Friday, September 18, 2015

A Beautiful Day

Dearest Amber Pie,

It is a beautiful day today.  The bluest of blue skies without a cloud yet this morning.  There is the slightest of breezes every now and then in the tippiest tops of the trees....or is it birds landing on branches as they flit around gathering in groups for their long southerly flights.  It is warming up and should be in the mid-eighties today.  Six years ago it seems to me it was a very similar day.  A cool start to the day with a warm finish.  God was very good to us that day.  Your grandfather was gearing up for his second deployment, this time to Afghanistan, and was away for training most of the time.  He was going to be gone the whole month of October which is when you were due to arrive.  You arrived early by about 3 weeks and Grampy was home on a very rare 4 day weekend!!!!  He wasn't sure if he had a cold or allergies, so he took necessary precautions.
I was so very lucky.  With Grampy deploying, your Momma and Daddy came to live with me so I wouldn't be alone.  That meant I got to see you every day and what a priceless gift that was to be.
You lived a lifetime in 3 years 8 months and 1 day.  We learned to appreciate and look for the tiniest things.  While other parents are eager to mark first steps, we were amazed when you slept on your stomach for the FIRST time ... after your first birthday!  You taught us how to listen nonverbally.  You could speak volumes with your face and when you got stronger your body language as well.  You had a giant personality and have left a huge hole.  Oh how you would get a kick out of your baby sister.  She loves to look at your pictures on my kitchen cabinets....although your mom and I sometimes wonder if she thinks they are pictures of her.  It is amazing how much she looks like you.  This year you would be in Kindergarten with your second cousin, Keira.  You would be getting ready for your first Nutcracker performance.  Your mom packed so much into the 3 years 8 months and 1 day that you were here that today, while I miss you terribly, I am mostly ok, grateful for the fun that we had, for the joy that you brought us, even for the stress and fear....we had to grow in ways we never expected just to keep you alive on many occasions.  
Today my heart is in a few places, .... hurting for your mom and dad....looking forward to the day I can be with you forever.....and in Boston with Aunt Jenny while she waits in a waiting room for Uncle Al.   Precious baby girl, once again God has put us in a place that we cannot understand but we need to trust and rest in his unfailing love, his faithfulness and his goodness.
Grammy is not doing well with words today, but a candle is lit and my heart is singing Happy Birthday and holding you close.  How glad I am that your mom and dad gave you such a special 3rd birthday party, with other little girls.  Your smile will be with me always.

all my love forever and always,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philipians 4:6
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Quick Glimpse

I do not seem to have the hours to just look out my window or wander the woods behind my house.  These days find me driving, putting lots of miles on my car back and forth to my mom's and taking her to see my dad.  This isn't how either of them wanted it but we find ourselves here and can't figure out a way to make it better.  One afternoon while trying to catch up on a little housework, a butterfly caught my eye in the backyard so I stepped outside.  I cropped the first shot, realizing I caught a glimpse of a humminbird.  I am grateful for this patch of color.  Five of the six butterfly bushes survived the winter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday ~ Sisters

 Christmas gift to Amber Skye December 2012....Amber is 3 1/4 years old

I love how Daddy was showing her all the pieces and how to use them.
Amber's sister, Zoe just under 8 months old.   It suddenly dawned on us last week that she could be playing with this!   Grateful for baby toys that were big girl enough in design to make a tiny, precious physically limited little girl feel so grown up.  Grateful for big sister's special toys that bring delight to a curious growing baby sister.  Grateful for a heart full of memories and making more.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wild Encounters

The Chipping Sparrows fledged and I missed it.  Sunday afternoon I managed to see babies being fed and captured a few distant photos, counting four hungry beaks.  Monday ~ not a peep from the nest, no activity.  Monday morning brought this hungry visitor to my yard.  From the size, I would say a Sharp shinned Hawk.  It hopped around the rocky banking near the edge of the road and before I could snap had snatched something and flew off to this same tree branch.  For the dining shot, the hawk had it's back to me and I couldn't make out what it had grabbed.  Mouse, chipmunk?  I hoped not a fledgling sparrow.

