Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's time!

I took the cage protector off my suet log a few weeks ago once the grackles left the yard and raccoons were no longer a problem. The woodpeckers loved having easy access to the entire log -- especially the bigger Hairy and Red-Bellied woodpeckers.

But look who I caught eyeing the suet log yesterday.......did you notice the top hole was completely empty?

Yupper!! And here's why! That big ol' crow beak can clean out a suet log in a quick hurry compared to a tiny little Downy woodpecker beak!

So right after I took these pictures, I went out and put the cage back over the suet log. I know the woodpeckers aren't happy, but at least it's not a crow feeder anymore!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Help Me Solve A Mystery

The other day when we were taking Holly for a walk, I found these strange things laying in the road.

There were several together in close proximity, but I've never seen anything like them before.

I'm thinking it's probably something that fell from a tree, but looking up I couldn't see anything like it on any of the overhead branches.

The middle is some sort of woody layer. The outside "prickery looking" kind of reminded me of deer fur. It was stiff, but not sharp like thistles (even though it looks sharp). The inside was short and soft too -- almost like velvet.

Have you ever seen anything like this before? I would have "googled" it, but I had no idea of how to begin describing such a thing for a google search. Please help me solve this mystery!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A New Doggeh!

I managed to make it approximately 3 weeks without a dog after dear old Sophie passed away and could hardly stand not having a dog at home after 30+ years of living with dogs! So, after searching the listings and interviewing several potential dogs, Holly came to live with us on October 7th! Here we are picking her up at Paws & Claws Humane Society in Rochester. (she's got her eyes on a shelter cat up on the counter behind us)

In case you're wondering, Holly's a boxer/pit bull cross.

The story I was told at Paws & Claws was that Holly (her previous name was Cali) was a surrender because there were some "differences of opinion" between her and the other older dog at her previous home. And after the two of them got into a serious "argument" (Holly still had some scabs on her face when we brought her home), Holly needed to find a new home where she was going to be the only dog.

She's a very sweet doggeh and quite attached to both of us already. It's comforting for me to have that warm furry body curled up next to me in bed at night. She even will crawl under the covers after Rick leaves for work at 3:45 and Holly and I get the chance to cuddle until my alarm goes off at 6:00.

She's a licker!

And even though she's a pretty big girl, she doesn't have any trouble curling up to fit the smallest spot next to you (or even on your lap!)

She especially likes laying on the pillows!

Last Sunday my family came over and Holly got to meet them for the first time. She normally doesn't beg at the table, but found that my nephew Ethan was an easy mark -- for begging.......

......and for kissing!

She likes Rick's big leather recliner, but since Kathy and Matt had already claimed it, Holly did the best she could to get her share of the chair.
At supper tonite, I found out that Holly likes broccoli! That's a first for any of our dogs.
And she very kindly and neatly pre-washed the broccoli dish for me too!

Holly's very interested in Penny and after an initial few days of hiding out, Penny has now become accustomed to having Holly around. We do keep an eye on Holly though, for fear that she'll want to play too roughly with Penny. At 15 years of age, Penny's rough-housing days are pretty much over.
We're getting lots of dog walking exercise again now and Holly takes advantage of every chance she can for a nap.
And now if you'll excuse me, it's time to walk the dog!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Midwest Birding Symposium - Day 2

Friday, September 16th dawned clear and beautiful. Since we were still exhausted from our early morning departure and long drive of Thursday, we opted out of the 6:00 AM birding hike and slept in until 7:00. After getting ready and heading out the door, it was time to officially register for the Midwest Birding Symposium and check out our headquarters at the Den of Blogniquity.
The Den of Blogniquity was a pretty cool place. I also got the chance to finally meet some of my blogging friends face-to-face for the first time ever! In the back row is me (of course!) and Susan (Susan Gets Native). In the front row is Lynne (Hasty Brook), Kathi (KatDoc's World) and Nina (Nature Remains).

Photo by Ann Oliver

More candid shots from the Den of Blogniquity. It was a nice, quiet place away from the hustle & bustle of the symposium. I believe we were supposed to take time to sit down and compose blog posts from there, but honestly, I never got a chance, there was just too much other stuff going on that I wanted to participate in!
Susan and I having a photo duel. See the window peeker in the background? Participants at the symposium were invited to stop by and see what MBS Bloggers actually did. Unfortunately, I think we disappointed a lot of people because most of us weren't there very often.
Here's another look inside the Den of Blogniquity. I would like to take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to Bill Thompson, III for giving me the privilege of being an Official MBS Blogger at the Midwest Birding Symposium.
And before we knew it, it was time to head over to Hoover Auditorium for the opening ceremonies of the Midwest Birding Symposium.
While we were searching for the best seat, we ran into some blog fans. Here I am with Bill Ringer. Lynne told me Bill had e-mailed her prior to the Symposium and was looking forward to meeting here. When we saw him, he knew Lynne right away and then he looked at me (sitting next to Lynne) and said, "the middle-aged, tattooed, biker woman." I laughed out loud right there -- I had no idea Bill was one of my blog reading fans and it was really great to meet him!
Bill Thompson, III gave the opening/welcome message and since it was fairly certain that many of us would be seeing life birds during the symposium, he also gave us instructions on how to do the "Life Bird Dance."
Next was the keynote address from Kenn and Kimberly Kaufmann who talked to use about Birding Ohio's North Coast.
Kimberly did a great job with her talk. She's passionate about birds and birding and getting people of all ages involved in birding, which is a good thing as she's also the Executive Director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory!
Then it was Kenn's turn to speak. His "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" is my "go to" bird book, so I was really happy to hear him speak in person. And what a nice guy!
Kenn and Kimberly were both such wonderful speakers and just genuinely nice people. You could just imagine yourself sitting down with them somewhere for coffee and pie and visiting about all the cool birds and birding adventures they've been on and it would be like you'd known them forever.
They had a special promotion for Symposium participants who would be willing to go out and get some new people interested in birding. I believe it was quite successful because Lynne told me later that day that she had gotten one of the last cards available.
At the back of Hoover Auditorium was the vendor booth of one of my favorite authors and artists -- Julie Zickefoose. Julie has brought along some of the original paintings that are going to be featured in her new book coming out next spring, "The Bluebird Effect." Julie also brought along her famous canine companion, Chet Baker! If I didn't get the chance to see any life birds during this trip, that would have been OK, because I got the chance to meet Chet Baker and have my photo taken with him! I was missing my Sophie an awful lot and Chet could sense that I needed a little doggeh love. He's one special pup!
One of the fun things we got to do at the Symposium was have our photo taken in front of a "green screen" and choose a special background. I chose to be a Bird Watcher's Digest cover girl. I think it turned out pretty neat.

