Sabbatical Ends – Summer Begins

It was June. The calendar announced summer was about to begin. June in Florida is hot and muggy. June in Georgia is hot and muggy.

There is a reason that makers of household cleaning products advertise “fresh pine scent” on labels. Likewise, one out of ten automobiles sport, hanging from the rear-view mirror, a dark green lump of cardboard cut into what an urban-dwelling marketer thinks a tree should look like and infused with what an aroma specialist imagines a cardboard pine tree should smell like.

As we turned from the four-lane highway onto a rural lane cutting through the heart of agricultural central Georgia, we slowed to a saner speed, opened the windows and enjoyed the fresh air, the unmistakable sensation of earth recently tilled and, yes, the resinous tang unique to members of the Pinus genus. No lump of cardboard or detergent could ever capture that essence.

Our journey was now of familiar places. We had developed a rhythm of sorts. Leave just before sunrise, breakfast on the Gulf of Mexico coast, ramble northward through fishing towns (trying to ignore the tourist advertising), marvel at antebellum architecture, gawk at huge farming operations, enjoy our barbeque lunch along the high-water raging Flint River and open all the windows to gulp deeply of the perfume of the south produced by tall conifers just for us. By mid-afternoon we are here, unhooking the cable across the drive, scanning the trees for birds, thankful we will soon be out of the car for a couple of days.

Early June birds are busy mating, nesting, raising young, constantly searching for food. The migrants have departed to do all of the above further north. It’s a busy time in the woods and fields for all living things. Exploring is a pleasure!

Our first night coincides with the full moon. Early native Americans referred to the June full moon as the Strawberry Moon, likely because it came at a time of harvest. In other parts of the world it has been called Honey or Full Rose Moon. Whatever name you ascribe, on this night it was pretty spectacular. The coyotes thought so, too, based on their singing. The clear morning air didn’t seem that humid, but my camera lens proved otherwise as I couldn’t use it for the first half hour despite constant wiping. A very heavy dew contributed to several pounds of water added to my pant legs but, thankfully, my boots resisted the dampness. Dry feet are a true blessing when hiking.

We enjoyed our visit with family again and returned home refreshed and thankful for such an enriching experience. Nature provided endless opportunities for discovery and we hope you don’t mind if we share a small sample of our observations.

 

Strawberry Moon. Astronomical trivia:  At this time, the moon appears “smaller” than other times as it’s at its farthest orbit from the earth.

Early County

 

A male Field Sparrow uses the top of a young Longleaf Pine to show off his virtuoso voice in the hope a female likes what she hears.

Early County

 

The path behind the barn leads through old-growth pines to an area of hardwood trees and eventually an open field.

Early County

 

At a back yard feeder, a male House Finch tries to bully his way around to getting all the seed for himself. Good luck with that! There are ten feeders in the yard – plenty for all.

Early County

 

Ladybugs (ladybird beetles) are hard to miss in their shiny red and black cloaks.

Early County

 

Year-around residents, Eastern Bluebirds have already mated and are busily bringing bugs to a nesting box full of hungry two-week old chicks.

Early County

 

I rounded a path and startled a White-tailed Deer. The doe stared at me for about five minutes before she decided discretion was the better part of valor and bolted across the cotton field into the safety of the woods.

Early County

 

Northern Cardinals were abundant and their clear calls echoed around the property every day.

Early County

 

Orb-weaver spiders are master engineers and their strong webs strung across a path during the night yield a good supply of nutritious insects every morning.

Early County

 

A male Northern Bobwhite is almost hidden in tall grass. Behind him was his harem of four females. Soon there will be small fluffy quail all over this area.

Early County

 

Passiflora incarnata, Passion Flower, makes a walk through the pine grove undergrowth a visually stunning experience.

Early County

 

Singing from the very top of a large Bay Tree, a male Brown Thrasher was very unhappy I was interrupting his serenade to a nearby female. I snapped a quick portrait and hustled on down the path.

