Jump-n-Mac and a bird note

Bloged in birding,Scuff Boys by mark Tuesday April 24, 2007

After reviewing pics taken by Rodger with the new camera, I felt I had to post a couple of the pics that were TOO fun even though, anyone outside of us two who ever looks at this web site has met MAC saturation already. However………we HAVE talked about how he has learned to jump….and jump he does when he’s at the river…..after a jump into the river:macjmp3
and a retrieve….it may involve a shake to lighten up:
macnbc
then it’s a serious desire to see something else thrown out into the river, and the bigger it is, the more excited he gets:
macjmp1
and it will continue
macjmp2
and continue until the stick is thrown.

In other news……………………we have a NEW situation at our feeders with no resolution that we can think of……….the hawk that found the goldfinch on the deck still alive and made a meal of it now drops in EVERY DAY (the past 5 at least)…….between 4:00 pm and 6:00. That kind of rubs us of any birdwatching during those hours…………..it IS fascinating though to have this newcomer visiting.

On a SAD note, we have seen our first malformed or injured hummingbird desparately trying to stay alive. There is something wrong with her feet, and as she’s gotten weak, it’s hard for her to hover and eat….here we saw the evidence there was a problem:
hmrill
WHEN she can get her balance, she’s as beautiful as any other little rufous.
hmrill2

Will she make it? I can’t imagine where she’s roosting at night to get any sleep………I felt a bit of anguish, knowing nature isn’t always kind…………………………….

The Weekend Part One then Lynx, Grosbeaks, Hawks, Eaglets, and other Bird Things in Part Two.

Bloged in birding,Oregon,Scuff Boys by mark Monday April 23, 2007

What a weekend here! We had it all. Heavy Rain, Mud, SUN, BIG Pillow cumulus clouds, drying breezes, colder nights, warmer afternoons, a Classic Northwest SPRING………and to top THAT all off, had fun with Rodger’s new terrific Canon EOS Rebel Camera with an extra zoom lens.

So there’s TWO stories going on in this weekend adventure. Driving around for photo-ops, and the fabulously and luckily observed changes in the bird world here at the end of April. Let’s set the scene.

We got up Saturday morning to rain. Working in the yard was no longer a consideration. Somehow both simultaneously decided “Trip to Tillamook for Cheddar Curds!!!”
tillamook
That means a dog in the back who swims in the fabulous rapids of the Wilson River while we pass through the Tillamook State Forest, and a stop at Alice’s Country Restaurant 10 miles east of Tillamook…. Yes, a drive through the rain forest.

We get ready in minutes, throwing towels in for what we know will be a wet dog later, new camera, I-tunes, ice chest for curds, and raincoats….and we’re quickly headed down the hill on Germantown Rd, then Cornelius Pass Road, right on West Union Road to U.S. 26 for a few miles then a bend to the left a bit to find yourself on U.S. 6 on your way through the Coastal Forests. Yahoo! It rained lightly all day.

On a bright but gray wet spring day, this drive is beautiful. Everything you pass is bright in rich layers spring green….. You finally reach the summit and meander back down where you end up in the lush green rolling pastures of Tillamook where dairy farming is King.

SO. You like Cheese? How about a few Cheese Recipes….. Here’s the entire list of cheese recipes at Tillamook’s Recipe Page.

We chose the right day to go to the Cheese Factory….no crowds so we grazed on more than a few of the curd samples, a taste or two of the fudge types, got a couple rich Ice Cream cones, made our purchase of 10 Curd packages and left! We head back on Route 6 again and get to the first Wilson River turnout that’s wide and shallow in spots so the dog won’t get swept under:
wilson1
After that romp, we get into Alices and had a great lunch. Alices Country House Restaurant is a classic old diner shack in the woods with waitresses that’s give you a little lip if you try to show your city sophistication while they serve you up food that’s ALL made from scratch.
alice1
Even the Salad Bar is varied and all homemade goodies.

After that, we loaded back up, rode a few miles and let Mac have one more romp near Lee’s Camp where he chose to fight rapids and at one point, was washed downstream completely unaware of anything other than biting the rapids, paddling, turning, yelping, and displaying thrilling and complete JOY of life.
wilson2
SO. We arrived home and the dog soon fell asleep until the next morning.

