We will see them again in less than a month when we return to Colorado for the summer.