Early County

 

This is the time of year for fresh blackberries! Getting to them before the birds and animals is nearly impossible.

Early County

 

Two of the top finalists for best vocals are the Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak. I was very lucky to have one of each appear in the treetops within 50 feet of one another – and me!

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Some of the most interesting life forms can be found right at your feet – literally! A fungi extravaganza.

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What a difference a day makes! The first photo above of a bright, colorful moon was followed the next evening by moonrise as a cool weather front approached bringing dark clouds drifting across the sky offering only fleeting glimpses of the lunar orb.

Early County

 

Our sabbatical ended but our visits will continue. All of us need the respite provided by an island of solace such as we have been fortunate to find. If you are able, such as I was, to benefit from the company of your very best friend in life, then you are indeed blessed.

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Sabbatical Ends – Summer Begins

  1. Stewart Monckton

    In Australia the forests smell of Eucalyptus Oil – which we used to use a decongestant when we had colds as a kid – so, for me at least, the woods smell of winter colds! Crazy association.

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    • I can actually relate to that, Stewart! We had a huge Eucalyptus tree outside our house when I was growing up. What an — uhh — aroma!
      All the best.

  2. Good to hear that you are both safe and sound, of body at least. Yes, Greece is wonderful. A little like sunny Florida but without the water and the Gators.

  3. Richard Pegler

    Hi Wally. I’m pleased to see that you’ve got an internet connection after the recent disaster. It’s also great to see you back in true Wally style. I’ve very much enjoyed your post and the delightful images. Like others, I found the Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak to the the absolute stars of the piece. I was amazed by the web of that Orb-weaver Spider. My only disappointment was with your first image – you really should have tried harder and got a howling coyote silhouetted by that moon!

    My very best wishes to you both – – – Richard

    • As usual, I enjoy your wonderful imagination and one day aspire to create a photograph equal to your praise.
      The coyotes typically begin their activities well after my bedtime and, alas, I have not mastered the art of Photoshop. So it seems you are destined to be forever – disappointed.
      Gini and I wish you and Lindsay all the best this week!

  4. noushka31

    Hello Wally
    I was in the middle of my comment and I must have stroke the wrong key! Got to start all over again!!!
    I was saying it is good to have you back on the blogosphere with superb photos!
    The Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak indeed top them all and their beauty equals their singing abilities! How lucky you were to shoot bot species at once.
    The moon also is fabulous ans well in focus.
    Congrats, I want more!!!!
    Best wishes and enjoy the coming week

  5. noushka31

    Hello Wally,
    It is really nice to see you back on the blogosphere and with superb photos!
    The Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak may be excellent singers, their beauty surpasses thmost of other bird’s too!

  6. Hi Wally So sorry i have not been in touch but don’t worry, I have not been commenting much at all lately due to different things. I am so glad you and Gini are safe and well after what happened in Florida and you seem to have had a wonderul time with your famiy in Georgia and as usual are spoijing us with your beautofull images that you have shown us. The Moon shot is stunning and of course i love seeing all the fabulous bird shots. I find those fungi shot very interesting most of which I have never seen before. Please send my regards to Gini and it is truely wonderful that you can spend all your days wiht your very best friend. what a treasure you found and have cherished all these years.

    • You are so very kind, Margaret! The two of us are vey lucky to have each other and especially to have a cherished friend in Ireland! We hope your new week is off to a blessed start.

  7. Everything is so beautiful — the bunting and the blue grosbeak both — a real bonus. I’m not sure where in Florida you two are, but I hope you are/were safe from the hurricane and after effects.

    • Thank you very much, Sallie! That rude Irma stomped right over our house! Fortunately, we suffered no major damage. Lots of neighbors were not so lucky. Big clean up job state-wide.

  8. Heat and humidity are NOT my friends.
    However, your stunning images made me so grateful to those, like you, who do put in the hard yards.
    Nature is the very best artist, and her galleries are spectacular.
    Thank you so much for sharing some of the wonder.

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