Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Death by moonlight, dinner by day

People travel from all over the world to places like the Serengeti to watch grazing animals get torn apart and eaten by big cats and other predators. This winter Nature-ripe-with-tooth-and-claw-and-beak came to our own back yard.
First it was the accipitors who find our cute little sparrows that come to our feeder so irresistible.
Turkey vulture, carcass and tracks.
Then two nights ago something, a coyote perhaps, broke into the deer pen at the bottom of our hill and routed the deer sheltered there. Perhaps half-a-dozen fled uphill. All but one got away. By mid-day, the turkey vultures had discovered the remains and dined al fresco all afternoon. This morning, the crows are taking their turn.
Turkey vultures on the deerkill.
The deer was young, perhaps a yearling. It bogged down in the deep, crushed snow, its thin hooves breaking through over a foot-and-a-half, reducing its panicked run to a crawl, while the coyote danced about it, its paws sinking in no more than an inch.
Deer tracks to right, deep and dragged.  Coyote's to left, barely breaking the surface of the snow.
The chase ranged back-and-forth over an area half the size of a football field before the victim slipped and stumbled once too often. All this story was easy to see in the bright sunshine of Monday.
The scene of battle with remains of the loser.
I hope that what little is left will be carted way by foxes before all this snow finally melts.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A bit of snow this year

It seems like Kyle, our farmer is plowing out our driveway every other day. We have no problems getting out, but the piles keep growing.
Mo on top of one of the snow piles. He loves to climb up and slide down.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Someone Came for Lunch

February 5th, 2014

Our birdfeeder is attracting a lot of birds this winter. But some do not come for the sunflower seeds. This immature Cooper's Hawk showed up and decided that a sparrow was just what she needed for lunch. The menu was either a junco or a white-throated sparrow. By the time we got home from shopping, it was a bit had to tell. The hawk de-feathered her meal then ate everything else, bones and all. Then she perched on a branch in full view for over an hour, crop full and enjoying the sun. Only the agile titmouses dared return.

Coopers Hawk dining.
Accipiter Cooperii, immature female

Camera was a Nikon D80 with a 500mm f8 Zeiss Fernobjektiv
set at f11 and less than 30 feet away. Did not have to do virtually any cropping.
Another Cooper's Hawk visited two days later, but it appeared smaller and may be a male. It was already showing adult plummage on the sides of its breast and still had the white terminal band to its tail. This bird should have a white terminal band as well, but her tail feathers are so worn that the tips are gone. The second bird was spotted by the small birds before it even got close and failed to get a lunch.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

For the birds

Male Pileated Wookpecker
A couple of pileated woodpeckers showed up by the house. One stayed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures of him with the 50cm Fernobjektiv. When I came back later with the 640mm Noflexar, he left, but a male house finch stayed long enough for me to get another picture.

Male House Finch

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our "Wildernest" Camper

For some time we have remembered the old days when we had a Volkswagen camper bus and used it to travel widely, stopping to sleep whenever we felt the need.
But what we needed now was something compatible with our pickup truck. After some research, we discovered the Wildernest campers, built and sold between 1987 and 1996(?). Low-production items, they are almost collector's items today and finding one that is in decent condition and in the eastern United States almost impossible. After several months of searching, we located on in eastern Massachusetts. The price and condition sounded reasonable and it was a model that would fit our truck's bed.

We drove to Weymouth and picked the Wildernest canopy up in early April. It has required a lot of restoration, but the shell and canvas are in decent shape. Here are two images from its first outing with its new (sixth) owners.
It poured rain, but the tent worked. We love the roominess and ease of setup. Gets hot inside without the sides open. It leaks around the bed seat in front. Bed is a bit narrow for two, but adequate. We plan to get a lot of use out of it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A short piece for free.

Several years ago I received a review copy of a YA novel set on the Navajo Indian Reservation (Now just Navajo Nation, I understand). The lead character was a teenage Navajo girl learning to weave. The author claimed to be knowledgeable of Navajo culture and weavings, but the cultural details were dubious and the weaving details totally absurd. I wrote and told the editor that. She checked with the author and dismissed my charges. The book got published to luke-warm reviews and disappeared. But in the mean time, I said, "I can write something more accurate than this guy." So I wrote a little short story set in Ganado, Arizona, where I lived for two years. You can now download that story for free via Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/135327
Formatting is flexible, so take your pick, and if you like it, check out some of my other work. Thanks.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Beetle has a Sequel

Virtual girl Lanie Whitehead, e.k. “Beetle,” is back—restarted and now living in University Salvage’s store. She still is programmed to take care of her creator, Jeff, and his girlfriend, Annie. Only everyone is saying they’re dead, killed twelve years ago in a fix of jealousy by a former boyfriend. So what is she to do? Lanie gets Shadow, her "sister" and look-alike, going again, moves in with a family and soon has many new human friends searching for answers. Problem is: the university’s president is determined to keep the truth buried. But Lanie can’t live with any lie—not if it means giving up her whole reason for existence. She still needs Jeff and Annie, and she won’t stop searching for answers until everyone knows what really happened.

Romantic, virtual-person mystery that draws the threads from the first Beetle story back together.

So first check out Beetle: The Autobiography of a Virtual Girl, then read the sequel: Beetle II: Restoration and Retribution. Both are part of the "Adventures of the Whitehead Virtual Sisters."
Both are available as Kindle ebooks via Amazon.
And remember: you DO NOT need a Kindle to read a Kindle ebook. The software to download and read a Kindle ebook is free and downloadable to any Mac, ipad, iphone or PC computer. Check these two stories out and let me know what you think. They're cheap and they're fun.