Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Excellent Part IV

It has been over a full week since the osprey returned.  I had seen three but now there are mostly two on a regular basis. I think one was a juvenile and has learned it is time for him to find his own way, or he got bored with his parents flying over the platform behaving like teenagers.  Late yesterday they landed in a nearby tree and watched the sunset with one eye kept on the platform.  (My photos are still blurry as I have to make sure I am far from them or shooting through my windows to not intimidate or discourage them...maybe by late spring they will be better and my photos will be better.)  I do know once they feel pressured to lay eggs, nothing can dissuade them.
One of them came in to check the flooring (again) this morning.   Guess she found it acceptable because after the extensive rain storm had passed both she and hubby landed on the platform and finally there were two sticks placed there. No more, just two. They stared at them and maybe moved one to the other side or turned it another way and then stared at the sticks for a while. This couple is into interior decorating big time or they are basically avoiding nest building as long as they can.  TWO STICKS and an hour later they are still just standing at the edge of the platform and staring around into space. Maybe they are looking for that crazy white haired lady to emerge that chased them off the boat every few minutes last year. We have not put the boat in the water for this very reason. We want their imprinting to be complete! 
The female, at least I think it is the female as they are hard to identify, sits with her white chest out full as if proud of her platform home(?).  Later in the afternoon as the sun came shining in at a low angle it caught something brown in the nest that I had thought was a leaf but it threw back a sparkle as it rolled back and forth in the breeze.  It appears to be a part of a beer bottle when I study it with the binoculars.  So maybe one of the osprey has a drinking problem?  It won't be the first marriage that had to weather that problem.  Maybe their nature is to move in and trash the neighborhood?  That also is not a new problem either with bird or man.  You can see it as a small red thing in the center of the platform.  I have read where naturalists visit nests in the fall and remove all types of debris, plastics, glass, etc. brought by the nesting parents, but dangerous to the young.
One has started to feed in the late afternoon at a tree in the backyard.  You can see the bloody fish in its claws above, but many days have passed and they are making no real progress on this nest.  I was wondering if they have a nest elsewhere and are just using this as a backup.  But then the other day they both landed on the nest and she kept making that partial open wing posture with a little flutter and a lowered back (that some naturalists call "presenting") and then kept looking over her shoulder at the male seductively.  He was gazing off into space...clearly was not interested, not ready, did not have a clue or it was just not the right time.  I began to wonder if this was the first time for him and if she had perhaps lost a prior mate.  I feel very privileged to watch this little life drama unfold.

This woodland of mine is a very full and competitive place for the osprey to live.  I saw two bald eagles fly overhead that I know nest regularly on another finger of my river that is very close.  They will intimidate the fledglings of the osprey and also compete for fish.  I watched the red-shouldered hawk pair dance high on the winds today and they might also be a threat to the osprey fledglings.  These hawks are nesting very close in our woods, although I have not seen their nest.  Our screech owl still calls each evening, perhaps competing with the hawks for rodent food.   I saw an owl pellet on the driveway yesterday, but it was much too big for a screech owl, so perhaps that great horned owl I saw three years ago is still living somewhere on this peninsula.  It is just one scavenger hunt after another out here!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just Excellent Part III

The three osprey have appeared and disappeared over the last few days. They fly high in the sky and out over the bay in search of food.  Some days one can be seen with fish in claw, so it appears the fish are making their way back up the coast, although I do not see much action on the waters in my section of the river. 

There are three osprey that hang out and two usually sit near each other  on an oak just down the river.  I have not seen one feed the other , which would mean active mating, but they certainly are talking loud about this marriage arrangement they have going.

They have landed several times on the platform still imprinting, perhaps.   Is the site too large, too near shore, too exposed?  It is all about location, but osprey platforms are at a premium in this area and I will be surprised if they decide this section of real estate is not for them.  They have attempted nesting in this area of the river for at least three years and my regular readers will remember the issues with that, so maybe they are just super wary.  Just last evening one landed on a dying tree just above and near the platform.  It was a very fragile branch that the large bird had selected for a perch and I was surprise that the osprey would attempt to stop on something so weak.  The bird's wings flew open and the branch dipped and swung back up then down and while the bird was attempting balance, the branch broke off beneath it and the bird had to take off across the river!  (They seem to remember me from last year, just like those smart crows, and remember my determination to keep them off the roof of the boat and therefore I cannot get close enough for good photos this year or I intimidate and they are off and flying.)

