Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another walk in the woods

The weather was so pleasant today (though overcast) I decided to take the girls to the Cincinnati Nature Center, which is right around the corner from RAPTOR's new property.

You can buy a handful of fish/turtle food for a quarter...which was a big hit for the girls (and the fish and turtles)What I wasn't expecting was this. Look closely at this photo. Normal-sized, harmless turtles on the top and side...then this massive head, almost the size of the other turtles. A snapping turtle.
Excuse me while I say, "Aiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!".
Some ladies walking by said that was Arnold, as in Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I was rather excited to finally witness a nighthawk in migration tonight. Geoff and I sat and watched 10 or so fly over, in the course of 20 minutes.

My little tree-hugger. I wonder if Lorelei will grow up to be a tree doctor or something. She loves trees...the bark, the leaves, the twigs.

When I saw the moon over the peak of our house, I was reminded of 2001.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Whatever Wednesday

Yesterday, my heart was gladdened by the sight of three juvenile bluebirds in the yard. I hope they remember our yard for next year's breeding season.
There are two on the box and one on the fence behind.
Another photo from yesterday's walk: A pretty, yellow wildflower growing next to a log.
Anyone know of an easy-to-use website so I can figure out what flowers I am looking at?
(Birds are my strength...I don't know the name of a flower unless it has a tag on it)

Yet again, a flower I am clueless about. This one was growing in a pot of cattails I got for the marsh. Now they are blooming and gorgeous. They seem to like all the moist soil in the marsh.

The flowers have a "beard" if that's the word for it.

(and to beat my FIL to the punch {line}, I don't think they are members of the Flower Protection Program)
***I have a feeling that Laura will come through on this's nice to know a master (mistress?) gardener.***

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A walk in the woods

I'm sure that Bill Bryson will forgive me for stealing his title.
After a day filled with migraine pain, I was ready to get out of the house and find some nature.
The girls and I went to Kelley's Nature Preserve in nearby Miamiville.

I am fairly sure this is a life bird, but I have no idea what it is. (Center of picture)

It is a juvenile, with a streaked breast like a female house finch, with a long tail that had light (maybe yellow, maybe white) outer tail feathers. And there was more than one, but this is the one I could see the best. When I saw it, I first thought "Vireo" but none of the vireos in my book really match.

Up the hill from the river path we came across an old foundation, built from river rocks. Call me dramatic, but my first thought was "The Blair Witch Project".

This sycamore is massive, with a trunk at least 6 feet around, and is obviously a favorite spot with those frisky teenagers who think burning their names in a living tree is cool.

A toad ventured across the path in front of us and posed.

Other than the mystery bird, we saw Carolina chickadees, American goldfinches, a turkey vulture, Carolina wrens, Tufted titmice and we heard a pileated woodpecker. I knew there were more birds, hearing calls that I couldn't place. But the girls were not about to break their record of always messing up my birding.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I spent most of today fighting off a migraine, so there's not much to post.

Yesterday, as I was putting Lorelei to bed, I closed her shades and saw this spiderweb on the outside of the window. It was so humid that the web had stuck to the glass, making it appear etched.

Aren't you glad you stopped by my blog today?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


My family of out laws...whoops, I mean my in-laws, celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday today, and I decided I would practice my educational program skills.
The birds I presented:
The male American kestrel
The red-morph screech owl
The peregrine falcon (aka Lucy)

No wonder Lucy is a favorite. She's just so polite and sweet and beautiful.

As you may have seen in yesterday's post, our little screech owl is molting like mad, so he's, well, not looking his best. (He really is a red-morph...I had to do a fill light to get him to show up on the pic)
The quasi-program went well, except for the hecklers...otherwise known as Isabelle and Lorelei.

The American kestrel has a new name...well, I will be calling him this: I was thinking of names for him, and I thought, "AK (the banding abbreviation of American kestrel)...AK Steel (a steel company in Middletown, where my in-laws live)...male kestrels have steel-gray backs...hmmm..."

So I'm going to call him Steel, and no one can stop me.

"Check please!"

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Runnin' on empty....

