Friday, February 29, 2008

Single in Seaman

Here I sit in Adams County...with my lap top, hot pizza, TV and jammies. Life is good.

I got a call from Trixie yesterday, about getting together when she comes into Cincinnati, and when I mentioned the birding symposium, she said, "Hey...wasn't that when your father-in-law yelled at you for not having the curtains closed?"
Dang, she has a good memory!

Click here to see Swami yelling at me-Never mind that I am on the second floor and the only creature who would be looking in my window at night would be an owl (which I would welcome gladly!)

And to begin a tradition (you can start a tradition the second time something happens, right?), here's a picture of my Adams County hotel room this year, complete with slightly open curtains.

This very well might be the same room as last year. It's a nice hotel. Well, it's the only hotel...

Tomorrow: Showing off the birds (the four of them are comfortably resting in their carriers tonight) and then a bird walk. Is there a better pairing of words in the English language?
Bird Walk.....
A random funny that had me howling (in my car, alone...scaring the kids in the car next to me):
Seaman...a place that is has a lot of very very small folks in it.
That's bad. Lord, I apologize.
(But it's still funny)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yet another reason to come to northern Ohio in May

I just heard on the Ohio bird listserv that the bald eagles on Catawba Island up near Port Clinton are on nest. If egg laying begins today, that means that the eggs should hatch around the second week of April. They are able to hold their heads up at around 2 weeks, and can stand at around 4 weeks of age. So if you come up to IMBD on the second weekend of May, we might get to see baby eagles.

Baby. Eagles.

Catawba Island isn't really an island. It is a peninsula that juts into Lake Erie and escapes being an island by less than a mile of land that connects it to the rest of Ohio.
Everywhere you look up there is water. Harbors, rivers, Lake Erie, the marshes.

I checked a few of the local hotels, and there are still rooms available. Hint. Hint.

And in my opinion, we should all call Lynne's boss collectively, on a conference call, and tell him/her that Lynne needs that weekend off.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ol' Jack Frost can bite me, right on my frosty a**.

That's it. I have lost my mind.
Today, after a night of moderate snow fall, we had about four inches of very fluffy snow. The roads were NOT slick, since they had already been treated and were continually treated throughout the night. But Lorelei got the day off, because the school district had a 90 minute delay(since she only goes half a day, a delay means no school for her).
A day alone? Quiet Mommy-time? Sitting in a warm car taking awesome pictures of great birds?

Hell to the no.

I'm sick of snow. I'm sick of soggy boots and wet carpet. I'm sick of scraping windshields. I'm sick of these kids not going to school. I'm sick of cloudy, crappy weather.
Lynne has a great HERE. I could use some Blogger-Therapy.

So let's cleanse with photos, taken with my newly-repaired (Well, ma'am, we can send it back to the service center) camera:

Wet dog noses...

See my brain
"Hey, Mom. See my brain?"

My Pretty Isabelle
Man, oh man. My kids are so cute. (and it helped that for once, she smiled at the camera instead of hiding)

cats eye
Queen watched the bird feeders with me today. You can see the feeders in the reflection of her eyes. Cool.

Blue moon
"Blue saw me standing aloooooooone....."
(One of many suncatchers/windchimes in the breakfast nook, just as the sun was going down)

Somethings to look forward to:
Friday I head out to Adams County for the Birding Symposium. I did this program last year, and it was fun. Got to see Bill and Julie for a few minutes, then they split (man, are those people busy!), KatDoc showed up, and of course, Amish food aplenty. Kathi, you comin' this year? How about you, Nina? I haven't met you yet...jump to it, girl.
I will spend Friday night in lovely, picturesque Seaman Ohio (Yeah, it's pronounce semen) and then spend Saturday doing my RAPTOR thing, then I get to go on a bird walk with everyone. Whoot! I need some birding, seriously. I haven't been out in so long. :(

Next weekend is the Owl Prowl at Spring Grove Cemetery. (Check out that can see Elvis our past barred owl and Sylvester our GHOW)
I will just be holding birds for Jeff, one of our volunteers. It will be nice to let someone else do the talking. Looks like there is still time to register (it's free) if you are in the area, come and see us!


