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Posts Tagged ‘osprey’

The sparrow that is twittering on the edge of my balcony is calling up to me this moment a world of memories that reach over half my lifetime, and a world of hope that stretches farther than any flight of sparrows.” — Donald G. Mitchell

White-crowned sparrow. — Wikimedia photo

Among the Mourning Doves

My daughter T.C’s home in Marana, just 13 miles from my Catalina Foothills apartment in Tucson, is a birder’s paradise. So, when I visit, I usually take my binoculars and try to find a little time to sit on her backyard patio and bird watch.

On my last visit, after seeing a phainopepla sitting on a tall saguaro, I focused on the flock of mourning doves beneath a seed feeder. While looking at the doves, I spotted several white-crowned sparrows. They are distinct birds, especially the adults whose crisp white crowns are set off by two black stripes.

Osprey … Wikimedia photo

I might not have noticed the sparrows if it hadn’t been for the larger doves, which reminded me of the time, 2001 in Utah, when I identified a white crown for the first time. I was taking one of my normal weekend drives along a backroad when I got sight of an osprey high on a utility pole. By then I had been braking for birds for two years, so I pulled over to the side for a better look.

The osprey, however, was skittish and flew off. My disappointment was erased, however, when I saw the white crowns in a bush beneath the pole. The ones I watched on that Sunday morning stayed in sight for about 10 minutes, whistling a sharp tune and flitting among several large bushes before they bounded out of sight.

I got back in my car to drive on, then saw the osprey back up on the pole. I guess it decided I was no threat.

Bean Pat: Things you might not have known. I did know this, because I saw one in Africa.  https://janalinesworldjourney.com/2018/01/05/things-you-probably-never-knew-about-dassies-rock-hyrax/?wref=pil

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Entrance to Prairie Dog State Park, Kansas — Photo by Mike Blair

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Adventures with Pepper: Day 12   

Prairie Dog at Lake Arrowhead State Park in Texas. The Kansas prairie dogs were too quick for my camera. — Photo by Pat Bean

         Kansas’ Prairie Dog State Park was indeed a great place to spend the night, so I spent two.

Pepper and I had a peaceful camp site that offered a tree-framed view of Keith Sebelius Reservoir out Gypsy Lee’s rear window. While I saw several of the critters for which the park was named on the drive in, birds were the only wildlife I saw in the camping area.

These included an osprey that hung out in a tree overlooking the lake, killdeer near its shore, a lone great blue heron that sat on a rock in the water about a hundred feet from shore and turkey vultures frequently hovering overhead.

Black-tailed ferret, a cute little thing but deadly to prairie dogs, which make up about 90 percent of the ferret’s diet. — Wikipedia photo

But it was the sighting of the black-tailed prairie dogs roaming free in this high plains grass prairie that delighted me most.

That’s because I once participated in an endangered wildlife project that didn’t bode well for a pack of these prairie dogs that roamed the Utah-Colorado border.

The project involved transplanting endangered black-footed ferrets, thought to be extinct until a pack of about a dozen of them were discovered in 1981, into their midst. Prairie dogs are the black-footed ferrets favorite food, even though the two species are near the same size.

The discovered ferrets were captured and entered into a breeding program and some of the offspring began being transplanted back into the wild. Today there are slightly over 1,000 ferrets once again inhabiting North America.

If the number of prairie dogs I’ve seen in my travels are any indication, they are surviving quite nicely – thankfully.

Book Report: 54,312 words. The number is better than it sounds because I cut almost as much as I edited.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  I Can’t Afford It http://tinyurl.com/8vnkbw8 I’m pretty thrifty but it’s good to be reminded every now and then that it’s OK to say no to things we want but may not need.  

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“If you see a whole thing – it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives … But up close a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day-to-day, life’s a hard job.” – Ursula K.Le Guin

This photo doesn’t do City of Rocks justice but it was the best one I took because of being so pressed for time. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day One

            I took a longer detour than I had expected yesterday when I visited City of Rocks State Park in Southern Idaho on my way to Ogden, Utah, where I’ll be staying for the next few days before the real start of my journey begins.

But I was quite pleased with the shot I got up an osprey hig up in a tree over the Snake River. — Photo by Pat Bean

The reason that it was longer is that a bridge was out, and I had to double back to continue on my journey. It also made me pressed for time because I needed to get into Ogden in time for a party and a play my friend, Kim, had planned for our evening activities.

The City of Rocks is just that. It was a landmark for early pioneers traveling the California Trail. Just as impressive as the jumble of rocks that today are a haven for rock climbers — sadly I didn’t have time to do much exploring or picture-taking – was the City of Rocks Back Country Scenic Byway that encircled the Albion Mountains. And I got to see it twice.

