a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Berkshire Crafts Fair

This weekend, August 10 - 12, 10am to 5pm daily, at the Monument Mountain Regional High School on Rte. 7 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, I will be exhibiting my baskets. This is a gem of a show, only 89 artists, media includes: jewelry, clothing, ceramics, leather, glass, fiber, metal, mixed media and wood - something for everyone!

Hive -  detail

I've started a new series of sculptural baskets referencing environmental topics of the day. This year, here in Vermont, I'm participating in the first ever, state-wide bumble bee survey. Over the years, these important pollinators have been on the decline. Doing a survey will provide a reference for discerning the gain or loss of populations of this valuable resource.

This piece is called "Pollinators". Vermont has almost 20 bumble bee species and a few are in serious decline or may even be extinct in our state.

This piece concerns the battle with genetically modified crops that is a hot topic. It's a very controversial one, many pros and cons, but one that we should all be well informed about.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yarn Bombing!

Main Street Arts, spindles at entrance.
    This past winter, I taught a crochet class for children ages 6 and up at our local Main Street Arts Center, here in Saxtons River. This is a Creative Arts Program that invites area artists to teach a class, one day a week, for four weeks. I knew crochet stitches could be learned by young and older students and thought a "yarn bombing" project would excite them all. It certainly did!

lamp post, downtown Bellows Falls, Vermont.
   I also belong to a knitting group. We knit mittens, hats and sweaters for our local schools and shelters. When I showed them pictures of the yarn bombing I did with the kids, they wanted to do one too!!  So we measured and planned to "bomb" the lamp post outside the Village Square Booksellers in downtown Bellows Falls.

    Some knitted their section, some crocheted, and we added crocheted flowers and bugs too! All our yarn is donated and this project let us use the leftovers - those small balls of yarn in various colors, not enough for a pair of mittens yet perfect for a yarn bomb :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Waterfowl along the CT River

Barnacle Goose, Vernon, VT

   The Barnacle Goose nests in Greenland and winters in Europe, and rarely strays to northeast North America. They are a favorite aviary bird, so whether this one was an escapee or not is uncertain. This past winter one has shown up in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and ours on the Vermont/New Hampshire border. All have been found in flocks of Canada geese.

Canada Geese
   Among the flock that the Barnacle was with, were a couple Canada geese that showed some hybridization. The one on the left in the above picture, has a white line down the front of his neck, white around his eyes and bill, an orange-mottled bill and when he flew in, a few of the leading primaries were white. Also, notice the goose (third from right), his chin-strap is incomplete. Compare it to his neighbors whose white chin-strap extends from cheek to cheek, by way of the chin.

Northern Shoveler
   With hardly any snow here in southeastern Vermont this winter and temperatures that seemed to be warmer than usual, the Connecticut River and other lakes and ponds thawed out sooner than ever. Flocks and flocks of Canada Geese and other waterfowl went north to their breeding grounds pretty quickly. This pair of Northern Shovelers started their day at Minards Pond in Bellows Falls, about 45 minutes later, they flew into Herrick's Cove, a mile or so north. Later that day, a birding friend found them still further north in Springfield. Whether it was the same pair is hard to say, but no Shovelers were found in the area the next day. The next few pictures of a some of the ducks I photographed this spring, some will continue their migration north and some will nest here.

young male Common Goldeneye
adult male and female Common Goldeneye

Ring-necked Duck (top) and Hooded Merganser

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Common Eiders at Cape Ann

Common Eider - male

     I usually don't get very good pictures of the birds I see on my birding outings. One reason is that I only have a Canon point and shoot. The delay in depressing the button to the time the shutter reacts is long enough to result in the object of my desire either leaving the scene, diving or turning around. They don't  pose like movie stars wanting to put their best face forward. But on this trip to Cape Ann in Massachusetts, I managed to get some good shots of common eiders and a few others.

