Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I checked on my prairie experiment this evening, and this is what happens when you don't mow the grass for a month. Grass really gets pretty when it's allowed to go to seed. The tops turn purple and wave in the wind, and there's all sorts of ground cover stuff going on, too. Somewhere in here are the three black-eyed Susan's I planted. In the foreground by the plank is the bayberry that I put in when I read that Tree Swallows like them.
During the Butterfly Show last month, I visited the gift shop and bought a Venus flytrap. Though they only need a bug or two every few months or less, when Isabelle found a huge ant in the house, I thought it would make a nice lesson for her to see just what a flytrap will do.
(We have made the traps close by poking them with small scissors, but this was the real thing. She was very impressed and spent the rest of the afternoon snapping her mouth shut and saying the bug tasted good.)
If you look closely at my really bad photo, you can see a black shape in the largest trap.
Isabelle made a connection in her mind today that astounded me. We were discussing baby birds (of course) and I told her about the process of the mama bird making the egg in her body and pushing it out into the nest, incubation, etc. My precocious 4 year old thought for a minute then said, "Then baby birds don't have belly buttons!".
Today was also the beginning of Mommy's lecture series entitled "What does Daddy have down there" because Isabelle wanted to know. I am sure that this is going to embarass Geoff to no end, but hey...my blog covers many, many subjects. I got as far as what girls have, and then Isabelle lost interest and went to watch TV. Oh, well, gives me time to formulate the rest of my speech.
Oh. And another thing. Penny may be pregnant.
Happy Natural History Day.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
For those of you not in the know, I have a bad foot. Not just a little achiness, or pain sometimes. It's every day, no matter what I do, all the time.
Let's go back 33 years: I'm born. My genetic code dictates that extra bone will grow at the insertion of my Achilles' tendons. (Non-medical peeps: That's the back of the heel)
Fast forward to my pre-teen years: Wearing any sort of dress shoe, flat or heel, causes blisters, bruising, bleeding and pain. Fast forward again to 1999: Working for a podiatrist, I decide to try surgical correction. This involves an incision into my right heel and reflecting back 1/4 of the Achilles', cutting and filing away the extra bone and reattaching the tendon with a Mytek anchor (think a little metal prong that looks like a spider). Off my foot for 4 weeks.
Everything seems hunky-dory until a year later when pain returns. That ends up being just a retained suture, but still involves another surgery. Next, 2005. Arthritis is grinding away at my right big toe, so it's surgery again to shorten the toe. No biggie..an easy surgery to get over, really. Off the foot for 5 days, and that's about it.
Later on in 2005, I have a talk with the doc again...the pain in my heel and now the SECOND toe brings me back to the O.R. (The bone in my heel had a 15% chance of regrowing...guess what. It did) Now, a more aggressive removal of bone. (and another toe shortening)
Think it's over? Nope.
3 weeks after surgery, the sutures are removed, and there is a gap in the skin of my heel. It does not heal. At the beginning of 2006, I am back in the O.R. again for an I & D (incision and drainage) because I have an infection and my tendon is in peril...as in, if it ruptures, I may be lame for life. For those of you keeping count, that is 6 procedures on the right foot.
I get a home health nurse and a Wound VAC. This is a painful, but helpful procedure that finally closes the wound.
Still think it's over...well, just a bit more.
The pain is still there. Now I am scheduled for therapy to release a trapped, twisted nerve which has become bound up in angry scar tissue inside my heel. I am now in for ultrasonic masage, manipulation (yikes) and strength training, as I still cannot go down steps normally or wear shoes with backs on them.
A small open area, thick and angry scar tissue, a weak tendon and a trapped nerve. I am too young to feel this old.
Monday, May 29, 2006
And I noticed LOTS of flying insects hovering above it and some water skimmers on the surface. Score two points for the marsh.
Frogs and birds, come and get it...soup's on!
