Thursday, November 30, 2006

Be a good boy

I took Boomer to begin the next part of his journey.
A very nice family will foster him until he is adopted.
From what I hear, people are lined up to take him.
The things that are for the best, sometimes feel the worst.
We love you, Boomer.
Be a good boy...
Thank goodness Kathi (katdoc) asked me to go out to the gravel pits today. Otherwise I would have sat in the house with a blanket over my head.
I didn't get too many pictures, because we were too busy scoping the birds from a "legal" trail way, way far away.

The girls came with us, and they were surprisingly good.

Kathi is a great person to bird with. She is knowledgeable, funny and she owns a scope. :)
Water birds today:
(* life bird for me)
American coots ( 100s of them)
Red-headed ducks* (Kathi and I weren't sure at first, but we saw them side-by-side with the canvasbacks, so we are sticking to that ID)
Ring-necked ducks*
Common loons
Ruddy ducks
Hooded mergansers (We saw those, didn't we, Kathi?)
Thanks to Kathi, I have increased my life list by NINE, in just a few days.
Once again, I am off to read all of YOUR blogs, to lift my melancholy. I hope all of you are in funny moods.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A place for Boomer

Rachel called tonight, and told me that the rescue has a foster home for Boomer. I am waiting for a call from the rescue folks to set up a "transfer" time. *Choke*

This sucks, sucks, sucks! But I'm gonna do it anyway.

No pictures today. No birding, kids didn't really do anything cute.

I'm off to read other blogs for some pick-me-up.

BTW: Welcome John of DC Birding Blog to my blogroll.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A day of solitude

I love days when both of the girls are at school. If I don't have a program, the day belongs to me. I went back out to East Fork State Park, where I had birded on Sunday.
The birding was fairly boring, so I checked out other areas of the park, and found a Native American burial mound:

...And a few stray cats, who were not interested in being rescued.
The orange cat gave me quite a start, because as I was driving by, I thought he was a fox.
There is an old Methodist church smack dab in the middle of the park, with a graveyard behind it. I'm not a superstitious person, so cemeteries don't bother me. I don't think that the living dead are going to burst out of the graves with skeletal hands to drag me down.
All I felt was sadness, tinged with a great sense of peace.

It's the children's graves that get to me the most.

This baby girl was born and died in the same year.

At the back of the graveyard, in a seemingly forgotten corner, were 56 graves marked as "Unknown". I wonder why there were so many unknown bodies to be buried in this small cemetery? I think I may have to Google that.

Ever present, fungus looks out over a field of stones.

In a place dedicated to death, I found a sign of life:

A well-worn path, made by some animal, traced from the graveyard to a small opening in the foundation of the church.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A nice surprise

Lorelei and I went to Lake Isabella today just to kill some time. While Lorelei plunked stones into the lake, I scanned the far side for birds. And I saw some ducks all the way over there, and thought, "oh, look, some buffleheads...never seen them here before."

But that ID didn't feel right. These ducks had alot of white on them, and there were also some others with brown heads.
I grabbed my field guide...
Not buffleheads.
*Susan does the happy dance...Boom shaka laka laka, boom shaka laka laka*

I tried and tried to get closer so I could get better pictures, but the lake is shaped in a way that you can't get to certain places, which was exactly where the mergansers were. Water birds are so fussy.

The brown-headed ones turned out to be females. I have heard that female ducks are sometimes as hard as sparrows to ID, but it was the female mergansers that helped me ID these.

I didn't mean to get a shot like this, but the guy on the shore is taking a leak.
Hee hee...sorry, dude!

I'm happy. Life bird number 105!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Please welcome John L. Trapp's blog, Birds Etcetera (aka Bird Stuff) to my blogroll!


