Moose in Grand Tetons

What a beautiful boy! He was almost completely camouflaged, resting in the cool grass, enjoying a late afternoon snack. Those antlers are magnificent, aren’t they?

I could have stayed there for hours, watching him in silence, but I had to go. He didn’t seem too concerned and kept eating and eating.

Unlikely Friends: Egret and Ducks

On my walk today, I looked through the fence into the culvert that drains into Agua Hedionda Lagoon and saw a pair of white egrets. One flew away, but I was able to snap a pic of this beauty. Look closer and you’ll see he’s sharing a bit of land with two ducks.

And then this other handsome sun-glistened mallard decided to swim over and join the fun.
Co-existence peacefully without social distancing!

The late afternoon light intensifies the male’s colorful plumage that helps them attract females.

Maybe they’ve forged a friendship while they forage together for food. It could be possible even though I learned that egrets (and herons) can and do eat ducklings, but I watched their interactions for quite a while and didn’t observe any aggressive or frightened behavior. It was all peaceful and serene, just like my wishes for happily ever afters.

(Some) Creatures Great and Small

With a nod to All Creatures Great and Small by veterinarian James Herriot, this is what my Sunday looked like.

We started off the day at the beach and I’m beyond sad that I didn’t have my good camera with me so I couldn’t capture the magic of a school of dolphin jumping and splashing in the water. I’m sure this paddleboarder was happy because they seemed to follow him wherever he went. Trust me, there are about six dolphin in this photo.

On the way home, we saw a bit of an odd sight…check out these seagulls that shouldn’t have been this far away from the beach. They usually only fly inland when there’s a storm, so I have no idea why they were flying around in circles and then perched on the telephone lines.

Today was a work project day in the garden, cleaning up around the rosemary and lavender. I sat down for a minute for a wheatgrass break and this little alligator lizard stopped by to say hi. I scratched his back with a stick and he allowed me to take these pics.

All in all, a great Sunday for creatures great and small.

To A Mockingbird

He sat for the longest time on a volunteer Brazilian peppertree. The original tree was removed because it’s an invasive species, but also resilient and obnoxious, an aggressive woody weed which displaces native vegetation and rapidly invades disturbed sites.

To A Mocking Bird

The name thou wearest does thee grievous wrong;
No mimic thou: that voice is thine alone.
The poets sing but strains of Shakespeare’s song;
The birds, but notes of thine imperial own.– Henry Jerome Stockard

#WordlessWednesday

A Tragedy: WOLVES DELISTED

As if 2020 couldn’t be any worse with Covid, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and oh, I don’t know, simply the death of our entire DEMOCRACY, THIS happened and I am truly distraught…

From my friend, Jamie Rappaport Clark, President of Defenders of Wildlife:

It’s a sudden and tragic end to what should have been one of the great wildlife comeback stories of all time. Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially stripped gray wolves in the lower 48 states of their federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

This ruthless decision leaves gray wolves at the mercy of states, some with increasingly hostile anti-wolf policies – even some where we’ve already seen wolves slaughtered. This isn’t over.

We’re taking this administration to court to defend gray wolves fighting for their lives. Will you help?  

Wolves need your help today. Please make your emergency donation to help fight back to save the lives of wolves and other imperiled animals!

We cannot and will not allow wolves to be abandoned, and their recovery to be cut off after decades of work.  Wolves occupy only 10% of their former range and need continued federal protection to fully recover. There are still vast areas of suitable habitat in the lower 48 states where wolves have not recovered, including Colorado. 

As recently as last year, a wolf spotted in Colorado brought a spark of optimism for the future of wolves in the Southern Rockies.  That hope could now be smashed. Delisting wolves is the wrong move at the wrong time. We’ve already seen a wave of violence as some anti-wolf states have allowed even more barbaric methods to trap, shoot and kill gray wolves – and things could get a lot worse for these wolves without our help. 
Give to Save Wolves
We’ll never stop fighting against anti-wolf extremists and politicians working to turn back the clock on wolf recovery. Today’s setback isn’t the end of the gray wolf story. 

If you agree, please consider pitching in to keep up efforts to save these wolves and protect them across their historic habitat.

