Gail Garber Designs
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Gail's Quilting Blog

Birds

Vote Tomorrow – Saturday!

Hawks Aloft PostcardTomorrow,  Saturday, July 28 is the day! The day to vote for Hawks Aloft in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest!

As you know, in my non quilting life, I am Executive Director of Hawks Aloft, an Albuquerque organization that works to conserve indigenous wild birds and their habitats through conservation education, avian research, and cooperation with other bird oriented and wildlife organizations. We are a finalist in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good competition. The day to vote for us is TODAY!

We need this vehicle for an avian ambulance and to transport our educational birds. For more information on how we will use this vehicle, please watch our video on Facebook.

Click on the link below to go to the Facebook page and vote. THANK YOU!!!

http://100CarsforGood.com

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Summer Solstice Adventure

June 20 dawned hot and sunny!  What could possibly be better than heading off to southern New Mexico to camp overnight at the Journada del Muerto (a.k.a. journey of the dead)!  It’s a dry piece of land, no doubt about that, and hot too, with almost no shade anywhere.  There must have been something special that drew us to this location, Ted Turner’s Armendaris Ranch near T or C, New Mexico.   Hawks Aloft does monthly raptor surveys on the expansive ranch.  We are privileged to be able to visit one the premier wildlife viewing areas of our state.  Our trip began with a lovely look at our state flower in full bloom, the yucca!

Farther along the road we encountered the bison herd, complete with very young baby bison.

 

But, it was the bat caves that drew us to this location.  The Armendaris is home to the second largest colony of bats in North America.  Most are Mexican free-tailed bats, but there are up to 8 different species.

With no one else for miles and miles, we were able to get close up looks at these magnificent creatures as they emerged just before dusk.  A handful of Swainson’s Hawks also were on hand, but they weren’t there merely for the view.

The bat flight is nothing short of spectacular as wave after wave depart for their nightly foraging feast, bugalicious dinner on the wing.

Here, Sami Sanborn, checks out the bats up close and personal.  If you hold your hands in the air the bats will shift to avoid your hands.

The flight continued until well after dark.  After dinner we enjoyed this magnificent sunset, with the brilliant red due to all the smoke in the air from the fires raging in New Mexico.  I can’t think of a better or more inspirational place to be!

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Birthday Birdies

Mary's Apron

My friend Mary loves birds. While I was in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, I found an artist, Julian, who painted the design I wanted onto a canvas apron. The panting was great, but the apron was boring! So, I spiffed it up with special trim and some prairie points. Happy Bird-day Mary!

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A Beautiful Bird

Gail Garber and Ferrug

Many thanks to Brad Howell, at Mad Mantis Studio for the new portrait photos. With me is “Ferrug”, our educational Ferruginous Hawk who was a star! The images will go to American Quilter magazine for a profile of me scheduled for release in September this year. As many of you know, in my non-quilting time, I am executive director of Hawks Aloft, which works to conserve indigenous wild birds and their habitats through education, research, and conservation.

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Cruising!

Here’s a few photos from the fabulous Allure of Paper Piecing Cruise:

At Ft. Lauderdale

Yours truly at Fort Lauderdale after boarding the ship.

Allure of the Seas

A better view of the ship.

Waiting to dock

Here we are waiting to dock at Charlotte-Amalie, St. Thomas – 50 knot winds! I’m with Carol Doak, who is also teaching on the cruise and Deb Luttrell, the creator of Stitching Heaven Quilting Cruises, and several of the ladies in the class.

Cuban grassquit
And of course I have to share a bird photo with you. This is a Cuban grassquit seen in a private garden at Nassau, Bahamas.

I’ll share more photos when I return.

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Kaikoura: Albatross Encounters

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Feeding Frenzy

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Feeding Frenzy

But, the primary reason that I wanted to be in Kaikoura was to go out on a pelagic birding trip with Albatross Encounters. It is, without a doubt, the best pelagic in the world, if the weather cooperates. This was my third trip with Captain Gary and it was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped.

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - More Feeding Frenzy

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - More Feeding Frenzy

The continental shelf drops abruptly to the ocean floor about 2 miles offshore here, creating a nutrient rich upwelling of water and huge numbers of oceanic species, like Royal, Shy, and Wandering Albatross, as well as Giant Petrels, Cape Pigeons, Gannets, and more. The birds are so close that you could almost reach out and touch them, although doing so would definitely risk the loss of digits.

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Betty watching birds

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Betty watching birds

We were 9 strong on this outing, more than half of the tour participants came out with me. Betty loved the close-up views of the birds. This Southern Giant Petrel, below, posed for the camera while waiting for a turn at the chum basket.

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip- Giant Petrel

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip- Giant Petrel

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Marci and Betty watch birds

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Marci and Betty watch birds

I think our group must have taken hundreds of photos. Notice the calmness of the ocean on this day.

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip -  Old Albatross

Kaikoura Pelagic Trip - Old Albatross

Our captain told us that this Northern Royal Albatross was a very old bird, possibly 50 years old. Apparently, albatross plumage becomes paler with age. The peach coloring is a remnant of breeding plumage. Upon our return to shore, we were greeted by this shag and gulls. A wonderful trip, not to be missed if you are in New Zealand.

Kaikoura - Shag and gulls

Kaikoura - Shag and gulls

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Good-bye Wellington, Hello South Island

Ferry - Good-bye Wellington

View from the ferry - Good-bye Wellington


What a dramatic view from the ferry that would take our group to Picton on South Island.

Ferry - Mary

Ferry - Mary


Mary, who hails from Dallas, TX thought the ferry was terrific

Ferry - Ina and Marci

Ferry - Ina and Marci


Marci and Ina, from Albuquerque, were busy taking photos.

Ferry - Shirley and Judy

Ferry - Shirley and Judy


And Shirley and Judy, from Prescott, AZ, just relaxed and watched the scenery. It was on this ferry ride that we saw Blue Penguins as we motored through the Marlborough Sounds. And, a King Shag!

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Zealandia

Zealandia - Kaka

Zealandia - Kaka


We learned much about the threats faced by New Zealand’s native birds when it comes to introduced predatory mammals, rats, cats, stoats, and possums. The NZ Department of Conservation spends millions of dollars each year, trying to control their populations. There are several predators free preserves on off-shore islands, but Zealandia is one of the first predator-free, ecological preserves on the mainland. With a predator-proof fence that keeps the mammals out, the birds are free to come and go. The difference is immediately apparent on approach to Zealandia. Riotous bid song fills the air. The cacophony is much like what must have greeted the earliest settlers to the unspoiled island. Kaka are plentiful at Zealandia, boisterous and confident.

Zealandia - Takahe

Zealandia - Takahe


A pair of Takahe had been recently introduced to Zealandia. Takahe were thought to be extinct until a small population was discovered in the Murchison Mountains on South Island in New Zealand.

Zealandia - looking up the valley

Zealandia - looking up the valley


Looking up toward the top of the valley.

Zealandia - Tuatara

Zealandia - Tuatara


Zealandia also boasts a breeding population of Tuatara, ancient reptiles native to New Zealand. Tuatara can live 100 years or longer.

Zealandia - Pond

Zealandia - Pond


We saw many native species that were impossible to catch with the lens of the camera, Stitchbird, Saddleback, Tomtit, New Zealand Scaup and, of course, the inimitable Tui. A pair of New Zealand Falcons has a nesting territory in the park, but they were not evident during our visit. Zealandia – a must see location when you nest visit New Zealand!!!

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