Today we made another trip to Sauvie Island to see that most of the birds WE have been watching have moved on.

SO. . . . that was the people side of this weekend. Now we can go to Part TWO of this Weekend adventures called: Grosbeaks, Hawks, Eaglets, and other Bird Things

The songbird migration is in full swing. The trees are loudly alive in the morning and evening with birds calling beautiful songs and setting up territories. I came to a realization that I HAVE learned a few things at least in the last few years. There are a few birds I can now recognize by their sound even if I don’t see them. Early last week I heard the single whistle call of the Evening Grosbeak…I know… it’s just a one note whistle, but it’s distinctive in its timber and pitch. I was right at Baird and Karen’s driveway when I heard it, so looked and looked until I saw the bird. Karen quickly got some binoculars, but we got too close. He was frightened off…..BUT as he flew off, there was no mistaking the markings. Yep, it was an evening grosbeak.
evegrosmale
THEN. THIS morning, we were both in the family room when the first “flock” of these gorgeous birds landed and began to feed. 5 males and 3 females stayed for quite a while then spent two hours in the maples above calling out their little whistle. What a thrill. These are birds that often move around a lot…. Some summers you hardly see them. It’s only been TWO summers we were lucky enough to have them nest near us and visit all summer. In hopes of encouraging them to stay, we’ve got every sunflower feeder out there as bribery:
feeders
**Not to forget the hummingbird feeders out there….we’ve graduated from .1 quart a day to .4 this week.

Also this morning, I am certain I heard a Blackheaded Grosbeak calling in the neighborhood…..and expect to see them at the feeders soon.

At the Island, we stopped near the Eagle Nest that we’d been watching for a while now….Karen & Paula will remember our stopping there a month ago this week watching the parents bringing large sticks into finish the nest (that must BE 6 feet across). THIS time we got a thrill. We watched one of the parents carefully and slowly feeding a chick. We got only faintest movements of the chick since it was so low in the nest, but I’ll never forget that majestic bird so delicately giving up food for her baby. We got a fantastic view only using the Spotting Scope that even showed layers of the feathers…..I can only WISH we could have preserved that view in a picture.

We’re having an unsettling bird watching experience right now as well. A beautiful part of nature are the hawks, but they can affect your experience. a Sharp Shinned Hawk has decided we have quite the buffet here and has been stopping by regularly for the last four nights between 5:00 & 6:00 pm. Here he is sitting on a chair..yes, hah hah:
sharp
Rodger is writing about this wild nature experience on his blog page…….Check my link there on the right to “the other bloke’s blog”……………and see more pics and the REAL story of what is happening.

NOW………….for the LYNX bit.

***A couple months ago when I “thought” I saw a lynx but got talked out of it by everybody saying LYNX ARE NOT HERE and no CLOSER than Canada………………..I said I’d seen a bobcat.

THIS weekend we were AT the Audubon Rescue Place and I told a volunteer what I’d seen and that I was STILL convinced I’d seen a BIG LYNX up here……………Well. Guess what?

Some macho wild guy up here OWNS a PET LYNX and it HAS gotten out of its cage before….last time was two years ago. THEN….it was captured from under a house after it nearly attacked someone’s dog.

THEN I got a call from a neighbor last week saying HE TOO thought he’d seen a lynx…. who, like the one I’d seen was chasing squirrels DURING DAY HOURS. There’s no mistaking the difference between a puny yellow spotted bobcat and this huge footed sleek animal:
lynxz

The Audubon society is going to track down the LYNX OWNER and ASK what’s up. Maybe there’ll be MORE to report, eh?

What a weekend.

Bird Migration in Spring

Bloged in birding by mark Friday April 13, 2007

Did I mention this is what you’ll likely see for the next 3-4 weeks if you get over to Sauvie Island to see IF the geese are moving north?
thegeese
What you can barely see are the few hundred Cranes in the field in back of this flock of geese. Watching the seasonal migrations is always a thrill………………

Bald Eagles and Hawks time their nesting and young for this season as meals are easy to come by. It’s quite a thrill to watch an eagle soar toward a massive group of geese like the one in the picture. The entire flock will take wing and look like Moses Parting the Red Sea as they take off in directions away from the Eagles.