Common Eider - male and female
     The second reason I don't get good pictures, is that I forget to take any. I get so caught up in just watching the bird that I forget I even brought the camera along.       

female eider and male Red-breasted Merganser

   The eiders were pretty close to the shore which certainly aided in getting nice shots. There were lots of red-breasted mergansers too.

Harlequin Ducks - males

   We also saw the about 200 Harlequin ducks at various locations along Cape Ann's coast. It was a great day of birding!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red Fox and Cat

    I was upstairs in my sewing room, near the window, when I saw movement and something big and red out of the corner of my eye. Looking down towards the yard, I saw a red fox by the dog house. Then he jumped onto the roof. I ran out of the room, flew downstairs and grabbed my camera. Looking out the kitchen window, I took this picture.

   He's standing on the roof of our large dog house (it's large in size and we had 4 large sized dogs when Gerry built it). And yes, they have a deck. Back to the fox.........

   I noticed he was looking at something. That's when I saw the neighbor's cat. So the cat chased the fox and now there was a stand-off. Shouldn't it have been the other way around?!

   Trying to get an even better shot, I opened the door to go outside. Needless to say, the cat took off in one direction and the fox in another. I'm not sure what would have happened, but that's one brave cat!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Good Day of Birding!

Savannah Sparrow

   Most birders check www.birdingonthe.net each day. This is a great site that posts bird sightings in every state. I regularly check Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and of course, Vermont. Last Sunday there was a post that a red-necked phalarope was spotted in Brattleboro (not too far away). Of course, this doesn't mean the bird is still there, but there's always a chance. So Monday morning I went to Brattleboro and checked the area around the Retreat Meadows (where the West River meets the CT River). No luck on the target bird but a walk around the cornfield served up lots of sparrows. Sparrows, aka "little brown jobs", are a tough group to identify especially when they fly quickly down into the grasses! Even in plain sight, they can vary in their plumage. The first picture is a typical Savannah Sparrow, one of the identifying marks is the yellow lore (the line between the eye and the bill). The next picture is also a Savannah, note the yellow lore, but the coloring is different.

Savannah Sparrow
   These two were sitting on the same branch so the comparison was easy; same size, same shape, bill color, streaking on the breast and sides, shape of head, length of tail...........................all combine for another Savannah.

My birding friend Snickers, rests quietly while I bird!
   Heading for home, I decided to stop at another cornfield, hoping there might be some shorebirds. We've had so much rain lately, there were lots of big "puddles" in the newly harvested cornfields in the area. Geese, crows and shorebirds love these areas.

Stilt and White-rumped Sandpipers (photo credit Don Clark)
   When I got to the cornfield, my birding friend Don was there with his scope and camera! I thought "something's good here" and there was! Shorebirds galore! Stilt, pectoral, white-rumped and semipalmated sandpipers, black-bellied, semipalmated and American golden plovers, killdeer and a dunlin. We hit the jackpot. And the best part was the "puddle" was pretty close to the road so we had great views. It made for a great day of birding, especially since the Stilt Sandpiper was a lifer (I did my lifer dance)!!

Semipalmated Plover (photo credit Don Clark)

American Golden-Plover and Black-bellied Plover


Stilt and Pectoral Sandpipers

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Berkshire Crafts Show, August 12 to 14

Bell Flower Frond
   I am getting ready for the Berkshire Crafts Show, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Friday August 12th through Sunday August 14th. Hours are 10 to 5 at the Monument Mountain Regional High School on Route 7, and it's air conditioned!! Click on berkshirecraftsfair for directions and a list of the 89 artists.

Blue Bud
    I've made three new pieces since I updated my website www.joannerusso.com  As soon as I get some time I'll have Rachel Portesi professionally photograph them, but for now my own attempts will have to do.

Flower and Buds
   This is the first time I've exhibited at the Berkshire Crafts Show. It's been around for 38 years and looks to be a very high-quality show. I'm excited to be going to Great Barrington and I hope to see you there!