The more things change

I enjoy looking at photos from the same date in earlier years, just to see what I was about to at the time. Apparently, I’m very much a creature of habit.

Here’s what I was thinking about and photographing exactly one year ago today:

And here’s my photographic muse on January 21, 2020:

Clearly, I’ve got robins on the brain. And what about January 21, 2021? Well, I didn’t take any photos that day. However, tomorrow it’ll be exactly two years since I photographed this Cooper’s Hawk which, by the way, is staring quite intently in the direction of the bird bath.

How about you . . . do you check out your photos from earlier years? And if so, do you have a more diverse repertoire than me?

Mourning Dove at rest

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost upon either the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread. ~ John Burroughs

Two magpies

Two magpies flew in front of me as I ran on the streets this afternoon, providing a much-needed boost as my energy lagged. I called out to them, “Hello, magpies! I receive the gift of your beauty!”

Of course, I didn’t have a camera with me so here are two that visited my backyard almost exactly one year ago. The bird on the fence had just finished bathing and my photo session shows a continuous stream of magpies performing their ablutions.

December 19, 2021

I feel incredibly fortunate to see magpies on a daily basis. They’re stunning birds that never fail to bring a smile.

A squirrel tale

Yesterday I spotted what I thought was a chipmunk on the back fence. But when I got out the binoculars, realized it was a very small squirrel. And when I saw how tentatively it moved on the uneven fence pickets, guessed it was maybe a youngster.

October 17, 2022

Then I saw this:

Definitely a youngster.

Nut-Munch veterans know exactly how to get at the food. This young one made several failed attempts, sometimes moving even farther from the destination. Eventually, they figured it out and moved closer.

And then . . . success.

Hooray!

Twofer Tuesday: nuthatch edition

Last week I spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch at the feeder and snapped two quick photos. All I got was a blurred image followed by an empty feeder tray. As I peered out the window, trying to locate the nuthatch again, it hopped up onto the window sill right in front of me. My subject was just inches away! Once again, it moved too quickly for me to photograph, disappearing as quickly as it’d appeared.

But then the nuthatch took pity on me and posed on the rail with a safflower seed in its beak.

September 8, 2022

And it even gave me a profile shot.

Such a thoughtful feathered friend.

Miraculous Magpie

This afternoon I’d just started a post about a White-breasted Nuthatch that visited our feeder when I heard a cacophony at the other end of the house. The magpies were back! (Here are some photos I’d taken earlier.)

     

Anyway, I hurried to the window overlooking the patio and saw two magpies in the bird bath and a line of magpies on top of the fence, all making a ruckus. I grinned and called for Zippy to come see the fun. And then I noticed something else.

A magpie on its back. Unmoving on the patio.

Rather than having fun, they were mourning their flock member. Zippy and I were in anguish, debating how long to leave the bird there so they could have their “funeral,” when after another minute or so of their raucous cries, the downed magpie began moving its beak. They’d called it back to life!

As some flew down next to it, the magpie got up. My movement at the window startled the rest into flying into the neighbor’s pine tree. The injured bird moved into the shade of a big pot where it sat panting for about thirty minutes. I watched with binoculars through the window and took photos. In fact, I took a ton of photos over the next couple hours but because they were taken at an angle through a not-clean window , they’re not very good.

Here’s one of the earlier photos after it’d moved from the shade of a big pot to pant here in the vinca and sedum.

The bird slowly began moving west on the patio. First underneath the loveseat where it was joined by another magpie that appeared to hunt for insects and offer them to the dazed bird which rebuffed it.  Then a long pause as the injured bird was out of sight behind the huge herb pot where I hoped it could drink from the bee bath. And then the magpie came back into view again.

It went through the wire (that’s supposed to keep Emma from destroying the flowers in the raised bed HAHAHA) and across to the timber in back.

And then it went out of sight again for a looong time. Zippy kept watch while I took a fast bathroom break and then I continued watching and waiting. I needed to know the bird was okay. Well, after a while I couldn’t take it anymore and very quietly stepped outside.

There I found a motionless magpie with its backend in my yard and the front end in the neighbor’s.

Distraught, I went back in the house. But I needed to know: what was going on? So out I went again.

This time, the head was up and the magpie was panting again. Probably because I’d stressed it out! I moved away and it went completely under the fence. A moment later, it hopped up and over a short wall.

That’s the last I saw of the magpie. I texted my neighbor to give her a heads-up and she put her dog inside then searched the yard. The only thing she found was a large, dead rat. (As she said: Ew.)

Here’s hoping those healthy, agile hops transitioned into healthy, flapping wings that carried the beautiful magpie back to the sky.

Bobcat next door

Emma’s barking got me out of bed at 6:00 this morning. Turned out, there was a bobcat on the other side of our fence. Zippy saw it when he went to investigate and I was consumed by envy after he came inside and described peering over the fence at the growling bobcat.

Ah, well, I thought. Maybe someday I, too, will  have a bobcat sighting.

Fast forward five hours when I was in my writing room with the window open and heard a strange sound coming from outside. It took a moment for my brain to kick in: growling bobcat! Emma’s brain kicked in right after mine and she began barking near the fence. I looked out my window and, sure enough, the bobcat had returned to the yard next door.

As it listened to the barking Emma, the bobcat’s tail moved side-to-side. Oddly, it moved more like a wagging dog’s tail than an irritated cat flicking its tail. The unperturbed bobcat remained there until Zippy came out into the yard to get Emma to stop barking. At that point, Zippy didn’t know what was happening, but the bobcat went on alert at Zippy’s approach.

After assessing the situation, the bobcat leapt onto the back fence. (Look at the size of those back paws!)

It settled in to watch Zippy and Emma for a bit as I continued to snap photos from the second-story window. When first photographing the gorgeous cat, I saw a flash of white on one ear and thought maybe it’d been tagged by a wildlife agency.

Then I realized both ears had white patches. I’d known about the tufts on their ears, but learned today bobcats have false eyes on the backs of their ears. I didn’t capture any images of both ears so here’s a photo from the linked site. I knew about false eyes on moths and butterflies, but was unaware mammals also have them.

Wow. Wow. Wow. And as if the bobcat excitement wasn’t enough, a few minutes later I looked out another window and was gifted the sight of a Turkey Vulture riding the air currents. I watched for several minutes, filled with gratitude for the local wildlife. This day’s a WIN!

 

Twofer Tuesday: grasshopper edition

This robin held those two grasshoppers in its beak for about ten minutes. When I first spotted it on the wire, I refrained from running for my camera because I was sure it would fly off and I didn’t want to miss watching it. I was curious about how it would ingest two grasshoppers at once.

July 29, 2022

But after several minutes of the bird staying put while turning its head side-to-side, I went for the camera AND took the time to switch out the lenses. Still there! I took a bunch of shots, playing with the settings, and then went back to watching. Soon, a house finch landed on the wire a few feet away. It also appeared curious about the robin’s intent. Then, from off in the distance, another bird flew toward the wire. Before I could identify it, the finch and robin took off.

They knew what was up: a Cooper’s Hawk! The raptor landed in the tree, but all its potential meals had disappeared. We were both disappointed. I’ll never know if that robin was able to eat both grasshoppers.

Yes I Do Want to Punch

See this squirrel’s clenched paw?

May 15, 2022

That little fist is a result of me tapping on the window to stop it from eating the peanuts we put out for birds* and, for the longest time, I thought it was the same brazen squirrel making a fist at me in response to my tapping. But then I realized it couldn’t be the same squirrel every single day and that ALL squirrels do that. Their immediate reaction to threat is a fist.

I can relate. Maybe I should enlist some squirrels to join me because, Yes I Do Want to Punch / fascists in the face.

*the squirrel food is on the back fence

Twofer Tuesday: raincatcher edition

Birds frequently perch on the wire outside my kitchen window, but I’ve never seen this before:

June 6, 2022

It’d started to rain and these two Mourning Doves each lifted first one wing and then the other to catch the moisture, and then proceeded to groom themselves.  It was almost like watching synchronized swimmers (although I’m pretty sure the doves didn’t have to hold their breath) and I felt strangely honored to witness their routine.

I just did a quick online search for information about this phenomenon and came across a few posts on forums stating the equivalent of “I didn’t know doves did this” and “Very cool to witness.”

Have any of you seen doves bathing in the rain?

On rabbits and drought

When glancing out my window the other day, I briefly thought someone had tossed a rabbit carcass in our yard. Happily, this bunny was very much alive. The same can’t be said for our “lawn.”

May 15, 2022

The neighborhood has been bunny-rich for the past several years and they’re slowly eating away the grass, leaving behind larger and larger bare spots. Fine by me. Colorado is in extreme drought (I learned this morning that the current statewide snowpack is 53 percent of median) and none of us should be dumping water into lawns. The good news? We’re supposed to get rain (and snow!) on Friday. I’m hoping for more rain than snow because the trees and shrubs are leafed out and that extra weight will break limbs. Still, let it rain OR snow! Whatever needs to fall from the skies is one hundred percent welcome here!

Here’s one more bunny pic to calm the climate anxiety. These two started fussing with each other and became so aggressive they frightened the above dirt-lounger into hiding. They chased and tussled all over the place, including in the iris fans and lavender.

Here’s hoping they’ll be tucked away somewhere warm and dry during Friday’s storm.

Hello, again

It’s cold and snowy outside, and toasty-warm in my home. For this, I am grateful. We’ve  replenished the various bird feeders and cleaned/refilled the bath for the many feathered visitors doing their best to keep warm and healthy during this latest snowstorm. This Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay visited the feeder last month and maybe has shown up again today. Hello, is that you?

February 2, 2022

And I’ve seen Dark-eyed Juncos out there today. Perhaps this one is also a return visitor?

February 2, 2022

Right now, I’m reading-reading-reading a critique partner’s manuscript in preparation for our group’s zoom session this evening. It’s a wonderful story and I’m happy to be part of the process and glad to be connecting with my friends again. And that’s not all. Tomorrow evening, I’ll be on a call with our local Sunrise Movement hub to reboot the group. Two social events in two days!

Okay, just wanted to pop in to say hello again and to say I’ve missed interacting with people here. When I’ve caught my breath after my whirlwind social life, I’ll try to catch up on what I’ve missed.  Stay warm! Stay healthy! Remember: March is when we really start gaining daylight! 🌞

The weakening eye of day

February 2, 2022

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
from Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush

Feathered joy

Our big snowstorm has just begun, tiny flakes drifting from the sky. In preparation, I cleaned the bird bath and replenished the feeders. Soon after, a flock of Bushtits arrived to eat at the peanut feeder, filling my heart with joy. I adore those tiny birds and curse the greedy chickadees that chase them from the food (sometimes while already holding a peanut in their beak). No pics today, but here’s a shot from last fall that I love.

October 24, 2021

That  autumnal dining experience was at a much more comfortable temperature. Currently, it’s just above freezing and the low is forecast at 14 degrees. Stay warm, wee ones.