The Barred Owl

We often hear the call of a Barred Owl as we walk in the woods of the refuge, but never seem to be in the right place to actually see one. Recently, however, while driving through the refuge, we stopped the car because I wanted to get a photo of a stream running through the woods.  As I opened the door to get out, a startled Barred Owl in a nearby tree took flight and landed in another tree a few yards down the road.  We had unknowingly stopped in the same place where an owl was sitting.  It was a very pleasant surprise.

The Barred Owl with its Razor-sharp Talons.


Barred Owl scrambling up the branch of a tree.

Now you see me, now you don’t.

A stream running through the woods near where the owl sat.

“The best part of the journey is the surprise and wonder along the way.”  ~Ken Poirot

Small Blessings

“Sameness” is a good word to describe these cold winter days of COVID-19.  Yet within the sameness of each day come small blessings which make it more tolerable.  The beauty of the sun glistening on the snow and icicles hanging from holly branches.  A variety of birds which appear at the feeder with their many colors and personalities and songs.  Robins gathering to drink water from melted snow puddles and huddling in sheltered spots with their big fluffy feathers.  A flock of cardinals descending in unison on a nearby bush at feeding time. Daffodils and magic lily leaves peeping out of the ground bringing the promise of spring.  A phone call from a loved one.  Sometimes, small things are precious things — gifts given by our Creator to add variety to our day and uplift the heart.  It’s important to remember to be thankful and not let the “sameness” put a damper on our souls.

“A good memory is one that can remember the day’s blessings and forget the day’s troubles.”  ~Irish Blessings

A Memorable Sound

At this time of the year, we have learned to keep an eye out for the Snow Geese in open fields near the Mississippi River.  On this day, we found a large group of Snow Geese, mixed with other species of geese and some ducks, out grazing for food.  The sound that they make as they move about the field reminds me of a room full of ladies all talking and laughing at the same time.  But even more memorable is the sound that a startled flock makes when it shoots off the ground simultaneously.  The wave of flapping wings and loud, high pitched squawks echo as the frenzied birds soar skyward.

“If you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.”  ~Joshua Foer

 

Dawdling

Walking the trails and road in the wildlife refuge during the summer can be challenging due to heat, high humidity and a large number of mosquitoes which live there.   It’s always nice when the weather cools down and the mosquitoes hibernate or die.  Then, it is possible to walk at a slower pace and take the time to enjoy the sights.

“So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”  ~Brenda Ueland 

An Afternoon Drive

An afternoon drive to Hop-In Refuge allowed us to view Sandhill Cranes which are wintering in West Tennessee.
Then, driving along the back roads in the area, we spotted a Northern Harrier flying low over a farm field in search of small prey …
… and a Great Blue Heron, which seemed out of place standing in a field of long white turnips or radishes.
We found more Sandhill Cranes out foraging in the vegetable fields …
… and blasting out their bugle calls from overhead.
Dried Queen Anne’s Lace heads decorated the roadside ditches, reminiscent of summer days gone by.
“I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow, and each road leads you where you want to go.”  ~Rascal Flatts

Hermit Thrush

While hiking a trail in the Reelfoot Wildlife Refuge, this Hermit Thrush caught my attention when it landed on the branch of a nearby tree.  A winter visitor to our state, it spends a lot of its time foraging for insects under fallen leaves or searching for wild berries among the forest’s undergrowth.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”  ~Leo Tolstoy

Feasting on sumac berries

There’s a spot on our country road where we often see bluebirds fluttering about.  On this day, they were enticed by the deep red clusters of sumac berries growing wild along the road.   These berries are an important source of food for them during the winter months.

“God gives every bird its food, but does not throw it into the nest.”  ~Danish Proverb

White Pelicans

We first knew that the pelicans had returned to our area in September when we saw a large flock of them flying high over the Mississippi River.

   

In early November, we were able to see them more closely and enjoy their beauty at Reelfoot Lake.

“Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”  ~Louis Schwartzberg

Immature Dickcissel

These photos of an immature Dickcissel were taken back in May along the Mississippi levee road.  Though hard to see, the bird has a small, green insect in its beak.

“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated … but stupid lasts forever.”  ~Aristophanes