Saturday, December 26, 2009

Latest Project

Week before last, we took delivery of a new shop building. It's a steel building purchased in pieces from Future Steel. Putting up this building is Phase I - we'll be adding on a master bedroom in place of our current garage and another big area on the opposite side of the house. First order of business is emptying the garage, so putting up the shop building is required.
Dino will be arranging for pouring the pad and getting the foundation built and then will come the actual construction of the thing.

Last weekend, we spent the best part of a day getting it all properly stored. Dino had hoped he'd be able to just store it under tarps, but it turns out that the manufacturer recommends that you not do that because it gets discolored. There's a bit of an investment in it, so we decided to utilize the 40' storage container. We got the contents of the storage container rearranged, leaving almost one entire side open and ready to receive the building pieces. Then we toted and heaved and lifted till it all fit in nicely. We did use the tractor to move three of the larger stacks closer and the pickup to take it to the container. Otherwise, it was all by hand. 7800 pounds worth. Took us nearly six hours to move the whole thing, so you can imagine we had some pretty good appetites on us. Also a few new aches and pains.

Good thing I know how to lift heavy stuff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Iddn't It Nice to Get a Bit of Moisture

This little city mouse is getting used to this country mouse driving with snow and mud and slippery stuff in general. I abandoned my fah-ncy car temporarily for the practicality of Dino's pickup. At some point in the near future, I'll make that permanent by selling the impractical one and using the proceeds for - well, for something.

We took a jaunt on the ATV yesterday afternoon after the rain had stopped to see the river actually running. What is that foamy bubble stuff on it?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Well, Yes It Was Irresistible

We were unable to pass up the opportunity to visit the newly adopted foals at our neighbor's ranch and walked up yesterday just before sunset.

In other news, the Dinosaur just got a new-to-him truck. We took it to the Ford dealership yesterday for a couple of little items he wants repaired.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Man-Horse Moment

While returning from our hike on Sunday, we ran into King and Pelton, who have been hanging out down on our place.

Other interesting sightings: a golden eagle apparently chasing a heron. The same eagle being relentlessly harassed by a local raven.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let the Obsession Begin

Now that we've had a little rain (a little more please), the fungi are popping up along with the grass. We saw at least five or six varieties of mushrooms and other fungi on our walk Sunday. The only type we could identify was a good stand of puffballs. Last year I was fascinated by these things, and it looks like that interest has not abated. The Dinosaur has a mushroom identification book that's about four inches thick and I doubt I'm going to be able to study enough to figure out what these things are, so I'm just going to have fun taking pictures instead. (How's that for justification of mental laziness?)

This particular fungus has the same general shape as a puffball, but is smaller - perhaps slightly more than an inch tall, and sits on a small stem.

Friday, October 9, 2009

83. Can't Count 84 or 85

Gotta love fall migration. Our walk Sunday brought us 83: Black-throated Gray Warbler spotted in a lovely area near the river. And we also saw two new (to us) species but we can't officially count them because we are not 100% certain of our identification. The not-84 was either a Dusky or a Hammond's Flycatcher - these two species are very similar and I guess we're just not up enough on our flycatchers. Not-85 was a possible blue-winged teal sitting all by her lonesome.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Pots. Also Number 82

Spotted this week was a Northern Mockingbird, not a rare bird but new for us here. My delight at tallying our 82nd species here at Dryad Ranch was dampened by the fact that when spotted, it was busy poking its beak into one of our ripening pomegranates.

Even so, we're rather fond of mockers. Some years at our Bay Area place we had a mocker begin to imitate the sound of a whirligig my father had made for us and that we had placed on top of the garden shed.

This photo is of some old cookpot found in a box near a picnic spot on the other side of the river.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekends at Dryad Ranch

We got done all sorts of chores done yesterday. Dino put a temporary fix on a toilet that decided to start running/leaking. I did all the regular housecleaning stuff. After lunch we went into the garden to discuss how we want to arrange things and after that we just started drifting into doing little things out there that looked like they needed doing. I fell into a zennish trance of weeding.

Around 4, I found Dino"resting his eyes" on the front porch swing and decided to take a little walk. I laced up, grabbed the camera and headed up Ant Hill. From there I swung around to Altar Rock, which is my favorite spot on the place. There is a spring there and just above it is a very large rock upon which another large rock sits, altarlike. It's a very special spot and I go there on almost all of my solitary walks in that direction.

