Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bootilicious frogs, cute piles of dryer lint, flutterbys, peek a boo BO, and dragonfly porn

I had a great day. And I love it when I can say that and mean it.
I had a program at the Loveland Castle today, for a homeschool group.
I think that my toe is whole, but it's jammed all to Hell and back.
The audience today was fantastic, the birds were well-behaved...and since I had Lorelei, Geoff met us at the castle and watched her while I presented.

Oh. By the way, I forgot to add this picture on yesterday's post:


Yep, they are doing what you think they are doing.
I'd like to see a human male get into that position.
Or maybe I wouldn't.

Okay, on to the cuteness...
I am so glad that Mom decided to drop Isabelle off at RAPTOR today. She has never been there, and today was a good day to see the birds.

A cute pile of dryer lint
Because we have a baby screech owl.
Go ahead. Soak that in.
Dryer lint has never been cuter.

Isabelle took MOM shopping yesterday, and talked Mom into buying her a Bug Habitat, complete with bug vacuum. She caught some little sulphurs and we released them in the back yard:
Butterflies like sweat
I love this picture.
It's not every day you get so close to a butterfly that you can tell the color of its eyes.

And I love this too:
I heard our little tree frog tonight, and I decided that it was time to meet the neighbor.
I took a flashlight with me, thinking that I would be able to find him by his eyeshine. Nope.
I moved the light back and forth, but I didn't even know what color I was looking for. They come in brown, gray and green. And all of those colors are in our Euonymus bush.
He doesn't mind when we are out there...he just keeps on singing.
So I narrowed down the section I heard him in, and then I saw a glint of frog-skin:
Tree frog booty
Tree frog booty. In all its glory.

I so wanted to reach in and pick him up, but I want him to stay and enjoy his visit.
So I only got pictures of his bee-hind. Well, at least now I know what color he is, and maybe I can find him again when he is facing out.
Isn't he cute, anyway? I could just kiss him.
But you know, I have kissed lots and lots of frogs...and I have my prince.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Freakin' OW

My Mom offered to have Isabelle sleep over tonight, so we headed over. The girls and I went on a quick nature walk (Mom's place is like a nature preserve).
We found this...stuff...on a tree near the pond.
I don't know where to research on the Web to figure this out. Fungus? Flower? Parasite?
What is this stuff

snouty moth
Moth with a snout
(I have to get to a library...thanks, Nina... and get some field guides)
HOSP thwarted
I thwarted a pair of HOSP by removing their nesting material from one of Mom's bluebird boxes. I showed the picture to Mom, and said, "Take that, you little ba*****s". And Mom said, "Awww...". I told her to buck up and not feel bad for them. You can't ALLOW HOSP to nest if you find one. Period.
Gray with eyespots
Hackberry Emperor

And now, two quizzes...not for prizes, because I don't have anything you would want:
Can you spot Isabelle
Can you spot Isabelle?
quiz pic
What is this?

Indigo Lake Isabella
After leaving Mom's, I took Lorelei over to Lake Isabella.
The indigo bunting was there to greet us. I swear, where have they been for the past four years? I never saw ONE until this year, and now they are everywhere I go!
White with tick marks
A cute white guy with dark tick marks
The Little Miami always has something floating in it. But since the drought is upon us, the water level is very very low. This bunch of wood has been mostly under water until today. I was able to get close enough to photograph it.
"Colonial"? A boat? Outhouse?
River flowers
Laura suggested a good website to me a while back for wildflower ID's, but every flower I find seems to be absent from the list.
This is growing where the water usually is...vast, spreading swaths of it.

And then, it was back home again...
Can't you see that I am invisible
The momma robin is still sitting, but it's getting close.
"Can't you see that I am invisible?!?"

Here's where the OW comes in...
I was walking the perimeter of the yard while Geoff lounged in the grass and Lorelei was on the swing. Nellie has a favorite ball that she takes out every time we go in the back, and I was kicking it for her to fetch. Now, Nellie has a very annoying habit of standing directly in front of the ball when I kick it, but I can usually get it above her head so she has to run to fetch.
I was wearing my Mudd sandals.
*Go ahead and imagine scary, horror-movie, about-to-die music*
I kicked the ball, and as I was swinging my foot back, Nellie put her face right in front of my foot.
I ended up kicking Nellie straight in the head, full force (I can kick hard...I used to play soccer...but not in sandals).
I yelled "OW!" so loud, it echoed all the way down the neighborhood and back.

