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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R.I.P., Ruby

Our springer spaniel, Ruby, has gone to doggie heaven as of two days ago.

To be honest, she was the worst puppy we’ve ever had – so naughty, into everything, and not listening. She bit holes in the Captain’s prescription glasses, took off and buried his special Uncle Henry knife (in the neighbour’s yard, we think), and helped me with the gardening by digging alongside of me (in places where I did not want holes dug) and helping herself to all the tools (which I then had to retrieve). She was SO bad, but we loved her.

She always had a mischievous streak, teaching Emma, the English cocker spaniel puppy, all her bad habits (like taking apples off the trees) and barking at passersby. She continued these bad habits right up into her old age.

But she was a loving dog, who turned out beautiful and enriched our lives.

She was an excellent bird dog who had all the qualities you could ask for in a hunting dog.

The bonus for us was that she was also the perfect family dog.

Ruby was almost 14 years old and the day she was ready to leave this world she told us it was time. We hated to let her go, but it would have been cruel to keep her with us a day longer. We miss her so much.

Rest in peace, sweet Ruby.


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A Case of Harassment All Around

It was a glorious morning, very early.

Ruined!

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” came the ugly croaking call of a crow, summoning his cohorts to make a try for the breakfast that was about to happen when Robbie, Ryan, Ross, and Roberta left their robin’s nest.

I picked up some pebbles from the yard, grabbed the slingshot and went looking for the murderers who threatened to skewer the baby robins with their sharp beaks, much like hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.

As I walked down the path in front of my house, the crows flew away, and I stood a moment to admire the view.

I took a few breaths of fresh sea air and turned to go back home. Just then, something burst out of the two-foot-high St. John’s wort shrubbery at the side of the road. It flew up onto a fence rail about ten feet away and stared down at me.

It stared and stared and stared, for maybe 30 seconds, and then it flew up into a nearby fir tree.

I hurried into the house and traded the slingshot for a camera.

It was much farther away now, and I had to zoom the camera. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I was still thrilled to get any kind of a picture of this great horned owl.

Later I saw what it might have been after.

Looking back, I was harassing the crows who were harassing the owl who was about to harass the rabbit who was about to harass my garden which held the worms that the robins were about to harass. And what was harassing me? The backyard supervisors, wanting their breakfast.

Sorry for the blurry picture of Emma. She can NEVER sit still.

And Ruby, patiently waiting for her breakfast.


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Quick Like a Bunny

M-m-m! These tall grasses smell delicious!
Oooh! Yummy! They are exquisite.
I wonder if I should turn on the tap and give the grasses a drink of water to make them grow.
This long stem is so good, and it gets better the closer I nibble it to the top. Hahaha! I could come to a seedy end!
Uh-oh! Did I hear the backyard supervisors? Those dogs are F-A-S-T! At least, the little black one is. The other one is getting pretty old (thank goodness)!
I’m just going to hide here for a minute. If I stand straight, I’ll look like part of the pipe. I think I’m slim enough, don’t you?
On second thought, maybe I should crouch down and hold still. This is when I wish my ears weren’t so long.
Just to be on the safe side I think I’ll skedaddle, quick like a bunny, until the coast is clear.

I found some grass with flavour grand,

Beside the tap and in the sand,

I nibbled it and loved the taste,

I could not let it go to waste,

But then I heard a vicious dog,

My eyes bugged out, I stared agog,

I tried to hide but then I thought,

This battle’s one that can’t be fought,

The dog has biting teeth and jaws,

I sure don’t want to give her cause

To bite my soft brown bunny fur,

I’d rather run away from her.

I’ll come back later, in the night,

When she is sleeping curled up tight.

And then I’ll munch and lunch till dawn

Cause I am safe while sun is gone.

But, oh, what is that hooting sound?

I think I’d best not stick around.


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The Backyard Supervisors Again

We had some wood delivered the other day. A tree (not on our property) was deemed to be unsafe where it stood and so was taken out. This is an older picture of the wood splitter we would need to use again.

The Captain hauled the wood splitter closer to the wood shed and started work. The pieces of wood were too heavy to lift, so after rolling them over to the splitter, a little help was still needed to get the wood up onto the splitting beam. See the small plank leaning on the side of the wood splitter? That is for rolling the rounds of wood up into place.

Since this wood was going to be a good deal and excellent for heating the house next winter (as long as we did all the work), we had the rest of the tree delivered as well.

