Friday, November 30, 2007

In the right place at the right time...four times.

Oh, what a day I had. OMG.
First, at home, I caught these pictures:

Nellie the dentist

Hooper in mid-yawn, and Nellie getting all up in his grill. I'd love to hear what CuteOverload would do with this one. Jeez, need to brush more.

And a blue jay BANZAI !

Blue Jay Banzai !
I knew this blue jay was about to take a leap into space, so I waited with my finger on the shutter button.

Later, Lorelei and I went out to Indian Creek Wildlife Area, a very nice, usually birdy place.
We walked and walked, but the only birds we saw were blue jays and cardinals. I was rather disgruntled, because I could have stayed home for that.
Just as we were getting into the car, I heard a rattling call overhead.
I turned and saw this:

A flock of about 75-100 sandhill cranes, heading southwest, right over our heads. Not a lifer for me, but definitely a lifer for Lorelei (I have decided to keep the girls' life lists for them until they are old enough to do it themselves.) But what a nice view of them...I saw two sandhills up at Ottawa NWR years ago, but that was a poor look through sad binoculars in the rain.

And THEN....
It is Isabelle's turn to have a sleepover at my Mom's, so we headed over there after school
Mom lives in a very rural area, and my attempts to call in owls at our house haven't been successful, so I gave it a try at Mom's. She has seen screech owls there before, so I played a screech owl call out into the darkness behind her house. In about 10 seconds, I heard a response from the back of the property. I ran in and got Mom and she got to hear it too.

I went back out and tried again....and this time, a screech owl swooped into the faint light near the house and I nearly wet myself.
Now, THAT'S a life bird. I have released them for RAPTOR, and I work with them on a daily basis, but this was my first real, countable wild screech owl.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Today was raptor-licious

I saw the bald eagle. But my photos are horrible.
What is wrong with my camera?????

bald eagle 112907

I also got a lifer...Jason, a fellow Flickr user. He lives over in the next town and I have admired his photos for a long time. Go check them out...definitely drool-worthy. He got GREAT photos, with his arm-long lens. Damn. What's wrong with my camera????? It focuses on sh*t I don't want it to focus on!

When I got home, this was waiting on the fence in the front yard:

RS on fence
Cool! But even better was the other red-shouldered hawk sitting in a tree on the other side of the yard:

RS number 2
Two at one time?

RS 1

Is it me, or do red-shouldereds look softer than other hawks? Sweeter? I would LOVE to work with one at RAPTOR. Maybe soon. Maybe not.
I have been keeping an eye out for bands. A few RAPTORites are part of a study of red-shouldered hawks living in residential areas, and they have banded quite a few RS around here. Click here to see what it takes to call in red-shouldered hawks.

Barn Owl update:
The barn owl at RAPTOR has a vet appointment tomorrow to take one more peek at his wing, and to maybe get some jesses on him so we can start training.
No No
I can't wait.
For those of you who are new to the blog...this bird is unofficially called "No-No". If he feels threatened, he raises his wings and lowers his head and shakes it back and, no-no, no-no.... very cute.
It has taken months to get his wing (skin sheared off by a gutter or downspout) to heal. He is a bit batty, ripping at his bandages constantly, but it is finally healed....Cindy joked that he must be part Cooper's hawk (a rather crazy species).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When this greets you when you walk out the door, first thing in the morning, you get the feeling that your day will be bright:

RS 112807
One of our neighborhood red-shouldered hawks was patiently waiting in a tree when I walked out to take Lorelei to school. It took off just as I processed what I was seeing. I stepped back in for less than 30 seconds, to get Lorelei's school bag, and when I stepped back out, it was back. It was a chilly morning, maybe 30 degrees, and the hawk was nicely fluffed out, and surely hungry. I hope, when we left, it got a nice meal.

RS takes off 112807
Come back, live long and prosper!

It's that time of year make the now famous Zick Dough. Here's the recipe:
1 cup flour
2 cups yellow corn meal
2 cups quick oats
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lard
Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Melt peanut butter and lard in large bowl (use the microwave and save yourself the stinky smell!). Gradually stir in dry mixture and allow to cool. Serve by the handful in a shallow dish.
*This recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc. It goes fast, so make a lot at once!*
Birds I have seen eating Zick Dough:
Carolina chickadees
Tufted titmice
Northern cardinals
Carolina wrens
White breasted nuthatches
Downy woodpeckers
Red bellied woodpeckers
Hairy woodpeckers
Dark-eyed juncos
White-throated sparrows
White-crowned sparrows
Starlings (of course)
Blue jays
Common grackles
Mourning doves (our pet Eurasian dove likes it too!)
I'm sure there are more birds out there who love it.
If you haven't tried this, do it now. The birds will thank you.

