Christmas Swan

My sister and I were out back this morning unwrapping Chrissie the Christmas Tree - out of the blue, we saw an amazing beautiful swan. These photos do not do it justice nor does it capture the size of this beauty. Alone and tranquil this moment took our breath away. I really don't have any words to express this event. It is by far the most amazing thing I have seen on the canal to date. A blessing.........that about sums it up..... 

A Little Over A Year Ago......

....Was Operation December Duck. Man, where did that year go???

I still have a few of the girls (5 of them), that are here in my sub-division. Two are here almost daily. Portia and Ellen. (I think they are a "couple" - and Ellen has tried to have her way with me in the pool...).

I still look for my flock every time I drive in and out. In fact, I saw a mostly white duck the other nite on the way to dinner, but I couldn't stop - had The Rents in the car.

I have also had the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks here in September. I took a bunch of pictures of them, but I have them on here already. The Beaks came back in the fall. No iguanas of any consequence since last year's freeze. We have had quite a few ducklings on the lake side, but nothing too exciting over here.

Maybe when the spring comes, I will have more news. It's been a quiet few months.

Merry Merry! Quack, Quack where ever you are my flock...... I think about you and miss you every day.


Duck Sighting???

Ok so, being the tremendous dork that I am, everytime I leave my house and pass a body of water, I look for my ducks.

My trip out to the gym late this morning was no exception. Off to my left was a canal, and low and behold, there was the duck I thought was Spentie (with the plume changes). I grabbed my shoes from my gym bag and dashed off down the bank. (I couldn't help thinking "damn - I hope there's no gators or snakes down here".

I got close and, and......It wasn't Spentie. This was a female, complete with 4 babies. :)

Oh well. The hunt continues!

In Memoriam - Fillie and Millie's Fishies

My In-laws have a lovely backyard, that includes a pond with baby Koi fish. Like my duck, they even had a fish named Angel. 

I just got an email from Millie - they found a fish head in their back yard and on further inspection of the pond, not one of their fishies were left. A blasted Heron ate every single one. :( 

This is the only shot of the pond that I have from my trip to Canada this summer. I tried to crop as much of myself out of the photo as possible. Love that someone took a photo of me with my fat arse bent over the pond. Thanks to whoever did that! Anyway, pardon my big head and odd hand gesture.

Parrots or Parakeets?

Today I got up and went to the gym. I just couldn't get into it. 
I needed coffee.

I stopped at McDonald's and got a large java, went home, parked the car and took a walk. I sat at the neighborhood park and enoyed my caffeine, and the peace of the morning before my day starts to unravel. O_o

A flock of approx. 16 (what I thought were parrots) landed on the grass in front of me.  They may have been Monk Parakeets, but since I didn't have a camera, I don't have an orig photo. I'm really not sure what they were.

In any event, a woman came lumbering down the path and they took off like a shot. The photo here is of a Monk Parakeet. It's not what I saw...these birds were all green with blue tipped wings. I found so many parrots and parakeets with this coloring, who knows what they were.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia!

AGT & A Froggie!

America's Got Talent nite, The Engineer and I were having our usual fun. Popcorn, wine and fun TV. This week, we had a viewing companion. There he was hanging on the back patio door. So darn cute. I think he would've beat out that old gal with the red hair and Groucho Marx eyebrows that sang Kansas City.


How blasted cute is he??

Just When I Thought Nothing Was Going On....

On the way home from the gym today I thought to myself that nothin's going on out back right now. I haven't seen the huge flock of ducklings, nada! Well, I haven't really been out much - it's been rainy. But this morning, I went out to water the flowers, and down by the canal fence was a sizeable snapping turtle! I've seen him in the water, but this is the first time I've seen him in the yard.

Then I turned around, and there's a huge toad. I thought maybe it was dead, so I touched it with my toe and he hopped away.  

And me with no camera. Oh well. Happy Monday.

Bro's Cooper's Hawk Update!

From Brother: I have good news! I called Renee at S.W.C.C yesterday when I got off work to check up on him. His blood work came back good (No poison, that was one of my main concerns) He has been moved to the flight pen, and is going to be kept for observation for two more days then released where I found him! They think he may have succumbed to the heat, multiplied by his malnourished state. (It has been quite hot here for the last week) It is apparently common for male hawks to hunt themselves very thin when the pair has young that need to be fed. The males pass off most of what they capture to the female who in turn feeds the babies and herself. He tends to go hungry in an effort to care for his family. I just hope she isn't mad at him when he returns, she is quite larger and heavier.

