The Owl and The Pussycat…

Well, it’s not really a pussycat but Pepe Le Pew  thought that he was a black and white cat.  So the correct title of this post is The Owl and the Skunks.  I don’t know how many of you have been lucky enough to see a Great Horned Owl but they are massive.  They stand as tall as a toddler and have a wingspan of up to 5 feet.

For months we have been hearing a very distinctive ‘Whoo Whoo’ and I was so excited when I realized it was a Great Horned Owl.  The sound is very deep and you can tell that the creature has large lungs.  I started researching this wonderful bird and discovered that one of his favorite snacks is SKUNKS!!!  He has really large eyes and ears but very little sense of smell.  I adore my little skunks that live in the reserve and play under my deck, so I was sad to find out that they had a predator that was immune to their scent.  Then I thought about baby Great Horned Owls – I guess it’s just the circle of life…sobbing.

On the plus side we have a brand new deck for skunks, armadillos, possums, raccoons, wood rats, snakes and feral cats to hide under.  One night Teddy and I went to bed, really early as always, only to sleep fitfully through a night of deafening WHOO WHOO!  Mr. Horned Eagle was sitting on our fence or the trees in the reserve which is just a few feet from the bedroom.  Underneath that noise was the frantic sound of little skunks chattering nervously underneath the deck.

Aren’t they adorable little twins??

It reminded me of the Pixar short movie about the toys, Tin Toy, that were all hiding under the bed, terrified of the giant baby.  If I hadn’t been so sleepy I would have gone out to tell him to keep the bloody noise down.  Well… this is a happy ever after story.   The skunks survived and the Great Horned Owl has decided to move on to a deck free habitat.  Teddy snapped a shot of one in Florida and couldn’t believe how big it was as it flew over him.  This is a link to the Great Horned Owl Wikipedia page.  One description of its call is “You still up, me too”.  This article noted that some people regarded it as solemn and terrifying.  Really?  It’s just a giant owl!

On a final note, only stupid people have skunks as pets, with their scent organ removed (the only exception would be a rescue).  Skunks belong in the wild where they are the gardener’s friend.  They busily till the soil while eating bugs and larvae.

 

Fall in the sub tropics

The tree outside my house

The tree outside my house

Houston is in the sub-tropics, I live a little further north just on the edge of an ecological division between coastal and piney forest. Whatever the case, fall comes late to these parts. Sometimes we don’t get one at all if a hurricane runs through. It was similar in the north of Scotland. One day it was summer and then the tail end of a tropical hurricane would blow all the leaves off the trees and BAM – it was winter.

Most of my local photographs are taken next to our containment pond. For those unfamiliar with the term, the pond is there to soak up our many floods. It also dries up to barely nothing in a drought. Usually noisy Teddy is with me but I was quietly stalking and suddenly saw this precious pair.

baby-nutria

Baby nutria with mama after a swim

Nutria is an invasive water living mammal not unlike a beaver or coypu. They were introduced to the south for the fur trade so, as usual, we humans are to blame. The baby was gently bleating to Mama about the strange lady with the camera. I haven’t seen them for a while because the Rangers remove them. For the short time that they are here, I will enjoy their little furry faces.

mama-nutria

Mama nutria swimming

As I was walking about I could hear the drying leaves rustling and the ever present noise of the frogs that live at the pond. Then I spotted this poor cold turtle – he stayed right on his little island because it was too cold in the water. It’s all relative, temperature wise, as the temperature was mid 60s and sunny. ☀

cold-turtle

cold-agave

A ‘Chili’ Agave!