Just below the spring, I found bees enjoying sips from a small pool covered in duck weed.

From there, I climbed Deer Ridge in a straight shot uphill, found a good dozen or so bluebirds busily hunting bugs, then I dropped back down to the road and started the full loop around the Northwest Territory.

Finally, I made my way to Dino's favorite spot under the Oregon Ash and the little pool there. I really got munched by mosquitoes as usual. While I was sitting and waiting hopefully for a bullfrog to show up for a photo op, I was greatly alarmed by rather loud rustling footstep noises behind me. I whirled to start my defense, only to scare the crap out of about thirty wild turkeys who hadn't been aware of me either! They ran off about twenty feet to the other side of the river, then stopped and started milling about in a standard turkeyish way, talking amongst themselves. After not seeing the turkeys during the summer months, we've seen them the last couple of walks and have noticed evidence of them, in great scratched up patches in the ground under the oaks in that area.

When I got back to the house, I found it was three hours later. Since I hadn't intended to be gone that long, I really had to start hustling to get dinner ready.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't Tell My Boss

Although I am not completely enamored with my daily commute into the nearest town to hole up in my solitary office, look at the view I am treated with every morning!

We all know that I am toiling away, nose to the grindstone, work work work. Right?

Friday, September 4, 2009

We'll Have to Be Careful In the Morning

This little snake, who appeared to have recently eaten, wasn't fond of us trying to document his or her presence. It finally took off, sidewinding at a good clip, only to disappear somewhere inthe vicinity of the front porch. We lack the snake charming, er rather, snake catching skills of our neighbor, so will have to resort to crossing our fingers that it finds a better venue soon.

We've both been ever so busy, even after two weeks (and doesn't time fly?), with organizing and unpacking. Who knew that we'd accumulated so much "stuff"?

I have gotten my little office all set up and have been diligently driving to town every morning to do my telecommuting. I'm rather pleased with it all, the DSL speed provided is quick indeed. I had a bit more excitement than I would have preferred last week when the restaurant downstairs had a bit of a fire, which rumor had it, was caused by some careless cigarette-smoking workers and a stack of cardboard boxes. It was all very chaotic and let me tell you I boogied right on out of there. There wasn't much damage evidently, luckily, but that was all just a bit much on top of having to smell all the smoke from the Big Meadows fire.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

At Dryad Ranch Fulltime

We've been here more than a week now and haven't quite had a chance until today to start enjoying it. It's been insanely busy with getting organized and finding things that were so well-packed as to be virtually unfindable. There are still pockets of mess but mostly it's all coming together nicely.

There were a couple of truly grueling days of loading and then unloading. We had some fun getting Dino's workbench out of the rental truck - nothing like a little machinery to make life easier.

The air has been pretty bad the last few days with smoke from the Big Meadows fire, although not as bad as last year. This didn't stop us from taking a bird walk today; the highlight of the walk was a golden eagle soaring over Morning Meadow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fly Away Home

I do know that the poem is about ladybugs, but I didn't have any handy for this post. However, I just want to crow about the fact that we are finally moving to Dryad Ranch for good, and yes, it does feel that we are flying home.

In spite of the gloom and doom about the economy, our Bay Area house sold in no time (knock on wood because escrow hasn't close yet, don't want to jinx anything).

The dragonfly is a Western Pond Hawk.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Teenager Hair-Dos

We have two small lanterns under the front porch that the house finches have adopted the last several years as nesting spots. The other night, while eating dinner and simultanteously doing some bird watching, this perfect photo op:

There are three babies in this tiny lantern (yes, it's in the shape of an open owl's mouth.) We think this is the second brood in this lantern for the year; the other lantern just has the second batch started. Hmm, maybe it's the third. At any rate, we are certain that there will be no shortage of house finches around here anytime soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weeding Could Be Dangerous

As I'm sure has been noticed before, the task of weeding is never over, especially in a garden that is more wild than not. The other day, I set myself to the task of a bout of weeding, attacking a particular rose bed where Dino has planted all the miniature roses. He's also seeded a good number of California poppies, which were completely spent and needed cleaning up. One wouldn't think that weeding would occasion excitement, but I was startled while picking up a pile of weeds to put in the wheelbarrow by a wiggling scurry of Something across my foot. Since I could tell it wasn't a rattlesnake, the only thing that might be found around that area to worry about, I wasn't scared, but in true girly-girl style, I shrieked anyway because I wasn't expecting it. Dino said later that he thought the scream was a coyote in the spring area making a weird noise - I'm not sure if I should feel insulted or complimented by the comparison. My curiosity about what sort of Something made the dash across my foot was answered some time later by finding a Gilbert's Skink under another pile of detritus. These critters are about 5 inches long, excluding the tail, and are relatively heavy-bodied which explains why I really felt it. The breeding adults have that reddish color to the head - so I guess this one fits into that category. I certainly hope I didn't disturb a nest but the reptile book says they lay eggs in midsummer, which I take to mean in July or thereabouts.

