Thursday, October 29, 2015

Antique Bird Finds

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post over on my author blog about my antiquing finds. Because they are all bird-related treasures, I thought I'd share what I found in a little more detail here on Wings and Daydreams.

Rachelle Vaughn

First off, is the wall canvas I found. I instantly fell in love with the cute little bird and his nest.

Rachelle Vaughn

The best part of this piece is how the gold leaves "glow" when you look at it from a certain angle. It is truly a 3D piece of art!

Rachelle Vaughn

Upon closer inspection, there is some sort of cursive letter written behind the bird. I can only make out a few words of it here and there and the mystery of it only adds to the appeal of the piece.

My favorite, most useful piece, is the shabby chic ottoman I found for my office. It is perfect for use as a chair or a table, but my cat has claimed it as her own and doesn't like to share!

Here is an up-close look at the pretty bird fabric on the padded seat...

 ...and the distressed legs...

Lastly, here is the bird journal I found. It was only five dollars (*gasp!*) and will be handy for jotting down my birding discoveries.

I look forward to filling its pages with my fascination of all things with wings. And maybe a few daydreams, too.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


I just snapped a quick pic of this beauty. She was with a group of house finches. Before I could zoom in the camera, she was gone. A female goldfinch? Something else? Whatever he/she was, it was quick! It was either grab for the camera or the binoculars and I chose the camera. Glad I did!

Wings and Daydreams


10 minutes later...

She came back!

And brought a friend!

And even showed off for the camera!

Now that I've had a chance to look through my field guide, I've discovered this sunshiny bird is really a male goldfinch with winter plumage! Who knew they changed colors in winter? I certainly didn't.

This just goes to show you how amazing the bird world is. Every day I'm finding new surprises in my backyard and learning something new!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dear Diary

I've had several bird journals over the years and I think I have just as much fun picking them out as I do writing in them.

It's fun to look back at all the things you've seen and even be reminded of some you'd forgotten about. Like the wild turkey with four babies I saw at a park near my friends' house. And the joy I had watching a Scrub Jay drink out of my birdbath. "He took a sip and then tilted his head back to swallow down the water."

I wonder what memories next year's journal will hold...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hello, Morning!

As soon as the sun hinted it was about to break through the early morning darkness, our resident mockingbird began his medley of energetic calls.

Slowly, the darkness fades and shadows recede, and finally the sun livens the cloud-scattered sky with vivid oranges and pinks. I've snapped a few shots of the the sky even though I know photos won't do the bright colors justice. It's okay though. I don't have the luxury of depending on photos to tell the story in my books either. I depend solely on the imagination of the reader and my ability to describe the scene.

My windows are open and I hope to cool down the house and stave off the air conditioner from kicking on before noon. Although it's mid-October, fall hasn't arrived in my corner of California yet and it's supposed to be in the 90's today.

And now the hummingbirds begin their frantic a.m. feeding. They'll turn the backyard into a war zone as they zoom this way and that, defending the feeders I've hung for everyone to enjoy.

When the clock strikes 7 a.m., church bells ring out in the distance, a cheerful reminder that today is Sunday.

So, as the birds have started their daily routine, so must I. It's time to surrender to the voices in my head and jot down their stories before they disappear. Right now I'm working on a book and its sequel. Writing them simultaneously has been both challenging and rewarding. When I've completed the journey of these particular characters, I will begin once more and start fresh all over again.

Just like the sun and the birds...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Facebook Love

In honor of Throwback Thursday, here's a flashback of the time the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge posted my photo of a red-tailed hawk on their Facebook page...

Please feel free to follow the link to their Facebook page HERE and like the photo!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Photogentic Subjects

On Thursday, our trip to the refuge was amazing as always. I think we'd be happy if we only saw a lone mallard and nothing else. That's how much we enjoy our time there!

Luckily for you, we saw a whole heck of a lot more than one duck. We saw (and heard) pheasants, meadowlarks, egrets, herons, red-winged blackbirds, pintails, marsh wrens, white-fronted geese, deer, a cormorant, a buzzard, a black-necked stilt, and a long-billed curlew. There were also a few deer and I saw my first ever raccoon.

On the auto tour, there were so many swarms of bugs that we couldn't roll the windows down to take photos. The mosquitoes are big enough to strap a saddle on and take for a ride!

The pheasants are difficult to get photos of. As soon as they hear you coming, they duck into the brush and disappear. And the red-winged blackbirds are flighty and like to hide in the camouflage of the reeds. On the other hand, this little killdeer had no problem posing for the camera.

There were quite a few greater white-fronted geese, but not nearly as many as there will be in the coming months at the refuge.

This great blue heron was quite a ways away, but with my new camera we were able to get a decent picture of him standing (on one leg it looks like!) in the field.

Black-necked stilts are one of my favorites and we jokingly call them the oreo cookie bird. The cool reflection on the water makes this photo one of my favorites of the day.

This handsome fellow is a long-billed curlew. He was hanging out with the stilt and a group of egrets.

Much to our surprise, a pair of raccoons walked through the group! They looked like hunchback cats and they lumbered past the egrets like they had somewhere important to be. I've never seen a raccoon in person before and was thrilled we were in the right place at the right time to catch a glimpse of these masked critters.

One of them stopped long enough to glare at us before continuing on his way.

This double-crested cormorant would have been overlooked with the naked eye, but when we scanned these ducks with binoculars, we knew we had found something special.  He preened his feathers while the ducks in front of him bobbed in the water for food.

And now, my favorite photo of the day. No matter how many times I see an egret, I still can't get over how incredibly beautiful they are. Their beaks and eyes are fierce and yet their white feather flutter in the breeze, wispy and soft. This great egret posed for me in between preening and I've already printed out a copy to frame and hang in my office.

Now that I've finally finished sorting through the photos from our trip, I'm ready to turn right back around and go again!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Duck Stamp

Thursday, when we went to the refuge, we stopped by the office to purchase our duck stamp and annual pass. (Both aren't required for admission, but we like supporting the cause any way we can.)

Time after time, the refuge brings me incredible joy and I'm thankful to have such a beautiful, peaceful and inspiring place to visit year-round.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

On Our Way

 Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Today is the first day of October. Clouds have rolled in and it's been sprinkling on and off all morning. The cloud cover will probably burn off by the afternoon as there are already clear spots in the sky where the sun is trying to peek through.

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

We are on our way to the refuge and I couldn't be happier. Even on a Thursday, the freeway is busy and full of semi-trucks hauling their loads up and down the interstate. As we draw closer to the refuge, I feel the excitement bubble up in my chest. Sure, I can see birds in my own backyard, but there's something exhilarating about being out in the wild wide open where you aren't sure what species you're going to see next. (And there aren't any egrets in my back yard either!)

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

After nearly six months of summer and triple digit temperatures, the rain (however little) is a welcome sight. The closer we get to the refuge, the fewer the clouds. We pass by farms, orchards, hay fields, and acres of undeveloped land. By the time we reach the entrance, the clouds are breaking apart and the foothills are clearly visible on the horizon. The rainy morning is just a memory now.

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge waits for us with its gorgeous views, myriad birds, and endless inspiration.

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Welcome, it says.
I can hear the word clearly on the gentle wind that rustles through the tall grasses and reeds. And I can hear it on the wings of the mighty hawk as it soars above us, searching for its prey...

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge