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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: wildlife, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Children’s Book of the Year

It is the time to celebrate the CBCA Books of the Year: a plethora of excellent books. No one will be be surprised that Shaun Tan’s inimitable Rules of Summer has won Picture Book of the Year. From a visual literacy perspective, it excels in composition – what is put where and how distance and […]

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2. Holly Exley: expressive, saturated watercolour palettes

Post by Heather Ryerson

Holly Exley

Holly Exley

Holly Exley

Holly Exley

Holly Exley

Holly Exley

Holly Exley’s expressive, saturated colour palettes feel realer than life. Her food illustrations beg to be eaten; her watercolour paintings of British wildlife threaten to flit off the page. Since graduating from Middlesex University, Exley has worked with clients Marks & Spencer, Whole Foods, Topshop, Chronicle Books, BBC Wildlife and more. She lives and paints in London.

Visit her website and her blog.

0 Comments on Holly Exley: expressive, saturated watercolour palettes as of 8/8/2014 9:50:00 PM
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3. Soaring Eagles

 

Cindy Lord met me on the porch of my campground office at 5am last Friday morning.  After I made a pot of coffee and filled my stainless steel cup with the hot, dark liquid I craved at that time of day, we trekked to the lake to put our kayaks in the lake.

We were in time to witness the dancing mist on the water and the rising sun over the trees.

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I looked for muskrats, herons and wood ducks.  But as is often the case with Cindy and I, it was a loon we saw first.  I can’t remember the last time we were together and we didn’t see one.

A second loon flew overhead a few moments later. We watched as they two of them  greeted each other for a few minutes before swimming off down the lake.

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Cindy and I traveled the same path as the pair, talking, sharing author-ly stories and just plain catching up on life.

Until we were rendered speechless by the sight of an adult eagle in the distance.

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At first, he appeared to be sitting in peace.  But the caw of a crow told a different story.

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It didn’t take long to see the eagle was being harassed.  The crow called and buzzed him until eventually, the poor eagle took flight to escape.

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He landed in another tree, closer to us.  The crow wasn’t giving up that easily though.

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A second crow joined the first.  The eagle looked out over the lake regally, appearing to ignore them as best as he could .

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But even the mighty eagle can only take so much.  The crow buzzed the eagle one too many times . . .

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until the eagle spread his wings and fell off the branch,

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It was the most beautiful thing to see . . .

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his wings filling with air and the eagle lifting up to the sky . . .

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soaring . . .

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down along the lake toward the campground.

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Cindy and I looked at each other and grinned, before picking up our paddles to follow its path.

 

 

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4. Soaring Eagles

 

Cindy Lord met me on the porch of my campground office at 5am last Friday morning.  After I made a pot of coffee and filled my stainless steel cup with the hot, dark liquid I craved at that time of day, we trekked to the lake to put our kayaks in the lake.

We were in time to witness the dancing mist on the water and the rising sun over the trees.

IMG_4231

I looked for muskrats, herons and wood ducks.  But as is often the case with Cindy and I, it was a loon we saw first.  I can’t remember the last time we were together and we didn’t see one.

A second loon flew overhead a few moments later. We watched as they two of them  greeted each other for a few minutes before swimming off down the lake.

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Cindy and I traveled the same path as the pair, talking, sharing author-ly stories and just plain catching up on life. Every now and then, we’d run into the loons again . . .

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We’d snap a few more photos and chat again until we were rendered speechless by the sight of an adult eagle in the distance.

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At first, he appeared to be sitting in peace.  But the caw of a crow told a different story.

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It didn’t take long to see the eagle was being harassed.  The crow called and buzzed him, until eventually, the poor eagle took flight to escape all the noise and hubbub.

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He landed in another tree, closer to us.  The crow wasn’t giving up that easily though.

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A second crow joined the first in making the eagle’s life as miserable as possible.

All the while, the eagle looked out over the lake regally, appearing to ignore them as best as he could .

