On a trip to Paradise (which is what we call my sister’s home on San Juan Island), I had a close encounter with some actual Ducks in a Row.
There was just a little confusion though.
(Never wished more for a good telephoto lens, but I hope you get the idea. I took these from the upstairs bathroom window!!)
The pond in Paradise is beautiful and a source of entertainment all year round. Right now, there is not a lot of bird activity but the other night, out on the lawn, we had a campfire, and were serenaded by an orchestra of frogs!!
Last Summer when we were there house-sitting, I got to witness one of those delightful mysteries of Nature.
Here it is in photos. Please forgive the quality, but try to enjoy the story.
It’s a big pond so lots of room for more than one type of waterfowl.
Here are two different duck-Mama’s, each with three ducklings.
Enter mysterious confusion.
I love this one. You can see the two baby siblings of the first born “odd duck” up above on the log with its adopted family.
Anyway, I guess these Mama’s cooperated in raising their ducklings…kind of a Blended Duck Family.
But they each got them all in a row at one time or another.
But on my side of the Cascade Mountain Range, in Washington state, when it snows, the population panics and everything screeches to a freezing halt!!
Schools and businesses close. Stores sell out of staples (no milk or bread for miles around.) Cars that have slid or become stuck are simply abandoned where ever they are…in the middle of roads or even freeways.
Since Super Bowl Sunday, we have had no garbage pick up and only a single mail delivery!
All these things are a pain in the ____!
But it’s not a hurricane, tsunami, fire, tornado or war!! So we have to keep it all in perspective.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to focus on the amazing and delightful parts of it all. (The best thing for me is that we have not lost power!) There is so much to look at, it’s like being on an exotic trip or moving to a new part of the country!
Oh, there is still ordinary drama! Who will win the steep hill that is our neighborhood’s long, dead-end street? Will it be the kids (of varying ages…including their 40’s) who are dying to get out their sleds and snowboards, as has always happened in the past with our rare snowfalls here? Or will it be the exceptionally kind and thoughtful neighbors, who get out their rarely used shovels, snow-blowers, and SALT, so they can clear our street for any necessary traffic.
This year the salt and snow-shovelers won. They were out there clearing the “perfect ski run” long before the No SCHOOL today kids even woke up!
I mean, they cleared the whole street, a couple of city blocks long…with SHOVELS…so all of us could get safely in and out of our neighborhood!!!
Also, I have been delighted to be able to continue feeding the seed birds, the hummers, and my crows.
I have fed my crows every morning for 35 years! Here’s my morning routine. I CAW and they come. This one Crow waits for me on top of a pole every morning until I say “Good morning. Here’s your breakfast.” And then I dump out yesterday’s leftover cat food scrapings, or a scrap of bread. He calls his Murder buddies and they all compete with the squirrels for the leftovers. Their favorites are dry cat food…and french fries!
Then there are the intrepid seed eating birds. Not much stops them. They can empty the feeder in a day or two at certain times of the year.
As long as I keep the Hummingbird food thawed, they come and fill up all day long. But on the nights I take the feeders in so they don’t freeze, the next morning, these guys are literally ON it, slurping away, before I even get it hung back up on its hook! That has been so fun, being that close to them. Wish I could hold the feeder and snap photos at the same time.
Here’s the other thing I have been enjoying. Each morning I bundle up and go outside on a quest to discover any fresh designs in the snow…foot prints, paw prints, claw prints…anything, even tire prints!
I love the puzzles some of the prints leave. Like this set of prints that I thought was maybe a person, dragging their feet or a cane, or maybe a single animal low enough to be dragging its belly. But when I followed the trail…it split into TWO.
It’s amazing how much nocturnal activity takes place that I never would have known about without the evidence fresh snow provides.
Some are no surprise because I know they are out there. I just rarely see them.
One day I woke up to these. Unmistakably Raccoon prints!
