Saturday, 22 April 2017

Many Projects on the Go

I finished the sleeves and body of Skip's Icelandic Riddari sweater and have joined them for the yoke.
There are 14 sleeve and body stitches under each arm that are on holders and will be grafted later. I am about to start the colour work.

My original contrast colour was red but most Icelandic sweaters are more muted
so I popped into Myrtle Station Wool yesterday and picked up some denim-coloured yarn for the contrast.
I honestly only saw red on children's sweaters when I was in Iceland.

Stitching-wise, I've been working on several projects. I'm behind on the guild stitch-along but it won't take long to get caught up. This is the cross-stitch version of the stitching armchair caddy.
I worked on this little sampler for a bit just before we left Texas with the colours I had on hand. I had to stop when I got to the point where I needed colours I was missing. I picked them up at Mary Maxim in Port Huron just before crossing back into Canada.
There really isn't too much more left to do.
I don't think I've done much more on this sheepy one since I last blogged about it. I have some decisions to make about the colours of the flowers. I like the blue house and am glad I changed it from purple.
I have several other projects on my to-do list so will be working on these in a rotation to get them done.

The Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Conference is coming up the first weekend of May. The Shuttlebugs are going to be displaying clothing that would have been worn during the founding of Canada in honour of our Sesquicentennial this year. Judy Findlay spun, plied, and dyed red yarn for a coureur des bois hat and I volunteered to knit it.  I finished it this afternoon and am wet blocking it now.
Basically it is a slouchy hat that will sport a rather large tassel on the end.
I devised a pattern based on a photo I was sent and a compilation of several slouchy hat patterns I found on Ravelry. Some photos I saw had a tapered end but I thought a rounded end looked better - a besides, the pattern I liked best had that.
The real colour is duller than this and looks quite authentic. I hope to drop it off next week and get on with my other projects.

Next weekend is the Knitter's Frolic and I need to decide what knitted item I'll wear. It's always a billion degrees in there because of all the hot lighting so I has to be something light - probably a shawlette or light shawl. Thank goodness the Frolic is not this weekend as the DVP (Don Valley Parkway - main expressway into Toronto) is closed for cleaning and repair. I seem to recall that it was closed in a previous year and it was a real pain getting to the Japanese Cultural Centre by bypassing the DVP.

While doing all this knitting and stitching, I've been binge-watching Netflix. I discovered a Finnish detective show, "Bordertown" which was interesting but it was hard to stitch while reading the English subtitles. Things worked a lot better when I switched to knitting stocking stitch on Skip's sweater and the red hat.

From Wikipedia: "In Norway, in addition to staying at mountain cabins, cross-country skiing and painting eggs, a contemporary tradition is to read or watch murder mysteries at Easter. All the major television channels run crime and detective stories (such as Agatha Christie's Poirot), magazines print stories where the readers can try to figure out "Whodunnit", and new detective novels are scheduled for publishing before Easter. Even the milk cartons are altered for a couple of weeks. Each Easter a new short mystery story is printed on their sides. Stores and businesses close for five straight days at Easter, with the exception of grocery stores, which re-open for a single day on the Saturday before Easter Sunday."

I felt I was doing my bit by watching a Scandinavian murder mystery series last weekend.

Backyard Birding

Skip and I have been home for a week. We find it takes as long to recover from a car trip as the trip is long. We have resumed normal activities and last week did a lot of errands, appointments, got the taxes done, etc. etc. We are taking it easy this weekend.

We are keeping a backyard birding list this year. We have two feeders - one that holds 5L of seed with a perch that spins if too much weight (3 grackles+) is on it. The other is a nyger seed feeder that the goldfinches, chickadees, and nuthatches enjoy.

Today Skip spotted a male northern flicker digging around in the back yard.

According to the Sibley, "this species forages largely on the ground, feeding on ants. A large woodpecker, with long, slightly downcurved bill."

It is brownish with a barred back. Both sexes have a red crescent on the nape,

a black breast band,
In eastern North America, the male has a black malar (cheek). In the west, it is red.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Last Time Birding with the Bay Area Birders

Today was the last time we'll be going out with the Bay Area Birders. After meeting at the clubhouse of the SPI Golf Club (which is actually in Laguna Vista), we went to Holly Beach Rd. just north of the golf club and east of the water treatment plant.

Along the chain link fence was a pair of northern bobwhite quail.
We then looked out at the water to see what shore birds we could see. Tall Bob in the front sets up the spotting scope for us and we take turns.
The first lifer for me today was the Wilson's phararopes. They were doing their usual swimming in a circle to 'create a vortex that draws prey to the surface'. (Sibley)
We saw this little plover running around. We thought it was a semipalmated but looking closer at its thickish, longish beak I'm wondering if it is a Wilson's plover. If so, another lifer for me.

There were also least sandpipers and willets. Then Janet directed us to the field to the west of the golf course where a group of American golden plovers flew in as if on cue. Another lifer.

It was time to head to the Sheepshead lot on the island. When we got there there were two small passenger buses and several cars already parked there. There must have been about 30 birders. Here is one group of them on the south side.

On the north side in the ebony tree right beside the fenced area some northern parulas were feeding heartily and didn't really care that we were so close. It was almost too close for binoculars.
This one is probably in its first year as there is no 'necklace'.
The dark 'necklace' indicates that this one is a male.

The Nashville warbler has a big, dark eye with a white eye ring.
It wouldn't be a successful outing without an anole perched on a tree with its red dewlap puffed out.
More parula pics.

We got to see the male summer tanager again, albeit behind some mesquite foliage.
It was hard to get good shots of the orchard oriole.
But it finally came out from behind twigs, etc. allowing my camera to focus properly on it.
The oranges are a favourite treat.
We saw more black-throated green warblers today.

Another lifer for me was the Louisiana water thrush.
I finally got a shot of a black-and-white warbler.
The last life bird for me today was the yellow-breasted chat. I was very pleased to get at least one acceptable photo.
I would never know what half these birds were if it weren't for the other more knowledgeable birders in our group and that we meet at various birding spots. The very best companions are the ones who explain the differences and diagnostics which really help me to internalize the information.

We will be seeing our birding friends again tomorrow when over 30 of us will attend a potluck dinner at the home of one of the couples at the golf club. Then it will be farewell for another year.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Birding on a Windy Day

Skip and I went out this morning again to see what we could see. It was overcast and very windy. At the Convention Center it was pretty quiet except for the flashes of scissor-tailed flycatchers.

Out on the Laguna flats, it was low tide. The birds were laying low.

The reddish egret and snowy egret were really hunched over.
The group of cattle egrets had their heads down and many appeared to be snoozing in this relatively sheltered area.
Out from them was the lone white morph reddish egret - also quite hunched over in the wind.
On the edge of the Laguna were hundreds of black skimmers all resting and facing into the north wind.
Closer up, one can see the marbled godwits in the background, gulls on the right, terns front and centre and black skimmers on the left.
Lots of smaller shore birds run around in the foreground.
We then decided to head to the Sheepshead lot. Birders we spoke to at the Convention Centre told us there was some action there.
Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Black-throated green warbler
Female summer tanager
Black-throated green warbler
Then three orchard orioles flew in.
 It was a lifer for me yesterday and a lifer for several birders who were there today.
We were happy to finally see some significant birds at Sheepshead.