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But even the mighty eagle can only take so much.  The crow buzzed the eagle one too many times . . .

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until the eagle spread his wings and fell off the branch,

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It was the most beautiful thing to see . . .

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his wings filling with air before lifting up into the sky . . .

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soaring . . .

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over hour heads . . .

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then down along the lake toward the campground.

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Cindy and I smiled at each other, much as I imagined Cooper and Packrat do, before we  pickied up our paddles to follow the eagle home, to the campground.

 

 

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5. Nesting Loons 2014

 

I snuck away from the camp office today and was basking in the glorious sunshine while kayaking the lake, when I found myself face to face with Steve Yenco, photographer!  We’ve chatted on-line over our wildlife photos, but had never met in person before.

We were talking about eagles, loons and our cameras, when suddenly, I saw a flash of white from the corner of my eye.  I raised the camera to snap a few quick photos.

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“Two eggs!” I called to Steve.  Two.

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Our chatting about the loon,  didn’t seem to bother her in the least.

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A few days before, I captured the photo above and the ones below, of the loon pair checking in with each other.  The one on the nest seemed very interested in the little rock beside it. She picked it up and moved it a few times as I watched.

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Only two more weeks to go before those chicks make an appearance.  I’m biting my nails, one by one, worried about the water level.  It’s gone up significantly since they first nested.  If you remember, last year they didn’t incubate the eggs successfully, in spite of the fact they tried twice; once with two eggs, and then again with one.

The year before that, one egg hatched, but the second was caught in the rising water of a rainy, rainy spring.   That one chick survived, though.  A very bright spot in the summer, indeed.

I will keep you all posted on my findings.  If that darned rain ever stops appearing in the forecast!

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6. Loon Chick Update for 2014

The reason it took me so long to post, is that I didn’t want to write this one.  I kept hoping I was wrong.  But I’m not.

There will be no loon chicks again this year.

That makes two years in a row.

How did I know?

Well, one day I was seeing this . . .

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Two days later, I went out onto the lake to find this . . .

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and three adults swimming about, not too far from the nesting site.

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But still, it was hot and I thought, maybe she’s only gone in the water to cool off and the eggs will be fine. Maybe the third adult isn’t a threat.  Maybe one of the eggs had hatched and the fourth adult had taken it to a safe location.

But my gut told me the extra loon didn’t add up.  Normally, if a loon pair had a chick or unhatched eggs, they wouldn’t allow any other adults in their territory.

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Two days after that, I went out on the lake again. Still no loon on the nest.  I kayaked all the way to the end of the lake where I knew they took their chicks.  On the way, I saw three pair.  None of them had chicks in tow.

It is possible one or two of the eggs hatched and the eagle snatched the young one.  The eagle does fly low over them every now and again, causing the loons to cry out in distress.

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Oh, I was soooooo hoping for loon chicks to photograph this spring.

Sigh.

But three pair of loon on our lake is quite exciting too.

You can never have too many loon photos!

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7. Eagle Mania

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Our eaglets are getting quite big!  They’re spreading and flapping their wings.  Before you know it, they’ll be catching the wind with them too.

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The adults still bring food, but they’re ripping and tearing dinner apart on their own.  One day, an adult and an eaglet played tug a war with a hunk of meat.  The adult won, before flying to a branch above the eaglets. (I took thirty pictures of that scene, but not one came out . . . see?  Not all my pictures are . . . well . . . picture perfect)

I see the adult eagles quite often when I kayak, but never know where I’m going to find them these days. Especially now that the eaglets can be left alone for longer periods of time.

My favorite sighting so far this year happened one gorgeous, quiet spring morning. I was paddling along when I rounded a corner to an adult eagle resting on a log which lay just  below the surface of the water.  It almost looked like he could stand on water.

