OK, so when we are in the mountains, I get up very early every morning so that I can watch the sunrise. I love to hear (sometimes see) the marauding Wild Turkeys AND any other wild life passing through that early (deer, moose, coyote, bull frogs, various seed eating birds, etc.)
I sit on the porch swing under a glass roof so I can be there in any weather. This event starts my days with a smile.
This is what I see from my protected seat.
So, I’m all bundled up yesterday, mug of hot coffee warming my hands and I hear a scuffling sound over the edge, just past the rapidly growing daffodils. I get up to investigate and hear it what I see.
Uh oh. I realize now what the scuffling sound was. A Squirrel, our primary nemesis here (other than the Flickers that are relentlessly eating our HOUSE!) has somehow gotten the lid off the container.
Though we have finally found a system using Slinky’s to keep him off the bird feeders, STILL he finds this way to torment James, who really wants to resort to the BB Gun. So far, I won’t let him.
I chase him off before J. can get his weapon, and bring the seed container up to the porch where we have collected a pile of stuff to take to Goodwill. Now the seed is right next to me, within arm’s reach should our invader dare to approach!
Next, I see the squirrel return to the place where the container had been…and he is completely stumped. He knows it was right there just minutes before. He sniffs around frantically and this next thing, I wish I had thought to video tape. He stops, slowly turns and points his angry beady little eyes directly at ME, up on the porch. We stay frozen, in this stand off for long seconds! That GLARE!! (You will never convince me that rodents can’t THINK.)
The squirrel scampers off, disgusted, and after a quick trip inside for more coffee, I return to sitting on my swing, peaceful morning again, at last.
But no, I come back outside to this!!!
In the short time it took me to go inside, this little guy (and several members of his clan) have shown up and eaten a HOLE in the side of the seed container. It is now leaking birdseed for them to chow down on!!!
The irritation came first but then I could not prevent the huge SMILE!
I’ve been working on both a newsletter to my neighbors and a post lately about how lucky I am to have so much wildlife right here in my neighborhood. I live on a long-ish dead end street right in the middle of one of Washington State’s wealthiest cities. It’s one of the few streets left where you can still see traces of the days when this area was considered “out in the country”. In my time living here (almost 45 years now) my little lane has gone from a small handful of older houses with horse acreage, to 25 homes, many qualifying as McMansions (homes with 5,000 plus square footage, selling for well over $1,000,000).
When I saw Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge for this week,
A letter from your self-appointed S.E. 7th Street Wild Life reporter and Game Warden.
A few months back, I was pretty low, with all the dark hours and gray skies. I didn’t even want to go for one of my short but usually uplifting walks. It was so dismal out, for so many days in a row, I think I was developing some serious empathy for my clients over the years who have suffered from SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder!)
But I made myself go out there anyway.
And a few steps into my climb up the hill (yes, for me, it is a climb) I heard them!
Our SE 7th Street Bald Eagles are back!
Last year they graced us with many regular visits, perched up high on branches that seemed way too skinny to hold their heft. On most days, they could be found facing the sunrise, and later the sunset, either in the trees in my front yard, or up the street to the East across from the Mathes house.
As I hiked up the street on this gloomy day, head tilted back at a neck-killing angle, I saw them. They were circling, very low, right above the treetops, probably hunting for breakfast. Then they landed, and stayed for a long time.
I took this sighting very personally…like they had stopped by just to cheer me up.
I was so uplifted I wanted to write to the whole street to share about my encounter.
That made me remember that I actually used to do that a lot…write to the whole SE 7th Street list. It started with simple reporting of Coyote sightings.
Then one day, I witnessed something so amazing, I wrote a whole article about it.
Early one morning, I saw a Murder of Crows take down a Bald Eagle, on the busy road right at the top of our street. I’m sure the Eagle had gone after a crow’s nest or something but the Crow Call went out and a huge crowd of them came. Some Seagulls even stopped by to join in on the attack.
The event stopped traffic. Well, I guess I kind of stopped the traffic, pulling my car sideways across the street to prevent massive bird death. A cop happened along, saw immediately what was happening and helped chase the birds away and get the traffic moving again. I spent hours afterwards watching, and photographing, the escaped but clearly injured Bald Eagle up in a tree across the street from the Burdick house.
Soon after this event, I proclaimed myself the Game Warden and Wild Life Reporter for our street. I sent out a “newsletter” article called Urban Bird Gangs.
I had so much fun writing up the story, it is in part what inspired me to start a Blog. Now, I write about my animal adventures right here in our neighborhood all the time. Please feel free to check it out, although I do write about a lot of other things too. Some inane, and some harsh. Lots of animal stories; beautiful seed feeder birds, marauding deer, our neighborhood cats, the brazen Coyote pack (looking for our cats), and many Hummingbird shots. You may even find photos of beautiful plants, trees and flowers from your own yards.
Back to S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I think I’m cured now. Especially in the last couple of weeks. It appears, we are being chosen again, by a beautiful pair of Bald Eagles. Maybe the same ones who roosted last summer, sunrise and sunset, in the biggest tree in front-yard (or as James calls it, “frun-chard”.) They seemed to be hanging out around 10:30 AM some mornings, on the more gray, windy days. Not great photos with only my phone but two mornings ago, that really cold, crisp, clear day, they were posing for the local paparazzi, so I ran for my real camera. So glad I did.
What a beautiful, majestic bird!