This photo I took with my iPhone.  I was picking raspberries early Tuesday morning, a terribly muggy morning.  I startled a rabbit and was enjoying the company of an adult Cat Bird, although I wasn't happy sharing the berries with the birds.  The adult bird was not leaving.  It flew off but flew right back each time.  I continued to pick, down the long row, rounding the corner where the bird was and heading down between two rows.  Some beautiful big berries in the middle caught my eye but I couldn't quite reach.  I adjusted my angle to try again and my heart stopped as I spotted this little one a berry's width from my fingertips!!!  It was so very still, barely blinking.  I backed away and moved to the far end of the row.
It's been "wild" taking my turn staying overnight at my mom's.  An old farmhouse on a dead end street, close to 6 acres abutting conservation land.   Rabbits were here during my growing up years but disappeared for a good 20, 25 years.  They are back.
 Monday night was hot and humid.  With no ceiling fans or air conditioning, I gave up and opened the upstairs bedroom windows.  About midnight I heard the most curious noises!  I tried to capture a voice memo on my phone, but the sound wasn't loud enough to record.   Wide awake, I was trying to figure out what in the world could be making such strange noises!  The only thing that came close was the sound for "rabbit" on a couple electronic baby toys.  I never believed that it was an actual rabbit sound and thought it was just a filler because they didn't make a sound, other than screaming!  My husband found this sound bite on line and that is exactly what I heard, but multiplied as several rabbits were "purring" (I would say chortling) at once.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

View Around the Yard

 Parent has landed just below the nest and the babes are crowding to the front of the nest.
 If you enlarge this one a bit more, you can see beak to beak feeding.  The parent is well hidden by the leaves, but you can see a beak and something stuffed into baby's beak.
 I think I count four hungry beaks in this shot.
You can just make out the adult bird behind the leaves.  This nest needed a fancy nest cam attached to a branch above it, somehow!
First groundhog I've seen in our yard.  Munching away on clover about 7 this morning.  When I walked past the window to get a second cup of coffee, I thought this was a huge squirrel!  In my sister's yard, they are mostly light brown.  This one had a lot of gray and white streaking.  I'm grateful for some activity in my yard.  My butterfly bushes are not doing well at all, so I'll have to be content with the sparrows.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nesting Update

A hint of fluff just above the rim of the nest.
 I think you can see beak in these two photos.  It is a well camouflaged spot and they are so small.

 If you enlarge this one, you should be able to see a glimpse of a parent feeding a baby just about center.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Second Brood

The Chipping Sparrows have taken over their tiny nest in the dogwood tree.  They've added some more material to the unused nest from last year.  They are nearly impossible to see.  I can sometimes see activity from just the right spot in my living room with binoculars but can't get a picture as there are screens on my windows.  Most of the spots in the yard are just not the right angle.  I thought that one of the above pictures showed a hint of rusty red cap, but with my bleary morning eyes I can't tell.
This morning there was a bit of drama as a few American Goldfinch chose to land in the tree.  Both parents came flying.  My SD card was not in my camera!!

There has been a great deal of logging in and around my neighborhood lately as landowners are looking for extra income and wood prices are high.  Knowing all the second round nesting that happens, I'm a bit undone as I hear the loggers at work.  I take comfort in knowing "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."   Every day is a choice to trust in His unfailing love.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wordless Wednesday ~ White

On my front tire this morning.  Such a stark contrast!  Mating white moths?  

Friday, June 26, 2015


Dear Zoe,

This has been a week bookended by firsts.   At the beginning of the week I walk into your home and hear you saying "kitty" or at least your version of it.  The voice I am hearing is Charlie's; his soft, sweet, tender, high voice he used to call Petey and talk to babies.   Oh my heart catches and I have a deep ache all over again.

Now we come to Friday evening.  I walk into your home and you are in the rocker with Grampy.  You give me a big smile and as I get closer to the chair you lift your arms up towards me.   A few moments later Grampa comes into the kitchen where I am holding you and swaying to keep you quiet so mommy can eat.   You smile and stretch your arms out to him.  We are joyful and awestruck and sad all at the same time.   This is something your brother and sister could not do.  Simple and so ordinary but such a monumental moment for us.

And my heart catches and I feel such a deep ache and longing to hold all three of you in my arms.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Spotted this on our way to bed last night, clinging to the side light of our front door.  This window pane is a dollar bill wide.  

