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Cooper’s Hawk

Many of you who know me know I have a yellow lab named Cooper. So, it was kind of fun that this afternoon during lunch we were visited by another Cooper—namely, a Cooper’s Hawk. (Not that I knew this at the time—but 10 minutes of searching on Google established that this indeed was a Cooper’s Hawk. It was a close call between that and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, but the rounded tail feathers made the difference.) Anyway, after spotting him while eating lunch I managed to sneak out onto the deck to grab a few frames of this beautiful bird.

Apparently they like to use our birdfeeder as their own “bird” feeder…and over the past four years of living here we’ve awoken quite a few times to the sight of a circle of feathers in our yard, which seems to be the only part left uneaten by the victors. Here’s where we spotted him first, scoping out our birdfeeder with his body faced towards the marsh:

Pretty quickly he changed his stance to get a better look:

He kept inching closer and closer…

When he realized there was nothing happening at the birdfeeder, he decided to check out the action on the ground. The black hole between the fence to his left is where our “pets” the marsh rats come through to feed on the seeds the birds scatter when feeding…

Nothing to be found there either. He leapt back onto the fence and started scoping out the rest of the yard for anything moving…

He’d make a great statue atop our fencepost…

I sensed he was getting ready to fly away after I took this shot…

So naturally, just as I lowered my camera to change my focusing mode he decided to fly away. I raised the camera and shot this one without looking, and just managed to keep him in frame and capture him in flight…

We’re actually pretty spoiled with all the wildlife we get to see by living on a marsh—we regularly see blue heron, egrets, anhingas, osprey, woodpeckers, vultures, and several times recently have spotted a bald eagle soaring above the marsh. We also get lots of birds at our birdfeeders, including indigo buntings, chickadees, red-winged blackbirds, blue birds, cardinals, brown thrashers, and many more. Of course, we also see raccoons, squirrels, ducks, geese, even otters, and also plenty of marsh rats and snakes, but we try not to think about that.

If you like wild birds and live close to Charleston, you should check out the Center for Birds of Prey. We visited them last year—you can check out my photos from that visit here.





A Taste of Holland

The Patat Spot, a new European Snack Bar located at 41-B George Street in downtown Charleston, is now officially my new home away from home. Operated by the husband and wife team of Jeff and Phillis Kalisky Mair, the Patat Spot features a favorite snack food from my home country of Holland: french fries! “Hey, wait a minute! Aren’t french fries…err…French” you ask? Well, no, they aren’t. And, I know what you’re thinking: “Well, I can get french fries just about everywhere!” Yes. Yes, you can. But, these Patat Spot fries aren’t just any old french fries. They are, in fact, patat friet, or just friet—fresh, hand-cut Dutch Bintjes potatoes that are twice-fried for crunchy thick goodness. They are delicious, and, they are a little slice of Holland, right here in downtown Charleston.

My Dutch girlfriend and I decided to check things out last night at the Patat Spot’s unofficial opening, where we found an eager crowd bustling with excitement over the menu of friet and accompanying sauces, falafels, “The Garden Spot” salad bar with falafel toppings, and, another Dutch treat, oliebollen. We both ordered patat oorlog, which is friet topped with friet sauce, saté sauce and chopped onions. For dessert we had oliebollen—raisin-filled, sugar-dusted balls of doughy goodness that in Holland are traditionally served in the weeks surrounding New Year’s Eve or at street fairs. Lucky for us, the Patat Spot serves them daily.

Everything was so delicious, and the atmosphere so gezellig (a Dutch word that defies literal translation, but is best described as cozy) that we returned Saturday morning (after their official 11am opening) for another round, this time with my sister and niece in tow.

We Dutchies all went for the friet with sauces, while my American-born niece ordered the falafel combo, which comes with a falafel (whole grain pita bread with Mediterranean chickpea cakes), a trip to the garden spot to dress up the falafel with fresh greens, hummus, tabouli, and various sauces (don’t miss the sambal sauce if you’re a fan of spicy!), and also includes a side of friet, and a drink.

I wanted to get a photo of my niece’s falafel, but by the time I pulled out my camera she had already devoured over half; needless to say, she liked it quite a bit. Our double portions of friet were delivered in the traditional puntzak, a funneled paper sack that holds enough friet to satisfy a big appetite. If you’re only looking for a snack to tide you over between meals, the regular size is just right. Top your friet with a variety of imported Dutch Gouda’s Glorie sauces, like curry ketchup, saté sauce, Dutch friet sauce (a Dutch mayonnaise with less fat than traditional mayo), or garlic sauce. You can also try American favorites like ketchup, mayonnaise, pepper gravy, cheese sauce, and salsa, or, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, order one of the many specialty friets like the gribiche, which includes oil and vinegar capers, pickels, shallots and parsley. The combinations are endless.

Next time you’re downtown and hankering for something different, head over to the Patat Spot to try their delicious friet, falafels and oliebollen. It’s a little escape to good food, friendly staff, and Dutch gezelligheid! Eet smakelijk!

The Patat Spot, located at 41B George Street, is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11am-10pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 11am-3am. You can reach them by phone at 843-723-7438 or visit their website at

Patat Spot Friet & Falafel on Urbanspoon

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ryan Nelson, Mascha J op de Haar. Mascha J op de Haar said: A Taste of Holland – #chseats #DutchFood […]

Norm Delson - January 11, 2011 - 10:10 pm

Wow! Impressed by your photography and writing. Do you do freelance work?

Sally S. Fischbein - January 12, 2011 - 8:32 pm

Great message and pictures with superb description of the menu.

Will gladly pass it on.

Sally S. Fischbein

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011! Out with the old, in with the new. This year is going to bring about a lot of positive changes—I am sure of it. One change I am making on this blog is that aside from this being a place where I show my photography, I am also going to start doing some writing here (that Journalism degree is just getting dusty without practice). I’ll try to keep you amused, entertained, and informed, but, it can be entirely possible that my writing skills have worn down to the point of being boring. Let’s hope that’s not the case and that the addition of some wording to this blog will indeed be counted among my positive changes of 2011. Now before I go getting all too prolific here in this very first post, let’s just get on with the image part.

There’s a new eatery opening soon in Charleston, the Patat Spot, (check out their website here) which will be serving Dutch fries (friet) with sauces, in addition to falafels, and…oliebollen! Needless to say, having been born in Holland and missing the access to Dutch food, I’m pretty dang excited about this place opening up. Mascha and I saw a tweet from @PatatSpot on New Year’s Day that they were making their first oliebollen, and anyone who was interested could drop by to try one. Off we went, and we were rewarded with this awesome bowl of sugar-dusted oliebollen. They didn’t last long.