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I wish I’d witnessed this scene before finishing the edits to Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest.  I stilled, almost forgetting to take photos of this grand creature  It took a sip of water, then stared across the water, its reflection mirrored below.  A fisherman slowly meandered up the shoreline from the other direction, toward us, and the eagle turned to look at him.

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Then silently spread his wings, lifted off and flew off along the log . . .

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out over open water . . .

 

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to a quieter spot on the lake.

The fisherman never looked up.  Never heard, and so, never saw that graceful exit.

That vision stays with me still.

 

 

 

 

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8. Front Yard Images

Sometimes, the best photos and wildlife inspiration comes from my front yard . . .

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This yellow-ish woodpecker has been at my feeder all spring and summer.  It has recently found a mate (not yellow) and has been feeding her at the feeder.  It’s so cute.  I’m hoping to catch them on camera together.

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Then of course there’s my orioles, who are still hanging around, even though they no longer seem interested in the oranges.  I hear their distinctive call when I’m down by the lake, or on the front lawn.

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Talk about posing pretty! This Rose-Breasted Grosbeak has been to the feeder only a handful of times, but I really enjoy watching him when he does. I didn’t realize they sing day and night, even while sitting on their eggs!

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One of my campers gave inside info on where to find this nesting Nuthatch pair!

Look what was brought for dinner!  *shudder*

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And today, at first glance, I thought the cardinal was back. But no, it’s a purple finch!

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Such a colorful selection of birds on my front lawn this year.  More species than I think I’ve had in the past.  The difference?  I moved the feeders from hanging in the windows against the house, to posting them on the front lawn.

Now, I must get back to my Cooper and Packrat’s third adventure!   I think I’d better close the curtains though – the feeders are such a distraction!

 

 

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9. #602 – Boa’s Bad Birthday by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross

cover.

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Boa’s Bad Birthday

by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross, illustrator

Andersen Press USA         2/6/2014

Age 4 to 8               32 pages

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“It was Boa’s birthday. It was going to be the best one ever. Or so he hoped. He invited his friends round. They would all bring him presents. Or would they?”

Opening

“It was Boa’s birthday.”

Review

Ah, birthdays. That one day of the year, that belongs only to you. Everyone who sees you will say, “Happy Birthday!” Throw a birthday party—the best way to celebrate your day—and everyone invited will bring you a present. Since they are all your friends, each one will know exactly what you like. It will be a grand day, indeed!

Today is Boa’s birthday and his mother is throwing him a birthday party. All of Boa’s friends are invited and each brings a present. Orangutan’s present is so big he lugs it on his back. Boa hopes against odds that the gift is not what he thinks it is. It is. What was Orangutan thinking? Boa’s mother said,

“It’s the thought that counts.”

An excited Monkey told Boa, “You’ll love it!” Boa doesn’t. Mom said,

“Third time lucky.”

Friend after friend forgets to think about Boa when getting him a birthday present. Now, one friend remains and mother and son are certain Dung Beetle brought a pile of, um, of . . . well, it isn’t a pile, but a big ball of . . ., um, must I say it? Dung Beetle? Okay? Good. Boa and his mother are right. Dung Beetle did bring a huge ball of, uh, yeah, that stuff. Poor Boa. I could say the nicely written, fun to read aloud, birthday story is the most fantastic birthday story ever written for a boa . . . if only the author had thought about Boa when she wrote in the presents. Kids will love the terrific illustrations, but the images also could have been fantastic . . . if the artist had remembered to think of Boa.

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From Here on, Some, Not All, of this Review is Written in Jest – No Spoilers

Willis and Ross have collaborated on at least four other books. Those books must be fantastic else the publisher would not offer Boa’s birthday story. What went wrong? Do they not like Boa? Did they have a big fight and take it out on Boa? The awful mood made the writer so testy she had Dung Beetle leave his gift . . . then makes it rain. Dung’s ball stinks up Boa’s world as it slowly washes away until, only a small mound remains. The mound will forever leave reminders of Boa’s Bad Birthday.

