Saturday, June 09, 2007

C'est la vie

Remember the opening song in "The Lion King"?
The Circle of Life?
I had that kind of day.

I had an awesome day of birding and butterflying? and dragonflying? Is that what you call it?
The Oxbow is radically different when there hasn't been much rain. The water level was down far enough to open up pieces of land that I hadn't been able to walk on before.
I took a million pictures, but I narrowed it down to the ones I am really proud of.

Question mark
Lots of butterflies...this Question Mark was very cooperative while I took its picture.
Look at those colors!
Let's play "Can You Spot the Killdeer?".
Green heron off in the distance
Well, I'm not especially proud of this one,'s a green heron.
Yellow-billed cuckoo
This is what made the trip worth it:
A Yellow-billed cuckoo!
I saw this bird fly over and land, and beat a big yellow caterpillar against the branch before swallowing it. When I got a look through the binoculars, I broke out in giggles.
It's not really a life bird (I heard one at Bill and Julie's last year) but it's the first time
I actually SAW one.
And a cuckoo in the sunlight, sitting still.
I sat there and grinned like an idiot.
Transformer dragonfly
I don't know what kind it is, but doesn't it look like a Transformer?
Twinkly dragonfly
Okay...THIS one is going to get blown up and hung on the wall.
I couldn't believe the luck of seeing this glittery dragonfly sitting in the sun, motionless.
A dragonfly dusted with shimmer-pink eyeshadow.
Knotted snake
And not so great...on the way out of the Oxbow, I found a snake along the road that had obviously been hit by a car and had died, twisting and writhing in its death throes.
The weirdest fly EVER
Is it me, or is this the weirdest fly ever?
Those eyes remind me of those sunglasses from the Eighties...the ones with just a slit in the front to see through....know what I mean?

Back at home, Nellie and I went out in the back yard and I checked on the baby robins.
A few days ago, there were four.
Yesterday, there were two.
Last one
Today, there was one.
What the Hell was going on? I looked all around the tree, but didn't see any that had fallen. A snake? A raccoon? WHAT????
I wondered if the parents were somehow not getting enough food for everyone. I went in and grabbed some mealworms (I wasn't sure if they ate them, but I wanted to give it a shot.)
I put the dish near the tree and went back in to watch.
About one minute later, a large thing came barreling into the robins' tree, and then flew out, with the parents chasing after it.
When I saw what it was, I realized where all the other babies had gone.
A red-shouldered hawk was taking them away.
I stood in the yard, looking up in the trees where the hawk had gone, with my hand over my mouth. I didn't know whether to cry or not.
I pulled myself together and told myself:
"The red-shouldered hawks down the road have mouths to feed."
"At least it was a native eating a native."
"That's nature."

The hawk came back as we were eating dinner. He or she perched on the purple martin least someone is using the damn thing. The TRES laid two different clutches, and they both disappeared. The purple martins were too late. I wonder if I could put our bat house up there.
(More on bats later on...)

Nellie puzzles over the robins
Nellie puzzles me.
She is deathly afraid of the TRES, but she could care less that the parent robins were screeching a few feet above her head.
The girls took it a lot better than I thought.
Isabelle said, "At least the HOUSE SPARROWS didn't get the babies!"
That's my girl.

Thistle with inchworm
After all the drama, Isabelle and I walked the yard. The thistles are blooming, and I didn't even see the inchworm until I uploaded this!

Tonight, as I was outside looking for the tree frog, I saw a bat fly over. This is the first one I have seen this year. I so need to get that bat house up!
I went in to tell the girls and Geoff, and they surprised me by wanting to go out and see.
We walked out in the back yard and watched the bats and fireflies. It was one of those moments.


Memory Central said...

Ah. Making Fond Memories for the girls.

LauraHinNJ said...

Bummer on the robins. I'm surprised a hawk would be bothered with something so small.


I haven't spotted any bats yet, but haven't looked for them either - thanks for the reminder!

nina said...

Hope your PI is improving--I have chiggers! (and you will, too! :-)
Nature being nature is sometimes hard to understand--but it's a lesson for the girls, death for one means life for another.

Mary said...

What a full day! I'd frame that sparkly dragonfly, too, Susan. And the poor Robins - I rhink I would have cried and knowing how much you love your raptors, I know you felt a little remorse anyway.

Bats and fireflies. What a night! Have you ever called them "lightning bugs"? That's we we call them.

NatureWoman said...

Wow what a great day Susan! Your photos are beautiful girlfriend! Except that poor snake - wah. . . And the robins. . . Ohh, I *love* bats - I sooo want a bat house too, but I know the neighbors would freak (I already give them enough to freak about with my natural, chemical-less habitat here). Bats are so cool. And fireflies - I haven't seen any yet, but I will!

mon@rch said...

Such a great day for sure! Yeah on the Yellow-billed Cuckoo! Also love your comma picture! They are not that easy to photograph! Glad you had such a great day!

KatDoc said...

When a Coop takes a bird from my feeders, I feel the same ambivalence. On the one hand, the hawks need to eat and feed their young. On the other hand, those are MY birds; why can't the Coop eat a house sparrow or a starling, for goodness' sake. Sorry about your baby robins, but applause to Isabelle - she had the right attitude!

Sweet photo of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I have been hearing them all around my study field at CNC and had a glimpse of something Cuckoo-sized once or twice, but haven't a had a visual like that since my Life Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Crooked Run 4 years ago.

~Kathi, who would love to go birding at CNC with you

Liza Lee Miller said...

What a day. Love the bat moment. Very cool!

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened at our house... two nests of robins suddenly disappeared, and while we didn't see the predator the way you did, we're telling ourselves the same thing about nature taking its course. Rough world out there...

Anonymous said...

Comments here help us to perhaps understand. Robin worked like hell to feed and prune what were 3 baby necks sticking up, then two, then one. After one, now bigger a week old, we saw the robin squawk and chase a big hawk sitting accross the street on a neighbors roof. So we can only assume. Last night there were none in the nest and no momma bird either and my whole family was bummed over it. The nest was in a river birch tree about 1.5 stories up and accross from a bedroom window which made for real live entertainment for the entire family. We will never know the fate and can only assume the hawk got for its young ones or got fed. You would think it would be more intersted in the abundance of chipmunks around. We also have a racoon around and a resident squirrel we call "hammy". But given the hawk was "interested" sitting on the roof top looking directly at the next location and the mother robin chased it with one baby left its was probably a hawk that was responsible. I am sure there are worm kids and parents that lost family members to the mother robin so I not sure whom to feel sorry for in this case. Nature is the ultimate reality show and teacher that life isn't necessarily fair.