Okay. I feel a little better. And I noticed that this post is very linky. So you all have something to do tonight.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I hold these truths to be self-evident

My camera is back. And it works.
Can I get a hallelujah?

But the weather and my schedule both have it out for me. I wanted to do a field test today, but I had Lorelei (so no stealthy birding) and a program to present...and tomorrow, even if the girls have school (which may or may not happen, since there is real snow falling-God! Help us!), the weather will probably be too crappy to bird. Or the lighting will be too crappy to get good shots.
But you know me....I will try anyway. After I take the birds back to RAPTOR. After the program, the roads were nasty, and since I was so close to home I decided to keep them overnight.

Things that just seem to be:

1. Girl Scout cookies are physically unable to remain in the box long enough to go stale.
(Thin Mints! Yum...)

2. The longer you wish for Spring, the more snow you get.

3. A watched camera never comes...until you are unable to go out and use it.

I would very much like to get back to my general random-blogging style. With pictures.
Check back tomorrow, k?

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Heart Minnesotans

Omigod. I love blogging. And I love bloggers. I love bloggers from Minnesota.

About a week ago, I did a post about some beading work I have completed recently. Ruth at Nature Knitter, asked me to make something for her. She sweetened the deal by offering to knit me some half-mitts. A crafty trade? Hell, YES!
(I have to say, I think what I made for her will pale in comparison. Did I get pictures of my work? Nope. If Ruth isn't completely embarrassed by it, maybe she will show the lanyard I made for her.)


My Mitts

Look at all the colors! Love 'em.

My Mitts3

They are warm. They are totally washable. They fit me perfectly. They are unbelievably cute.

My Mitts2

They remind me of hobo gloves...but in a good way. They will keep my hands warm while I jess up the RAPTOR birds...
Jessing up: While I have the bird on my left hand, I have to hold the jesses (leather straps) in between my thumb and first finger, and with my right hand, work a small metal swivel into the slits in the jesses and then slip the tether into the hole of the swivel.
If I lost you there, don't worry about it. Suffice to say, winters at RAPTOR will be easier for me now that I have HAND-KNITTED, COOL HALF-MITTS FROM The Great Frozen North, made by a cool birder-blogger.

*I walked outside with them tonight. I didn't need to go outside...I just went outside with my new mitts on. Just because.*

Edit: News on the camera...It is finished, and the UPS tracking says that it is in Pennsylvania and due to arrive at the store on Monday. I guess it would have been too much trouble to just send it to me. Oh, sure. I can take time from my busy schedule to go back to the store AGAIN.
But I digress. It's coming. Soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let it snow....dammit.

Southern Ohio is smack dab in the middle of a snow and ice storm. We have received at least 3 inches of snow on top of what we got yesterday. And now the ice is falling. Dammit.

The thing about Cincinnati:
Cincinnati is located within a climatic transition zone; the area is sometimes considered to be at the extreme northern limit of the humid subtropical climate, but most sources place the area at the southern end of the humid continental climate. Although technically located in the Midwest, Cincinnati also is occasionally considered to be within the periphery of the Upland South.
(I didn't write it off Wikipedia. But Cincinnati really is like a "Southern" city...all this snow just sucks for us, no matter how many times it happens to us. We act like the World is About to End)

The only good thing I can think of with all this snow is the increased activity at the feeders. Feeding the birds not only gives them some added help in this sterile world we have also gives us a window into their behavior. They are packing in the sunflower seeds, suet dough...all that yummy fatty stuff that will keep them warm.

The downside to this is the starlings. It wouldn't be too bad if it was just starlings....I just bang on the window or throw a shoe at it and they scatter for awhile.

But the current flock also contains brown headed cowbirds (native!) and red-winged blackbirds (also native). So if I scare off the starlings, I am also scaring off birds who belong here. Dammit.
The Horde
(If you click on this picture, you can see that one bright red cardinal
in the midst of all that black.)
I counted over 100 starlings at one point today. Dammit.

