Color to delight the eye

Yes, I’m playing with that macro lens again! And finding that my mistakes are often more interesting than the few photos that are perfectly in focus. I’m learning that using this lens requires a very deliberate way of seeing things and enjoying how easy it is to make an image that is about only color or shape. Anyway, sort of fun!

Anyone care to guess the flower?

If, Then, Why?

IF this is what I think it is

THEN what is it doing in NJ?

and WHY is this dope hitting his golf balls towards it?

No Cranes were hurt during the taking of these photos, but one birder (yours truly) was heard shouting multiple obscenities at said golfer who was utterly oblivious.

So what do you think? Patrick? Anyone? I’ve never seen a Crane before, but this sure looks like a Sandhill to me, although the light was awful and the photos are barely showing any color on this bird at all. There are occasional reports from South Jersey of Sandhills or Common Cranes or hybrids or something, I’m not sure. Help!

Photographed today at Wolf Hill Park in Oceanport NJ.

3/28/07 Mid-week bunny fix

Peeper was found as a stray in the neighborhood last July and a neighbor brought her to me to see if I knew of someone who could keep her. As if!

She was probably an Easter dump, let loose after she got over being cute and started acting like a real rabbit. She is still something of a terror, but thankfully having her spayed stopped her from trying to hump my feet all the time. She is not very accepting of affection, but likes to eat and loves to run and play, and is perfect with her litterbox. A good bunny despite her personality issues.

Most bunnies will learn to accept being petted and stroked once they learn to trust you. Some come to love affection and will seek it out. Others don’t. Peeper seems to be that type. She lunges at me sometimes and will bite if I’m not careful. She boxes at me with her front paws if I’m not careful about how I approach her with my hands. None of this is to say that she is a mean rabbit, but instead that she seems to anticipate the need to protect herself.

The rescue that I work with recently sent an email looking for a foster home for a bunny with similar issues. This bunny has been adopted out a few times, but is always returned because the owners don’t want to or don’t know how to deal with the problem behaviors, mostly boxing and cage protectiveness. I can understand that from someone adopting a dog say, when fear aggression can be really dangerous and that requires an owner with special savvy and commitment, but we’re talking about a little bunny here. How bad could it be?

So, I’m wondering about those of you with bunnies. Have you ever had that kind of experience with a bunny and was it bad enough that you would have given the rabbit away for it? Any good ways of dealing with it that you might suggest?

Short and sweet

winter’s forgotten velvet reveals a negligee edged in pink

This week’s prompt at One Deep Breath was to write a one-line haiku. For more one-liners go here.

Today’s temps in the mid 70’s were enough to start the Star Magnolia in the front garden to bloom. Hopefully it won’t rain or frost before the show really gets underway. Star Magnolias bloom early, well before the more common Tulip Magnolias. I foolishly planted ours on the south side of the house and every year March’s unpredicatable weather mars the delicate blossoms coaxed from dormancy by a few sunny days.

Just in case

What did you find in the fields today,
you who have wandered so far away?
I found a wind-flower, small and frail,
and a crocus cup like a holy grail;
I found a hill that was clad in gorse,
a new-built nest, and a streamlet’s source;
I saw a star and a moonlit tree;
I listened… I think God spoke to me.
— Hilda Rostron
Just in case Spring hasn’t yet found its way to you in the form of a Phoebe or a Crocus, I’ll allow you this less than wonderful view of both in the meantime. This wasn’t the Phoebe’s favored perch, of course, but he had to find another when I took a bench seat beneath his chosen hawking perch overlooking a sunlit corner of a farm field.

I found other things too, but they’ll have to wait for another day.

Beach birds

My little blue Honda was sort of waving at me from the office parking lot on Friday. Does that ever happen to you? It was waving and winking and whispering about how nice a few hours at the beach would be. So we took off together and went to Sandy Hook to see the Osprey and the Piping Plovers, both just back in the last week or so from parts south.

Late winter/early spring birdwatching is as good an excuse as any to get out of a stuffy and overheated office. Most places hold at least a few newly arrived birds. The beach was deserted and I felt the pleasure of finding this little Piping Plover and having it all to myself. The dreary weather may have kept other less desperate birders inside, but the fog and the crash of the waves only seemed to amplify the pleasant effect of hearing the plover’s repeated “Peep-lo” calls to one another across the beach. I was almost giddy with hearing it.

Piping Plovers are as special as they are hard to spot. NJ has on average just 120 nesting pairs. I can just imagine how confused and alarmed they must be when the deserted beaches they arrive on in March are increasingly populated with people as the weather warms and the nesting season progresses. They face predation from beachgoers and their pets, and from red foxes, racoons, and laughing gulls.

