Category Archives: Critters


Yesterday’s pictures were a gorgeous red tailed hawk. As I was taking pictures, she dove and just as she was going behind the house I saw the legs extending and the claws coming out.

Some relative of this guy, no doubt.

Leave a comment

Filed under Critters, Photography


One of the advantages to working at home is that, when you take a break to stretch your legs and get some air in the back yard, if you see a red-tail hawk pinwheeling around the thermal rising above your hill, you can rush back into the house and grab your camera.

She was magnificent. (I don’t know for sure if it was a male or female, and what I find online is “females are generally bigger,” which is spectacularly useless when you only have one with nothing to compare it to.)

And then, in a heartbeat…

…she spotted something, wheeled around…

…tucked her wings…

…and dove. Incredibly fast.

I can’t help but think that tucked like that, her silhouette reminds me of nothing so much as an SR-70, which was designed to go Mach 3+.

Leave a comment

Filed under Critters, Flying, Photography

Calm & Courageous Lizard

Keep being courageous – keep being kind.

Avoid watching cheezy English “vampires from space” horror movies! (A mistake I made last night – how did they spend $25M on that when “Alien” was made for $18M the next year??!!)

On a walk yesterday I saw a wall lizard catching the last rays of the day.

See him? Her? It? (I’m still not big on IDing the sex of fence lizards from ten feet. Or ten inches. Or millimeters.)

By the way – did you check for rattlesnakes behind that transformer or in that tall grass before you went closer? Neither did I. Which I just realized about five seconds ago…

He’s still calm. He’s courageous. Like I want to be. Like we need to be.

Too close! Screw courage! We don’t want to get eaten! (Or worse!) No paparazzi! We’re outta here!

Courage. (Within reason.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Critters, Photography

Not The Greatest Of All Time

Not the GOAT…

…but just a goat.

What? Doesn’t everyone have goats at their Christmas party?

Leave a comment

Filed under CAF, Critters, Photography, Video

Owl Sounds

The predicted storm has arrived and we’ve gotten about an inch of rain down here in the city, twice that or more up in the mountains, and above about 5,000′ there’s snow, which has made a mess of travel between LA and Northern California and LA and Las Vegas. Outside now it’s about 43° and raining steadily.

Over the sound of the rain and the furnace I can hear a couple of our owls. They’re close, but when I went out into the cold on the front porch I couldn’t see them.

They sound pretty much as they always do. Shouldn’t they sound different? Shouldn’t they sound pissed off and cold and wet and hungry? Or are owls endowed with a stoic reserve in our anthropomorphic pantheon, oblivious to the weather good or bad, just accepting what is as what is?

Unless it’s a drastic difference, I doubt I would be able to detect the difference between a bored owl, a horny owl, or a cold and wet and pissed off owl.

Instead all I hear is the same old hooting, haunting, echoing across the street and down the hill to the responses from the other owls. Who sound just as stoic.

1 Comment

Filed under Critters

Owls, Coyotes, And Meteors

There was supposed to be a decent chance of a “meteor storm” tonight for an hour or so. It sounded like a click-bait headline, but I had seen a few legit sources talking about it, so I went out to take a look.

The odds were against me. The radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors seem to be coming from, was low near the eastern horizon from the US West Coast. Viewing was to be much better on the East Coast and in Europe, where the radiant would be high in the sky. Plus, there’s always all of LA’s light pollution. And right now we’re just clearing out after our first rain of the season, so there was a lot of haze and a few scattered clouds.

I went out anyway.

It was cold, at least, “LA cold.” The temperature was about 54°, which is balmy by Midwest standards for November, but chilly by wimpy LA standards.

The owls were hooting. I heard them for the first time in weeks last night, but when I got home from the office there were at least three of them, maybe four, in the trees just a few houses down. By the time it was “at least potentially maybe meteor storm” time they had moved off a block or two, but were still easy to hear. That hooting can be heard for miles, the sound really carries.

The coyotes were howling. There’s a pack of them that lives down at the bottom of the hill – at least, that’s where I always hear them. There’s a fairly large flood control basin down there that’s all filled with brush and the creek channel leads right up into the wilderness area around Castle Peak (you saw it burning about this time last year), so it would be ideal for them. I don’t know who or what they were chasing tonight, but they were loud.

To my surprise and delight, there were also a couple of meteors. No “storm” where they were expecting as many as 20 to 30 meteors a minute (from a dark sky, on the East Coast, with no clouds, etc) but I did see two long, bright ones and three or four dimmer trails.

Did anyone else see any of them?


Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Critters

Bold Lizard

I went out into the back yard (it was about 89°F – sorry to my friends in the sub-freezing climes) and spooked a lizard.

This is one of the “tree Freds” – they’re often found sunning themselves on the side of a large tree just off to the right in this view. I went out for something, Tree Fred felt that caution was in order, and he bolted for the bushes along the fence, seen behind him.

But he stopped to watch me. He was a bold lizard today.

I had time to go in and get my good camera with the telephoto lens and Tree Fred was still waiting.

I took a couple of pictures from across the yard, just after I came out onto the porch, then started slowly walking toward him, a couple steps at a time.

Every time I got closer I expected him to bolt, but he was a Bold Lizard!

I was getting a lot of side eye, and I’m pretty sure he knew that he was much faster than I was. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he could make it into those bushes before I could blink, if he so chose.

I finally got within about five feet of him, then backed off in respect for his ectothermic lifestyle. He had a nice, toasty spot on the sidewalk and who was I to deny him those solar photons? I promised to keep on taking any crickets that I found in the house and releasing them back into his bushes. I’m going to assume he appreciates it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography