Sunday July 16th 2023, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It was 8:19 and sunset was officially at 8:30 when I started towards the door to see if my tomatoes and latest batch of apricot seedlings needed watering after the heat of the day but I saw and stopped just in time.

There was my little Bewick’s wren doing its nightly dust bath with great vigor.

So I stopped, as I always do, and watched it dance. My phone was nowhere near and I didn’t want to disturb it, but one of these days I hope to catch a video of this: every way a bird can move, it does. Tossing diving jumping flinging.

It flew at last to the top of the wooden box, with a small cloud trailing in its wake. There it did a big shake that tossed out a round cloud like a halo of light against the darkening sky before making a clean break for the tart cherry tree nearby.

And in that moment it instantly had a name, honorable if a not very dignified one.


Wednesday July 12th 2023, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It came last night when it was almost dark, and I wasn’t entirely sure till it took flight that it was a Bewick’s wren.

Having made the discovery, it came back tonight for more while there was still some light out.

Have you ever seen a bird playing? I’m sure there was a reason for it, drying out some annoying mite or something, but it was dancing and flipping its tail and making burrowing motions and throwing out clouds of the fine dust in this sweet little pile it had discovered. Again and again and again, with wings, tail, head, it’s all good. Whee! It must have felt very vulnerable while being so into it, and so it didn’t come when the sun’s full light would give it away to predators.

That tiny bird can really create a cloud. Zigzag! Fling! Marilyn Monroe’s skirt with the tail flipping!

Now how am I supposed to go sweep that up in good conscience?

Happy Fourth tomorrow!
Monday July 03rd 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Wildlife

Another baby apricot tree went off today to someone who’s wanted one for a year. That felt good.

P made it home from the hospital but was not up to visitors after the transition, as one would expect. So we polished off the two-day-old cherry pie and I made a fresh one for sharing with her tomorrow, and the fact that there was leftover crust means I just pulled a pumpkin pie out of the oven, too. Variety and all that. A visit or a doorbell ditch or a wait for now–we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Falcon pictures. The ones with the overhead are from the first night, where Soledad landed on the falcon catcher, ie the Rotunda below the main building at City Hall. Today she flew up all the way to the top of the 18-story building, while the boots-on-the-ground crew cheered her on.

Raptor captor
Sunday July 02nd 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

Creme Brûlée is not a tall sunflower variety, maybe two feet if that, but it’s sure a pretty one. I expect it’ll be right up there with tomatoes on my must-plant list forevermore.

Meantime, our falcon fledged yesterday and had to endure the indignity today of being rescued next to a pool (update: where she bumped into some glass), being scooped into a produce box, taken up in an elevator, and released on the roof of her native building to start over. Looks like they sprayed her with water to calm her and keep her from immediately taking off in a frenzy of fear at the releasing.

Instead, she looked up at the guy like what the heck are you and what am I expected to do about it?

Someone had fun writing the captions to the video and that’s some pretty impressive camera work there.

But I also want to note, she flew up, well up, on her second day of flying. That’s a really good sign. Even if she got tired and swooped down past the backs of some highly oblivious swimmers.

Play ball!
Thursday June 29th 2023, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

(This was Tuesday’s post that somehow never made it out of draft stage.)

If the third one opened yet, then the opening was facing the density of leaves and I missed it–but it may yet, we’ll see. (Update: it’s taller and bigger but not opened yet.) Monday offered us the second philodendron flower.

Also Monday: a mockingbird grabbed a cherry, flew halfway to where I was sitting on the other side of the window, and kept taking a hard stab at it as if cracking open the pit inside and then leaning its head way back to swallow bits of soft cherry.

(Pro tip, bird: you don’t have to work at it that hard.)

Each time its beak came back up, the cherry came up along with it, arced in the air, and then bounced on the ground. Stab, arc, bounce, stab, arc, bounce.

Today it had clearly learned that it had a new game: it wasn’t eating this time, it was trying to get this red thing to do the superball dance with it again.

But this one was either past its prime or deflated by having already been a meal.

I said bounce! pounced the mocker.

Rollll… (dud)


Okay kinda sorta that time but not really; oomph from the bird, none from the fruit.

I found a lot more cherries on the tree that had been picked and pecked and pickled by the process of having been investigated but not taken.

That’s okay, there are plenty more, and that was just too fun to watch.

A girl band
Thursday June 08th 2023, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Today both momma and poppa peregrine fed the lone eyas (baby peregrine) breakfast, which was a good thing, because it was banding day, and not only were they not going to feed her while there were humans on their nest ledge, they were going to be flying around defending against the possibility of any more such intrusions for a goodly while. As one does.

Which means that when that baby finally got fed again this evening, she was letting her parents know at the top of her voice just what she thought of how long they’d let her go hungry. And that whole abandoned to the giants thing! Yeah, cool bling on the leg, but, FEED ME!

The thought occurs, not for the first time, that whenever I let those sounds come out of my computer during the daytime, somehow the birds outside my window all just vanish.

Wednesday May 31st 2023, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

That lizard that I thought looked like an itty bitty alligator sort of?

It is in fact called, it turns out, an alligator lizard.

And in the loveliness of spring, they do… This. Which is why I’m stuck with the Beatles singing, ‘Hold me, love me’ in my head. Uhhh…

A day in May
Friday May 26th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The tenth: done.

We have the first tomato flowers of the year. (Photo taken through netting, thus the blur.)

Re the peregrines: while the sub-adult was in courtship with the adult, a male adult flew in and took over mating duties for a single day while the teenager sat over yonder and cried audibly in camera range at being ousted. But there was no fight, because the adult male didn’t think he was old enough to be competition yet–and then was never seen again. Avian flu, we don’t know.

So the female went back to accepting the sub-adult because that’s all she had.

And so I wonder…

Of the three eggs she laid, only one hatched and it’s late enough by now that there is no expectation the other two will.

Maybe he wasn’t fertile yet after all. We’ll never know.

(Today’s video here.)

Baby bird day
Thursday May 18th 2023, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The peregrines: the male being a second year still in juvenile plumage, he’s never done this before and there was some question as to whether he was even fertile yet, although the likelihood was yes.

He was certainly new at it: when the first egg was laid, he was so excited that he took prey over to it and tried to feed it. His mate did a falcon eye-rolling equivalent and it didn’t happen again.

Meantime, there was a faded egg left over from last year’s pair that had never hatched. Midway through brooding her own three, the female went over and carefully scooped it with her beak to where it could be properly kept warm along with the rest.

It stayed there about a week before the male was seen exiting the nest box carrying most of an eggshell and getting the darn thing out of there. So they came out even on the eye-rolling.

Their first fluffy eyas hatched last night and there was our happy daddy feeding it this morning, an actual beak offered eagerly up to him this time rather than smooth hard shell. He wasn’t particularly good at getting food to his mate when she wanted while she was (and is still) brooding–he wanted his turns on those eggs–but this part? He’s got it.

Also this morning: I got the sheer delight of watching a newly fledged mockingbird making it up to the fence line outside the window. It did baby bird things: it tried to preen away an itchy bit of hatchling fluff that hadn’t fallen out yet. It tried walking down the fence line and the first time, it was the stagger of a toddler in diapers; after a rest and a try again, it walked more smoothly, more like a mockingbird. I wondered if this was the first time it had been able to take steps for longer than the width of the nest? Did I just get to see a baby learning how to walk?

Seems that way.

It begged for food and almost fell over in the process when a parent flew by to check on it.

Parent on the fence! A second baby flew uncertainly up there, its wobbliness giving its age away.

Look how short their tails still are! Those will finish growing in fast.

They fluttered their wings and nearly knocked themselves over. They picked at bugs on the fence. They tried the mocker gesture of the one-two dance, shoulders up high, and, now out, to try to scare up more and no, not quite like that, guys, you don’t want to fall on your beak. They pancaked down, tired, the second one echoing its sibling on every movement. They jumped up when a parent flew by and they each got fed sometimes, while at other times the parent looked at them as if they would, then turned around and flew away: we won’t let you go hungry but we won’t let you get away with thinking you don’t have to start finding your own now.

Later, I saw one try to make the jump from the neighbor’s tree back to that fence and it misjudged the height or else couldn’t quite maintain its own; I’m not sure what it landed on on the other side. There used to be a beehive about there, if there isn’t still.

More preening that almost made them knock themselves over. Kids are so cute. Lots of observing their world from their wide new perspective.

Just now as I was typing, movement caught my eye and I looked over. It was a Bewick’s wren, a particular favorite of mine, suddenly perched by the window. It preened a bit of baby fluff away and nearly wobbled off its perch. It fluttered its wings hard to keep its balance. It considered trying flying again but for awhile there was going, nahhh. It looked over at me. I looked at it, wishing it could grok a human smile and love directed its way. Well, at least it stayed awhile as I typed.

And then finally, with the sun getting low, it took off around the awning pole and away into something I couldn’t quite see from here.

As they do.

The nature of things
Thursday May 11th 2023, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

Looking around, I’m not sure but I think what we had was a Stinkhorn mushroom.

Not, sorry, a Stinkface, as I initially relayed to my husband. It still makes me laugh, even if I was wrong.

Maybe that potential treat is what the little guy sunning himself near the blue flower pot was interested in.

A question: I’ve been going through old stash and came across these blues. The big ball, 167 grams, is merino laceweight dyed by Lisa Souza at, the hank and its wound-up twin (they are, even if the photo insists on adding extra purple and depth to the unwound one) are Cascade alpaca lace–pretty sure that’s not baby alpaca, sorry, but it’s okay; the teal blue to the left is 50/50 tussah silk/merino, and the darker blue is–quite sure that’s from Lisa, too, baby alpaca laceweight where I bought an extra hank just in case but didn’t need it.