Wildwood Trail – a few spring things

Bloged in Nature,Portland by mark Friday April 13, 2007

SO where is this Wildwood Trail that runs the 20+ miles from Newberry Road all the way back to the city through Forest Park? It runs somewhere about haflway between the valley floor and Skyline Blvd beginning at the historic Pittock Mansion that overlooks downtown then snakes all the way out to Newberry Road. Luckily, we have an entrance onto the trail by simply walking down Newton Road down at the corner where we have several options.

But all four seasons are different experiences on the trail for us and the dogs. Here’s what we saw this week. Yes. My love for the minutiae in nature isn’t for everyone, but I love watching the little things change.

We join the trail at the bottom of Newton Rd, and walk the firetrail for a while…we see neighbor Stevie letting Ellie pull him along while Baird and Karen are in the lead.
newtonbottom
**AS you begin your walk down here, you are, if you’re doing this in the morning, struck by the cacophony of newly arriving songbirds who’ll be here for the next 4 months singing their hearts out for territory and mates. It’s rich music that accompanies your views of nature. We STILL are awaiting the arrivals of the beautiful Black-Headed & Evening Grosbeaks.

The current view from several places gives you the realization that the distance view with faint sights of parts of the city or volcanoes is about to disappear until late fall because the maples are about to leaf out ….you won’t see through these trees in a week or two:
trailview
There’s a long argument between the Logging Industry and Conservationists about clearing out old logs or letting them rot. If you can see past the $$$ the logging industry wants, it’s an obvious answer and ALWAYS astounding to actually SEE old logs rotting to the point NEW trees grow directly out of them and over the years as the wood softens, the tree settles into firm ground. Here’s a perfect example of a vine maple growing out of a downed tree:
treefromlog
We pass many spaces down there in the deep forested shade where trilliums thrive:
trilgarden
Trilliums don’t just dry up and go to seed. They spend about three weeks aging first. They begin a beautiful white at birth and slowly morph into a rich purple:
trilold
As the Trilliums fade, we see the native Oregon Grape begins to bloom:
oregongrapebloomIt is a hardy evergreen plant. Nothing wrong with using hardy plants. Easy care, disease resistant, and once a year, beautifully decorated in yellow flowers.

One native hardy plant is never showy. The wild rose grows quietly in the forest, and once in the summer will display some small pale pink flowers, but for now, they’re just showing they’re back:
wildrose
Newton Road crosses the Wildwood Trail…here’s the Trail moving toward Portland at a point it’s a beautiful level spot:
wildwood
All along the walk, you now see the tiny native perennial plants blooming:
violets
The first native berry is just beginning to bloom, the Salmonberry. Pioneer stock had to search for these…the berry is salmon colored but doesn’t yield much:
salmonberry
Occasionally you’ll see evidence that there just “may” have been some animals walking along this trail the night before you were here:
roadkill
We passed the last of a likely coyote meal…..looks like they caught a wild rabbit. Not much left:

It is still very wet in the low spots down there and that means some standing decaying water ponds. For some powerful reason, Mac enters THIS one pond and may stand there 5-10 minutes pawing as fast as he can at the bottom. I “think” he’s trying to get at those two large wood pieces…he chews at them sometimes. He bays, he barks, he whines, he paws….it’s an activity of sheer JOY for him and it’s a thrill to watch:
macmuc

We often encounter others on the trail, some with dogs, and always have a friendly chat……

I have been lucky to be allowed this chance to live here with Rodger, have fabulous friends like the Smiths, a silly pal like Mac and get to have this bit of nature in my life.

Ellie’s Birthday Pic

Bloged in garden,Scuff Boys by mark Friday April 13, 2007

Since I needed to take a pic of Karen’s beautiful early Rhododendron bloom, I also took a birthday shot of Ellie on the deck. That would be after she and Mac did their 8 minute greeting lunges first, of course…and I was unable to get the camera snap just at the right moment for that. But Ellie’s a beautiful Bernese, ain’t she?
ellie2
Baird and Karen are proud pack leaders of one of the most lovable dog I’ve seen in a long time.