Like this little guy:

Thanks for the zick dough
"Thanks for the good stuff...and by the way. Do you have any spare tweezers? These eyebrows are getting out of hand."

The search for a bald eagle, spotted today at the Gravel Pits!
OH! Other local bird news...a hummingbird has been spotted at a local feeder! Sounds like it is a rufous, but the lighting has been bad for the viewers. How about that? A hummer in November?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This post is better than a sleeping on, if you are already in your jammies.

I SO want to do this to those damn telemarketers who call when we are eating dinner, or putting the girls to bed, or getting ready to walk out the door.

Well, crap. I have been waiting and waiting for this dumb video to load and I have to get up early to expand the minds of children about birds of prey tomorrow morning. So I may just have to try it another time. But it's funny...I promise.

Oh, and get this!
While getting new tires put on Geoff's car, Lorelei and I were sitting in the waiting room of the tire place. This was the nicest automotive waiting room ever...a TV, phone, vending machines, and INTERNET ACCESS. The PC was at a nice little desk, with a nice flat-screen monitor. I sat down and signed on, wanting to check out comments on my blog. And guess what? It wouldn't let me. Because there was a "young children" safe guard program on it, and my blog was blocked because of the keyword "PORN".
Porn. Porn? They mean when I say "Bird porn"? My goodness.
When I told Geoff about it, he mentioned that Isabelle reads my blog now, and while she isn't able to read all the words, she can sound them out.
Uh oh. I guess when I am talking about a certain act that birds do to make baby birds, I need to say "Amateur-filmed adult act" or some such nonsense.

Before I sign off, I thought I would add some recycled pictures of raptors (I haven't had time to bird in earnest, so I have to be a slacker here):

*Wild red-tailed hawk catching some dinner*

*Red-tailed hawk release in New Richmond, Ohio*

Two owls two ears
*Not one screech owl, but TWO screech owls...*

back of AK
*The back of our male American kestrel*

Monday, November 26, 2007

Birding in the rain...

...Makes for crappy photos.
I knew it was dumb. I knew that it was supposed to rain all day. But I had the morning alone, and before I began my chores at home, I went for a quick drive.
Crappy photo of a red-shouldered hawk.

Common sense doesn't make for good birding sometimes. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting bungee-jumping to get a shot of eagles or anything. But even though it was raining,
a lot, I went walking. And I am glad I did:

Super-crappy, but you can tell that's a pileated woodpecker. I have seen them flying away from me in woods and while driving, but I got lucky today by getting a picture! What got me to notice was the double it was about to tell a joke.

Other birding excursions lately have included walking around in the dark at Armleder Park, where 2 short-eared owls have been reported. For two nights, I walked around and waited for the dusk sparrow chorus, watching the light fade until I couldn't see my car in the parking lot. It was raining then, too. The darker it got, the more likely that the owls would be out. And of course, the darker it got, the less likely I would be able to see any owls. Did I see any? Nope. Since short-eared owls are more diurnal than our resident owls, I thought I would get lucky. Oh, well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ode to Swami on his Birthday

A birthday limerick:

There once was a man from Tibet

Upon a yak he would set

Zak, he would say,

As he gave him some hay,

At least I'm not in triple digits yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The traditional Thanksgiving Squirrel

Celebrating Thanksgiving at the Swami's Yurt, we were blessed with the Thanksgiving Squirrel:

Thanksgiving squirrel

Gathering leaves and twigs,

Packing the nest

Packing the purple martin house, now turned into a Squirrel Condo.

Blue eyed Thanksgiving

Little Blue-Eyes has been sick for a few days, but beautiful nonetheless.

Breaking the wishbone

Isabelle wanted to break the wishbone, so it was dug out with care and dried in the fireplace. She won. (But check out how I am trying to gain an advantage by using my thumb...hey, every woman for herself!)

Thanksgiving Coop

And when we returned home, bloated and sleepy, we were greeted by our friendly neighborhood juvenile Cooper's hawk. I bet he packed in some juicy bird today, too.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The owl who loved me

