Casa del Lago

Jaime, Walter, Alice, and I just returned from a relaxing Christmas week at my parents’ new house in North Carolina that my sister christened “Casa del Lago” (Italian for “House of Legos”). There was a lot of this:

Train Rides

Train Rides

Some of this:

Nemo

Nemo

Even more of this:

Doughnut Game: On Point

Doughnut Game: On Point

And finally, this:

Lamb Hats for All

Lamb Hats for All

But also lots and lots of this:

Amigos

Amigos

It was mostly backyard birding, but still satisfactory. North Carolina gets largely the same birds as the Midwest, but the quantity and commonness are vastly skewed. Case in point: Cedar Waxwings descended on the house in a pleasant, zeeeing cloud.

Nom

Nom

NOM

NOM

The smorgasbord was in full effect for us all. The ivy berries nor the cookie platters stood a chance.

Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar

I got a photo of a waxwing in its namesake tree, too, which I thought was pretty cool. Just kidding, I just wanted another opportunity to showcase my spirit animal.

William Umstead State Park

William Umstead State Park

My parents’ neighborhood is surrounded on three sides by William Umstead State Park in Raleigh, so the scenery is prime. Even though it wasn’t particularly birdy on the day I went hiking, the views were pretty good.

Pines

Pines

I’m not used to pine trees like this.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

The mimids definitely felt at home, though!

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

We have Brown Thrashers and Northern Mockingbirds in Indiana, but not nearly in the numbers as down south. And not in winter. Or “winter” since the Christmas Eve temperature was a steamy 79 degrees.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Indiana’s fat, lazy Fox Squirrels were also nowhere to be seen. Maybe because their blubber would have given them heat stroke in the tropical temperatures. It was odd seeing nothing but their smaller, spazzier cousins the Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Lots of raptors showed up to the squirrel party, though. Fun fact: I have now seen more Red-Shouldered Hawks in my parents’ front yard than I have seen in my entire state.

Towhee Butt

Towhee Butt

A fitting end to the trip gave me the southern end of a northbound Eastern Towhee, appropriate because these birds are the worst skunk on my 2015 motorless list. This photo sums up how cooperative they were for me this week despite the fact that they are literally everywhere down there.

Happy Holidays!

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Random Exploration

In my new job, I have the privilege of roaming the state of Indiana in search of cool, abandoned places. Recently, I have been exploring North-Central Indiana, where the place names are a random juxtaposition of Native American (Shipshewanna, Kankakee) and Polish (Kosciusko, Pulaski). I have seen some interesting things.

Blight

Blight

A decomposing power plant in Warsaw.

Decay

Decay

An abandoned motel in Philadelphia, IN.

Vacancy

Vacancy

I can’t even fathom when was the last time someone actually rented this room.

MODO

MODO

I have seen birds too in these wanderings. Sometimes they are as common as a MODO on a barbed wire fence.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Yesterday, I came across a flock of several hundred Sandhill Cranes in a field outside San Pierre (French? Spanish?). A very cool sight, since I usually only see them as giant wave formations passing overhead and rarely on the ground.

San Pierre

San Pierre

The townspeople obviously think so too, because the welcome sign on the way into town (population: 158) depicts a lone crane. I didn’t stop to photograph it, but miraculously Wikipedia has a picture of it, so here you go.

Dapper Waxwing

Dapper Waxwing

Since this post is now just a random jumble of things, I will end it with my cool art print that I got from Berkley Illustration. I have been following this guy for a few years, and when I saw this on Instagram I had to purchase it immediately. If you are in need of a last-minute Christmas gift for that nature-enthusiast in your life, I can’t recommend his stuff enough. Besides birds, I am also partial to lumberjack chipmunk and Wes Anderson meerkat.