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Sunday, January 26, 2014


Garden grade House Wren
still absent from my yard list
Long ago, not-so-far away, I spotted a few feathers in my back yard. They were from a wren - I assumed  was a House Wren. Poor bird - knew it was most likely nabbed & eaten by my now long gone, cat Rum-kitty. More than a decade later, I still keep those feathers safely stowed away.

A year ago, I spotted another wren, not a House Wren, but a Bewick's. That is pronounced 'Buick' like the car. The little bird was in an oak above my garage by my front yard. Ecstasy!  A new species that brought my Yard List numbers up to 46; that is, 46 species seen in, or in eyesight of my home. Yes, yes, I'm a birder, and ticking off birds is what I do best.

A week ago looking out my living room picture window, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I spotted a little Bewick's Wren hopping about by the rosemary shrub, on the hunt for bugs. I flipped! My camera barely 5 feet away, & I grabbed it but alas! The adorable little $%* was already gone; major bummer.

Now, 3 days ago  - yes, this is a count down - I drove out my garage, and spotted suspicious little birds flying from my neighbor's tree. Stopped the car, grabbed the binocs to see the solitary tiny Bewick's digging in leaf litter just outside my neighbor's front door. Am pleased my neighbor didn't spot me with binoculars aimed at my his front door. 

This morning - in a less than stellar mood - I happened to glance out the window, and there, literally 5 feet from me, was the Bewick's Wren! I raced into the garage & found my camera in my car. Miracle of miracles, when I returned, the bird was still hyper-actively bustling about, allowing me to get something like a hundred shots of it. Oooo how I love my new, eensie, nattily feathered neighbor!

New Yard bird- Bewick's Wren, by the Hawthorn Tree
checking out the spider content of my rock border
About to slurp down a slug
Close up of my hyper & beautiful new Yard Bird

Monday, January 20, 2014

Persimmons - They're Not Just For Possums Anymore

Yesterday, while visiting with Nancy & Rick at their house, I had a look out the back porch window. The backyard persimmon tree was filled with over ripe fruit which hasn't gone unnoticed. American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, the odd Butter Butt aka Yellow-rumped Warbler and squirrels were having their fill. I had my camera with me so I got some shots of the Waxwings stuffing their faces with fruity pulp goodness.

Yummy, yummy, yummy
Alas - never a napkin handy when you need one
Suspect this bird would not be happy with the angle I chose for its portrait
It was a wonder they could still fly with such a fruit load on board.
WOAH! This fruit is so squishy it gives me the heeby jeebies!
I love shots that show off the red 'waxy' wing tufts
that give the species its name
As for my own back yard, the Waxwings have already come and gone. They ate about 75% of the Hawthorn berries and the local pain-in-the-arse squirrels took care of the rest. They all do me a favor in eating the berries as I won't have to deal with as many unwanted 'volunteer' baby Hawthorn trees this year.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Some Days the Grass Doesn't Grow

Pacific Western Traders perched on a hill in Old Folsom
My raven or crow rosettes
Have mucked around with a couple of beading projects for about a month now. It seems when I got an idea pieced together I'd get something drastically wrong and would have to begin again.

As happens, I spent maybe three evenings trying to thread a needle. Yes, so help me, three days! Finally it dawned on me, 'uh... isn't this supposed to be the easy bit?'. Dawned on me the ten year old thread I used is too old and the multiple fibers of the strand were not holding together. Silly fibers refused to obediently funnel through the eye of the needle, and there were always a few strands darted to the side to keep everything - interesting.

Bighead Dancer & Maiden
Time for new thread! This afternoon I headed to my favorite supply store for beading thread and it really isn't a sewing shop at all, it's the Pacific Western Traders, which has all sorts of cultural materials for Native American Indian Arts, as well as books, fetishes, cedar and sagebrush for smudging. I headed over to Old Folsom, and was soon happily perusing the beading section in the rear of the store, chatting merrily with the sales lady. Then she did it. She dropped the bomb - Pacific Western Traders is closing inside of 30 days from now! I was gob smacked. NO! Where am I going to get my suede bits for sewing, new beading needles and the occasional wicked cool Native American artifact? There are other places to get suede, but let's face it - Tandy leathers is not the cultural experience I've come to expect & love.