And who is supposed to lift THOSE? A power saw to make a cut when needed, and a splitting maul to crack the rounds into four pieces might make them more manageable. And now we have our work cut out for us. Even the job of splitting the wood will warm us up.

Thank goodness we still have the backyard supervisors to help us do it right. The picture of the supervisors was taken about five years ago when Emma (with her ear flipped back) was about one year old and Ruby was eight.

As it happens, today is Ruby’s 13th birthday. She’s a bit grayer around the muzzle and has a few lumps and bumps on her body, but except for being deaf, and sleeping more soundly, she is still managing to hang in there.

Happy birthday, Ruby!

 


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Aching Bones

The cold snap has hit us. The suddenness of the bitter cold was a shock to us west coasters. We’re tough when it comes to wild winds and torrents of  rain, even crashing trees and power outages, but drop the mercury a tiny bit and most of us coasties are wimps. We don’t like the cold.

That wind is supposed to be southeast. Every day, every day, all through the winter, it’s southeast. What a shock when it switched to northwest. I swear I could smell polar bear fur in the wind.

Ruby, our 13-year-old springer spaniel has done some retrieving while duck hunting in the last couple of weeks, using joints and muscles she hasn’t used in a long time. Now, old age is catching up to her. She’s been having trouble with the stairs, not wanting to put weight on her left shoulder.

Just now she is soaking up the warmth of the tiles in front of the woodstove in our family room.

She does have a nice soft dog bed, but the tiles have been warmed by the fire and it’s just what her shoulder needs, while she dreams of duck hunts of the past.

 


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The Necessities

“Hey, Emma! Get a load of this! They even have a toilet on board.”

“Yeah, right, Ruby, but unless they lift up this board we’re standing on, and we can use the steps, there’s a three-foot drop to the lower level. I think I’ll just wait till the Captain takes us to the beach.”

“This is more like it!”

Many times I’ve wished the dogs would do their business on the deck of the boat and we could hose it off, but no, they will suffer until they are brought to the beach. And you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks.


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The Islands

Vancouver Island is surrounded by many other smaller islands. It’s an easy boat ride to go for an overnight picnic on one of them. With our troller and the sporty boat of our friends, we did just that. Here we are snuggled up together.

The aluminum skiff is handy for ferrying us to shore for some exploring and picture taking.

So many plants and shells are different from those on most beaches of Vancouver Island.

Our friends’ dog may have been a bit nervous at first, but he proved to have sailor’s blood running in his veins. He had a great time and was as good as gold.

Dogs and people all got along fabulously and had a good time.

More on this outing next time.

*** Again – a reminder that all my novels are half price until the end of July. The Wind Weeps remains FREE. See my webpage for more info: www.anneli-purchase.com

 


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Trouble Down the Road

Hey, Emma. Will ya look at the goings on over there?

This may be my third helping of hors d’oevres today, but I’ve had to work hard for them.

Getting right into it for the tastiest morsels.

What do you mean, I should stop? I’ve found a treasure trove.

 

Oh Lordy, Lordy! I see what you mean, Ruby. I don’t think he should be doing that. This will not end well. We’d never allow that at OUR house. Not with us backyard supervisors on duty.

 

***

This is not my house and I had to use the zoom for a very long distance when I found the source of the pecking noise, so the flicker is blurry (I had hoped to see him in a tree). I will be on the watch for this guy in case he flies over our way though. Thank goodness our backyard supervisors do a pretty good job of watching for trouble.


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New Year’s Outing

A trip to the beach? There’s no better way to start the New Year.

Emma and Ruby were happy to get out of the house.

“Yahooooooo! It’s so much fun,  so much to see.”

Ladies and Gentlemen  we have “Liftoff” (with all four feet).

Emma thinks she’s Superdog. She’ll just swim out to the ducks and bring them home to “Dad.”

But she has forgotten that ducks can not only swim, but also fly. The ducks on the other hand, seem to know that dogs can’t fly.

“Any second I’ll have them, ” Emma bleats.

And any second, the ducks will take wing, after which, Emma does the sensible thing and turns back to shore.

Refreshed and well exercised, she comes ashore, looking for someone to shake by.

Not one to give up easily, she’s already scouting around for more targets.

No ducks were harmed in the making of this blog post. Fa-a-a-a-ar from it!