Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Kingfisher

The Kingfisher
Sitting past the reeds
upon a willow tree
the kingfisher surveys
his watery larder

With keen polaroid eyes
a victim he spies
and measuring distance
he makes his next move

A flicker in thought
his blue metallic wings
now do go into action
such a beautiful thing

Down from the branches
wings folded back
he darts into the stream
by the banks waters edge

The minnow that was hunting
has now become the hunted
and out of crystal waters
the kingfisher is victorious

Out of the stream
with feathers to preen
after a hearty fill
of minnow and bream

By Christos Andreas Kourtis aka NeonSolaris

While kingfishers are usually associated with water, there are also forest and woodland kingfishers, and even one species, the red-backed kingfisher of Australia, that lives in the desert.  Besides fish, kingfishers also eat molluscs, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles and insects.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Wikipedia)

 Giant Kingfisher - female (Wikipedia)

 Black-capped Kingfisher (Wikipedia)

 Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Wikipedia)

 Crested Kingfisher (Wikipedia)

Brown-headed paradise kingfisher (Wikipedia)

Red-backed kingfisher (Wikipedia)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Light-footed Crabs Named Sally

By John Steinbeck: 
Many people have spoken at length of the Sally Lightfoots. In fact, everyone who has seen them has been delighted with them. The very name they are called by reflects the delight of the name. These little crabs, with brilliant cloisonné carapaces, walk on their tiptoes, They have remarkable eyes and an extremely fast reaction time. In spite of the fact that they swarm on the rocks at the Cape [San Lucas], and to a less degree inside the Gulf [of California], they are exceedingly hard to catch. They seem to be able to run in any of four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. They escape the long-handled net, anticipating from what direction it is coming. If you walk slowly, they move slowly ahead of you in droves. If you hurry, they hurry. When you plunge at them, they seem to disappear in a puff of blue smoke—at any rate, they disappear. It is impossible to creep up on them. They are very beautiful, with clear brilliant colors, red and blues and warm browns.

Man reacts peculiarly but consistently in his relationship with Sally Lightfoot. His tendency eventually is to scream curses, to hurl himself at them, and to come up foaming with rage and bruised all over his chest. Thus, Tiny, leaping forward, slipped and fell and hurt his arm. He never forgot nor forgave his enemy. From then on he attacked Lightfoots by every foul means he could contrive and a training in Monterey street fighting has equipped him well for this kind of battle). He hurled rocks at them; he smashed at them with boards; and he even considered poisoning them. Eventually we did catch a few Sallys, but we think they were the halt and the blind, the simpletons of their species. With reasonably well-balanced and non-neurotic Lightfoots we stood no chance.

Photo/Text from Wikipedia

Sunday, October 9, 2016


by Carolyn Clarke

You're swimming in it.
You're surrounded by it.

It is within you.
It is without you.

It is literally in the air that engulfs you, every whiff of pine forest, every jasmine blossom, every romantic Indian spice.
Flood your lungs, drown in it.

 Image from Wikipedia

It is in every nerve ending, every cell, every thought, every smell.
Be still, listen to your heart beat, feel the blood rush through your veins.

It is in every grain of sand, every blade of grass, in all the earth beneath your feet.
Let it seep between your toes, and through your soles.

Image from Wikipedia

It is in every butterfly's kiss, every breeze that brushes your face, every soft velvet flower petal.
Feel it vibrate against your skin, embrace it.

It is in every raindrop on your face, every gurgling brook, every rushing river, every ocean wave.
Fill your glass, drink it in.

Image from Wikipedia

It is in every ray of sun, every star that twinkles, every cloud that forms, every rainbow after a storm.
Open your curtains, take in the view.

Image from Wikipedia

It is in every wolf howl, every sparrow song, every goose honk, every rush of bird wings, every whisper of falling snow.
Open your ears and listen to the symphony.

Color, texture, softness, sweetness, vibrance, warmth, music, laughter.
Welcome it, enfold it.
Savor the medley of life.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Squirrel and The Woodchuck

The other morning after I had put out fresh water for all the critters along with some treats for the squirrels and the woodchucks, I was petting my next-door neighbor's cat, Tigger, when I saw the woodchuck coming around the corner of the shed.  To my surprise, the woodchuck would stop and look and then just kept on coming.  My arm was moving the entire time because I was still petting Tigger and I was also turning my head to see where the woodchuck was every once in a while.  Finally I just kept looking at the woodchuck to see how close he would get because I was standing just a couple feet from the food I had just put out.  Maybe my staring was what did it, but it was like a light bulb went off and it suddenly realized there was a person standing there.  All of a sudden he turned around and just kept moving its little legs as fast as it could to get the heck out of there.  It cracked me up because it reminded me of the cartoons you see of  legs moving a mile a minute with the sound effects, but the cartoon not moving.  I had a smile on my face all the way to work.

