Thursday, May 11, 2017

Never a Dull Moment

On Tuesday, May 9, a preschool group came to the farm for a tour. Years ago we had many school groups coming here. It was fun but exhausting. Usually we have baby goats for the children to cuddle and sometimes bottle feed. But my does are not due until the end of this month and the big goats were terrified of all those little people. The horses were not, however. And the swallows were absolutely delighted.

Each child was given a bag of feathers to throw up one by one for the swallows to catch and take to their gourd nests. Well, that's the theory. Before we ever made our way to the swallow field, the swallows were swooping down over the children and chattering excitedly, as though to say, "The feather people are coming! The feather people are coming!" And so they were.

What has not happened with older groups was that the children did not quite envision the game the way the swallows and I did. Some kids threw the feathers and watched. But most took a more active stance: they threw the feathers up then ran to pick them back off the grass, since they only went a few feet. Then they threw them again and immediately ran to retrieve them. The swallows soon figured out they needed to be really fast to beat the kids to the feathers. It was pretty funny to watch a swallow swooping down to grab a feather off the grass seconds before the small child who threw it arrived to claim it. Johnny took photos of the children and their parents in his group. I just stood around and laughed at and with my group.

The feather's in the air but the little one is looking to throw another one.

Another technique was just to hold the feathers up and hope the swallows take them.

Another popular method was blowing.

Besides horses and swallows, there was a chicken "station". Neighbor Irv brought his tame rooster for the kids to pet. We also had tiny new chicks in a cage with their mama hen for children to see. Mama hen was not happy about all that company. The rooster, on the other hand, was fine with the children.

Besides rooster and horse petting and the swallow feather game, the kids were able to pet Mister McCoy, the night guardian dog, through the fence. He was happy for attention from the children. He would have been even happier if I had let him out to bounce and play and knock everybody down.

After the excitement of the pre-school tour, we headed to the coast the next day for the first of the annual, May, Black Oystercatcher (BLOY) surveys. We hiked up The Thumb north of Lincoln City in lovely warm sunshine.

And enjoyed a view of Cascade Head north of us...

An eagle keeping watch at the north end of Road's End...

The Cascade Head Marine Reserve area...

The blooming meadow enroute to our observation point...

Also enjoying the sunshine were several, colorful garter snakes...

We saw just one of the target birds (3 pairs usually nest in the area) apparently standing guard near a nest site... Time will tell if they are really nesting... and if the other two area pairs show up. We are supposed to conduct a survey once a week at each site, weather permitting.

single BLOY on lookout perch

From Road's End, we hurried to another BLOY survey site at the north side of Cascade Head. I got lost hiking in and had to start over, eventually reaching this pretty cove... but no BLOY.

Even though I saw none of our target birds, I did see an eagle on its nest.

Gotta love these modern cameras that zoom in on distant subjects...

Johnny, meanwhile, watched Refusal Rock at Neskowin and finally saw a pair appear on the rock for a few minutes. When I finally returned, I saw no BLOY, just Johnny resting in the sunshine. That's Refusal Rock beyond him.

Our reward after a long day was supper at the Mexican restaurant in Pacific City. We then sat in our car at Cape Kiwanda for a little while, watching hundreds of gulls and cormorants milling about above Haystack Rock while a couple of sub-adult Bald Eagles did aerial maneuvers. The eagles did not appear to be interested in nabbing dinner, but the sea birds were apparently not willing to sit on top of the rock in case the eagles changed their minds.

It was a good, but exhausting day, and now I'm happy to have the rain return... to water in the Silverberry bush and the Kiwi plants that arrived and I planted today.

Never a dull moment on the farm. 

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