Thanks for your compassion and your steadfast support for the wildlife we love.

On a personal note, I’ve been fighting to save and protect wolves pretty much my whole life and while we rejoiced when wolves were originally placed on the endangered species list, it didn’t stop the senseless murder of wolves and their families.

Check out some of my other wolf-related posts:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/11/26/saving-wolves/
https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/09/26/actress-jessica-lange-is-amazing-her-letter-in-defense-of-wolves/
https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/03/12/the-sad-song-of-the-wolf/

Hungry?

Just a hungry scrub jay hanging out on the deck. They LOVE raw peanuts. I still find a few empty shells hidden in the garden nine years later..

One of my favorite photos from September 2011.

First there was one, then another, and for a while, there were about four jays who hung out and let me hand feed them.

Did you know that scrub jays are very intelligent?

From Wiki: Recent research has suggested that western scrub jays, along with several other corvids, are among the most intelligent of animals. The brain-to-body mass ratio of adult scrub jays rivals that of chimpanzees and cetaceans, and is dwarfed only by that of humans. Scrub jays are also the only non-primate or non-dolphin shown to plan ahead for the future (known as metacognition), which was previously thought of as a uniquely human trait Other studies have shown that they can remember locations of over 200 food caches, as well as the food item in each cache and its rate of decay. To protect their caches from pilfering conspecifics, scrub jays will choose locations out of sight of their competitors, or re-cache caches once they are alone, suggesting that they can take into account the perspective of others. According to new research from the University of California @ Davis, scrub jays also summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can last for up to half an hour.

#ThrowbackThursday 

One Tree: Two Hawks

From 2017 for #throwbackthursday

It was a great day to spend time in my garden with these two hawks. Do you know what they were looking at? Me, taking photos of them.

The Same Day I Saw a Bald Eagle and a Raccoon

fullsizeoutput_e33The eagle was sitting on that branch waiting for everyone to stop pointing at him so he could swoop down and take a better look at a huge dead fish that washed up on the shoreline.

My neck hurt because I couldn’t believe that I was actually in the presence of an eagle, my very first ever sighting, and I wouldn’t look away until he was gone.

Now I can cross that off my mental list….I’ve seen wolves and mountain lions and bears and of course, my favorite: coyotes.

Not all at the same time, but these are the special pearls in my necklace of life experiences, memories strung together since most of them happened so fast and were such brief encounters that I didn’t have time to take photos.

I wish I had brought my big lens in addition to my iPhone, but it’s good enough as it captured the special moment.

These are admittedly crappy photos, but it’s most definitely a Bald Eagle. I know they’re considered a nuisance in parts of Alaska, but this wasn’t a common occurrence at this location. I didn’t even try to look for an eagle feather because I’m aware that under the current language of the Eagle Feather Law, “unauthorized persons found with an eagle or its parts in their possession can be fined up to $250,000.”

fullsizeoutput_e34

“There’s a raccoon. Look at that!”

I thought he was joking because it was the middle of the day and we were on a sandy beach so I continued to keep my head down to look for seashells.

“LOOK!”

When I finally looked up, there he was.

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He scampered up the bluff and was gone.

What an amazing day! An eagle and a raccoon.

Random.

Was it a lucid dream or a visit from beyond?

I don’t know if it’s caused by all the current planetary behavior (as above, so below) but lately my dreams have been excruciatingly real and detailed. Some of them are so vivid that I’m able to retain enough of them to journal before they disappear like a mirage in a puff of ephemeral smoke.

Anyway…

THIS particular dream went beyond the limits of what my brain can comprehend. (If goose bumps and hair standing up on your arms is any indication)

I was exhausted but satisfied by the completion of a tough garden project, replanting a flowerbed from where I had moved about 150 pounds of white rocks. What once was a cool mini desertscape had devolved into a tangled mess of climbing aloe and not very happy succulents and cacti. I removed them all, raked up the truckload of small white rocks that were all dirty and sad looking, and planted Bird of Paradise and Clivia I dug up from another part of the garden. Both have orange-y flowers and will look so pretty against the house.

