Friday, October 31, 2008

Favorite moments

Looking back at last week's Cape May adventure, there are a few special moments that are still jumping into my head:

My first Taylor pork roll
My first Taylor pork's a Jersey thing. Laura-The-Local was unable to tell me exactly where the meat comes from, but I tried it anyway...with Laura's recommendation of "salt, pepper, ketchup". She says it's to hide the taste of the meat. Well, then. Why have meat at all?
It was good, by the way. In a preschooler-taste sort of way. Kathi would have loved it. (she has a taste for food similar to a 4 year old)

Lynne, Delia and I went to Sunset Beach to look for Cape May "Diamonds", aka tumbled, clear quartz stones. Sunset Beach is unique in that it faces Delaware Bay and doesn't get the high fierce waves that the other beaches do, presumably.
If my knees could have taken it, I would still be there, digging through the rocks.

We were also on the lookout for all the critters I had found the day before (hermit crabs, etc.)
I still don't have a name for these guys:


This shrimpy-crabby-thing was too cute. So I ate him.

And really, any time I get to spend with Delia is a good time.
I'm very proud of the way she has hit the ground running, kicking a** and taking names. This is her new ride. Suh-weet.

I was thoroughly impressed that Lynne found a stuffed turkey vulture. I think she named it Earl.
Had to do the "bird presentation" pose with the thing...with Delia and Jay helping (love the bunny ears)

That stupid black snake kept us riveted...since there weren't any birds to watch.
In this pic, Jay has just nudged the snake to get its gander up...and Jay looks as if he is about to break into a RiverDance.

(If you are wondering why I am linking the BirdJam website repeatedly...well, Jay informed us that he has a set up with Google (that anyone can get, if they really really want to) that tells them when anyone is linking to BirdJam. Ever Googled your blog? It's amazing where it can pop up. So whenever I mention Jay...or BirdJam...or iPods...or's gonna get back to him.

Hi, Jay!!!!! Just holding up my end of the bargain!
(I am so kidding. There was no trading of "goods".)

One of the memories that keeps bubbling to the surface...

I can't believe I am posting this

At the C-View on Saturday, we all got together to bond, eat and drink. I had made a pledge that I would get a corporate sponsor for my blog and bought a low-cut shirt just for that purpose. It would be my "Sponsorship Shirt".
Since my "girls" are out there enough to knock over nearby lamps, I thought it would be easy. But either everyone was too drunk or my shirt wasn't cut low enough, because I got zero sponsorships.
But I found a new way to use the boobage (must have been the Amaretto Sours talking).

Kathi had brought buckeyes for everyone, perhaps to increase the OSU mojo (nothing says "I care" like a gift of poisonous nut) and my cleavage was a perfect resting place for MY buckeye.

c-view_buckeyeboobs (450 x 600)
(Self-Edit...Due to the uncomfortable squirming of my husband, I have edited this photo...but I couldn't just take it all the way off the post. It's too funny)
And contrary to others' claims, I did NOT try to crack it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oh, yeah....BIRDS.

Well, yeah...we did more than just drop F Bombs all weekend. There was actually some birding going on.
My travel agent found us the sweetest lodging...a condo overlooking a marsh (complete with smell of decaying vegatation). Mornings were especially fabulous, with fallouts rummaging the phragmites right below the back deck.
Ever seen a yellow-rumped warbler from above? I hadn't.

Yellow rumped warbler from the top

Kathi was good enough to point out a lifer for me...a juvenile black-crowned night heron:
black crowned night heron

The Saturday morning banding demo produced a very angry male Cooper's Hawk:
Banded coop
...being held by a fellow blogger:
That's John from A DC Birding Blog. A very quiet but well-spoken guy. I really pay attention to banding demos and other people discussing raptors. I might pick up some new info.

On the eco-boat trip, I got more lifers:
Brant. A very cute little sea goose. They were hard to only about 100 of them floating on their own raft of goose-ness.

Fish crow...another lifer.

This one's for my father-in-law, Swami, because he seems to have no idea what a loon looks like:
Common Loon
A common loon. Not a lifer, but the best look I have had yet. Every time I look at this photo, I think, "...and a one...and a two..."

