Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Somebody's gotta do it ...

Remember those babysitting jobs that you had as a teenager where the kids slept the whole time you were there? Me neither. But now I've scored a sweet babysitting gig here at my sister's beach house. The fridge is full, the kids are great (two teens and a 9 year old) and did I mention we're at the beach?

the teenagers:

the nine year old:

and my own kids:

and they don't even run up the cell phone bill.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An airboat ride

My teenage nephew came down for a visit a couple of weeks ago and in between phone calls to his girlfriend, he did manage to fit in a little south Florida sightseeing. Below: As we waited for our ride, Captain Ron pulled up to the dock with his passengers, including 3 pelicans. Cool! I hope they ride with us, too!

As the passengers disembarked, the pelicans flew off. But as soon as we were seated on the boat, they returned. Here's one posing with my nephew.

When we picked up a little speed, the pelicans left us. But we saw other wildlife along the way...

And a couple of boats that had seen better days...

Toward the end of the ride, one of our hitchhikers returned. Hey - what are you looking at???

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tongues (and a foot)

Our pups love tuna (and it does amazing things for their breath), so when we have tuna I usually leave some in the can for them. The photo above shows Pup1 enjoying her treat. Notice how she's holding the can in place with her front paw while she licks the tuna.

Pup2 has never caught on to this concept - her tongue tends to push the tuna can all over the house until it finally gets lodged under a piece of furniture. Great big bowls are more to her liking.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Tale of Two Loons

The photo below is one that I took a couple of years ago at Lake Gaston. It isn't the loon in either one of the following accounts, but I decided that a post about loons needs a loon photo. This one is "dressed for summer".

common loon in summer plumage

Friday night we had the pleasure of hearing Julie Zickefoose talk as the keynote speaker at the Southwest Florida Birding Festival. One of the many things that she talked about was her adventure last year rescuing a loon from the side of the road on Sanibel Island and returning it to the water. One of the zillion things that I did not know about loons is that they can't walk on land because their legs are located too far back on the body. So if they land on a wet road, mistaking it for a body of water, they are in trouble. Julie's loon was lucky. Imagine the odds of a caring wildlife rehabilator coming along just when he needed her. This bird had some good karma. For Julie's blog entry about the rescue, click here, then scroll down to the April 5th 2006 post.

Around 8pm last night I picked up a voice mail that my sister had left a couple of hours earlier. "Sue, there's a hurt bird here and we don't know what to do...".
Actually, she does know what to do. She knows she's supposed to call a wildlife rehabber, but she looked in the phone book & couldn't find anything listed under "wildlife". Plan B - call her bird-loving sister and ask for advice.

When I returned the call, her husband answered

Brother-in-law: Sue we have hurt bird

Me: What kind of bird is it? (I always start with this question. I just can't help it, even though I'm 90% sure the answer is going to be "I don't know" (refer to a previous post about trying to help Sis with a bird problem)

Brother-in-law: I don't know - it looks like a giant seagull! Let me get your sister...

Sis: It looks like a huge seagull and it shoved itself down the road on its belly, then turned into our driveway. Do seagulls have webbed feet??? (**Note - the minute this phone conversation ended I went to Amazon.com & ordered the "Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region" & had it shipped directly to my sister).

Me:This sounds remarkably like a story I heard about a loon just last night!

Sis: Googling "loon photos" as we spoke, No, it wasn't all black & white like this

Me: Try googling "loon in winter plumage"

Sis: Yes, that's definitely what it is!

As I relayed Julie's rescue story, I could hear loud laughter from a party going on in the background. This just happened to be one of my sister's infamous "girls' weekends" at her island beach house. I could just feel the chances of a successful loon rescue decreasing exponentially with the amount of wine consumption. How many human eyes would be jabbed out by the loon? Maybe they could put a blanket over it & carry it to the water????

As we spoke, my sister walked outside to look for the loon & couldn't find it. And this is what I want to believe... that bird shoved himself to the water under his own power. Sis said that they had seen it make a lot of progress. They had watched it push itself down the sandy road, then down their driveway. (perhaps this was the point in time that they opened another bottle of wine & forgot about the bird???) Once the bird had reached the back end of their driveway, it wouldn't have had much more distance to cover before reaching the inlet behind their house. So I'm hoping that this loon is happily swimming & diving today. It's too bad that Julie can't be everywhere.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A walk on the beach

We spent the day at the Ding Darling wildlife refuge on Sanibel Island. Lots of birds, a nice 8 mile bike ride and a wonderful talk by Julie Zickefoose at the Education Center. But my photos were disappointing, so instead I'm posting some photos that I took last weekend on Don Pedro Island.

I wonder how close my sister and nephew can get to these birds before they (the birds) fly...

birds on Don Pedro Island

About this close, I guess. The birds are starting to get agitated -

birds on Don Pedro Island

And there they go...

birds on Don Pedro Island

birds on Don Pedro Island

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More pelicans - white ones this time

Last week my sister & brother-in-law took us on a boat ride from Don Pedro Island to Cabbage Key. On the way we passed White Pelican Island (not it's real name, but that's what my sister calls it). I took this series of photos of one of the pelicans coming in for a landing. In the last two photos, there is a brown pelican and you can see how much smaller they are than the white ones.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pelicans at the Naples Pier

Standing on the Naples pier, I took these photos of the brown pelicans diving below me -

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

White boy

In the past week my blind society finch, White Boy, has been moved from the aviary, to a travel cage and now to a flight cage in our Florida winter home. Every time I move him to a new environment, I grab him (and he hates it) and hold him up to the nozzle of the water bottle, so he knows where to find it. But each afternoon when I put a dish of water in the cage for bathing, he has no trouble finding it.

society finches bathing

That's White Boy, front and center.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wood storks passing by

We don't see these at Lake Gaston and we don't usually see them strolling by our Florida winter home either. This was a first for us... a wood stork sighting right outside our back door. Usually we have to drive to the Everglades or Corkscrew Swamp to see these guys. Pretty cool - I love these birds!

wood stork

wood stork

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chilly dog

Hey - I don't like this sweater one bit...

Why can't you just cover me up with my blankie???

OK, I can be bribed with a toy...