Category Archives: Animals

Bob the Cat

Bob the bobcat lives south of Tuscon, Arizona, where the skies shimmer with summer heat. He hangs out near the creek, partly for its coolness and a drink of water, but also because his potential lunch victims have the same idea.

Too late, the rabbit identifies those deadly black stripes on Bob’s legs, his bobbed tail, and the tufts of hair on his ears.

Bob loves a little rabbit lunch. On a lucky day (lucky for the rabbit), he will get away and Bob has to settle for one of the many other creatures that live in the desert.

Did you think the desert was just sand and cactus? Think again.  Small animals like lizards, snakes,  rabbits and hares,  chipmunks, quail, doves, and many more birds, mammals, rodents, reptiles, and insects live there.

Plenty of food for a bobcat. It should be an ideal life, but there are cactus spines to pull out of sore paws, and some insects to beware of. And did I mention rattlesnakes? Or ticks?

One of the local animals that gives bobcats trouble is the coyote. If there are trees around, Bob is probably safe. All he has to do is leap up into a tree and wait until the coyotes get tired.

However,  trees are not always handy. Coyotes often travel in small groups and are one of the bobcat’s main enemies.

Like the coyote, Bob has adapted to humans and doesn’t mind lurking at the edge of urban areas.  You might not think this pretty creature is dangerous, but if you are a small dog or cat, look out.

Doesn’t Bob look pettable? I’d be tempted to reach out to stroke his soft fur, but I know  he is not wanting my attentions. I’m guessing he has sharp claws and teeth.

Still … I would love to have a few tame moments with Bob purring and cuddling up close to me to be petted. Ah, well … that’s not going to happen — not in the real world.

Permission to use these photos has been kindly granted by Trisha Tubbs who took the photos near Quail Creek, Arizona.

Humming and Buzzing

Who’s that humming such a happy tune? Oh! It’s my friend Humphrey.

“Thanks for planting these red hot pokers,” he says. “I love the sweet nectar in them.”

“My long beak and even longer tongue are ideal for reaching down into  these petals shaped like tubes.”

“But, look out Humphrey,” I call to him. “A dangerous character is heading right for you.”

“Eeeee! Thanks for the heads up,  Anneli. These guys usually mind their own beesness. Still, I have to be careful or I could get stung.”

“Maybe he’ll pass right over my wings.”

“Look over your shoulder, Humphrey!”

“Oh no-o-o-o! Here he comes again. Buzz off!”

(You’ll have to look hard to see what’s over Humphrey’s shoulder.)

“I know you’ll think I’m a coward, but I’m going to hide for a minute. These guys can be dangerous. Their sting can pack quite a wallop for a little guy like me.”

“You can come out now,” I tell him. “I think he’s gone.”

“Thanks for watching out for me, Anneli,”  Humphrey hums between slurps of red hot poker syrup.

“Well, take it easy on the dessert, Humphrey. You’re starting to get a little belly.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Humphrey sips  as fast as he can, then suddenly stops and glances down to his right. “Oh no-o-o-o-o. I thought I heard him buzzing. Here he comes again!”

“Bzz-bzz-bzz,” says the little critter. “I’m just beeeeing a beeee.”

Do you see him?

 

 

Baby Robin’s Regimen

My mother says I have to learn to preen and groom myself. She’s sitting up in the walnut tree, watching for danger while I fix up my feathers.

I’ll start with my throat and shoulders.

Then the right armpit …

and the left armpit.

Looks like that one needs a better job done on it. I think I broke out in a sweat when that crow flew over. Better give myself an extra preening there.

What are you looking at? Can’t a bird have any privacy?

Oh, I see! You think I made that mess on the fence rail? I have no idea how that got there.

Just check that shoulder again.

Now this one is really tricky. You have to be able to bend a lot. No problem for me!

One last good stretch to help my wing muscles grow,

and I’ll be soaring with the falcons. Well, maybe not the falcons, but soon I’ll be able to keep up with mom and dad.

Here I go!

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More “Snow”

As one of our bloggers mentioned in the last post, there is another kind of snow lying around these days. I found some just down the street. I believe this huge tree is a cottonwood or its relative, a grey poplar. Its  fuzz-covered seeds now fill the air and lie on the sides of the road, looking like real snow.

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The black cottonwood that I’ve seen in Montana has darker bark, and leaves that are more rounded than those of this tree. This is why I wondered about it being a grey poplar instead, although they are still related.

The fluffy bits are like cotton balls, and maybe this is where the cottonwood got its name.

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I’m so glad this snow will eventually blow away and that we don’t have to shovel it. Quite possibly it makes good fluff for lining a bird’s nest.

Do you have any fake snow where you live?

Kladrubers and Other Horses

Kladrubers have been  bred on the national horse breeding farm, Kladruby nad Laben, in the Czech Republic, for nearly 400 years. Originally bred as carriage horses for the German/Austrian royal House of Habsburg, this breeding line of  horses  was founded in 1579 by Rudolf II. Considered rare, the breed has survived with new blood being added from other fine lines from Spain and Italy.

The horses come in white (grays) and black and share some bloodlines with the famous Lipizzaner horses.

One of the main uses for the Kladruber was as a carriage horse for royalty. The white ones were preferred for happy occasions while the black were used for sombre occasions such as funerals.

The Kladrubers are put outside every day for their health and exercise.