A sight you don't see every day....a peregrine falcon sitting on an osprey nest:
PEFA on Osprey nest
That was a highlight of the boat trip...then we got more PEFA:
Two PEFA water tower
Two of them sitting on a water tower.

I had been bitching and whining about "I wanna see oystercatchers!" at the bar the night before, and Beth-The-Lurker (Hi, Beth! Now you have to comment!) said I should see some on the boat trip.
We didn't see one....we saw two dozen.
American Oystercatcher
A weirdly fascinating bird. A huge straight reddish-orange bill and crazy yellow/orange eyes. Click HERE for a good view of one.

All in all, I got 66 bird species at Cape May with five lifers:
American Oystercatcher
Black-crowned Night Heron
American Black-bellied Plover
Fish Crow

Not bad for only birding about 20 percent of the trip.
: )
Tomorrow, a post about my oldest child and her seventh birthday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What's that smell? (The Official New Jersey State Motto)

There are many things I have learned over the past weekend:

Packed car
1. A Subaru is capable of holding 27, 567 of Kathi's bags.
(For the record, I had one suitcase and one beading bag. The rest of this hot mess belongs to Kathi.)

2. Birders have very strange mating rituals.

3. Bird Bloggers will take a picture of anything....including you taking a picture of them.
Laura takes a picture of me taking a picture

Laura takes another pic of me taking a pic

4. Bird Bloggers will point at imaginary birds if you point your camera at them.

5. There are people out there who will be thrilled to see a Black Vulture and do the Life Bird Dance because of it.

6. There is a company out there who makes Turkey Vulture stuffed animals.
(Three guesses as to who bought this...thing.)

7. Juvenile Black Skimmers will idly play with sticks.

Lynne Brrrrrr
8. It's fun to watch a Minnesotan dip her toes in the Atlantic for the first time.
(Yes, she is saying, "Brrrrrrr!")

Friends are Beautiful>Friends are beautiful.

10. Bar tabs can be very large in New Jersey.

11. If you say the word "groupies" while on an Owl Walk, it will sound like "Herpes" and everyone in the group will stop in their tracks immediately.

12. Southern New Jersey smells weird. Laura says it's all the marshes, but I have to wonder.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preparing for the Garden State

Things you didn’t know about NJ (well, Laura probably knows most of this)

The first organized baseball game was played in Hoboken, NJ in 1846.

New Jersey’s State House is the second oldest still in use. (Maryland has the oldest.)

New Jersey was known as the "Pathway of the Revolution." Over 100 battles were fought on New Jersey soil.

New Jersey has more horses per square mile than any other state. And more race horses than Kentucky. (REALLY?)

The properties in the United States version of the board game Monopoly are named after the streets of Atlantic City.

New Jersey is one of only two states (along with Oregon) where self-service filling of gasoline is prohibited. (Check out that link to my own introduction to that stooopid rule)

The first professional basketball game was played in Trenton, NJ in 1896.

New Jersey has 127 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.

New Jersey is home to more than 9,800 farms covering 790,000 acres of farmland.

North Jersey is the car-theft capital of the country, with more cars stolen in Newark than any other city. (Lynne, get in your rental car and drive HELL BENT FOR LEATHER.)

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are in New Jersey (Did I sleep through that history class? I thought they were in New York)

The longest boardwalk in the world is in Atlantic City.

Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

New Jersey has a spoon museum with over 5, 400 spoons from almost all the states. (Wow. can we go see THAT?)

It's illegal to sell cabbage on Sunday in New Jersey. (Oh, come on! Are you kidding me???)

Look out, New Jersey. Bits of Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio are coming your way!
flock birding
(Delia and Laura, October 2007, Cape May, NJ)
PS....How's this for a good sign? Kathi and I are driving across the world to reach New Jersey on my blog's THIRD birthday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not what I thought..and exactly what I thought

It was in a cemetery. Hanging out with Canada Geese....
(Now is the time of year to actually study flocks of Canada' might get a nice surprise, like a Cackling Goose or Snow Goose)
Not a greater white fronted 1
I parked in the cemetery and took lots of pictures.
The new car hasn't been filled with all of my field guides yet, so I had to wait until I got home to check on this bird.