Young kids will love Boa’s story. Parents can easily read Boa’s Bad Birthday in such a way as to make their children laugh. So may animal voices to use. A big orangutan, a funky monkey, a sleek jaguar, a happy, athletic sloth, and a, um, a . . . dirty dung beetle all offering an array of voices kids will love. Ah, but there is more. Willis and Ross made Boa’s already bleak world rain. Dung Beetle, being the last animal placed into the story, noticed the foul direction of Boa’s Bad Birthday and took to spying on Willis and Ross. What did Dung find out?

Dung has never liked the way creatives portray him. This time, Dung learns it’s his friend Boa who will be disappointed. Mad, the mischievous Dung decides to stop Willis and Ross’s total destruction of Boa’s birthday. “Let it rain,” said Dung to no one. Inside the ball of . . . that stuff Dung had to bring, he hides something. That something will turn Boa’s Bad Birthday into a fantastic birthday. Dung’s only disappointment is in his the inability to change the title. Still, I imagine—with a big smile—that the writer and artist are not happy Dung hijacked their story. Why? Because they once more captured the last word. The two countered by adding one more spread. I just don’t understand what a child has to do with Boa’s Bad Birthday?!

End of Jest

Boa’s Bad Birthday is cute. I love the alliterated title. Actually, I like the entire story. When Boa tries to use each gift, it will bring belly laughs from young children. I’ll admit Boa made me smile. Readers will understand Boa’s unhappiness and feel bad for him. Kids will also start to learn the importance of thinking before giving someone a gift. Parents should not mind reading Boa’s Bad Birthday multiple times. The story does not waste words. The illustrations add understanding to the text. Willis and Ross made a, dare I say, a “Fantastic” birthday story. Boa’s Bad Birthday contains an opportunity for children to empathize with Boa, laugh, and enjoy a terrific twist—Dung Beetle’s present. By next year, Boa’s friends will have learned the lesson of this story and Boa will have a fantastic birthday. One endnote, Mr. Tony Ross, considered one the world’s best illustrator, has illustrated a mind-boggling “over 800 books for young readers.”

BOA’S BAD BIRTHDAY. Text copyright © 2014 by Jeanne Willis. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Tony Ross. Reproduce by permission of the distributing publisher, Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. Minneapolis, MN.

Buy Boa’s Bad Birthday at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Publishingat your local bookstore.

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Learn more about Boa’s Bad Birthday HERE.

Meet the author, Jeanne Willis, at her website:  http://www.jeannewillis.com/

Meet the illustrator, Tony Ross, at his short Lerner bio:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/Pages/Author-Illustrator-Details.aspx?contactid=957

Find more books at the Andersen Press USA website:  http://andersenpressusa.com/

an imprint of Andersen Press, Ltd.:     http://www.andersenpress.co.uk/           

distributed by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.:    https://www.lernerbooks.com/

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ALSO BY JEANNE WILLIS & TONY ROSS

Flabby Cat and Slobby Dog 

Flabby Cat and Slobby Dog

Fly, Chick, Fly!

Fly, Chick, Fly!

Hippospotamus

Hippospotamus

The Pet Person

The Pet Person

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CONGRATULATIONS TO

An Andersen Press Children’s author, Berlie Doherty, winner of the Carnegie Medal, is shortlist for The 2014 Stockport Children’s Book Awards, for her middle grade novel, The Company of Ghosts.  If you know Ms. Doherty, please congratulate her.

 

 

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boas bad birthday


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Andersen Press Ltd, Andersen Press USA, birthday party, birthday party story, Boa, Boa’s Bad Birthday, children's book reviews, Jeanne Willis, Lerner Publishing Group Inc., picture book, Tony Ross, wildlife

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10. Loon Yawn

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Have you ever seen a loon yawn??

I have!

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The loon didn’t make a sound, as he gave the long, slow yawn, that ended with his closing his eyes and drifting away from me.

