Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Perfect Fall Weekend and My Small Obsession with Eagles

I hope you have enjoyed as beautiful a weekend as I have here in Georgia! We have had bright blue skies, mild temperatures, and just a hint of color in the leaves. And, I only swatted one mosquito the entire time I was outside yesterday. I took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday to spend the better part of the day on the patio reading and stitching.

Stitching continued this week on Fraidy Cat and he remains such a fun project.

The main focus of my stitching this week was on the background around Fraidy Cat. Robin has used a composite stitch in this area that is completed in several steps. I took this photo of Fraidy yesterday during the morning but I finished stitching the rest of background during the Georgia-Vanderbilt game (Go Dawgs!) last night. The spider up at the top still needs his legs, eyes, and teeth but I think the next section to work on will be Fraidy himself. I've had such a good time with Fraidy that I called Michele at The Bristly Thistle and ordered Hooty from her (and a Kelly Clark witch's hat). The stitch guide for Hooty is featured in the latest issue of Needlepoint Now.  Fraidy, Frankenstein, and Hooty will make a great trio of Creepy Characters! If you love Halloween stitching, the Creeps are a must have!

In other needlepoint news, my bottle bouquet canvas (Mary Lake Thompson/Melissa Shirley), threads and stitch guide arrived from Pocket Full of Stitches. I'll be stitching this bottle by bottle starting with the bottle and flowers on the left.

The stitch guide is by Laura Taylor of Aristeia but with some thread modifications by Rhea at Pocket Full of Stitches. The first bottle uses threads like Panache, Kreinik, cotton floss, River Silks ribbon, and Gloriana ribbon. I have been wanting to stitch with ribbons and it looks like I will have lots of opportunities to do so with this canvas. I hope to get this on the stretcher bars today.

I'll have a little bit of spring and summer to stitch all winter long with this project. Each month PFOS will send a new thread kit for one of the bottles.

Have I told you about my recent obsession with eagles? I suppose an eight month obsession is recent, isn't it? I started watching the live camera in the eagle nest at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens back in March not long after the three eaglets hatched. It was fascinating to watch the Mom and Dad feed and protect the eaglets, make continuing improvements to the nest, and, in general, just live their lives. Until the morning of April 26, when those of us watching the cam (thousands of us) noticed that Mom had not been back to the nest for an unusually long time. The terrible news came later in the morning that an eagle had been struck by a jet landing at the airport adjacent to the Botanical Gardens. It was confirmed later in the day that it was the Mom eagle. I think I went through a box of tissues that day! To make a long story (5 months) short, the decision was made by the Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Wildlife Center of Virginia to remove the eaglets from the nest and take them to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro, VA to be cared for until they could be released back into the wild. The general consensus was that Dad Norfolk would be unable to feed three quickly growing eaglets all by himself and that all three eaglets had a better chance of making it if they were removed to the WCV where they could be cared for. The great staff at the WCV built them a nest in a large flight pen and set up a live camera so that those of us who had followed the nest at the Gardens could continue to watch the progress of the eaglets.

I watched all through the late spring and summer as they grew, exercised their wings, made short hops to perches near their nest, and finally their move to the big flight pen where they could begin practicing flying. In late July, the three eaglets were taken to Berkeley Plantation along the banks of the James River for their release. One of the three (she's called NX for the lettering on her leg band) was outfitted with a GPS transmitter. The eaglets were released and flew away as expected except for NX. She flew just a short distance and landed on the ground in the woods. She was re-captured and it was determined that the trip from Waynesboro to the James River, the July heat, and the outfitting of the GPS unit had exhausted her and brought out her lack of maturity. So NX was taken back to the WCV  for some rest and a little more time to mature. She was successfully released in August and now her GPS unit sends data once a week or so on her whereabouts. She's about 60 miles from her release site now and spends most of her time along rivers in Northern Virginia not far from the Chesapeake Bay.

Yesterday, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens dedicated their new eagle plaza to Mom Norfolk with the unveiling of a beautiful bronze statue of an eagle in flight in her honor. There were over 1,000 people in attendance and I would have given anything to have been there. The thousands of us eagle-obsessed fans are now known as Eagle Nation and we have helped raise the money for the new plaza at the Gardens and have helped the Wildlife Center of Virginia win a $225,000 award from Chase Bank Foundation for the work that they do at their center. It's been an amazing 8 months!

And now the best part - Dad Norfolk has recently been photographed in the Gardens at the 2011 nest site with a new lady in his life. They have been making additions to the nest (nestorations) although mating and nesting won't take place until January or February. Evidently their early work on the nest is part of their bonding process as a new couple. We don't know where this female eagle came from but she is a big, beautiful bird. Both birds were seen flying over the Gardens yesterday during the dedication ceremony. I won't say I went through a box of tissues yesterday but as I followed the events at the Gardens via the internet yesterday, I did find myself reaching for them quite a few times. I'm excited for what promises to be new beginning for the Norfolk eagles in 2012. I'll also be watching the nest cam for the Decorah (Iowa) eagles who are also making additions to their 2011 nest.

Ok, I've gotten the eagles out of my system for today and now you know about my other obsession besides needlepoint. I apologize in advance when tidbits about the eagles and the other critters I am watching at the WCV leak out. It's an obsession. What else can I say?

Have a good week!


  1. Hi Melinda, I love your Fradiy Cat that you worked on this week. I am doing the monthly club from Ruth's, so I am on the Skelton and the pumpkin. Another couple of weeks on Halloween and then I will put it up for a while and work on some Thanksgiving and Christmas canvases. Why is it I only seem to work on holiday canvases when it is that time of the year? Now for those glorious Eagles. Several years ago, on a Sunday, I was looking at the frozen lake through the window and saw two figures out on the ice. It had to be January or February. Took a good look through the binoculars and to my amazement they were two eagles. Now since my husband was home, I screamed, he came running and gave me verification that that is what they were. Two days previous to that we had had terrible winds out of Canada and I mean bitter cold, 40-50 mile an hour winds. When we spoke to someone at the bird sanctuary near us, they did say that it is not uncommon for them to be blown off course and that is how they ended up on the lake. They stayed for maybe a day and then were never seen again. But I can say they were by far the two most beautiful birds I have ever seen. A great national bird! Unlike the ugly wild turkeys running around our neighborhood for the last couple of months. Those are getting to be a nuisance. Thank you for a wonder blog this week.

  2. Hi Melinda,
    Your Fradiy Cat is coming our great. I love the bottle bouquet canvas. Looking forward to see how each vase comes to life.

  3. I too have been addicted to the eagle cam and watching for months. What would we do without the internet?

    Love your Fradiy Cat. That orange background stitch is really neat.