Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The R-E-S-T Rest! Of All The B-E-S-T Best!

Or is it the other way around?  Whatever ...

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie, here with ... yeah, OK.  We're wrapping up this latest trip down to Quivira NWR today.  (If you need to get caught up, please click here and here.)  On to the rest of the birdies!

One of the more common wading birdies we see down there is the Great Blue Heron. Here comes one now!

GBH in flight!

They are here year-round.  One of our migratory birds is the Wilson's Phalarope:

Wilson's Phalarope, looking for bugs

They spin around in circles, stirring up the bugs so they can eat them. Speaking of bug-eaters, it looks like this guy caught a tasty one!

American Avocet with the catch of the day

I don't want to say there's a double-standard around here, but if I had a bug like that, my mom would tell me to "leave it!"  Just ... putting that out there.

One of the rather striking-looking birds we saw was the Yellow-Headed Blackbird:

Yellow-Headed Blackbird

We saw a good number of them and the Red-Winged Blackbirds.  The Red-Wings are here all the time, but the Yellow-Headed Blackbirds pretty much come for the warmer months.

The ducks we saw in good number were Blue-Winged Teals.  Mom was watching this male and female, then saw this American Coot move into the scene:

"Is it just me, or is that Coot hitting on my wo-duck?"
"Hey, baby...."
"Hit the bricks, you old Coot."

Even though they like to hang out with ducks, Coots are not ducks -- they are more closely related to Sandhill Cranes or Rails.  (To have a good look at their feety-feet, click here to see a pic Mom took of one a few years ago.  Not webbed feet at all!)

There were quite a few Great Egrets at Quivira.  Here's one who's out standing in his field.  Or is that "outstanding"?  Ha roo roo roo.  With a Great Blue Heron.

The Greats hanging out together - Great Blue Heron and Great Egret.
The black thing in the middle of the shot is a Red-Winged Blackbird buzzing through.

There was some pretty crazy wind the day we were there, which though it made it challenging for Mom to hold the camera steady, it had two benefits -- one, it helped keep the mosquitoes at bay, and two, when the larger-winged birds took flight, they were buffeted around so much that they were almost held in place!  Here's one of Mom's favorite shots from that series:

Ballet recital by Great Egrets

They are one of our Summer residents, as are the Snowy Egrets.  Here are a couple of them in flight:

Snowy Egrets

Can you see their bright yellow feety-feet?  Pretty cool!  They are smaller than the Great Egrets - a wingspan of 41 inches as opposed to 51 - and have a black beak instead of yellow.

Speaking of beaks ... we also saw a pack-o-Pelicans:

American White Pelicans

I have no idea why that one guy is looking the wrong way, but Mom said something about him being a Siberian Pelican.  I didn't know there WAS such a ... oh.  Right.  Funny, Mom.

Here's a Cormorant, in mid take-off!

Double-Crested Cormorant

The Double-Crested are the most widespread Cormorant in North America.  They come through Kansas during migration seasons.

Our last bird is this little Sandpiper:

Spotted Sandpiper

Mom loves his speckled belly!  They are here mostly during migration, but some stay for the Summer!

We hope you enjoyed seeing some of our birdies and learning a little bit about them.  And now, it's time to head home.

"So tired ... so many birdies ... "
"Hey, Dad!  Let me know if you need me to drive!"

Thanks for coming along with us!  If you'd like to see more, please click here to check out our FlickR album.  We can't wait to go back again and see what new birdies we'll see!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Monday, May 22, 2017

Last Weekend's "Lifers"

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie, back with more birdies.  Today, we thought you might enjoy seeing the "lifers" -- the birdies we saw for the first time!  Before we head back to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, let's take a short water break:

Maggie and me at the Kansas Wetlands Ed Center for a break

Our canteen is there in the shade; we like to get a drink then people-watch during our breaks!

OK - on to the "lifers"! The first ones we saw were Black Terns!

Black Tern in flight

Unlike other terns, Black Terns don't dive into the water to catch fish - they feed off insects they gather as they fly. They migrate through Kansas in the Spring and Fall. Here is a bunch on land:

Black Terns and a Wilson's Phalarope 

More about Phalaropes tomorrow!

Another "lifer" was the Glossy Ibis!

Glossy Ibis!

We usually see White-Faced Ibises here during the migration seasons, but seeing Glossy Ibises is a real treat! They look VERY much alike; there is a slight difference in the face and leg colors. The experts who run the center at Quivira NWR confirmed there were Glossies in the area!

