That’s all it takes


I had an education program way out at Chilo Lock #34 park today, one of my favorite birding spots. After the presentation, I was showing some of the kids my Party Favors (heads, feet, wings and feathers) when out of the blue, there was Katdoc! She lives pretty close to the park, and came down to see my program! Now, how cool is that? (Thanks, Kath)
We were talking about the peregrines that are seen at the dam down the road, and Kathi told me not to bother since she had just come from there and she didn’t see any.
I took her word for it, but as I was nearing the dam on the way back, I just had to turn in, just to have a peek. And I am so glad I did!
Behold: A Snow goose. Life bird #117.

Snow goose 1

Snow goose 2

I couldn’t even believe my eyes. It was hanging out with a flock of Canada geese, and I was pretty far away, so I almost didn’t give them a second glance. But I had the scope with me, so I set it up in the lee of a tree (the wind was of the type that slices through you like frozen razor blades) and aimed it at the geese to practice. And there it was.
Thank goodness there was a birder down the way, and I walked down and introduced myself (turns out that he had been at my program) and asked him to look at the goose and confirm it.
Thanks, Steve Wagner!
We don’t get too many snow geese around here, just isolated sightings here and there. And I found it all by myself.
*Boom shaka laka laka* Boom shaka laka laka*

When I got home, Geoff suggested that we all go get some dinner and decided on Burger King since it has a playground for the girls to burn up their energy. We rarely get to go out to dinner with all four of us present, so it was a nice change…I love my family.

Lorelei slide

Isabelle slide

And for some reason, Geoff and I were enticed to climb the jungle gym and go down the slide.
(I remember Geoff saying something about what a good blogging opportunity it was…that did it) This was no ordinary slide: It was in the shape of a corkscrew and was pitch black inside.
Geoff was brave…he went down head first.

Geoff slide

I was yelling and laughing so hard, I couldn’t sit up. I thought it would be a simple, short slide just a “whee!” and that’s all. Well, this damn thing went on and on and I couldn’t see where I was going and I was all like “Aiiiiiiiiiii!!”

Susan slide

Have I mentioned that I love Flickr?
I made this movie poster last night:

My Movie Poster

Click on the picture to go to flickr and enlarge it. There’s quite a cast of characters listed…hopefully you can read the fine print.

As far as my last post:
Thank you for all of your supportive words and encouragement. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.


Feelin’ better, bald eagle, why it’s good to be friendly with other birders

Did I see the bald eagle?
We will get to that in a minute.
First, there was a lot of mockingbird attitude going on in the front yard today. like suet

Dude was all over the suet.
He was not a happy camper when the starlings moved in.

Back off starling!

“Back off, you stupid starlings!”


“I mean it!!!”

Oh I don't THINK so

“OH, I don’t THINK so…”

Okay, okay...I get the hint

“Okay, okay, we get the hint!”

Mr. Yellow-Eyed Fluffy Pants

“I rule this suet, because I am Mr. Yellow-Eyed Fluffy Pants.”

mockingbird streching neck

“And I want THAT berry right THERE.”

I am such a beautiful specimen of my species

“What a beautiful specimen of my species I am.”


Meanwhile, over in the crabapple, a cardinal dozed off…if you look close, you can see his nictating membrane.

Snow shadows
Over in the back yard, I saw snow shadows. See the snow by the fence? The trees shielded it from the warm sun, and voila..snow shadows.

Robin tossing leaves

A flock of robins were tossed the leaves under the maples. I thought I would help them out by sweeping the leaves away from the base of the trees. They approved.

just a red tail

Now, onto the eagle: This is not an eagle. Just a red-tailed hawk.

I used my temporary scope (I so don’t want to give it back) to check out the action at the gravel pits. I saw:
Ruddy ducks
Ring-Necked ducks
A female American wigeon, I think…some birders have seen a Eurasian wigeon here, but I was too far away to really be sure.
While scoping, a car pulled up behind me. A fellow birder came up and asked what I was seeing. She asked if I was looking for the eagle. Turns out that she had just seen it about 2 miles down the road. Hopped in the car and went searching.
Did I see the bald eagle?
Did I get a picture of it?
Damn. I will try again.

full moon 020207

Happy Groundhog Day/Full Moon.

I have wanted to bring up something for quite a while. I have had a post in draft mode for ages, but haven’t posted it because it didn’t feel right.
Lynne brought up her past use of antidepressants in a comment last night, and I love her for it. I know you all like me, so I feel safe in talking about my mental health.
I have been in therapy off and on since I was 13. First it was for motivation in school (IQ tests to show that I definitely had the brains, and realizing that I was just not being challenged enough) and a few years back when I was pregnant with Isabelle, a new therapist. He did nothing for me. Then, 3 years ago I found my soul-mate therapist. She has seen me through my Dad’s passing, my anger, my depression.
I have been on antidepressants for 2 years now, and it seems to be working…except for the times that I react in ways that are not appropriate for the situation. I don’t let these feelings out when I am away from my family, such as at a RAPTOR program or out in public. My safety zone is my family, and unfortunately my family also takes the brunt of my anger. I am not abusive, I do not hit, but I yell and I say things in ways I don’t mean. The meds have reduced my depression and it feels great. (It looks like I have needed this for years, since high school)
Where does all this stem from? Partly, a chemical imbalance in my brain that I can’t help. And partly, a crappy relationship that nearly squashed my self-esteem. When I was 16, I was dating a 22 year old man. Why would a man want to date a 16 year old? You can figure that out.
I wouldn’t get into details. I will just say that he was not a nice person. He was mean and abusive.
That relationship colored every other one to come along. Thank goodness Geoff is understanding. He obviously saw past all my baggage to look into my soul and saw the small, undamaged part of me. He taught me that I was worth loving.
The only thing in the way of me becoming the person I really am inside is that the meds and therapy aren’t helping 100%. My therapist wants me to see someone else, to determine if I have “soft bi-polarity”. Lovely. I don’t think I am, but everyone I have told about it has NOT been surprised. I am not the type you see on TV shows…I just have mood swings from Hell. I am not Mother of the Year sometimes. I am not the wife that Geoff deserves. But I can be. I feel it. I want that.
So there you are. I’m not perfect, and I don’t think anyone expects me to be. But I could be happier. You guys, who read my blog, see the side that I truly am, the ME that shows up in small bursts. The loony, fun, sweet Me. I want to invite her to stay forever.

