Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gone by First Light

The baby birds were gone before the sun ever hit the porch. I never heard them leave. I'm just assuming they managed to stay safe until morning; never saw any feathers or other indications of anything amiss.
I was up early to join the Sidetrackers from Jacksonville on an almost five-mile walk along the Cedar Point trails (Part of the Timiquan Park) to the marshlands, north of Dames Point Bridge. What a lovely morning for the event! Cool breezes (preceeding a front which will bring much-needed rain on Sunday) and sunshine until just after noon, when the clouds began to accumulate. Much laughter and pleasantries from beginning to end, so it's definitely a group I can recommend for the single adult who wants companionship for weekend adventures.
I have photos which I will post soon... right now I'm in bed with the cold that manifested right after I got home from hiking.... groan.

Friday, February 27, 2009

More baby birds?

What does this look like to you???????
I was on my way out for dinner, and looked up in the corner of my porch and saw something brown. In the dusky light it looked like it could have been a mud dawber's nest. I went and got a flashlight and saw two little tails! I think they are the Redtailed Hawk fledglings who couldn't make it all the way back to their nest. I didn't disturb them except to take the picture, and I hope they are warm enough to make it through the night. If there are any orthnologists out there who can identify them for certain, I'd love to have some confirmation. I'll update tomorrow....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Working with the baby bird...

Kobie is a year-old African Red Belly (Poicephalus rubiventris) parrot. He was very warm and loving as a fledgling, but for some unknown reason when he was about six months old, he became flighty, frightened of everything and would not let me even approach him as I did before. Gradually I have gotten him to trust me and today he sat on my shoulder for quite awhile before freaking out and taking off. He can't fly far because his wings are clipped (for his safety as well as mine) but he does get airborne enough to fly to the ground.
   During last summer, he absolutely knew when he was going to be transferred to his outside cage and he always came to the cage door and flapped his way into the outside cage for his day outside. I am trying this year to get him to "step up" on my hand so we can make the transfer with less craziness. 
   His bird 'buddy' is my 11-yr. old African Grey (Psittacus erithacus)  "Tabou," named after a village in Africa on the Gold Coast that I hope to visit someday. Tabou has a lengthy vocabulary and the ability to imitate the Nextel phone sound, confusing people who call me and wonder if I have another call to answer.  Kobie has learned to say Tabou's name, followed by "good bird!" and vice versa... nice that they share... wonder what they say when I'm not around.  This is my inside 'zoo.' 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Still too cool for me...

It seems too cool for February - even in northern Florida. I guess I keep expecting spring to be arriving with the robins who are passing through on their way north... brrrr! Do they know there's been a huge snowstorm up there? There have been two 'waves' of the red-breasted beauties about a week apart. They like my yard because I don't use chemicals and I have a sort of spring dribbling down one side of the driveway where they can get fresh water. I like seeing them because it reminds me of when I was little and watched for the first robin to arrive - the harbinger of spring in New England. (The picture is of a small lake near where I walk just as the sun was setting.)

Some people who will read this next part will know it is a family story... when I was little - about 7 or so - my father knew I was watching for the robins and he would yell out at breakfast, "I see it, I see it - but it's a white robin!" I would jump up from the table hoping to see it. By the time I got back to my seat, my bacon was gone. I don't know that he took it every time, but my brother certainly had been convicted of that particular crime more than once using other ruses.
Today I spent some time with a close friend who has just been diagnosed with early dementia. She is scared about losing her memories, about the stories of her life for her grandchildren. We talked about how we ARE our histories, our family events, descriptions of relatives, sharing the similarities of those who have passed with those who are growing up. Her granddaughter is old enough to write down some of the information and it could be a bonding time for the two of them, I suggested. It's too new to think that far ahead, I realized after I'd voiced it. We joked a little, tried to ease the horror of what lies ahead, but in the end we just hugged each other. I'm scared, too, for how this will change both our lives.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Florida has some lovely and serene places...

Recently I submitted an article with photos about Alligator Lake after doing a short kayak trip in the fog one morning. A few days later I went back to do some more research on the lake and get some other photos. I used my Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS since it was the same one I used on the kayak trip. I particularly like the intensity of the colors here. (Info on the green frog at the end of this post.)

