Wonderful first week at Acadia National Park!

I’ve spent most of every day in the past week hiking, birding, climbing on rocks, sketching, and painting. I’ve identified two new birds for my life list– a Merlin and a Red Crossbill. I’ve walked an average of over 16,000 steps per day and I’ve filled about 50 pages in my sketchbook. I’ve watched and attempted to paint sunsets (not too many, because it’s often been cloudy and sometimes drizzly) and one sunrise (this morning at 4:50– the sun rises much earlier here than at home, thanks to latitude and longitude), and I’ve watched and attempted to sketch the otters here twice so far (they were a highlight of my last time here, and I love watching them swim and dive and cavort in the water). I’ve only pulled my computer out of its case a few times and even then have only been online briefly. I’ve spent hours in silence and days with few words spoken aloud, giving me much time to ponder, to pray, to simply be.

And that’s enough words for now, so I’ll just add photos of some of my sketches and some photos  I’ve taken of this amazing place (will wait till I’m home to post my paintings). (These are just quick photos, because I’m not going to take the time to scan and crop them until I’m back home.) I am so very, very thankful to be able to spend time here immersed in nature and art. Thank you so much to the Schoodic Institute and Acadia National Park for giving me this opportunity, and a huge thank you to Stephen for holding down the fort at home and letting me have this time away.

Herring Gull 052617 Little Moose Island 052917 Northern Parula 052617 Otters 053117 Schoodic Point in ink 052917 Sunrise 060317 Yellow rumped & Black throated Green 052717

DSCN8042Light and Shadow Ravens NestDSCN8271DSCN8095

Fingerprints of God in Springtime– Prayer Guide

Last year’s Robin’s nest

This time of year is exciting for birders, as spring bird migration is in full swing, and there are also numerous birds courting, gathering nesting material, and sitting on eggs. I’ve been watching a pair of Robins in my yard in the past week; each day for four days the female laid an egg, then sat on them keeping them warm. Now there are two little nestlings and two eggs, which I expect will be hatching over the next couple of days. As I see new life unfolding with the leafing out of shrubs and trees, the blooming of all sorts of flowers, and the exuberant life of birds, I am reminded of God’s creative work that is constantly happening in this world. This week let’s look at some passages that tell of God’s work in the natural world and how creation can speak to us about God.

The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work…
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests…
Psalm 104: 12-13, 16-17

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made… Romans 1:20

Monday: Ask God to open your eyes and heart to see his invisible qualities in the ways he makes them apparent through his creation.

Tuesday: Think about ways in which God’s eternal power has been made evident in creation recently. Let your mind dwell on God’s power. Worship him in awe!

Wednesday: Look around at springtime unfolding. Meditate on what you see and ask yourself what it tells you of God’s divine nature. Praise God for the ways he reveals his nature in nature.

Thursday: Ask God to renew a sense of wonder in you, so that as you observe his creation, you will be seeing reminders of God and be drawn closer to him.

Friday: Look for opportunities to share about God’s nurturing and creative nature with others as you share your appreciation of and joy in springtime.

Saturday:  Praise God that he leaves his fingerprints in the world as a means of revealing himself to those who have eyes to see. Take time today with God, enjoying some aspect of his creation with him.

This year’s Robin’s nest

 

Courting Cardinals

Courting Cardinals Sketches

Nearly every day recently I’ve watched Cardinal pairs engaging in courtship behavior that always makes me smile, because of how it seems so similar to human displays of affection. Of course I don’t know what is happening in Cardinal minds, but it is charming to see the male Cardinal repeatedly select a small seed, fly to his mate and, reaching out, gently present it to her. She carefully takes it from him and eats it. Sometimes they then sit together for a moment before he flies off to find another seed.

Cardinal Courtship
“With This Seed…”

(This painting, “With This Seed…” is currently featured in my Etsy Shop.)

Red-headed Woodpecker

A couple of weeks ago Stephen and I had the tremendous privilege of a brief morning visit by a Red-headed Woodpecker! I was looking out the kitchen window and I saw a woodpecker on the far side of one of our hanging feeders. All I could see was the lower part of the bird’s belly, a bit of tail where it was pressed against the bottom of the feeder, and a very faint glimpse of red, before he (or she) moved his head behind the feeder. But something about the amount of white I saw and something about the shade of red, even in the very dim morning light, caught my attention. I grabbed my binoculars and hoped the bird would show more of himself before flying away… And he did… A Red-headed Woodpecker! A first for both Stephen’s and my life lists and a first for our yard.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker

 

Red-winged Blackbird

This morning I was reading inside with the outdoor speakers on (we have microphones on the deck near the bird feeders), when I suddenly heard conk-la-ree! The song of the Red-winged Blackbird! I leaped up and ran out to the deck, and counted nine male Red-wings in a treetop! A minute later there were twenty, divided between two trees and, as I watched, some were flying from the more southerly tree to the one on the north side of our yard. A couple of minutes later all were gone, perhaps to proclaim the coming of spring to someone farther north.

Red-winged Blackbird

 

Pine Siskin

In the winter the Goldfinches mob our feeders, devouring nyjer seeds and sunflower hearts, often outnumbering all the other birds on the deck. Sometimes when we look out, we see birds that look like Goldfinches but not quite. When I look more closely I see streaks where Goldfinches have clear breasts and backs, and I see a hint of bright yellow in the wings. Pine Siskins– closely related to Goldfinches but only here in winter, and not every winter at that.

Click on the photo to see it large enough to read more information.

Pine Siskin

 

Gyrfalcon!

Area birders have been flocking to Wallkill for the past ten days, hoping for a glimpse of a rare visitor to New York– a Gyrfalcon, normally only seen in the Arctic. Stephen and I went yesterday and were privileged to see, photograph, and sketch this new bird for us, along with many other enthusiastic birders.
You can click on the images to see them big enough to read my notes about our visit to this bird and facts about Gyrfalcons in general.
Gyrfalcon in Wallkill

I did quick sketches in the field, then added to them later from Stephen’s photos.

Wallkill Gyrfalcon

 

Common Redpoll

Yesterday I saw a Common Redpoll at our feeders, a bird I’ve been watching for for several weeks now. We haven’t seen them often, but a bit over two years ago we had several here over a period of a few days. People in the Waterman Bird Club have been watching for them, and yesterday several of us all had them visiting our feeders for the first time this year. It must be their week to arrive in Dutchess County.

Redpolls live in the arctic and only migrate south irregularly. They are well adapted for cold weather and even tunnel into the snow to stay warm! The bird yesterday was only here briefly, but when we had our Redpoll visitors two years ago, they stuck around long enough for me to sketch them.

You can click on the images to see them large enough to read the notes.