Posted in Birds. 3 Comments »

My creation

If you haven’t tried flickr yet, I strongly urge you to do so.  Tired of Blogger’s uploading crap?  Go to flickr.

I made this little thingy on one of flickr’s associate sites,  Big Huge Labs. (Thanks, Laura!)

I will be switching over to this blog soon, I think.  Now that I have flickr, it’s a breeze to put as many pictures as I want on here.

But for now, I will keep playing with this one, and still be posting on the old one.

A blog so nice, I named it twice!

I love FLickr and Flickers

I was good today. No below-freezing treks through an unknown bit of forest. All I did was drop the girls off and go to a park and sit in my car, returning RAPTOR calls.
I was so goofy last night. If I left a nonsensical comment on your blog, I apologize. And hopefully I made you laugh.
Word of the Day:

conflate \kuhn-FLAYT\, transitive verb:
1. To bring together; to fuse together; to join or meld.
2. To combine (as two readings of a text) into one whole.

princess dirty face

Princess Dirty Face. She had snuck into the Cheetos while I was passed out on the couch this afternoon. This is one of her birthday presents. An Ariel (Little Mermaid for those of you without little girls in your life) wedding gown with a hoop skirt.

orange house finch

I have seen both yellow-tinged and orange-tinged male house finches at the feeders this winter. This one is leaning on the orange side. Red feathers are an expensive feather to grow if you are a bird, and the redness of the bird is in direct correlation to the fitness of the bird. I read an article today that suggests that orange and yellow house finches may be related to the occurance of avian pox in the population. Interesting.

looking through the bars

“Nobody knows…the trouble I’ve seen…nobody knows…my sorrow”

flicker eye

I had a bit of joy arrive with a female yellow-shafted Northern Flicker.

flicker 1

I have always seen them in the backyard, grabbing ants from the base of our trees, but today was the first time I saw one at the suet feeder. Interesting fact: They have barbed tongues, to help them lap up ants. Yummy. And for Laura, our Spanish guru: Their name in Spanish is
carpintero alirrojo.

fat flicker

Fat Flicker.

back of flicker

They are so utterly gorgeous. This was the first yellow-shafted I have seen, also.

yellow shafted

Those yellow feathers were mesmerizing.

flicker on the sidewalk

She got spooked by the ginormous flock of starlings that wanted a piece of the suet too. So she sat on our sidewalk and glared at them.
But flickers also make me sad.
October 19, 2004 was the first time I saw a flicker in our yard. It was also the first time my Dad had ever been admitted to a hospital. And that was the day he died.
So when I see a flicker, I go back to that day, talking on the phone with my cousin Mary Lou, telling her about Dad going to the hospital because he had a fever. I was looking out the kitchen window, all excited about seeing my first yard flicker. And about 8 hours later, Dad was gone.

a towhee says what

And just to end this post with a little brevity:
“A towhee says WHAT?”

I will be copying this post into my other blog to see how it goes.
What is keeping me from going back over there for good is the fact that some of you couldn’t view the WordPress blog. If you still can’t, let me know.

test upload

robin in the snow


Posted in Birds. 6 Comments »

Bloody hell.


“Please stop staring at my butt.”


 I showed the GHO nest to Lorelei today, and since the sun was ACTUALLY SHINING, I couldn’t resist getting a picture of that glorious sun beaming through the owl’s ear tufts.


 The dogs are enjoying each other.  They also are attention-hounds and if one is doing something, the other has to be in on it.  Even when I try to get a smooshy-face picture.


Did you know that we actually had snow yesterday?  It was the kind of snow I like…big fluffy flakes that didn’t stick to the roads.  And I couldn’t resist leaving my mark at Kelley’s Nature Preserve.  Got a life bird, too.  A hermit thrush, who didn’t want his or her picture taken. 

I must be doing something wrong.  Pictures are not easy to post on WordPress.  I have read the forums and FAQ’s and resized them, and it’s such a chore. 

Sorry that I am not doing posts like I used to.  I get too bogged down fighting with these pictures and all the inspiration leaves me.









I love it when persistence pays off

 I have been checking a great horned owl nest at Lake Isabella for weeks…and today, it finally paid off:

Great Horned Owl on nest at Lake Isabella

 The wind was blowing so hard, her ear tufts were sideways.

For anyone in the area, here’s how to find the nest: 

In the park, there is a playground, with a house behind it.  To the right of the house, there is a large sycamore with a blue steel can about 30 feet up. 

This nest has been used for at least a few years, and I got to see the babies last year…baby GHO’s look like stacks of dryer lint.  And you know I will be posting photos when they arrive.  For anyone worried about me “disturbing” the nest:  The pair (I assume it’s the same ones) have nested here before, and they are very tolerant of visitors, as long as you don’t throw things at them.  I hear the banders have a fun time…they have to wear hard-hats.

 I am learning about WordPress, and having trouble with the photos…I will be back with more, hopefully later.







Posted in Birds. 8 Comments »