Friday, June 19, 2015


Birding has taken a bit of a back seat this year, as I seem simultaneously pulled in different directions while stuck in a quagmire of grief/depression that saps all motivation.  Two birds did nest in our yard for first broods.  The chipping sparrows used the furthest "dwarf" mugo pine along the end of our driveway.  Their nest would fit cupped in the palm of my hand and standing over the bush we cannot see it at all.  I haven't seen any activity this past week so I am guessing that they've fledged.  It is hard keeping track when I'm staying at my mom's a few nights a week and gone most days.  
This is a picture after last June's fledge.  I need to find pictures of these bushes when we first planted them and now.  It never ceases to amaze me how years go by and these didn't seem to grow and suddenly they are ridiculously huge and have choked out the carpet roses that I had planted in between.  We probably did the plantings fifteen or sixteen years ago.  

A pair of Robins nested in the yard this year.  A few years ago they built a nest in my dogwood.  This year they are just a few feet away from that nest location but in a branch of the one pine tree in our yard, directly over the driveway!  We probably would never have noticed the nest except the sitting parent flies off almost every time we drive in or out or walk under the nest to get the mail.  The nest is not visible from inside my house.  I have no solid report as to what is happening....if eggs have hatched, how many.  Yesterday I was able to get these pictures from the driveway.  

The nest looks a little rough after almost a week of rain. I did not do a super garden clean up last fall, so this pair used a lot of day lily remnants in the nest.  The chipping sparrows manage to pull strands from a tarp that gets left out at the end of the driveway. 

 My favorite picture is from the Robin nest a few years ago in the dogwood tree.  That pair used a large piece of birch bark in their nest construction.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 21 A Mystery Solved

Visiting Fayette Corner Cemetery all those years ago, I found my 3rd great grandparents and some of their children, including their son Charles Foster Kent who served in the Civil War.   The inscription on his tomb stone indicates that he was a member of the 14th Massachusetts Battery, fought in the battles near Petersburg, sickened and died at L.I.N.Y. July 10, 1864, aged 20 years 11 months.
At the time, I found a book in a library "Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War" which lists him as a Private, a resident of Fayette, Maine, enlisting in Feb 1864 and mustering that same month.  It indicates that he died of disease July  10, 1864 at Long Island, Boston.  I did not have a problem with this discrepancy.  Long Island is a harbor island in Boston that has been home to many things, at one time a hospital during the Civil War. 

Now that more records have become available through Ancestry, I recently came across the following two records.   He did indeed die at Long Island, New York at Grants Hospital.
In the following record, it is listed as Grant's General Hospital Willet's Point, Long Island NY.

I am proud of this brother to my Great great grandmother for enlisting.  I can only imagine the grief his parents and siblings experienced. The blow to his father to lose a son who helped with the livelihood of the family.  I am grateful that communities still recognize and honor those who have lost their lives serving their country, long after their families have gone as well.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 23 A Wedding

Frank Eugene Temple and Annie Schandelmeyer.  These would be my Great Grandparents on my father's side.  My uncle tells me this is their wedding photo, November 1892,  Hopkinton, Massachusetts.  Frank was born in 1872 and his occupation is listed as Bootmaker.  Annie was born in 1870 to German immigrants.  Her father died in 1880 and she is listed as a Domestic on the marriage record.  Frank was the oldest of 12 children.  He and Annie had 7 sons and 1 daughter.  My dad is named for him and grew up in the house next door.

I wish I could verify if this was a wedding photo or not.  I do know that it is unmistakably my Great Grandparents standing in the center of the photo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 19 ~ Finding Family When I Least Expected To

I am still so far behind, but trying to catch up.  The optional theme for this week.....There's a Way.

My interest in genealogy began around 8th grade, visiting cemeteries with my parents near Memorial Day and putting geraniums on graves.  My grandmother was living with us at the time and so we went to a cemetery in Foxboro, Massachusetts, to visit the grave of her mother.  There we found a headstone with her grandfather and his wives and children listed on it.  No one had ever mentioned her grandparents before, other than her grandfather had red hair like she did, and no one mentioned he had wives and children other than her mother!  After my grandmother died, we found a family bible, listing his other wives and children.   I decided I wanted to try to research my ancestry through the women, which is not terribly easy and I wasn't completely successful.   Internet searching was a start and led me to the library in Harvard, Massachusetts which led to an inquiry through the Historical Society in Harvard, Mass. where a genealogist for the society provided me with transcriptions of all kinds.  A will from 1779, an inventory of his Estate, the settlement of his Estate, a pedigree chart, and an excerpt from Mayflower Families through Five Generations, indicating that through two ancestors I descend from Pilgrim Edward Doty.  Fascinating!  And I am grateful for the response of the Historical Society.

