birds of a feather…

In the foreground an 8-week old Golden Retriever male puppy is sleeping on his back, legs splayed and head turned to his right side. He is lying on a soft pad in an x-pen. In the background my husband is sleeping on a LazyBoy chair, his hands folded on his chest and his head turned to his left side.

…sleep alike

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unexpected

 

On assignment for the Ogemaw County Voice: Cover the Open House at the West Branch Area Wastewater Treatment Plant.

One advantage to living in a county with less than 22,000 residents is that events tend to be less crowded. I was privileged with a personal tour of the facility by Joe, one of three full-time employees at the plant.

Very impressive.

Especially the “ear-full” of Cedar Waxwings flitting about the dredging tanks. They must have thought it was a water museum.

An alert Cedar Waxwing bird perches on the edge of a water treatment tank at the West Branch Wastewater Treatment plant. A group of these birds were flitting about the tank.

A Cedar Waxwing on alert.

This photo of the previous Cedar Waxwing is of the bird just after taking flight off the edge of the water treatment tank. His bill is wide open and his eyes have a small flying insect in sight. He has some "fluff" clutched in one talon.

Take off! Dinner in sight.

 

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And why did we wait so long?

 

Christmas, 2010. Our Wisconsin family gave us a long, square box to unwrap. It contained a woven hammock.

Today we strung it up between two oak trees in our front yard.

Andy was the first to take a nap in it.

He said, “It’s an anti-productivity device.”

My turn!

A picture of me sprawled in a hammock between two oak trees in our front yard. I am laughing because my career-changed Gus jumped in and is laying on my stomach. He didn't flip us over!

Gus took one look at me lying in the “anti-productivity device” and promptly flew through the air to join me. Without flipping it!

 

This is a closeup shot of me and Gus relaxing in the hammock. I have my hands behind my head and he is looking at the camera like it shouldn't be any big deal that a large black lab decides that a hammock is a comfy place to be.

Gus looks like he’d just as soon have the hammock to himself!

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a bird haiku

 

sand pit velodrome

swallows chatter in pursuit

swoop in for feeding

 

A swallow wings in to two baby birds that have their mouths wide open, anticipating breakfast. The babies are sitting at the opening of a hole in the side of a sandy cliff.

Breakfast arriveth.

 

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A thought occurred.

I bought another box of suet cakes. Seems we have hungry hairy woodpeckers nesting nearby.

A male hairy woodpecker hangs from a suet cake that is in a green cage. He is busy pecking at the suet, using his tail feathers to keep his balance.

Chowing down on the suet cake.

I wonder if things aren’t getting a bit too easy around here.

A male hairy woodpecker sits on his belly on a wooden porch ledge, picking up dropped seeds from the suet cake. His feet are splayed like out-riggers.

Sitting like a dork.

 

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Camera. CHECK!

A few weeks back I lamented the lack of my camera. I was leashing up the three dogs for a walk down Brady Road and for half a second I thought about throwing the strap around my neck. Nah, too much to handle with the three of them.

I was more than sorry when we reached the woods/field boundary about a half-mile south. A whoosh of wings startled all of us as four or five turkey vultures lit up from the ditch ahead. We stopped. As my camera-less eye followed the big birds I caught sight of an eagle perched high in a dead tree a few yards from the road.

We four stood and watched in awe, long enough for me to bury myself in regret. The eagle sat and watched us in return. The dogs stood alert, but easy.

Would of, could of, should of. Ah well.

We continued and found the vulture’s breakfast…a decimated deer carcass.

I turned and the eagle finally dropped from his branch, wings spread like a hang-glider. He dropped earthward, and at the last, one flap lifted him toward the sky. A second flap later he caught an updraft and soared. Out of nowhere a kamikaze-crow (less than half his size) flew in from the starboard side, cawing.

Not only did I lament not having my camera, I wished I had attached my 300-500mm lens!

But. Today. I had my camera. And my long lens.

On the way home from an assignment covering the West Branch Classic Road Race, I spotted two eagles enjoying brunch in a farmer’s field. Enjoy….

Two adult eagles in a farmer's field. One appears to be on look-out duty while the other pecks away at an unknown dead critter.

Two eagles in a field. One stands guard while the other chows down.

A large eagle attempts take off with the carcess of something brown, perhaps a ground hog? His winds are fully spread and he is gripping the carcass with his talons. Part of the carcass is still on the ground.

The eagle that was eating bails when I get out of the van to get closer. The sentry attempts take off with the loot, but the dead groundhog (?) is too heavy.

The second eagle settles down to eat. He looks around after each beak-full. The carcass is in front of him; he uses his talons to hold it down while ripping off bites.

The eagle settles. He watches as I position myself in the nearer ditch. I come no further. He decides that eating is worth the risk, peering at me in between ripped-off chunks.

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Blue tenants

After a mild winter, Andy checks the propane level on the pig tank.

A close up of the blue lid of our propane tank in our backyard behind our potting shed. Andy is just visible in the background, walking over.

Something is under the cap.

He calls me over.

“Isn’t the sky the most amazing blue?” I say. “It’s like we’re wearing polarizing lenses over our eyes.”

Shot of a soaring turkey buzzard high in a deep blue sky.

Turkey buzzard looking for lunch.

“Talk about blue,” he responds, and lifts the peeling and somewhat rusty blue lid of the propane tank.

The blue lid of the propane tank is lifted to expose a large bird's nest filled with five blue robin's eggs!

Five new tenants.

Smart momma-robin to build her nest under a roof!

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Farmland

“Greening” takes on a whole old meaning in rural Michigan after an early spring rain.

A view across a farm field, with farm buildings in the distance, bordered by a just-leafing-out forest. The crop is just starting to sprout in waving rows--a hint of green above the wet brown earth.

Spring crop.

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Lumberman Andy

Andy poses in front of our wood shed (which is filling up with newly cut wood). He balances our cant hook on his left shoulder, gloved right hand on his hip, in a regal stance, looking off into the distance.

Lumberman Andy, with his cant hook.

Andy says, “Do I look like the Monument?”

(He refers to the Lumberman’s Monument along the AuSable River.)

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Surviving

One day before my story about wildfires is published in the Ogemaw County Voice, Andy sits working at his desk. The phone rings. It’s the conference call from Habitat International that he’s been expecting. As he eases back for what he knows will be an extended conversation, a flicker outside the window catches his eye.

“I’m going to have to drop off here for a minute,” he says dryly to the group, as dry as the brush in our rain-deprived woods. “My backyard is filled with smoke and fire.”

Drew replies, “That’s more creative than ‘my dog ate my homework.'”

Click.

A 9-1-1 call later and Andy gets back into the call while the Lupton Fire Department puts out a fire at the edge of our woods.

Is this irony?

A picture of the edge of our woods where a brush fired scorched the ground in an area of about 150 feet. The trees are not fully budded and the sky is a deep cobalt blue.

The edge of our woods.

The cause of the fire was ashes from our outdoor wood boiler that I dumped out earlier that morning. Turns out they were still smoldering, even after cooling in a covered trash can overnight.

The fireman said, “I put mine in a cement bunker for a week before dumping them.”

Or stupidity?

A closeup shot of the scorched bark of a tree, close to the ground. The black melted thing hanging from it is a deer feeder tube left by the previous owners. The oak leaves on the ground from last fall are all burned away.

Scorched.

I prefer calling it experience.

In other words: surviving stupidity.

A near-the-ground shot of a baby fir tree that was licked by the fire, but hopefully still alive. Some of the needles are brown, but many are still green. It's like a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree." The burned ground behind is just out of focus.

Survivor.

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