Symbolic string fences go up in early March to protect the high dunes where they nest from foot traffic by beachgoers. Volunteers monitor and protect the sites and educate the public about why the areas are closed. Cages or exclosures are placed around the nests once they’re dug to keep out foxes and large birds. These things help, I’m sure, but still the population continues to dwindle. There doesn’t seem to be enough being done, and the national park service doesn’t seem to have a realistic plan in place to protect these birds. Imagine these little ones having to find their way to the water past your beach blanket.

I’ve read recently of a new management plan in the works for Sandy Hook, the goal of which would be to achieve an average population of 51 to 61 pairs of Piping Plovers with a reproduction rate of at least 1.5 chicks per pair for five years. I’m anxious to see what is done to achieve that goal.

I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but these little birds are close to my heart. I think they deserve much better than the *symbolic* protection we’re affording them: a bit of string, a few educational signs that most ignore, and a heap of garbage just beyond their property line. Maybe if more people had a rainy March day brightened by the plaintive calls of this bird, that, as Peterson says is, “as pallid as a beach flea or sand crab, the color of dry sand.” Maybe that’s their problem; they’re just not showy enough to merit our attention or our protection.


Springtime and its frantic longing for anything new and fresh and green brought me to the horticultural park today, desperate for a change in scenery from the browns and grays, as much as I’ve been enjoying them. I’m in a Spring state of mind and arrived fully anticipating a display of flowering trees and tulips more to be expected in late April than late March.

What was I thinking?

Early Spring is subtle and its quiet splendors ask only that you look past the melting snow and dead grass and mud puddles to find beauty in the delicate green of a hellebore at your feet or the blushing red maples on the hillside. Every year, every Spring, I need to remind myself that Spring isn’t really a season unto itself, but rather a collection of moments and, above all, a time of transition. A period of waiting and watching. The signs now are mostly small and easy to miss, but they’re there.

Once a day and sometimes more
I look out my day-dream door
To see if spring is out there yet
I’m really anxious, but mustn’t fret.
I see the snow a melting down
and lots of mud and slush around
I know the grass will surely sprout
and birds and flowers will come about.
But why oh why does it take so long?
I’m sure the calendar can’t be wrong.
Sunshine fills my heart with cheer
I wish that spring were really here.
– Edna T. Helberg, Longing for Spring

Confession time

I have phone issues. More specifically, phone company issues. I’ve just finished writing out the monthly bills, and among them was a $16.52 check to AT&T, who is our long-distance provider. I don’t need long-distance service; in fact I haven’t placed a long-distance call in the last three months, at least. So why am I getting a bill from AT&T for $16.52?


AT&T makes me pay them $5.00 a month plus taxes and surcharges because I don’t use their service. Isn’t that un-American? Unpatriotic even? Sneaky and underhanded? Like bad business?

The last time AT&T decided to charge a monthly non-usage fee I called them and signed myself up for a plan that avoided the non-usage fee by paying 25 cents a minute on any long-distance calls. 25 cents a minute is a lot to pay to call my brother who lives in the next county (somehow considered long-distance), but I went along with the plan to avoid paying for something specifically because I was not making use of it.

Now AT&T has decided to charge me 25 cents a minute on any calls I do make, or the monthly $5.00 non-usage fee – whichever will put more money in their bloated pockets. Is At&T that desperate for money?

Dissing AT&T feels sort of like sacrilege to me. My father worked for them for his whole career. My brother worked for them for his whole career until they layed him off as my father lay dying (nice – thanks AT&T!)

Part of me feels silly for fussing over it at all. I pay three times that amount for a cell phone I hardly use – mostly for calling my brother (to avoid that 25 cents a minute charge) and for emergencies – but it’s the point of the thing, you know?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

My other brother, Brian, the real writer (and poet) in the family has finally decided to stop lurking and left a comment (and a poem) on this post the other day. Have a look!

3/21/07 Mid-week bunny fix

I’ve been trying to get a photo of the bunnies that shows their size relative to one another, but I’m afraid this isn’t it.


If nothing else you get an idea of the kooky things I try to let everybunny have a little freedom without hurting one another in the process. Cricket is the big, big-eared bunny closest to the exercise pen that serves as a temporary fence. Little loppy-eared Peeper is on our side of the fence waiting for Cricket to get close enough so that she can attempt a bite at Cricket’s nose through the fence. Boomer is reclining in a sunbeam in the background, unconcerned with the feminine territorial battle being played out before him. As long as he has a comfortable spot to nap in, he’s happy.

Peeper weighs less than half what the Flemmies weigh, yet she is the more aggressive one and spent all her *out* time at the fence, rather than exploring the rest of the house. Once I got tired of keeping her from biting off Cricket’s nose and put her back in *her* room, she promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the afternoon.

Exercise pens make a great safe place, indoors or out, to exercise a bunny that lives in a cage. They’re also an excellent alternative to cages, so long as your bunny isn’t a jumper. Peeper could never live in one because she can jump higher than the pen when she means to.