In the foreground you can see some American Coots, also known as 'marsh hens' because of the silly way they almost run on the water to get enough disconnection from the water so they can become airborne... imagine a C5A in miniature - very round - and for all their roundness, although they can be eaten, I have heard they don't have a lot of meat on them. This is second-hand knowledge, however, and I frankly don't have an appetite for strange wild critters.

Recently I received an e-mail from someone offering me a recipe for "Raccoon - the other dark meat" and while it was amusing to read, I am not convinced that squirrels taste like a 'nutty-flavored' chicken or that the trash-can raiding raccoons taste like wild turkey as was promised. I think I might have to drink a lot of Wild Turkey prior to putting my lips to a forkful of 'coon.

This part of Florida (almost due west of Jacksonville) has a lot of wildlife. On my drive home from the airport I encountered somewhere between 10-12 groups of deer grazing alongside the road, which is about 20 miles from I-10 to my home city, with at least five or six in each group. That means that at least 60 full-grown deer are bounding around in the forest. And I'm sure there are more than that. Last year I arrived home about dusk (I live right IN the city but back from the road and down in among the pine trees) to find a doe with two fawns munching on my flowers. They danced away into my neighbor's yard and periodically I see tracks letting me know they are still around. But I never have my camera when those things happen.

Owls have conventions in the trees in my yard about twice a year and there are two families of red-tailed hawks who nest and then train the young'uns to screech as they practice flying in the spring. Several cardinal families have made this yard their home, too. Not to mention racers (snakes), armadillos, rabbits, mice (who made the mistake of trying to move into my house!) and the featured green frog living in the folds of my trash can liner. A zoo - just outside my door!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lucky to have the time...

I am fortunate to have the time to essentially "recover" from the torture of being shoved into a metal cigar holder with 171 other 'cigars' being shipped across the country. One of them coughed for five hours next to me and it's forcing me to use all my Reiki skills to realign my cells so that I don't let those germs attach to me.

Does anyone remember when you could get a full course meal in the air between Los Angeles and New York and it was truly palatable? Above you will see a re-creation of a Chicken Salad with celery and toasted almonds over a bed of lettuce with fresh apple slices that PanAm (formerly Pan American Airways) once offered. And what amazes me is that while we now have microwave technology, the now defunct Northeast Airlines, Eastern Airlines and Trans-World Airlines (TWA) provided fresh (!!) coffee, brewed on board. Those were the days when the airlines really tried to sell the populace on the benefits of flying. Like the drug dealers of today, once they got people hooked, they cut the quality of what they delivered.

People still think that the airlines today 'should' provide better service to their patrons. I listened to complaints while we waited to board. People: wake up! You are freight! You are paying to be shipped and if you pay more, you get a wider compartment for better comfort for your butt, but you are still subject to the same delays, B*S and quality of food (if it can be called that) as the peons in the back. Ever notice the 'manifest' for the trip? It's basically a list of the freight 'items' being transported. No different than if you were a UPS or FedEx package. You have a number, you have a place on the plane, you are strapped into place and kept track of from the time you arrive at the airport until you reach the destination. You are a commercial entity, NOT an individual and so expecting to be treated as more than baggage is part of the continuing frustration for everyone. Accept it... you are not really a living breathing man or woman in the commercial world.

Returned from Phoenix

This was a hard day's journey... I really wanted a flight from Phoenix that got me back to Jacksonville, FL, before midnight. Although I drank some caffeine to help keep me going, it's not really sticking to my plan to be caffeine-free or to help maintain weight. But I did get home safely. Still, it's after 3 a.m. and now I cannot sleep. And that is how this blog got started...

I was watching all the folks who were traveling with me today. Most of them were really in their 40's and 50's. I was truly the exception. Perhaps other mature adults are at home in bed on a Sunday night instead of guessing how long the Boeing 757 will roll before it takes off. (Average seconds: 33 if fully loaded)

But something I pondered is that with the financial crisis going on, what corners are getting snipped in various airline operations & maintenance units? And is the pressure on pilots and staff to double-up where FAA allows? For example: we arrived in Atlanta on time, but there wasn't any agent around to drive the "gangway" or ramp so we could get off the plane. We stood in the aisles and waited about 10 minutes for this to be corrected.

There will be more of these ponderings... and you are welcome to add your own.