Category Archives: Critters

Lizard Update

The “new” house (we moved up here in May, 2018) has almost as many lizards living in the yard as the “old” house (so far, none of them have appeared in the house, thank god) and it has a wider variety in terms of types, colors, and sizes. There are routine sightings almost daily, but for the most part the little guys are skittish and tend to scurry off into the bushes or under the car or up a tree trunk long before we get near.

But in the last couple of days there have been a couple of closer encounters.

First, during that big wind storm (and accompanying brush fires) a couple weeks ago, the cover for the barbecue ended up off the grill and in a pile on the porch. Yesterday evening I was picking it up. Given what’s in the yard, my biggest concern was the likely possibility of black widow spiders (they were there and got squished). What I didn’t expect was the biblical plague of crickets hiding underneath the cover. THOUSANDS of the little guys.

Fortunately I’m not bothered at all by crickets, so I simply started shaking the barbecue cover like a sheet to flick off all of the crickets. Which is when I saw the lizard on the inside, clinging on for dear life as I flapped the cover in the breeze. I didn’t want to hurt it, so I simply dropped the cover and then pulled it back so the lizard was exposed.

I expected it to take off toward the bushes like a bat out of hell, but was surprised that it took a few minutes and some nudging before it mozied on.

In retrospect, I think it was giving me the stink eye because those zillions of crickets were probably a feast of unbelievable magnitude for the lizard and I had gone and screwed up everything.

Yes, I did. It’s what I do. (Ask anyone.)

This evening I was taking the trash cans out and found this guy sunning itself on the driveway. It also wasn’t at all interested in moving so long as I wasn’t interested in stepping on it.

Back at the old house there were a couple of lizards that I saw repeatedly and I thought that they had actually gotten acclimated to me. When I was packing the car to move out, they would come right up to within a couple feet and watch. This guy had a similar behavior, but I don’t recall seeing him before.

There was a tiny, tan lizard that’s been running around by the garage doors, but just two days ago he was maybe a fifth this size. If he’s grown this much in two days, in a week it will be the size of a T-Rex.

Pretty sure that would violate the “no pets” clause in our lease…

 

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That Raven? Or Maybe…

Last night’s post was put together and posted quickly, as you could no doubt tell from the timestamp. At the end when I threw up a few words, I was wondering if the birds shown were crows or ravens.

Today I was thinking about that and went to check out what the Internet might have to say about it. (It beat being nauseous over the political news!) I found this from the Audubon Society.

Which gave me conflicting results.

The three big things I’m looking at are the tail, the beak, and the ruffle of feathers on the chin.

For a crow, the tail is square, while for a raven it’s more wedge shaped.

For a crow, the beak is a bit longer and thinner, while for the raven it’s shorter and thicker.

The ruffle of feathers is far larger and more pronounced on a raven.

So if you look at the first six pictures from yesterday of the first bird, it looks like a crow.

If you look at the final three pictures of the second bird, it looks like a raven.

At which point I realized that I was probably an idiot and shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery since I was making stupid assumptions. Specifically, I was assuming that both birds were either crows or ravens.

I think I was dealing with one of each.

Does anyone have any thoughts or more expertise to shoot down my theories, or confirm them?

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That Crow

Here they are in all their glory!

Actually – crows or ravens? There’s someone I follow on Twitter, I’ll have to check their notes.

Also, that last photo, with the eye thing going on? That’s some serious “Game of Thrones” worg action going on!

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Crow Cackling

It was a lovely day and we had the doors and windows open this evening. Outside I could hear a couple of the local crows making one of their signature “cackling” calls back and forth.

Remember the crows when we first moved in here last May? They’ve come and they’ve gone from time to time, but they’re back now and quite vocal. The sound is a lot like the percussion section of the orchestra yesterday playing on the gourds or wood blocks.

I’m also here to report that I’m surprised how good the sound pickup is on the iPhone. I knew that **I** could hear the crow just fine, but I’m surprised that the video picked it up.

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Announcing His Presence With Authority

I got home yesterday evening and the house was FILLED with birdsong. I thought that there was one that had gotten into the house and was squawking to get out.

I didn’t see anything inside, so I went out onto the back porch. Ah, there’s the problem.

This guy’s sitting on the edge of the chimney and the sound is coming down the flue and echoing through the house.

But now I’ve made the mistake of coming into his back yard, and this action must be challenged!

Well, I’ve got a few thoughts about who’s back yard it truly is, so I took a step or two in his direction…

Time to go into camouflage mode! You can’t see me here!!

Gotta love mockingbirds…

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Change Is Afoot

It’s the fall equinox, a balancing act, when both night and day are of equal length.

But from here the balance continues to shift, the nights growing longer, the days growing shorter. At least, for those of us north of the equator. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, your mileage may vary.

Other changes are coming as well. It will be important to use our days wisely and prepare. One door will open, another close.

Meanwhile, outside, the praying mantis awaits. This guy was about as long as my index finger.

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Lakeside

There was a work event today up in Palmdale, but rather than being on a ten-acre, dirt-covered construction site, we were at a lakeside location. I was working most of the day, but did take five minutes to go down to the lake and take in the view.

When I first got there and took the first two pictures, all of these ducks were just off the end of the dock, most of them with their duck butts in the air as they were feeding. When I started to walk out onto the dock, they all took off to about 100 feet away and proceeded to squawk and bitch at me.

These must not be normal “park ducks.” The park ducks do the opposite, coming onshore and near anyone that comes near because they’re used to people having bread and seed and crap to feed them. (I did not have anything to feed them.)

Maybe they’re just smart ducks and knew that.

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