Thursday, December 14, 2006

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care (and catfish heads were hung in trees)

I got bit by the Christmas bug today and decided to hang the stockings:

The four on the right are ours...

...and the rest are the animals'. Everyone has one, except for the rats and the parakeets. I will be getting them tomorrow. As you can see, Nellie's stocking is one of Geoff's socks that she chewed a hole in back when she was a puppy. Fitting, isn't it?

And the fish stocking is a Zip-Loc bag.
Isabelle made this card for me in school today. She is learning her lower case letters...and I think we need to work on her "S".

While the girls were in school, I stopped at Lake Isabella to bird. A great tree that I used to stand under had been cut down, but the rangers left this neat little chair behind.
As I sat and enjoyed the bird song around me and the 60 degree weather, I turned and looked at the tree next to me. A very large, natural hole was open at the base, and I saw something poking out. I got up and looked a bit closer, and saw vertabrae. Cool!

I am always sticking my nose into cavities in trees, looking for signs of owls (pellets) or mammals (tracks or fur). Hopefully I never get my nose bitten by looking in the wrong tree.

This is what I found today:

I stared and stared at this, thinking that it was a duck skull. There were holes in the "bill". But I realized that the spine was protruded out the back of the skull, instead of the bottom, and I realized that I was holding a fish skull. A catfish, to be exact. The holes must be sinus for nerves leading to the "whiskers".

I got a closer look, and saw that the fish had "teeth". This is the underside of the skull, and in the upper right corner, you can see what is left of the air bladder. The bones were pretty chewed, so I guess it was a raccoon who went fishin' and came home with a honking huge catfish. There was also a small amount of snake skin inside the skull...I'm assuming that either the raccoon also got a snake for dinner at some point, or a snake had lived there before. Good reason not to stick my nose in too far!

This skull was larger than my hand, so imagine the size of the mother when it was alive and whole! I knew Lake Isabella had big catfish, but this is one that got away! (But only from the humans.)

By the way...I have been trying my damnedest to comment on some of your blogs, but I can't seem to "log in". I don't know if it's a beta thing or just a temporary glitch. Trust me, I want to comment! Hopefully I can get it figured out.

10 comments:

KatDoc said...

I thought about you today. I was walking at the Cincinnati Nature Center, on Edge Trail, from the Rowe building heading towards the bird blind. A Cooper's Hawk flew low, over my head, from her perch in a tree near the bind and heading towards the bird feeders behind the building. I watched her fly till I lost her in the sunlight.

A few steps farther and I came across the remains of her lunch: Leftover cardinal. The feathers were scattered in a circle, like they had exploded outward from the center, and the dislocated head with beak was nearby. I took a page from BirdChick's book, and took photos, but didn't go so far as to pick it up to take it home for drying.

Heading back to the building, the Coop swooped over my head again, heading back to her tree. She sure picked a good spot!

Tomorrow, I hope to have enough time at lunch to chase the Snow Goose that was seen today at Jones' Fish Hatchery in Newtown.

~Kathi

Anonymous said...

That's one big fish head! Makes me wonder if it was dead all ready when the raccoon got to it. Isabelle's card is so sweet. How come the fish get a crummy baggie? (speaking for the fish!)

Department of Fish & Very Wild Life said...

The gnaw marks on the fish appear to be from Sasquatch.

Mary said...

Your mantle is precious. I love tiny stockings! The fish bag...hmmmm....what do fish get?

Be wary of holes in trees. That's kind of spooky!

NatureWoman said...

Wow - huge fish head, cool! I like the tree stump stool - looks like a comfy place to sit for a while.
Isabelle's card is precious!
Love all of the stockings - why do the fish get a plastic bag instead of a stocking (or at least a plastic lined stocking)?

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a teacher, I think Isabelle's S is right where it should be! :) Seriously, that's some fine writing! And, so precious and sniffle-invoking!

That catfish head . . . wow! And, to think that it wasn't even consumed with breading or blackened with cajun spices. What a waste! :)

I love that a snake used it to shed its skin in -- some good rubbing opportunities.

No clue on the logging in for comment except that I have a lot better luck if I log in to blogger beta BEFORE I try to comment. Don't know if that will be helpful or not. :)

The Swami said...

Well, Swami thinks the plastic bag for the fish is a stroke of genius. Just remember, before you put the fish in the bag, add plenty of flour, spices and breading.

Nothing beats a traditional Christmas day fish-fry.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...stockings for the pets - If I had one for each of my finches I'd need a much bigger mantle!

KatDoc said...

Snow Goose update: GOT IT!!

~Kathi

PS: Request that you remove the holiday countdown "X days until Christmas." Every time I check out your blog, I am reminded that I haven't finished my shopping, nor sent my Christmas cards, nor finished my baking.

HELP!!!!

LauraHinNJ said...

Just chiming in to second katdoc's request! Do I really need a reminder of how behind I am??

:-)