Sunday, May 28, 2006
I finally started on my marsh. It's right where our sump pump outlet drains into the easement and to the ditch. It was a perfect place for soggy messiness, since it was going in that direction anyway. I used a hoe and pickaxe to hollow out the ground around the drain (the white pipe on the left) and made it more shallow as it went on. The cattails are on a small rise made out of the muck I dug out, but it's "feet" are still wet there. The far end of the marsh drains into a small ditch, with a bit of a dam that is easily breached if we get alot of rain, and then the water emerges clean and pure out the other side. Later I will add some more water-loving plants to slow the water down a bit more and add another small drain around the dam if needed.
I'm so glad I finally did it...I've been driving everyone buggy with my plans for
"my marsh, my marsh".
Now, I put this box up as a decoy to lure the HOSP away from the bluebird boxes and the purple martin complex. Instead, the HOSP have laid 5 eggs in one BB box (which are still being incubated by the female who has no idea they are infertile) and wrens have stuffed the other one with sticks. So this box is unprotected, unbaffled, in a bad spot...on a fence near trees.
This nest does not look like a typical HOSP nest, as it has no trash in it, and it is in the more tidy BB style of a cup and not the "weaver" style.
FELLOW BIRDERS: Any opinions about this? Do I dare hope to have some bluebirds actually lay eggs??? And how, in the Hell, do I protect them? Would moving the nest laterally onto a pole make the BB abandon it? I would really like some feedback if anyone has some advice.
STERLING, Ohio (AP) -- A first-time skydiver slipped from her harness during a jump Saturday and fell to her death, authorities said.
The 44-year-old woman from West Chester, Pennsylvania, was participating in a tandem jump, her first with the AerOhio Skydiving school near Sterling, about 40 miles south of Cleveland, according to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.
The victim's name was withheld pending notification of her family.
During tandem jumps, a novice skydiver is harnessed to the chest of an experienced jumper. When the parachute is deployed, the experienced skydiver guides the team to the ground.
A preliminary investigation by the sheriff's office indicated the woman slipped from the harness after the parachute opened.
It is not known how far the woman fell, and the sheriff's office did not release any further details.
A message seeking comment was left Saturday night at AerOhio Skydiving.
Friday, May 26, 2006
If you live in the Greater Cincinnati area and are looking to build a home,
contact Ronan Custom Homes.
Ron has a background in engineering and his homes are probably the best I have ever seen. There is a ridiculous amount of quality in his homes: The one in the show this year has two laundry rooms (one in the master suite, one upstairs near the other bedrooms) two heating and air systems, hurrican clips in the trusses so the walls are never going to move, 2" X 6" walls for insulation, double paned windows, a landscape garage so you don't have to keep traipsing around to the front of the house while gardening...and the list goes on and on. It's a BARGAIN at
$550,000. And I just love Ron and Gina. They are two of the neatest people ever.
Did we have a rip-snorter of a storm last night....our power was out from 7 pm until 6 am this morning.
After the first wave of storms I went out back to check on everyone. (earlier in the day, I noticed that there were no chickadees in the box, and the nest material had been scattered about...gulp)
But lo and behold, there sat a lone chickadee chick under the tree. It had no baby down, but was barely able to get off the ground. So I collected the family and the camera and got some cute shots. Then I noticed a small black and white speck hopping away, and it was another chick!
Did they fledge earlier in the day, or were they the only survivors of a nest attack?
Isabelle was in transports of joy to get and hold a real baby chick. We sat them them on a branch above the nest box and wished them the best. What a night to come out into the world. Good luck, little guys!
The house sparrow nest had yet another egg it in, making the total 5, so I once again did some soft-boiling.