I did some more training today at RAPTOR. My first real solo program is next weekend at one of the Hamilton County Parks, so I practiced perching the birds out. It was a good day: Two Socks, the male red-tailed hawk and I came to an understanding today. I wasn't nervous, so he wasn't nervous. We know we can trust each other now. (Still won't be petting or cuddling him, though!)
All the birds seem to be molting right now, so every time they shake themselves, dust, dander and feathers fly.
Our red-morph screech owl is looking particularly sad: His head feathers are gone, with only pin feathers coming in...the picture doesn't give this guy justice: He is two big eyes on a bird body.

"Do these jesses make me look fat???"

"Hey!!! Don't take my picture! I'm having a bad hair day!!!"

This night hawk (NOT a raptor) was brought in today by one of the volunteers. Once again, not a great pic, but they are such neat birds. Tiny little beaks, but when they open, they have a huge gape.

I stopped to get fuel, and realized that I didn't have my wallet. I called Geoff and told him I would drive as far as I could until I could get to a gas station near home. My car has this neat sensor that tells you how many miles you have until empty. Well, it fluctuated between zero and five for a while, so I stopped and Geoff brought me some money. I feel dumb...I never do this.

After the gas incident, I stopped to get lunch for us, and while waiting in the drive thru at Arby's, I saw this "Assassin/stink/whatever" bug hanging out on the sign. I guess he wanted some potato cakes.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Freeze, turkeys!

I never know what I will find while at my Mom's house. Today, it was 12 turkeys (all hens and young). Sucky photos, but cool birds.

Look closely at the tan blur to the left of the turkey in the middle. That tan blur is a fawn, skipping and playing around the turkeys.
And the fact that I could be turning into an old curmudgeon hit home today. Some of the neighborhood kids starting running after the turkeys and scaring them off. I starting hollering at the top of my lungs (and the top of my lungs are way up there) "Stop chasing those birds!!!". Now, this is probably the length of two football fields, and I was at one end and the kids were at the other, and they heard me loud and clear and ran away real fast. Satisfying, yes, but I had become that guy who yells at kids playing in front of his house. But I'd do it again, because it's not like those turkeys were getting ready to break into a house or anything.

The two fawns and two adults showed up later in Mom's back yard, where she has a trough and scratch for the deer and turkeys. It was interesting to see a fawn this big and still sporting spots. (Nice alliteration, Susan. Gee, thanks!)
This tree has been near the pond as long as I can remember, and has fascinated me as long, too. This time of year, the thorns (which are easily 3-4 inches long) turn blood red, and can give you serious thoughts of what they could do to you if you weren't paying attention. I used to play near this tree, and once got a thorn stuck in the back of my thigh. The tip broke off in my skin, and it took days of "drawing" salve to get it out. Still love the tree, though.
I got the pleasure of getting the bejesus scared out of me by a green heron as I walked into the tangle around the pond. My Mom is so lucky to live where she does. She has open field, a forest, a pond and a creek. You never know what you will see.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dust and feathers a flyin', dog a scratchin', frogs a hoppin', mama a sneezin'

Just how many allergens can be packed in the air???
Since returning from Marietta, I have been a mess of sinus pain, drainage, and stuffiness.
It's so prevalent in this part of Ohio, it's called "Cincinnati Sinusitis".

This is not my best of Miss Red-tailed, but it shows why I have been finding a slew of feathers in the grass around the fence. She's molting up a storm, with a kind of fluffiness to her.

Last night, I was coming home late from a board meeting for RAPTOR, and one of our frogs was lounging on the sidewalk. This is the closest I have been able to get all season. Frogs are just so cute.

I cleaned out our entertainment center today, because it's a mass of flat surface that collects all sorts of weird paraphernalia. This is my treasured pottery: On the left is a bowl brought back from Michigan by my in-laws. The pottery on the right is from North Carolina, a wedding present from my cousin Sue. The crystal in the front is a science experiment Isabelle and I did a long time ago. We got a rock from our garden and sat it in some solution and it grew crystals. of my favorite things: A wedding present from Jim's cousin, Phyllis. There's a great store around here called "A Show of Hands" which sells local artist's work. This is a solid glass paperweight with glittery sand blown into it. When I sit it in front of a light, it throws a beam for a foot or more.

