Feathers?

I was summoned to the backyard to weigh in on landscaping options. The color red catches my eye. Its hue is in juxtaposition with the surrounding colors.

IMG_3528

I examine the surrounding area. This is what I discover.

IMG_3529

More feathers! I follow the path of feathers. Tracking like an Indian. Take a step, study the ground, move slightly to the left, then to the right. Continue forward until this!

IMG_3531And this!

IMG_3530 (1)Horrors! Slowly it is dawning on me that someone feasted in my yard. I’m puzzled because I remember this from the last snow fall.

IMG_3503The tracks indicate was a scuffle of some sort.

IMG_3502But there were very few feathers scattered on the gleaming snow. Is someone using our backyard for their own personal dining room? Could it be the hawk?

I will have to keep a better lookout on the activities of the backyard.

 

A Hawk Among Us

Wings spread wide, floating on air currents high above our roof, the hawk surveys the land below looking for dinner. Tired of scanning from the sky, it settles in the maple tree. Head slowly turning left, then right. It rests on this perch for some time. Eventually soaring off to better hunting grounds.

Waiting and watching

Waiting and watching

The hawk continues to reappear over the course of several weeks. I only see it from a distance, always in a tree or circling the sky, until Wednesday.

My husband and I were backing out of the garage, on our way for a dinner out when I noticed movement at the neighbor’s walk. The hawk was standing on the sidewalk pecking and pulling, dinner was served. Bits of something were flying in the air, I didn’t know if it was fur or feathers.

I wanted to jump out of the car, run into the house to fetch my camera. But alas, I did not. It was dusk and I was afraid the light would prevent a good picture. However, when I got home, I wandered over to see what was left. Feathers were scattered all through the flower bed and into the grass. I think there was also some internal organ left behind. (If I had to guess, I would say it was the intestine. It resembled a long pink worm.)

IMG_0654

In the morning, I went back to snap a few photos of the scattered feathers. I skipped the organ (I know you are saying, “Thank goodness!). Our neighbor, Dan, has declared it must have been a dove because of the gray feathers mixed in with the white downy feathers.

We have a couple of small puppies in the neighborhood. I hope the owners keep a watchful eye on them.

“Not On Our Pole!”

Saturday morning found me sipping coffee, scrolling through emails on the iPad, wondering how the day would unfold when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, a movement in the backyard made me dash to the window to verify my suspicions. I think I saw a squirrel!

Side note: I know many you are thinking, what’s the big deal? We have squirrels and they are annoying. Let me explain, we moved to this house about ten years ago, and we have never had a squirrel in our yard or trees. Our house was built on a farm field, so there were no trees, therefore, there would be no squirrels.

I caught a glimpse, but quickly moved to another window to get a better view. I could not find it. I looked for any motion, but all was still. In my fuzzy pink bathrobe, I went out to the patio hoping to discover where it went. I was just curious to see what the squirrel would do. No luck. I returned to the house.

A few minutes later I glanced out the window to discover the squirrel was checking out the bird bath. This time I had my camera ready, but it quickly scampered from the bird bath to the viburnum bush. I watched the bush, zooming in, but could not find the rascal.

Suddenly it leaped to the top of the fence and headed across the green space behind our house. Sadly I thought there would be no picture of this fuzzy fellow, but wait! It is climbing the power pole! Up, up, up it climbed. What will it do when it reaches the top?

Up, up, up, it continued until it passed a bar where two birds were resting. The birds immediately attacked the squirrel. The squirrel didn’t know what was happening! The birds flew and screeched. I’m sure the message was loud and clear, “You are not climbing our pole!”

Immediately the squirrel retreated, scampering down about six feet. There it froze, head down, spread eagle on the power pole. It stayed in that position for at least ten minutes. It got the courage to try again, but the birds fought it off. More birds came to help the original two. The chatter was quite loud, I can only imagine the language they were using.

IMG_3453

Finally, the defeated squirrel abandoned its idea of climbing the pole. It scooted down the pole, shook its tail, and scampered off to the neighbor’s pine tree. The squirrel’s attitude said, “I didn’t really want to climb that pole anyway.”

Close up of the squirrel trying to decide what to do.

Close up of the squirrel trying to decide what to do.

 

Finding the Celebration

Each Saturday, Ruth asks us to take a moment to stop and reflect on the week. What do I have to celebrate? I begin the day thinking I have nothing to celebrate this week. I’m not going to post this Saturday. Then I read celebrations and my mind starts to spin. Yes, there are celebrations I can share from my week.

