Sunday, August 22, 2010

Small moments

Late summer drones on for me...the girls are back to school, but the bird action (now that I have some time to get out and watch them) is still quiet.  Babies are grown, the fall exodus not yet begun....

I take what I can get, though.  Small moments of magic. 

I found a flower whose stamens are minuscule Pixie Stix.
pixie stix stamens
(Please click on this to see it larger...)

Glowing Morning Glory.

Did not know an inchworm was also noodling his way through the thistle blooms alongside the skipper.
(This skipper was the size of a quarter.)
skipper inchworm and thistle2

A delicate, tiny white flower in the underbrush...
tiny sweet flowers2

So small and fragile-looking, I held my breath as I took its picture.
tiny sweet flowers

Watched water striders' shadows chase them under the water.
strider and shadow

I found water so clear, it held the sky inside.
Fall under the water

Just the right patch of shade gave me a star.

Stumbled across a bird finally, a solitary sandpiper eating a small fish.
solitary sandpiper eating a fish

A small moment that was huge for me....
I've always wanted to see this.  A damselfly freshly emerged from its nymph skin. 
nymph skin and damsel

Zero defining marks.  Just opalescent translucence.
new damselfly
I've never held a dragonfly or damselfly.  They are too smart, too fast for that.  I've always wanted to, but never had the chance.

And then he climbed onto my fingernail. 
new damselfly on my finger

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cuteness and its many forms

If you recall from this post, Thirteen our screech owl is going through the atypical feather molt that seems to be the bane of captive screech owls everywhere.
A week after I took those photos, I went in to get him again.  Things are looking up....but little dude still has a long way to go.

oh dear
At least his ear tufts are coming back...
No matter how many feathers he loses, I still think Thirteen is cute.
Sort of like a Jim Henson creation.  Think about Animal.  That's one weird looking thing.  But we all love him anyway, right?

If he let me, I would love to help him preen off all of those feather sheaths....

A few things to point out, since it's not every day you get to observe a screech owl so closely:
A glare through the nictitating membrane
The nictitating membrane:  (from the Latin nictare, to blink)
This is a membrane present in many animals such as birds, reptiles and sharks.  Some mammals have a vestigal nictitating membrane (We humans have it...the pink bit in the inner corner) while some mammals have a fully active, controllable membrane.

They are either transparent or the above photo, we can clearly see the disapproval and embarrassment through the membrane.

Another cool thing:
The ears of an owl are set near the face, close to the sides but facing forward.  In the Tytonidae owl species (such as Barn Owls), and the aperture is rounded and asymmetrical (the left ear is set higher than the right), but in the Strigidae owls, the shape of the aperture varies.
An owl's range of audible sounds is not dissimilar to ours, but their hearing is so acute at certain frequencies they are able to hear the slightest movement of their prey.
The facial disc that every owl species possesses funnels sound waves right to the ears, acting like a satellite dish.  And they are able to manipulate those feathers to calculate where their prey is.  Barn owls' hearing is so acute, they can find their prey in total darkness.

And when the satellite dish falls off, we can see right in there.Thirteen ear canal
If you can see the hole in Thirteen's head, behind and just under his eye?  This is the ear canal. 

I love this photo just for the glint of sunlight in his eye.    And that pitiful ear tuft, still half wrapped in sheaths:
thirteen glint in the eye

A completely different type of cuteness:

School begin this week and the girls are excited to be back.
A big thing around here is that Lorelei is cheerleading this year. 
And boy is she good at it.  It comes to her naturally, this whole ra-ra thing.
Lorelei cheer
This beautiful and good-natured child has been fun to be with since birth.  Shoot....even delivering her was EASY.

Today we got to watch her do her very first cheerleading gig, complete with football game.


Now, I did the cheerleading back in the day, just for a year.  I don't really know why.  I ended up being one of those ironically sarcastic teenagers who quietly sneered at cheerleaders.
So along with it being amazingly expensive, I had to struggle with my inner conflict....

But when a child really really wants to do something like this, a good mom just bites her tongue and writes the check.


(We won, too.  It was a scoreless game until the fourth quarter, when out of the blue, one of our boys had the ball and somehow outran everyone down the field for a 60 yard touchdown. 
I broke a blood vessel in my finger, I got so into it.  It was awesome.
(Maybe I didn't completely leave the cheerleading behind?)