What really set my heart to soaring was this: I had to adjust the level of the gourd and purple martin house on the pole due to the storm, so I thought I would finally give the TRES nest a good check. Mama swallow came flying out, so I did the fastest nest check in history: I reached in and instead of trying to get pictures, I counted 5 sweet, warm eggs. Hallelujah! It's about time, you guys. Mama came back as soon as the house was back up. I've heard something about TRES, and it seems to be true: It takes a sledgehammer to make a Tree Swallow abandon its nest. I love to watch Mr. Swallow singlehandedly fend off 4 starlings or a mockingbird. They are super tough birds.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Click here to watch.
At least someone is having luck hatching this year...my tree swallows are trying for the record of longest nest-building. But on a positive note, our chickadees are healthy and getting ready to fledge...I just hope my camera is ready when they do.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I haven't taken many good pictures lately, so I thought we could revisit last summer and think of all the fun yet to be THIS summer. This photo was taken on our last day of sun-worship at Stonelick Lake last year. Great kids, great husband, great birding. Bliss...
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but I thought I would pull it out and share it.
Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit,
for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou annointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.
Monday, May 22, 2006
You see, he obsesses about this blog and what people might think of what I say. God forbid I use blue language or rant too venomously...but I digress...
This is to clarify that my previous post about my fund raising is directed at the people who live IN OHIO and who KNOW ME personally...Laura, Endment, Mojoman, etc. are exempt from having to buy any raffle or dinner tickets.
Geoff was worried that some folks who read this blog would feel put upon....jeez.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
RAPTOR Inc. is having a fundraiser "Raisin' the Roof for Raptors" to help fund their new facility. The dinner will be July 9, 2006 at Stonewood Banquet Center at Sharon Woods, at 6:30 pm. This is a sit down dinner with raffle prizes and live and silent auctions with items from nature artists John Ruthven and Christopher Walden. (And there will be raptors, too!)
Tickets are $35 per person or $65 for a couple and that includes dinner and drinks.
Raffle tickets are $5 for one, or $20 for five. I have a bunch and would like to impress my new "bosses" by selling them all and asking for more.
Contact me if you have some spare cash and are looking for a place to spend it.
These folks are amazing...you wouldn't believe how hard they work for the birds at this facility. And they do it for the love of raptors...not for a paycheck.
I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Soft-boiled eggs, anyone?
If every day was like this one, I would start walking into rooms backward so I could see myself coming. This morning, I went to RAPTOR Inc. to start my volunteering. I had such a blast! First we "did the mice", meaning cleaning the cages and feeding the feeder mice. And I learned how the mice are put down...quite humanely, I think. They are spun by their tails to disorient them and then a metal bar is pressed down on their necks to separate their spine. Quick, to the point. I though having rats would make me steal all the mice and set them free, but I was surprised at how cool and professional I felt about it. It's for the birds, so it's okay with me.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I will begin my volunteer-ship at RAPTOR, Inc., a local Raptor Rehab. I will spend my day learning the ropes and acquiring the skills of bird poop-scraping, etc. I told them I was willing to do anything, that I would pay them to be there and help out.
If you find an injured bird/animal, look here to search for a rehab in your area. And if you have lots of money and need a place to donate it to, they would greatly appreciate it. These places depend on donations and volunteers in addition to any federal funds that come their way...not that the current administration cares a "hoot" about some injured owls. Don't get me started.
But wish me luck!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
It got me thinking of an instance of such incredible hypocrisy as to astound a rational person.
While in line at the drive-thru at Starbucks (which I only use when the girls are asleep in the car) I was behind a massive Ford Explorer. I would never have remembered this person except for her bumper sticker, which said, and I quote:
"Tread Gently on Mother Earth"
Here's this nice environmental message on the back of an effing Explorer idling in a drive-thru line. And she was alone in the car...no kids to worry about unbuckling or anything...just lazy.
Was she trying to be ironic? I doubt it.
I tried to get a photo of it, but all I had with me was my camera phone, and they suck when it comes to pictures.
I don't know if I have ever seen such heights of hypocrisy...I wanted to ram her bumper with my car until the bumper sticker was obliterated.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
It's called the Evolution of Dancing.
