Tag Archives: wildlife

THIN FILAMENT

 

 

Wild entanglements
clutch the fate of the planet
with thin filament.

 

SURROUNDED BY SQUIRRELS

 

 

Having slain hundreds, another battalion digs in
to undermine the well and water trough, to scout
the garden for an attack on the last tomatoes.

The quail have made a comeback in coveys,
strings of babies trailing on training wheels
making circles, mornings and evenings.

Before our eyes, another lifelong mate
in the making, Roadrunners packing lizards
and snails to their nest in prickly pear cactus.

The heavy-limbed sycamores shade a ribbon
of green along the dry creek bed, sub-irrigated
Bermuda grass a few bulls graze between bellowing.

Black cows shine on a side-hill grade, either side
of the canyon, or silhouettes in shade gossiping
and grinding cud, having shed their babies.

SUVs, RVs, camp trailers and fifth-wheels
escape the confinement of cities to dodge Covid-19
and logging trucks on a narrow mountain road

to the pines, and I don’t blame them—with
a thousand ways to go, why not migrate
where no one seems to worry about dying.

 

ROADRUNNERS, RATTLESNAKES & SNAILS

 

IMG_0218

 

Light feet at dawn
inspect Iris and Aloe Vera
to crack shells on the rock
border between gravel and lawn.

She curtsies like a ballerina
in a low, feathered quivering,
teasing, anticipating
the dance in a garden arena.

CHORUS:
               Beyond the reach of Covid-19,
               the divisiveness and hate—
               beyond the crazed confusion
               the fools among us imitate.

Birds multiplying here to a dozen
as watchdogs for the unwanted,
the rattlesnakes and snails,
beyond the reach of poison.

CHORUS:
               Beyond the reach of Covid-19,
               the divisiveness and hate—
               beyond the crazed confusion
               the fools among us imitate.

 

Turkey Fight

 

On our way to gather the cows and calves for branding last Friday, we ran across two turkeys fighting within a rafter of twenty or so young toms along the creek.

 


                                                            (Click to enlarge)

 

It was a quiet combat for dominance, yet none of the rest seemed disturbed nor cared about the outcome.

 

 

But as I began to photograph the battle with my point and shoot, the group slowly dispersed to leave the two toms battling alone.

 

 

It’s that time of year, I suppose.

 

Velvet in the Wild Oats

 

 

Good to see a couple of bucks in velvet this morning, especially close enough to photograph with a cell phone while we were hauling some young cows up the hill to replace the old ones we took to town last week.

 

WHERE YOUNG EAGLES WAIT

 

 

There is no escape for weeks
looking down on a small world
beneath a thatch of twigs—

no way to hide from sun, storm
or crow until the leaves come
to wait for shadows out of the blue

heavens with or for a meal—
no guarantees that what they see
is good or bad, just real.

 

 

Robbin and I had the luxury of looking at cows and calves in our upper country yesterday when she spotted this Golden Eagles’ nest.

 

BLACK PHOEBE

 

 

Neither trust nor fear
of us inhibits a hawk’s
delight on the lawn.

 ~

The Sharp Shinned Hawk has been making a living around the house for over two months and become our coffee and cocktail entertainment. We do all but applaud its low flap and glide aerobatics in pursuit of startled quail. Though probably only a temporary guest, we’ve become comfortable with one another’s tastes and habits. Not too persnickety, the Sharp Shinned Hawk taunts us with ground squirrels (dead or alive) quail and ringnecked dove. Last night, a Black Phoebe was the casualty.

 

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.