In the family Bible, my 2nd great grandmother is listed as Sarah Jane Kent from Fayette, Maine.  I held onto that piece of information but had a hard time even finding Fayette on a map.   About 20 years since discovering that line in the bible, my brother invited my sister and I to go camping in Winthrop, Maine.  This was a campground he had been visiting for a number of years.  I jumped at the chance to take my young children camping with extended family.  I put the location into Mapquest and just about fell off my chair when I saw Fayette was a neighboring town!!   Not only that, but also a town named Kent's Hill.  We drove around and found a few cemeteries.  My 4th great grandparents, Bethiah Turner and Warren Kent, are buried in a small cemetery in Kent's Hill.  In Fayette Corners Cemetery, behind a church, we found my 3rd great grandparents, Martin (son of Warren and Bethiah) and Almira with several of their children, buried in a row.

My attempt to trace my line through the women hopped around a bit......
Grandmother Jesse Olive (Whittemore) Franz (1898-1984)
Greatgrandmother Mabel Scott (Whittemore) Whittemore (1879-1962)
2nd Greatgrandmother Sarah Jane (Kent) Whittemore (1838-1894)
3rd Great grandfather Martin Holman Kent (1807-1889)
4th Great grandmother Bethiah (Turner) Kent (1768-1829)
5th Great grandmother Bethiah (Foord) Turner (1723-1773)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 18 Finding a Connection to Louisa May Alcott

I fall further behind, as this week should be #21!!  The theme for week #18 is Where There's A Will.  I managed to come across a will and inventory of an ancestor's estate close to 15 years ago thanks to a genealogist with the historical society in Harvard, Massachusetts.

The most exciting find in this packet of documents she sent to me is that Captain Simeon Turner, my 5th great grandfather, owned the property and farmhouse that Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane rented in 1843 for their Utopian experiment and named "Fruitlands."  Simeon Turner purchased the property in 1773, moving north and west from Marshfield, Massachusetts.  His first wife died within their first year here.  Fruitlands has been restored and is now a museum with artists in residence, a beautiful spot for weddings and events.  I need to visit to see how much if any of my ancestors' original home is still there.

In the pages detailing the settling of his estate, there is a listing of his heirs.  This provides me with several more avenues to explore if I'd like to.  It also confirmed my line, indicating that his daughter Bethiah is the Bethiah Turner who married Warren Kent from Marshfield, Massachusetts and moved to Readfield, Maine and Kent's Hill.  (I had been attempting to trace my line through women, which can be rather tricky as they are just tick marks and not named in early Census records)  Through these documents, I also discovered the real name of one of Warren and Bethiah's sons.  According to Census transcriptions, their son's name was "Duvelle," which really puzzled me.  Reading these documents, I discovered that Simeon Turner's mother's maiden name was Dwelly.  He had named two sons Dwelly, one dying very young and the second being one of his two sons by his second wife. That makes so much more sense for their son's first name than "Duvelle."

"In the fourth year of American Independence," Simeon Turner gives "one half the Real Estate Farm Land premises in said Harvard on which farm I now dwell"   "in consideration of the love and good will which I have and do bear towards my son Consider Turner of said Harvard.......and also in consideration of $6000.00."  This document was written in November 1779 and recorded in December 1781.  As he nears the end of his life, the other half of his farm and buildings is divided into thirds between his second wife and the heirs of some of his sons.

On May 17, 1802, Simeon Turner, 84 years old, writes his last will and testament.  By this time, . three of his sons are deceased leaving four sons and two daughters.  He leaves his second wife as much of his estate as is necessary for her support and also his great bible while she remains his widow.  He also leaves her all the household furniture she brought with her at the time of their marriage.   He bequeaths $20 to the heirs of his son Prince Turner.  He bequeaths $1 to his son Elisha Turner.  To his daughter Bethiah, wife of Warren Kent, he bequeaths $20.  To his daughter Rachel, $125 as well as his side saddle, six silver tea spoons and his three green dining chairs. Rachel is unmarried at this time.  He bequeaths $16 to his granddaughter Nancy Newman, daughter of his deceased son Luther.  To his sons Dwelly and Caleb and the heirs of his deceased son Simeon, he bequeaths all the rest and residue of his estate to be equally divided.  His son Consider is not mentioned, but he had purchased one half of the farm twenty years earlier.