Just got a call from Isabelle's school (they have this neat automated system to alert us of the important stuff) and they are closing for tomorrow. Romper Room....Day Two. Sigh.

Car stuff:
The driver's side window on my car is acting's electric and won't go up or down. I can usually just manually pull it up if I need to, but today, it stuck....OPEN. So there is a two-inch gap that can allow snow and ice to build up in my car.

Snow Turban
So I shielded it with one of Swami's old turbans.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Chionophobia: the fear of snow. I think the superintendent of our school system has it.
I mean, we got what, TWO INCHES of snow? Three, tops? And not ice-crusted, heavy snow. Fluffy, easy to remove snow. Jesus.
So my planned day of birding and relaxing turned into Romper Room. Anyone remember Romper Room?

GHOW nest 022008
Mama GHOW is still sitting. It won't be long now...she is on Day 23, so about a week to go.
This could have been a great photo....if I had my camera.

lotsa goldfinches
All the birds are revved up, either to just survive the next night or to fuel up for their upcoming migration. I find myself staring longer and harder at the juncos this time of year. One day, they will be gone...until next winter. (I almost got a picture of 20 goldfinches on the Big Feeder....if I only had my camera.)

Bored Hooper
Hooper was unimpressed.

And then the yodeling began. If I had my camera, I could show you video with sound of his yodeling.

Did anyone watch the eclipse tonight? I did. And got this nifty photo. If I only had my camera.

Update on my camera: I was told by my "insider" that repairs are finished and I should have it back soon. God, I hope so.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sticky Hawk ID

A local photographer/birder Jason, a guy I have run into here and there around town, sent me an email yesterday about a hawk he saw.

This bird was eating from a fresh deer carcass at the entrance of Caesar Creek State Park. At first, he thought it was a juvenile red tailed hawk. Some others chimed in and disagreed. They thought it was a juvenile red shouldered hawk. I looked at it, and the more I looked, the less I was sure.

(Jason's photo) (and if you want to be jealous, go look at his Flickr photos)

At first glance, I thought, "Oh, that's a young RT." But then I looked at the eyes. Those are dark eyes, not the light eyes you would see on a juvenile. The streaking on the chest and flanks of the bird are consistent with a juvenile RS.

Let's look at a red shouldered hawk (photo by me):
red shouldered in the yard
The tail of this bird (an adult) is banded in black and white. A juvenile has dark and light brown bands.

And we all know what an adult red tail looks like (my photo):
rehab RT tail feathers
That's fairly unmistakable.

Let's look at the tail again (Jason's photo):

The tail of this bird has bands that are thinner than what you would expect on a juvenile RS. And the tail of a juvenile RT has wide light brown bands with thin dark brown bands. And that reddish tinge to the feathers...both on the tail and the shoulders.

An interesting-looking bird, huh? Reminds me of a bird posted about on Birdchick.
My strongest impression is that this is a red shouldered hawk, but I still see a lot to wonder about that. The tail is what is sticking with me.
Give us your thoughts!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Great Backyard Bird Count

If you haven't yet, be sure to get out there this weekend and participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. You don't have to stick to your own backyard...just get out there, count birds for at least 15 minutes per location and then submit your findings. Easy.

My two locations for today were Lake Isabella and Armleder Park.
Lake Isabella had the usual species, but Armelder Park, site of this year's Raptor-Palooza, was lousy with short-eared owls.

SEOW far away
Most of my pictures, taken with my little point-n-shoot, were like this.

2 SEOW and 1 harrier
For once, the SEOW outnumbered the harriers (here you can see two SEOW with a single harrier in the middle, trying to harass them).

SEOW are good at camoflage
Let's play Spot The SEOW! See that stick-looking thing in the middle of the photo? That's a SEOW. They blend in well, don't they?

SEOW take off
Here's one on take-off. See that dark wrist spot? Good field mark for a SEOW. That, and the flat face. They look so huge as they fly around, but they are only about 13-17 inches long and weigh a little less than a pound.

SEOW fly over
One was good enough to fly right over my head. If I had my regular camera (Come on, repair center! This is your last chance!) this would have been a stellar photo.