Not a greater white fronted 2
I was hoping it was a Greater White-Fronted Goose.

Sibley says it is a Canada Goose X Greater White-Fronted Goose hybrid.
I don't remember the page number...look up "Greater White-Fronted Goose". There are some hybrid illustrations.
Not a greater white fronted 3
Still a cute bird. A nice blend of the two species...a white chin strap, but pink/orange feet. Basically the same body structure, but a really thick neck.
Is this a big deal? Or are they very common? Is this worth noting to anyone?

At home, the first Northern migrant showed up today:
(I had sworn off sparrow ID's, but now that I know juvenile chipping sparrows, I can be sure of a few things)
A young white-crowned sparrow was kick-scratching in the mulch, and I looked at it long and hard before deciding what it was:
juv WCSP
Why is it a white-crowned? Pink/orange bill, dark eyeline, pale cheeks, no central breast spot, brown stripes on the head, white wing bars, and the same size as a House Sparrow (thanks again to Sibley). I don't know if I have ever seen a first year WCSP. Maybe I just blurred over them, thinking they were HOSP.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Four years, gone

Imaginary conversation with my Dad, taking place in my head:

Me: Dad? Are you there?
Dad: Yep. How're you doing, kiddo?
Me: I'm okay. How are you? What's it like there?
Dad: It's perfect.

Me: I miss you, Dad. I can't believe it's been four years already. There are so many things I want to tell you.
Dad: I miss you too, kiddo. What do you want to tell me?
Me: I work for a really nice organization now. It's called RAPTOR, Inc. It's a bird of prey rescue. You know how you always said a good job isn't going to just fall in my lap? Well, this one did.
Dad: (laughs) Well, that's good.

Me: I got a new car this week.
Dad: Oh, yeah? What'd you get?
Me: It's a Subaru Forester. It's roomy, gets good gas mileage, and they are really safe.
Dad: Sounds good. It's not a Chrysler, but oh well....(smiles)

Me: Isabelle is almost 7 now, and Lorelei is 4 1/2.
Dad: Gettin' big, huh?
Me: Yeah. You'd be proud of them, Dad. They are so smart.
Dad: Take after me, huh? (laughs)
Me: I think they do.
Dad: You're pretty smart too, you know.
Me: Well, you were always telling me so.
Dad: It's true. I knew you would be okay in life because you have a good head on your shoulders.

Me: Mom misses you a lot, Dad. She was mad at the world for a long time. It was all just so sudden.
Dad: Yeah, I know. That's how it goes sometimes. Wasn't in my plan to go at age 66.
Me: Steve misses you too. He helps Mom and me out when we need it. If something is broken, Steve can fix it!
Dad: I taught him everything he knows (grin)

Me: Nearly every day, I think to myself, "What would Dad think of that?" Or, "I wish I could tell Dad about this". You left a big void in everyone's life. I'm sorry if I ever took you for granted. I thought you would always be there.
Dad: It's okay, Sue. Sorry I'm not there.

Me: I wish you were here, too. I'm going to go now, but hey...check in on all of us now and then, okay?
Dad: Will do.
Me: I love you, Dad.
Dad: Me too, kiddo. Me too.

(Dancing with Dad on my wedding day, September 9, 2000)
Dancing with Dad
Glenn J. Kailholz
July 11, 1938-October 19, 2004

Friday, October 17, 2008

Yummy, ooey-gooey post ahead

A year ago, Lucy made me very proud by being trusting (and hungry) enough to eat during a program. My program today was at that same place...the City of Hamilton Water Fest at Miami University Hamilton campus. Inspiring and teaching hundreds of kids about the importance of clean water. (Plenty of bird of prey tie-ins...DDT, pollution)
Lucy sucked down three mice over the course of four programs, once again making me very proud.

I love Miami's mascot: A Harrier. And their signs are tres cool:
Harriers are scarier
See. Folks who think raptors are awesome are awesome themselves.

