About Me

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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sullen ravens

Our local ravens, Marco and Polo, have been looking sullen.

This winter and spring they breakfasted at 9:00AM daily with neighbor Richard.

While Richard ate his egg whites in the kitchen, Julia served the birds hard-boiled egg yolks on the back deck.

Richard was enthralled.

"They're intelligent, and they talk to each other".

Marco and Polo were like family.

They periodically checked in during the day and peered into the windows.

Then daylight savings kicked in and suddenly the ravens' breakfast was served an hour late.

The new schedule wasn't to their liking.

Marco and Polo were used to having breakfast only so many hours after sunrise.

They started peering into the window while Richard and Julia were still in bed, and when they got up, the birds watched them through the bathroom window.

Julia found it a little unnerving, but Richard was amused.

The birds remained impatient waiting for breakfast.

"Then I heard this tapping," said Richard, "but it took me a while to find out that they were pecking at the skylights".

It was starting to get like Hitchcock's "Birds", so Richard cut off the family breakfasts.

Cold turkey. It worked.

Marco and Polo gave up their attempts to break through the skylights, and spend a lot less time around the house.

"They still visit," says Richard,  "and they grumble on the phone pole. But they don't hang around like they used to".

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wildlife in the streets of Florence

Many things catch your eye in Italy, but my camera trapper's eye was pleased to encounter wild boar in the streets of Firenze, or as we know it, Florence.

This delicatessen owner proudly displayed taxidermic icons of his specialty -- pork in all of its processed products.

His domestic diorama of medieval piglets at the table proves the thesis of Luigi Barzini's masterpiece of character analysis . . . Italians thrive on spectacle and family.

"Tutti a tavola a mangiare".

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back on the Flume

With the exception of this mole the codger has little to show in the way of natural history.

The reason is that we were in Italy for three weeks, where camera trapping rarely crossed my mind.

But I am getting back into the daily routine of walking the flume and recording natural history.

Thus the partially eaten broad-handed mole.

I thought it was newsworthy, since mammalian predators, unlike raptors, often lose their appetite when they discover that their prey is an unpalatable shrew or mole.

The killer of this mole was hungry enough to make a meal of it. Usually I find the bitten but uneaten carcass. 

I found it the other day, put it in my shirt pocket, and deposited it discreetly in my office.

The redhead managed to find it of course, and I was compelled to photograph it sooner than I had planned.

The flume was practically dry when we left on May 1, which means that PG&E had cut off the water from Butte Creek and the Feather River for maintenance.

They dredged it, and when I got home I found it racing at a pace I have never seen before.

A few days later I watched a limp Bambi tumble surrealistically under the surface, a casualty of misadventure.

So I'm getting back in my groove, and next week you'll see some pictures of urban Italian wildlife.