There are pages detailing the selling of his property and the settlement given to all his heirs, including the heirs of his son Elisha who is also deceased by this time.  The selling of the divided parts of the property  to Samuel Sprague took place from 1806 through 1818!  It appears that Simeon's widow remarried and had purchased a portion of the house and property from Dwelly and Caleb (Simeon's sons born to her).  I cannot tell definitively from these pages, but it appears that Sprague still owned the property when it was rented to Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane.

Monday, May 18, 2015

It Happened Again

I am not sure exactly when it happened. I arrived home to this scene Thursday mid-morning. I haven't been filling the main bird feeder since early April but I have kept the thistle feeder going.    I thought with all the dogs in the neighborhood we'd certainly be spared.  I guess I needed to bring the feeders in.  At least the intruder left the thistle feeder instead of carrying it off a distance, although the shepherd hook with the main feeder took a hit.  Some people insist that the feeders need to come in at night.  That hasn't made a difference in the past.                                                                                              
This picture is from May 22, 2012.  My daughter and her daughter's nurse spotted this fellow coming into the yard and taking the bird feeder over the stone wall and then sitting there eating the seed in the early afternoon!  At least this time my bird feeders remained unscathed.

Monday, May 4, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 17

Oh I'm terribly late but trying to catch up!

On this date in 1898, my grandmother was born, the oldest of two girls.  I've been told she was named for her uncle; that two brothers James and Jesse named their children after each other.  As I look over records, I would more think she was named for her aunt, my great grandmother's sister who died at the age of 26 when my great grandmother was 14.  Jessie Almira died 8 months after her mother.  It is hard for me to fathom that my great grandmother lost her mother and sister in such a short span at such a tender age.

My grandmother had red hair like her grandfather.  My mom tells me she wanted to be a teacher like her namesake.  Instead, she married at 18, gave birth to 9 children, raising 7 to adulthood.  Her sister and sister-in-laws only had one or two children. She and her husband lived with her parents until roles were reversed and her parents lived with them.  While my mother and her siblings went to public school, my grandmother had a large burlap cloth tacked on a wall that changed with each month while her children were growing.  She would cut out letters and decorate it for the seasons as a teacher in school would.  Papers and projects from her children would be tacked here as well.  My grandmother was "editor-in-chief" of a family newspaper.  It was a delight to see she had saved some of these in a suitcase with old letters and photos.  Her children were to write stories, poems, draw cartoons or pictures, and submit articles.  It was great reading.

Gramma Jessie had a sweet and gentle disposition.  I never heard her raise her voice and I think my mother will vouch for that as well. She had such a love for children.  As I read through some of her journals written when her husband took a job at a Christian college in New York, she is always having people in for coffee or supper, and very often watching children for other faculty members. In their 70's, she and my grandfather took care of a little girl a few days a week while the little one's  mother worked.

Paul and Jessie with the beginnings of grandchildren.  They would end up with 36!  My oldest brother is the chubby little one on my grandfather's lap.
 Her husband cherished and adored her and when she had her first major heart attack in the 1960's, he took her to Florida and monitored her diet, cooking salt free and giving her plenty of fruit and vegetables.   I remember a few visits we were able to make in the early '70's, the long drive from Massachusetts, pulling into their driveway and seeing my grandfather brushing her hair and braiding it into two braids for the night.   She kept her red hair long and swept up in a bun until she died.  He watched over her so carefully it was a shock that he died first, suddenly in their home in Florida of a heart attack.   She lived six years without him spending her last few with my parents.

