Friday, February 28, 2020

GOSIA'S FENCES AROUND THE WORLD

My fence post photos today were taken at Huntley Meadows, other photos of which I have been sharing this week.

This is an overlook to view any wildlife in the area, usually water birds and turtles.  We have seen deer at the water's edge.
This is a bench here and it is one of my favorite spots to sit.  Many families stopped by during the time I was there.


Thank you for hosting Gosia.  
If you would like to see other Fences Around the World, or join in with your own, you will find the link here.

Enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, February 27, 2020

THE FAIRIES ARE STILL IN THEIR WINTER HOME



"And though you should live in a palace of gold,
Or sleep in a dried up ditch,
You could never be as poor as the fairies are,
and never as rich."

~Rose Fyleman~





Wednesday, February 26, 2020

MORE FROM HUNTLEY MEADOWS

I am starting off with photos Gregg took.  It looked like a male immature Red-winged Blackbird.
It is a delightful bird and is the first bird where I learned its call.  Once learned never forgotten, so it always brings a smile when I hear it in Huntley Meadows.  You can listen to its call at this link.  
We noticed a lot of the bushes had these bright red berries.
When we got to the marsh area I spotted one solitary turtle on a log.  It seemed to be the only one there.  I looked for a while and may have missed more, but it won't be long before its companions start showing up.
For the ducks there were numerous wooden boxes, and new long circular shapes filled with what looked like straw.  I couldn't find any information about them, unless a blogging friend out there can help me out.  Open on at least one end, maybe all the way through.  
The visitor center was closed, but I will stop there first and ask on our next visit, if I don't find out in the meantime.  I came across a short article on line from one of the volunteers who maintain the wooden boxes here.
Two duck photos, of mallards...
and one of Northern Pintails.  My previous post on ducks can be found at this link for ease of access. Otherwise you can just click on 'older posts' at the end of the page if you haven't seen it already.
Lots of people at the park today.  
The weather was perfect for the time of year.  Sunny and in the mid 50s.

Lots of dogs being walked, along with lots of kiddos...









and daddies out with the kiddos giving the mums a break I'm thinking.
This little one was carrying a teddy bear.  A lot of cute sights to see today.
Plenty of people on the walkway across the wetlands also.
The following area usually attracts a lot of fishing herons but I didn't see any today.  A lady showed me a photo she had taken of one.  When you stop to take a photo, invariably there will be some nice person who will start talking to you.  People always seem to be in their happy place here.
Signs of Spring to come.  That's Gregg on the left of the photo.
New leaves starting to sprout all over the park.  They are in their happy place too, and I am definitely in mine.
We found Huntley Meadows several years ago and all told I have about 50 posts. You can see them here if you want to go through some of them.  The last trip was in September 2019. 





Monday, February 24, 2020

DUCKS AT HUNTLEY MEADOWS, ALEXANDRIA, VA

On Saturday it was sunny and in the 50s.  Looking outside we felt it was too good a day to waste.  We decided to go to Huntley Meadows where much to our surprise, the parking lot spaces were all taken (everyone else had the same idea).  No problem, we parked on the side of the road that enters the park, along with a couple of dozen other vehicles.  Our favorite part for our walk is along the boardwalk across the marshy wetlands.   There we saw several ducks, a couple I had never seen before. I had hoped to see some water birds but didn’t expect this many. 
The first ones we came across were the Northern Shoveler. 
You can see right away why they are named.  Their beak is shovel-shaped. 
It is a medium-sized bird, larger than an American Coot but smaller than a Mallard.  Its eyes are yellow and it has an over-sized black bill.  It also has reddish-brown flanks, with a white chest and black back.  
There is more information if you click on any of the red lettering in my posts.  Also if you belong to to Facebook or Instagram, you can see amazing photos that people share from Huntley Meadows.  
This one is the Northern Pintail.  I have never seen this one before.  Reading from the website...
"Breeding male Northern Pintails stand out with a gleaming white breast and a white line down their chocolate brown head and neck.  
Females and males that are molting (eclipse plumage) are mottled in browns and whites with an unmarked pale tan face and a dark bill.  In flight, males flash a green speculum (the inner wing feathers or secondaries) and females flash a bronzy speculum.
There are great photos at this website.
Next comes the Green-winged Teal, another I hadn't actually seen before.
 It is the smallest dabbling duck in North America. It also has a cinnamon-colored head with a gleaming green crescent that extends from the eye to the back of the head.
In both females and males, they have deep-green wing patches (specula).  
They can be found on shallow ponds and in flooded fields, and wintering flocks can number as many as 50,000.
The last ducks I am sharing today are the Mallards.
These are more familiar to us than the other ducks we saw today.
The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck).  Domestic ducks can be common in city ponds and can be confusing to identify.  They may lack the white neck ring, show white on the chest, be all dark or show oddly shaped crests on the head.  I read this and other interesting facts about the Mallard at this site.
I put a few of the photos and names in a collage to end my post, using Paint Shop Pro.
There will be another post on the rest of the park as soon as I can put one together.

