Friday, February 15, 2013

Zombie Valentines

This evening I pulled into a gas station, filled out the application for a reverse mortgage so I could fill my tank, and while the gas dripped into the tank with the same speed as a blood transfusion, an oxidized blue beater sedan pinged up to the pump, parking askew, almost at a 90 degree angle.  A tall, painfully thin young man slowly unfolded himself from the car and zombie-walked to the pump, staring at it between infrequent button jabbing.  He reminded me of the people I used to deal with who were high on PCP.  A long, long time later, when my tank was almost full, he was just putting the nozzle in his. 

I leaned over to the car opposite me and said, “Does this seem to be taking longer than usual?”

“Yes,” she said.  “Do you think one of us should talk to the guy?”

Thinking she meant the gas station attendant, I shook my head.  “Naw.  It’s almost full now.  I guess I can wait another few minutes.”

“But, don’t you think he might need help?  He’s moving so slowly, like maybe he can’t figure it out.”

My gaze swung over to the zombie.  I was pretty sure the pasty white skin and dark circles around his eyes were an indicator of being undead.  “I was talking about the gas.  It is taking a long time to pump.” I nodded my head toward the walking corpse.  “No way am I going to approach that guy.”

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even be able to outrun a zombie, so I’m not taking any risks.  I did stand-by while she approached him and asked if he needed help.  Luckily, he gave a couple of grunts that he didn’t need intervention.  At least no gas pump intervention.

Happy Valentine's Day.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wile E. Coyote

Coyote at RNWF
So, I've been shooting ducks, geese, hawks, and egrets at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge this month, but this week I spotted the Road-Runner's friend.  This is a beautiful animal, very healthy-looking.  I like them so much better when they are not in my yard.

By shooting, I do mean with a camera, by the way.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Great Blue Road Block

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

About halfway through the refuge there is a duck blind.  It is the only place you can get out of your car, so I took advantage of it to get out and stretch my legs.  After a short time in the blind, shivering and trying to avoid putting my elbows in owl poop, I tip-toed back to my car to continue the drive.  When I checked my mirrors before backing out, this is what I saw.
Backing out of parking space
He ambled along behind my car, completely unconcerned by my back-up lights.  When he cleared the rear-end, I rolled out of the space and realized he was in front of me.  On the road.

And wouldn't let me past.

Sorry the video is a little jumpy.  Trying to drive and film at the same time is harder than driving, texting and changing the radio station.

(If you click on the "full screen" emblem, you'll get the full effect of his beauty.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Northern Shoveler


Northern Shovelers

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Feb 2013

Taken with a point-and-shoot Canon Powershot SX130
Northern Shoveler Male

Northern Shoveler female

Northern Shoveler female

Northern Shoveler pair

Northern Shoveler feeding behavior video

See how they stay together?  It is almost as if he is watching over her.  Makes me almost, I guess I'm glad I'm not a duck.  Especially at hunting season.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Being in Hawk

I'm having trouble identifying hawks.  Really, they all look alike to me.  I have a National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Fourth Edition) and a Reader's Digest Book of North American Birds, and yesterday I picked up a paperback copy of  Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors, by Dunne, Sibley & Sutton.  Maybe if I had something better than 7 x 35 binoculars, or my little point-and-shoot Canon Powershot SX130, it would be easier.  Right?

But even with all those books, they still look alike.  Really.

I can't tell if something is level, either. (Just as an aside.)

So, I've made my best guess on the following pictures I took on Friday at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and please let me know if I've labeled them wrong.   I wanted to just say "Red-tailed Hawk" under all the pictures since that is the most common, but I was afraid I'd get hate mail from people who are much better at identification than I am.  Also, I was afraid relatives of the pictured birds would leave presents on my car.

So here goes:

I think this is a Cooper's Hawk, but turns out it is a Red-tailed Hawk

This looks like it could be a falcon to me.  
Turns out I was right that the above is not a hawk!!!!  I'm so proud of myself.  If you read the comments below, it is believed to be a juvenile Bald Eagle.

Looks like a Red-tailed Hawk

This sweet, precious baby Red-tailed Hawk held out his wing for easier identification for me

This one is so dark, I wonder if it is a Harlan's Hawk (a division of Red-tailed)

Okay, I was wrong about this one.  It is a red-tailed and not a Harlan's.

Looks like a Red-tailed to me

Right about this one.  Yippeeeee.

At first I thought this might be a Rough-legged hawk
Northern Harrier!!!!  Not a Red-tailed OR a Rough-legged.  Geeepers.

Then I thought it might be a Red-tailed

Then when I saw his legs weren't hairy, and I was pretty sure it was Red-tailed

This looks like a Harlan's hawk to me
Again, this is probably a young red-tailed.

And it is well trained not to go into the closed area.


Friday, February 1, 2013

When cats become serial killers

Earlier this week there was a news segment on a study conducted by a university.  They attached little cameras onto domestic cats and tracked their activities.  The study said, basically, that cats are serial killers who kill just for the fun of it.  

I live in the country and depend on my cats to do just that.  If a mouse gets into my house, I expect them to dispatch the rodent posthaste.  That is why I gave them their own eBay account, as payment for services rendered.  

I would have thought Schooner would be the mouser, because he loves to play with toys, but both times (that I know about) there has been a rodent incident, it has been Hobiecat, not Schooner, who has committed the justifiable homicide.

I wondered why.  Hobie would rather sleep, while Schooner would rather play fetch with me, bat cat balls around in the middle of the night, drag toys all over the house, and hide them behind the piano.  So why doesn't he want to participate in the hunt and kill game most cats enjoy?

I watched him for a while and I think he may not be stealthy enough to hunt.  He thinks he is hidden when he isn't.  

Schooner thinks he is completely hidden
Schooner, wondering if I'll ever find him

The last couple of days I've been working with Schooner, trying to teach him how to hunt, so he can share in the fun of murdering helpless rodents.  After all, Hobie might want to take a vacation some day.  After a full day of training, with charts and grafts and flip charts and a pop quiz or two, Schooner was exhausted.

Schooner taking a rest on the sofa
 But now I'm beginning to think I made a mistake when I taught him how to hunt.

Schooner  (and why do I feel like prey?)