1. A walk around the yard leads to discovering the new growth that was not there a week ago. Hostas have sprouted, the hydrangea is breaking through, and the peach tree now has baby leaves. I know the blossoms will soon follow.

 

My asparagus! There are thirteen shoots , more pop through every day. Maybe next year we will have enough to eat.

My asparagus! There are thirteen shoots , more pop through every day. Maybe next year we will have enough to eat.

 

2. Time to spend creating a gift for a friend.

Used an idea from Pinterest to create this necklace.

Used an idea from Pinterest to create this necklace.

3. A friendly face who wants me to step outside.

Someone is tapping on the window.

Someone is tapping on the window.

4. Sunshine and warm temperatures to allow me to sit on the patio to read and capture pictures of friends who sing to me.

The birds sing loud and strong, echoing through the yards.

The birds sing loud and strong, echoing through the yards.

5. On Wednesday, my husband uttered some of my favorite words, “Do you want to go get pizza and a salad?”

Just when I think there is nothing to celebrate, I discover I was mistaken. There are so many moments to celebrate, I just need to look.

 

Bluebirds

A shadow flits across the yard, catching my eye as I sit at my desk working, but also viewing the street. I’ve been waiting for these shadows to appear. They are the bluebirds who come to feast on the holly berries on the shrubs right outside my window.

A maple stands in the center of the yard. A river birch anchors a corner of the yard next to the house. Bare branches beckon the bluebirds to come, observe, and plot their attack on the bushes.

Horizontal blinds cover the double window. The slats interfere with my vision so I raise the blinds all the way to the top. Screens blur my view on the lower half of the window, but the top half is clear. My camera sits on the desk, waiting for the fluttering activity to begin.

Prior to raising the blinds, birds were flitting and flying back and forth. Quick motions difficult to capture through the blinds. Patiently I continue to work, looking up to see if I can spot the bluebirds. I work all afternoon. Not. One. Bird. Appears. Slowly I lower the blinds, as dusk begins to descend. No photo today.

I wonder if the birds saw something in my window that scared them away. Perhaps the window reflection was too bright. I just know I was sorely disappointed not to capture an image.

Days later, I was once again working at my desk. One bluebird sat in the river birch pondering the berries below. Stealthily, I crept to the window. Placed the camera in between the slats, zoomed the lens of my camera, snap, snap. I caught him, this time. I wish the colors were brighter, but I am happy to have this image. I will keep trying to get the next best shot.

bluebird 1

bluebird 2

A Few Views From the Bike

Biking opportunities are rarer now that fall chased summer away. Since the landscape changes between bike rides I am on constant alert to notice the differences. So here I share a few pictures and thoughts.

Early in the fall this vine grew on many trees. It made me think of flannel underwear for trees. Of course it faded away after the first frost.

Early in the fall this vine grew on many trees. It made me think of flannel underwear for trees. Of course it faded away after the first frost.

Not quite sure what to make of this scene. Are they going to have a bonfire and they want comfortable seating? What about rain? This has been there for a couple of months.

Not quite sure what to make of this scene. Are they going to have a bonfire and they want comfortable seating? What about rain? This has been there for a couple of months.

I love, love, love spotting the hawks when the trees are leafless. They are so regal surveying the land below them.

I love, love, love spotting the hawks when the trees are leafless. They are so regal surveying the land below them.

They are also camera shy, so it is rare that I can get focused to capture their image.

They are also camera shy, so it is rare that I can get focused to capture their image.

Some leaves are just not ready to drop. They wear their colors proudly.

Some leaves are just not ready to drop. They wear their colors proudly.

And then there are some who jump ship at the first opportunity. Of course a few hang in there to see what life is like in winter.

And then there are some who jump ship at the first opportunity. Of course a few hang in there to see what life is like in winter.

I guess my next view won’t be from the bike but from two feet.

Fun Times (part 1)

I have started this post at least fifteen different ways and every one of them have been deleted. I just don’t know how to start. My husband and I have traveled to southern California to visit our family. What a week we had!

It all began with meeting Kim (Learning Tour Writing Stop). What a day we had exploring the Sherman Gardens! So many interesting plants! I felt like I was taking pictures nonstop. At every turn there was something unusual to see.

