Friday, August 31, 2007

Catching my breath and catching some air

Mother Nature seems to be getting over her hot flash around these parts. It was about 78 degrees and low humidity, so we were all able to breathe today. I am summoning my energy for a weekend chock-full of programs; If you are in the area, come and meet me!
Saturday: Mitchell Memorial Forest, 12-4 pm
Sunday: Shawnee Lookout, 12-4 pm
Monday: Farbach-Warner Nature Preserve, 12-4 pm
(I won't be at that one, but you can come and meet some of our birds and the previous Ed. Director, David.)

The weather beckoned us out into the back yard after dinner. I was out for some action shots, and my family delivered:

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Since Isabelle is all leg, it's easy for her to catch some air.



Lorelei seems to have inherited the Italian Short Legs-Gene, so she can't really get off the ground, but between her hair and her Princess nightgown, there was plenty of motion:
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Geoff helped out by flinging the girls around the yard:



Catching air 1

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The dogs got a huge case of The Gritties and Hooper actually caught some air, too:

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This one cracked me up...Hooper was in mid-spin, and he has lost enough weight for his skin to be extra loose:
Flying loose skin

Looks like he's wearing an extra-large sweater. Look at those folds of skin!

Stopping at RAPTOR to gather some things for the weekend and save myself some time, Lorelei and I said hi to Isis, and she happened to be sitting in a sun beam.
I don't think Isis could ever take a bad picture:

Isis 1



I love this one...doesn't it look like she is glowing from the inside???
Isis glow

I'm excited to be taking her on Sunday's program. The park district brings certain birds, and we bring different ones, to round out the program. They will be bringing their "typical" red-tail, so I will bring Isis to show what happens when a little color gene says, "Nope. Ain't gonna do what you say."
A small confession: I am a little intimidated by Isis. She is a very heavy bird, and has extra strong legs (she's a double glove bird!). She is a bit flighty, and since her right wing is partially amputated, her balance is off. So when she bates, she needs assistance getting back up to a glove or a perch. But taking her on Sunday will give me a bit more practice with her, and hopefully I will get over my sissiness.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Relent...um...recoil....oh yeah! RELEASE!

Today, I helped perform RAPTOR's ultimate goal: A release.

Three weeks ago, I got a call for an injured bird pick up during a very, very busy day. I'm glad I took the pick up, because after a nice rest and some good food and readily-available water, the red tailed hawk was ready to go home. Jeff (the Tree Climber) boxed the bird up for me and I picked it up and drove it out to New Richmond, where it had been found tangled in a fence. No real injuries, maybe a bit of bruising and dehydration (that was back when it was like a zillion degrees outside).

The home-owners were thrilled that it was back, and one of the ways RAPTOR likes to say "Thank you" to people who care enough to make a phone call (or seven) to help an injured bird, is to let them be the "releaser".


I took the hawk (formally known as RT 07-18, now known as a "free bird") from the box and handed it to the home-owner backwards, so that it was facing away from him, and instructed the neighborhood children to help me count to three.
I grabbed my camera and set it to "rapid fire" mode:

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ONE.....

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TWO.......

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THREE!
RELEASE!!!!

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And the hawk is going....

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Going.....

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Gone.

A nice, powerful lift, strong flight, and a very healthy bird is back where it belongs.
It. Felt. So. GOOD.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Don't mess with Victor.

Oh, is it ever gonna freakin' rain?
I can only look out on panting, sorry birds for so long. Time to get out the hose.
That feels SO GOOD

First was the weeping cherry tree in the front yard.
One of the young cardinals soaked it up big time.

Do you mind I'm takin a shower

"Do you mind? I'm showering here."

Then it was dragging the hose through the house to the back yard. Since hummingbirds are libel to be knocked out by a large rain drop, they LOVE mist.

And we have a rather assertive hummingbird this year. I have named him Victor.
Victor E. Get it?

Victor E.

He's like on uppers or something.

Sip n shower

Nothing like having a cold beverage while taking a shower.
But no one else was getting near that feeder but Victor.
(Look closely at the pics...you can see blurs of other hummers trying to cut in)

You can't have any!
"No! Mine!"

Go away!

"I'll bite you in the tail feathers, punk!"

I added a stick to the top of the feeder, for a staging area. But Vic claimed that, too.

Victor above

"No! MY stick! Mine!"

