wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Bald Eagles

I saw an eagle land in a tree below my house, so I went out onto the deck to take its picture.

Then I zoomed in on it and got a close up of it, but had no place to steady the camera and just took my chances.

In a second closeup, I saw that he had his beak open and I could see its tongue, but I see that the photo is quite small on the blog, so if you want to see the eagle’s tongue, you’ll have to click on the photo to make it bigger. Even so, it will be hard to see.

These birds are much bigger than they look. If you had one sitting beside you with its wings spread out, tip to tip those wings could span 8 feet. The bird might weigh about 14 lbs., the size of a small turkey. 

Anyone walking a small dog or worse yet, letting it run around in their backyard in eagle territory, had better watch out for it. They make a nice snack. Although eagles are not water birds, they will do what they have to do to procure food. I have seen an eagle with a loon in its beak, dragging it across the surface of the water as the eagle swims with one wing paddling like a lifeguard saving a drowning person, until it got to shore where it cold devour the bird. I have seen it do the same after swooping down to pick up a coho salmon just below the surface of the water. They are incredibly strong birds.

At this time of year, the herring come close to shore to spawn. This means a bounty of food for the eagles. You can see these birds showing up in the tall trees near the beaches in greater numbers to await the arrival of the herring. 

Eagles are not totally scavengers, but they are like a cleanup crew of a different kind. They are opportunists and will eat what is already dead, but they pick off sick or injured animals, whether they be land- or sea-birds, small mammals, or fish.  A crippled duck won’t suffer long with eagles around.

This is why you will often see eagles high up in a tree. They observe a large area, watching for stragglers in a flock of birds, or any weakness in animals small enough for them to pick up.

 

This raccoon may have been sick, injured, or dead, and became an eagle’s meal.

“Hmm…. There must be a little morsel left.”

 

“He’s messed up my nice white head feathers, but it’s worth it. What’s a bit of blood when you can fill your boots like this?”

“Just a few tidbits left. I hope I can still fly up into that tree with my stomach so full.”

 

Once when I was playing with Ruby, our late springer spaniel (then a small puppy), in the backyard, two eagles had been sitting unnoticed by me, in a nearby fir tree. They swooped down low across the yard, heading for tiny Ruby. I ran for Ruby and spread out my arms to provide an “umbrella” over her, and the eagles lifted up like two jets making an aborted landing. If I hadn’t been out there with her, she would have been eagle food that day.

 

So take care if you live in eagle country and have small dogs or cats. 

 


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Beach Walk

After months of wind and rain, followed by at least a week of snowy blasts, the sun let us know that it’s still up there. It lit up the white hills and said to us, “Come out, come out. I’ll warm your back as you walk on the beach.”

The Captain and I took Emma to the beach on the east side of the spit, where the morning sun was warmer and much of the snow was gone.

Emma loved it, but then she saw something that stopped her in her tracks. “Whoah!” she said. “WHAT is that large woman doing out there in this icy water?”

She wasn’t swimming much — more like bobbing in the waves. She didn’t seem to mind the cold.

To her right, was a very relaxed sea lion head. I looked back at the woman and saw that what I thought was a head,  was really the sea lion’s flipper.

A whole group of them lay on their backs, enjoying the morning sun. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d had a breakfast of kippers. It’s that time when the herring come in close to the beaches to spawn. That makes the sea lions happy, as well as the eagles and sea gulls, all of whom love to eat the herring spawn and herring bodies that wash up on the beach for a wonderful smorgasbord.

Everybody (except the herring) is happy these days.

Don’t forget to visit my other blog, https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/the-trap/

Also, please visit my website to find out more about my books and my copy-editing.  http://www.anneli-purchase.com/


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Love, Love, Love

I wish I knew how to make the mouth move and dub in the words, but this is Ellie, my sister-in-law’s dog, wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day. Be good to each other.

I’ve been asked what breed Ellie is, so I’ve added this bit. She’s a Coton de Tulare.  Related to Bichon. 

A word of kindness never hurt,
It costs us naught to say it,
So why not give it generously,
It's easy, don't delay it.

We never know what kind of day,
And worries others have,
A loving word, a smiling face,
Could be a healing salve.

Don't do it 'cause it's Valentine's,
We need to supersede it,
To make the world a better place,
God only knows we need it.


51 Comments

Chilly Days

With a switch from southeast, the northwest wind brought that breeze that smells like polar bears. It breathed on the local hills and shocked the birds who had thought wind and rain were hard enough to endure.

(Bird pictures taken through my dirty windows. Sorry.)

Cold and hungry, they search out any source of food. Sure I have suet out, and the birdfeeders are always topped up, but something more is needed today.

