Thursday, April 24, 2014


Sunday afternoon's walk was darn close to five hours - I didn't quite intend to go for that long but it was so great that time slipped away from me.  I decided to take a route down to the river and see what could be found, thinking mostly of wildflowers.  There were lots of those, including a Harlequin Lupine I've never seen before.

The best part of the afternoon: I was utterly charmed by discovering that beavers are still in residence in the Chowchilla River.  At least one is anyway.  I took a bunch of pictures of the beaver, which I believe to be female because when she came out of the water to groom, I could see what I think are nipples.  After I figured I had enough shots to feel comfortable that at least one would be good enough, I just found a spot next to a rock and watched her swim around.  She kept one eye on me the whole time, but it was so neat to watch. Finally, she popped into a hole in the bank on the other side of the river and after a few minutes, I took that as my cue to exit.

This is a view of her grooming on the other side of the river.

I hadn't gone more than a couple hundred yards past that spot when I saw four of these beautiful male Bullock's Orioles, and at least one female.  It was shenanigans all around - don't know which boy won the girl, but there was singing, and calling, and flying and chasing and I don't know what all.

Early Saturday morning, we had a stonemason come out to look at our new fireplace and talk about ideas for building a nice hearth and stonework area around it.  He got quite enthusiastic about the job as we explained that we wanted to use local stone and would be fine with something asymmetric - well the whole thing will have to be anyway because we're building a bookcase on one side.  Evidently, it's a family business and has been doing work around the area for a long time.  We both ended up with a good feeling about hiring this contractor to do the work - as long as the estimate comes in close to the range we're thinking about which we believe it will.

With all that in mind, Dino and I took a walk this morning to the river to pick out some good rocks to use for the fireplace.  We have some really beautiful river rocks, many of which Dino has already dragged home to use in building rock walls.  We found quite a lot of nice ones, and I've basically given him free rein to make the final choices as he'll be doing all the work of getting the stone out of the river bed and up to the house.  It'll be tractor work, but some of the logistics will be interesting.

He also walked me to the far end of the Northwest Territory to show me a particular shrub in bloom that he hoped I could identify.  Yes - it was a snowdrop bush, really lovely blossoms.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Didn't Know I Needed to Be Prepared But Glad I Was

Sunday afternoon, I really needed to get out and about, not that I need an excuse per se.  Grabbed my stuff and walked down to the river; found all sort of wonderful wildflowers.  I felt a mite peckish mid-walk, found a good rock to sit upon and dredged up a protein bar from my camera bag.  (Side note:  I am known for pretty much always having a fallback snack somewhere on my person.)  As I was munching, I enjoyed the sight of a Black Phoebe working the same area of river, working hard for her afternoon snack.

I finished the bar and decided to try for a decent shot of the Phoebe, swapped lenses in favor of my telephoto and ended up with this nice picture.

I left the big lens on the camera, packed up my gear in the bag, and hoisted same to continue with the walk.  I hadn't walked more than a minute when I spotted movement at the bottom of the hill.  Gray Fox!  If I hadn't been interested in the Phoebe in spite of the fact I've taken many many pictures of these wonderful birds, I would have never been ready for the fox.  Happy happenstance.

I got several other pictures of the fox, including one of it sitting down contemplating whatever it is foxes contemplate, but I like this one because it shows how it moved in the landscape and also I love the idea of a Fox in a Field of Flowers.  Note the right ear aimed in my general direction - listening to the clicks of the shutter?

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