Gilbert's Skink - Eumeces gilberti

Monday, June 8, 2009

Activities of the Ravens

In case anyone was wondering where the ravens get to when they are not visiting our uphill neighbors, they come down to our place to snarfle the corn intended for turkeys. Evidently, this year's brood are still still not "weaned" from being fed by Mom and Dad, as we observed several delightful moments of gullet-stuffing where the parent had to stand on tippy-toes to reach the eager beaks.

Dino took this shot; he's undoubtedly appalled that it's being posted as he's not much for the abstract blurred look, but I think it's a lively interpretation of the scene.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wild Turkeys

As we were reluctantly preparing to leave on Sunday to return to our workaday world, we stopped to watch this youngster (with a buddy not pictured) finding the cracked corn Dino put out:

Monday, June 1, 2009

An Odd Find

All in all, an exciting weekend on the nature watching front.

On our walkabout yesterday, we found an abandoned egg. From the size of it, it has to be turkey. Must have been a dud; it was just lying to one side of the road, intact. No other turkey sign around.

We spotted bird species #81 yesterday! A beautiful Violet-green Swallow, which landed on the fence enclosing our front garden area and stayed there long enough for both of us to take a good long gander with the binoculars. They are a beautiful bird! What a treat that was.

It is fence lizard mating season, evidently, if activities on our front porch (!) are any indication. And damselflies seem to be liking each other right around this time of year. These are Vivid Dancers (the male is the blue one).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Although I've alerted the media, evidently this latest news has not been deemed worthy. My missing hat has been found. While out on a thistle-scouting foray, the Dinosaur encountered it. The theory that it had been left on the porch while boots were being taken off and then taken away by some great gust of wind seems to be nearly proven. Given that, the hat has been named Dorothy, who also was taken by a maelstrom and yet happily made it home.

Dino has been a veritable storm of activity and accomplishment himself over the last couple of weeks. He was able to spend ten days at Dryad Ranch (yours truly couldn't get away that long from work) and finished all of the work for the water tank, which now holds 2500 gallons or so and is available for use if the worst happens and a fire needs to be fought. In addition, he spent many hard hours with the Transline tank discouraging any thistles in his path.

This weekend we've been gardening - I've spent some hours weeding (we can see a path now) and Dino is currently tractoring and filling in over a culvert in the front driveway.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Snakes Coming Out of Hibernation

As usual, the time to leave the ranch came up sooner than we would have preferred on Sunday,and we got out a bit late. Of course, it was imperative before we left that we went to smell the Cecille Brunner rose that is amazingly fragrant right now and blooming near the back gate on the path to the compost barrel.
And we also had to spend some time identifying a little snake the Dinosaur found hiding in an overturned bucket. This process was a bit amusing because we were each looking at different guidebooks and one book called this snake a California Whipsnake and the other called it a Striped Racer. We went back and forth for a minute, pointing out markings until Dino finally asked what the Latin name in my book was. Oh. Same Latin name. Same species. Since whipsnakes seem to be a subset of racers, we'll go with Striped Racer. Supposedly, these snakes are very quick and aggressive, but this particular individual must have been very sleepy from having just woke up from his or her winter nap and stayed in the bucket very pleasantly posing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Western Pond Turtles

Contrary to popular opinion, turtles can move quite quickly when they want to. When this couple got tired of me, they took a mere nanosecond to plop back into the water.

Other highlights this weekend:

We spotted a pair of golden eagles flying high, one of the things they do best.

Weeds can grow a lot in just a week, especially in the springtime.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Water Tank Nearing Completion

The Dinosaur has spent considerable hours recently getting the water tank project close to fruition. Last week, he rented a trencher and dug from the water tank location at the top of Ant Hill down to the pump house. Into the trench went the necessary conduit and pipe. He'll be back next week to complete this phase of the project. He also trenched close to the house for the fire hydrants which are the main point of doing the project, i.e. getting water to firefighters if the house is threatened.