Turns out the owner of Pacific Western Traders has passed on and his daughters aren't going to keep the shop going. I guess I'm selfish thinking only of myself, when those girls are having to find their paths on their own now. Life is that way sometimes.

I took longer than usual at the store this afternoon. Perusing the books and such which are all on sale and several of which are calling my name, but I'm not in the time of my life that I'm collecting possessions - not even the beautifully carved stone beaver or the small Inuit walrus carving with real walrus tusks. I'm sure someone will give them a home.

The colorful beads, needles and small looms at the back of the store

Books and lots of artwork always on display - but not for much longer

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Busy day in the Bay Area

Had a lovely day that as always has an extra early start at 5:30 AM, driving to the Bay Area . Every 6 weeks or so, the drive is repeated as I head to Emeryville for my Sister Locks hair appointment. Love my 'Locktician'. She is absolutely the most professional, friendly and on-time lady I've ever had the pleasure to work with. You ROCK Adrian!

I hit Emeryville at 7AM and as my hair appointments are an hour later so I park at the Emeryville beach park where I bird & drink coffee. Being fall, there were loads of 'the usual suspects' hanging in the bay, Lesser Scaups, Sanderlings, gulls, Buffleheads by the score and even a salt water loving Snowy Egret.  After birding and posting my oh-so-important findings to eBird via iPhone, I drive the half mile to my hair appointment.

After my appointment this morning, I drove into Berkeley to visit with fellow Hen, Robbie. She and I went to a cute little cafe for a late breakfast/early lunch.

Following lunch with Robbie I decided, on a whim, to visit a tiny garden, where a month ago, I was able to see a vagrant Painted Redstart. These little birds are found in southern Arizona and New Mexico, but one valiant bird somehow managed to find its way to Berkeley. For some reason the bird has frequented one big ole tree in one tiny yard. The bird took only two minutes to pop up in the tree and I immediately fumed at myself for not having brought along my long lens camera. The tree is now devoid of leaves so the photo opts are that much better than last month when the big challenge was photographing the hyperactive bird as it dashed in and out of leaf cover. 

 Here is the the 'best' shots I managed in December. It is not in focus, but this sparkling bird is easily identified with its jet feathering, white accents and shamelessly scarlet belly. Am toying with returning to the site to try getting a few more photos - next time with a bit more focus.

Berkeley's Painted Redstart
Looking for its breakfast under the tree bark
Lovely flaming birdie belly

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Birthday Boys & and BIG surprise

Today Aunties Barbara and Claire went to a birthday celebration for Wyatt & Virgil who are two years old. They are the sons of Barbara's oldest son, James & Angie. The last time I saw the baby's, they were barely walking. Walking is an old skill for them now, and I enjoyed watching them shooting around the back yard playing with their beloved choo-choo trains.

Twins listening to the off key and yet adorable rendition of Happy Birthday
You would think that attending the birthday celebration for the twins would under normal circumstances be the big draw of the day, and you would be wrong.  As twists of fate would have it - wait for it... wait for it... a couple of months ago, James located his and Eric's birth parents. Seventeen years separated, but due to the miracle of Facebook, the family is together again. So in addition to celebrating the baby's big day, Barbara and I met the birth parents, and siblings & half siblings of James & Eric.

Wow. Just wow.

On arrival at the BBQ, I actually momentarily mistook one of the older brothers as being Eric... thought he didn't quite look like Eric, but there was enough resemblance to puzzle my poor, face identification challenged, brain.

The birthday event was therefore quite a memorable one. My favorite bit was sitting in the living room, watching some half dozen toddlers running amok. What a treat - really enjoyed the baby fix!

Happy Birthday Wyatt & Virgil!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Gung Hay Fat Choy is, as I recall it,  the phonetic Chinese for Happy New Year. If I got it wrong, then, happy whatever it is I wished you. A HAPPY 2014 to all!

I only mention the year because I still am practically a horse worshiper, even if I don't get to have one now. I welcomed in the New Year watching the last bits of the movie War Horse, so I started the year feeling great sorrow & joy for the winning of impossible causes. Maybe that will happen for me this year. What's the impossible cause I have hopes of overcoming? None of yer bee's wax. Not to be rude, but if my lost cause is won, it won't be a secret at all.