Thursday, August 20, 2009

Snake Karma

Two snakes have been terrorizing me in the yard and garage this summer. They violated my sense of safety by showing up in well-trodden places and freaking me out. This is after having two previous occurrences of a snake falling out of the overhead garage door folds onto and near my shoulder. I still get the heebie jeebies when opening the rear garage door.

In the spirit of aversion therapy, I warily watched one snake reposition itself on the cinder blocks near the rear of the garage while I cleaned the mower. Eventually, it tucked its body inside the blocks, but laid its head over a fold and watched me. The pose looked just like how Carl used to hold his head on his paws and watch me. Slowly, my fear turned to wistfulness and pity for the poor, frightened snake. After killing all those woodchucks and squirrels and rabbits and birds, and getting aggressive with some dogs, maybe it was him returned in a form befitting karmic justice.

It was a good visit.

Big Bird, Little Bird

The chipping sparrow skipped around the fat, hungry baby bird and then, amazingly, came back and fed the Baby Huey multiple times. The baby was drab gray and 2-3 times larger than the chipping sparrow. I thought it was a house finch, but it was larger than a house finch. Stumped, I tried to photograph this startling behavior through my window, but the images did not do the birds justice. I did get enough of Big Bird to later identify that it was a cowbird! Turns out that cowbirds are brood parasites. The poor chipping sparrow and the baby cowbird were bonded, but the sparrow was working overtime feeding the giant thing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Roadside treats

For braving the heat and humidity, I was blessed with the sightings of two indigo buntings flashing their brilliant blue into the steamy sky and a paddling turtle bobbing above and below the river surface. The underwater swimming of the turtle transported me to more halcyon times snorkeling with the sea turtles in Kealakekua Bay. Cycling glasses cut the glare, and they were there.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not so daily

Been on a bit of blog hiatus, so the ephemera is not so daily.

Cycled to St. Hubert's shelter this afternoon to get reacquainted with the staff. Kittens and puppies galore populate the crates and runs. There is a sweet, black female lab that recently had puppies. She has the look of Carlo... Most of the animals are from Puerto Rico. Am trying to get my head around the fact that the facility is the shelter for my town. (If most of the animals are rescues from PR, then what about the NJ homeless?)

I hope to stay as green as possible and use the bike to and fro, although there are some tight spots along the roadway up there. The heat was a factor today, but any RAGBRAI alumna worth her salt can soldier on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

W's Missed and Not Missed

We missed the W's at DePaul and Syracuse, but got a 78-68 gem at Notre Dame last night. B-ray and Piph delivered the goods for RU. The team should get a temporary lift from this performance, that is, until they run smack into scary-good UConn next week.

We won't miss the W who vacated the premises on 1.20.09. Perhaps, Ahmadinejad said it best. Among other statements, the BBC reported that he wished former US President George W Bush on his way: "God willing, he has gone to hell."

Still basking in Obama inaugural afterglow...

Public Flocking: Dead and Alive

I almost had a Tippi Hedren moment this afternoon. Hundreds of grackles landed in our trees and at the bird feeders during a respite from the freezing rain and sleet. They cackled and cawed and pigged out on the seed for awhile. J thought they might be a sign of spring(?)

This flock was alive. Thankfully, this was a much better experience than what the folks around my old haunt in Griggstown had this past weekend when dead European Starlings were found scattered all over yards, cars, roads, and roofs. It was neither a Hitchcock nor X-Files thing, but rather a purposeful poisoning. A local farmer benefited from the culling work done by his chemical allies in the USDA.

Getting the Red Shoulder

The other day, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a raptor land on the power lines at the end of the driveway. After a bit of fluffing and tail wagging, it plunged down into the ditch and under the mailboxes across the road. It then flew up into a nearby tree, clutching an unlucky vole or mouse and then proceeded to devour the critter. Afterwards, it went back to a power line to hang out and digest its meal in the sunshine. I grabbed the camera and clicked away. Wow!

I assumed it was a Cooper's Hawk until I uploaded the shots to my computer. Much to my chagrin, I realized it was probably a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk! Sibley's even stated that they like to hang out on utility wires! These guys spent the summer gliding and crying above the back field, so it made sense that they stayed local for the winter. I've seen the guy a couple of times since then perched at the top of the old willow, puffing out his fine-streaked orange breast against the winter chill.