Thursday, January 29, 2015

Signs of spring

Even though it's just at the end of January, there are signs of spring to come. Buds swelling, bluebirds and robins flocking, songs beginning.

I saw a group of 8 Great Blue Herons last week on my morning walk along the dikes above Lake Hartwell.  Most unusual, as normally I'd just see one, or two. 

On this day, too, there were bluebirds foraging in groups, most unusually. Maybe picking up a few dead insects in the grass?  They kept moving ahead of Woody and me, seeming intent on their foraging.

The giant Lonicera fragmantissima in back is now in full flower, and supporting honeybees on warmer afternoons.  We planted it almost 20 years ago as a small, bee-supporting shrub, and as a lawn replacement, and it's flourished.

In our last spring here, in this place, I'm noticing (again) the cycles of the seasons, and what we've contributed to make a vibrant and supportive landscape for birds, bees, etc.  Hmm, it also supports woodchucks and squirrels, and a recent interloper, deer! 

Who knew that deer relish unripe persimmons!   
a normal persimmon crop for our old tree

I've posted quite a bit about the venerable Japanese persimmon we brought with us from Georgia.  I've so enjoyed it.

But deer apparently ATE all of the unripe fruits this fall, amazingly.  I didn't know who the culprit was, until this week, talking to a fellow who was a veteran, and had been stationed in Japan (and loved harvesting persimmons in u-pick sorts of places there. 

He told me that deer loved unripe persimmons!

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Woodpeckers, wrens, and others

Our birdfeeder in the mountains is a platform feeder, which my gardening companion FILLS high with black-oil sunflower seeds each morning (which we buy in 40 lb. bags at the local feed and seed -- in this case, a Southern States store).

When we're there, it's mobbed with the usual seed feeders - tufted titmice, cardinals, and the like, as well as the occasional blue jays, doves, and house finches.

It's always a special treat when the red-bellied woodpeckers drop by, snagging seeds.  We saw several this weekend. 

A search for past posts about red-bellied woodpeckers pulled up all sorts of interesting reminders of past sightings, in addition to other thoughts.

Here's a red-bellied woodpecker we saw in 2012 outside our kitchen window.

A click on the image will take you to the post about this sighting.
The clear and loud calls of Carolina wrens are evident -- I don't think it's breeding season for them, yet, but it's coming.

The days cleared yesterday as the storm passed north and east of us, with nothing more challenging than rain and a few flakes.

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Friday, January 23, 2015


I've FINALLY got my camera (a venerable Nikon D100) and lens back after their cleaning and "spa" aka repair at the Nikon facility (in the lens' case).  

It's been months, thankfully much of it filled with travel with a small Panasonic (my hubbie was the photographer), and many images to post afterwards.

There's actually not too much of interest right now in the mountains.  Gloomy skies, dormant perennial beds, and vegetable beds filled with frosted veggies!

I hadn't downloaded any winter break trip photos to my laptop, so am just reminded of last fall's color, looking at the Lightroom stream that's popped up.

This was in November, 2014.

Fall, 2014

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Flowers, mosses, and lichens

There was an extraordinary diversity of mosses, lichens, and flowers in Chilean Patagonia!

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Queulat National Park

This is a wonderful national park along the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia. I've already posted an image of the hanging glacier (spectacular!)

Along another trail, the Bosque Encantando (Enchanted Forest), the moss diversity (and that of other bryophytes) was nothing short of amazing.
along the trail in the Bosque Encantado
admiring bryophyte diversity
another hanging glacier photo
the river below
my traveling buddy

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Carretera Austral and Queulat National Park

I've gotten totally out of sequence (travel-wise) with my postings, but here are some wonderful images that evoke the experience of Chilean (Northern) Patagonia along the Carretera Austral.

Hanging Glacier in Quelat National Park
The hanging glacier is a stand-out hike (in Quelat National Park).  The fiord stretching from Puyahuaipi and beyond is spectacular, too.

Near the Posada Quelat

A finch accustomed to handouts

boat in Puyahuapi harbor

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wonderful rivers

We saw so many wild and inspiring rivers and streams in Argentina and Chile (Northern Patagonia).

I thought we lived in the land of waterfalls, mountain streams and wonderful rivers, but these were remarkable.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Chilean Patagonia and the Carretera Austral

Jumping around in our travels again, here are some images from a hike in Chilean Patagonia (off the Carretera Austral, a historically gravel road now being regraded and paved through much of its length.)

The Chilean side of Patagonia is much wetter than the Argentinian side, so the vegetation is a LOT more lush.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ruta 40 (Argentina)

Jumping ahead in our travels, here's an image on the Argentinian side, from our journey back north on Ruta 40, a legendary north-south route, stretching from far north to south in Argentina.