Above she seems to be checking out the stability of the flooring.  A new chink in the process is the spring planting of the living shoreline which was contracted last year.  Our contractor has laid some rock and now they will be bringing in a barge and putting in sand followed by the planting of indigenous grasses all in an effort to maintain the shoreline from erosion and establish a better habitat for all living creatures including us.  But this noise and substantial activity (scheduled for next week) may just drive the female osprey off the deep end and off into some new area to raise a family.  Only time will tell.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Peachy Keen

Perhaps you will remember my trip to the peach orchard about 10 miles from my house and subsequent post.  This farm has at least four large orchards as well as a large strawberry field.  The trees are now blooming two and half weeks early (no evidence of global warming here!) and their beauty was too tempting for me to pass up taking a bunch of photos.  They are self pollinating, so the lack of pollinators at this time of year is not as crucial to this farm's bottom line.  But the scene was so stunning even though the day was cloudy, that I had to share.

And the fact that peaches are one of my favorite fruits...doesn't hurt in my appreciation!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just Excellent Part II

There is always room in the day for surprises. If you do not leave room for them on your day of duties, you may trip over them and they will become misfortunes instead of surprises. 

Tabor sat on her leaf blown deck with all the outdoor furniture returned to its places once again for reviewing the warmer weather. She was reading The Penguin anthology of 20th Century American Poetry ( she is retired and actually tackles stuff like this in her life) while the chickadees scolded her for sitting too close to the hanging suet feeder. She had skipped over Wallace Stevens whom she either disliked or did not understand, and was turning the page when the high penetrating chirp of an osprey called from over the river. 

Tabor looked up.  There he was swooping and cascading in the warm spring air. It took only a few minutes before a second osprey joined and they flew together putting out some call which only they understood. They were not coasting.  They were flapping and racing energetically.  They eventually landed on a tree at the edge of the river. First the one and then the second paused for a brief respite. Soon they were off again flying up and down the river. Then a THIRD joined them, perhaps a juvenile from last year. 

They flew high over the river surveying everything.  Tabor returned to her reading. In an hour the sun broke through the soft clouds and all three flew in, low and straight, just like bombers on the wing down the line of the river. The first one doubled back and landed on the new osprey platform, but only for three or four seconds before being pushed off by the second one that landed in the exact same spot. Then in three or four seconds more the last one flew in and landed on the exact spot where the other two had sat so briefly, but this one stayed for several minutes looking around and grooming its feathers.  Then it left down the river.

Patience  I keep thinking.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just Excellent

It was an excellent spring day, just excellent. The temperature was 74F in mid-morning, the sun was shining but the gentle breezes off the water kept the air at a cool and just excellent temperature. Tabor went out to attach a baffle to one of the bird feeder poles. The squirrel had learned to climb up the pole and then shake the feeder back and forth by swinging on the bottom rim and then jumping to the ground and gorging on all the seeds that had fallen from the holes due to his gymnastics.

Tabor had the usual dyslexic issues with the installation of the new baffle not fitting the pole and having to remove the other older baffle from the other feeder and using it and finding with relief that the new baffle did work with the pole she had just cleared. As she struggled with the two large screws and bolts beneath the deep shade of the metal cone a familiar, high, short whistle caught her ears. She held her breath.
Placing her hands against her brow for shade she looked into the sunny side of the sky and saw a familiar shadow. When the shadow had swung so that the sun was no longer in her eyes she recognized the size of a small eagle but with a creamy breast and smaller wings. She sighed. The osprey had returned! This one was circling the sky and squalling in delight at having made it home. It stopped at the perch of the familiar crane on the other side of the river and waited for many minutes.

Then she saw it lift and fly to the far end of the river where it disappeared in the white sky.  Tabor looked to her new and empty osprey nest platform sitting like perfection itself in the river. Was the osprey checking out the real estate below? Had he seen it? Tabor smiled and knew that only time would tell. The day was just excellent.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Thus came perfection 
Simple and pure as the white shelled oval of the egg 
Smooth and rainbow painted like a coasting soap bubble 
As clean as the snap of a well pinned sheet in the breeze 
As honest as Chris's first lyrics from his heart song
As exciting and magical as first love

Perfection is too easy she thought
She knew it could not last longer than spring 
She held her glance so that it would not flee 
And might linger as it burst with more surprises
Those multi-colored petals reaching for freedom
The whoosh and flutter of a quick gray bird's wing 
Perfection is too fragile 
Like a thinly structured Chihuly garden 
Like the final piercing note of the tiny brown wren 
Like the backward flight of that first hummingbird 
Her breathing was perfection on such a day 
As a well-practiced instrument of life 

Such a gift was easily accepted 
Although rarely deserved 
And too soon forgotten 
With the push of time 
And the demands of other ghosts

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The kind that pulls all of the air 
out of the Room Without Walls. 
The wind is afraid to press on. 
The smallest of birds 
bows with great dignity 
beneath the leaves of the holly tree. 

