It's spring already and the birds are nesting everywhere. There's a very aggressive mocking bird in the neighborhood that has it in for our cats. There's also the neighbor's cat Floyd, who hangs out on our back steps with his nose to the crack under the door singing love songs to my lady cats, who hate him. The cats want to go out and enjoy the afternoon when I come home, but they're driven back in the house almost immediately by the birds and the neighbor cat. He sits on the back steps staring and singing, so they go out the front door. The birds are waiting for them outside and dive bomb them.
I thought I'd go out and enjoy the day too, and maybe play bodyguard. I'm writing this on the patio with two mockingbirds squawking threats at Floyd, who's hiding under a chair. He isn't stupid, just clueless about women. Lelu ran onto the patio to escape the birds. But then she saw Floyd, hiss hiss.
Then when the wind changes direction it brings us the fragrance of the seven puppies who live in back of us. There should be some industrial use for their effluvia. You could light your home with it but you'd have to sit out in the dark because the smell is so intense. The neighbors clean up after them, but there's only so much you can do with that many little dogs.
The birds have gone off to rob some liquor stores, and now Floyd is rubbing his face on my foot, which is scandalizing Lelu. I'm cheating on her with her enemy. This won't keep her from demanding food when we go back inside.
Here's poor innocent victim Lelu resting in between bird attacks. You can almost see Floyd's little black head sticking up towards the upper right. He's on the porch waiting for love, or food or something.
Nature is brutal, but it doesn't leave time for philosophy. I have to go break up another cat fight.
We had our first winter storm yesterday. It was nice, we need rain desperately. The seagulls flew in from the beach earlier this month. They move inland sometime in November. Maybe they don't want to be blasted off the beach in bad weather. Or maybe their food supply dries up in the fall when there are fewer people at the beach turning their backs on their tuna sandwiches. They congregate in flat open places with a food source, like school yards or fast food parking lots. I used to watch them when we lived across the street from the Jr High. They would move across the grass in drifts, as if they were floating on the ocean. Then something would startle them and they'd take flight all at once. They're beautiful fliers. I went out one Thanksgiving morning to feed them stale bread. It was like being inside a snow globe, and the seagulls were the snow. I always associate them with Thanksgiving now.
Our ash tree has started dropping leaves. It's another traditional Thanksgiving thing since we've lived here, the month of endless leaf raking. This is just the beginning.
We're three days into it. We're sleeping, playing, running errands, growing new brain cells to replace the ones eaten by stress. We'll be up in the mountains eventually and I'll take a lot of pictures.
Meanwhile spring is raging. The mockingbirds harass the cats. The crows harass the mockingbirds. Every once in a while a hawk comes through and scares all the other birds to death. The crows mob them and drive them away.
Tom took a picture of this crow pecked hawk sitting in a tree shuddering. Maybe he was too hungry to fly away. Nature, it's so mellow.
The desert garden is full of birds. It seems safe there. They can nest in the thorny plants and nothing large will want to mess with them. There are only visitors there a few hours a day, the rest of the time it's probably pretty quiet except for gardeners and staff. It's the bird's little kingdom. If you sit and listen where ever you are you'll hear tons of birds. I think they secretly rule the world.
This tree was full of parrots. They were tearing the petals off the flowers and dropping them on the ground. At the same time there were about 500 hummingbirds trying to drink nectar from the same flowers. It was insane, and very loud. Tom thinks they were doing it to mess with the hummingbirds. Hahaha. These parrots are different than the ones that fly through our neighborhood. The usual birds have red on their heads. These are smaller and have yellow on their wings.
We saw these mysterious birds when we were there a few weeks ago. I looked them up, it's a Red Whiskered Bulbul. They're a similar size and shape as our mountain blue jays, but different. We don't see them in our neighborhood, and we live within 5 miles of the place.
These little guys are goldfinches. I've seen some that are almost green, but none like these. There are many different kinds of finches in our area.
I wish I had a picture of the hummingbird who flew straight down out of the sun from about a mile up. He must have been doing 90 miles an hour. You could hear the doppler effect as he zoomed down squeaking his tiny squeak. He came within 2 feet of the ground, they suddenly changed direction and shot straight back up again. I wanted to take his picture, but he was too fast for me. Those hummingbirds are all crazy.
I don't have time to fix all the typos I always create here so I'm going to post pictures from the mountains and try not to talk. How many cups of coffee does a woman need to get her verbal together in the morning, anyway?
Here's Stanfield Marsh. It's just east of Big Bear Lake proper, and it's a bird refuge and wetland. They have a long boardwalk that goes over the water at the edge of the lake. You can see lots of birds and tadpoles and dragonflies. People fish there too.
This little Coot was completely clueless in the way that only baby birds are. The pale green thing under him that looks like a twig is really his huge foot. He was peeping while his mother was eating something nearby.
The sky is really that blue, I didn't change it at all. It's because there's very little air up there.
Later we went to the western end of the lake near the dam. We pulled over and looked and looked. It's a beautiful place. Lots of people were out in boats, but none of them ended up in these picture. We can pretend like we have the place to ourselves.
That's all I can do for now. I have to get ready for work.
It was cold and drizzling and we didn't know where we were going to stay. We were cruising around the little town looking at motels and wondering just how cheap or how horrible they were. Tom took a road south and out of town into a beautiful eucalyptus grove. The smell was so intense and sweet we rolled down the windows and took deep breaths. The road was going through Morrow Bay State Park. There was a golf course on the left with turkey vultures hanging out. Waiting for elderly golfers to keel over I guess. We kept driving till we saw the beach.
We parked and got out. Someone had dragged a huge dead manta ray up to their car, then decided they didn't want it and left it there. It was pretty gross. We'll skip the pictures Tom took of it and move on up the beach. Look, there's the Rock. Awesome.
There are some bare trees to the right in the picture. This is a bird sanctuary and it was full of nesting cormorants. There were signs telling us to keep out. They must have stripped all the twigs and leaves off the trees to make their nests. I looked this place up on google earth and you can see that the ground around this area is white from bird poop. Nature is Not Nice, so this post is not genteel.
Dr. Seuss must have seen a place like this. These birds make me think of his drawings. There was a hawk hanging around hoping one of the parent birds would leave a nest unguarded for a minute or two. It was not a confident looking bird. It looked like it had been pecked at a lot, but it was sitting on a branch sulking. There was also a turkey vulture hanging around. Like Bertold Brecht said, food is everything, morals come afterwards.
Tom saw a lovely gray heron hunting in the field nearby.
He caught a gopher. This was a lot of death and reality for me to take in. Beauty, hunger, murder. Sigh. We went back to town and found The Pleasant Motel. It was cute and cheap and had wi fi and a good heater. We got out the electric teakettle, plugged it in and made tea. We spent the rest of the evening shut in with rain outside and lots of photos to process on the lap top. Another chapter soon...