Who dat

"You have a death wish, don't ya, loser?"

It's all mine....haw haw haw

"It's mine....alllllll mine!"

Scales

Tell the Creationists they can bite me. Ever get a really good look at feathers? When birds evolved from reptiles, they retained the pattern of scales. Birds...living dinosaurs.

By the way, the fight over the feeder lasted for a solid hour, before Victor finally perched, panting, on the top of his stick.

Hot and panting

"It's hard work to be so macho."

Grasshopper on feeder

Grasshopper on the feeder (imagine a really dopey voice): "What happened?"

A video of Victor, as he "rested"...the goofy thing never sat still:

*The bird call you hear in the background is my kitchen clock*
video

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'd like to thank the Academy for this award...


Our dear Mary has nominated me for a "Bloggers for Positive Global Change" award. Well, shucks, ma'am. Here's da rulz:

Awardees: Do not feel obligated to participate in this meme but if you care to bestow honors, here are the rules according to Climate of Our Future.
It’s easy to participate in this meme. At minimum, you can proudly display the BPGC badge (it’s available in two varieties: Transparent GIF and JPEG with white background) on your blog and bask in the glow of our collective good will. If you are sharing the kudos, however, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. 1. When you get tagged, write a post with links to up to 5 blogs that you think are trying to change the world in a positive way. 2. In your post, make sure you link back to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme. 3. Leave a comment or message for the bloggers you’re tagging, so they know they’re now part of the meme. 4. Optional: Proudly display the “Bloggers For Positive Global Change” award badge with a link to the post that you write up.

***
Back when I was nominated for the Thinking Blogger award, I thought someone was on crack. But trying to make a few people think about how they treat their little piece of the environment is what this blog is all about.
Global warming, all the animals who are endangered...these seem like insurmountable problems to fix. But change can and will happen one yard at a time. My position at RAPTOR, Inc. has given me a real platform to teach the public about the choices they can make for the greater good. If I stood up in front of a group of people alone and just talked about the environment and birds of prey, it might be mildly interesting. But holding a large and fierce (or small and cute) bird of prey makes folks sit up and pay attention.
I get a kick out of how much land fill we have saved by composting. I've lost count of how many different insects, spiders and butterflies we have seen in our yard. And it's obvious that the birds love hanging out here. The post I did over at the RAPTOR blog is one that I am proud of. The idea behind it: "Cause no HARM".

My picks for the Bloggers for Positive Global Change are too many to list. I think every blog I regularly read is striving for change, either small or big.

Thanks, Mary, for thinking so much of me. Hugs.
I am attempting "Blogger Video" for the first time. I hope this works...worth the download time.


video

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ooooo...you so nasty!

We have our very own Spiderus living on the front porch. You can only know who Spiderus is if you have little kids who watch Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends. I couldn't find a picture of the cartoon Spiderus.

Spiderus

Looks like Mary's spider.


At least someone is using the marsh

My mini-marsh, like every thing else, is bone dry. And cracked open. And sad. But at least some butterflies are enjoying the massive patch of goldenrod growing there.

I had a very nice, long belly-laugh tonight.
Some background: We have not had good luck with pet snails in the girls' fishtanks. Geoff went to the pet store a few weeks ago and bought some cheap little snails, and we decided that if we couldn't keep these guys alive, we would give up on the snails.
Wellllllll...
While putting the girls to bed tonight, I noticed some spots on the inside of Lorelei's fishtank. Oh, man, now what? ! A weird type of algae or creeping water fungus?
Nope. Baby snails. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Geoff bought a pregnant snail.

Baby snail

This is a macro shot of one. Some are no more than minuscule dots, and the largest ones are about half the size of a BB.

Another baby snail

Such tiny perfection. I counted 56 such tiny perfections in Lorelei's tank. And that's not counting the two egg sacks hiding behind the filter.
I laughed some more.

Henry and two baby snails

Henry the Betta was interested in the little flashing light on my camera.
See the two babies? They are cute.
I laughed a little bit more.

Then we put Isabelle to bed, and as I was feeding Cuter, her Betta, I noticed some spots on the inside of the tank. Yep. That snail had babies, too. I laughed again. I was so tickled...every other snail we have added to the tanks has died within a few days. And now, we have a few hundred immaculately conceived snails. I have some research to do...how does a snail give birth 2 weeks after being removed from the company of other snails? Do they keep the "stuff" inside themselves until they are ready to lay eggs? Eewww.
I have to see if these snails are a native species, because if they aren't releasable, say in the fountain/bird bath, I have to dispose of them. Eewww.