Check this starts EARLY, the whole football player/cheerleader thing:
the boy doesn't have his head in the game
That boy does NOT have his mind on the game.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Summer Dance

The party isn't over
But some are ready to go
and some are already gone

Her gown
Fresh and bright at the start

Mockingbird in the crabapple(1)

blue in the pink

Sea of tulips

Shows the wear and tear of the dance

The lights will dim

and the debris with begin to blow
across the dance floor
Playing with color swap

Where so many found a partner
TRES pair Armleder

The colors will change along the walls
as it reaches its close,
bit of color

The weary dancers slow their spinning
and prepare their exit
Twinkly dragonfly

It's been a wonderful party
and all good things must end
Girls at the Oxbow

But not yet...
Sun in the sky

Monday, August 09, 2010

Neat things I saw this weekend

Saturday found me at the second annual Midwest Native Plant Conference in Beavercreek Ohio.  I displayed some of our education birds for the participants to ooh and ahh over.

I was so happy to run into Wil Hershberger...New River Bird and Nature Festival-goers know him well.  He's the nice one.  :)

My table was across the room from his, so I was sneakily shooting photos of him:
Wil doesn't see
Hee hee, he doesn't see me....

Oops, now he sees me!
Wil sees

Oh, what a nice person.  And I mean a genuinely nice person. 
Before he left, I asked someone to take a photo of Wil, me and one of the birds.  I shouldn't have chosen Storm.

Wil me and Storm
Storm doesn't know what it means when I say, "Hey, goofy bird.  Look at the camera!"

Other things I saw this weekend:
Question mark butterfly noodling in the mud

Electric blue dragonfly on a sauerkraut jar (that doubled as a minnow container)

Clausens dragonfly

green heron
The closest I've been to a green heron, without it pooping violently and flying away

And in the classic tradition of the yearly summer "Screech Owl Ugly Molt"....long time readers of this blog will remember Rufous, bless his little soul:
Okay...what can you say about this one

Well, Thirteen might just have him beat....

Thirteen ugly molt 1

Monday, August 02, 2010

A list of words from The Flock

I've been doing some poking around in the house lately and today I came across a sheet of paper I thought I had lost.  It's three lists from my glorious friends, The Flock.

It's divided into three sections:
"What Susan was called this week"
"Things we called Debbie"
"Flock Dictionary"

These lists were written on the back of a note from Geoff Heeter, welcoming us to the 2010 New River Bird and Nature Festival and telling everyone else that I ate all the cookies.

Note:  Sure, the festival was months ago and I'm still blogging about it.  But very little fun excitement is going on in my life right now, so just deal with it.  :)

gh note
In case you can't read his chicken scratch:
"The Flock- Hello and Welcome!
The glasses and key chain lights are for you.
Susan ate your cookies.
Enjoy the chips and salsa!

I did not eat all the cookies.

On the flip side of this note is a mish-mash of drunken scribbling.

flock dictionary

Let's break it down:
The left side is a list of things that I was called over the course of the week (If anyone remembers any especially fun side stories about these, please SHARE THEM):

Bitchy (As in Vickie saying to me the first day, "We need to get you some food.  You're kinda bitchy."
Liar  (??)
Pop 'N' Fresh  (Was this a boob thing?)
Puff 'N' Stuff  (Was this also a boob thing?)
Pillsbury Doughboy  (Because of the way I laugh)
Nasty  (I assume I was hungry)
Grumpy (Ditto)
Smart ass  (Well, what did you expect?)
Sweet  (The Petersons wrote this!)
Considerate  (This too!)
Randy  (???)
Buzzmeister/Buzzamatrix  (Julie called me that....because I broadcast to the world about this festival)
Testes  (Um....)
Profanity Barbie  (snort)

The right side of the paper lists all the different Barbies we could turn Debbie into:

Adventure Barbie  (She's ready for adventure, any time and any place!)
Helpful Barbie  (Self-explanatory)
Clumsy Barbie  (Girlfriend falls.  A LOT)
Guest Service Barbie  (Same as "Helpful Barbie")
Pirate Barbie  (She stood up on a road rail at Cranberry Bog and scared the shit out of me, and then posed like a pirate.  Argggh.)
GRAVITY Barbie  (Just like "Clumsy Barbie".  She took a spill on one of the trips that will assuredly be talked about for years to come.)
Defroster Barbie  (One of the mornings, there was frost on our car windows.  Sweet Debbie scraped ALL of them.)
S & M Barbie  (I don't know.  And I don't want to hear about it.)

The bottom list really got me cackling, because there are a few that I just don't remember writing down, even though it's in my handwriting.  My drunken handwriting...maybe that explains it.
The Flock Dictionary:

Disco w/ monkeys
Blow in a circle

Now, "Spraint" I remember.  I may have to let the other Flock members refresh my memory about the rest of those.  "Disco w/monkeys"?????  "Blow in a circle"?????????