Forest Tails

As I write this, the ‘Eeeeee’ of Baby Hawk is preventing me from feeding all my other ‘tails’, although all their baths and bowls are freshly filled.

Baby Hawk

Our red-tailed hawks have had baby #2022.  We had our first small shower of rain after two months of drought and all the forest babies wondered what the wet stuff was falling from the sky.  Baby Hawk sobbed…  It was heartbreaking and funny.  Mother Hawk was wheeling above enjoying a refreshing shower. 

The Tail Family

All our squirrels have funky tails this year.  We have ‘Tail’ who is at least a year old – her tail was fractured but healed well.  The fur came in with strange chevron markings and a much darker gray than usual.  Then there is ‘half’, ‘three quarters’ and ‘pipe cleaner’.  ‘Half’ is extra cute and will come running for a peanut or chopped up apple – she is also a wee bruiser, using Jujitsu on her kin, perhaps that’s why she has half a tail? I am guessing that the ‘Tail’ family all have a genetic weakness with their tails or the clumsy gene.  ‘Nut Mom’ (aka me) also has the clumsy gene and break as many items as my mother did.  One day in the garden, the hawk suddenly appeared and the squirrels were blissfully sitting in the trees.  I ran out, shouted ‘lie down’ and they did!

Baby Blues

We have twin baby blue jays.  When they are first fledged, their iridescent blue feathers have not fully grown in and they have fluffy gray tummies.  The parents have a distinctive black necklace which the babies don’t have until maturity.  My friend across the cul-de-sac thought the nest was in the trees by her garden because she rescued a newly fledged blue jay from one of her dogs.  From my friend’s rose colored perspective, her ‘black lab mix’, Gertie, was just going to nuzzle the baby…  Gertie, who looks like a Rottweiler, has nearly pulled me off my feet when I took her for walkies in past years.  Then she was desperately trying to ‘nuzzle’ ducks at the pond.  Methinks she saw feathered snacks.

The baby blue jays have been so fun to watch – they have tried every voice in their repertoire.  Gentle beeping, the rusty wheel, the annoying squawk and their imitation of the red-tailed hawk.  That gets me racing to the door to check if it is a raptor.  Their mimic is pretty good but if you listen carefully, it doesn’t have the mournful lament of real hawk.  Their monogamous blue jay parents are very attentive, gently showing them how to drink from the bird bath and feed themselves.  They seem to know our garden is a safe kindergarten.

The Cardinals

The cardinals often accompany the blue jays who provide a Minder service for the smaller birds – early warning of predators.  One of the silly baby blue jays tried to sit in a tiny bush with a baby cardinal.  The father cardinal lay on the deck, with a ‘broken wing’, pretending to be injured to lure him away.  Baby blue didn’t know his own size and meant no harm.  Two American Robins, a type of thrush, have arrived from the north.  It seemed as though they had traveled through our airport system because they were exhausted and filthy!  They didn’t quite understand this garden of plenty but feasted and washed.  They have settled in the oak tree in the front.

The Laurel

Alas, not everything survived our drought.  In the early spring our Texas Mountain Laurel was glorious, covered in blossoms but by early summer she suddenly died.  We have raised her for about 8 years so we are sad.  Your swan song was glorious.

On a lighter final note, Wanja Joseph, commented on my post Dolphins are Jerks

“I am having a hard time describing or thinking of those sea kittens as naughty or crafty. My innocence is gone! Beautiful shots”

Henceforth our squirrels are known as tree kittens…

Rain Dance

Why didn’t the early settlers to America pay attention to the giant hint about catastrophic weather events on this continent??  The indigenous people had a ‘rain dance’ because we have cyclical episodes of drought all over the two continents.  If I had faith in my ability, I would do a rain dance on my back deck because I am so fed up with watering the garden.  My sprinklers haven’t worked for a couple of years but I decided during the Pandemic that I would use a hose and be the Greta Thunberg of my cul-de-sac.  Our water bill tells me that we are doing the right thing, especially raiding the laundry basket for yesterday’s clothes…that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.  One of the things I loved about Egypt was that it was really hot, not everyone had access to water or deodorant, the trains were jam packed and you had to get used to body odor.  It was a sharp acclimation moving to the States – why do people get washed before they go out for a run in Texas humidity? I can smell their Gain detergent on their cute little outfits about half a mile away.  Just go out stinky and have a shower when you return.  The only friend who felt as I did was brought up in the South African bush and didn’t wear shoes until she was 12.  She walked the dog with her dressing gown on…my kind of gal.