I saw stars. Really. Flashing spots in front of my eyes.
I limped into the house, cleaned off the blood (the impact took a layer of skin off my third toe) and put ice on it.
Considering how fast and large it swelled up, it's probably broken.
But I knew, from working for a podiatrist for 5 years, there's not much to do about a broken toe except for taping it. It's called the "Buddy system". You use the other toes as a splint and tape the injured toe to the others.
So I have a nicely wrapped purple sausage on my right foot. It HAD to be the right foot, didn't it?
And the kicker is (HA! Made a pun.) that tonight is a "Rodent Run" at RAPTOR that I said I would help with. For the uneducated, a Rodent Run is when some volunteers drive up to Kalamazoo, MI in a pickup truck to a lab/research facility and transport a whole truck bed full of mice and rats for our birds. (This facility also donates to zoos, etc.)
When the truck returns, we separate the critters into smaller bags and put them in the freezer.
When the call came in, I had to withdraw my help. I am staying home with my foot up, blogging.
And you missed out on pictures of freshly dead rodents! Sorry, guys.
One of the reasons it's cool to be married to Geoff:
We get samples from companies that he writes about for Entrepreneur, etc. We get big baskets of chocolate and wine at Christmas, and we also get stuff from Samuel Adams, which I may be diving into later:
For medicinal purposes only
We are keeping it for medicinal use. Promise.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Randomosity and a Coop lesson

A few babies are starting to learn the ropes, out on our feeders:
For the first time, I saw young downy woodpeckers following their parents to the suet and peanuts. The reason I noticed they were young was because they were begging and flapping.
Didn't get a photo.
But I did get one of a juvenile house finch, sampling the grapes:

Juv house finch
(I know it's a juvenile by the extra bold streaking, different from the adult females)
alot of red for a downy
Someone clear this up for me. This guy was at the feeders today, and while he has the "downy" coloring all over his body, his head has a whole lot of red on the top instead of the nape. It looks like a yellow-bellied sapsucker head on a downy body. Anyone want to chime in? The belly was all white, like a downy.
mutant guppy
Here's something you don't see everyday.
One of our guppies born last year was a conjoined twin. I assume two eggs stuck together, and one developed and one didn't. This one was a male, and he had an eye and dorsal fin growing from his abdomen. Well, he died yesterday, and I took the opportunity to finally get a good picture of him. I guess the "twin" grew up into his belly so much that it inhibited digestion or respiration.
Rest in peace, little mutant.

And now, a study of Cooper's hawks:
Our darling Mary posted a picture of a hawk she wasn't sure of, and I made a vow to keep her from "giving up" on raptors. I know how she feels...when I first became a birder, sparrows and raptors were a mystery. They are all differing shades of brown, and my untrained eyes glazed over whenever I saw one. Now, the sparrows are still tough sometimes (as they are to many) but I think I have a fairly good grasp on birds of prey. I better, since I am teaching the next generation about them.
(And this is for anyone who reads my blog and wants to know more about IDs. Most of my regulars don't need this, but hey.)
I've posted these before, but I don't have any new ones yet this year.

As soon as you see a bird of prey, immediately look for three things:
1. Head
2. Tail
3. Belly
99% of the time, those three parts will tell you what you are looking at.
Sometimes, you only get a quick look at two of them: The head and tail, as the bird flies away from you. But a perched bird can show you all of them.
Cooper's hawk (and I am using this one because if you feed birds, you are also feeding Coops, and their population is on the rise):
1. Dark cap on head
2. Banded white/black or gray/black tail
3. Pale belly with orange horizontal streaking
Coop at the yurt
Here you can see belly and head...
Coop looking for more sticks
Here, head and tail...
Coop head
Here, belly and head.
coopers hawk
Accipiters (Coops, sharp-shinned, etc.) have a long, slim profile. Remember: Short wings, long tail. Form and function: Bird eaters have to be fast and maneuverable, so their wings are for speed instead of soaring, and their tails act as rudders to make fast turns.
Young Coop
Juvenile dark cap yet, and brown, vertical streaking (but their tails are pretty much like an adults).
Since there are plenty of juveniles beginning their lives outside the nest right now, we all will be getting lots of opportunities to divine what we are looking at.
Everyone say it with me:
"Head, belly, tail. Head, belly, tail..."

Monday, May 28, 2007

I have a new passion and Geoff got his first book review

I went to East Fork Lake today, to do some birding.
I didn't even go near the lake. It was full of yahoos on jet skies.
Yes, I saw some field sparrows, blah blah blah. But what really captured me and got me excited was all the butterflies, moths and dragonflies.
So after all I saw, I decided to start listing the butterflies and so on that I see. There's a website for that, like eBird, right?
Some of the names I know, and others I don't. I have been searching the Web for ID's, but I never would have had the time to post tonight if I had continued. A butterfly/moth/dragonfly field guide is in my immediate future. I will welcome any identifications here. It's like being a beginning birder. I would also love if anyone has a good site that's easy to use.

Let's start with a dead spider, shall we?

Dead fisher
I think this is the same type of spider I saw at RAPTOR the other day, a fisher. But this one was dead, so I was only a little creeped out.
Yellow collared scape moth
Now, look at how cool this is!
(Yellow collared scape moth)
THAT'S a pretty bug. I love the feathery antennae.
big black striped wings and brown green body
Big dragonflies with bold black stripes and brown/green bodies.