Speaking of long-awaited births....the Cincinnati Zoo's female Indian Rhino Nikki, is due to give birth the week of Christmas this year.
Nikki’s pregnancy is not only the first successful artificially inseminated pregnancy in the endangered Indian rhino, but also the first pregnancy produced in any rhino species using frozen-thawed sperm. Sperm was collected from a male Indian rhino named Himal, living at The Wilds in southeastern Ohio, near Bill and Julie's neck of the woods..
Not to diminish the huge news of this scientific breakthrough, but I had to ask myself:
How do you collect sperm from a male rhino?
Smirking Hooper knows:

Ever seen a dog smirk before

"That's a no-brainer. You give him a few back copies of National Geographic and he knocks on the door when he's done."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday at the dog park

Kathi and I met up today at the dog park for a BIG DOG play date.
Isabelle and Lorelei could hardly sit still on the way, because they adore Kathi and her two big dogs, Holly and Gracie. It was also Hooper's first visit to a dog park, and he did wonderfully. We really didn't see too much of him, because once he realized that he had this huge perimeter to run, he was gone...

Hooper's first day at the dog park

Nose to the ground, stopping every once in a while to meet a new dog or person.

Gracie

Gracie...a big bundle of goofy sweetness. If Gracie was a food, she would be a Cinnabon.

We met a Boston...

George

His name is George. Tiny. About half a Chet.

Nellie's no lady

I never said that Nellie was a lady, but gee whiz!
Nellie, remember: "A lady reveals nothing."


On the way out of the park, I swung the car over to the retaining pond, and saw a stinker:

A stinker on a hill

This one's just for Mary, because I love her.

And finally...

Male downy really close

A male downy got very up-close and personal this evening, checking out the suet dough, hanging right outside the window. Woodpeckers amaze me, the way they hold themselves vertically with a few stiff tail feathers.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A day in Indiana

***This would have been posted last night, but we lost power for no good reason***


Going to visit my Mom at the old homestead is alway both wonderful and bittersweet. My Mom is a joy to be with, but around every corner is the ghost of my Dad. And I still get pissed that he isn't here.

uptree

In the front yard are ancient pines, twice as tall as the house.

A big ol mess of ants

Some ants were having a feast on the front patio.

Dry pond

The old pond, that has been here since the house was built in the 40's, is bone-dry. I haven't seen it dry...ever. My feet have touched every inch of the 14-acre property, but I had never been to the middle of the pond. I walked all the way out to it today. It was actually physically distressing.

The pipe we have no idea about

We have never been able to figure out what the purpose of this pipe was...it sticks out of the water right in the middle of the pond, and examining it today gave no clues. A really old filling pipe? Don't know...but the pond has never been more than a few feet deep. It was used to water cattle way back in the day. But it's dry. That actually hurt me.


The attic window

Whoever built the house put a very cool stained glass window in the attic. My room was attached to the storage portion of the attic, separated by a small door that looked as if dwarves could use it. It gave me more than a few nightmares.

Mom's fluffy grass

Mom has very fluffy grass growing at the back corner of the house.


Strange drops of liquid that fell from the sky

While we were there, strange liquid fell from the sky and splattered on the driveway. I took a picture in case this strange phenomenon never happens again.


Peekaboo

We took pity on the local deer family and fed and watered them.

Mom and Isabelle watching the deer

Mom and Isabelle watched from the kitchen. I just noticed that they have the same hair style.

Mom and Lorelei

My brother Steve stopped in for half a minute (he lives next door) and for some reason, Lorelei is uber-shy around him. Here she is crying into Mom's arms. I think that since the girls don't see him very often, they get shy when he is around. He's also scary-looking.
: )

Look alive!

For Lynne:
A vulture! Look alive!


Hummer tocks

Hummingbird 'tocks. I have been checking out Cute Overload and have picked up some of the lingo.
And to end this post with something cute (this post was sort of sour, and I didn't mean for it to be), I leave you with a picture my lovely cousin Cathy sent tonight.
This is my aunt Weez, Cathy and me, probably back in the late 80's, considering how
big my hair is.


Jeez...Thanks, Cath.