The next day was going to be full of stress and anxiety because oral surgery was scheduled and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Thinking about the impending pain triggered all kinds of panicky ruminations.

I must have fallen asleep when I felt Bandit, my cat, jump on me, landing hard like she would do to wake me up (she was the real princess around here), and she curled up next to my stomach just like she always did, and I actually put my hand out to pet her and that’s when I freaked out and woke up.

Bandit spent her nights sleeping with me; most often would end up under the covers near my feet.

Nothing too strange about that, right? That’s what cats do.

Only…

OMG. The fact of the matter is that this is 2020 and Bandit went over the Rainbow Bridge in 2010 from complications due to chronic renal failure.

Bandit has been dead for ten years. She was thirteen-years-old when she died.

IT WAS SO REAL.

I looked at the clock. It was 3:00 a.m. I was now completely awake; my heart was racing. I never could get back to sleep. I still felt the warmth of her body, the silky feel of her fur tickling my arm. I felt her presence and it was REAL. I miss that little girl so much. I really really need her love and her comfort.

Was I in a lucid dream state or did Bandit really and truly visit me from beyond?

All I know is that I was so stressed when I was at the surgeon’s office today,  I  hyperventilated and my blood pressure was too high, so I started to visualize my beloved Bandit and it brought down my BP almost immediately. She was able to offer comfort even though she’s no longer physically on this earth. Her love for me transcended everything that my logical mind has a hard time comprehending.

Have you ever experienced a dream like that?


Lucid dreaming is when you’re conscious during a dream. This typically happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the dream-stage of sleep. During a lucid dream, you’re aware of your consciousness.

My darling Bandit.

“Dear Deer, I’m so very sorry.”

In the blink of an eye. 

It’s true. You never know when the unexpected will occur.

We get up in the morning, drink our coffee and make plans for the day. Those plans NEVER include an auto accident or other unforeseen catastrophe.

I love to make lists:

-Traders for tofu, coffee, ginger tea…
-Go to the nursery
-Pick up prescription
-TJ Maxx
-Dentist @11am

Nowhere on any list does anyone ever pencil in, “be involved in a freak accident on a mountain road”. Or is that just me? Maybe a fatalist WOULD include that in a daily schedule. I dunno…maybe now I will.

I wasn’t the driver so I was literally paying zero attention to the road.

I was looking at all the photos I took and remembering how I got altitude sickness on the way up the twisty windy road and vomited everywhere (ick), but now we were relaxed and dusty and exhausted but happy to be heading back home after a few days of camping and hiking where we saw lots of deer and other animals.

I was startled to hear, “Oh, shit!” and the car swerved a bit and then we felt two large bumps that tossed us about and a large crash.

We pulled over to the narrow shoulder on the two-lane highway. Doing a quick triage, I determined that everyone was unharmed.

I turned around and saw a large piece of a car that we had apparently smashed into, but didn’t see a car. At that moment, a highway patrol car pulled up about fifty feet behind us. I ran out of the car and flagged down the patrolman. Fortuitously, he had been driving that way as part of his routine.

That’s when I saw it.

The deer.

The poor dear deer.

The poor dear dead deer.

When I wasn’t paying attention, this was how the scenario unfolded.

A deer ran across the road, the big truck in front of us hit the deer which caused his front bumper to fall off. That horrible man kept going; he never even stopped. The impact must have killed the deer instantly. We were unable to avoid hitting it as there was traffic all around and nowhere to go. So the two bumps we felt was us running over the already dead three hundred pound deer.

The patrolman said that was the third one that day. (There are lots of deer and not enough natural predators.)

Our vehicle was pretty messed up but it still ran and was OK to drive the rest of the way home but it was in the shop for three weeks.

After the poor dear deer was moved to the side of the road, I kneeled down and petted his head and told him how very sorry I was that he died.

I guess the moral of the story is that you never know when something bad is going to happen. As much as I like to predict all outcomes, sometimes it’s not possible to gaze in a crystal ball and see the future.

Honestly though, what kind of a horrible person hits an animal and doesn’t stop???

Out of respect for the deceased, I won’t post a pic of him, but here are other deer enjoying life.