Tag Archives: Wildlife

Rabbits

Rabbits are okay. They’re cute and furry. I don’t have a garden so I don’t worry about them eating my vegetables. But I don’t love rabbits. Well, at least I don’t love rabbits anymore.

See, back in the 1970s I read Watership Down. Then I read the book referenced in Watership Down: The Private Life of the Rabbit ((Actually a pretty good read.)). Then I visited Watership Down (along with Stonehenge and Oxford) when I visited England the following summer.

So, my sudden fascination with rabbits caught the attention of folks who cared about me and for a few years I was given rabbits as gifts.

I’ve kept a few —

This is not a rabbit, but it has rabbits on it. Jeremy found the bit of white rock (it could have been from the White Cliffs of Dover as we visited those that trip too. It has interesting indentations that suggest it is a fossil of some sort) and painted Watership Down on the side along with a couple of rabbits..

watership down out of white rock

Then there is the green soapstone rabbit. I don’t remember where this came from, but I am pretty sure it was a gift.

green soapstone rabbit

I’m pretty sure I bought this one for myself. At least it looks like a rabbit.

brown fuzzy rabbit

Finally, I must have really liked the rabbits snuggling in bed, because I bought (or someone bought me) another rabbit from that line of pottery.

cute rabbit

 

When Dean first came to my apartment shortly after we met, I had all of these figurines (and more) sitting around. He must have really liked me to look past the bunnies everywhere and decide I was worth keeping.

These guys are going back into the knee-wall from where they’ve stayed for the past decade or so. Although, I kind of like the green one. Maybe he can stay out for a while.

Birder Watching at Magee Marsh

Someone's lost bird list
Someone’s lost bird list
Chestnut Sided Warbler
Chestnut Sided Warbler

A year or two ago I saw a tweet by a fellow twitter birder / accessibility advocate about her trip to Magee Marsh in Ohio.  I kept it in the back of my head because we drive right by it when we travel to and from Illinois.

Then a few months ago I read The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik (on IB’s recommendation) and later saw the film based on the book.  I was interested in the characters,  especially the Maryland-based birder, Greg Miller — the one who worked at the nuclear power plant (played by Jack Black in the movie).  I googled his name and found out he moved back to Ohio and was active in Ohio birding.  His blog talked about the “Biggest Week in American Birding” festival which was planned for May — around the time the warblers were due to fly back to Canada.

Warbler season,  if not The Biggest Week,  corresponded with our trip to Oberlin to pick up Andrew,  about an hour from Magee Marsh.  I hoped to visit Magee and perhaps add a few warblers to my life list. Then Dean decided we should visit Illinois before the kids got out of school. This week did correspond with the Biggest Week and as we’d be stopping in Oberlin for the night to visit Andrew I planned on heading to Magee Marsh on our way to Illinois.

I mentioned this to the aforementioned birder/accessibility advocate and she made plans to meet me at Magee.

Birders
Birders

I didn’t really know what to expect, but knew that I’d be seeing a lot of birders. One of the funniest parts of The Big Year was seeing a bunch of people stare through binoculars at something in a tree. I wondered if I’d see something similar at Magee Marsh. I also knew that many of the birding folks I follow on Twitter were planning on being at Magee Marsh that week. Seeing some of the tweets got me really in the mood to go birding — something I’d not really done in years, except passively. I also knew that someone I’d hoped to meet someday, Sharon Stiteler aka Birdchick, would be around.

Birders
Birders

I did see a lot of birds, some new to me, some not. I only could identify a few. If  you’ve never been birding, one thing you need to be able to do is explain where a sighting is. I failed miserably. I saw something and mistakenly announced it loud enough for other birders in the general vicinity to hear me. I then tried to describe where it was and what it looked like. No one was able to follow my directions and there was an audible annoyed sigh when I said, “It’s gone.” (I saw it later and was embarrassed to find out it was a Baltimore Oriole. I know what they look like when I see the top of one, but this was from below. The orange of its breast was muted and looked yellow to me. I thought it was some sort of flycatcher.)

Deborah and me
Deborah and me

The birds were fun to see, some so close I didn’t need binoculars, but my favorite part was the birders. There were birders of all ages. I was surprised to see a large number of Amish birders, but it stands to reason — there are a lot of Amish in that part of Ohio.

I did see “Birdchick” but was too shy to say hello. I was not quite sure it was her, but when I saw tweets she sent prior to me seeing her proved she was just in front of me at the time. Next time I’ll make sure to say hello.

I really enjoyed meeting Deborah. We’ve been twitter buddies for years and have even spoken on the phone. She’s a lot more gregarious than I and she was not afraid to ask folks what they were looking at and ask for advice on what she was looking at.

This has rekindled a desire to get out and bird more often. I might even go on bird walks with other birders. In the past I wouldn’t add a bird to my life list if I didn’t ID it myself. I figure if real birders help each other ID birds, I can too. Now I need to get my verbal birding skills in order.

Here’s Deborah’s list of what we saw:

  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Purple Martin
  • Blackburnian Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Great Horned Owls babies on tree limbs
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Great Egret
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Black and White Warbler
  • Gray Catbird
  • American Robin
  • Canada Geese
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler

Strangely appropriate April Fools Day Prank

A while back I wrote about not being able to feed birds because of a rat problem in our neighborhood. I quit feeding birds (at ground-level) and we quit putting any food scraps in the compost heap. We’d not seen a rat all winter so thought we were good. Just now, however, I looked out the back window and saw two brazen rats eating grass seed under the ginkgo tree. I walked outside and noticed a rat-sized tunnel heading towards the center of the compost heap.

I went back inside and fired up the Internet to find a solution to rats in compost heaps. One of the links was “How to get rats and mice out of compost — 8 steps (with pictures).” I clicked the link and I scrolled down the page and was surprised to see pictures of cats, some sprawling, some playing peek-a-boo, among the pictures of rat-repelling suggestions. Surely this is a mistake, I thought, are just they going to tell me to sic my cat on the rats?

Then I remembered today is April Fools day and AdBlock is giving us photos of cats instead of ads.

Here’s a screenshot or three.

I am still not sure what to do about the rats in the compost. I guess we cannot compost anymore. Or seed our lawn.

At least we don’t have bears. Or porcupines.