Again, please feel free to stop by the Blog and tell me what you think!!
This might be a stretch. But if you happen to be a regular reader, you might be getting the idea that I am kind of a Rule Bender in a quiet-ish way.
This week, first came the Weekly Photo Challenge. I searched and thought and plotted to find or take a great Face-in-the-Crowd shot. I had the same weird internal ethical debates I always have about taking photos of strangers without their permission…even a face in a crowd.
Then my grandsons invited me to watch a movie. We watched Okja, an odd little Korean film. (Trailer down below, but it’s full of spoilers…better to watch unprepared, in my opinion.) By the way, Common Sense Media says 15 years plus, and though my grandsons are 12 and 14, I agree. My oldest one kept saying “one minute you think this is a great kid’s movie and the next it’s really, REALLY not!”
I will tell you that while watching it, I couldn’t help but thinking about the Weekly Photo Challenge Theme….which made me start thinking in a whole new direction.
I love animals and I tell you what, it is getting more and more difficult to eat anything with a face. I have been mostly vegetarian for almost 50 years…no red meat of any kind during that time and only the occasional fish and poultry…including Salmon of course ( I DO live in the Northwest after all) and Turkey on Thanksgiving!
With this movie giving me a new way of thinking of the face in the crowd, I remembered an experience a few years back that left me both in awe for the beauty of it and a kind of disgust and guilt for the fact of it.
On a repeated vacation to San Diego, the place where we stay has this massive Koi Pond. For a quarter, you can feed the spectacularly colorful fish.
They were beautiful and I suppose there is value in sharing that contained beauty with people if it heightens their consciousness about our cohabitants on Mother Earth. (Don’t get me started on the two sides of the whole Zoo Debate.)
But it was also an example of a pitiful and frightening feeding frenzy.
There was this one fish-face that caught my eye. I kept my eye on him so I knew it was the same one over and over. His face kept appearing midst the fevered quest for food.
Maybe it was that he was so huge and that made me wonder if this had been his whole life, battle after crowded battle for tidbits of man-made cereal nuggets.
That thought made me incredibly sad. I mean, Koi can live for up to 200 years! And these guys had already been trapped in this resort pond for 35 years that I know of.
It just felt wrong.
I don’t know any resolution, or if there even needs to be one. I mean, I raise Giant Leaf Bugs and keep them in a terrarium for their entire lives…my rationale being they live almost a year longer in my captivity than in their native wild. My cats are strictly indoor cats for the same reason…longer lives than if they ventured out among the hawks and coyotes in my area.
Anyway, this is my Face in the Crowd post for the week.
I’d love to hear what you think.
5 Interesting Facts About Koi Fish from https://www.sweeneyfeeders.com/5-interesting-facts-koi-fish/
1. Koi fish originate from Japan and represent love and friendship in Japanese culture.
2. Most koi fish outlive their owners, having a lifespan of 200+ years.
3. They come in a variety of colors, not just orange. They may appear orange, yellow, white, red and black.
4. Owners who received their koi fish as a gift are believed to have good luck.
5. In Japan, koi fish are often passed down from generation to generation, as a family heirloom.
This might be a stretch, but I have discovered a hidden prejudice.
I’m not being too hard on myself for it though. We have all been inundated with this bias for eons. Not that a history of being misinformed excuses racism or anything.
But this is a black vs. white thing.
I know the bad guy is usually on the black horse and the good guy on a bright white steed. I know black cats are supposedly scary and bad luck. I also know the black dogs in an animal shelter are the last to be adopted. Oh, and supposedly we all have this dark side and we need to be sharing more light in the world.
What the hell is all that anyway? Where did it come from?
I’m sure someone out there knows way more about all this than I and this is not really a post about the archetypes in history anyway.
It’s about Mushrooms.
I don’t really know anything about mushrooms…except that I will enjoy them in a salad or sometimes even sauté them in butter and they are yummy. But what isn’t yummy when sautéed in butter, right? But that is the extent of my knowledge. (I know, I know, I came of age in the 1960’s in California so I should at least know about “Shrooms”, right? I just never went there…)
But on my daily walks, I recently spotted some of these fungi growing and started photographing them. I found quite a variety, including some cute little patches that reminded me somehow of tiny fairy villages…or families.
There were a lot of different kinds, shapes, sizes and colors. I do live in the Pacific Northwest after all and it is seriously WET up here.
All of these were so interesting…their patterns of growth, their shape, size, and their similar but different hues. I’m probably passing up some fancy truffles or something, but I also know some mushrooms can be toxic. I have no idea how to identify those, so I just left them ALL alone for whatever creature eats them in the wild of my suburban neighborhood.
Then I spotted these, right in my own yard.
They literally popped up overnight and gave me the creeps when I bent down to snap a picture with my phone. They just LOOK evil…like they could reach up and grab me, or spit blinding venom in my eyes or something.
Even if someone told me these mushrooms were an extremely sought-after delicacy, I think I’d rather eat a snake than go near these things again. I’m afraid to even remove them. They might release deadly spores into the air.
They are scary looking…especially because they are black, not a clean white or a warm, enticing golden color…you know, how mushrooms are supposed to look.
I purposely did not Google (yes, it is now officially a VERB) mushrooms before I wrote this because I didn’t want to influence my initial reaction. I finally tried Wikipedia, Googles Reverse Image, etc., etc. But I never found my new arrivals. James says they look like they are from Mordor.