Eagle Update: Fuzzy Gray Heads

Last Friday after school, I decided to go check in with the local eagles. As a colleague had suggested, leaf buds were coming out promising to obscure future views to the nest.

When I arrived, one adult was on the nest, one was down the river a few trees. At the right side of the nest I could just see movement. Binoculars confirmed two fuzzy gray heads bopping around waiting for dinner.

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Shortly after I got there, the parent on the tree took off and made huge, graceful swoops over the parking lot and the empty lot across the road, flying out of sight presumably to pick up a to-go order.

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The parking lot dwellers went into a frenzy of battery and lens changes for their massive cameras. This is my version of penis envy:”Did you see the size of the lens on that guy? Rowr!” They were really excited because one of the eagles had unsuccessfully tried to take down a Canada goose earlier in the day within their camera range.

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Fish, it’s what’s for dinner. Mostly I know it was a fish because the giant camera people were getting pictures of the fish’s nose hair (if that was a thing) and squealing about it. I just listened intently and documented what I could with my average sized camera.

Hey, baby, it’s not the size. It’s how you use it. (FYI, perverts, this is a lie.)

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With dinner served, the fuzzy gray heads were back demanding food and attention. I felt like a celebrity seeking paparazzo.

 

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Bow Down: Bad Cat Poems

Eyes rolled heavenward.

“Tremble, human, at greatness.

Fetch me nip mousies.”

#cathaikus

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(This is just to say that we apologize to William Carlos Willams…again.)

This is just to say

That some time in the night

When you were sleeping

Or

Half asleep in mid slumber,

Just on the precipice of wakefulness and actual rest,

I threw up.

This is just to say that from your bed

Nestled in tired pillows, you may have heard me

Or

Thought that your dreams had new sound effects,

But somehow you did not fully wake up.

In the morning as you stumble through the new darkness of a blown ceiling bulb,

That first step will be

So

Cold,

Wet,

and Regretful

How Cool Was My Day?!

Every time I visit MomBert, I’m jealous of her bird population. Yes, as this blog testifies I have a decent level of avian traffic in my yard. However MomBert has the high traffic patterns and the variety!

She has blue jays! Blue jays are a fairly common bird, but they don’t visit my yard much. I’ll hear them in the neighborhood, and see them across the street, but they rarely stop by.

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She gets lots of titmouses, nuthatches, and woodpeckers who like her wooded back yard border. Again, common birds, but my population seems to be darling chickadees, juncos, sparrows, and finches.

Even her doves seem fancier than mine. Look at the blue eye shadow on this one. It was blending into the rocks so well that it startled me.

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One of her favorite visitors is this towhee who won’t pose because it constantly hops and scratches at everything looking for food.

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So, yea, I was a bit jelly of her birds, her deer herd, and her foxen when I left to go look for sexy salamanders.

But…

I HAVE BALD EAGLES!!

Well, they’re not in my yard where smaller raptors have landed, but they were only a 10 minute drive away.

A week ago, a friend posted her visit to view the eagles. They have created a huge nest at a relatively easy viewing spot on the Scioto River. I was determined to make this part of my weekend activities.

The birds and nest are so big that I easily spotted their silhouettes as I drove by the first time. One turn around later, I was playing Frogger to join other people staring across the river.

I could hear the eagles vocalizing from across the river. These were high pitched chirping cries. For some reason my brain wanted manly, majestic roars. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because they’re so big.DSCF2619a

Conversation with the other birdwatchers revealed that both birds were on the nest because a predator had been in the area. Allegedly there were three eaglets to guard in the nest, and we were all standing in the parking lot of a stranger’s home, a river access point or a small business. No one was sure.

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When it comes to nature, I am always torn between the “be in the moment” dictum and the act of documentation. I’m compelled to document because what I’m seeing is strange, beautiful, unusual, and is usually filling me with a sense of amazement that I get to see and document this thing! I feel like I was in the moment as I happily watched eagles through my lens. Part of being compelled to document, is being compelled to share because I want other people to understand how cool and interesting the natural world can be. I don’t know if the world would be a little nicer if we were all just a smidgen more in-tune with the plants and animals around us. Dirty hippie rant over.

