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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Trust Your Gut

Birding is not always an exact science.

Is that a black-capped or Carolina chickadee? 

Did that sparrow have a rusty cap? 

Sometimes you just have to trust your gut. 

It was late afternoon or early evening when we were driving home and I thought I saw an owl in a tree. We turned around to look again, and my 12 year old saw the same bird. 

"Hawk," he told me. "Red-tailed. A big one." 

I thanked him and as we turned into a parking lot to turn around again, I saw this bird perched at the top of a tree. It was too small to be a buteo, and it didn't quite look like a Cooper's hawk. Maybe a peregrine, I thought. Or a kestrel? 

I got out of the car and crunched carefully through the snow. We were at a cemetery so I could walk directly toward it. I got closer and closer and tried to note as many details as I could through my binoculars. I snapped these photos with my iPhone, knowing they'd be backlit, and that the bird could fly off any moment. 


It just didn't look like a sharp-shinned hawk. And I knew sharpies preferred woodlands. We were close to a highway and in a suburban area. It was possible that it was a sharpie, but not likely. I noted the white eye-brow, the white stripes on the tail. 

I got as close as I could and the bird flew off. The stripes on the underside were amazing, so intricate and precise. 

I made my guess: a Merlin. 



I entered my sighting in eBird. I can't know for sure, but I had to trust my gut. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

This Fell From a Palm Tree

 On our trip to Puerto Rico, I could not wait to encounter all kinds of new birds. I scanned the trees constantly, looking and listening. 

The one morning, as I strolled the beach, enjoying egrets and terns, bananaquits and grackles, I found a new tree dweller. I was surprised!

If you've never been near palm trees, it's important to be cautious around coconut palm trees. Getting hit by a falling coconut could really hurt. 

There's an urban legend about falling coconuts killing more people than sharks kill people. It turns out it's more dangerous for people falling out of coconut trees. 






I think iguanas must sleep in trees. 

And two mornings later an iguana fell out of a tree next to my teenager! 

It hit the ground with a THUMP-thump. He said...with concern...that it bounced a little. 

So what would be worse? 

To be hit with a falling coconut or iguana? 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Surprise Visitor During my Author Visit at a Local School


 

You can't see it in this photo, but in a few moments, there will be a surprise visitor in this room. I was doing this author visit - the first visit this school had since the pandemic began. Talk about pressure. I told the kids "hey, you're welcome that I stopped by and got you out of class." 

"Ha ha ha," laughed the teachers. I think they liked the change of pace more than the students. 

I was nervous, but not frozen. I soon got into the rhythm and turned my talk into a conversation. We swapped stories about Leonardo da Vinci.

Then, in the corner of my eye. I saw it - fluttering wings. A little creature sailed to the floor. It was a grasshopper, or katydid. I walked over to it and none of the kids moved. They barely even reacted. We were all quite calm. 

"Let's put this outside," I said. A teacher walked over, scooped it up, and set it free. 


Monday, November 29, 2021

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Same Flowers



These are the same flowers. The photos are taken only a few weeks apart. The first time I saw the flowers, I thought they were beautiful. I didn’t know they had a surprise inside. As it got colder they changed - but at the same time they didn’t change. They were still the same beautiful flowers. 
It’s OK if we need to change. We can change and still be ourselves, too. There are many ways for us to be beautiful. 



 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Our Pup Loved Puppycake

We love to bake around here, so when we learned about Puppycake, we had to give it a try. Beckham loved his delicious treat. We hear the ice cream is even better! The founder of Puppycake graduated from our high school. We love supporting local businesses and alumni!