Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Well-Groomed Osprey

Ospreys are also called Fish Hawks and often have a careless appearance to me. This one had just been through a four-inch rain and was looking all the better for the shower.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wanna Go Snipe Hunting?

When we first spotted these two mud-feeding birds, I thought they were woodcocks, because of their shape. It was not until I got home that I learned they are snipe. They use their long, long bill to drill into the mud for worms, crustaceans, frogs, insects and seeds.

They are called common snipe and, while this was my first time ever seeing them, apparently they are common enough to be game birds. Their secretive manner is what makes it uncommon to see them. 

An interesting fact I learned when I was researching this bird is that the brains of woodcocks and snipe are upside-down relative to the position of other birds. What a bird brain!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Playground Parakeet

A parakeet showed up on the playground recently at the school where I teach. As can be imagined, it caused quite a flutter of excitement. It had had its wings clipped so it did not fly very well and was almost tame enough for the kids to touch before--- it flew-hopped out of range.

It turned out to be the pet of one of our students and had been missing for a few days. He managed to catch it and a volunteer mom helped him get it to my room where I had a butterfly tank that they borrowed until his mom could come and take the bird home.

The rescuers and the rescued.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Does the Fox (Squirrel) Say?

I love, love, love fox squirrels. I guess it is partly that they always take me by surprise. And the variety of their colors is interesting. Unlike gray squirrels that all look pretty much alike, these larger cousins come in several colors and combine them for lots of different effects. Like most squirrels, they are fast and rarely stay put for long. This one crossed in front of our truck recently and then, uncharacteristically, accommodated my picture-taking by posing for about a minute.

Look at that beautiful winter coat! No faux fur here!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Seeing Stars

A close friend of the family was visiting earlier this month. She is finishing her Masters in Marine Biology at San Francisco State. She has written her thesis about sea stars. Sea stars are common on the rocky shore of San Francisco Bay, but I have seen few enough in my lifetime in Florida. So we were all quite excited to find one down at St. Marks when we took her to the lighthouse. The tide was way out and this little guy had been left to bake on the beach. There was a muddy track to indicate it had tried to get back into the water, but had dried out before that was accomplished.

Our friend told us that sea stars are notorious for "playing possum." She put it back in the water, but when we passed by on the walk back to the car, it had not moved and was clearly dead.

Until I knew of her studies, I rather had assumed that all sea stars have five legs, but the ones she studied have six!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Avalon Moccasin: Heads or Tails?

We were on a wander down some Jefferson County dirt roads when we came upon this moccasin, sunning in the road where it happened to be paved for a couple of miles.

The snake crossed as we watched and went into the rough area near a burn pile where clearing had recently taken place.

Big head!

Big tail!

In the sunlight, the colors and patterns were more visible. Such a pretty (if dangerous) snake.

As an aside, Avalon is the name of one of Ted Turner's properties. We were just down the road from the main gate.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mailbox Monday: A Good Read

This bronze statue is outside the public library in Eagle, Colorado. (Makes my feet cold!)