Jackpot

Sometimes when we drive along Mississippi River farmland we see very little. On our last drive, however, we hit the jackpot. A field dotted with beautiful Great Egrets and a single string of White Pelicans fishing in standing water graced the landscape.

“A philosophy of life: I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.” ~Paulo Coelho

Iris Time Again

The month of May brings with it many beautiful colors of Iris flowers to the gardens — a most magical time.

“A little flower that blooms in May
A lovely sunset at the end of a day
Someone helping a stranger along the way
That’s heaven to me.”
~ Sam Cooke, “That’s Heaven To Me”

Flitting In the Treetops

Walking along the boardwalk, you could hear the lively chirping of birds as they fluttered among the branches high up in the tops of the bald cypress trees.

One of the most visible was the Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler which weaved in and out of the branches, flashing its bright yellow rump and sides as it searched for insects.

An energetic female Red-winged Blackbird clung to branches and did acrobatics as she used her beak to pick treats from among the greenery.

The most flashy of the birds was the Prothonotary Warbler with its bright yellow feathers. Migrating here in early spring, it spends the breeding season nesting and hunting for its favorite diet of insects and snails.

What a delight to be able to hear and observe these busy little birds.

“Spring would not be spring without bird songs.” ~Francis M. Chapman

Recent Sightings

Reelfoot Lake and the land along the Mississippi levee are favorite places to go for bird-watching. While some birds live there year-round, others migrate in and out at various times of the year, so you never know what you’re going to see. Here are some which were spotted between January and April.

Expect nothing.  Live frugally on surprise.”  ~Alice Walker

American Sycamore

We often park across the road from this American Sycamore tree when visiting the lake.  Over the years, I have gazed up at this grand tree and admired its beauty and stately manner. This made me want to learn more about the Sycamore.

The American Sycamore has many unique characteristics which set it apart from other trees. It is one of the tallest and most identifiable trees in our area. The thin bark of the Sycamore tree is grayish-brown. As this fast-growing tree expands, the bark sheds, exposing a patchy camouflage-colored layer beneath. The highest branches, with their wide canopy, are smooth and white and stand out strikingly against the blue sky.

The leaves of the Sycamore are serrated and flat and are made up of three to five lobes.  They can grow to an impressive 4-10 inches in width.

The Sycamore is also known as the “buttonball” or “buttonwood” tree.  It produces fruit which are about one inch in diameter, each of which hang from a single thin stem.  When the balls ripen, they fall from the tree and break open, exposing seeds which are packed inside, along with a button-like woody core to which they are attached.

Some Sycamore trees live for hundreds of years due to the strength and durability of their trunk, which enables them to withstand harsh weather conditions.  They are extremely adaptable to their environment.  Their trunk, which can become hollow with age, has been known to provide shelter for wildlife and people alike.

Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.
~Karen I. Shragg, Think Like a Tree

Source | Warren Jacobs and Karen I. Shragg (editors), Tree Stories: a Collection of Extraordinary Encounters (Sunshine Press, 2002)

Common Grackles

The grackles are a boisterous and bossy bunch at the feeders, and yet their behavior is suddenly forgiven when the light hits their glossy-black feathers, and beautiful iridescent colors magically appear.

When not feeding, they often sit in groups in the treetops, bellowing a loud and rather unmelodious song.

“The grackles are here and that is quite clear.
The morning is ringing, – not with their singing,
But with their talking, they’re piping and squawking . . .”
~Clarence Hawkes

Cedar Waxwings

I’m always glad to hear the shrill whistle of Cedar Waxwings. We’ve had a small flock sitting in our bushes and drinking from the bird bath this week.

“If you can hear the birds singing, you’re in the right place.” – Benny Bellamacina

Shades of Brown

Various shades of brown can be found in nature’s palette. These earthy hues provide a richness and warmth that can be soothing to the soul.

“Nature gives to every time and season unique beauty; from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it’s just a succession of changes so soft and comfortable that we hardly notice the progress.” ~ Charles Dickens

Eagles at the Levee

We enjoy driving along the Mississippi levee at this time of year to watch these beautiful birds nesting and perching high up in the tree tops or soaring in the sky. From this vantage point, they can keep their eyes on the river in search of fish and other prey.

If we never had the courage to take a leap of faith, we’d be cheating God out of a chance to mount us up with wings like eagles and watch us soar.” ~Jen Stephens