About the word Shekinah

The word Shekinah (shuh-kigh-nuh) means dwelling. It refers to the visible manifestation of the presence (or Shekinah Glory) of God. A luminous cloud. It is the very presence of God on earth. (see Holy Bible-Exodus 24:9-18)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Re: Today's Blessing

I was blessed with another winged visitor to my yard today. A Northern Flicker. He wasn't there long...just long enough to drink from out pond fountain and then he was gone.

I just happened to be sitting by the window that is next to our pond and I saw him arrive. I am wondering if he's the same one I saw eating berries, hanging from our vines yesterday. It was too dark and too late when I saw him then, he was gone in a flash...just like today.

I haven't been feeling too well lately, so I suppose God's been bringing me the birds to photograph. I just haven't been feeling up to going into the field and also we've been busy with Christmas events. Thank you, Lord, for another close encounter. What a blessing it has been to have these little winged creatures visit me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Hunter in my Yard"

I was sent quite a treat from God this Christmas Eve. I was in my room wrapping Christmas gifts when my daughter's excited voice called to me to come downstairs quick. She said there were two birds, but not our usual birds on our backyard fence. I looked out the window and knew immediately what they were. A pair of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) also known as the "Sparrow Hawk." The Kestrel is actually a small, jay-sized falcon. The smallest, most common and most colorful of raptors, and one that I haven't yet had the pleasure to see in the field while photographing scenery and wildlife...until now!

I knew I couldn't get good shots from the ground level, nor could I get outside to shoot without spooking them. I ran upstairs to my make-shift bird blind, actually my laundry room window which has the screen removed and some thick dark sage green material covering it. One of the pair had already flown off by the time I reached the blind.

Still, my heart was pounding with excitement of having this falcon in my own yard. I took a few shots through the window, just in case my opening it scared her off. Then, I slowly opened the window.

She did look my way when she heard the window creaking, but made no attempt to flee. She also looked when she heard the noise of the camera shutter, but didn't seem to be bothered by it or my presence.

She was such a pretty bird, even prettier in real life than online or in my bird books. She looked so nonthreatening just sitting there.

She was sitting high on our trellis and looking at the bush below her which contains many sparrows . This is when I realized she wasn't just stopping by to hang out for a while. She was here to hunt...

She patiently waited and watched, while I gathered my stool and my mono pod sensing that I would be there a while.

I tried to catch her in flight, but she was so fast that by the time I realized she was about to move, she was already out of my frame and in the bush. She was also faster than my auto focus could handle in most of the shots I took of her in flight. I did finally manage to follow her flight path and capture her attack.

I was amazed at her speed and agility.

How she twisted and turned her wings and body to get into the bush.

She didn't catch her prey this time, or any of the times I saw her hunting in my yard that day. Perhaps she is young and new at this skill...

...or, perhaps the driving wind threw off her aim. I guess I'll never know. I do hope she visits me again, though.

Thank you, Lord, for sending this special gift to me. It was truly a pleasure to be so close to such a beautiful bird that you created.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Visit from a hawk"

This juvenile hawk visited me last week and I wasn't able to get a good picture of him before he flew off. Well, today he once again landed in the tree in our back yard. He was no doubt in search of prey and our yard is certainly full of that...usually.

Of course, he had scared away the many finches, sparrows, mourning doves and juncos that frequent our yard by the droves. It was exciting to capture this bird of prey in the wild, yet so close to me, right in my yard. He's very young and quite small, but I believe I have properly identified him. I hope he returns again, but I sure enjoy watching all of my little birds, too.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"That's Not Natural"

I took this photo to enter in an online photo challenge. I actually got to choose the current topic this time because I was the first place winner of the last challenge.

The topic I chose was "That's Not Natural." Here were my instructions:

"In this challenge, we're looking for out of the ordinary subjects in nature. Things you don't normally see in nature, shouldn't be found in nature or things that seem out of place. (see my first entry for an example). For those who physically cannot go outside to shoot, due to illness or being housebound for some reason, you may enter something not natural that you can photograph indoors such as: kittens nursing on a mother dog or peanut butter and tuna sandwiches...I hope by those examples you get the idea. Have fun finding the unnatural in nature! I am looking forward to seeing what you all come up with."

So, I took this shot this morning. I actually got the idea to take this shot and enter it in this challenge when I was taking my girls to dance recently, as it's on the way. I knew it would need to be backlit, though, so I waited for the right light. I got my chance today since we had to go that way just after sunrise.

I know it may fool you at first, but it's not a real animal, but a statue and...that's not natural! I do hope I fooled some of you!

The light this morning was absolutely perfect and I actually took it while driving past it as there's not a place to pull over and there were cars behind us.

CLICK HERE to see my other entries as well as everyone else's entries.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"At the Beach"

In July, when my family went to back to where I spent my childhood, I saw this young boy and his sister playing and I couldn't resist taking pictures them. As these children played, they were so carefree. Devoid of all the stress and responsibilities of adulthood, their biggest upset was not wanting to leave when their parents were ready to go home.

As a grown-up, with my youthful years behind me, it's hard to remember those lighthearted days. Too many things seem to cause me stress these days and I must entust them to God so they don't overwhelm me.

The foolish thing is that most of those pressures, I place upon myself and then I feel bad for succumbing to them, when others have much greater cause for unrest than myself.

I grew up not far from where I took these images. Maybe I need to go back there to the beach again and play in the sand and forget my cares for a time. That sounds really nice. Just to go stick my hands and feet in the sand and build castles for a while...

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