My lack of time was also due to the fact that I had dawdled earlier in the morning, taking Maggie for one last long walk in Lake Walcott, and then spending a bit of time beside the Snake River to watch the parade of pelicans that lazed below the Minidoka Dam. And then there was the awesome osprey that was also hanging out beside the river that stopped me for a while, too.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie has grown to 43,888 words. I got up early and wrote this morning.

Bean’s Pat:  Since my internet connection is acting like a pouting brat who won’t come out of her room today, I haven’t been able to do much blog browsing. So the only Pat the Wondering Wanderer is giving out today is one to me for getting up early and writing, even though I partied until late last night.

Well, maybe also to the crew and actors of Avenue Q, the play I saw at the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City. I had never seen a raunchy puppet show before, and my friend was afraid I would be offended. I wasn’t. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my seat. Despite its X rating, the play had a positive upbeat message. I mean how can you get offended at naked puppets, whose bodied ended at their midriffs, having sex.

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“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them but that they seize us.” – Ashley Montagu

Special Moments  

If there is anything of value that the years have taught this wondering wanderer, it’s how fleeting time is, and how important it is to be ready to catch the special moments that may never come our way again.

Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away. Someone else said that first, but I don’t know who, just that it’s so very true.

The Snake River just below the Minidoka Dam in Southern Idaho. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Snake River has been responsible for taking my breath away hundreds of times, from it literally doing that when I rafted its white-water rapid sections – I’ve been in a raft that this river’s flipped and it’s flipped me out of a raft more than once – to the beauty it’s provided me every time I stand by its banks.

I saw my first magpies – we don’t have them in Texas where I grew up – playfully swooping above its waters that flowed through a farm in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho.

Just a few of the hundreds of white pelicans that cluster on the river below the dam. — Photo by Pat Bean

And I’ve watched osprey dive into its depths in Wyoming and come up with a fish, and bald eagles flying over it in Washington, and hundreds of white pelicans fishing its waters just this summer.

It’s thankful I am to be spending the summer right next to the Snake River, the mother of Lake Walcott State Park where I’m a volunteer campground host. While I can only see the lake out my RV windows, a 10-minute walk puts me above or on the banks of this great river, which began its twisting journey through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington at a hot spot in Yellowstone National Park.

From its junction here at Lake Walcott, the Snake will makes its way down to Twin Falls Gorge (where Evil Knievel attempted a motorcycle jump), then continue on through Hell’s Canyon and eventually join the Columbia River.

It takes my appreciation for all the joy its brought into my life with it.

Bean’s Pat: Sun Fire: http://tinyurl.com/bu29s98 One of those special moments that might never come your way again. Blog pick of the day from the wondering wanderer.

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“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” — Jimmy Dean

 
 

Looking down canyon from the Palo Duro Canyon State Park interpretive center ... Photo by Pat Bean

 Day Seven

I took one last early morning hike and then a final drive around Lake Colorado City State Park before getting back on the road. I was rewarded with bluebonnets and a roadrunner. The bluebonnets, as always, cheered the soul while the road runner brought a smile to my face.

 It’s a long-legged bird that prefers running to flying, hence its name. It has a bad-hair-day crest that bobbles with every step. I can never watch a roadrunner without thinking of the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon, in which the bird always outsmarts the wily coyote.

 I was still smiling when I got back on the road for the 250 -mile trip this day to Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  The smile, however, had disappeared by the time I passed Snyder and was traveling down Highway 84. It was typical West Texas landscape but with an added touch. I occasionally had to dodge blowing tumbleweeds. While the storm of the night before had passed over, it left behind high gusting winds that tormented my RV and kept me clinching the steering wheel so I wouldn’t get blown off the road or into a passing vehicle.

It didn’t let up the entire journey; not only did it make driving tense, it also keep most of the birds I would see along

Osprey on a windy day ... Photo by Mike Baird, Wikipedia

 the roadside tucked away. The exception were the turkey vultures. Like the postman, the weather never keeps these birds from their daily routine.

Finally as I approaching Palo Duro, Texas’ minature Grand Canyon, I did see another bird circling above. An osprey? Surely my eyes were playing tricks on me. Osprey eat fish and I didn’t know of any nearby lake.

At the park check-in, as always, I asked for a bird list and information on any rare or unusual birds seen recently. “Just an osprey,” the park worker replied. “He was seen eating a big trout taken from one of our streams.”

“And he ate it all,” chimed in another staff member.

 Birds never cease to amaze me.

Photos and prose copyrighted by Pat Bean. Do not use without permission.

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