It's funny that I mentioned this little thing in response to Liza's suggestion in the comments for a cargo area liner. Our bird carriers are NOT leak-proof...if a bird gets car-sick or needs to poop, if the carrier's are tilted at all....well, look for yourself:
Poopy subaru
ACK! BIRD POOP IN MY NEW CAR! But thankfully, the liner cleans up easily. We don't want Susan to have a conniption or anything.

This dead mouse greeted me at the barn door at RAPTOR today....
Must have died of fright
Hmm. A mouse hanging out at a bird of prey rescue facility? Must have died of fright.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And room for more

Having a roomy car is a luxury for me. Aside from a big Dodge pick-up truck, my cars have been four-door sedans. Fine for a family, but a bit tricky with big birds in big carriers.

The new car is just so nice. I can pack birds and kids and still have room for more.

Empty car:
The cargo area has this neat cargo cover, so if you don't want everyone to see what you are carrying, you can cover it up!
And a very useful net to either tie down big stuff, or to help your groceries stay where you want them:
Cargo net

And a car full of birds and paraphernalia:
Full Car
The back seat is empty, so I could still have three kids in there. Or two normal-sized adults.
Or three malnourished adults....

I have a long program tomorrow and I will be bringing perches and all the indoor stuff I need for a presentation. Gone are the days when I have to drive a car around that looks like this:

Packed car RAPTOR

Hard to take a deep breath when you are up to your armpits in birds, a box of dead things, a poop tarp, a cart, perches, a purse......

Yippee! Susan can breathe again!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oooooo! Scary!!!!!

Now there are some scary Halloween decorations:
Scary halloween decorations
(discreetly taken as I walked down our street...yeah, we actually live near these weirdos)

Okay! Okay! You got me...I'M SCARED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our current assistance to the economy

A month ago, Geoff's car, a 1998 Saturn, died a quiet death. Needed a whole new engine to the tune of $3000. Well, since the car isn't even worth $1000, we bid it a fond farewell. It brought Isabelle and Lorelei home from the hospital, it took us many many places. Rest in peace.

We have been going on one car. RAPTOR programs, getting Lorelei to school, trying not to need to be two places at once. No matter how we slice it, we need to be a two-car family.

May I now introduce the newest member of the Williams' household.....

Lorelei new car

A 2006 Subaru Forester. (I asked Lorelei to be my car Model, and she did the cutest "Ta-Da" pose.)
I have wanted a Subaru for years. Good gas mileage, reliable, just enough car for me. It has all that I want and nothing I don't.
I have never owned a car this new. Geoff has had one brand-new car before, but this is really really new for me.
New car front
And I love the's called Garnet. (which happens to be my birthstone, by the way)

I didn't get a good side view photo, so here's one I swiped off the Net:

You are all going to love this.
Drive Magazine is a publication from Subaru. And this was the cover that greeted us as we sat down with the salesman:
Drive magazine cover
If that's not a sign, I don't know what is.

More pictures tomorrow...I ran out of daylight, then had to go to RAPTOR to package mice and rats.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I was all set

I was all set to do a quick post about....
RT Lake Isabella
RT take off
...this red-tailed hawk I saw at Lake Isabella...


...and this rather vivid wall at a program yesterday....(Wow. That's...really....something...anyone feel like KABOOMING?)

But a quick romp in the back yard with the dogs led me to this...really fantastic bug.

A wheel bug, to be exact.
wheelbug 2
I first learned about these really cool bugs from Nina's blog. I always wanted to find one in our yard, because it seems that whatever she has in her yard, we have in ours. I was starting to take it personally that we didn't have any wheel bugs.
And halleluia, we do.
They are so BIG. I thought it was a leaf.

And it was devouring a yellow jacket. Yeeeeeee-eeessss.

wheelbug 3
I was completely enthralled with it. It's one of the good guys...taking care of Japanese beetles and other pests. I was nearly nose to nose with the thing, and then I had the thought, "Hmm. Do they fly?" Getting the mental image of me running like a mad woman, screaming and tearing off my shirt as I bolt across the yard made me take a few steps back.
Then I noticed a smell. Hmmm....did I step in dog poo or is this bug annoyed with me?
Researching them, I learned that they have two scent-sacs that it everts from its anus when annoyed. Oh boy.
Totally click on the pictures. It's really a beautiful bug.