I kayaked away, as quietly as I could.

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11. Maine’s Loon Count

Thanks to the reminder from a friend on Middle Range Pond, I finally remembered to join in on Maine’s Loon Count.  I’d always wanted to . . . planned to . . .  then the date would come and go and I’d  miss it.

Not this year!

As I dragged my kayak into knee-deep water,  6:35ish Saturday morning, I smiled to think of all the other Maine volunteers.   Some would take to boats and kayaks like me. Some would stand on the shoreline with binoculars.  But all would be watching, counting and documenting their findings from 7 – 7:30am on this day.

It felt kind of awesome to be a part of something that big.

Because I had to be back at the campground office to open it up at 8am, my plan was to kayak down to the state park end of the lake, and then slowly paddle back during the recording time, because I knew I couldn’t cover the whole lake in half an hour, but the loons seem to hang out on this end more than the firestation-end.

I’d barely dipped my paddle half a dozen times, when I saw a loon through the early morning fog.

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I looked at the time on my phone.  6:40am.  Way too early to count.

But not too early to snap photos.

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I stuck to my plan and headed toward the State Park.  To my surprise, the loon kept time with me.  I paddled slightly left to give some space between us, and it went left with me.  I slowed down, and it slowed down too.

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“I guess you want to be counted,” I said, making conversation.

The loon just looked at me.

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6:50am.

I couldn’t resist.  I snapped a few more pictures

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and then the loon looked upward.

 

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A second loon flew in and landed, before I could turn the lens on him.

I looked at the time . . .

7:01am.

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“Well, who told you about the party?” I asked out loud.

The two loons didn’t pay me any mind.  They greeted each other, swimming in circles, hooting and dipping their bills into the water (not their heads, just the bills).  It looked to me as if one had been waiting for the other.

Not even five minutes later, one of the two looked toward the end of the lake and hooted softly.  A third loon had appeared!  I had just scanned that area with my long camera lens and hadn’t seen him. Perhaps he’d been under water.  Perhaps he flew in too.

But here he was.

7:08am

 

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I watched for just a couple minutes more while sipping coffee.  The loons parted ways; the two staying together on the right side of the lake, while the last to arrive went off on his own to the left.

I dipped my paddle to begin the trek back to the campground.  Even though I poked into every little inlet and scanned the middle of the lake in front of the campground, no other loons appeared.

So ‘three’, was my answer on the paperwork.

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Three adult loons on Lower Range Pond.

 

 

 

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12. Eagle Family Feud

 

 

I witnessed the most incredible wildlife-happening Saturday while paddling in from the loon count.

As I made my way past the eagle island, I heard a ton of commotion.  The eaglets were both on the nest, screeching at one another.  Wings flapped as they moved around the nest and to the branches just above it.  I lifted my camera to get a better look.  One of the eaglets lifted off the nest, and flew rather clumsily to land on a branch of a nearby tree.

I could tell there was something in his talons . . .

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Above and to his right, the sibling eaglet screamed in frustration from the nest.

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It took a minute, but this one finally won the battle of the fish.  I’m guessing that what I missed, was an adult swooping in to drop off breakfast.

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Obviously, this one didn’t want to share.

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I looked at my watch, and realized I had fifteen minutes to get to shore, lock up my kayak, trudge uphill, and open the store for business.  I’d lowered my camera to do just that, when WHOOSH -

a blur of brown and white buzzed by the eaglet with the fish, causing him to drop his prize.

An osprey?  The adult?

Again, I lifted my camera, using it like binoculars and gasped to see this juvenile had landed on the branch next to the eaglet.

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Since it takes almost 5 years for a juvenile to gain their white head and yellow beak, I’m thinking this one is 3 – 4 years old.    Dare I suggest it’s one of the triplets from a couple years ago?  There was that one eaglet who just didn’t seem to want to leave the nest . . . not even after it had collapsed.  We called him “the baby”.

