Category Archives: Critters

The Squirrelpocalypse

Signs and portents, folks. Signs. AND portents.

Heading down the hill yesterday morning after a night when the power had been off for a couple of hours and it had been raining and cold, I came upon the most bizarre scene.

The street is windy, so I was blind as I came around a curve. In the street before me were probably a dozen squirrels, all intent on something they were eating. I braked (of course) and expected them to scatter but they did nothing of the sort. A couple of them looked up, but most of them ignored the two tons of steel Mom-mobile death about to plow them over. And NONE of them moved.

I started to inch closer figuring they would get the hint.

They didn’t.

The nearest one just sat there, even as my wheel got to within a couple of feet. I was pulled way off to the right, practically scraping the curb on that side, and couldn’t go left because there were more squirrels over on that side.

This first little bastard finally moved about six inches so that I could get by and slowly the others on that side of the road did as well as I approached, although I could swear that one or two just ducked down enough to pass under the van as it rolled over them.

After the initial dismay over what I was seeing I was too far into the group to back out. It did occur to me that this is the way Hitchcock movies and King novels start. There was no freakin’ way I was getting out of that car to try to shoo away any of the little rodents.

I kept waiting for one to leap onto the hood and press its frenzied, rabid, furry face against the windshield, like the mynocks that Han & Leia and Chewie ran into.

I don’t know if it was related to the heavy rains. Or to the power outage. Or if someone just spilled a bag of pot out on the street and the squirrels were high as a kite on some epic wacky tabaccky.

But I do know that in the new house (unlike the old place a mile away where they littered the trees and yard) I’ve rarely seen any squirrels at all, and never more than two at a time.

So where did a dozen-plus of the little monsters come from all at once?

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Tree Fred

Faithful readers will remember that at the old house we had all sorts of California alligator lizards living in the yard. We named them all “Fred.” (Pictures here, here, here, here, here, and so on.)

When we first moved to the new house in May, I was delighted to see some living in the yard here, some of which were “Freds” and some of which were “Bubbas”. It has however been weeks since I’ve seen of of our reptilian yard dwellers. I was starting to get worried.

Today it was warm and sunny and while doing dishes I noticed the large “Tree Fred” out sunning himself (herself? how does one tell?) on the trunk.

When I first came out Tree Fred scurried and hid.

But patience is a virtue and he came back out.

I was moving very slowly so as not to spook him. (And I had my big, 300mm telephoto lens.)

Tree Fred kept a close eye on me, but allowed a few photos from about ten feet away.

I was happy to see that the birds & other critters haven’t eaten all of the lizards! Circle of life and all of that, but I like having Freds and Bubbas in the yard!

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Kids These Days!

“Can I bring my kids to the Wing Christmas Party?”

“Sure! It’s a family event! Why not?”

“Wait, what?”

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Filed under CAF, Critters, Photography

Owl

After all of the “excitement” (i.e., stress, adrenaline, and existential terror) of the last few weeks, it was time for some “domestic down time” today. Groceries. Changing the sheets. Cleaning up some crap in the yard.

I was folding clothes this evening when I heard this guy again:

I’ve heard “him” (I’m assuming – I don’t have a clue if it’s a male or female and the Audubon Society website says they both hoot) a dozen or so times over the past month or two. By his call (identified here) I’m betting he’s a Great Horned Owl. (I would also note that by their call, we also have Screech Owls. I’ve heard that sound on several occasions as well.)

One of the coolest times I’ve heard him was last Friday night after the worst of that evening’s fires had been put out. I went out just to get a sense of what was going on with the fire. It was much quieter than it had been. I was listening and still hearing sirens and helicopters and jets coming out of LAX and jets coming into Burbank and it stank of smoke but all the while our owl friend was calm as can be, marking his territory with his hoots, across the street and down the hill about half a block.

He’s loud. The first time I heard him he was in one of the trees in a neighbor’s yard and I could hear him inside, even over the television. Tonight I didn’t have the television on (had to concentrate on folding those socks, couldn’t afford the distraction!) and when I heard him I figured he was back in our yard or the neighbor’s yard. Nope, he was five or six houses down the street and I could still hear him in the house.

He’s big. Once or twice when he’s been in our tree or one of the immediate neighbors’ trees I’ve gone out to listen and spooked him into flying off. I only see him by moonlight, but he’s got to have at least a five foot wing span, maybe six. I’m obviously no owl expert, but I would think at that size he’s not looking for rats, mice, or squirrels, but more likely rabbits, stray cats, or baby raccoons.

I’m happy to have the owl in our neighborhood and hope he stays around. His hooting is a sound that brings me joy and calm.

Probably not so much for the rabbits, stray cats, and baby raccoons.

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Possibly My Patronus

Yes, today was as long as I thought it would be. There was much accomplished and little significant, long-term bodily harm, so we’ll count that as a win.

One interesting thing that occurred in the midst of a day which involved a lot of routine keeping-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other events, were two encounters with this guy:

The pictures aren’t great for several reasons. First of all, it wasn’t that close to me, maybe 30 feet away.

Secondly, I was caught off guard, surprised to see this critter since I’ve only seen them in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico before now.

Thirdly, they’re pretty well camouflaged.

But yeah, that’sĀ  a roadrunner. A pretty good sized one too.

Given the current status of my chaos and karma levels, it can’t be ruled out that this was my patronus appearing to me.

I watched carefully after seeing the roadrunner – no coyotes, explosives, exotic Rube Goldberg contraptions, or falling Acme anvilsĀ  were seen.

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New Mycelium Attack Plan – Early & Often!!

Okay, gather ’round! Here’s the new plan for taking over Paul’s lawn! Instead of four or five big mushrooms pushing up on Wednesday just to get cut down on Thursday, let’s have a bunch of small ones pop up on Monday!!!

It could work!

(David Attenborough narrator voice: “It will not work.”)

But in that little gap between the sidewalk and the grass was this guy, who freaked out of his pinhead-sized brain and started scurrying around like a lunatic until he went straight off the sidewalk and into the gutter, where he continued to scurry until he suddenly froze.

Smaller than my little finger, maybe he thought if he closed his eyes and he held really, REALLY still and he couldn’t see me, then I couldn’t see him.

I do love my little lizard pals!

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A Spooked Hawk

Yesterday when the Condors flew over, there was another creature in the skies nearby that wasn’t at all pleased with the company.

He was squawking pretty good!

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Filed under Critters, Flying, Photography