As I walked back to my car, after being there for about an hour and a half, I finally got a decent shot of one as it rested in a tree:
Best SEOW of the day
Ahhh......that's better.

I'm off to submit my counts. Be sure to get out there and count some birds!

Oh! Forgot to mention that I got a lifer......American Pipits! Whoot!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love, Power, Nuthatches and Turkeys

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all!
Geoff and I don't really ever do anything especially romantic on Valentine's, not anymore. We used to be the most revoltingly-mushy couple in the world. But kids and life tend to change the scenery. One reason that Valentine's will always make me smile....Isabelle was conceived on a Valentine's Day. Yeah, you really needed to know that, didn't you?
Geoff, my lovely, sensitive, caring, compassionate, funny man....I love you.

My camera went back to that place tonight. It's going with a note that this camera is being watched by my inside friend . So, if anyone still thinks that a blog can give you power, my camera stands as proof. Now, if I could only land a paid-to-blog gig.

At Mom's today, I got some pictures of her white-breasted nuthatches. I never get tired of watching nuthatches. Their amazing gravity-defying poses lift up my heart.

WBNU by ONE toe
Look at this closely....that bird is hanging from ONE TOE on that top foot. Can you hang by one toe? Me neither.
(That's Zick Dough in the log...I turned Mom into a disciple)

Graceful Tom Turkey
Some tom turkeys came to feed on the scratch Mom throws out for them.
Just look at that bird. How can a 20-pound bird look that graceful?
But, Mom told me that she watched them run the other day when ice was thick on the ground, and the turkeys' feet kept slipping out from under them and their butts were hitting the ground.
I would have paid to see that.

Three Toms
"Watch it, human."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The squeaky wheel, a fish and some bewds

I have a story to tell, but first, pictures:

(I somehow got these in between "Lens Error" messages on my camera)

May I introduce the newest tenant of the Kitchen Fish tank?
This is George:
George is a dwarf puffer fish.
He likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. He's not into yoga...he is into champagne.

Today after school, Isabelle was quietly working on something. I asked her what she was doing, and she said to wait a minute. When she turned around, I saw what she had done:

I love her, too
See? No matter how CRAZY your kids make you, they end up doing stuff like this and you forget all the bad stuff.

Fluffy SOSP
All the birds were fluffed up...we had a few inches of snow and ice yesterday and the temperature this morning was about 20. I just love song sparrows. They are so happy-looking.

stretching for the Zick Dough
I smeared some warm Zick Dough on the crabapple tree to "hide" it from the blankety-blank starlings, and this female cardinal pondered over it for a few minutes while I watched. She finally s t r e t c h e d her neck out and tried it.

Now, my story:
A few days ago, I got an interesting email. This person said she was with a high-level service department at Best Buy and saw my blog post about my oh-so-lovely Geek experience.
No freakin' way. I didn't even mention Best Buy...but I did say "Geek Squad". Isn't that unreal?
I sent it to Geoff and he said that it is reasonable that they would be searching for people who are talking about them. It was LEGIT.
See, you really need to watch what you say on the internets, huh?
She is probably reading this right now. Hi, S!

Anyway, we went back and saying what I wanted and her telling me what she could offer. So, the final result will be me taking the camera back, they will try to fix it again, and they will do it quickly. I will also get a nice big gift card from Best Buy for my trouble. And if it is wrong, AGAIN, I will be getting a new camera, according to their "Lemon" policy.

So the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What is he doing right that I am doing wrong?

Geoff has a new writing gig. Getting paid to BLOG.

Paid to blog.

The site is called WalletPop, and it's full of interesting and useful information about personal finance, shopping, etc. Go check it out and you can look for Geoff's posts (they will have his name on them)

Paid to blog. It's wrong. Wrong, I tell ya.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Well, most birds are smart...

While I was taking those lovely pictures of Lucy yesterday, Jeff was bringing in a Cooper's hawk. He had to go trap and remove this bird from a warehouse nearby. He saw that it was banded, and when he checked the number, he found out that he had trapped and removed this same bird, from the same building, in the same corner of the building last year.
Warehouse Coopers hawk
She had dirty feet and tail...sooty-looking.
After a bath and a few free meals, she will be released. Again.