Go now. Trust me.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Some of you birders who are longer in the tooth than myself may think, "You've never seen a Veery?" and the answer would be NO.
This is my second full year of birding, and with little kids and limited traveling funds, I get to very few good birding places. And I haven't been on any sponsored, guided hiking trips. It's all me, all the time.
So I am rather proud of my list for this trip.
(Did I sound too defensive in the above paragraph? Sorry...didn't mean to)
(I had a lofty goal of listing these in taxonomic order, but it's late and I'm tired)
*Listing with an asterick is a Life Bird
Black-throated Green Warbler*
Great Crested Flycatcher*
Heard: American Bittern*
Double Crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Cape May Warbler
Black and White Warbler
So that's 41 birds total seen or heard in a weekend, and 18 Life Birds.
Not bad, for just little ol' me.
Yep, that's a camel. And yep, it's IN OUR CAR.
We took an "African Safari" thing just outside of Port Clinton this past weekend, on the premise that the girls (and I) would get a huge kick out of feeding camels, zebra, buffalo, etc. from the car.
(insert ominous, creepy music here)
The emu was very polite, but was quickly shoved aside...
The first crazy animal we encountered was a giant Asian camel (the kind that are really hairy like a sheep) who was twice the height of our car, and yet he had no problem getting his big fat head into the window and into my face (while I'm holding Lorelei who is reaching for him) The food bucket was quickly yanked away from me and amid the screeching Geoff drove to the next feeding station. Well, it didn't get any better.
I like to think of myself as a cool customer when it comes to animals, and usually think nothing of it when contact is necessary.
Well, that all went out the window when the big, huge, gargantuan buffalo got in my window,and I had no food to throw out to it and I thought it would get mad and bite or something, setting me to hollering to Geoff "Ahhh! Drive! Go! Go!" and setting the girls to panicking and screaming.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
Isabelle summed it up quite well when she stated, "I don't think that was such a good idea."
Saturday, May 13, 2006
So what, you say? Well, she's married to KENN KAUFMAN!
For you non-birders...go to the link and read up. This guy is amazing.
And Kim was lovely...
very gracious as she was ringing up my $80 worth of Black Swamp T shirts and magnets. :-)
Black and White Warbler
My optics are good for yard birding, but trying to track a fussy warbler in the rain and wind with my digital camera is tough. Many of the warblers were very cooperative, though. This little guy almost landed on my camera.
Tomorrow I will try to do my listing, but it was a good trip overall. I'm hoping to get in a tiny bit of birding tomorrow before we head back.
Friday, May 12, 2006
What would my blog be without dead animal pics? I was walking along the beach and decided to take a picture of all the shells I was crunching. (it's like corn flakes) and I took a random shot without really looking at the ground. I reviewed the shot and realized I was standing above a dead maggoty fish. I THOUGHT something smelled.
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The mixed swallow flock was amazing. About 100 swallows (barn, tree, etc) were whirling around one section of beach, and I ambling down to see what was up. There was a huge cloud of little gnats and the swallows were having a feast. They were close enough to reach out and touch. I like how they look like they are different sizes in this shot. It was like a Hitchcock movie.
Yes, that is a BALD EAGLE. My fifth life bird today. Others included Magnolia, Chestnut Sided, and Wilson's warblers, Common Yellowthroat...all those were along a 50 foot stretch on one of the Ottawa trails. The eagle was hanging out by the power plant. I could go home now and be happy.
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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Look at this picture of Isabelle and sing to yourself "Against the Wind"
For some reason there are an unusual number of dead fish here...what kind, I couldn't say. I don't know from fish.
But I couldn't help naming this photo "Sleeping with the fishes". I'm so tired, it's making me clever.
Starting tomorrow, I hope to inundate this blog with awesome bird pics.
Up the road as you get near the marshes, the place will be lousy with egrets, herons, ducks, geese.
