Another walk in the woods

The weather was so pleasant today (though overcast) I decided to take the girls to the Cincinnati Nature Center, which is right around the corner from RAPTOR’s new property.
You can buy a handful of fish/turtle food for a quarter…which was a big hit for the girls (and the fish and turtles)What I wasn’t expecting was this. Look closely at this photo. Normal-sized, harmless turtles on the top and side…then this massive head, almost the size of the other turtles. A snapping turtle.
Excuse me while I say, “Aiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!”.
Some ladies walking by said that was Arnold, as in Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I was rather excited to finally witness a nighthawk in migration tonight. Geoff and I sat and watched 10 or so fly over, in the course of 20 minutes.

My little tree-hugger. I wonder if Lorelei will grow up to be a tree doctor or something. She loves trees…the bark, the leaves, the twigs.

When I saw the moon over the peak of our house, I was reminded of 2001.


Whatever Wednesday

Yesterday, my heart was gladdened by the sight of three juvenile bluebirds in the yard. I hope they remember our yard for next year’s breeding season.
There are two on the box and one on the fence behind.
Another photo from yesterday’s walk: A pretty, yellow wildflower growing next to a log.
Anyone know of an easy-to-use website so I can figure out what flowers I am looking at?
(Birds are my strength…I don’t know the name of a flower unless it has a tag on it)

Yet again, a flower I am clueless about. This one was growing in a pot of cattails I got for the marsh. Now they are blooming and gorgeous. They seem to like all the moist soil in the marsh.

The flowers have a “beard” if that’s the word for it.

(and to beat my FIL to the punch {line}, I don’t think they are members of the Flower Protection Program)
***I have a feeling that Laura will come through on this one…it’s nice to know a master (mistress?) gardener.***

A walk in the woods

I’m sure that Bill Bryson will forgive me for stealing his title.
After a day filled with migraine pain, I was ready to get out of the house and find some nature.
The girls and I went to Kelley’s Nature Preserve in nearby Miamiville.

I am fairly sure this is a life bird, but I have no idea what it is. (Center of picture)

It is a juvenile, with a streaked breast like a female house finch, with a long tail that had light (maybe yellow, maybe white) outer tail feathers. And there was more than one, but this is the one I could see the best. When I saw it, I first thought “Vireo” but none of the vireos in my book really match.

Up the hill from the river path we came across an old foundation, built from river rocks. Call me dramatic, but my first thought was “The Blair Witch Project”.

This sycamore is massive, with a trunk at least 6 feet around, and is obviously a favorite spot with those frisky teenagers who think burning their names in a living tree is cool.

A toad ventured across the path in front of us and posed.

Other than the mystery bird, we saw Carolina chickadees, American goldfinches, a turkey vulture, Carolina wrens, Tufted titmice and we heard a pileated woodpecker. I knew there were more birds, hearing calls that I couldn’t place. But the girls were not about to break their record of always messing up my birding.


I spent most of today fighting off a migraine, so there’s not much to post.

Yesterday, as I was putting Lorelei to bed, I closed her shades and saw this spiderweb on the outside of the window. It was so humid that the web had stuck to the glass, making it appear etched.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by my blog today?


My family of out laws…whoops, I mean my in-laws, celebrated my brother-in-law’s birthday today, and I decided I would practice my educational program skills.
The birds I presented:
The male American kestrel
The red-morph screech owl
The peregrine falcon (aka Lucy)

No wonder Lucy is a favorite. She’s just so polite and sweet and beautiful.

As you may have seen in yesterday’s post, our little screech owl is molting like mad, so he’s, well, not looking his best. (He really is a red-morph…I had to do a fill light to get him to show up on the pic)
The quasi-program went well, except for the hecklers…otherwise known as Isabelle and Lorelei.

The American kestrel has a new name…well, I will be calling him this: I was thinking of names for him, and I thought, “AK (the banding abbreviation of American kestrel)…AK Steel (a steel company in Middletown, where my in-laws live)…male kestrels have steel-gray backs…hmmm…”

So I’m going to call him Steel, and no one can stop me.

“Check please!”

Runnin’ on empty….

I did some more training today at RAPTOR. My first real solo program is next weekend at one of the Hamilton County Parks, so I practiced perching the birds out. It was a good day: Two Socks, the male red-tailed hawk and I came to an understanding today. I wasn’t nervous, so he wasn’t nervous. We know we can trust each other now. (Still won’t be petting or cuddling him, though!)
All the birds seem to be molting right now, so every time they shake themselves, dust, dander and feathers fly.
Our red-morph screech owl is looking particularly sad: His head feathers are gone, with only pin feathers coming in…the picture doesn’t give this guy justice: He is two big eyes on a bird body.

“Do these jesses make me look fat???”

“Hey!!! Don’t take my picture! I’m having a bad hair day!!!”

This night hawk (NOT a raptor) was brought in today by one of the volunteers. Once again, not a great pic, but they are such neat birds. Tiny little beaks, but when they open, they have a huge gape.

I stopped to get fuel, and realized that I didn’t have my wallet. I called Geoff and told him I would drive as far as I could until I could get to a gas station near home. My car has this neat sensor that tells you how many miles you have until empty. Well, it fluctuated between zero and five for a while, so I stopped and Geoff brought me some money. I feel dumb…I never do this.

After the gas incident, I stopped to get lunch for us, and while waiting in the drive thru at Arby’s, I saw this “Assassin/stink/whatever” bug hanging out on the sign. I guess he wanted some potato cakes.

Freeze, turkeys!

I never know what I will find while at my Mom’s house. Today, it was 12 turkeys (all hens and young). Sucky photos, but cool birds.

Look closely at the tan blur to the left of the turkey in the middle. That tan blur is a fawn, skipping and playing around the turkeys.
And the fact that I could be turning into an old curmudgeon hit home today. Some of the neighborhood kids starting running after the turkeys and scaring them off. I starting hollering at the top of my lungs (and the top of my lungs are way up there) “Stop chasing those birds!!!”. Now, this is probably the length of two football fields, and I was at one end and the kids were at the other, and they heard me loud and clear and ran away real fast. Satisfying, yes, but I had become that guy who yells at kids playing in front of his house. But I’d do it again, because it’s not like those turkeys were getting ready to break into a house or anything.

The two fawns and two adults showed up later in Mom’s back yard, where she has a trough and scratch for the deer and turkeys. It was interesting to see a fawn this big and still sporting spots. (Nice alliteration, Susan. Gee, thanks!)
This tree has been near the pond as long as I can remember, and has fascinated me as long, too. This time of year, the thorns (which are easily 3-4 inches long) turn blood red, and can give you serious thoughts of what they could do to you if you weren’t paying attention. I used to play near this tree, and once got a thorn stuck in the back of my thigh. The tip broke off in my skin, and it took days of “drawing” salve to get it out. Still love the tree, though.
I got the pleasure of getting the bejesus scared out of me by a green heron as I walked into the tangle around the pond. My Mom is so lucky to live where she does. She has open field, a forest, a pond and a creek. You never know what you will see.