Our front porch has been chosen by a house wren couple as an acceptable nesting spot. The Wrens join three house finch pairs under the eaves, making for quite the avian nursery. The male wren does a lot of singing. According to Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, "All wrens are territorial, defending nesting territories through the breeding season, and non-migratory species defend all-purpose territories year-round. Vocalization is the wren's primary defense strategy." And here I thought he was singing because he was so happy it was another lovely spring morning. Well, I think they're cute anyway and I can't wait for the babies to show up.

Since I've taken a photo of this spider, I suppose now I'm going to have to attempt to figure out what kind it is. I took this picture looking at the spider from the rear, personally I think that the markings on it kind of look like a face. Dino claims that it says something about me, and not in a flattering way, that I see faces in spider butts.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Various Spring Updates

Dino has been spending quite a few "vacation" days off work to attend to the spring upkeep tasks. He's put in a new gate to and expanded the front garden fence; we're still discussing what we want to put in that enclosure to replace what the grasshoppers killed off over the last couple of years. This week, he'll be spending his time fighting thistles.

On the birdwatching front - excitement plus! (When is it ever not?) We have managed to attract at least one Hooded Oriole to the new oriole feeder Dino installed a couple of weeks ago. We saw Bullock's Orioles last year in an area bordering one of the meadows and hoped that we might be able to entice them a little closer. With any luck, we'll be able to get a photo to share, Bullock's, Hooded, whoever.

Filling all the bird feeders is one of the first things we do when we get to the ranch on a Friday night. Pretty much everything has been eaten up by then and it takes a while to refill. We have 5 (I think, maybe it's 6. Or even 7 now) seed feeders and 4 hummingbird feeders in addition to the 2 new oriole feeders. Also a suet feeder. If other bird nerds, er, lovers are as willing to support the economy, the bird feeding industry has nothing to worry about.

Sunday we took off on a big hike up the hill to enjoy the huge profusion of wildflowers on offer this time of year. This picture is about halfway up the ridge we climbed - this part of the walk was uphill or sidehill - made for some interesting stops when we saw something to investigate, I.E. where do we put both feet so we don't fall off the hill? And my camera and photographic skills just weren't up to the task of really giving this shot proper exposure in the middle of the day, but since I'm not likely to be found walking up that hill pre-dawn or walking down post-sunset this will have to do. The little orange patches in this picture are California poppy and it was so heartening to see them in their natural state up on a hillside. I wished they "popped" more in this shot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Robin

My favorite hat has gone missing. I can't imagine what I've done with it - as a general rule I just put it on the appropriate peg in the mudroom and that's that. But Saturday, it wasn't there. I looked everywhere in the house and around the house but no luck. It's a real mystery. I hope to find it - a) because I like that hat b) I want to understand what the heck was on my mind when I put it wherever I did. Yes, I looked in the refrigerator too.

A real bird picture. This guy was hopping and hunting by the river. And look at all the wildflowers around, it's really getting to look like spring.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Sure Hope This Fellow is Still Around This Weekend

Last weekend I had family obligations and couldn't get to Dryad Ranch and look what Dino saw on his solitary walk! I really hope that some of his luck will rub off this weekend. He also saw - evidently almost stepped on- a Great Horned Owl and was lucky enough to observe a water ouzel.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Catching Up

I'm trying to get caught up from the last couple of weeks, Tasks have intruded on my life with blog. I didn't get to Dryad Ranch this past weekend, but Dino did and evidently there may be more photos, which I believe I'll get to see tonight.

Sunday before last, we'd planned on a long walk up our neighbor's hill and across the ridge, where we walked this time last year and saw the golden eagle, but was raining and windy that morning. Shrug, Mother Nature does what she's going to do, and no complaints about rain.

I continue to be fascinated by fungi - is there an -"itis" associated with this? A while back I didn't bother taking pictures of some mushrooms I saw because I didn't want to muck around on the wet ground with the horse poop they were growing in. Those particular ones had what looked like little spines growing down from the cap. These don't have spines, but are interesting nevertheless.

Noticing a lot more wildflowers now - these are baby blue eyes. There is quite a group of them down in the sandy area right next to our part of the river. I didn't even see the little insect on the left while I was photographing this flower until I was editing when I got back - it wasn't there in the early shots. Now it's a famous insect, known world wide on the internet.