Plathemis lydia
yellow black on lily pad
And a black and green one on a lily pad.
Brown and fuzzy
Fuzzy, brown.
Orange mold leaf mold?
Pale green and yellow
A very pretty yellow/green little guy with eye spots on the wings and green eyes!
Poor ragged thing
Poor ragged thing.
Pretty bug on daisy
A cute bug on a daisy.
red weed and wee grasshopper
This red weed was attractive, and I didn't notice the little green baby grasshopper (?) until I was reviewing the photo.
white grass seeds
White grass seends.

Orange brown
Orange and brown wings, white belly and black eyes.
Eastern pond hawk
I know this one!
Eastern pond hawk...I approved when I found out the name. A 'raptor'-like dragonfly.
Eastern comma
Eastern comma...or is it a question mark? How do you tell?
Fuzzy red
Fuzzy red balls.
Cute overload
Cute overload.
More cute overload
More cuteness. I mean, my goodness.
This is the family I photographed last week.
De plane
And now, here's Geoff's first review of his book, from Publisher's Weekly:

C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America
Geoff Williams Rodale, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59486-319-6

Pyle, a sports agent and promoter, came up with the idea of a footrace (mockingly known as “the Bunion Derby”) from Los Angeles to New York that promised $48,500 in cash, including $25,000 to the first-place winner. For a $125 entry fee, male participants got the chance for a nice payday while subjecting themselves to harsh weather, primitive housing and Pyle's ego and shady business practices. They also had to run 3,500 miles over 84 days (the equivalent of 40 miles a day) long before comfortable running shoes and sophisticated sports nutrition. Williams, a contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, has evocatively recreated a long-forgotten sports event, mixing colorful anecdotes from the race with vivid portraits of the runners. There's Brother John, a bearded zealot who raced in a sackcloth, and 20-year-old Andy Payne, a part-Cherokee Oklahoman who competed to pay off his family's farm and to win the attention of the girl he loved. What could have been one long injury report or a sappy piece of nostalgic nuttiness is a breezy, entertaining read that properly balances the runners' integrity with the comedy of errors that was Pyle's grand experiment and his life. Photos. (July)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Let it rain, down on meeeeee.....

We were promised some thunderstorms this afternoon...

Storm a comin
...and when the wind picked up, the silver maple across the way started showing off its silver.
Running from the rain
The girls were nervous and at one point everyone ran for the front door.
We got a few sprinkles, but it didn't amount to anything.
But we are supposed to get a good drenching sometime in the wee hours.
We could use a good rain. The ground is cracking in places, but you know the only thing really suffering? The grass.
All the native plants are fine, maybe just a bit limp around the edges. But the grass is suffering. Why? Because it is a greedy, non-native. If I can, I will go out tomorrow and get a picture of how nasty the grass looks next to my nice native plants.
volunteer scarlet oak
This volunteer is a scarlet oak, I think.
A free plant!
We found it growing under a picnic table that had been forgotten in the honeysuckle forest (the table was left by the previous owners) and when I finally dug the table out, I sheared off the top of the oak even though I was trying to be careful.
I thought the poor thing was a goner, but over the last month, it has come back. Now that I can get to it, I am going to transplant it over to the prairie and as it grows, it will add another dimension, shade and habitat to the tall grasses and natives. We will have a nice mini-ecosystem, and if I can sweet-talk Geoff, we will also have a pond nearby. Man, we will have so many critters!
black moth-butterfly
Someone tell me what this is.
It was on the spiraea. Isn't it a cute little thing?
Isabelle and daisies
Free plants get me all warm and fuzzy. These daisies were saved from the mower (thankfully they were starting to bloom the last time I mowed!) and they are also filling spaces between some of our pines.
Oh! Here you can see some of the grass getting crunchy. Around the trees, as they suck up the water they need, the grass is drying up. Oh, well. Like I have said before, I would be happy if all the grass died. Well, maybe leave a bit for the girls to do somersaults on.
Dees are for you, Mommy
"Dees are fo you, Mommy."
Mini pond
My project for the day:
While I work on Geoff about building a real pond, I thought I would do a tiny little water source in the back yard. This is my hummingbird/butterfly garden, in its second year. There's lobelia, bee balm, bleeding hearts (which seem to have disappeared) and a new wild strawberry and also a pink beard-tongue.
I got a plastic green bowl planter and dug a hole for it, put it in and surrounded it will old carpet (that was going to be thrown out at RAPTOR...and I thought, "Hmmm...I can use that!") for weed barrier. Tomorrow, I will surround it with rocks (we have lots of large rocks that we keep digging out of flower beds and around the house and we also have some smaller marble pieces in the front of the house I can borrow from) and cover up the carpet. I will put a big stone in the water as a perching area for birds and maybe find a tiny little water plant to sink in there.
Oh, and I need to mulch around the flowers.
(I also have a left-over bag of mulch!)
So this little improvement cost all of $10.