Anyone remember Junior?
If not, here's his story:
Junior was admitted to RAPTOR in 2005. He was an orphan and after some TLC, was "hacked" out (released near the facility and given food, so he could hunt for himself with a little help). He stuck around for a while, and it was observed that one of his eyes was injured. He was recaptured and given eye drops and then released again. He still stuck around, and it was thought that he was hunting on his own.
I came into the picture in 2006, when I started doing the education programs for RAPTOR. I was there dropping off birds sometimes late at night, and Junior and I became friends. If I had extra food (mice or rats), instead of throwing them away, I would give them to Junior.
He got very comfortable with me, sometimes landing a few feet away from me and hooting and food-begging. It was kind of fun, having a "watch-owl" around. But on December 31 of last year, he attempted to mate with my head. (That link will also show me dressed up as a 14th century falconer. Oh, yeah, I was a drag queen in a former life. That event is coming up, pictures!) Thanks to Karla, human-spouse to Alice, I was prepared for Junior's amorous advances. I covered my head with my gloves and ran for my car.
It was decided that no one would feed Junior. Turns out that others were feeding him, too. When the free food was cut off, he became alarmingly thin and walked up to one of our volunteers, using the last of his energy to beg for food. He was recaptured, and after some searching, a home was found for him in Ithaca, Illinois at a nature center.
pretty junior close up
Here's Junior, sitting with me in the yard at RAPTOR.

And here are some pictures of Junior adjusting to his new home:

In the weathering yard....

...hanging out in the office, getting weighed...

...getting used to standing on the glove...(looks like he is in mid-hoot in that picture)

...And taking a walk with one of his handlers.
All's well that ends well.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Book-related meme

Found this meme over at Liza's blog.
Here's what you do. Go to Amazon's Advanced Search, type in your name under "title" and find the most interesting book cover. This was the first book listed for me:

That fits, huh? Boob-R-Us!
Dr. Love? Sounds like a porn star.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sometimes the best things are right at home

I split my Saturday into two sections: Cleaning and Birding.
I went to a few nice spots to look for birds, but things are pretty quiet around here.
I headed home to do some heavy cleaning in preparation for out Christmas tree (Yep, we will be putting it up Thanksgiving weekend) and as I cleaned, I watched our feeders.

titmouse w peanut
Ever notice it's like impossible to get a good picture of a titmouse? They are so darn flitty and fast. Setting the camera on rapid fire helps. I need one of those motion-sensor cameras.
chicky baby
Chickadees can be tough to catch, too.
gleam downy
I was smart to put the woodpecker feeder right outside the window. I could see the gleam in this downy's eye.
teenage possum
I've noticed that possums aren't the most observant animals. Quite a few times at RAPTOR, I've watched one walk right next to me and they don't notice me until I clear my throat.
I walked right up to this one tonight in the front yard. It was a medium-sized one, maybe the baby we saw earlier in the year.
Reminds me of a funny story:
A while back, Swami and Swamette saw an animal in their backyard. They took a picture of it and sent it to Rachel, the family's animal expert. She wrote back that it might be an ROUS.
An R O U S . They had no idea what that was. (Not Princess Bride fans, I guess)
Turns out that the animal was a possum.

Reminds me of another story:
Today, while Geoff and the girls were at the Yurt, a woodpecker flew into the yard. Swami and Swamette asked the girls what kind it was, and Lorelei piped up, "It's a downy!" Atta girl.

One more story, and that's it. I promise:
A few years back, my Mom gave Swami and Swamette a flower arrangement. It was a clay pot with Cosmos in it. They had it for weeks. One day, Swamette asked me what kind of flowers they were. I said, "Heck, Rita, I don't know. They're fake."
Turns out that they had been watering this fake thing and placing it in the sun.
You know, to keep it looking pretty.

A juicy tidbit about Geoff's book:
It has been reviewed in the Washington Post.
Hot damn!
Click HERE to read!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Things to do in and near Port Clinton Ohio:

1. Visit CheeseHaven.
They have 126 different kinds of cheese.

2. Get a hotel room with a hot tub. Oh, yeah baby.
Hot Tub

3. Oooo and aaahh over the Marblehead Lighthouse:
4. See beavers:
Beaver 1

5. ...and really big, giant waiters:
Big huge waiter

6. Weep at the beauty of Lake Erie:
Lake Erie at East Harbor

7. See glacial grooves on Kelley's Island, carved into the limestone about 18,000 years ago.

8. Visit wineries.

9. Come birding with me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Branching out

red shouldered in the yard

I've been kicking around an idea, and I would appreciate some input.

Subject: What kind of information would you like from a raptor ID workshop?

  • What are the species that confuse you the most?
  • Would you like the focus to be more on flight silhouettes than plumage, or equal parts?
  • Are there any mnemonic devices you use to figure out what bird of prey you are seeing?
  • What would draw you in, to sign up for such a workshop?
  • How long would you like it to be, to feel that you are getting your money's worth?
  • If it was say, 90 minutes, what would you feel was a fair fee?
  • Would you like to be tested afterwards, to see what you learned?
  • I have never used PowerPoint, but I think that's the way to go. Anyone familiar with PowerPoint? Is it easy to learn?
I'm asking for a lot here, but if I can't get help from my peeps, who can I turn to?
I bet you can guess what I am planning.