The next "lifer" is not a birdie. In fact, we're surprised Mom took this picture at all, but she knew a few of our friends would want to see it. Divert your eyes if you need to -- it's a sneaky snake!

A snake.
Quite possibly a Bull Snake, but Mom would have to look through pictures of a bunch of snakes to be sure.
That's not going to happen.

For those who might be wondering, Mom took the shots of him (click here for a closeup) from the safety of the HR-V. And rolled the window up quickly afterwards. And asked Dad to floor it. You get the picture.

Now ... on to more pleasant things, like Mom's new favorite:

THE Snowy Plover, ladies and gentlemen!

They are only six inches long and blend in really well with their environment; it's easy to miss them!  Here he is, stalking some bugs:

"Slowly I turned ..."

Mom thinks they are just adorable!  Here he is, checking his reflection:

"Am I really as cute as the Camera Lady says?!?"
"Oooh, I just might be!"

Quivira NWR is just on the eastern edge of the breeding ground for these tiny guys, so we feel really blessed to have seen a few.

Thanks for reading - tomorrow, we'll wrap up this latest birding expedition!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Serene Scenery Sunday Funnies

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  Remember last weekend, we told you we went birding?  It's true - we took another trip down to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  It was awesome.  You saw a shot of Cam and me when we were on one of our breaks.  We had just taken a short walk, had some water and treats, then got seat-belted back into the HR-V.  What the heck - that shot's worth seeing again!  We were right here:

"Hi, Mom.  Whatcha got?  Peanut butter sammich?"
"That's. Not. A. Sammich!"

Cam always knows!  And she was right!  It wasn't a sandwich!  Mom had ...

"Is that leftover chick-hen?!?"

Anyway ... more about that later.  We have tons of birdie pix to share with you, and today, we thought we'd share some of the funnier ones!

The last time we went down to Quivira, Mom was all excited because she got some shots of the elusive American Bittern! It was a "lifer" for her -- the first time she had seen one!  This trip, she kept hearing them (they kind of sound like glugging water ... click here) but couldn't find them ... until one took off. He made an editorial comment as he did:

Nice, Mr. Bittern.  Very nice.

Unbeknownst to Mom, he actually had photobombed a couple of her other shots! She didn't notice until she downloaded her photos to her computer!  Here he is with some White-Faced Ibises:

"Bitterns!  Can't take them anywhere!"

Then there is the shot of some Great Egrets, Glossy Ibises, a Red-Winged Blackbird, and ...

He's right between the two Glossy Ibises

Yeah. So maybe he was just ticked that Mom didn't see him and get some cool shots of him in the marsh, right?  Ha roo roo roo!

"HA!  Good one!!!"

At least that Great Egret thought it was funny!

This Least Sandpiper thought Mom was stalking him:

"Stop following me!!!"

But this Black-Necked Stilt seemed to be looking for her:

"Hey, Camera Lady!  Are you still here?!?"

This Red-Headed Woodpecker seemed cranky at first ...

"Hey ... wait just a minute!!!"

... then was quite actually quite accommodating!

"Yeah.  That's better!  Get my good side!"

And Mom fell in love, like totally head-over-heels type, with one of her "lifers" from this trip. The Snowy Plover.

"Who ... me?"

I have to admit, that little Peep has charisma -- AND is rocking the head-tilt there. Wow.  We'll share more from him on our next birdie post!

As for now ...

"Oh, please, Mom!!!  I LOVE the chick-hen!!!!"
"Chick...... hennnnnn......"

...that's a wrap for today.

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Happy Armed Forces Day!

Greetings to all and hello, everyone!  It's us, Mags and Cam.  Today we would like to wish all of those who are serving or who have served honorably in our nation's military a very happy Armed Forces Day!

"Do your War Face, Cam!"
"This is my War Face!"

While we might be a bit partial to the US Army, this goes out to all of you who serve or who have served honorably in our Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard - we appreciate you, we honor you, and we pray for you!

Mags and Cam

Friday, May 19, 2017

Flower Friday - The Peonies Edition!

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie, joining with Da DB Boyz to bring you Flower Friday!  This week, our post is all about our Peonies!  Let's head out and see how they're doing!

I checked in on this one a couple days ago:

"Looking good, but not in full bloom yet, Mom!"

Fortunately, there were other blooms that were fully open! Check them out:



We waited a couple days, then checked on that first Peony again -- look at it now!