My first guided bird walk went very well today. And I got to meet Kathi, a.k.a. "katdoc" of comment fame. We live in the same part of Ohio and she asked if I would like to come along when the Cincinnati Bird Club went out to East Fork Lake State Park.
Well, heck yeah! Kathi was a peach and the birding was good, at least for me. There were other birders who were way more advance than me, but the guide knew that my list was pretty small and he made sure that I saw all the birds I could.
I left the house today with 98 life birds, and I cam back with 104. I'll take it.
(Thanks for letting me use your scope, Kathi! I may just have to get one.)
List for today:
(* means life bird)
1. Bonaparte gull*
2. Ring billed gull
3. Lesser scaup*
4. Pied billed grebe
5. Mallard
6. Field sparrow*
7. Swamp sparrow*
8. Song sparrow
9. White throated sparrow
10. Cedar waxwing
11. Dark eyed junco
12. White breasted nuthatch
13. Downy woodpecker
14. Red bellied woodpecker
15. Northern flicker
16. Northern cardinal
17. Blue jay
18. Carolina chickadee
19. Tufted titmouse
20. American crow
21. Red breasted merganser*
22. Great blue heron
23. Eastern towhee
24. Ruddy duck*
25. Carolina wren
26. American coot
27. Goldfinch
28. Killdeer
29. Belted kingfisher
30. Yellow rumped warbler
My 100th bird was a lesser scaup. Yay for me!

Red bellied woodpeckerThis is the best I could do with the Bonaparte gulls.

My new bird feeder: a wreath made entirely of sunflower seeds.

This poor male house finch has a mild case of conjunctivitis. He kept shaking his head...

Tip: If you see any house finches, goldfinches, etc, at your feeders and one or both of their eyes are swollen, consider reporting it to Cornell's House Finch Disease study. They are trying to track this disease and figure out what to do about it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cute girls, mutant guppy, what to do about Boomer

I sent an email to HART Rescue, to see if they could place Boomer in foster care. We will keep our fingers crossed.
You all have been so supportive and caring about this situation, and I thank you for it. What a sucky place to be in...I love him, but I have to let him go.
Okay, let's move on to less maudlin affairs:
How about some pics of cute blonds rolling down a grassy hill?

Isabelle is someone I am rather proud of. She has a lot of my idiosyncracies, which makes her fun, but she also has this spirited, passionate soul that is all hers. I really didn't want a daughter who was like me (I gave my parents WAY too much grief) but she seems to be growing out of my shadow into a person who will let the world know just how much she matters.

Okay, check this out:
I have a mutant guppy.
Remember my baby guppies? They are growing fast, and I noticed one of the males yesterday had something the other males didn't:

Upper left: The male in question

Lower right: a "normal male"

The top male guppy has an extra fin on his belly, and also a round mass growing in front of the fin that looks like it has a small fish eye in it. Do I have the first documented case of Guppy Siamese Twins? The extra fin has all the finery that is supposed to grow out the back, not the belly, and that eye-thing is freaky.

Sorry for the bad quality of these photos..ever try to get a fish to be still while you are photographing it?

Anyone have any insight into guppy mutations?

I have to get to bed the morning, I will be going on my first "real" guided bird field trip! And I will be blogging the Hell out of it, you can be sure. We will be looking for mainly water birds, and since my life list is currently at 98, there's a lot of room to add more with little effort.

I will be meeting a blogger friend face to face, too!

By the way: It's the Swami's birthday today. Pay him a visit and wish him a good one!

(I found a yak puppet for a birthday present for him...he was moved.)

More tomorrow!

Friday, November 24, 2006

A few photos from yesterday:

Maybelline: Look at that big puppy belly! If she were older, I would say that she is pregnant. Wouldn't that just be our luck?

She has two light patches on her shoulders, which made me think of the name Angel, but Geoff didn't like that name. I still don't know if she is staying.

I have the curse of giving a damn about any helpless animal I see, and take them home, and have to hear how "crazy" I am for having so many animals. Well, anyone with a soul would not have been able to turn away from this poor, shivering puppy alone in the woods. And now, we have to deal with it.

Boomer update: Rachel, my sorta-might-be sister in law, is involved with a rescue organization who might be able to help us. They screen potential owners and foster the dogs in homes, to see just what the dog needs. Let's hope they can take him and find him a home that suits him. I hate the idea of someone else loving and caring for him, but it is what it is. If I had known he had such an aversion to cats, I never would have adopted him. Why can't the animal shelters evaluate the dogs they adopt out? I know they are stretched to the limit, but wouldn't it be beneficial to the dogs if they aren't placed in a home that they are ill-suited for?