All of the pine siskins have decamped to wherever they go, so we'll be noticing a decrease in the need to fill the niger seed feeders, which they shared with the goldfinches. More hummingbirds have been arriving - we had three or four resident Anna's over the winter, ten days Dino counted seven with the probability of more. So where the seed requirements go down, the sugar water requirements go up. Yesterday, I bought two bags of sugar and wanted to tell the grocery store clerk that it wasn't for me but I figured that really she didn't care anyway.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Last Weekend's Post Which I Didn't Get to Until Now

We had one of our amazingly wonderful bird walks Sunday. We spent the first couple of hours dodging raindrops from some light showers so I guess our tempting of fate didn't bite us too hard. We were well prepared, and other than a distinct lack of waterproofness in the boot area, we didn't get too damp. We ended up seeing 30 different species of birds, which was a record for us. No, it's not all about counting the numbers but since we log it all onto the ebird website, which is a joint venture by the Cornell department of ornithology and Audubon, we do strive to identify as many species as possible. Plus, it's just fun. There's a little bit of strategy to it, as we have come to know where some of the birds tend to hang out - meadowlarks and blackbird types here, jays there, the ravens could show up anywhere. We saw two Cooper's hawks which we hope are the pair that nested on our place last year.

These flowers are the blooms of one of the shrubs that are common. Dino reminded me that they smell like corpses. So of course, being the literal minded person that I am, I stuck my nose in and took a big whiff. Yes! Quite a lot like rotting flesh.

In past years we have had two group of Indian Warrior wildflowers. At the start of our walk, we found one group of the Indian Warrior wildflowers, I got some photos but the flowers weren't fully in bloom so I'll go back next week and see how they look. The other group was in an area that the wild pigs had rooted up. Grrrr!

Now that there's been some rain, the profusion of fungi continues. I don't know why I am so enthralled this year with them, but I am. I don't like to eat mushrooms much so I'm not interested in picking them, just looking at them. There was one kind I'd never seen before growing in a pile of horse poop (no photos lucky you, but the photographer thought twice about getting on the wet ground around piles of the aforementioned poo) that had these weird spiny hooks growing down from the cap - those mushrooms were perhaps two inches tall at their biggest.
This photo is of one of the more common and attractive fungi, and it's bird-related too! Turkey tails.

On the four legged front, over the weekend we saw deer, a bobcat, ground squirrels, smelled some skunky presence and heard a lovely coyote choir.

And this little guy or gal, only about an inch long:

As we were leaving the ranch last night a thunderstorm started up, and it rained off and on for the entire journey. Probably we could have found chores to do around the ranch that were useful, maybe even important, but spending the day on foot watching that world was joyful.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wild Pig Redux, Also Number 80

The rain tapered off yesterday so we decided to get outside to see what was what. There were an amazing number of mushrooms that had popped up again. I am continually amazed at how many different kinds of fungi we can see during any given hour this time of year.

As we started walking down the hill on the northwest part of our property, guess which dastardly critters came into view? They moved pretty fast after I got this shot, the next picture I took was an even more blurry one of a bunch of pig butts dashing away.

After that bit of excitement we got down to the river, which was exciting in its own way, what with being swollen with runoff. The Dinosaur's favorite picnic rock under the ash tree was nearly covered with water. Sure is a different river from what it was a week ago, when we were able to cross it easily by jumping over a couple of rocks.

In addition to the pigs, we also saw two groups of mule deer, one on the appropriately named Deer Ridge, the other moving up from the river. Dino spotted a yellow bellied sapsucker, which we'd never seen around here. I didn't see it since at the time I was entranced by a particular amanita mushroom. Darn.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yay Some Rain

Looks like long walks are going to be out of the question this morning because we are getting the nicest rainstorm just now. Hope lots soaks in. Since most likely there won't be any pretty pictures today, I will post some photos from last week as documentation for the water tank project. The Dinosaur ordered up some pea gravel, which he convinced a merchant to deliver in spite of it being a small amount.

Step 1: Move the gravel from the bottom to the top of the hill

Step 2: Dump the gravel into its appointed spot.

Step 3: Spread the gravel evenly over the under-tank area.

Yes, it is a hard life being the photographer of record. One mustn't hurt one's little fingers by spreading gravel or anything.

I added a fun little gadget for no particular reason other than it's not easy always being earnest about birds and wildlife. Black boxes! Gotta love tha interwebz.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yet Another Fabulous Walk - We Don't Get Tired of It!