Like many of us, during the Pandemic, I watched TV until I was square eyed.  I can’t tell you how many National Geographic and Discovery documentaries I ingested.  Any archeological program involving LIDAR gets me excited. LIDAR is an acronym for light detecting and ranging.  Briefly, the technology allows you to scan a wooded area, for example, and remove the trees digitally to reveal the remains of structures. There have been many recent discoveries in central and south America, showing that there were huge Mesoamerican ‘cities’, for want of a better word.  The biggest had hundreds of thousands of people and they were connected to other cities.  The Amazon is not virgin rainforest but more a peek into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan.  Imagine decayed and fallen skyscrapers overwhelmed with a forest canopy.   I was astonished to find out that the Amazon was ‘plundered’ before – once or perhaps more.  Vast cities with complicated infrastructure and agricultural methods.

The reasons for their decline are varied but mostly it was climate change made worse by a huge population.  If there is no rain, you can’t grow crops and you can’t feed the disgruntled people.  At worst war or disease or famine then decimate your population but in the case of the Maya, many of the people moved north into the Yucatan area of Mexico or further afield.  In the title photograph, I am ‘dancing’ at a remote pyramid in the Yucatan, devoid of tourists.  The area was surrounded by scrubby jungle full of structural remains that complete the large city complex.  There are so many pyramids from Mexico to the tip of central America that it is obvious there was, at times, a thriving population.  I can only hope that this is a pattern.  As a species, we spread out of control, depleting Earth’s resources but then Mother Nature or equilibrium takes over.  This is my ‘big picture’ theory and I can’t claim to be an expert just a voyeur of life with a very dark sense of humor. Let’s face it, the other species need a chance.

Recently we had the woodwork painted throughout our house.  In the main bathroom, we had all the cabinets painted.  Our fantastic white Corian countertop now looks creamy if not a tad yellow.  The countertops are 18 years old and I considered getting them coated or replaced.  Then I thought, “Is that sustainable?”  Right now, I am still in Greta Thunberg mode, but I might eventually cave and get new countertops to fulfill my naïve American Dream.  Do I need a refurbished bathroom, though?  I would happily spend all the money on a trip of a lifetime but then you have to consider carbon emissions/tax, appalling airports and the possibility of Monkeypox.  If nothing else, our newest spreading disease proves that Mother Nature is laughing at us.  What else can I throw at the horrible humans??  Monkeypox is a bit like bedbugs – really disgusting but you are unlikely to die from it/them.

I had a colonoscopy yesterday and no one really needs to know that.  That said, however, the TWO day Prep and the anesthetic might explain this post…  Teddy and I went crazy today and had two lattes that had caffeine in them.  I can’t stop writing or talking and poor Teddy had another AFIB incident.  This was a minor episode but revelatory (no CAFFEINE for Ted).  My mum died of a bowel rupture 20 years ago and every since, I have been more aware of what I am eating.  I literally eat like a squirrel – nuts, seeds and fruit.  Curiously, I noticed that the seeds were the last to be emitted from my poor body pre-colonoscopy.  Despite my healthy regime (I could power a methane plant) my diverticulosis is worse than it was 7 years ago.  WTH??  To rub salt in my wounds, the gastroenterologist sent me pictures of my colon with a note to eat more Fiber.  If only it was legal to take the notes and shove them up his backside…  On the plus side there was nothing else of note and the nausea inducing ‘elective’ procedure is free.  More seriously – go get a colonoscopy.  It could save your life even if you can never consume lime Gatorade or Jello again.

Postcard from Sugarland

BABYAL 3
Look at this lovely little baby! This is a one year old alligator at Brazos State Park, south west of Houston. http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/brazos-bend This Park has been closed recently because of the devastating floods in certain parts of Texas. Summer has arrived suddenly and the intense heat has helped to dry up some of the worst of the flooding. The media, quite naturally, has focused on the impact the flooding has had on humans but nature has both suffered and benefited. Texas has had a 10 year drought and the water is badly needed but it doesn’t need to come all at once – does it? The alligators have delayed their breeding season, as have many other animals and some of the alligator eggs have had to be incubated because the nests were too close to human traffic. I had the great privilege of being able to stroke this lovely little critter and like other reptiles it was really dry to the touch, like bumpy leather. It was incredibly hot walking around the various lakes but the trees gave some shade. It was blissfully free of other people because it had only reopened the day before so you had the real feel of escaping the city. It was my first proper visit to Sugarland, the home of Imperial Sugar, and I was very impressed with this small master planned city. It was subtly different from my home to the north of Houston and the ecology changed from Piney Woods to Gulf Coast. Sometimes the best vacations are just an hour or so away… Click on the red link to find out more about Brazos, Sugarland and its intriguing history that goes back to the Spanish land grants in Texas. POSTCARD FROM SUGARLAND – CLICK HERE