RAPTOR and others 069
A new dessert is sweeping the nation!
It's Hawk-On-A-Stick!
(Lorelei said that it looks like the hawk is wearing a dress.)

From what Jeff says, this is a hawk that was hatched in the Spring of 2006.
The clues lie in the eyes...
Warehouse Coopers hawk close up eye
In one more year, her eyes will be totally orange. She just has a tiny bit of yellow left.
Hopefully, by the time those eyes are 100% orange, she will have learned NOT to go into buildings.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Did you think that I had finally gone mental and offed the Geek and went to the Big House?

I wanted to show everyone what my camera is capable of when it puts its mind to it:

I have been doing some beading lately, which I love to do. It calms me down, and that's a good thing.
Some pieces I did this week:
My SIL was admiring the watch I made for my Mom as a Christmas gift, and asked if I would make one for her mom:
RAPTOR and others 043
The large silver pieces are set with Swarovski lead crystals, and the smaller beads are Czech glass and a few cracked glass pieces.

RAPTOR and others 036
When I make something special for someone,
I like to add a charm to give it a bit of a personal touch.

Another piece was a funky eyeglass holder for my Mom:

RAPTOR and others 048

When I found these awesome milleflori glass beads, I know I had to do something bright and colorful with them:
RAPTOR and others 046
Mom loved it. Which was the whole point.

And now, let's just bask in the glow of Lucy basking in the sun today:
RAPTOR and others 055

Lucy niticitaing mem
(See her nictitating membrane?)

RAPTOR and others 059
Here it is all the way over her eye.
Did you know that we humans have a residual nictitating membrane? That pink tissue in the inside corner of our eyes.

RAPTOR and others 061
I love this one especially, because it looks like she is flying, something she will never do again.

At the end of the day, I was getting ready to put the screech owl back, when I noticed that his foot looked 'wrong'. I looked closer, and saw that his back toe (hallux) was caught in the tied part of his jess (those leather straps that allow us to control the bird).
Crap. These birds do NOT like us messing with their feet (our GHOW is an exception to this rule...nothing bothers that bird) so I had to wrap him in a towel in order to get the talon out.
RAPTOR and others 074
(Click on the picture if you can't make out the hallux stuck in the jess)
Wrapping the bird in a towel calms them down...raptors are so visually oriented, if they can't see what is going on, they relax (at least enough for you to do what you need to do to them).
RAPTOR and others 076
With a very, very gentle lift and a tiny twist, the talon was free. I checked the toe, and it was pink and warm, and he was able to flex it (almost right into my finger), so the toe wasn't damaged. It made me a nervous wreck to hold that tiny leg...birds have hollow bones, (think of a very brittle straw) and screech owl leg bones are teeny tiny. So I held my breath until I could get him back onto my glove:
RAPTOR and others 078
His feathers were a bit frumpled, but otherwise he was just fine. Whew!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

There's a big RANT coming. So if you would rather not read all the potty-words, just go visit someone else's blog and come back here tomorrow.
Anyone still here? Good.

So, I mentioned that my camera came back yesterday. Well....

I went out and took some quick pictures of the GHOW nest, and as I was happily snapping away, I GOT ANOTHER "LENS ERROR" message. And the zoom, as we all know, was Fubarred.
The exact reason I sent it in, in the first place.
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.

I took my camera back to the store (I won't mentioned any names, but it's two words that both begin with "B") and waited in line.
The next available member of the "Geek Squad" asked what he could do for me. Dude, this is not your lucky day.
Me: I just got this camera back from servicing and it's doing exactly the same thing as before.

He took it from me and started taking pictures, zooming in and out, etc. No matter what he did, he couldn't make the camera give an ERROR message and he said the zoom was fine.
Great, the camera is making a liar of me.