My Amazing Brother and a Cooper's Hawk

From my brother:

Dear Sis, I know of your love of birds so I must relay this story to you. As you know I am a huge reptile guy which in turn makes me interested in birds considering the relationship between the two, especially Raptors! We have a resident population of Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter Cooperii) in this area and being we have tons of old growth trees in our neighborhood it is a perfect hunting ground for them (They feed largely on other birds, Sparrows, Wrens, Starlings, Robins, Etc....) We have been watching a breeding pair hunt in the trees around our house for the last few months and have been very excited to watch their incredible maneuverability and prowess as aerial hunters!
They are phenomenal!

Last night I walked out the front door to go to the store and saw the male, the smaller of the two in a dead spiral towards the ground and I hollered out to Sherri "Honey, hurry the male hawk has caught something mid-air" It turned out that he was in fact injured by something and landed in the middle of the street, unable to get off the ground, by what, I have no Idea. I ran over to him and he just looked at me and started to scream at me in fear. I carefully picked him up confining his wings, talons and avoiding his beak and carried him to the house. We lined a box with an old towel and sealed him inside and punched air holes in all four sides for him to breath (He was not happy, but did not attempt to bite me, much to my surprise) I immediately called the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center who turned out to be closed, but their mail box said "put the injured wild animal in a cardboard box, do not attempt to feed it or give it water and get it to us a.s.a.p.!!!!!!"

First thing this morning I drove him out there and the wonderful volunteer (Renee) said it appears to have an injury to his shoulder and they would treat him for two weeks to see if they can save him. I will keep you posted as to his progress/developments. Meanwhile his mate perches in the trees around our house calling out for him and it is very heartbreaking to listen to. Some birds are monogamous and mate for life, I don't know if Cooper's Hawks are one of them but it is quite obvious that she wants him to come home, I can hear her calling out to him as I write this e-mail and I feel so bad! Maybe they can heal him and they can be reunited soon? I certainly hope so! I will keep you posted!

Cooper's Hawk

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Drunk Duck???

So..... anyone that has followed this blog must realize that I don't have much of a life. As a caregiver for two very senior parents, I don't get out much. 

I have one thing that keeps me sane. My pool. It's a very small pool. The construction company that built the house "misplaced" the locale of my home, so my pool is 2 feet too narrow. To be honest, who cares? I am really the only one that uses it.


Being that I live in a state soaked in heat and humidity, somedays it's just too much to swim during the day. I only do it on the weekends so Mom can get some excercise. It's about all she can do.

After I put my folks to bed, out to the pool I go. I take my CD player, crank some tunes, and unwind. Oftentimes, wine is involved. (Who am I kidding! It's almost always involved)! If you lived here, you too would have Cabarnet as a middle name. :(  

Again, I have to say, these ducks are hilarious! I have lost my point of reference so just go with it, would ya'?

Canadian Beagles, Eh?

During our trip, we headed north of Toronto to see The Engineer's brother, The Teacher. (and his wife, also a teacher). I call  them "The Peas" as they are two peas in a pod. Soooo different from The Engineer and I, who are two grapefruits in a paper bag. :)

Saturday night, they had some of their neighbors over....& two of them stayed for dinner. A lovely couple. The gent is a riot! I shant tell you the stories he told. They are not rated PG! J. breeds Chesterfield Beagles. We went by his house on our way out of town for his nickel tour (seriously, we all gave him a nickel!) of his unbelievable gardens and his dogs.

He has 11 at the moment. Cutie pies.....

Canada Geese, Eh?

I recently went to Canada to see The Engineer's family. On Canada Day, we went to one of his friend's homes on Lake St. Claire. We refer to it as "The Mansion". It's AMAZING as are the people that own the house. (Canadian's in general seem to be pretty groovy. So friendly, eh?)

We pull up, and right before my eyes is a flock of Canadian Geese. This is the closest I have been to a CG, sans the wooden one on my piano. They're freaking HUGE! I will say, they are not as friendly as Muscovy Ducks! ;)

Anyway, here they are. Cool!

Note the poo. Uhm, yeah, they poop
WAAAAAAAAAAAAY more than ducks. Ick.

I'm A Gramma!!!!

One of the Runtie Jr's had babies.

Need I say anything else but ducca ducca???

My little Miss Runtie lives on!

Duck Drive-Thru 2010 - Hilarious!

Some of you may recall the Duck Drive Thru of 2009, noted here: Duck Drive Thru 2009

I thought that was hysterical.......

Today - I went out to get the paper and low and behold, there were two of the Radio Flyers from the Duck Drive Thru last year, up on the roof pulling the same stunt.

I have been snickering all morning. You can't tell me these ducks aren't funny? They are a hoot!

                      Right outside my office window!

They found me! :)


Memorial Day 2010

The Memorial Day weekend was more than burgers, hot dogs, and remembering our Armned Forces. The wildlife knows none of this. Here is what they do on Memorial Day weekend.

