Perhaps not quite as spectacular as a launch just after sunset, when the sky is almost dark but the Sun’s still just over the horizon, illuminating the cloud of gas at stage separation to make a giant “space squid” in the sky. Perhaps. But far easier to see than a day launch, where with binoculars you might see a bright dot for five seconds, if you’re lucky.
About 45-50 seconds after launch something like 100 miles northwest of here, the rocket climbs high enough to be seen above the mountains to our west. The rocket’s tail is orange and grows longer as the rocket climbs and the atmosphere gets thinner. It also turns more blue and white, finally blinking out as the first stage shuts down and separates from the second stage.
Visually I could see the rocket’s second stage firing and pushing the payload on to orbit for another two minutes or so. With binoculars in the past I’ve seen it for another two or three minutes, all the way until it disappears over the horizon to the south. Tonight, with just my Mark I eyeballs, I wasn’t quite that lucky.
Quite the show! I can’t wait to see a launch much more up close and personal.
This guy wasn’t so much scared as he was annoyed. He had been in a nice, sunny spot out on the back wall at the lip of the hill and when I had the gall to walk by in my own yard, he felt compelled to hop down, jump up onto the sidewalk, and glare at me. And I do mean “hop” and “jump” since he did both. I’m not sure I’ve seen other lizards do that, usually they just run and skitter and slink and scramble. But this guy I’ve seen jump several times, including twice today. He’s not much on height, so I’m not worried about him going for my throat, but he’s pretty good on distance.
These were the surprise of the day. They’re about 40% to 50% the size of the normal mourning doves, so I’m guessing their fledgelings. They didn’t fly away or even try to fly, but they also didn’t seem too upset about me being just a couple of feet away. I guess they missed that “OH GOD RUN FROM THE GIANT HUMANS!” lesson. I think that the nest is low to the ground in the hedges behind them that separate the yards, so I’m not surprised to see them here. I just hope one of the neighborhood feral cats or a hawk doesn’t see them as well.
Well, “feathered-ish” at least. Perhaps “potentailly feathered.”
We’re at about the time when I would be expecting Lucy & Ricky’s eggs to be hatching – but there are a lot of variables. We don’t know exactly when they were laid, the gestation period is 12 to 16 days, etc. But soon. Very soon.
One thing I would note is that I’ve seen Ricky hanging around the nest more than usual and twice it looked like he was feeding Lucy. The article I read on finch gestation said that for a few days just before hatching and the first week or so after hatching the female will sit on the next constantly wit the male feeding her. So, maybe it’s a sign?
Also this evening we got a huge racket going on out in the trees out back. (See yesterday for a picture of the trees.) The crows were sounding the alarm, and the red-shouldered hawk pair that live down in the canyon below us were up shrieking in our trees.
Seeing and hearing the two of them up close (maybe 20-25 feet away) didn’t suck.
Unusual for a Friday, but the Condors were out doing maneuvers and formation flying practice near our house this afternoon.
As is usual when they’re near, the blaaaaaaaaaaaaat of four big, old, radial engines makes a very loud and distinctive sound, so I yell, “TEXANS!” and run outside to watch. (The planes that the Condors fly are Texans, also known as SNJ’s, or Harvards if they were of British manufacture – all the same type of plane, a WWII trainer.)
Today I didn’t have time to grab the good camera, but I always have my phone, so…
One note about last night’s post – the uncommon bird that was hanging out was a White Crowned Sparrow. It was pointed out that someone (i.e, ME) somehow forgot to include that key fact.
I tried to catch it once before, with minimal success, but tonight the little bastard (that’s actually what I call him, he’s VERY territorial and has chased off most of the other hummingbirds) was right outside the back door and going like crazy. I never did quite see him in the video – turns out he’s in those vines along the post on the left hand side.
I sort of hate what YouTube does to the audio, overly emphasizing the base and wiping out the higher frequencies where the hummingbird’s clicking away. But to me he sounds a bit like the mouse click on my old Logitech trackball, a really rapid staccato, like you were scrolling one page at a time, really fast, through a really long document.
But I might have just been sitting at the computer for way, way too many hours.
It was warm again so I was outside, Skyping with my son, watching the birds. There were a dozen or more juncos out there, along with finches, hummingbirds, towhees, and mourning doves.
Sort of all of a sudden, all of the birds on the ground vanished into the bushes and three or four crows up at top of the pines went nuts.
The problem was obvious.
While this red-tail hawk had perched and was facing off against two crows, its mate was circling above being chased by a couple more. After this one left and the two hawks met up they did a few passes overhead just over the top of the pines, maybe fifty or sixty feet up. It was STUNNING to see them right overhead, soaring so close.
They sailed off down the canyon with the crows following to make sure they stayed away. A looked like a win for the crows – but tomorrow’s another day. The hawks did not seem to be poorly fed.
I suspect that yesterday’s “first lizard” wasn’t one of the “tree lizards” from last year. For one, the tree lizards seemed to only be seen on the tree, where the ground lizards didn’t seem to ever be on the tree. But who knows? I never could get them to wear ID bracelets.
Today’s guest lizard was on the tree and looks to me to have different markings and be a bit smaller.
At the 0:17 mark, just after he moves, you can see him “doing push ups.” This is not an uncommon activity to see. I asked Dr. Earyn McGee (who runs the wonderful “Find That Lizard” contest on Twitter on Wednesday evenings) and she said that it was a territorial display, meant to warn off competitors. I didn’t want to harsh any lizard mellow, so I backed away and let this guy have his sun and tree.
Of course, as I backed away I almost stepped on the third lizard of 2022, a teeny, tiny little dude about an inch long who probably just hatched in the last day or two. We all survived, wiser for the experience.