Thank you so much for your comments.
Debb2, I shoot nearly every day, some days I may delete a lot or even all of the photos - classes help but so does shooting regularly. I'm still very much a beginner and recently have taken some workshops and classes which have increased the arrows in my quiver. I also joined a local photography club and interacting with the group has helped expand my way of looking at things. Go for it!
wwcpd, yes I believe I did use an action for that one. I love to play with actions but I often don't keep track of what I've done with a particular photo. I may try a number of different ones to wind up with a particular look and in that case I really lose track of what I've done. I often want a slight tint to black and white photos, these are all slightly different in color but somehow they seemed to coordinate. I colored the solid color blocks in the collage using shades from the photo with the bird's nest and I rather think that helped pull it together.
In case anyone is interested: the rock with the John Muir quote is along one of the trails in Whitewater Preserve, Whitewater, CA - it's an amazing place.