Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kamikaze Kinglet

Some weeks ago, I could hear at least one of the cats walloping a front window that looks out through a holly tree into the front yard, screen removed for clearer viewing (there's often a platform feeder attached to the outside of that particular window). It's not a native holly, but it does provide some nice cover, the berries do get eaten as winter progresses, and this year weird splits in the trunk (which are not shaped like sapsucker holes but which the yellow-belly is now definitely keeping open) have been providing (presumably) sweet treats for a number of birds and even the squirrels.

Upon investigation, I discovered that the hullabaloo was due to a Ruby-crowned Kinglet repeatedly flying up to and hovering directly in front of the window. This behavior had naturally attracted the attention of the house cats. I never could decide if the bird was picking insects off the window, was trying to get into the house to pick at the spider webs on the inside of the window, or was merely attacking its reflection. (Someone suggested it might be going after the cats…)

This went on for a couple of days, and then winter finally arrived (sort of) and the cats and I lost interest. Apparently the kinglet had as well. Peace reigned.

Fast-forward to Saturday… I finally put out seed for the yard birds; I had been lazy so far this winter but turned that into an experiment to see how much activity the yard would have without the feeders filled--just how dependent were the "wild" birds on my handouts? Turns out there was zip, zilch, nothin' in the way of noticeable avian activity anywhere around the house in spite of (or perhaps because of) the yard being a tangle of unmaintained, whatever-wants-to-grow-has-free-rein, vegetation. Which was more than a bit depressing because winter window-watching is usually better than TV (which we don't have since they took away the analog signals and I was too lazy to get a coupon for a digital antenna and too cheap and stubborn to pay for cable) for entertainment. So I filled a few feeders (the old seed needed to be used up anyway). I then decided more window decals might be in order (properly located on the outside of the glass, rather than inside as the old ones were) and the feeder-viewing windows could be cleaned at the same time for greater enjoyment (and in hope and anticipation of a photo opportunity).

I had just finished snapping some shots of my funky decals--

(I don't scrapbook so I hardly used the Cricut machine my mother gave me until some brilliant soul realized you could cut designs in self-stick vinyl sheets with one! They make great truck decals, too…) --when *smack*… There was a cat hitting that front window again. (Stupid plastic grilles: I only leave them on the windows because I get a bit too much vertigo looking out a big clear window without 'em.)


He was back.

Dang kinglets never, never sit still so although I managed some rather nice pics (ought to have, shooting as I was at point-blank range almost too close for the macro lens), they aren't as perfect as I'd like. At least these are mostly in focus and actually have the bird in them… (Except for the one below; he was bouncing around like a pinball at this point.)

At one point the kinglet was about as mad as I've ever seen a wee beastie--his hackles were raised as far as he could get them (these shots really don't do his mohawk justice)...

And he was screaming a song as he attacked the window. I can only conclude that this was some kind of seasonally-misplaced territorial behavior, something along the lines of "This is my holly tree and you can't have it…" (When he wasn't attacking the window, he was bouncing around the bush looking for nibbles, including frequent stops at the sap wells.) He wasn't bugging and he was consistently hitting the window with his feet well above the cat's head. He didn't even really need the cat to be there, but RitzCarlton's presence did sort of seem to add extra impetus to the kinglet's assaults.

Luckily for all of us the bird eventually gave up, presumably as the light (and therefore his reflection) shifted with the waning day.

I actually grabbed the point-and-shoot camera first, which has a video feature that is easy to use:

[Argh! This video shows up on my edit page but not on the website. If you can't see it either, you will find it here: http://youtu.be/IkHBW4ZGkNE .]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December Days, Cool Cats.

When sunny and blue-skied but windy and very cold, short December days are very well spent snuggled up inside with a cat or two (or more in our house, usually, especially if a fuzzy blanket and the comfy chair are involved). On the other hand, when the light is so tempting, a bright December day is also well spent photo-ambushing said snuggled-up cats…

Abby has never minded having a camera in his face.

Well, not much.

"Oh damn and Bastet, hours later and she's still pointing that thing at me…"

Costello, brother to Abby and in the house two years now, has finally given up his deer-in-headlights expression when having his photo taken.

He was being very patient, even though I still can't get cat eyes in focus. (Hey, cat noses are cute, too! And far less intense when in focus than cat eyes. Out-of-focus small predator eyes may not be a bad thing, really…)

And perhaps Tells has come so far as to vogue a bit…

Corson is about the most laid-back cat I've ever had. Cameras are to be be ignored or at the least tolerated just like everything else the crazy human does. (I can sooo picture Cory dressed in doll clothes and draped in plastic dress-up jewelry in his past life [whatever that was] with the world's most patient "Whatever" look on his face; he's just that kind of cat.) 

Toes are nearly as cute as noses, especially when crossed with such feline suavity.

I never could understand why no one even wanted to foster Snickers (let alone adopt her) when she landed (through no fault of her own) in a shelter nearly twelve years ago, for she has quite a sunny and silly personality. And with her tuxedo markings just a bit awry, she's cartoon-cat cute! Never understood until now, that is; her funny face can actually come across as quite intimidating…

Aw, she's trying!

See?! Isn't she adorable? That's my Doodle Cat…

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Treasures on a November Beach.

Stone Harbor Point, New Jersey...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November Beaches: Stone Harbor Point.

Dunlin, dolphin and turnstones.

Ruddy Turnstones.

(This one has been hanging out on this jetty all fall according to the band re-sighting records.)


Friday, November 29, 2013

November Beaches, Part the Sixth.

Another advantage to autumn and winter beaches is that you can actually do some decent beach combing. They rake the beaches during the tourist season, scraping off trash and treasure alike...

Purple sea glass!

And sometimes the trash can be the treasure...

"X" marks the spot!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November Beaches, Part V.

One major advantage to walking the beach in late fall is that the beach looks like a beach should, with all kinds of interesting stuff left on it by the wind and tide...

Friday, November 22, 2013

November Beaches, Part 4.

Let's go back to Seven Mile Island (Avalon and Stone Harbor)... Click on 'em to bigify photos.

Thousands of shorebirds (mostly Dunlin, a few Black-bellied Plovers, and at least one Ruddy Turnstone) amassing on the beaches in Avalon... See that squarish shadow on the horizon to the right? That's Atlantic City, about 40 or so miles north.

A lovely day for a sail!

Dunlin. (Why are my best shots entirely due to pure luck...?)

 Very quiet surf this day, but still enough to kick up a bit of froth.
And to make interesting patterns in the sand...

(Along with some help from a few of those peeps...)