Anyway, all the hullabaloo started all over again.  The eaglet that lost the fish, screamed at the juvenile.  The eaglet in the nest, shrieked down at both of them, while the juvenile let them both have it.

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Oh, it was loud!!

But it was about to get louder.

The adult arrived, buzzing the juvenile, who promptly jumped further into the branches of its tree.

Meanwhile, the adult landed on top the highest point of the island, and hollered down at the juvenile.  More than hollered, she meant business.  It was a call I’d only heard when the osprey buzzed the nest or the heron flew too closely.

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She was not pleased with this newcomer.

Neither were the eaglets who were still making noise of their own.

I just sat in my kayak and chuckled at the whole thing.

Finally, the adult had enough.  She took to the sky.

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. . . and  buzzed the juvenile until he was on the run.

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Behind me, the eaglets had gone silent. All I could hear was the two of them screeching, as the adult chased  the juvenile to the other side of the lake . ..

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Ooooooo, she was relentless.

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The last of my photos have these two as brown dots in the sky.  She chased this one away, across the lake, over the golf course and well over Middle Range Pond, before I lost sight of them.

This was an experience I’ll never forget.  Awe-inspiring.  Nature at its finest.

And after all that, I still managed to open the store on time. Although the first hundred customers of the day had to patiently listen to me tell my story over, and over and over again.

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13. What Can Clear Your Front Yard of Song Birds?

Last week, the bird seed ran low somewhere around Wednesday. It seemed that every time I went outside, I was getting scolded from chickadees, titmouse, finches, and squirrels.  “You expect us to all fit on one feeder?” they taunted.

So on Saturday, hubby and I stopped for the food and suet and even a special treat of safflower seeds.  I cleaned feeders, shoveled around them (hoping the squirrels would stop jumping up on them – it didn’t) and refilled.

“Here you go!” I called out. They were buzzing my head in seconds.

Back inside the house, I vacuumed, then did some research, peeking out the windows as I went. Suddenly, I realized there were no birds at my feeders.  There was no song.  No chirping.

But wait, clinging upside down to the thin side of the suet feeder was one, tiny nuthatch. He was stone still.  No movement.  I knew then what was going on . . .

I went window to window until I found it.

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I’ve had a Red-shouldered Hawk and a Barre Owl clear my front yard before.

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But never a Sharp-shinned Hawk!  I took a few photos through the window.  When he stayed, I snuck silently out the side door to take a few more.  Still he stayed.

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I noticed he was puffing up a bit, probably from the cold.  I went back inside to grab the tripod.  As quietly as I could, I set it up a little closer and snapped a few more photos using my remote control.

Snow began to fall.  He stayed.

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It took me awhile last night to figure out what he was.  Sharp-shinned Hawks are quite interesting!  They prefer to live in the forests.  Their long tail helps them maneuver around trees as they fly.  They chase song  birds and mice. For their meals.

So is it any wonder my front yard stayed quiet through sundown, even though the hawk left the front yard around 5pm?  I’m not sure I’d risk it for a few seeds either.

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14. One billion dogs? What does that mean?

By Matthew E. Gompper


As part of my recent research on the ecology of dogs and their interactions with wildlife I took the necessary first step of attempting to answer a seemingly simple question: Just how many dogs are there on the planet? Yet just because a question is simple does not mean we can confidently answer it. Previous estimates of 500-700 million dogs were rough calculations. I tried to do a bit better by pulling together hundreds of local-scale estimates and extrapolating across much larger regions. The result? One billion dogs (986,913,500 to be exact).

What are we to make of such a shockingly large number? The estimate itself is undoubtedly inexact, and in the future population demographers will likely improve on it, much as demographers studying human populations have increased the accuracy of human population size estimates. Maybe it is ten percent less than a billion. Maybe it is twenty percent more. Either way, it’s a massive number. There is something about hitting the billion threshold that makes one pause and wonder how to interpret such findings.