We’ve always been happy that Mac and Ellie are very fond of each other………after the initial big romp, they’re always affectionate:
macnellie
But of course, MAC seems to show a tendency to love ‘em and leave em? Here’s his exit after the photo shoot:
macjump
And the Rhododendrons already blooming in Karen’s yard?
rhodgybloom
That is a Giant Bloom………………. and this one is a beautiful plant:
rhody2

When we first moved here, Karen’s new landscaping was in its infancy. Ten years later now, her yard shows full garden splendor, maturity, beauty, and blooms somewhere over there almost every season. She’s a fabulous gardener.

Bloom Season in the Pacific Northwest began with Ornamental Trees blooming all over the city, and now have moved from the simple daffodils to the months of flowering bushes…..Karen’s first Azalea bloom is a rich purple:
azalea1.jpg
I guess our yard needs a few more years to mature………………………at least that’s what I’ll keep saying……………

Animal Intelligence & Oregon’s Finest Native Flower

Bloged in Nature by mark Tuesday April 10, 2007

I have blatantly copied this story from the London Daily Mail rather than link to it since the link will go away shortly. **Thanks Emily. I thought it a story worth preserving because it reminded me of something I believe in strongly. That animals deserve more respect from humans than they get. Does it take a domesticated animal to teach us that?
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Mystery cat takes regular bus to the shops
updated at 17:08pm on 9th April 2007 at London’s Daily Mail.

London bus drivers have nicknamed a white cat Macavity after it has started using the No 331 several mornings a week.

The feline, which has a purple collar, gets onto the busy Walsall to Wolverhampton bus at the same stop most mornings – he then jumps off at the next stop 400m down the road, near a fish and chip shop.
tcat
The cat, nicknamed Macavity, has one blue eye and one green eye. The cat was nicknamed Macavity after the mystery cat in T.S Elliot’s poem. He gets on the bus in front of a row of 1950s semi-detached houses and jumps off at a row of shops down the road which include a fish and chip shop.

Driver Bill Khunkhun, 49, who first saw the cat jumping from the bus in January, said: “It is really odd, the first time I saw the cat jumping off the bus with a group of passengers. I hadn’t seen it get on which was a bit confusing.

“The next day I pulled up on Churchill Road to let a couple of passengers on. As soon as I opened the doors the cat ran towards the bus, jumped on and ran under one of the seats, I don’t think any of the passengers noticed.

“Because I had seen it jump off the day before I carried on driving and sure enough when I stopped just down the road he jumped off – I don’t know why he would catch the bus but he seems to like it. I told some of the other drivers on this route and they have seen him too.”

Since January, when the cat first caught the bus he has done it two or three times a week and always gets on and off at the same stops.

Passenger, Paul Brennan, 19, who catches the 331 to work, said: “I first noticed the cat a few weeks ago. At first I thought it had been accompanied by its owner but after the first stop it became quite clear he was on his own.

“He sat at the front of the bus, waited patiently for the next stop and then got off. It was was quite strange at first but now it just seems normal. I suppose he is the perfect passenger really – he sits quietly, minds his own business and then gets off.”
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Mark says: In MY mind, this story clearly shows animals have a sense of intelligence that we’re not tuned into and it’s more than a sense of smell. Perhaps our own arrogant species might learn to treat them more equally if we could realize that one truth: Just because someone is completely different than we are, they are NO less worthy of a place on this Earth. So. My Preaching’s done for the day………….
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Now for something completely different. An advantage of living in the woods is that Forest Park trails are directly behind us, we get to be reminded of one of Oregon’s most beautiful native flowers that appears by the thousands for a short 3-4 weeks in these climes. NOTE: I should qualify that statement: They grow only in shady sheltered spots, usually in undisturbed forest. Our TRILLIUMS are hypnotizing in part by the structure itself that is built in combinations of three: three leaves, three bud plates, and three flower petals…… **Click the link to see some examples of Trilliums being grown in the Northwest. They do take some years to mature enough to even bloom. When you come upon a grove of these flowers in bloom, you WILL stop on the trail and look, and, of course, take an easy picture:
trillium

Another little tiny wonderful spring thing we get to be in awe of every year.