Saskia, the pine siskin, catches a few rays of sunshine, out of the wind.

“Ahh! That feels so good on my feathers.”

She sits on a fir cone and decides that she likes the one next to her better.

“It’s a stretch,” she says, “but so worth it. Yikes! Nearly fell off.”

Orson (top left) mutters, “I don’t see anything.”

Saskia calls to him (bottom right), “Come on down here, Orson. Plenty of cones over here. Great bunches of them!”

Brother Sasha’s found a good one. “But whoah! The blood is all running to my head.”

What a showoff he is! “There’s plenty of cones down here,” Saskia calls to him, “and you don’t have to be an acrobat to get at them.”

“Ooh! Yum! Kind of like sticky caramel candies. I’ve got a good one here.”

The nights have suddenly gone cold,
If we don't eat, we won't get old,
With sunny rays, though they are rare,
The cold is easier to bear.

The fir trees shelter from the breeze,
And we can find the cones with ease,
Inside them is a sticky snack,
We eat them fast and then come back.

Our squirrel, Lincoln, loves them too,
But kindly he has left a few,
The polar wind is such a beast,
We hope it switches to southeast. 

A few more days of icy toes,
And then we hope that winter goes,
Around the corner, spring awaits,
Take heart and let's hang in there, mates.


43 Comments

Carving the Bird

It’s not a turkey that needs to be carved, but Fletcher the Flicker is getting creative as he dines on a snack of suet at the feeder.

“I’m going to carve you into a little duckling. Who knows? It might improve the flavour.”

“Oops! What was I thinking? I’ve eaten your bill, my little duckling.”

“Hmm! You’ve got a problem there, Fletch.”

“Well don’t just sit there and criticize, Orson. Do you have any bright ideas?”

“I guess not. Unless he’s gone to think about it….”

“Well, Fletch, I … er … let’s see …. For one thing, his bum’s too fat.”

Fletcher closes his eyes and counts to ten. “Lord give me strength.”

But then Orson has an idea.

“You pick away under his chin – that will help – and I’ll pick away at his fat tush. And by the way, it’s great working with you, Fletch. That snarky starling is not nearly as nice as you are.”

“I’m keeping my distance when he’s around. Get a load of that spearing beak and those mean, beady eyes. Not to mention that grabbing set of claws he’s got. No, Sir! I’m not doing anything to draw attention to myself. No sneaking a bite while he’s there.”

Fletcher carves a duck of suet,
Asks his friend for help to do it.
Orson's happy to oblige him
Least he knows he won't get bludgeoned.

Snarky starling, meanest birdy,
Doesn't share, and oft plays dirty.
Orson spends his time with Fletcher,
Both are happy, yep, you betcha.


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The White Stuff

“Eh? Orson? What’s that you said?” That Oregon junco knows everything that’s going on around here.

It's a chilly wind today,
My fur coat is on to stay,
I'm so happy to be warm,
With the temps below the norm.

“If you’d pay attention, Lincoln, you’d know there’s been a big change in the weather.” Him and his big fur coat. He probably hasn’t even noticed. But just look at Emma. She’s still trying to figure it out too.

Look now, Lincoln! See the ground,
See the flakes fall all around?
Food will be more precious though,
Covered as it is with snow.

“Sheesh! This is just like in the movies where Bambi says, ‘Mother, what’s all that white stuff?’ and she says, with her soft, stunned voice, like some naive housewife out of a 50s sitcom, ‘Why … it’s snow!'”

Emma snarfs in deep, long sniffs,
White stuff gives off special whiffs,
Did a raccoon pass by here?
Did a rabbit scratch his ear?

Licking, tasting flakes of snow. 
Tries to bite it, where'd it go?
Funny flakes of wetness fall,
On her head and over all.

Emma gives her coat a shake,
Leaving just one lonely flake,
Sitting on her pointy nose,
Then into the house she goes. 


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House Finch

This little guy was waiting for his turn to have a bite of lunch at the birdfeeder. In the photo I managed to get, I saw that his eye looks good.

I hadn’t known about the eye disease that went through the finch population in the last thirty years or so, but after reading about it, I made sure to take care of my feeders, keeping them clean and raking up the ground under the feeders where mould might collect around dropped seeds and bird poop.

The bacteria that affect the finches appear to have originated in chicken feed. Possibly some finches helped themselves to it and then got sick, spreading the disease to each other.

Scientists found that when the population of finches went down, the disease seemed to spread less easily, and future populations were less affected. Social distancing? However, the problem has not been solved completely, and it was noted that even as surviving birds recovered, the bacteria mutated and got more virulent. The bacteria causing eye disease are still out there, stronger than before, so we have to be aware and clean those feeders.