Time for my "birdy" sleep.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Second, the chickadee's chicks: While wandering the yard today thinking about all the stuff I needed to be doing for the trip, I peeked in on our chickadee nest and was rewarded with at least 3 little yellow begging mouths. Sweet! By the time I had informed Geoff and grabbed my camera and flashlight, Mama bird was sitting back inside facing the entrance giving me a "Come on, I dare you" look. So pics will have to wait.
Scopes: When the next gift-giving holiday rolls around, I would like to ask my DH for a scope, and I would appreciate any fellow birder insights into a good one. Not sure about one in the "Rolls-Royce" range, but maybe in the "Prius" range. Any thoughts?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
A color explosion
Can you see the butterfly?
This is the stillest they were all day.
The girls, myself, and my great friend Kim and her little ones all went to the Annual Butterfly Show at Krohn's Conservatory. What a perfect day to picnic at the park and then amble through a greenhouse full of butterflies. The kids were great, and it's always fun to hang out with Kim. With four kids between us, it's hard sometimes to get together, but it's always worth it.
Monday, May 08, 2006
At the end, she asks what are our real impressions of ourselves.
Here's mine: I usually have the impression that I have a spine of steel. Then something scary or awful happens, and my spine wants to shrivel up and leave me a pool of goo. But I try to keep my head up...is my impression true?
And I really get pissed at people who act like they have no spine at all...past friends I have had who are pushovers, women who can't stand up to their husbands, strangers on the street...but I also don't like to place people in boxes and slap labels on them.
That brings up an interesting thought I have had: Please excuse my French for a minute, Geoff, Jim and Rita...
[they don't like it when I revert to "saucy" language, but it's necessary to make my point]
When we say a man is brave, we say he has "balls" or "the stones" or lots of other goofy references to his genitalia. Cojones????? That one makes me smile.
When we say a woman is brave, we may say that she has "balls" but also that she has "guts" or "backbone" or "spine". Now...if we look at this literally, men's strength comes from their sexuality, and yet a woman's strength comes from the parts of her that every human has, so it's in reference to her humanity, right? Try THAT one on for size, gentlemen.
And along that vein, here's one that really bugs me, too: Why is a woman's bust size in direct, transverse ratio to her smarts? The bigger they are, the dumber she is? I beg your pardon.
And those who know me also know that I HATE gender roles. And I think Geoff and I can blow out of the water just about every gender stereotype there is. All the power tools in the house? Isabelle calls them "Mommy's tools".
Okay, I think my rant is finished.
Sooo...what is your impression of YOU? And even if you don't post it on this blog, it's an interesting thing to ponder to yourself.
Sorry this post wasn't about birds or my adorable daughters. But I would like to think that in a way, it is about the girls, because I intend on raising them to be two incredible women who will take over the world, if that's their wish. They will have the confidence, the impression that they are powerful and strong and smart and fun and wonderful.
They can be President. Or a Mom. Or an astronaut. Or all of the above.
The eagles nesting at Hornby Island in British Columbia have had a total nest failure:
Sunday, April 30 2006 @ 03:09 PM PDTContributed by: davidhViews: 214042
April 30, 2006
Eagles and conservation have been the joy and occasional sadness of my life. This is a sad moment. It appears that the Hornby Island bald eagle eggs are infertile. The first egg should have hatched April the 26 and the second egg today. The first embryo, if it developed at all, is surely dead. The second embryo, could still hatch but I cannot see the proper pipping of the egg shell, where the chicks beak has broken through enabling it to draw in air, the precursor to the final struggle for hatching. It does not look good for this pair this year. In fact this is the second year of failure for this nest territory.
Reasons for the Failure to Hatch:
We cannot be sure. Some educated guesses follow.
The adult eagles are possibly old:
1. This is the 19th year for known nesting results from this tree. It could have been occupied for 50 or more years earlier. Was the same pair occupying the nest all that time? We do not know. Eagles could live that long.
