Sunday, January 31, 2016

Egyptian Geese Haiku

Egyptian transplant

calmly floats on Southern pond

Golfer's pause to view

The colorful Egyptian goose - pretty to look at imported pest. They have spread throughout South Florida and beyond. There has been a population explosion as breeding pairs join up and hatch their eggs. In their native land they are a food source - not so much here in the States.

On some golf courses there are so many of them hanging around, that it seems a miracle that their ranks continue to grow. You would think errant golf balls would be their demise, especially since they seem to like the fairways more than the golfers.

feathers in colors

brightly proclaim ancestry

Nile river delta

If the name doesn't give it away, and the words "imported pest" in the first paragraph, these are non-native geese who have made America their home. Originally they were brought in as decorative birds from Egypt and surrounding areas for Zoos and some elite golf courses. Don't know what the importers were thinking in not sterilizing the birds but over time some escaped.

Like many other non-native species, they have thrived in South Florida. Now you can find them just about anywhere there is a pond, lake or canal and some grassy land area. Opportunists!

colorful goose preens

enjoys swim in warm waters

nature's golf course pond

import bird graces

South Floridian waters

Pharaoh's goose cleans up

They may make a mess on the sidewalk and benches near the lakes, leaving their piles all over the place, but they keep themselves clean. I've seen injured geese with feathers drooping (usually wing feathers) but I have yet  to see a dirty bird.

population grows

by twos & by threes - dozens!

thrive in southern sun

If you'd like to know more about these geese I have an article (as of January 2016) on Hubpages about them. It gives more information than this post.

Remember - if you like the above - to share the post. Thanks.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Seashell Cross Craft on Plaque

clam seashell cross

Do you have a stash of seashells? Looking for an easy way to use them to decorate your home or to make gifts? Try seashell crafts on plaques in the forms of crosses for your wall decor. Check out the photos to see how easy the design is. The decorative touches are up to your imagination.

1. a 6" x 8" wood photo holder (for 4x6” photo) with hanger (metal or twine), to use as your decorative wall plaque.

2. sea shells

3. sand (beach or hobby)

4. a bottle of standard white glue (I usually use Elmer’s all-purpose glue)

5. polyurethane paint - gloss or semi-gloss (spray or brush-on)

6. sand paper - medium and fine grit

7. set of hobby brushes

8. a nail or a picture hanger

9. accessories such as small rocks, marbles, pearls, figures, more seashells, coral, etc.

White clam seashells cross

As the photos show, the basic design is pretty simple. You put a vertical row of seashells down the middle of the plaque and then put another row horizontally to make the cross. I try to keep the seashells more or less the same size and of the same type. To make sure your selection of seashells will fit into the frame lay them out on the plaque without glue. A dry run you may say.

I like to use the natural wood as my canvas and just apply a coat of the clear polyurethane after I glue everything onto the plaque. If you want to have a stained, varnished or painted plaque as your canvas, go for it. I would suggest you apply the stain, varnish or paint (color of your choice) before gluing the seashells, sand and accessories to the plaque. That way any color that shows through will be even across the plaque.

Your local craft store may carry reasonably priced wood plaques that you can use. You can also find plaques online at various stores or at Amazon (affiliate link). Look for cheap plaques, wood photo holders, craft photo keepers, etc.

The ones shown here all use twine as their hanging medium but there are also some that come with metal hangers on the back. I unraveled the twine and re-fed them through the holes so the twine would hang from the back instead of the front. I also made the twine shorter. The original length would have the plaque hanging down about 8 inches which I found to be a bit too much.

If you are handy with cutting wood, you could try making your own plaques. I used 4x6 photo holders but just an appropriate piece of thin wood cut to the size you like would work just fine. It’s just a lot easier to get store bought plaques.

Ocean polished clam shells cross

After you have the basics down and have tried your shells on for size, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of putting the seashell craft together. There are two ways of doing this:

1. Cover the plaque in glue, using a paint brush to even it out then sprinkle on the sand to cover the glue. After the glue dries, shake off any loose sand (use a newspaper or something under the plaque so you can recover the sand for later use). Now you can apply your seashell cross design and any artistic touches.

2. Lay down the design first including all accessories. After they dry in place, spread glue around them to cover the bare wood and sprinkle on the sand. Recover your excess sand after the glue dries up.

There’s your seashell craft ready for the final step.

Cardita clam seashells cross

The final step is to use clear poly paint preferably a gloss or high gloss type (to make things shine, especially the seashells). The only caveat is if you use rhinestones, glass beads, or ceramic items the poly will actually form a dull film on them. That’s why I like to use the poly that you apply with a paint brush, so I can be more precise on where it ends up.

Now hang the seashell cross craft to display its beauty for all to see.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Green Heron at Inlet Park


One day while visiting one of my favorite parks - the Hillsboro Inlet Park in Pompano Beach, Florida - a Green Heron showed up. I was standing near the wood fence that keeps you from falling into the inlet waters when I noticed a largish bird come flying out from under the bridge and land in the grass behind me.  