These were together in storage because I was always going to knit them doubled in dark/light stripes. Or maybe three. Or something. But it never happened. If anyone wants to play with some laceweight, let me know and it’ll be on its way. Stored in a ziplock inside a heavy plastic bag.

Edit: yarn spoken for. Thanks!

Cargo, car go
Friday May 05th 2023, 8:12 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

You know Russia doesn’t think their invasion plan is going so well when one of their guys goes on record claiming the Americans started the whole thing because they’ve got a volcano in Yellowstone that’s going to wipe out all of North America so they were out to expand their territory.

Say what now?

Ukraine is like this warden: Get this snarling thing out of here and send it back where it belongs.

Rare but it happens
Friday March 10th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Those stripes on the chest are protective of the young: they signal to adult peregrines that this is just a kid hanging around, no reason to hassle them, they’re not trying to steal your mate nor your territory.

But since no other male had chased him off at the abandoned nest and he got there first and then she showed up, well, it took a number of days to convince her but there you go.

The falconistas say this pair should mostly likely succeed this year after all.

Flight feathers are usually molted as a symmetrical pair wing to wing and he’s missing just one, so that makes him easy to spot till the new one grows out.

Just to add re the California flooding: the road nearest the Bay is under water and the city put out a warning and we’re definitely not traveling anywhere, but we’re doing fine.

Oh, and, thank you all for the advice re the microplane. My daughter reminds me that she thought they were a good idea too so she bought me one a year ago.

That was the Christmas we had almost no lemons because the unusual, intense summer heat had so stressed the tree that it had dropped the fruit before it had had any chance to ripen. And so the microplane had been forgotten.

And now I know where it is!

First date
Friday March 03rd 2023, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

Peregrines: today there were two. But they’re clearly not sure of each other yet. They weren’t fighting each other off the site, which is good, but neither were they best buddies–yet.

Meantime, and I hesitate to say this because it is by no means anywhere near a sure thing, there is a very small possibility that we might take a day trip to Stitches tomorrow. More likely not, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up.

Location location location
Thursday March 02nd 2023, 8:06 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The peregrines: today a new adult, unbanded, looks to be a female, showed up. Walked the ledge. Went into the nest box–gravel, not too small, not too big, good for supporting nestlings and holding in her body heat for them in those short moments where she might have to fly off to defend them, perfect, perfect. Walked across the top of the nest box and took in that view.

Nice place. Shame the former owners left in such a hurry. It’ll do nicely, yes, quite. Didn’t even have to fight for it.

She’s keeping watch on it from the nearby louver for the night.

Wednesday March 01st 2023, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

So there was a falcon, a floater that didn’t have a mate yet. A female peregrine who was hanging around an area near the southern border where a team was trying to reestablish I forget which endangered bird species, but whatever, she needed not to be there.

So she was trapped, taken from San Diego to Shasta County a little south of the Oregon border, and released.

She had her opinions on that and was heading back to where she came from.

But along the way she discovered the 18th floor HVAC ledge with the nesting box in San Jose, she found a mate, they made many a display of owning the place and the egg laying was expected to start this week or next. She was of course promptly named Shasta after her leg band number retraced that history, while her mate was named Sequoia and banded at UC Berkeley a few years ago.

Sunday she started having erratic movements. She stayed in the nest box. Finally I guess she got hungry enough that she needed to go catch a meal since Sequoia wasn’t fully immersed in bringing such to her yet, and she took off.

She was found by the right people and delivered to the wildlife rescue center, where they believed she had a head injury and that a little time off would let it heal. The initial reports were encouraging.

Sunday she passed away. Avian flu is a possibility that they’re testing for–being sick would have explained how she could possibly have collided head-first with anything.

Sequoia stayed perched on the ledge, waiting for her to come back. Looking for her.

Today, nobody has seen him. Not the ones manning the cameras. Not the woman whose office is across from City Hall who’d kept an eye out, hoping.

“He may be off courting a new female,” I said to Richard.

“Or he may have had avian flu, too,” was the response I knew but it was hard to hear.

They were our third set of peregrines to vie for that nesting area over the winter, and there’s plenty of time for a new pair to settle in and raise a family this year.

An unbanded juvenile showed up this afternoon (picture from the cam there) and showed off his gorgeous plumage, and all I could think of was, well, this all started with a brand new building and a juvenile female who showed up one day, an adult male who hung around for a year waiting for her to grow up back when there weren’t many of their kind around to fight him for it nor for him to choose from, and something like a dozen years of her matriarchy thereafter before the site got passed on to the next pair.

So it’s hard. But it’s a start.