Thank you for stopping by 
and enjoy your day.








MONDAY RECIPE POST - BLUEBERRY COBBLER


When I invited friends over recently, I looked for an easy dessert to finish off the meal I prepared.  It was a light main course and I splurged a bit on the dessert.  It was 414 calories per serving.  However, a whole portion seemed excessive, so I dished out half at approximately 207 calories.  It was more than enough.  A little whipping cream finished it off.  I found the original recipe here.  Once again I recommend looking at the original, to see any notes its host has mentioned, and to look at other recipes you might enjoy.
Blueberry Cobbler

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time:      50 minutes
Whole time:          1 hour
Servings:               6 but I think you can get 12
smaller portions.
Calories:               414 calories but more than enough to split one portion in half and share.

A box of yellow cake mix
6 cups of blueberries
1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar
1 stick of butter 
1-1/4 cups of water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse your blueberries thoroughly and drain well.  Roll them into a clean tea towel for an extra dry if necessary.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spoon the yellow cake mix into the bottom fairly evenly.  You don't really have to be too corner-to-corner as you'll see from the following directions.

Next, put the blueberries over the cake mix and spread out a bit, here again not too corner to corner.  

Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar over the blueberries.  

Pour the 1-1/4 cup of water over the top of the berries and cake mix.

Gently toss the berries and cake mix to allow the water to settle towards the bottom of the baking dish.  (Instructions say to give it a little shake if you need to.  Also that if the berries aren't very juicy, add a little more water.  If they are plump you need to add less.  I didn't do either, it was fine with the stated amount.)

Cut the stick of butter into 8 pieces and place evenly over the top.

Place in the oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes.

Other things our host noted:

"The amount of sugar and water you use will vary on the berries themselves.  Before you start, make sure you taste the berries so you add the right amount.  If they're sweet you won't want as much sugar.  If they're tart you might want to add a little more.

It's also important to pour the water over the top and then be sure everything is mixed.  You want the berries and the water to settle into the pan before baking!" 

Also:

"You can freeze this dessert.  Once frozen and when ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge.  Pop into the oven and bake at 350 degrees until everything is warm and bubbly."

What did we think of this dessert?
This is definitely in the favorite folder, as it was delicious and the aroma in the house was heavenly.  I can't remember the last time I cooked blueberries in anything.  I usually add them to my oatmeal or in a smoothie.  This will definitely be a company dessert, or for a special treat.

There weren't a lot of leftovers. Everyone enjoyed this dessert and there were requests for seconds.  We did have a couple of portions left which we will be freezing for another day.

This would work well with other fruit. I will try it with cherries next time. You can use your own favorite for this one. 

Thanks for looking and enjoy your week!

Bon App├ętit!







Thursday, February 20, 2020

FENCES AROUND THE WORLD FOR GOSIA



 Quercus phallus 
(Virginia Native)
Willow Oak

As you probably know if you have been visiting for a while, I love my poems.  I share any I find that I truly enjoy, and this has such a positive message.  



The Oak Tree
by
Johnny Ray Ryder Jr

A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the oak tree's leaves away,  
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away, 
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth, 
Growing stronger since my birth.  
You'll never touch them, for you see 
They are the deepest part of me.  
Until today, I wasn't sure 
Of just how much I could endure 
But now I've found, with thanks to you, 
I'm stronger than I ever knew.


Thank you for hosting Gosia.  
If you would like to see other Fences Around the World, or join in with your own, you will find them on Gosia's blog here.

Enjoy your day and thanks 
for stopping by.