We got started on our Sunday bird walk mid morning. It took us almost an hour to walk the first mile or so because we kept getting distracted by watching birds. We saw a flock of forty or so meadowlarks in the area where the abandoned houses are - what an amazing noise that was! We didn't know that meadowlarks flocked together like that, the way blackbirds and starlings do.

Not long after we saw the meadowlarks we started hearing shooting - there's a shooting range of sorts established by one of the neighbors on a particular flat spot by the river. We've gotten pretty much used to it, although I have to admit it's not my favorite sound. At any rate, along comes a huge shattering boom of a shot. We keep walking, cross the river at the bridge, still birdwatching - some birds don't seem to mind all the noise - and see the men at the range. That particular area near the river is actually a really good place for birds - even with the shooting we saw some killdeer there that aren't usually around, bluebirds, a phoebe and the ravens. As we continued walking up the road, one of the men decided that he'd better warn us and drove up to let us know that they were shooting a 460 Weatherby rifle that has a range of 2000 yards so we should probably not walk along the river but stick to the road. We'd already figured that, but agreed politely, seeing as how they had the big guns and we only had some mean looking binoculars and a sack of bird books. That particular rifle is a "dangerous game" rifle developed for shooting Cape Buffalo and African elephants, both of which are in a shortage here in Madera County. Now, I'm a bleeding heart liberal Bambi lover so practicing to shoot critters just doesn't get on my good side but it's legal and they were doing it as safely as they could so I guess that's just the way of the world.

Here's a pretty spot along the river. I actually took a little video of this, since my camera will do that, but the file is so big! I don't have any video editing software so have no idea what to do with it. I just thought it would be kind of fun to be able to see and hear the Chowchilla with water in it once things dry up over the summer.

We stopped for lunch at the schoolhouse, which has been abandoned for years, but yes, was a one roomer of the old fashioned variety. One of these times I'll get up there at a time of day when I can get some nice shots of it. There's a big hay shed next to it and it's a great place for seeing sparrows. We also spotted a Nuttall's woodpecker there yesterday. While we were still munching, one of our neighbors came up in her ATV so we had a nice chat.

From afar, this little item looked like a big hawk with a white breast sitting in this tree. But no, it was a just a Common Birthday Balloon, natus mylaris, subspecies deflatus.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Band-Tailed Pigeons

We took a lovely long walk yesterday, covering 6 or 7 miles or so, mostly along the Chowchilla. A perfectly beautiful day for it too, in terms of enjoying a day from a human perspective. I suppose rain would have been better since we certainly need more of that. We had one of those great bird watching days in terms of spotting different species - 25 yesterday! Including a new species - band-tailed pigeons. Now, these aren't rare or anything, but I've been seeing dove-like birds for a few weeks now that seemed bigger and just not quite dove-y enough. We got the spotting scope on them yesterday and ta da! (Pigeon photo US Fish and Wildlife)

Now, we do realize that just counting species isn't really the point, but it does help us pay attention. After all, it's not as if there is a shortage of doves and unless you're a dove freak (we're not) why bother looking at them?

Another discovery on the other side of the river - two barn swallow nests tucked under some big rocks. They were sharing space with uninhabited mud wasp constructions. We'll see if later in the year we can surreptitiously observe the comings and goings when the babies arrive from the other side of the river. Thank goodness for long lenses and spotting scopes!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year Cleanup

While yours truly sadly was required to appear at her actual job site to prove that she was still employed - you know, I had to go back to work - Dino stayed at Dryad Ranch and spent the time from Christmas to past New Year working on the continued fire perimeter project. He was able to open up the area just below the house where House Spring is, and there have been enough days where burning was permitted to get it all cleaned up. There is still some work left that he hopes to get done at the head of the spring where it meets the road.

He's also been getting estimates for having a 2500 gallon water tank that would hold water ready for firefighters if the worst should come to pass. The water will be pumped up to the tank, which we plan to locate at the top of Ant Hill and gravity will move the water down as it's needed. Dino's already started to clear off and prepare the area for the tank, as I found on my perambulations this morning.
Observations on today's walks: How I managed to miss it before, but stuck into the barbed wire fence on the Northwest Territory is a golf club. What the? At some point I'll try to get a nice photo of it, but today the light was against me. On our last river walk, we also found an arrow - not an old arrowhead - a modern arrow (with a very nasty looking tip) that someone had evidently been unable to locate after missing whatever they had aimed at.
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