Ruta 40
It's largely paved now, but we bumped along some pretty remote graveled roads from the Chilean border crossing (without much other traffic) to finally get to Route 40.  Somewhat unnerving, actually!

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Such fun

I returned today to a lovely mug (thanks to Society 6).  They artfully added my "evergreens and snags" watercolor to a coffee cup.

How cool is that? 

I'd posted about this before, but there's something a bit magic about actually receiving a cup (!) with something created personally on it.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Beyond Bariloche

Returning from the Ruta de Siete Lagos, we returned through Bariloche, and continued to head south.

The next town is El Bolson, a remarkably pleasant town with a vibrant market.

We almost missed it, in spite of guide book directions. The main highway skirts the main center of town, and evokes Patagonia of old, speckled with a few bakeries, meat shops, fruterias, and basically not looking very promising.

But we persevered, and found great views, and an interesting and eclectic market scene. It reminded us our our diverse mountain town in Western North Carolina - full of artists, creative folks, "old" hippies, as well as young South American ones.

Rio Azul from the mirador above El Bolson

Pother, I'm on the iPad and it's taking forever to sort back though the photos...





Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More waterfalls

 Waterfalls are on my mind; not only did we see a lot of them over winter break, but my gardening companion is currently sending off his talk descriptions for scheduled programs about waterfalls and wildflowers (hmm, I always get to "review" them before they go).

Here's the same amazing waterfall (with feral Colorado lupines in the foreground) with my gardening companion.  Maybe it'll be a publicity shot?

TS with waterfall
The light on this one was better, but taken unawares.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Amazing waterfalls

We live in an area of abundant and lovely waterfalls in the Southern Appalachians, but the ones in Patagonia --hmm.  They were both abundant and spectacular.

Waterfalls draw us, wherever they are -- they're special.

Here was the first we saw (still on the Ruta de los Siete Lagos).

The lupines (everywhere) have escaped from cultivation (probably our Western Colorado species).

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Monday, January 5, 2015

More along the Ruta de Siete Lagos

views along the road - amazing
kite-surfing in the brisk Patagonian wind
Digitalis (a European species) --self-seeding, but lovely
San Martin de los Andes (from an overlook above the town)
The Ruta de Siete Lagos (Route of the Seven Lakes) was a great circuit to start our exploration of the Argentinian Lake District.  Wonderful lakes, landscapes, and views, and good hiking.

We stayed overnight in San Martin and then returned back, staying in Villa Angostura (north of Bariloche).

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ruta de Siete Lagos

All of the seven lakes were perfectly blue.
After flying to Bariloche, we headed north on the Ruta de Siete Lagos, a truly breathtaking circuit.
Argentina is a (VERY) large country -- it was a two hour flight to Bariloche from Buenos Aires.

The first lake was amazing. My companion had to take a swim (in the very cold water).
The surroundings were quite arid, but filled with interesting plants.
The cushion plants were really interesting (to us botanists, at least).

unusual cushion plants (adapted to arid/alpine conditions)

The first waterfall of many!

Part of an alternative route took us over gravel roads, just a taste of what was to come.
My traveling companion

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Traveling in Argentina

I've been sorting through photos, and thought I'd just post in sequence.

Traveling with my buddy (and best traveling companion) didn't leave much time to fuss with Blogsy postings on the iPad, nor downloading photos, either. 

And dinner after 9 pm!  Hmm, that seems like hours and hours after normal dinner time, and afterwards, time to go to bed, for sure.

We flew to Buenos Aires from Atlanta -- a fairly easy overnight flight, connecting in Miami.  Buenos Aires is a perfectly nice South American megacity; fortunately, we were there when it was unusually cool!

A main interest were the dogwalkers in Recoleta, one of Buenos Aires' upscale neighborhoods.

Professional dog walkers often have even more dogs in tow.
The food in Buenos Aires was also remarkable, being a cosmopolitan city. This salad was notable.
A delicious salad -- I only had one other good one in Argentina!
We trooped around visiting lots of city sights, but were ready to escape to the Argentinian Lake District and the mountains.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Returning to winter

It's been rainy, foggy, and dark since we returned from the Southern Hemisphere.
Here with a diversity of mosses, ferns, etc.!
We saw wonderful lakes and hanging glaciers (here in Quelat National Park in Chilean Patagonia).
Not unexpected, but a bit of a transition, too, as our last few days had been in warm Buenos Aires, and very long "summer" days were part of our entire trip.

But our days are now getting longer, and here in the Southern Appalachians and the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in the Piedmont, we have plenty of sunny, mild winter days, too.  Hmm, I hope for some soon!

Amazing lichens in Chile's Valdivian rainforest!

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