Category Archives: Critters

There’s A Monster By Our Front Door

Gram for gram, this guy falls into the “No shit, Sherlock!” category of monster. I was perfectly happy to outweigh him by three-plus orders of magnitude.

We have a bay window over the kitchen sink. I was washing a dish and saw this guy walking across the glass on top, thought it was a mouse or one of the local bats that might have gotten injured. Went out to investigate and found him hanging onto the stucco above my head by the porch light.

Beautiful beyond a doubt, but scale him up by a factor 100 and he would eat his neighbors in a heartbeat. Faster, meaner, and utterly ruthless.

I’m thinking the area around the light is the happy hunting ground for this guy with all of the moths and other bugs to serve as prey. Which in turn makes me wonder why I haven’t seen any of his species around there before.

Where did you come from, big guy? Looking for a long lost relative? Or are you just all growed up, with a tan?


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Filed under Critters, Photography

There’s A Monster Living Under Our House


This morning it was sitting out on the lawn, sunning itself, bold as brass.

I know it (and probably other members of its sick cult) live under the house since I’ve seen it hopping in through a small hole in the screen over the ventilation hole.

Don’t let that Disney propaganda film about Bambi and Thumper fool you. This little bugger’s evil all the way to the core of its hassenpfeffer-on-the-hoof being.

Never a coyote around when you need one!

(Note #1 – actually, it would seem that hawks and owls are a much bigger threat than coyotes in this area. At least, I see plenty of scrawny, skinny coyotes, while the owls and hawks are getting large. When you come out and find an explosion of fur everywhere around the yard, you know that an owl caught a rabbit dinner like death from the skies!)

(Note #2 – The issue with fixing the hole is that it needs to be done from the inside to be hold, and this particular spot is in the spot that’s just about diametrically opposed to the teeny, tiny human access hole at the back of the other end of the house. So once I get in there I have a very long, claustrophobic crawl through a maze of support structures in about a ten to twelve inch high crawlspace to get to that screen, dragging tools and a light, then I have to fix the screen, then I have to drag it all back out, then I have to get out like a Cirque de Soleil contortionist… It’s so much easier to just let the rabbits live there for now. When the skunks move in it will be a different story.)

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Filed under Critters, Photography


The topic of bats came up the other day in a different context over on FaceBook. Yesterday evening I was out “rock sitting” (sans canine, of course) and tried to take a picture of one or two of them.

(“Rock sitting” comes from a large, foot stool sized rock that sits by the steps in our front yard. It’s the right size and shape to sit on and chill and I used to do it all the time when we had Jessie. She would sit out there at sunset every night and survey her neighborhood, while I would chill and play Angry Birds or check email. I haven’t done much rock sitting since Jessie’s gone, but a few times recently I’ve remembered and gone out there to relax for a bit at sundown.)

The bats are small and we get a dozen or two spread out up and down the block on many evenings. They’re tough to photograph since they’re flitting and darting and bobbing and weaving constantly. It’s also a time of night when it’s getting dark, so the lighting is an issue.

Last night we had a patch of pink clouds glowing and a couple of bats kept flying overhead and being silhouetted against them. I tried using my iPhone to hold steady on that patch of bright clouds, fixed focus, and then snap a few pictures when I saw a bat heading in that direction. A brute force method, but if you take a couple dozen pictures like that, one or two will kinda sorta maybe show a black dot that’s a bat.

It’s a start.


Filed under Critters, Photography

Guarded By A Dragon

Actually, there are probably at least five or six of them living in the bushes by the front steps and guarding the house while we travel.

Anyone can have a dog or a security system put in. WE have a live dragon!

Fred’s a little bit hard to see, but that’s as it should be. It’s hard to dash out from hiding to slay one’s enemies if they see you coming from a half mile away.

Once again, Fred the Wonder Lizard did his job!


Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Objects On Mirror

A sunny SoCal day, top down, heading home from the store, I glance over at the passenger side mirror before changing lanes and I see we have a passenger.

We really don’t see a lot of mantises around here – I think they’re unusual enough so I’ve shared pictures of them before.

It also occurs to me that it could be a selection effect – for all I know the trees are practically dripping with them and they’re really, REALLY good at staying hidden – I just spot the occasional loser and Darwin award finalist.

This critter had some interesting banding back by the back legs.

It was interesting how it moved around, almost like a spider crawling around a web.

About this time it decided that the car was hot (it was), my iPhone was not, so it hopped onto the phone. I was holding the phone at the time to take the picture and had an extremely non-macho reaction. The mantis correctly interpreted my violent shaking of the phone to mean that I wanted it off, so it complied by hopping off onto my hand and starting up my arm.

I neither screamed like a little girl nor did I squish it – I get a cookie!

(For the record, I brushed it off onto the other car that was sitting there in the shade and much cooler. I also warned it about the Freds, who no doubt would invite it to lunch as the entree.)


Filed under Critters, Photography

Gary Gopher

From yesterday’s groundbreaking:

I was glad to see the little guy. I figured if he wasn’t too nervous to come out, if his little gopher senses weren’t all a tingle, there probably weren’t any rattlesnakes in the immediate vicinity.

It didn’t occur to me until just now that he might be thinking the exact same thing about us…

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Filed under Critters, Habitat For Humanity, Video

Raccoon Update

They’re back again tonight after a few days away. I’m probably at least partially responsible for their absence. There was a night last week when they were REALLY raucous up on the roof and I ended up going out into the back yard twice with a big flashlight to try to figure out what the hell was going on.

Mama Raccoon generally doesn’t like that, so it was quiet the next night or three. Then I heard them back for brief periods for a couple night, and tonight they’ve been back most of the evening.

One thing I did find out on that night last week is that there’s a whole gang of kits out there. A quick Google search shows that “two to five” is normal for a litter – they hit the jackpot since I saw five at once and could hear others.

The first time I had gone out Mama immediately let them off across the roof to retreat, and I saw three kits with her then. They were back in about fifteen minutes, at which point the sound level got even worse and I thought they were coming through the roof. When I went out the second time, there was no sign of Mama – but as soon as I flashed the light, five little faces scurried over to the edge of the roof to laugh, point, and ask if I had food.

They are too cute to live. They’re probably only a month or two old, about half the size of your normal adult house cat, and apparently without any fear or common sense. (That’s how this sort of thing happens.) My money says that Mama told them to sit tight and “Be-HAVE!” We know how well that works with humans, raccoons don’t seem to be any better at it.

Time to be thinking about how I can get a better video or picture taking setup on the roof…


Filed under Castle Willett, Critters