(Inlet park is a small park located where the A1A road crosses over the Hillsboro Inlet. I go there to fish on occasion, generally catching and releasing small, hand-sized fish of various types. Sometimes I go there just to watch the boats as they head out to the Atlantic ocean or return.)

Mr. Heron (my assumption since the bird was rather colorful and usually the females are not so colorful – so as not to attract predators) got busy almost right away. He hopped/walked all over the place, constantly moving around the grassy area until he moved up to the walkway where fishermen stand. There he seemed to find what he was looking for, as he darted his head forward and grabbed something in his beak.

Next, he ambled over to the edge of the boat slip and peered down at the water. After a few seconds he dropped whatever he was holding in his beak into the water, then became very still. He stood there, not moving an inch, for about a minute before stirring and heading back to the walkway.

He continued to pick up things that were lying around the walkway. One thing he picked up was a piece of squid that had been left behind by a fisherman. Another item looked like the crust of a slice of sandwich bread. The Green Heron picked up and dropped some other things but I couldn’t tell what they were, the tidbits being rather small.

Each time he would find one of these small bits, he would head over to the boat slip side of the park, lean over the edge slightly and drop the tidbit in the water. Then he would freeze in place for a minute or so and just wait. When whatever he was waiting for didn’t occur he would hop back to the walkway and search for another item to pick up. Then back to the boat slip he would go.

Eventually the Green Heron gave up his fishing expedition, for such it was, I later found out. He hopped up on the rail of the fence, he looked at me as if to say “Terrible fishing here, buddy” and finally launched himself and flew away. What a thrill for me those few minutes were.

Green Heron Information
(for more up-to-date info, do an online search)

Green Herons are stocky wading birds on the small side for a heron. They frequent freshwater wet lands, ponds, creeks and streams across much of North America. It can stand perfectly motionless at the edge of the water when it is hunting/fishing and waiting for its favorite meal – small fish.

Length: 16 to 18 inches (41 to 46 cm)

Wingspan: 25 to 27 inches (64 – 68 cm)

Weight : 8.5 ounces (240 grams)

It is a dark heron with long yellowish legs and a long, dark bill. It has a long neck that is usually kept close to the body. It has a greenish black cap on the head with a reddish-brown neck. The wings are blackish with a green or blue gloss. The eyes can be a striking yellow or orange. The belly and undersides tend to be grayish.

Although their primary food sources are small fish, they are opportunistic eaters. They will add crawfish and other crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, snakes and even rodents to their diet.

The Green Heron is a tool-using bird, which is the behavior I was observing at Pompano’s Inlet Park. They will drop bait onto the surface of the water and wait for the small fish that are attracted, then dart their heads forward and snap the fish up. They will use a variety of baits which can include bread, insects, worms, twigs or feathers, or pieces of bait found or taken from fishermen.

The male and female are very similar although she is generally a bit smaller and not as brilliantly colored. They will both help in the nest building and incubation of the 2 to 6 pale green eggs the female lays. The young will hatch in about 20 days. They do not nest in large colonies like many of the other herons although their nest is usually located in a tree near water.

The brood is taken care of by both adults for about another 35 days. They feed the youngsters by regurgitating food. The youngsters will fly about 20 days after hatching and they all hang around as a family group for another week or two.

Except for the breeding time, the adults tend to be solitary birds. They are supposed to be somewhat secretive also, although the Green Heron visiting the Pompano Beach Inlet Park while alone was not very secretive. After all he did his baiting and hopping around in plain sight of me and other people that were at the park early.

Green Herons or Butorides virescens are also known as the Green-backed Heron. In Spanish they are the Garcita Verde and the French call it the Heron Vert.

Green Heron Finale

One other interesting thing about Green Herons is that like many human northerners the Green Herons living in the North will fly to the Southern states for the winter. They will fly down usually in late August or early September and spend the winter in the warmer climes.

The biggest problem facing the survival of Green Herons is the destruction of wetlands. The secretive part of these herons is their nesting site. As small ponds, swamps, creeks and ponds are filled in they lose more nesting sites.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Palm Tree Poems - Haiku Style

These palm tree photos are of neighborhood palms growing in South Florida. They are a stately tree, for the most part, although they do create quite a bit of debris - especially when the winds try to blow them down. The fronds look great when nice and green, not so good when yellowed and browned and dried out.

If nature had its way, there would be piles of old fronds under the trees. Some would recycle into dirt but most would become a breeding ground for pests (unwanted wildlife) or a fire hazard (one lightning bolt and "poof" - raging flames). So it's a good thing we have plenty of groundkeepers in South Florida to remove all the old stuff.

Take a look, enjoy the haiku poetry, and share if you'd like.



push skyward palm tree

tickle the clouds undersides

the gods laugh their joy

trunk stands tall, lifting

fronds into the sky, surfing

airy ocean blue

wood column stands tall

greenery spreads out, filters air

sequesters carbon

breeze moves fronds in waves

invites calm recollection

beach vacation days

perky green tops wave

hello to dawn's appearance

holy Sunday palm

long leaves fly, banners

in rhythm to the wind, sway

palm tree trunk, dances