By the way, does this house finch look like he has only one leg? He must have two, but where is the second one? Maybe he’s got it pulled in close to his body to warm his toes. It’s been cold out there.


39 Comments

Dinner at the Diner

I wonder if there’s a restaurant up there. They dropped some food here on the floor, but maybe there’s fresher stuff up top.

Ah … this is more like it. A real borgasschmord of meaty worms and grains. Looks like a zinnia dropped some seeds here, and a bunch of other weedy things left promises of more weeds in the spring. I could help Anneli out by eating the weed seeds. But it might be easier to go dine at The Suet Block today.

Uh-oh! Looks like Mr. Darling Starling is already tucking in.

“Hey, Star! Don’t you know Anneli doesn’t want you here?”

“And why might that be, you little piece of Junc-o?”

“Well … she says you gobble too much food and don’t share, and anyway, she doesn’t like feeding baby killers. You know you’re a nest robber.”

“Harrumpf! Watch it, Twirp, or I’ll peck your eye out. And anyway, you’re not social distancing.”

“OMG! OMG!” said Harry, the hairy woodpecker. “I’d like to go down there, but – sheesh! That starling is star-k raving mad! … and-and-and he’s m-m-mean too.”

“I’m being good, Mr. Starling. See? I’ll keep my distance. I’ll just sit here and watch until you’re done.”

“Well, Twirp, you should have brought a chair. I’m gonna be a while.”

“Heh, heh, heh. Here comes Anneli. Look at that coward fly. He’s a “star” at running away. Coward! Heh-heh-heh. Wish Anneli would sit out here in the rain with us … sigh….”


44 Comments

Good Ole Mother Nature

You’ve seen pictures of my woodshed before, but take a closer look at the wood. It is dotted with birds, most of them Oregon juncos and pine siskins all trying to find shelter and food to keep enough warmth in their little bodies to survive until the fury of the storm has passed.

The rain lashed out in torrents and blew into all shelters sideways. The feeder is blurry, in constant motion, blown by the howling wind. The Captain and I made up a hanging cage for yet another suet block and moved two birdfeeders farther into the woodshed under cover. As we worked in that screaming wind we noticed more than one tiny bedraggled siskin huddling under pieces of firewood, feathers soaked, desperate to get out of the piercing wind that slapped icy water onto their wee little bodies. I could have cried. But we did what we could and had to let “good ole Mother Nature” do what she does best – kill off the weak. Survival of the fittest is hard to watch sometimes.

I took two quick videos of the storm from the deck of our house. In the onslaught of the wind and rain, I kept pressing the wrong button to stop the video and as I lowered the camera I caught an ugly picture of my slippers and an empty flowerpot. Not Academy Award film quality, but you’ll get an idea of the force of the storm. What you won’t see are some of the gusts that were way more violent than what I captured here.

If you turn on the sound, you’ll hear only the music of nature.

Today the birdfeeders are empty again. I’m refilling them a lot but if it will help some birds survive, I will keep on filling them as often as needed.

These little birds make me happy all year, so I want to do what I can to help them out when they need it.

No poem today. I’m too unhappy about watching them suffering yesterday.


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Windblown, but not Sun-tanned

When I was a child I really liked a song by Cole Porter. It was called “True Love,” sung by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. I was too young in 1956 to be a fan of these oldies, but the song was around much later and I always liked it.

It goes like this:

Sun-tanned, windblown, 
Honeymooners at last alone,
Feeling far above par,
Oh, how lucky we are.

While I give to you
And you give to me,
True love, true love.
So on and on it will always be,
True love, true love.

For you and I 
Have a guardian angel on high
With nothing to do,
But to give to you
And to give to me,
Love forever true.
 

If you don’t want to watch the 50s style banter of the movie, “High Society,” just advance the video to about 1:06 to hear the beautiful old love song, “True Love.”

You don’t have to be Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly to be in love. Just look at these pigeon guillemots, resting on the bow of the MV Eden Lake off the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. They are also in love, just resting for a while, and whispering “sweet nothin’s” to each other.

Fast forward to Anneli’s place on Vancouver Island. The last of 2020 is going out “big and ugly.” One of the trees outside my window is leaning and would have fallen except that a bigger tree-friend caught it.

It’s a winter storm to match the one we had in mid-November. Blinding rain blowing sideways.

But, like Covid, it can’t go on forever. Better times await us in 2021.

All the best to you my blogging friends. May we all have a great year ahead.

And love will prevail.