Optic Flow

cardinal

At lunch today, I enjoyed warm sun, a nice breeze and fresh air; an elixir guaranteed to induce tranquility and on occasion deeper than normal thought.

The chair I was lounging in was positioned so that I could look across the creek to a more densely wooded area.  Although there is a small clearing, the foliage is pretty dense, so I have never seen much except a few birds and a lone raccoon foraging for food.  Birdsong is plentiful from that direction though and today with me having just scared all the black birds away from my cardinal feeder and scattering over there, it was exceptionally loud.

There are always multiple bird species around, but today I noticed something I had never paid attention to before.  I was watching a particular bird fly from somewhere behind me into the wooded area and I noticed that he flew into the foliage and managed to dodge branches without even slowing down.  Having just watched the raccoon pick its way along the branches and move along carefully, the difference was made all the more obvious.

So, once again, I sat amazed at the wonders of our Creator.  I googled it later and found out that birds do this by a trick of the eye called optic flow.  Optic flow is the way our eyes perceive motion as we travel thru a landscape.  It is the illusion that trees and buildings are passing us by; the greater the optic flow the more quickly things seem to be moving.  Below is a short pbs.org video, in case you are interested in knowing more.

Optic Flow Video

As I sat and thought about this, it reminded me how the bird fully trusts his Creator; he forges on ahead using the talent God gave him.  And as God cares for this little bird, He cares for me.  He sees every obstacle ahead and prepares me to meet them head on.  I just have to do my part and trust Him every step of the way.

Matthew 6:25-27 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Daily Prompt: Plop

The Daily Prompt was unusual but I gave it a shot anyway.  My offering for “Plop”.

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This old guy waits patiently for my husband to come in from fishing

As the leftover bait plopped into the water, the pelicans fought to be the first to snatch it up.  You would think they hadn’t been trolling for fish all day long the way they knock each other out of the way to be first.  I watched as the winner greedily snatched the bait and marveled as it seemed to threaten to burst through the elastic looking pouch under his bill.  God’s creatures never cease to amaze me and they always remind me of His sense of humor.

I walked barefoot over to my favorite chair; the one I have sat and watched what I call “my” cardinals and mockingbird in for a couple of years now.  The thing is… I haven’t seen any of them in months.  The only birds I see frequently besides the water birds are crows and doves.  The big black crows drive me nuts with their incessant cawing as they eat the stale bread a neighbor throws out for them daily.  Lately, the doves are the lone visitors to my bird feeder and they are extremely skittish.

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My friend said that she caught a snake eating a cardinal under her bird feeder the other day and so I mentioned this to my husband.  He said, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that rat snake hiding in the shrub right by the feeder.  He blends right in”.  I’m aghast that he knew this was going on and didn’t do something about it!  He could have run the snake off or something, right?!?

In light of this disturbing news, I googled it and lo and behold, feeders do often attract snakes which makes sense now that I think about it.  Now I have a decision to make.  Do I continue to provide seed and hope the birds are stealthy enough to avoid Mr. Rat Snake or do I remove the feeders entirely for fear of unintentionally luring the poor birds to their death?  The very shrub the evil thing likes to hide in will soon be sprouting berries that are particularly loved by the mockingbirds.  If the same mockingbird visits that did last year, he was mean and territorial.  Maybe he will run the snake off to another yard.

I’ve spent hours in my chair, enjoying the birds while I spend time with Jesus and bask in the sunshine or watch the sunset.  This will be a difficult change for me.  I’m saddened even thinking about removing the feeder and tossing the rest of the seed out in the open.   Maybe someone has an idea that will save the day.

 

Lessons from a mockingbird

You may have read some of my other posts where I talk about how God always teaches me little lessons or shows me things if I just pay attention to His creation.

My husband and I, now that we are getting older, love to watch the various birds that frequent our back yard.  Since he is a fishing guide, the pelicans follow him home, but his favorite is a little blue heron that comes to visit every afternoon.  If the little guy is fortunate, he gets scraps as the fish get cleaned.

My preference though are the cardinals.  Since they live here year round, I always keep food in their feeder.  There are several pairs that live in the dense mangroves across the creek from us, so you can find them almost any time of day near the feeder in the winter and spring.  In summer, it seems like they are a little more elusive.  I am sure the intense heat has something to do with that.