After a tasty lunch, we headed back to Hoover Auditorium for an afternoon presentation by Alvaro Jaramillo entitled "Birding Outside the Box -- Birding Identification Like a Pro!" Alvaro was a great speaker and his talk combined birding tips and humor, so we had fun learning new things.

Lynne was able to get a few extra birding tips from Alvaro after the presentation also. What a nice guy he was! I hope I get the chance to go on one of his birding trips someday.
Whew, this day is just flying by! After supper, we headed back to Hoover Auditorium for the evening speakers. But before the speakers, there was musical entertainment by The Rain Crows (featuring Bill Thompson, III and Julie Zickefoose).
Then it was time for our evening keynote speakers. Dr. Bridget Stutchbury spoke of her work as The Bird Detective: Investigating the Private Lives of Birds.
Our next speaker was Pete Dunne who read an essay entitled, "The Old Man and the Plover" from his newest book.
Here's a look at Pete Dunne on the Jumbotron in Hoover Auditorium.

And finally our first full day of the Midwest Birding Symposium was over. Time to head back to the motel and get some sleep so we would be ready to head out for tomorrow morning's early birding events.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 Midwest Birding Symposium - Day 1

Today marks 2 weeks since my visit to the Midwest Birding Symposium. An insane work schedule, getting caught up on stuff at home and looking for a new doggie has been keeping me super busy. But I finally have a day off today, so I'm almost caught up on the laundry and an adoption form has been filled out for a new furry child to arrive late next week, so I took advantage of some extra time to get my photos edited and get started on my blog posts from the Midwest Birding Symposium. So I'm going to do it in chronological order, starting with day 1.

My best birding friend Lynne arrived Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 14th) and stayed overnight at my house so we could get an early start for our long drive to Lakeside, Ohio for the symposium. We backed out of the driveway right on schedule at 5:30 AM as we figured it would take us at least 10 hours to make the 700+ mile drive. Now I gots to tell ya, there is a very short list of people I would want to share a 12 hour road trip with, but Lynne is definitely at the top of that list. Amazingly enough we never ran out of things to talk about. The trip was exciting from the very beginning -- Lynne barely missed hitting a coyote who was stupid enough to dash out onto the highway in the darkness. We stopped every couple hours for snack and potty breaks and to switch drivers. Lynne handled the drive right through Chicago like the seasoned Twin Cities driver she is. We talked and laughed so much that we almost forgot to stop for gas! Good thing Lynne's car reminded us it was time or we would have been stranded somewhere on the Ohio turnpike and missed our boarding of the boat for the Sunset Boat Cruise.

We got to Lakeside, Ohio and the Midwest Birding Symposium with only minutes to spare for joining our friends on the Sunset Boat Cruise. It was really nice to hop on the boat and let someone else take over the driving duties. Plus we both were able to enjoy the view of sunset on Lake Erie.
What a great way to start out the Midwest Birding Symposium. This is a look at South Bass Island. The tower is Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.
The cruise had a "Chum Master" who tossed out popcorn which attracted flocks of seagulls behind the boat. I wasn't able to get close to the back of the boat, but it sounded like those who did saw a good variety of gulls.
This is Kelleys Island. Some participants of the Midwest Birding Symposium were able to sign up for a Sunday cruise and birding adventure on Kelleys Island.
Sunset's getting closer. The cruise was about 2 hours long and included a wonderful buffet supper that we enjoyed very much.
Here's a closer look at Perry's Memorial.
And now it's almost dark and our cruise is almost over. You can see the light in the top of Perry's Memorial. What a beautiful sunset and a perfect end of the first day of our Midwest Birding Symposium adventure.
After our sunset boat cruise, we checked into our motel and were greeted by this little spidey in our tub. I'm not arachnophobic, but still, spiders in the bathtub just aren't cool. Thankfully, Lynne took care of this little matter.

I hope you'll stay tuned for the rest of my posts from the Symposium and maybe I'll even convince you to think about attending the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio in 2013. Save the date -- they're already accepting preregistrations!