From my brother about this lizard:

"Sis! That is the male Common or Brown Basilisk (Basilicus basilicus). I saw and photographed his mate and/or offspring when I was there! The South American people call it (In Spanish) "The Jesus Christ Lizard" because they can run on their hind legs so fast that they can literally run across the surface tension of the water for considerable distances! Yes, yet another introduced species from South America or Costa Rica via the pet trade, but nonetheless a beautiful and relatively harmless (Omnivorous) species. Their overall impact on your area is probably less than your weed eater. It might pi** off someone for eating their Roses, Petunias or eat a couple fish, bugs or snails. He will become quite impressive if he fully matures, with a large crest down his back and tail! Our brother had a pair of these he bought at the pet shop when we were kids. (They died because they told him to feed them Fruit Cocktail of all lame things!)

Very cool animal"!

Now onto 17 Babies!

Happy Memorial Day!

From My Brother About The Ducklings~

Sis, that is nature and if it weren't for predators every person in your community would also be up to their ankles in duck poop and filth. Muscovy ducks may be cute to you, but they are yet another introduced species in America (For the purpose of providing food to hungry humans) that are displacing some other native animal. Sorry kiddo, I know we will never reach a mutual understanding on this issue, but mankind's meddling is the worst thing happening to our nations ecology. I too, have had to learn to take two steps backwards and accept that "We" are the cause and effect and not the solution. I would like to share with you and your readers the following words published by the superb author and naturalist Manny Rubio in his book "Rattlesnake". No more poignant and apropos words have ever been written when it comes to mankind's interaction with nature.

"It is appallingly obvious that plants and animals are in jeopardy all over the earth. Daily, the media disclose new difficulties with the environment. The public is constantly deluged with accounts of destruction and loss, so much that the scope and immediacy have become diluted, lost in a myriad of other human problems that preoccupy humanity. The causes of worldwide decline of animal populations are complex and universal, and the responsibility is shared by all nations. Sheer human numbers are overwhelming. the human animal is so narcissistically enmeshed in its own space that priorities for long term survival have been misappropriated. Regardless of how insignificant the loss of rattlesnakes may appear as a global environmental problem, any interference with the precarious web of life jeopardizes the whole. Certainly, some deterioration may be part of a natural cycle, but there is no doubt that most is caused by humans.

As with global warming, the cost of the loss of rattlesnakes in the world's ecosystem cannot be fully appreciated. Global warming brings about changes in regional precipitation and temperature, altering the seasons.

Ozone depletion places ecosystems in serious jeopardy as a result of increased ultraviolet penetration.

Ozone depletion is thought to be a major culprit in the alarmingly rapid, worldwide decline in amphibian populations as well.

Acid rain, mining, logging runoff , non-biodegradable debris, unchecked vehicle emissions and pesticides are other ecological time bombs. Combined with leveling and irrigating deserts, clear cut logging, strip mining, draining wetlands for agriculture, cattle grazing, and building housing developments, produce damage of catastrophic proportions.

Humanity's desire to procreate (at an alarming rate), combined with our personal need to own and abuse our natural surroundings. is causing irreparable damage. These changes are evident everywhere".

These words were published back in 1998, no one is listening! (My imput: Al Gore is!!)

My point being - We have created our nest and now as we sleep in it we complain about it's comfort and beauty. We are at the precipice and if we don't "seize the day" and change our ways, we are doomed to end up like Tyrannosaurus Rex and be a fossil species for some possible future civilization to discover millions of years from now, only we are going to take everything besides Cockroaches, & Black Widow Spiders along with us! Mankind's greatest mistake (in my opinion) is our belief that we can control nature and effect our environment positively. As I have been known for saying for years "We shit on everything we can't screw" I wish, I was wrong but our populous is creating a biological hurricane that we are powerless to stop unless we drastically change our ways and reduce our numbers. Our attempts to control nature have been nothing but a nightmare for the whole world.

(Ask Australia about the Cane Toads or Hawaii about the Mongoose!)

Save yourself a huge amount of grief, let the ducks be ducks and take care of yourself. Honey, you cannot change nature, it's got you beat by millions of years of selective breeding and selection. Let it go....

I love you and know your heart is in the right place. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Even Sadder~

As of yesterday afternoon, the last two are no where to be found. Mrs. Hook keeps flying up and down the canal. Is she looking for them?


Mrs. Hook~

Well its bittersweet. I'm glad I captured her duckies on film - but as of today there are only two left.


Runtie Jr.

I call all the girls that look like my late beloved Miss Runtie, Runtie Jr's. They were "The Radio Flyers" because they were the first to fly!

So now one of the Runtie's is "On The Nest". It's not going too well. I found some eggs in the yard and by the pool. I  think everytime she lays one, and then goes off to the canal, a rat is eating her eggs. This happened with Miss Runtie too.

I think this is fairly common for young females. I hope she gets a clutch soon!

Here she is on her nest. No eggs - but she's gettin' ready. Sentinels are in place.

More to follow...................