"Yeah!  Nice and fluffy!"

We like things fluffy around here!

The Peonies we showed you last week were lighter pink, but "singles".  They always open first.  Some of our fuller ones are also lighter pink, like this one:


Mom started all of them from roots a friend gave her, so we don't know what variety any of them are; we just call them "Skidmore" Peonies!

Thanks for joining us - please check out the other Flower Friday blogs out there!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our Little Secret

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie.  The other morning, Dad took Maggie out for some special Daddy-Daughter Time, so Mom and I did something special, too!  We chose to do something I can't really do when Maggie is around -- play with Pink Pig!

"Please don't let Maggie know about this!"

For a reminder of why Maggie must not know about me playing with Pink Pig, please click here. Seriously. Pink Pig's very life depends on it.

It's our little secret ... right?


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Yesterday, we got the very sweetest gift in the mail from our Auntie Donna!!  It was a set of three beautiful embroidered USA mini-quilts!  She made them just for us!  (... and for our mom and dad.). Look at how pretty they are:

"How's this, Mom?"
"Let's pose nice for Auntie Donna!"

They were designed to hang on those little metal hangers -- she sent us those when she sent us a lovely Christmas "JOY" set that she also made! Isn't she super talented?!?!

Oh, right. Why were we so willing to pose so nicely? What if I told you it's because Mags and I are really good girls?

Wait! No! No need to pan out a bit, Mom! Oh, fine. Here:

"Those are Nutros!  I can tell!"
"Oh. My.  GOODNESS!  We LOVE those!"

Well, yeah.  She also enclosed a bag of Nutro cookies!  See them at the top of the shot there?  She knows us soooooo well!

Thank you from all four of us! We just love the USA mini-quilts -- and the cookies!!!


Monday, May 15, 2017


Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Yesterday, Maggie and I got to have baths!  What's nice is, since Mom got our own dryer, we don't have to go to that Dog Wash place -- we can do it all at home!  I went first and ...

"Oh, did that feel good!"

Note the blue towel back there. I was supposed to sit on it. I didn't want to.

"Thanks for the bath and fluffing, Mom!" 

I mean, sure - I was a gem for the bath (in our shower) and the blow-dry, but sit on the towel?  No!  I didn't want to!  I can't make it too easy for Mom -- right?

Maggie went next. Maggie is blowing coat right now, so she really let the fur fly! Mom took a short video; let's take a look!

To watch on YouTube, please click here!

Wasn't that fun?!!? Maggie had quite the fur-nado going!

Here's how nice she looked afterwards:

"Yeah, 'nice', whatever.  Are the neighbors out?"

She was very good for Mom, too.  And I'm sure she enjoyed it and feels even better now, right, Maggie?

"Riiiiiiiiight.  Here, get my brown-eyed side."

It feels so nice to be all clean and super-fluffy!   ...even if we did cause a fur-nado!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Serene Scenery Sunday

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  We were so late in posting yesterday that I wasn't sure what we were going to blog about today - then Mom said, "Hey, let's go out front and take some nice Peony pix!"  I didn't listen to much after the "let's go" part, but that's another story.

And, actually ... we don't have any Peony pix to share with you - but we did shoot a video that should explain things.  Ready to take a look?  Roll it!

To watch on YouTube, please click here

Yeah.  It's pretty Kansas-y out there today.  Hard to focus that camera on flowers blowing around!  Still - that breeze is mighty serene!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

PS:  Yes, we went birding again yesterday!  We'll have cool birdie photos to share later in the week!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Flower Friday

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  We are teaming up with Da DB Boyz to bring you Flower Friday! We thought we'd take a walk around our gardens right here at Ao4 Headquarters this week -- ready to take a look at what's in bloom?

Let's start things off with a shot of me looking at the Peonies:

Me checking out the Peonies.
Well, fine.  I was looking at some guys next door.  Whatever.

Or rather a shot of me not looking at the Peonies. Whatever. There was too much going on out there! Anyway, here are some of our Peonies! First, a couple shot with Mom's iPhone:



And now with the Canon 7D:



Mom just can't get enough of her Peonies!

The Purple Salvia is blooming, too:


And so are the Roses:

Rosebud with some kind of Gaussian blur thingie.  I have no idea.

Our other big bloomers right now are our Irises! We have purple ones:


And this color-combo:


What's blooming in your neck of the woods?

Thanks for joining us on our garden tour!  

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher