Shh, don’t tell my neighbor

For the first time in the 22+ years we’ve lived here, there’ve been multiple bear sightings in our neighborhood. Maybe not so surprising since we’re adjacent to a whole bunch of open space.

I’m not sure who shat this scat, but I could make a guess. But whoever it was did the deed on our neighbor’s driveway. The brand new driveway she’s so particular about that she was recently out there scrubbing and scrubbing at a few oil drips. So when I saw this pile of berry remains I knew she wouldn’t be happy.

But when the pile was still there the next day I realized my neighbor was out of town. Here was my chance! So I went over to photograph the remains before picking it up. (Note: I did not scrub the concrete). I wanted to get rid of the evidence so she wouldn’t know a bear had possibly come calling. My neighbor isn’t exactly wildlife-friendly. She throws rocks at bunnies that “eat my lawn” and last spring purposely drove over a snake she saw in the street in front of her house. (That’s right, she got in her car and started it up for the express purpose of killing a snake. Thankfully, it didn’t die and I helped it escape her wrath, which she then directed at me). I figured if she found out that a bear might’ve taken a dump on her driveway, she’d either be out front with a cannon or would call in the National Guard or Ted Nugent.**

So let’s keep this little story between us, okay?

** Zippy did spot her outside scrubbing at the berry stain.

Final birding excursion

Zippy and I got up and out to the bridge on South Fork by six this morning. We hoped to see, among other birds, an Elegant Trogon. We joined several birders on the bridge also hoping for the “big prize.” Spoiler alert: Zippy and I never saw the Trogon (can’t vouch for the others since some went farther upstream and others down), but we heard its distinctive call which sounds like a barking seal or pig. We did have the pleasure of viewing some other birds:

American Robin (there’s a nest right there and yesterday we watched the parents battle it out with several Mexican Jays)
Northern Flicker
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Hepatic Tanager (male)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher (or Brown-crested Flycatcher?)
Plumbeous Vireo
Acorn Woodpecker (Zippy also saw Arizona Woodpecker)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Painted Redstart

At a couple minutes after eight we regretfully called it a morning since we had to pack up for our trip back to Colorado. As I drove slowly down the road I pulled over next to the stream in hopes of hearing the Trogon one last time. We didn’t hear its call, but we did see this beauty:

Farewell, Cave Creek Canyon.

Rocky Raccoon

Late Monday afternoon I’d just started on the boardwalk at Kapok Park, thrilled the recent rainshowers had kept other visitors away. I walked in solitude, listening to birds and scanning my surroundings. Suddenly, I felt eyes upon me.

A raccoon! Down in the marsh below. Peering out from behind the vegetation. I raised my camera and took some photos. But my presence made the raccoon nervous and it cautiously moved away.

I stayed put and snapped a few more pictures.

But then I felt bad about the stress I was causing the raccoon and so slowly backed away as it ventured into the water. Wait, that water contains alligators! What had I done? What if I’d driven the raccoon into dangerous territory for the sake of a few photos?

Well, as of yesterday the raccoon is alive and well. How do I know? Because my sister is now in Florida and she visited the park yesterday evening where she was shocked to see a raccoon. She sent me a photo of “Rocky Raccoon” and to this non-expert it sure looks like the same raccoon.

Next time I’m in Kapok Park I’ll be sure to give Rocky more privacy.

Otherwise you’re just a lizard

You’ve got to get out and pray to the sky to appreciate the sunshine; otherwise you’re just a lizard standing there with the sun shining on you.
~ Ken Kesey

No disrespect to Kesey’s sun-worshipping philosophy, but I think lizards have pretty much mastered the art of basking in the sun.

When in doubt: SQUIRREL!

This was the first photo I took on my way to the irrigation ditch late this afternoon. I ended up capturing a bunch of great shots that I’ll share in the future, but I’m going to start with this bushy-tailed specimen.

Squirrel!

Channeling my inner turtle

Early this morning it was below zero and, despite the sun, the temperature is still hovering below freezing. I’m working on revisions right now from a chair strategically located in a patch of sunshine and just remembered this photo I took in Kapok Park last January.

I feel a kinship with this sun-worshipping turtle. If there was a big, warm rock for me to embrace, I’d be doing the same right now.

A tale of two squirrels and Denali National Park

When I lived in Alaska I went to Denali National Park a number of times. You can ride one of the old school buses through the entire park (80+ miles) to the end point which is Wonder Lake. The vistas are magnificent and there’s lots of wildlife to be seen along the way. Moose and Dall’s sheep, maybe a lone wolf galloping along or a brown bear with a cub or two. Ground squirrels and scolding marmots. One of my first rides on the bumpy dirt road was in the company of another visitor who became quite animated at the sight of some moose. There was also a group of park workers on the bus and one of them scoffed at the visitor’s excitement and said something like “You’ve seen one moose, you’ve seen them all.”

I remember feeling bad for that worker and hoping I’d never become bored by what I saw. And so it was in that spirit that I photographed these two squirrels in Kapok Park earlier this month.

I watched in delight as they chased each other around a tree trunk before jumping to the ground where they began to forage. There are certainly more “exotic” creatures in the park such as alligators and anhingas, but these feisty squirrels also caught my attention.

I hereby declare “mundane” be reserved for chores like dirty dishes and suggest that squirrels be viewed as Great Fun! Who’s with me?

Doe a deer a female deer

I woke this morning to snow that fell for hours before abruptly stopping when the sun came out. Zippy was out shoveling and came in to let me know we had a visitor in the yard. By the time I got to the window, the doe was strolling up the street past the spot where a huge pickup had slid sideways earlier in the day. (You can see the exposed groundcover where the truck went up over the sidewalk).

Hooves are superior to Michelins.

Portrait of dignity


“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill, they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”  ~ Richard Adams, Watership Down

Deerly Beloved

As the nervousness and anxiety mounts regarding the outcome of tomorrow’s votes, I turn to my default emotional-health tool: nature.

This deer showed up in our front yard just over a year ago and today I’m grateful for its grace, beauty, and calming demeanor.

Breathe, Tracy. Breathe . . .

Snowpocalypse Now

We’re finally getting much-needed snow! The recent warm temperatures and freakishly dry landscape felt slightly apocalyptic, so it’s a huge relief to receive moisture. Plus, the white provides a nice, clean blanket over all that drab brown.

However, it’s possible that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the snowstorm.

Bunny Monday

I just got back from a 4-mile run around the neighborhood. Emma started with me and then bailed at about 3/4 of a mile, possibly due to it being only 27 degrees. But it all worked out because as I dropped her off at home, I had the sense to put on my mask. Suddenly, it felt quite pleasant out there.

And when a bunny ran in front of me, I grinned and remembered that it’s Bunny Monday!

I’m sorry I don’t have a bunny photo to share, but here I am at home again, reenacting my Bunny Monday grin.

Channeling my inner squirrel

This guy was at the feeder that hangs right outside our living room window.  When I sat to watch him liberate shelled peanuts from the cylinder, he immediately copped an attitude. He was furious that I was interfering with his efforts, and most certainly the chatter aimed at me was profane.

This squirrel’s head about popped off.

I admired him so much. Check out his body language. At first glance, you’d think the guy was chill, focused and absolutely motionless. Except. Note the blurred tail.

That is my goal for today as I tackle my revisions: to work with intense focus while also keeping in constant motion.