My Mom, Rachel (if they had a canonizing category for saving animals, she would be a saint), and Kevin (Younger-Son-of-Swami)

This orange monster is Butterscotch (or as the Swami calls him, "Quagmire"). Look at his paws: He is like the Hemingway cats. It looks like he is wearing mittens.

I have tried for months to get a good picture (heck, ANY picture) of a kingfisher. Today, I finally did.

Goofy bird...he knew I was there, and stayed high up in a tree on the opposite side of the river from where I was. So I hiked up the shore until I was directly across from him. I didn't see a belly band, so he is a he.

And I finally figured out how to turn on the digital zoom on the camera. This was taken from across a rather wide river, and I think it turned out pretty good, considering.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I am thankful for...

1. My husband, Geoff
2. My girls, Isabelle and Lorelei
3. My Mom.
4. My brother Steve, his wife Anne and their kids Heather and Michael
5. My in-laws (Swami and the Swammette)
6. My best friend, Shannon and her wonderful son, Jake
7. Our house
8. My health (such as it is) and my family's health
9. That I had 31 years to know my Dad
10. Birds
11. My pets (even when they throw up on the carpet and shred my socks
12. RAPTOR, Inc., all the work that organization does, and for them giving me a chance to prove myself
13. The color green
14. Starbucks
15. All of my Blogger buddies (you know who you are)
16. My doctor
17. Comfortable shoes
18. My ability to love
19. What I know
20. What I have yet to learn


Female downy woodpecker

I found myself cruising through Indian Hill today as Lorelei was napping in the car. Indian Hill is one of the most affluent areas of Cincinnati.
When I saw this house, I seriously thought it was a hotel.

The puppy is still here. And Boomer is great with her. Sigh. Can't he do that with the cats???

I went to the doctor today to get some answers. My stomach troubles still don't have a name, but I now have some medicine that seems to be working. And I have had a headache for 5 days, and after talking with the doc about it, we concluded that one of my last programs pulled some muscles in my neck. So now I have muscle relaxers and narcotics!'s going to be a fun Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A long-winded post, but stay with me

First things first: We think Boomer needs a new home.
The reason: I have tried for two months to get him acclimated to our four cats, to no avail. They now live in the basement, and when one of them meows at the door, he lies there, tense and ready to attack. He has attacked Queen (the old one) and Buddha (the calm one) and both times it was so bad, he would have killed them if I hadn't been there. In every other way, he is great. But he needs a house that has no cats, and never will. I am putting out the word here that if anyone loves Boston Terriers and has no cats is welcome to meet Boomer and maybe adopt him from us. I love him, but I love my cats, too.
He can also jump fences. I bet that's why he was found wandering out on his own. Anyone want to give him a try?
It sucks, and I feel terrible. But we have to do something.
Let's move onto something else, okay?

Thanks to Pam, I am now a fungi-phile. I see it everywhere and have to photograph it. It's only fair, since I had a hand in turning her onto birds.I have discovered my camera's Macro and Super Macro function!
Sometimes it's good to pee in the woods...walking along the river at Kelley's Nature Preserve, I had to go, so I stepped off the path. As I was coming back onto the path, I saw these three deer swimming across the river. COOL.
It's also good to take a trail that you haven't taken before. Coming down the hill, I saw a small dog walking ahead of me. I called to it, but it ran away.
At the bottom of the hill, I saw it curled up under a tree. A puppy. I don't go looking for them, I swear...they find me!
I went closer, and she tried to hide under some bark. My heart just ached. It was about 35 degrees today. She was shivering and a bit bony.
She is home with us right now. Some of you must be thinking that her arrival has something to do with us giving Boomer up, but that's not true. It has made me think even more seriously about what a dog needs. This one needs love and Boomer needs a house to himself.