This morning’s mystery was fascinating. Keep in mind we have NO large dogs in our neighborhood, not that any would be roaming free at night anyway. These prints are way too big for the occasional kitty cat that is out at night. And even too big for our local coyotes, who are rarely traveling around alone. SO what is it? A Wolf? A larger cat? (there have been Bobcat sightings recently…) AND, it left me an icky clue, marking the corner of my patio! No wonder my cats went nuts at 3 AM!!!
We have a local Covey of Quail, and three of them have kept me completely entertained looking out my bedroom window. They are hysterical. They always scritch and scratch and throw clouds of dirt and seed shells out behind them when they are foraging under the bird feeder. But to see them dig that way, down through the powdery snow, was so cool. Every now and then, one would bury another, and there would be a split second squabble before they’d go back to digging again.
Then there is the snow itself. I was married to the US Disabled Ski Team for a number of years, and some of those guys knew the names of 20 or 30 types* of snow!
Here is what we got for these record breaking days.
Don’t know the names of these but they were each so different from each other.
I just know we had a lot, over several days, so much that they were calling it Snowmaggeden 2019 on the news.
There is fun stuff to do with the snow…
And the occasional tragedy…
My wonderful Italian Plum Tree!
And the snow came the day after I planted these…see the mounds under the snow? Still don’t know if they survived.
And of course, there is the huge mess at the end…but that will go eventually!
All in all, we stayed safe and warm, and it was an adventure to remember.
PS Some of my neighbors and I collect tarps, heavy moving blankets, and flashlights using coupons from our Harbor Freight Tools store, for people living unsheltered.
I felt so grateful to be warm and dry, but never more frustrated on behalf of people living outside in weather like this.
Balance, eh. Makes me think of so much, although the priority for me these days is much like V.J.’s when she talks about being wobbly. Healing from a balance related fracture myself here!
But really, the most amazing feat of Balance I ever saw, I have no proof of.
Oh how I wish I had a photo. I even googled this to see if anyone else had a picture I could borrow, so I don’t wonder if this whole thing was just my imagination.
No luck finding photographic proof, but I SWEAR one time along the California coast, just below Carmel by the Sea, I saw 10 or 12 birds balanced on a telephone wire (remember those??)
Not unusual, right? Birds balanced on a wire!!
But these were Pelicans. PELICANS, with their huge webbed feet, all balanced in a row on that wire!!
You’d think the weight alone of these big birds would have snapped that wire in two.
This was pre-camera phones and anyway, I had not, at that point in my life, become obsessed with photographing birds, so it didn’t even occur to me to snap a quick one with my little point and shoot Canon. I just stood there, mouth hanging open, and watched for a long, long time.
The mot impressive part was watching them launch into flight, one or two at a time, and the remaining ones, simply riding the swinging wire. Talk about Balance!
You’ll just have to take my word for it.
Here are the only photos of mine that even indirectly relate to my story.
Hope you enjoy them!
And just for good measure, although it may not look like BALANCE is required in this last photo, we’re talking precision here!!
Can anyone tell me why the “Featured Image” is always partly cut off??
Took my grandsons for a fast food breakfast last year as a treat before school. I knew if I put out tidbits, birds would come but I was expecting seagulls and look who we got! It did feel a little like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” but it was also very cool.
Some of the photos are better than others but each shows something particular about Crows, my favorite bird!
And then at our mountain retreat one time on a walk, I came upon this scene.
Something had spooked this rafter of turkeys and they were very anxious to get on the other side of this fence!
So one by one, with what seemed like it should have been monumental effort, they gracefully flew to safety.
Well, one guy was a little distracted I think…
I thought they had all made it over but then spotted a very distressed youngster, running up and down the fence line, frantically gobbling. He was the last one left and I swear he was saying “Hey, wait for me! I’m not sure I can get over! Help!!”
He did finally make it but it was close and clumsy! Whew!
I have waited for so many years to catch turkey flight on camera. This day I hit the jackpot!