A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip through Georgia’s “Antebellum Trail”. For those who aren’t familiar, it is a driving route through an area of the south that escaped damage during the Civil War; think stately mansions, charming small towns and beautiful live oaks. You can read more details about it at antebellumtrail.org. The southern starting point is Macon, which just happens to be one of my favorite southern cities and home to the wonderful Cherry Blossom Festival. Since we have already visited Macon several times, we decided to begin our journey in Milledgeville. We arrived just in time (around 5pm) to enjoy a glass of wine and snacks (including homemade pimento cheese) at the Antebellum Inn Bed & Breakfast. We received a warm welcome, the room was adorable and the breakfast (french toast with pecans) was delicious. For dinner, we decided on Greek food and really enjoyed our meal on the patio of the Metropolis Cafe. The downtown area had quite a few restaurants to choose from and seemed to be “hopping” on this particular spring evening. To learn more about this quaint university town, check out their website: Milledgeville
The next day, we meandered our way through the other small towns, stopped in Madison to take a few pictures, and ended up in Athens for a quick bite and visit to The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The pink poppies were simply amazing and very unexpected. It was like finding a treasure! Our lunch on the cozy porch of 5&10 was delightful and can only be described as “fancy southern food”. They served pimento cheese with a spicy jelly on top–so good! (At this point, I started calling it the Pimento Cheese Trail. Ha.)
Springtime is a great time to take the Antebellum Trail! Our trip was at the end of April, so we were a little late for cherry blossoms and azaleas, but the beautiful magnolias and pink poppies made up for it. The birder in me loved waking up to the sound of cardinals each morning and being serenaded by mockingbirds almost every evening. If you are planning a trip, I suggest at least 2-3 days. Make your reservations early if you want to stay in a B&B (really, that’s the best way to go and they are not that much more expensive than a hotel). We used TripAdvisor to find most of our restaurants. Cheers to a great trip!
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I recently purchased an awesome new bird feeder system and it has sparked memories of my childhood. It calls to mind my parents saying, “You can have a pet, but you will have to take care of it.” Maintaining feeders is actually a big responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. I know that with our hot weather and humidity here in Florida, the feeders will have to be cleaned regularly and water refreshed often. Thankfully, my husband has agreed to help me out (like my parents eventually did) and will maintain the feeders when I’m not at home. It’s fun to share this hobby and we feel good about helping out the birds.
One of my favorite games when I was a kid was Hide and Seek. That’s the game I now play with the birds at my feeder. Cardinals are especially skittish and will not land if I’m sitting too close or am out in the open. Yesterday, I “hid” in the shadow of a ligustrum tree and it worked perfectly. Two times, large birds (a red-shouldered hawk and a great blue heron) flew right over my head and seemed surprised when they saw me! I almost yelled out, “Gotcha!” I think, if you can fool a hawk, you’ve done pretty well (patting myself on the back).
Another fun game that we played as kids was Musical Chairs. Birds love it too! There is a popular branch in a distant live oak tree where mockingbirds and woodpeckers give regular concerts. I call this the “songbird perch”. Another branch, located directly over a pond, is perfect for the birds of prey and they literally knock each other off for this prime viewpoint. Remember being knocked to the floor when the music stopped? Birds are about that gentle…
It was a beautiful birding day in Florida yesterday. I did have work to do, but decided to “play hooky” instead. I followed two sandhill cranes around the pond, talked to my hummingbird, counted birds, listened to birdsongs and when the sun started to set I remembered a most vivid childhood memory; I heard my Mom’s voice, “You can stay out until it gets dark.” Time to say good-bye to my friends. Sigh.
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My husband and I visited St Petersburg, Florida last weekend. We are not your typical tourists. While others are basking in the sunshine or frolicking in the surf, we go in search of nature – seashells, birds and shade. We found respite and red dragonflies along the quiet ponds of Bradenton’s Botanical Park, got up-close-and-personal with owls, pelicans and herons at the famed Seabird Sanctuary, stopped for some yummy seafood at Crabby Bill’s and enjoyed the hijinks of egrets on Pass-a-Grille Pier. All-in-all, a lovely trip. The Gulf waters were especially pretty, with bright blue sky and wispy clouds lending a lovely background to my pictures.
Sandhill Cranes are highly entertaining birds. They are sociable, noisy and have a bit of an attitude, which is exactly why I like photographing them. Recently, hundreds of migrating sandhills dropped into a field near Richland, Washington, and I was lucky enough to be there to observe them (thanks to my birding friend, Lynn, for the tip-off). Oh, it seemed as if they had found the perfect location: a recently harvested farmer’s field with plenty of yummy grain, a lovely shallow pond for resting and all of this tucked into a secluded area, far from busy roads and people. On this day, chaos abounded as birds flew in left and right, some were landing gracefully, others not so much. Most meandered around the pond and fields with a sort of lackadaisical, no-rush rhythm. You wouldn’t have guessed they still had places to go and more migrating to do. There was so much to see, over such a large area that at first I wasn’t sure where to focus. But after a while, I honed in on a gang of “tough guys” – the ones making the most raucous. I thought to myself, this is where the real story is – ruffians trying to make their way in the world. It was just like a scene out of West Side Story and it was simply amazing to watch. Their songs weren’t accompanied by clicking fingers, and frankly weren’t all that melodious, but the drama was the same. Their songs were more racket and cacophony. Still, music to my ears.
Photos taken in Richland, Washington on June 6, 2014. Please feel free to make a copy of this collage to help you identify Common Milkweed in the ‘wild’. If you are interested in buying this on canvas print or as a framed print, go to my Fine Art America page: Milkweed Collage
Photos taken near Richland, Washington on May 6, 2014. Please feel free to make a copy of this collage to help you identify Bugloss Fiddleneck in the ‘wild’. If you are interested in buying this on canvas print or as a framed print, go to my Fine Art America page: Bugloss Fiddleneck.