While I watched, one of the birds left the nest and took a soaring path down the river to land in another big tree. “He just had to get out of the house for a minute, “said the guy standing beside me. I walked back to my car smiling, excited to closely exam my photos, and urge my friends to visit the spot. For once this week, it felt like real spring with the sun shining as I drove towards home, and a bald eagle circled above me on his way back to the nest.

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Updated: I went back the next day. The little lady was home alone, and nestled in. After a while she stood and BOOM! in swooped Big Daddy! He had an unidentified something clutched in his talons. I might have been screaming, “It’s Daddy!” Oh, issues. He dropped off his delivery and then removed himself to another tree.

I did some more screaming when I found out that I actually got this photo.

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Salamanders Doin’ It

Even though I live in Ohio where it snows every other day and is 70 degrees the next for no real reason, there is a local arboretum with a cypress swamp in it.

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To my mind, cypress swamps involve Southern climates, dangling moss, and large reptiles. However the Dawes Arboretum maintains a small corner of swamp in their vast acreage of otherwise expected rolling hills, wildflower meadows, forests, and lakes. (It’s beautiful and free admission though donations are nice.)

According to the signs I read on a previous visit, spring was when at least three types of salamanders exited the local woods, shimmied into the cypress swamp, put on some Barry White, and got busy with other salamanders.

If I didn’t get to see MomBert’s foxen during this weekend’s visit then by God I wanted to see salamanders doin’ it! I deserve that!

(MomBert has a foxen who has been coming to her garden for naps. Whole other story! Also The Bloggess uses “foxen” and I’m an English teacher so it’s a word. Suck it, grammar and usage.)

Unfortunately, all I got to see was the proverbial happy ending. The salamander wet spot if you will.

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Green eggs and salamander walks of shame.

The startled employee at the visitor’s center confirmed that the salamanders had done it. In fact, the tentative doing it date was actually on the arboretum’s calendar for February!  These critters need very specific conditions to really get in the mood. Uggghh! Had I known!

I was expecting a free love salamander orgy, but just got egg masses. Once I identified the first mass, I could suddenly see that they were all over the place. Do not bring a black light to this swamp!

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My visit then became more of a photography challenge . Distance from the boardwalk, breezes across the water, and reflections made things tough. My camera wanted to focus on the reflections of the trees more than anything else which made for some cool, but “what the hell am I looking at?” types of photos. Also, I was trying my damnedest not to tip over into the muck or drop my phone, camera, or keys into it. Success!

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I think the idea is NOT to have your camera or phone in the picture, but then…too fascinated by my own reflection.

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And I didn’t even fall in.

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You Daft Weirdo

If I’m lucky, a furry someone will join me at bedtime while I read before going to sleep. This is one of the best times of my day. Perhaps Birdie will curl up in the bowl of my feet which she is contractually obligated to keep warm. Maybe Miles will spoon my hip, or Sookie will sit aloofly on a nearby pillow waiting for me to make the wrong noise (She has panicked at an overly loud scritch of pages turning.) or gesture.

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A rare Olivia moment.

Olivia rarely joins me. If she does, she’ll demand to be under the covers, curl up perfectly beside me then break my heart a minute later when she decides I’m smothering her and she must leave now.

I usually know that she’s in the room also snuggling into bed because I can hear her steady purr as she kneads her soft cat bed. However, as I lay reading Tom Cox’s Close Encounters of the Furred Kind about his own cats’ adventures and his epic walks across the English country side, I wasn’t hearing the normal bigger-than-8-pounds Olivia purr.

I was instead eavesdropping on a conversation that involved a lot of chirps, brrrrrrrtts, and meeps. The only two in the house who can sustain a civil word without hissing at each other are Olivia and Miles. Putting down Tom’s tales of George, Roscoe, and The Bear (you might know The Bear from My Cat is Sad), I rolled over to see what was going on.

Oh dear.

Olivia’s face says it all. Embarrassment for her friend followed by a studious attempt to visually communicate that he needed to cut it out, and finally a frustrated, “STOP HUMPING MY BED YOU DAFT WEIRDO!”  Brain was full of British-y wording at that moment.

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Make him stop.

To his credit, Miles does not get romantic with his resident ladies beyond the occasional nap cuddle and some very forceful grooming. He saves his intensest feelings for a blanket on the couch, a stuffed cat that looks like Olivia- she does not take this as a compliment- and Olivia’s very squishy and soft bed. Knowing him, it could be a texture thing.