Tag Archives: wildlife

Country Living

 

 

The romantic notion of country living often needs some seasoning of reality.

Tell Blanke, an incoming freshman at Cal Poly SLO majoring in engineering, noticed this rattlesnake crawling out of the rocks beneath the house where he and his mother Terri live along the Kaweah River in Three Rivers. By the time he got to the river’s edge the snake had crawled through his Aunt Tammy’s yard and was headed towards his grandparents’ house where he dispatched him. The Britten ‘compound’, as Robbin refers to this generational cluster of houses on the river, enjoys a sandy beach and excellent swimming hole most all summer.

For perspective’s sake, Tell is about 6’ 3” and still a bit shaky when Terri snapped this photograph yesterday with her iPhone. Our neighbor up the road has killed seven rattlesnakes from beneath their deck. Fortunately, Robbin and I haven’t killed any, but we’ve been keeping our eyes peeled.

 

Cooper’s Hawk

 

 

The arrival of the Cooper’s Hawk several weeks ago has thinned the coveys of quail around the house, required scouts and sentinels as they’ve quickened their step. Likewise, he’s had to change his roost as they’ve learned where to look. Startled at my desk to a flutter beyond the door, he was perched on the railing, waiting for the quail to come off the hill to water. Six feet away, this photograph is softened dramatically by both window and window screen.

I missed the shot, however, when he tried to fly through the windowed door, wings outstretched and talons hung in the screen door. It surprised and scared me enough to be spellbound, another moment where I have to be satisfied to brand it in my mind.

 

NOT DISSUADED

 

Currently the quail have the evening stage as Mother Nature usurps the garden and moves closer to the house as if we put the props in place for their entertainment. The quail have had an extraordinary hatch this year, hundreds of birds in dozens of coveys of various ages explore the yard in waves of gray.

Still housebound but rehabbing well, my photography is limited to what’s before me with the point-and-shoot, isolated snapshots that don’t fully portray the larger theme of the show. Accompanied and herded by attentive adults acting as sentinels, the young birds feed across the lawn to eventually let curiosity lead them a stray. One, then another follows, until half the young covey considers the latest discovery. Not one bird tried to drink from our ‘sip and dip’, knowing the water level too far to reach without falling, without flailing wet feathers and drowning.

 

 

Our yard: a classroom
for rural children come
out of granite rockpiles

and deadfall limbs woven
with blond, brittle grasses—
like a field trip to town,

a damp green and water
oasis they should know
when its 110 degrees.

Our yard: a classroom
for survival as Mother Nature
picks apples, apricots, peaches

and pears before they’re ripe,
before they’re sweet.
The ground squirrels know

our habits, when it’s best
to harvest, the sound of
footsteps on the gravel,

and the gunshot taken
for the team
we’ve not dissuaded.

 

THE GODS

 

 

I’ve got no complaints,
but with all the details
the gods must attend to,

it’s not surprising that
some get overlooked.
Too good to be true,

the gods may be lazing
in a Max Parrish painting,
our fate more accident

than meant, but
still good to think
they’re paying attention.

 

Watercolor

 

 

METAMORPHOSIS

 

 

Bullfrog pollywogs
leap to gasp warm July air
prior to croaking.

 

Cottontail

 

 

Robbin thought this a.m.’s post verged on disgusting. My apologies to the offended.

As a balance from the other end of the spectrum, one of the baby Cottontails she photographed from the garden this morning, whose parents have come to feast on the marigolds. We have declared war on the ground squirrels that have stripped the apricot tree and are working on the early peaches. Busy with cattle work, we’ve let our guard down as Mother Nature tries to move in.

 

Perch-mates

 

 

Keeping track of the two young Red Tails waiting for a squirrel. For a couple of days, one was accompanied by by a Black Vulture nearby, ostensibly waiting to take over a kill.

 

Haystack Owls…

 

 

…hissing.

 

TOR HOUSE IN A TAILPIPE

 

 

I can’t shake loose my need for truth
these days, always
skeptical of the latest news

sandwiched between advertisements
hawking sex and drugs to humans—
I sip the scandalous like wine,

leave to light the barbecue,
relieve myself
and let my unfocused stare

inhale the browning hillside
leaking five-months’ rainfall
behind the house to stream

along the gravel driveway,
past the pickup parked
where a rock wren pair

rebuild their home of stones—
Tor House in a tailpipe—
I need to see the truth.

 

 

 

Tor House