Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Very young avid birders

Indulge me! Our newest family members are avid bird watchers! Only 5 months old and they know (probably by instinct) that these little feathered critters are something they desire. Here are a few photos I took earlier tonight of Tango and Cash "watching" the birds at the window feeder.
"Hey, Cash, look at this guy. It isn't even afraid of us."

"Tango, it's not budging. Look at what they're eating."

"I can't believe it! We get no respect!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Meet Tango and Cash!

Meet the newest members of the family: Tango and Cash. Red and I adopted them, and Red brought them home Saturday afternoon. These kittens are 5 months old. They were born at the Humane Society, but mama kitty and 5 kittens were rescued by a group called Town Cats, a no-kill non-profit organization. The Humane Society found/trapped mama kitty and wanted to spay her right away even though she was very pregnant. This meant that the kittens would have been aborted. How sad. But mama kitty, another beautiful black cat, gave birth that night to 5 kittens. We were told that one of the kittens got sick and lived only a couple of weeks. But the other 4 were healthy. Why weren't they adopted sooner? I really don't know. Maybe it was meant for us to have them. Tango and Cash's other brother and sister were adopted a week or two earlier. Cash is a male -- below he is the one in the front with the white chin. Tango is female and seemed to be a bit timid at first, but she and Cash have certainly become "at home" here in our home.
Here is another photo of Tango.
And this is another photo of Cash. We think Cash is going to be the "clown."
Here is a video I shot earlier tonight of Cash playing with a felt toy. I apologize for the poor quality, especially how dark it looks. For some unknown reason Google processes all videos on the dark side. Maybe I'll have to start putting my videos on You Tube; maybe then they won't come out so dark. Hey, Google, are you listening?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A couple of summer visitors and a few of our year-round residents

This summer we have had a couple of visitors I don't remember seeing before in our back yard. First, on the fourth of July we were visited by this Nuttall's Woodpecker. I thought at first it was a Hairy since it looked about the same size as a Hairy. But its call was a bit different and its back was more "ladder-backed." It certainly was a moment of excitement for me when my daughter Red made me realize that it wasn't a Hairy. See Red's photo of this bird by clicking here. Also, don't forget you can click on each of these photos to see a larger view.

Here are a couple of mourning doves acting lovey-dovey. These birds are regular residents around here. I think I have about 6-8 pairs that always hang around here.

Another group of residents - lesser goldfinches. It's always fun to watch them eating the niger thistle seed. Note the one I captured flying into the feeder to the lower left of the feeder. I happened to take this photo while I was waiting for my all-time most bashful visitors to show up.
Can you imagine my excitement when I saw this bird visiting one of my hummingbird feeders? I actually squealed (according to Red). I was so excited, because it has been about 3 years since I last saw any orioles here in my back yard. I apologize for the lack of crispness in this photo, but I quickly took it from inside the house, looking through double glass panes.

Here is a better shot, taken from the back patio -- and this time I was able to get two of them at the same time! Also notice that I had pulled out my oriole feeder and hung it so that they didn't have to struggle to get their nectar from the hummingbird feeder. I've also tried jelly, but no takers. :-(
To the best of my knowledge and with Red's help we are figuring that these orioles are female and juvenile hooded orioles. There seemed to be a total of four that I have seen at one time, so I'm not sure if it could be one mama and 3 juvies, or possibly 2 mamas and 2 juvies. I never did see any males. One other reason they are most likely hooded orioles is that the Stokes and Golden field guides say their nesting habitat is palm trees, and our next door neighbor has two palm trees in their front yard. We also have other palm trees spread throughout the neighborhood. And there have been a number of times I can hear them long before I see them. Their call/song is not very melodious. Part of it is a trill, but the ending of it sounds like a squirrel when it is upset about something. It's a most unusual sound, quite distinct, that I can easily tell it is not one of my usual residents around here.
Have you had the chance to enjoy orioles this summer?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The flora at Monterey Bay

While walking the pathway to the pier where the cormorants were located, we not only saw the brown pelicans and harbor seals, but we saw several beautiful plants. Here are a few. And be sure to visit Red's blog, too. She has some beautiful close-ups that I didn't get.

This first photo is some sort of rock rose. Red hasn't found it's proper name for it yet. I leave all the scientific names for her to locate. As you can tell in the next photo, these rock roses (or whatever they're called) came in various colors.

This is a Matilija poppy. It definitely has that "poppy" look to it.
And this is the all familiar (to us here in California) statice.
Here is a close-up shot of the flower.
Now this is a type of tree mallow. Why it's called that I don't know because it is a shrub not a tree. When I first looked at it I thought it looked like a Rose of Sharon. Red thought it looked like a hibiscus.
Here is a close-up of a couple of the flowers. Aren't they beautiful? I just love the color and shading. If you take a closer look you can probably see some dew drops on the petals. Don't forget to click on the photos to see a larger image.
This was another beautiful plant, but I have no idea what it is. The flowers were kind of like what we would see in a verbena or lantana. And its leaves looked more like a penstemon.
And here is a close-up of the flower.
And this last photo is a group of what is called society garlic. And believe me, it really smells like garlic! And yes, that is Red off to the side looking in her field guide to see if she could identify the flower in the photo above.


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