2. If the birds are very old it is possible that they have simply run out of reproductive ability. Perhaps they simply can’t produce viable eggs any longer.
3. Alternatively, it is possible with very old birds that they have accumulated so many pesticides and heavy metals that their reproductive track is no longer able to function properly. This is not at all out of the question. I am told that orcas (killer whales) that now periodically die along the British Columbia and Washington coasts are so polluted and their bodies so loaded with poisons that it is illegal to tow their bodies out to sea or have them hauled to land fills. They carcasses have to be burned. A very sad statement on our polluted earth. Are these eagles, who also occupy the top of the food chain and eat the same basic foods as orcas, also contaminated. Very possibly. Maybe the reproductive success is going to be restricted to younger eagles that have not had so long to accumulated the poisons.
One or more of the adult eagles is young and inexperienced:
1. This is possible – but not liklely. Last year when the territory only hatched one young which died at 6 days of age and the other egg did not hatch, both adults were in full adult plumage – not even just newly matured at 5 years as this would have been indicated by the dark streaking in their white head or dark tail band. These birds appear to be fully mature both last year and this year. Furthermore, this pair appear to e very experienced in nest building that we got to witness in such marvelous detail, and in fullfulling the incubating duties. They hardly left the eggs unattended more than 12 to 40 seconds during any exchange that I witnessed. They are not just good, and I assume experienced parents, but so compatible with each other. I take this beautiful pair to be very experienced parents. So the loss again this year of their eggs I also view as most likely due to loss of fertility due to age or polution.
There are infinite options but none seem logical than my first option above. The pair are very used to human disturbance, constantly perching near houses and human activity with no noticeable alarm or concern. While I have received lots of concerned calls and emails at the sounds of power movers, cars, chain saws and dogs we have had an unprecedented opportunity to watch the eagles in the cam and correlate their behavior with disturbances. The noise of civilizations does not seem to phase them a bit.
I found one call from an irate and annoyed caller quite interesting. She heard the disturbance of barking dogs and instantly called me. I was actually calling Doug to question him about this. After many rings he answered the phone and reported that he delayed coming in to the phone until the herd of barking sea lions has passed by his porch. I hardly think barking sea lions would be a disturbance to bald eagles – and indeed barking dogs elicit no interest from the nesting birds either.
Eagles like most creatures in the wild are constantly subjected to the test of survival. Can they find food and make a living? Can they avoid being killed and eaten. Can they avoid hurting and damaging themselves? If they can’t keep their feathers in good condition they won’t be able to fly efficiently and hunt effectively and they will die.
Almost half of the eagles that start nesting loose their eggs or young. Surviving in the wild is not easy. Of those young that survive to fledging only a small percentage are likely to survive the five years to maturity. Once they have proven themselves as good hunters and they enter the breeding population they can produce young for 15 to 25 or more years. Now pause for a moment to contemplate how many eagle there would or could be it the adults were successful lin raising one or two young every year for 20 years! That could be that each pair produced 30 or 40 young – far more than necessary to keep the population stable. And stable would mean producing a new eagle for every one that died.
Therefore, with such a long live potential, their has to be a lot of nest failures or early deaths otherwise the world would be full of eagles – and no room for any other species. Not a balanced system.
So as much as I was very saddened to not see our beautiful pair of adult bald eagles produce eagles this year it is not an unexpected happening that they should fail. If, as I suspect, these are old eagles, they have already produced many replacements for themselves and they have been great contributors to the very successful and expanding eagle population that we have been experiencing the past 50 years. It is not a good thought that they have stopped reproducing because they have become sterile from pollution and this is also not confirmed.
We will hope and expect that other eagles will be more successful and they their young will be flying over our waters. If our adult pair is at the end of its reproductive life we can anticipate younger birds moving into the territory shortly and becoming the parents of the next generations.