On a bird note, this cooper's hawk was there to greet us in the yard the other day. I got excited when I saw his tail, because I thought that it might be a sharp-shinned hawk, which would be a life bird for me. The tail of a sharp-shinned is squared, like this one and a cooper's is rounded.
But the size says cooper's. Sharp-shinned hawks are more jay-sized. This bird was pretty darn big...maybe a female?
Drat. But still cool. That's four raptors that have made regular appearances in our yard since I started at RAPTOR. Cooper's, red-tailed, red-shouldered, and barred owl. It's hot all-bird of prey-action here!
Susan's tummy update: All the tests are back. I do not have cancer. I do not have microscopic colitis. Two polyps were removed that were not cancerous. I have been given a clean bill of health. Well, if that's so, why do I feel so damn rotten?
I have an appointment tomorrow with my beloved doctor, Susan Fremont (if you live in Loveland or the surrounding area, I highly recommend her...she rocks) and we will have a nice long talk about why I feel like I am 93, instead of 33.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I guess Blogger is feeling better

I don't know if it was just me last night, but I couldn't do a post.
But I'm here now!
A few good pics I got today:
Tufted titmouse

I snuck back in today...I know, I know. It's like crack.

But I'm glad I did. This is, as far as I can tell, a horned grebe, in non-breeding plumage. It was larger than the pied-billed I saw the other day, with a dark back and a white front.

Life bird!

Happy little Carolina chickadee.

We woke up to snow this morning. The girls and Geoff were thrilled.

We had snow last year at this time, and I posted pictures here.

Dave asked about Isis in my last post, so here's what I know:

Isis is a female leucistic red-tailed hawk. She came to RAPTOR about 1 1/2 years ago (?) with gunshot wounds. Who in the HELL would shoot a bird like that?

Her wings were partially removed and she isn't very steady on her feet when she is on the glove, but as long as I am not moving around too much, she does okay. And she is super strong.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Birds, Christmas trees, dead animal heads

I had a nice, encouraging program today at a library in Cincinnati. It's the oldest library still standing in the city, and it's beautiful. But it's also smack dab in the middle of a really rough part of town. The kids were precious, and I could tell that they had rarely, if ever, been exposed to things from nature (other than pigeons and roaches). I hope I reached at least one today.

While dropping off the birds, I saw a flock of robins feasting on some berry bushes at RAPTOR. I love my camera...I was pretty far away when I took this. And look! The robin on the right has his mouth open.

Since the photos from a few days ago were not so great, I got another shot of Earl, the Devil's Henchvulture. She is pretty cute, even if she is crazy.

There was some housecleaning going on at RAPTOR today. We are almost to full capacity, and some birds needed to be moved to other mews. Now, all the program birds are in one barn, and the rehab birds are in the other. Isis, who I think never has shared a mew before, is now in with Two Socks and Scarlet.

Check out the back of Isis' can see a black spot, the only place she has pigmented feathers.

Isis: "Hey, what are you doing in my mew?"

Two Socks: "Um, nooo...what are YOU doing in MY mew?"

When I picked up the birds, Isis and Scarlet were sitting together. When I came back a few hours later, they were still sitting close. I guess girls have to stick together.

How do we tell Two Socks and Scarlet apart? Two Socks is smaller and darker.

I took Bailey back to Mom's tonight, and stopped to see my sister-in-law and nephew. (My brother's family lives next door to my Mom). And Anne, my SIL, has her freakin' Christmas tree up already. She always does it early, but most years she at least waits until Thanksgiving.

My brother, Steve, is the great white hunter in the family. And this is the only buck that was pretty enough to get stuffed. An 8-pointer! And it sure tasted good.
Before all the vegetarians get all nuts, just know that deer need to be culled, because we have made such a paradise for deer in our country. All the pretty lawns and golf courses, the rather smart decision not to allow hunting in those areas, no natural predators, and you have a deer population explosion. Is it better to kill the animal quickly, or allow them to crumple up on the hoods of our cars and die slowly of ruptured organs?
Okay, I don't want to rant...but if this was Julie's blog, boy howdy we would be stirring the pot.