The Horrible House of Dr. Hadrian at PROPER EATS

Bloged in Portland by mark Thursday April 5, 2007

What the heck is he talking about you say? Aunt Paula and Cousin Karen’s last evening was a kind of trip to an unknown venue held at a sort of becoming hip earthy vegan joint called PROPER EATS” in our new favorite hangout town, St Johns. Proper Eats owners James & Piper on any given night, host musicians, poets, jazz artists, or, on Saturday night, a rather novel, imaginative, Marionette Troupe called, “The Cast Iron Carousel“. With a quilted stage curtain, this was down-home stuff:
hardianstage

Described thusly on the “Tribe.net” page, it was performed as it sounds like it would be:
Marionette Theater for grown-ups!

A disenchanted motorist finds himself captive of an enigmatic mad scientist on whose door he knocks in search of a telephone. Strapped to an operating table, he awaits his fate at the hands of megalomaniacal Dr. Hadrian. Will the Cybornetic first experiment of the felonious physician take pity on the traveler . . . or is the tie that binds too strong?

The sets were detailed and beautiful. Inside the Dr’s house was the scene for act I:
hadrianactone.jpg

This was complete fun, and for a fabulous pic of the horrible Hadrian himself, make sure you visit Rodger Dodger‘s page………………………

Saturday’s show was a perfect ending to a visit of our two favorite relatives in Oakdale & Ripon.

The visit from the Cowboy Capital & Almond Capital of the WORLD

Bloged in Family,Portland by mark Thursday April 5, 2007

This past weekend, we were honored with two of Rodger’s family visiting from the rich California valley agricultural capitals of Ripon & Oakdale.
karenpaula
From RIPON, CA, (The Almond Capital of the world) we received Aunt Paula. From Oakdale, the “cowboy capital of the world” (Well, that’s what the sign says in Oakdale), Karen also came to visit, tour, and play hearts.
karen3

ANY visit by Karen involves a trip to “Fabric Depot” at NE 122nd and Stark. This Mammoth building is almost a living organism inside. Entire sections of every imaginable kind of fabric and print including a large section of fabrics for drapries and furniture. Around the edges of the buildining are different rooms evolved out from this fabric center: a sad TV waiting room for the men, a large classroom full of sewing machines, service center, repair, etc. The life culture inside of this micro-world is something very different than on the outside.
kfab2.jpg
As you walk through you will be hearing entire conversations about assembling fabric with needles, pins, surgers, machines, that I’ve never heard. The entire clientele speak in soft tones gazing at possible future clothing items *fabrics*. Over time, the baskets begin to fill with bolts of cloth, then when baskets are full, the people silently move on to the zipper/button area…..to pick out the accessories, then finally, they approach the “Cutting” area where they meet someone like this pert gal to size ‘em up and cut yardages from the bolts:
mtm2007
Now that their new future-clothes are in one group, they move to one of the many lines getting to the cash registers and await payment protocol. ALL the WHILE in ALL the hours these soft spoken sewing folk are about the most mellow crowd I’ve ever seen other than a Grateful Dead crowd after about 3 hours at a Dead Concert, and I mean that in a very complimentary way.

I am always fascinated by an extensive (in my mind, although it was only minutes to Karen) visit to Fabric Depot, and I have a great time.

Another day we went to Sauvie Island as the great annual bird migrations are just underway. We saw hundreds and hundreds of geese, a hundred or two cranes, the last of the tundra swans before they leave for the arctic, and some nesting osprey (yea!):
kosprey
Passing one of the big nurseries is always fun because they refused to throw out an old truck. Each season the bed of this truck is filled with what’s seasonally blooming:
ktruck
So we had a good time, and ended up at the river for some power-swimming for the dog. It may be tiresome, but how can you not feel a kick seeing an animal feeling pure joy:
mac49
This Visit was absolutely fabulous to me. The BEST part was/is always the duel-to-the-death game-o-HEARTS we play, and this trip’s game went till the wee hours of the morning.

The last night we visited what’s described in the next post, since it was so originally creative even for this small city. A Marionette show called, “The Horrible House of Dr. Hadrian.”

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