At  Pardubice (which is not too far from the Kladruby breeding farm), a steeplechase event  was first held in 1874. The course has been changed several times  over the past 144 years with improvements in mind each time.  The Kladrubers, being bred for use as carriage horses, are not racing in the steeplechase, but in the photo below, they are making a drive-by appearance as a sideshow for the main race.

 

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Some facts about Kladrubers:

They have been bred for over 400 years.

A fire in 1757 destroyed about 200 years’ worth of breeding records.

Much of the breed was destroyed in the 1930s when they were killed for food. (What a horror that is.)

Since then the breeding program has brought the numbers of Kladrubers up again.

They are still used by royalty for their carriages, and public ceremonies.

The Swedish police has used them for special occasions.

Kladrubers are used by the Danish royalty.

The Czechs sent a breeding pair of Kladrubers  to Britain’s William and Kate as a wedding gift.

The white Kladrubers are only seen at the breeding farm at Kladruby, while the blacks are bred at Slatinany.

 

And now for the steeplechase, a variety of horse breeds, not Kladrubers, are running this race.

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You can see in the photo below, that the horse on the right is having second thoughts about jumping the obstacle in front of him. I don’t blame him! A broken leg could end it all.

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And off they go for another round.

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The photos were taken by friends who live within driving distance of this area, using a small camera, not with a blog post in mind. I appreciated the photos and information about their trips to the Kladruber farm and the steeplechase in nearby Pardubice.

While searching for more info about the Kladruber horses, I came across a blog that has amazing closeups of Kladrubers. If you are interested, please visit.  http://www.tresbohemes.com/2017/02/kladruber-czech-horses-of-emperors-and-kings/

Their post is wonderful.

 

The Lookout

The Captain has been working on the hull of the boat at the annual haulout. He’s had to take the boat to a haulout facility several hours’ run from home.

The work is nearly done and I think he’ll soon be home.

Do you think that could be him coming into the bay, Mr Robin?

Well, Admiral Anneli, I can be your lookout. I’ve got a good view here, but I don’t know…. I see a boat, but it could be anybody.

I sure hope it’s him. The lawn needs mowing. I need him to come home.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. Could be anybody. Lots of boats around here.

 

It’s a fishboat, but it’s too far away to tell if it’s the Captain. No … maybe not ….

I’ve got good eyes, but I can’t see that far. I’m not an eagle, you know.

What do you see now? Are you looking around the corner?

Yes … I’m just making sure he finds his way into the harbour.

Can’t be the Captain then. He knows his way, no problem.

Probably not him then. Better get that lawn mower fired up yourself.

So Admiral, when do you think he’ll be home then?

Oh, any time now. Soon….

Harrumpfff! Why don’t you just mow that lawn before it rains? Don’t you know it’s harder for me to find worms when the grass gets too long? My children are depending on me to bring them food.

That’s the last time I’m going to bother worrying about the Captain coming home. I don’t care who cuts the grass as long as it gets done. I need access to those worms.

I only stopped to rest my wings

And not to worry over things.

The railing seemed a perfect place

I stood there tall with style and grace.

A fishing boat was cruising past,

Perhaps the Captain, home at last.

The Admiral needs a helping hand

To cut the grass that’s on their land.

It suits me fine to have him back

As things ’round here are kind of slack.

Let’s hope the next boat in the bay

Will be her Captain home to stay.

For a while….

The River Sportsman

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In the town of Campbell River, above the banks of the Campbell River, is a wonderful sports shop called The River Sportsman. In one corner of the store you can sit almost on the river while you have a coffee and decide which fly rod you want to mortgage the house for.

Oi veh! My tongue is in my cheek as I notice the camo gear on the right. You may remember my post about camo gear. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/03/09/camo/

Inside the store are many samples of wildlife that have been mounted (taxidermed) – (stuffed animals). The lighting is very bright and the glass cases in which some of the mounts are kept reflect the light, making it difficult to get a good photo.

The first is a grizzly, which is not USUALLY found on Vancouver Island, although several instances are recorded of grizzlies who have obviously swum across from the mainland, most likely island hopping and making short swims to finally reach Vancouver Island.

This is not a particularly large grizzly, but I wouldn’t want to meet him just the same. Intimidating teeth and claws, in spite of his pretty smile.

Another bear we don’t have here is the polar bear. Of all the bears, I think he is the most dangerous and close to the size of the Kodiak (which, like grizzlies, are a subspecies of the brown bear). The largest polar bear on record weighed 2209 lbs. and stood 11 ft. 1 in. on his hind legs. The bear on this photo is nowhere near that record, but I wouldn’t want to get a bear hug from him.

Another animal we don’t have on the island is the Rocky Mountain goat. It makes a handsome addition to the zoo in the sports shop.

Now we come to the animals that are prolific on Vancouver Island. Cougars are all over the island. I can’t imagine why I worry about black bears  when I’m mushroom picking, when I really should be worrying about these cats instead. They are much more likely to attack a person than a black bear is, especially if that person is walking alone or with a small pet.

The sports shop is full of birds and mammals on the walls and in glass cages. One of the walls has a wolf mount, but I didn’t feel inclined to take its picture. Now that I’m writing about the prolific cougar, I’m wishing I had a wolf picture to place with  the cats. Wolves are also plentiful, especially on the northern part of the island. I have no illusions about what a wolf can do to a deer or a lamb on a sheep farm.

The visit to The River Sportsman was entertaining for me while my friend shopped till she dropped. Maybe they put these animals in the shops on purpose to keep customers in the stores. It seems to be working.