I haven't been birding for long, so my collection of bird "sit-abouts" is small. The big white thing in the back is something Shannon found in her rafters left by a previous owner. It looks like an ostrich egg, but it doesn't feel like one. (She also found animal pelts...the guy was weird)

The photo on the left is my favorite of Mom and Dad.

A clean mantel is a joy least until one of the girls throws a ball and breaks something.

I had taken a "before" photo of the entertainment center, but it didn't save for some reason. Just imagine this filled with toys and books and cables and so on.

When is this dog ever going to learn how to RELAX?

Poor Nellie: She has yearly allergy issues, every August-October. We show up at the vet like clockwork, the same time every year for steroid injections and pills and antihistamine. We took her 2 weeks ago because it was just starting, thinking we would nip it in the bud before it got worse. But the same thing happens every year...she scratches and rubs her face until her eyes are bald, like above. And today, as I was wiping her eyes, I noticed that they were bleeding and draining pus. So she got more high power steroids and eye drops and more pills. She also chewed her leg raw and there's a bald spot near the top of her head.

She gets better after the first frost.

Something else I noticed about Nellie today...she has always had a white chin, I guess from her checkered pedigree. But today I saw just how gray her upper lip is getting. She's going to be 6 on November 13, still not "old", but her fur is showing that she's not a puppy, either.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Head in the clouds

Okay, I guess it's time to get my head out of the clouds at Indigo Hill and get back to real life.
Our Red-tailed hawk has visited us every day for a week.
Not to toot my own horn, but Beep-Beep! She has found the motherload of prey on our property because:
1. We don't use pesticides, so there are more bugs to eat.
2. We don't keep a perfect, manicured (boring) lawn, so there are a lot of places for mice and snakes to make a home.
3. We won't mistake her for a chicken and shoot her. (See post about Isis)

A favored perch for her is our chimney.

Do I care that there is a whole lotta bird poop up there? Nope.

Vignetted photo of her...until I get a proper scope, this is the best that it gets.

Finally got her in flight! This photo doesn't do her justice, when it comes to her size.

Cosmos in the dark.

Why do I take so many pictures of the cosmos? Because that's about the only thing blooming in the yard right now.

New issue of the Hackback

RAPTOR, Inc has a quarterly newsletter called the Hackback.
What makes this one interesting to me is, well, I'm in it.
(And my in-laws make a cameo, too!)

Click HERE to read the Hackback!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Four great kids

Miss Phoebe L. Thompson is a peach. A sweet, smart beautiful girl. Look out for this one, world!
All that blond hair, so little time.
(Liam, Isabelle, Lorelei)
Liam is a boy of great spirit. And great taste in girls, I might add. He has claimed Isabelle as his girlfriend and left a wonderful note on our car before we left:
"Dear Isabelle, I had fun playing with you today. Love, Liam"

(Isabelle dictated an email to Liam teeth hurt, it was so sweet)
Bill assisted Lorelei in hitting a ball after dinner. Look how relaxed everyone is...these people know how to do it.
The birding tower at Indigo Hill.
Geoff said something rather profound tonight. We were talking about Bill and Julie, and Geoff mentioned a couple that we had spent some time with before we were married. He said that I had come a long way with the people I introduce him to. The couple a long time ago, we used to call "clinically interesting" (they were wack-jobs) and the couple I introduced him to yesterday are "clinically inspiring".

Okay, let's end the suspense Part 1

This is one of the people we had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. Anyone recognize this eye?

Yep, that's Chet Baker.

Since we were in the area that Bill and Julie live, they were gracious enough to let us come by and meet them. And Chet was home from his stay at the vet, and in fine form.

I came bearing gifts for Chet, like this "Heave a Beaver" frisbee. He approved.

When a dog smiles, all is right with the world.

You know how you get the sense from their blogs that Bill and Julie are really great people? Well, they're nothing like that.
They are WAY better!

I took about 65 pictures while we were there, but Blogger's being cranky so I will do another post later.
These people just blew me away...they welcomed us with open arms, made us DINNER and are so very interesting to talk with.
And they have great kids, too. (More pics to come)
Geoff is pushing me to finish this so we can have dinner, so I will be back!