Geek: Well, we can send it back to the service center and they can take a look.
Me: They didn't fix it before. What makes you think they can fix it now?
Geek: Are you a photographer, ma'am?
( I HATE it when someone calls me MA'AM)
Me: (thinking...well, no, but I like to think that I know a few things) No.
Geek: Well, when you zoom in all the way to digital, the resolution gets worse.
Me: I know, but...
Geek: And the lighting makes a difference, too.
Me: I know that, but...
Geek: We could send it back in to the service center...
Me: AS I SAID BEFORE, what makes you think that they can fix it? I don't trust the service center anymore.
Geek: Well, it's up to you, but we can send it back to the service center...
Me: What are you, a cyborg?
(Okay, I didn't really say that. But I wanted to.)

Another Geek came by and said that he had the same camera and started playing with it. This guy at least understood what the hell I was talking about and said that there was definitely something wrong with my camera. At last! A human to talk to!

Me: Do you hear the squealing when the lens moves?
Geek#1: I didn't hear anything.
Geek #2: Yeah, I heard it. Here, so-and-so, listen. (Put the camera up to the guy's head and zooms in and out)
Geek #1: Oh, yeah. I heard that before.
Me: Holy sh*t.
(Okay, I didn't really say that. But I wanted to.)

Me: (holding out my hand and taking the camera back.) What about the scratches on the barrel?
Geek#1: Huh?
Geek #2: Man, look at that! There's definitely something not right there.
Me: Sigh. Shouldn't the service center have seen that if they replaced the optical stuff and the lens stuff?
Geek#2: Yeah. They didn't see this.
Me: So? What now?
Geek #1: Well, we can send it back to the service center...
Me: LOOK. (Said through clenched teeth) I can't be without this camera for another two weeks. What's the good of sending it back? Do you see that I am NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS? (And don't you know that I have a BLOG?????????????????)

Geek#1: We could send it back to the service center....
Me: (thinking) Oh, for f*ck's sake....
Geek#1: ...and I could put an "expedite" on it and maybe you can get it back sooner.
Me: NO. (Said with a great deal of venom)

Geek #2 left.
No! Don't leave me with him! He's a damn robot!!!!!

Me: Do you have a "Lemon" policy?
Remaining Geek: Yes, but we would have to send the unit (Oh, now it's a UNIT?) back for service this time, and if it happens again, we can do a blah-blah-blah......and you might get a new camera. This would be the third time you send it in. (Thanks, moron. I didn't know how to count....thank God you are here.)
Me: Might? So I have to be inconvenienced FOUR times? (My voice volume is creeping up here)
Geek (who is visibly sweating now): Well, it's up to you. We can send it back to the service center...
Me: Give me my camera. (snatching it away from him) Thank you for your help.

I marched out of the store, and I swear, employees SCATTERED as I passed.
I got into the car and realized that I had a bad headache coming on...because my jaw was clenched so tight, my teeth hurt.

I started driving, and took out my frustrations on an IDIOT who was crossed the parking lot fast, in the wrong know, when people drive across a parking lot, instead of going up and down the rows like you are supposed to? I hate people who do that. What if a small child was walking from behind a car?
I yelled to him, inside the car, "You stupid f***ing A**HOLE!"
I felt a little better.

So, now I have a camera that definitely has a problem, but sending it back and waiting for two weeks and maybe getting it back in EXACTLY THE SAME CONDITION just was too much for me today. When I calm down, I will probably take it back in, but not without first sending a strongly worded letter to this store's manager and anyone else I can think of.
I mean, this is wrong, isn't it? This guy was so not into making me a happy customer. Why didn't he try harder? All he could do was repeat a stupid doofus.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Variety is the spice of life

And Magee Marsh is very very spicy...
Just to show the different habitats there, here are some pictures from my trip in 2007, and I will let them speak for themselves:

Darn good pic of woodcock no 3
American of three I saw in the first 15 minutes on the boardwalk.

single ruddy turnstone
Ruddy turnstone

Baltimore oriole
Baltimore oriole

Black throated green
Black throated green

Eastern kingbird

great blue heron

Beaver 1
Yeah, there are mammals, too. Beaver!

And the scenery is the sunset over Lake Erie:

Sunset over Lake Erie

Note: I got my camera back today!
"My camera's back, and I'm gonna take some pictures...
Hey Lie, hey camera's back!"