The kind that demands respect 
and accepts open-mouthed fear 
as appropriate recompense. 
The kind that misses 
not one single flicker of movement 
in the shadows of the Room Without Walls. 

The kind that always demands 
the most impressive of locations 
with the vastest of views 
for the smoothest of departures 
across the water and the tangled ravines
to the rest of his domain.

Your Majesty, 
All but the noisy and rude crows 
honor your presence 
with their silence and lowered heads. 
All but the black feathered ones 
accept your ownership 
of all that can be seen 
with just one sharp golden eye.

(He is the largest specimen I have ever seen and paused on the side of my river just long enough for a photo.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Things Noticed at the Water Cooler

Yes, it is lipstick...just trying out a new spring shade.

Heading to the crow's nest.

I really do need a pedi.

Just call me hawkeye.

Think this disguise will keep the bluejay away?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Snow At Last

We finally got some snow. It amounted to barely an inch and disappeared by afternoon, but because it has been so rare this year, it was like a follies review for those of us confined to our heated caves. This little Carolina wren just broke into song for about a minute.  He was so happy with the snow, I am guessing.  He just puffed out his chest and sang a lilting tune.  (If you click on the photos you will get a larger view.)

Then this sad little fellow showed up looking for food.  Everytime I came to the window he noticed and darted away.  He was very wary and it is probably because he has been attacked by something.  He is missing his familiar topknot and his wing feathers are missing major flight feathers.  If you look carefully, you can see the small gray feather hanging above his backside like a faint gray leaf.  So sad for him, but glad that I can feed him and hope he/she makes it into spring.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Is An Acid Bath a Beauty Treatment?

She was an ancient one.  One of those old entities that took in everything to protect it, to feed it, to shelter it.  She was doing a pretty good job in spite of her age.  She was an entity of  habit.  She had these eccentrically beautiful gardens and lots of pets staying with her.  Her yard was huge and she gave them free rein.  That is why we thought she would never notice if we put some of our garbage there.  It could be hidden and the plants would cover it and the animals would make homes in the rest...most of it. 

When we saw how rich she lived in her blue/green mansion, how much abundance she actually had, we felt it was our right to make her share some of that.  She had so much and we never had enough.  Maybe we got a little carried away.  We were on a roll and we just knew that we were the ones now in charge.  We were the smart ones, and perhaps, she had outlived her time.  We knew so much better.  We could fix stuff ourselves now.

It was an accident when we threw acid in her face and stuffed her with CO2.  We really didn't know we were doing that until so much later.  We were watching something else at the time...probably a reality show or a football game.

And then she let us in on a little secret.  She was going to reach the limit of her ability to hide our sins and would be returning the methane gases into our back yard.  Methane in huge amounts.  No longer would she provide us with oxygen.  No longer would she provide us with protein.   No longer would she moderate her anger.  Sometimes she would get so angry and so hot that the winds would take our children away from us, the rains would drown our land and the fires would consume us arbitrarily.

Apologies not accepted because it is too late.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


I took my heavy foot and being as I have been all alone for days and the temperature was 69F absolutely, I was unable to resist the argument to head outside. I carefully stumbled past the roses, already leafing out(!), and cut them back respectably.  They angrily grabbed at my floaty sweat pants that covered my ugly boot, but I ignored the plea of their thorns and carefully extricated myself with an awkward forward gate and went on determinedly to cut flowers at the end of the driveway.  Cutting flowers on the first day of March!  What is the world coming to?  I will ignore this seduction that is leading to this destruction and instead gathered seven of the first sunshine colored blooms and brought them proudly inside and placed them in the 'antique' vase that had captured my eye last year.

In such a short time my house smelled like (no not a bordello...that is an ugly drugged smell) the first field of flowers that bloom in the spring on a high mountain alp.  It is a virginal smell.  Fresh and full of pungent pollen ready to reproduce, soft and full of hope.