Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Birds, Bone, Beaver and Bear

My monthly Rhino Rendezvous, as I've come to think of my raptor route, was yesterday, Groundhog Day. Uhuru was waiting for me at the gate but his keeper came and backed him off so I could drive through without company. On the way out, Uhuru was nowhere to be seen.

We had a good run, Carol and I, with lots of variety in raptors: Rough-legged Hawks, a Merlin, a Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, some Harriers, one White-tailed Kite, along with the usual Red-tails and Kestrels. And, in the wee hours of the morning, I heard a Saw-whet Owl and we saw our resident two Barn Owls.

I don't know if a groundhog would have seen its shadow yesterday. That would depend on when he woke up and looked out. We had some sun, some clouds, but thankfully no rain.

Poor Shirley Puppy had a bad day yesterday. I noticed in the morning she didn't seem to be feeling well, but I figured she had eaten something she shouldn't and would be better soon. When I came home from the raptor run, she was no better, with her mouth slightly open and drooling. Johnny noticed she had a bone hanging out of her mouth. Sure enough, a piece of lamb bone she'd been chewing on had become stuck on a tooth. She could not dislodge it and she could not close her mouth. With a pair of pliers, Johnny removed the offending bone. Shirley is a happy puppy today.

With my raptor run and BLOY survey week over, I had no excuses for delaying income taxes anymore. Johnny had been working on his for days. And so, naturally, before hitting the books, I escaped to the woods this morning to take photos of what our beavers have been up to lately. They have not been plugging our dam but they have been busy elsewhere. Pictured are two large trees they've been sculpting and a forest of small, harvested trees that are resprouting (sustainable browsing).

There are always interesting discoveries to be made on a walk through the woods. Today we (Johnny took a break from firewood hauling and income tax work to join me) were surprised to see bear sign at the edge of the horse field. Piles of partly digested apples are a common sight here in the fall, but the apple trees have long since lost their fruit... or so I thought. Apparently, some of the many wild apple seedlings in our woods still have lingering apples. Scratch marks on one of them showed either that the bear was marking this tree as his own or he'd been shaking the daylights out of it to get those last shriveled apples. One yet lingered on the tree.

All good things must end, be it apples or income tax preparation avoidance. I went in when it began to rain.

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