little things

 My feelings on the importance of taking time to observe the small things in Nature were validated the other day when I found these shells.


Makes me smile, too!

The shells on Sanibel beaches are amazing and it is legal to bring a few home. (Please do not try this on Washington Island.)  I am partial to the fragments of shells. To me, they tell a story.



My friend Pam found this one. Depending on the angle, it looks like several things...a bird? To me, it does.


I am in Florida as I put this together and the significant birds we see here are Burrowing Owls. Cute, tiny, and for a short person right at my level. I like this photo because they have different colored eyes. Haven’t been able to figure out if there is any reason but it is interesting. 


That’s the way it is with birds. They’re interesting.  One doesn’t even have to go far. Just get your binoculars, a good bird book, and oh, pencil and paper to record what you see out your window. Lists are key in this effort.  But I am veering away from the topic.  

photo: Tim Sweet

photo: Tim Sweet

In the last post, I talked about what happens on the Island in Winter.  I did not finish. I just “scratched the surface“. The photo above was taken this February 13  by Tim who walked over to Rock Island as he has done in Winter for some years now.  That day he reports was approaching freezing after a dozen days of bitter cold


photo: Paula Hedeen

photo: Paula Hedeen

This photo captures Plum Island this Winter. Ice, steam, glistening stuff sort of what fairy tales are made of. No, I am not veering off into Frozen. I have a different reason for posting these amazing photographs.


I am talking Birding, people. During this past (Fall) and Winter, a trusty group of people have devoted their time to organizing the Washington Islands Birding Festival. That’s another thing folks do here in the quiet time. They have meetings, regularly, consistently, with minutes. The beautiful thing about this Birding effort is it will take place on THREE islands. That’s one day for each island. Hence the wonderful photos.


If those islands look this gorgeous in Winter, just imagine what Rock Island, Plum Island, and Washington Island will be like in May?!? Here are a few photos from the 2015 event. I find birders never stop. They bird on the way to birding. They bird in all directions. One might think birding is the purpose of sun roofs. Birding can be on the go or stationary. These folks never miss a moment and they are most helpful in getting people started and answering questions.


Birders come prepared. There are supplies to consider. Always bring snacks. No telling how long an activity may last and on foot, an energy boost may soon seem appropriate. 


They consider a certain amount of equipment to find these elusive unique sounding creatures. Be it scopes like the above, camera zoom lens, or binoculars, it helps to be prepared. 


Birders dress for the weather and are on site rain or shine as much as possible. On May 30th in 2015, it was a bit nippy and a little misty. The group was hearty as one can see. There are a variety of activities and folks can choose to participate in whatever way they feel fits their comfort level. In the foreground Glenys and Dale Bird exhibit how to dress for the birding experience. Both of these folks have an amazing wealth of knowledge and enjoy helping others with sighting and identifying birds. 

photo: Ham Rutledge

photo: Ham Rutledge

Also from May of 2015, this photo shows birds do take control when they see something they like.  Ham heard Baltimore orioles were in the area and he enticed them to the Rutledge deck with oranges. It turns out they are attracted to the color orange and something sweet (more here). It reminds me that one Festival option is to participate in a "big sit". See what birds come to you by staying in one place and observing. A list of favorable sites will be available. Just ask the experienced birders putting the Festival together  for a suggestion and they will be happy to help choose an interesting location.


If the Festival sounds interesting, don't wait. Registration closes at 60 birders and I believe at last count 50 have signed up. Info available at or call Chari Rutledge on the Island. I would be happy to help people connect so feel free to message me or respond here as well.


So I will leave the Burrowing Owls to their own devices and see what I can find on the Island May 18-20.

Never know what species might be migrating through. Those little things that Nature allows us to see can be significant in so many ways. Stop - Look - Observe, wherever you might be. It can be exhilarating, stimulating, and refreshing.

More on that in the next post.

til next time .....