She exemplified the love of Jesus Christ.  Self-sacrificing, giving, loving, patient, gentle and kind.  Her heart's desire was that her children and grandchildren would know her Savior and she prayed over them daily.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

View From the Swamp

Today is supposed to be a 52 Ancestor Challenge post, and perhaps before the day is over I'll be able to put one together.  I found a couple pictures I haven't posted from my first trek to the swamp.  I was hoping for Warblers but instead I found more common local residents.  The photos are not great, I apologize.
Eastern Blue Bird

Tree Swallows

Tufted Titmouse singing like mad!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week 16

The optional theme for this week was "Live Long."   That leaves me no choice but Mary Estella Whittemore McDonough.  Mary was born in March of 1863 in Londonderry, NH.  She was the first born of Henry Joshua Whittemore and his wife, Esther M. Goodwin.  She had four brothers and one sister.  At some point the family moved to Hyde Park, Massachusetts, where her father was a music teacher.

 Mary married Charles McDonough, a lawyer, in 1896.  She was 33 and a teacher, he was 24 and a lawyer. She and Charles lived most of their married life in Brookline, Massachusetts.  I found a public family tree on with pictures of Charles and Mary and a death date listed for Charles as November 1960.  I found Mary still living in a city directory in 1963 but I cannot find her after that.  I have not been able to locate any record of her death nor a cemetery where Charles is buried....hoping that I would find a picture of a headstone perhaps with her information on it as well.  It seems as though she lived to be 100, at least.  I found someone else on Ancestry who had also attached these pictures to their tree.  This individual's father-in-law was Mary's nephew and he lived to be 101!!  I am guessing these genes for longevity must be from Mary's mother's side of the family.  Amazingly, her picture is below on the right.  She and Charles' mother are seen visiting Plymouth Rock.  Mary's mother, Esther, was widowed in 1903 and from family records I believe she died in 1927 living with Mary and Charles for those remaining 24 years.

Mary and Charles had no children of their own but Mary had a heart for children and a desire to see them come to know their Heavenly Father and be saved for eternity.  She wrote child evangelistic material for the Christian Missionary Alliance church.  My great grandmother was a camp director for inner city youth during the 1920's and 30's.  She would go in to Cousin Mary's for Bible Study and preparations for the camp program.  My mother remembers riding the train from Wilmington, Massachusetts in to Boston to visit Cousin Mary.   I still have many questions unanswered for Mary but I feel incredibly fortunate to have stumbled upon these pictures of her, her spouse, and her mother and mother-in-law.  I wish I had a picture of Mary with my great grandmother.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

52 Ancestors Challenge ~ Week #15

This week's "How Do You Spell That?" theme is a bit tricky for me.  For the most part, my ancestors have fairly straightforward names.  There are a few that have sent me creatively searching, switching first and middle names.  My 3rd great grandmother's name is Sylvania Amanda (Jenness) Whittemore, or perhaps it is Amanda Sylvania.  She married Charles Foster Whittemore in 1868 and died in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1906.  Her son, James Lyman, married my great grandmother, Mabel Scott Whittemore.  (Her father, Alfred, was a younger brother to James' grandfather, Jesse)

In looking through census records, I found my great grandmother Mabel listed in the 1910 census as Maybelle.  I chalked that up to the whim of the census taker.  A few weeks ago I came across my grandmother's wedding book and was so very surprised to see this
Under Witnesses, the bride's mother has written her name as Maybelle!  So, perhaps for a time in her 30's and early 40's, she fancied a different spelling of her name!  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Finally Spring

It has been a long, cold, buried in snow winter!  The swamp has been slow to thaw, with just channels of open water visible last week.  That all changed this weekend, with temperatures in the upper 60's reaching 70's on Monday.  I finally ventured down the hill Monday morning and was a bit dismayed at the number of fallen and broken trees.  The swamp is severely lacking in trees now, with only one heron nest remaining at the far end.  It looks to be an active nest so that at least is a good thing.

I saw several Wood Ducks but was disappointed not to see any Hooded Mergansers.  
One pair of Canada Geese.
Red-winged Black Birds and Grackles were plentiful.  Swallows were also swooping madly, not in great numbers as I've seen before but a good number for early spring.  It seems as if my free time to visit the swamp is the wrong time of day for the angle of the sun!!  Washes out all the pictures, but it sure felt good.  Some drastic  damage to my viewing area.  The log I stand on has begun to rot and is slowly falling into the water.  The tree I lean against must have looked tasty to the local residents. 
 The tree I used to attach my wildlife camera to is currently on the menu or the engineers plan, I'm not sure which.