Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category
The combination of warm sun and flowing water means that there are a lot of things to be seen on the river. Flowers, for example . . .
They are mostly the common (and not too spectacular) fiddleneck.
Still, they are pretty close up.
This pair of mallards has been hanging around, probably looking for a good nesting site. They were completely unbothered by the dogs, paddling a few feet out into the river, then paddling right back.
This morning brought out something I hadn’t seen in a while. I looked out and noticed all of the downstream horses rushing over to goggle at something in the river. So I went out to see what it was. I could see something moving out by the big island, and it was coming my way. (Notice the partly submerged palm tree. It’s one of those I thought would never recover after the big fire four years ago. Now we’ll see how it likes having its feet wet.)
Sure enough, it was a gentleman in a kayak — the first in five years. He paddled over, and we chatted for a while. I pointed out that the current was not as strong over here on the north bank, and he paddled off upriver. It looked like fun . . . but not easy.
Last night I went out to look at the moon on the water, and I heard frogs — or at least a frog. Another thing that hasn’t been around for years. Perhaps we’ll here something like the deafening chorus of other years before the summer’s out.
I love watching egrets. There are few things as beautiful as their snow-white wings, especially when backlit by a setting sun. So I was really happy when I spotted one sitting on the riverbank during an evening walk. I started sneaking up on him, snapping all the way.
But . . . the dogs were with me. They, too, decided to sneak up on him, with predictable results.
Oh, well. Maybe next time.
There haven’t been many pictures of horses in this blog lately — just weather pictures. Weather is the big story throughout California. The storms just keep coming. The horses (and people) are mostly standing around looking glum. We all know that we need every drop, and that we’ll be grateful in the spring, but that’s hard to remember when you are wading through the mud.
There is plenty to appreciate, though. The mountains have more snow than they’ve had in years. The air is clear enough to actually see them.
When I hiked down to the river a couple of days ago, the backwater that was filled with water hyacinth, and then dried out, was full of water again. Well, and dead water hyacinth. Anyway, there were five little birds — I think they were grebes — paddling happily around. They hurried away when they spotted me. It looked like they were swimming on a sheet of silver.
We’re supposed to have about a week without rain, and things are beginning to dry out a bit. The tractors are still working pretty much full time, but there is visible progress. Pretty soon I might be able to take a walk without hopping over puddles. There are still plenty for the dogs, who enjoy wallowing in them until they are mud-covered. Then they come in the house and share. I haven’t vacuumed in several days, because, hey, what’s the point?
I’ll start cleaning up tomorrow. There’ll be a few days to get rid of the leftover mud, then it’s supposed to start raining again. I’ll just keep thinking of the drought, and repeating, “I won’t complain. I won’t complain. I won’t complain.”
But I’m afraid I will.
The number of critters of all kinds has sure been going up since the river’s been . . . wet. I’m growing more little toads than grass, now that I’m watering the lawn again. It’s really hard to avoid stepping on them when I go out to water, as they hop away in all directions.
There’s larger wildlife, too. I love this quite accidental shot I got a few days ago. I was trying for the tree full of egrets out on the island; but just as I took the picture, one of them flew across below the moon.
That’s a lucky shot. Friend Jennifer got a lucky shot, too, when she encountered a bobcat on the trail.
They are beautiful creatures; and you can see how well they are camouflaged in the brush.
The heat wave goes on, and only the most dedicated riders are out this morning. If you don’t get a ride in before ten, you are going to suffer! Personally, I plan to hole up in the house. Our swamp cooler is working very well — so far.
If you look very closely at the center of this picture, you will see a little black dot.
It’s a red-winged blackbird. Now, that’s not a rare bird. It’s pretty, with its shining black body and brilliant scarlet shoulders, but not anything to write about . . . except that there haven’t been any around for several years. Like my friend Marion, I followed its song to the source. It’s hard to get a close-up, with three riotous dogs along — well, two riotous dogs and one who is elderly but game. But even the distant view was worth preserving, just to show hows the river life is returning.
This morning, I looked out and counted fourteen snow-white egrets flying in circles, working slowly downstream. There are little toads everywhere. A whole ecosystem is reviving — at least as long as there’s water in the river. I heard the flow was going to continue until August. I hope so.
Incidentally, there are three dogs in the picture. Can you spot the third one?
Our stolen work truck turned up — missing almost all of the tools and equipment it carried, of course. There was also quite a bit o damage to the steering column and ignition, which puzzled us since the drove it out with a key. David suggested that perhaps it was stolen twice; abandoned after the first time, then stolen again by thieves who didn’t have the key. Maybe. At any rate, it’s been found at an apartment complex only a couple of miles away, and the damage is repairable. We’re glad it’s back.
I heard the dogs barking ferociously a couple of days ago, and went out to find Xena and Peaches were alarmed by an egret. It was hunting lizards, probably, on the riverbank, and ignoring them totally. Later, when we went out for our ball chase, I spotted a streak of white near the bridge.
Sure enough, it was the same egret, still hunting.
It still ignored the dogs, too, but took off when I got too close. I snapped madly as it passed overhead, and got one shot that actually had the egret in it.
They are beautiful in flight; incredibly white and graceful.
It’s been busy around here — I took my Prius in for maintenance today, which took up most of the morning. They were quick and courteous at the dealership, and commented that it was still basically a new car. That’s true; it hit 2800 miles as I drove in. No, I didn’t leave out a zero. That’s not many miles for a year-old car!
The past few days have been pretty muggy, with a few drops of rain. We seem to be right on the edge of the storms, because we’ve had almost nothing while southern Bakersfield has had heavy rain and flooding. The thunderstorms and flash floods are a good thing — unless you’re caught in one — because they are another indication of a strong El Nino.
Oddly enough, I first heard of El Nino many, many years ago. It was mentioned in a pirate story I read, along with the reason for the name. The warm current came along about Christmas time, so El Nino — the Christ Child. The storms came into the story because they made the pirate trade difficult. Apparently the author had done his homework, because that’s the explanation I’ve heard repeated ever since. In the story, though, it was a bad thing instead of an eagerly anticipated event.
At any rate, blog posts will continue to be sporadic until the weather moderates a bit. Meanwhile, here’s one of my more successful hummingbird pictures.
You can even see his little toenails, if you look closely. Too bad he wouldn’t turn around, but his glittery green back is gorgeous. I didn’t realize for years that hummingbird feet are so tiny they can’t walk or hop, but only perch or fly. Luckily, that’s all they need.