Well, this morning the woodchuck was back again getting a little braver and more used to seeing me and it did come to the food while I was standing by the porch.  I so wished I had a camera.  This time it stayed a couple minutes, grabbed a mini-carrot and then left.  I quick ran into the house to get my camera and went back outside to see if the woodchuck would return so I could get some photos.  Yep, it did!

Some of these photos are cropped so it looks like I'm standing closer than I actually am.  I was so happy to get some photos that weren't taken through a door or window that didn't have a screen or reflection of the glass in them.

I took a few pictures and then I went back inside.  I kept looking out the door to see where it was.  Then I noticed a squirrel was also on the prowl for some goodies.  I have been putting the squirrel treats on the porch because I noticed the other day that the woodchuck would come over and steal some squirrel goodies when I put all the food on the patio.  The woodchuck can be intimidating to the smaller squirrel.  I opened the screen door and put some nuts and sunflower seeds out on the porch.  Smart woodchuck that it is, noticed this and the next thing I knew the woodchuck was on the porch still getting the goodies meant for the squirrel!

Hey, that's mine!!!

The squirrel couldn't get up the nerve to grab a bite with the woodchuck still there, so it decided to go investigate the pile of chuckie goodies.  The woodchuck saw this and immediately got off the porch and ran over to its food.  The squirrel then came back to the porch, but wasn't brave enough with me standing there to grab a quick bite.  Back came the woodchuck to claim more spoils.  Finally it had had its fill I suppose and went back to the chuckie food.  By this time the squirrel had run up into the tree.  It waited for a few minutes and then finally came back to the porch and was rewarded for its patience.

Their antics kept me entertained most of the morning!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Morning Romance

Morning Romance
by LaurieAnn Kearns
In a still, bright dawn,
a dragonfly arriving,
on the buddleia alighting,
in the shining sun dazzling,
blue-green colours reflecting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Morning Visitor

This morning when I came into the living room and put up the blinds, I saw kitty Tabby on the porch.  Tabby is a feral neighborhood cat that has been around for years and I always feed him when I see he's outside.

I happened to glance over to the water dish I keep out for the critters and to my surprise, this is what I saw.

I quickly grabbed the camera and took a few more photos.  I had been wanting a picture of one of the  skunks because I think they are so beautiful, but since they are normally out at night I've never had a chance before.  The ones around here seem to have a lot more white on them than other skunk pictures I've seen, like this one from Wikipedia:

The American Hog-nosed Skunk and the Hooded Skunk have more white, but are not found in the eastern U.S.

Anyway, I was thrilled to get some photos this morning - here are a few more of my visitor.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Unidentifiable Females

Don't worry, I'm talking about birds, not humans!  Twice in the last couple of weeks I've seen a bird by the feeder that I wasn't able to identify - until I saw the male bird and then was able to put two and two together.  Two great examples of sexual dimorphism (the systematic difference in form between individuals of different sex in the same species).  The first instance was when I saw a bird that looked like a mutant song sparrow, but a lot darker in color and no central spot on the breast.

At first I thought it was another type of sparrow, but couldn't find a picture of one that looked similar.  I saw it several times at the feeder before I saw the male bird - a red-winged blackbird!  Then I was able to make a positive ID.  Here are better pictures of both birds courtesy of Wikipedia.

Male red-winged blackbird  by Walter Siegmund

Female red-winged blackbird

In the second case, I kept seeing a rather nondescript grayish, brownish bird with no distinguishable markings.  I saw it several times as well before I saw the male - a brown-headed cowbird.

Female brown-headed cowbird By Lee Karney

Male brown-headed cowbird

Cardinals are also examples of sexual dimorphism, although to me it's not quite as extreme and the above illustrations.

Female Northern Cardinal by Geoff Clarke

Male Northern Cardinal by Whaledad

Identifying birds is hard enough without having to remember that the male and female look totally different!