By the way:
I have a new doo-hinky on my side bar. BirdJam is the newest way to puzzle out all the songs you hear while birding. Have an iPod? Grab the software and upload 650 unique species from both the East and West US. You don't have an iPod? Buy one from BirdJam and they will load it for you and send it to you!
If this is something you have been thinking about, or suddenly seems like a great idea, please click on the image of the BirdJam on the sidebar. Your purchases will help support my blog!

EDIT: My ever-so-critical husband thinks that it sounds like I am hitting folks up for money through online raptor ID workshops. NO. I am thinking about doing in-person workshops around here for our local birders. So rest assured that I am only looking for input.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No cohesive story to go with all of these pictures...just ones that I like:

osage orange

Osage orange
, also known as horse-apple, monkey brain and monkey ball. Oh, I could come up with some fun things to go with monkey ball...but I won't.
Okay, just one:
I would hate to meet the monkey with b*lls like that. Okay, I'm done.

Mad butter butt
This one's for Delia...Look, D! A yellow-rumped warbler!
Have you ever seen a yellow-rumped warbler?

Your tail's getting wet

Hey, Mr. Junco? Your tail's getting wet.

Someone who we haven't seen in a year stopped by the neighborhood.

111407 bluebird!

"Okay, you little blue varmint. Where the HELL have you been?????"
He didn't say.

doin de bump

But he did start doing the Funky Chicken.

Finally, a last view of Cape May...The same beach that Laura made so beautiful:

Second Ave jetty sunset
Sunset on the 2nd Ave. Jetty, with the tide coming in and making slippery silver pools. Ahhh... I miss New Jersey. It was a bit sad to stand there on the beach that last night, knowing that everyone else was home already.
But I can offer sunsets over Lake Erie in May! It's beautiful!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Today, she's least in dog years

Today, seven years ago, the world became a better place.
Nellie was born.
I must have been having a hormonal upheaval, (this was pre-kids) and I talked Geoff into getting a puppy. We had Wilson, our Shetland Sheepdog, but I wanted a puppy to love...and we thought Wilson could use a friend.
Nellie was once very small...
Baby Nellie
She weighed maybe 5 pounds when we adopted her. Now, during the winter months, her weight tops off at 70 pounds.
We were told that her mother was a German Shepherd. Uh huh. (We tease Nellie by singing, "You don't know who your Daddy is.....!")
Nellie was a bit weird looking at first. She was like a box of chocolates...we didn't know what we were going to get. Tiny body, big paws and a square block head. As she grew, her muzzle elongated, her body took on a "Lab" look and we saw that she must be a Shepherd/Rottweiler/Lab mix. There might be some alien DNA in there, too.

Baby Nellie 2
Her sweet expression hasn't changed. But the rest of her did.

I don't mind admitting it now, but I really couldn't stand her at first. After the new-puppy shine was gone, we were faced with a dog who wouldn't go potty outside. A dog who didn't like to be hugged. A dog who was more destructive than a Tasmanian Devil. It took us FIVE months to house-train her. We lost I don't know HOW many socks, books, shoes...
The icing on the cake:
During this time, I was busy building Isabelle, and when she was about 2 weeks old, we had new carpet installed. Less than a week later, I came home with Isabelle in her little carrier, opened the door and looked at a pile of I-Don't-Know-What in the foyer. The piles continued up the stairs, into the hallway, in the kitchen and ended in the dining room. Nellie had gotten into a trash can and had eaten who knows how many diapers. And then vomited them up.
I put Isabelle down on a clean spot of carpet and collapsed next to her. Then I looked down and saw two bare spots where carpet should have been. The carpet (Berber, and brand new, remember) was unraveled and just gone.
It took me quite a while to like Nellie. But now, I don't know what I would do without her.
A redeeming story:
I was pregnant with Lorelei, and getting near my due date. I had just steam-cleaned the nursery and upstairs hallway. I started down the stairs, but my shoes were wet and I lost my footing. As I fell, Nellie came out of nowhere and threw her body in front of me. I was able to grab her and keep myself from falling all the way down the stairs. I sat down on the steps and cried into her fur, and for the first and only time, she let me hug her. I forgave her for everything she ever did to our house. I can't even form the mental image of what would have happened to a 9 month pregnant woman falling down a full flight of stairs.

Tongue hanging out
She plays hard, but sleeps harder.

Nellie raspberry
She's fun and able to make all of us laugh.

Play with me
Even at the ripe age of seven, she is still as playful as she was when she was a pup. A bit stiff in the joints, but always ready to play.

After the visit
My throat closes up a little when I watch her rest after hard play. The muzzle is more gray, the legs don't run as fast, the sleep is deeper.

Yet the sweet, soulful love this dog gives us goes on...

Pooped puppy
Happy birthday, Nellie. You lovely pup.