Our day ended when Kim and I met up with my husband, son, and daughter-in-law at an Irish pub for corned beef tacos. Just saying those words doesn’t sound right, but actually they were quite tasty.

Next we went into active mode. One day there was a hike in the canyon. The next day we rode bikes on a bike path in Irvine. This city has created wonderful biking/walking paths. However, the ride was cut short when my son had a flat tire and we had no spare with us. My husband and I returned to this trail later in the week to ride to the end.

We have been trying all sorts of new food experiences. One night we went to a Peruvian restaurant. I have no idea what we ate but it was good. Another day we went to a new place called Pieology. You go down the line and tell them what you want on your pizza and they build it right in front of you. Yum! Don’t forget the corned beef tacos.

We have been to a birthday party, had a pedicure with my daughter-in-law, took my granddaughter shopping while babysitting, attended the granddaughter’s horse show, and met a friend (plus her family) for dinner.

All this was done in a week. I’m worn out reliving it, but you will have to return next week to find out what we did during the second part of this vacation.

I will leave you with a few photos from this past week.

Isn't this orchid interesting?

Isn’t this orchid interesting?

Did you know that koi love fruit? They really love bananas.

Did you know that koi love fruit? They really love bananas.

Outside the Irish pub, time to say good-bye. :-(

Outside the Irish pub, time to say good-bye. 😦

On our hike, I was going to take a picture of the flower, but look who zoomed into the photo.

On our hike, I was going to take a picture of the flower, but look who zoomed into the photo.

Everyone is rolling along, if we only knew a flat was in our future.

Everyone is rolling along, if we only knew a flat was in our future.

There were three hanging out, but two were shy. I guess they were chatting about the strangers rolling by.

There were three hanging out, but two were shy. I guess they were chatting about the strangers rolling by.

All Gone

On Sunday, this was the poop crusted nest. I guess these conditions don't bother them.

On Sunday, this was the poop crusted nest. I guess these conditions don’t bother them.

“Quick come here, wear shoes,” my husband calls to me as he sticks his head into the house. Quickly I leave my desk and grab my shoes as I hustle into the garage. He leads me around the side of the house. I now know this must have something to do with the infant wrens that have been living in the spruce. Unfortunately, he didn’t say bring your camera. My phone is sitting on my desk. So if this is a fleeting moment, I will only be able to describe it with words. Mentally I am fussing at myself for not grabbing some device. (FYI, it is now Thursday)

However, it is not a fleeting moment. I have time to get back into the house for the camera. In fact I have about twenty hours to record this sight. There on one slim branch of the spruce is one of the babies.

"I'm not looking at her!"

“I’m not looking at her!”

I stay back and employ the zoom feature of the camera. I do not want to be responsible for startling this young wren and making it lose its grip on the branch. Its back is to me, as I try to angle and get a close shot of this petrified baby bird. Or is it a teenager now?

Overhead mama is having a fit. She flits from one roof to the next with nonstop squawking . Let’s just imagine we can translate, I’m thinking she is saying: “Don’t let go! Lady, get away from my baby! What do you think you are doing? This is a training session you are interrupting! Go back into your house! Leave us alone! Close your eyes baby! Don’t look down! Step away from the tree, no, not you baby! If I was braver, I’d peck your head and push you away! Why, why, why?” There were probably additional words which I won’t print here too.

She must be able to chirp with her beak closed, because she was having a fit over my presence.

She must be able to chirp with her beak closed, because she was having a fit over my presence.

After I took a few photos, I returned to the house so mama could calm down and continue with her lesson. Several more times during the afternoon and in the evening, I went out to check on the baby. It was still hanging on to that same branch but it had turned around. Unfortunately it rained a bit in the afternoon. So in the morning, it looked quite plump. However, after rain soaked the feathers, it looked considerably smaller and more pathetic. It continues to keep its eyes closed. The theory must be, if I can’t see you, you can’t see me.

This poor chick did not know to get out of the rain. So now it looks much thinner.

This poor chick did not know to get out of the rain. So now it looks much thinner.

In the morning I went out to get the paper, but I took a quick peek down the side of the house. Believe it or not, it was still clinging to the branch. Poor little wren! What a miserable night it must have had! Later I checked on it and this time it was no where to be found. All that was left was a very poop covered branch. (I’ll let you imagine this one.)

In the beginning, there were five eggs, but I think only three hatched. I don’t know when the others flew the nest, but no one is home now. Sigh! How quickly they grow up and leave the nest!