Recently, I have become acquainted with (the best I can anyway) with a fat little mockingbird.  She sits on our fence or atop the stalks of red berries on our Christmas palm tree.  The photo below only shows one stalk and there are currently four on this tree and two on the tree in our front yard.  My point being, she has plenty.

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She pecks at the berries until one falls to the ground and then she quickly grabs it and runs into a more sheltered area with it.  She constantly watches for other birds and chases mostly black birds and mourning doves away all day long.  They aren’t allowed to land within about a five foot perimeter of “her” tree.  Don’t tell me it isn’t fun to bird watch, although my youngest teases me about the pleasure I derive from my birds.

Anyway, to get to my lesson.  The other day, as you can see in the video above, she had her berry and was enjoying a feast.  If you look closely you can see a cardinal hiding in the bush behind her and a black bird walks by behind it.  The cardinal and the black bird are merely after the bird feeder which is to the left of the greedy little mockingbird.  They do not appear to be remotely interested in her berries and they don’t eat them when she isn’t around.

However, you can see in the video at the very end, she chases them away.  She wastes effort getting stressed, and chasing them away from what is hers.  She covets her berry and thinks everyone wants what she has.  She misinterprets their motive and gets it all wrong.  Can you see the lesson?  Aren’t we like that sometimes?  We think everyone wants what is ours and we get in defensive mode and get our blood pressure up for naught.  And for what?  There were enough berries for everyone and no one else was interested in them anyway.

I love God’s little lessons in nature and I love to watch His glorious creatures living out their roles in His magnificent creation.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Container

The Weekly Photo Challenge was to share a container you find interesting.  I love to keep this container (feeder) filled with black oil sunflower seeds.  My husband and I enjoy a “couple” of cardinals that frequent our backyard.

Cardinal in backyard

Cardinal visit

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

The weekly photo challenge was to depict “beginning”. The perfect beginning to my day is to walk outside with coffee and bible in hand and watch the day begin.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Beginning

Brand new day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

The weekly photo challenge was to depict one.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

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The ripple

Duck at Reservoir Park in Southern Pines NC

Duck at Reservoir Park in Southern Pines NC

 

When I took the picture of this duck, I caught myself looking at the ripples.  It never ceases to amaze me how that if we let God’s creation teach us, it never fails.  There is a lesson in every scene.

As the duck paddled its legs beneath him, the water rippled out revealing motion.  The display of the ripple varied based on his movement.  When he was still and quiet, the water barely moved, but when he flapped his wings and flailed around as he took his bath, there were splashes and ripples and noise.

So, of course I began to wonder, “What is my ripple?”  How does it look and what does it convey about me.

Do I thrash about wreaking havoc all around me?  Or perhaps I am so quiet and unmoving that I am barely noticed at all.   Or maybe, slow and steady is my way.  It makes you think, doesn’t it?

I hope to be steady and sure, confident and moving forward.  I pray that the impression I leave as I make my way through this world is a good one.

God Bless and Goodnight!

Looking up from my lawn chair

I was sitting out in the sun today, taking time out to reflect on the week, and this little guy was making a fuss hanging out in a tree overhead.

Hanging out looking for bugs

Hanging out looking for bugs

Soon after, a friend joined him

And then there were two

And then there were two

I got to watch them chase each other around the tree

Around the corner

Around the corner

Mini vacation on my dock

Freezing in VA, made me miss home, so thought I’d post a little something I wrote the day before I left…

A brown pelican in Key West, Florida. Français...

A pelican flies by, one feathery wing dipped in the cool water, as if checking the temperature

A cool salty breeze tousles my curls and rustles through the palm fronds

The water laps around the dock as it’s carried to and fro by the tide

Puffy, cotton candy clouds drift by in a resplendent blue sky

The hot sun is leaving its kiss anywhere it touches bare flesh

A school of fish chasing their mid-afternoon meal ripple the peaceful water

The mangroves resonate with the songs and calls of the birds enjoying the mild winter

My eyelids grow heavy as I relax and soak it all in, like a massage

Ah, the beauty of a February day in Southwest Florida.

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