One way to ponder such numbers is to ask about impact. What is the impact of having a billion dogs on the planet? We tend to view dogs as benign commensals, and indeed, with only rare exceptions (such as Australian dingoes) that is the case. These billion or so dogs are entirely dependent on humans to survive. We shelter and feed them directly or indirectly ¬– the latter when dogs survive by feeding on the foods that humans have discarded. For the most part, individual dogs can’t make a living hunting wild prey. (In this sense, dogs are quite different from cats, which can survive just fine outside the bounds of human societies.)

But that doesn’t mean that dogs won’t kill the occasional prey if it has the opportunity. My dog, an Australian Shepherd that as I type is happily snoozing on the living room couch, will gladly chase any squirrel in sight even if his chance of catching it is close to nil. But ‘close to nil’ is not the same as ‘nil’, and to quote Hamlet, “ay, there’s the rub”. Occasionally, some dogs can catch the proverbial squirrel, and many dogs are better than that, regularly ranging into areas where animals are likely to be found and chasing or killing whatever they can. This ranging may be alone or with other dogs from the neighborhood; the dogs may also be accompanying their human companions. One dog doing this occasionally is not a big deal. But multiply that by a billion and we suddenly recognize the potential for dogs to be important drivers of the behavior of wildlife and important mediators of wildlife population dynamics.

Free-ranging dog in Great Indian Bustard Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra, India. Such dogs have the potential to greatly influence wildlife in the region. Photo by Matthew Gompper. Used with permission.

Free-ranging dog in Great Indian Bustard Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra, India. Such dogs have the potential to greatly influence wildlife in the region. Photo by Matthew Gompper. Used with permission.

Indeed, numerous cases have been documented showing how dogs interact with and cause problems for the surrounding wildlife. Dogs disturb or kill wildlife, compete for the resources that wildlife also need, and act as reservoirs for pathogens that cause epidemics in wildlife. Dogs even act as prey for some big species of wild carnivores such as tigers, leopards, wolves and bears, and in such cases draw these species into areas where conflicts with humans are more likely. The more researchers look into the issue of dog-wildlife conflict, the more they come to recognize both the importance of the issue for protecting species and environments of conservation concern, as well as the importance of recognizing just how little we currently understand.

For instance, it would appear that a simple solution would be to restrict the ability of dogs to roam in areas where wildlife exists. Since most dogs in the developing world are fed kitchen scraps and roam in search of additional discarded food waste, combine restrictions on roaming with a better diet for dogs, and everyone wins, right? Not so fast. Commercially-produced dog foods are in many ways nutritionally similar to human foods. Producing dog food requires agricultural lands above and beyond that required for food production for people. Indeed, back of the envelope calculations based on the caloric needs of dogs suggest that the agricultural production requirements to support dogs equates to 30-40% of that required to support humans. Where would that land come from? Putting more land into agricultural development might do more damage to wildlife conservation efforts than the direct impacts dogs are currently causing.

But maintaining the status quo of allowing dogs to roam widely interacting with species of conservation concern is not satisfactory either. Nor do the norms of society allow us to cull massive numbers of dogs or confine every dog to a small space. After all, we as a global human population, like our dogs. So what are we to do? I believe a necessary first step to reducing the extent of dog-wildlife conflict may lie merely in first getting the word out regarding the importance of such issues. Once people come to realize there is an issue, locally tailored solutions, whether they involve curtailing how far dogs roam, increased oversight of dog welfare and breeding, or expanding the space set aside for wildlife, are more likely to be found acceptable than any one-size-fits-all approach to reducing dog numbers or impacts. The end result would hopefully benefit dogs, wildlife, and people.

Matthew Gompper is Professor of Mammalogy at the University of Missouri. His research examines wildlife disease ecology, the biology of mammalian carnivores (both wild and domestic), and the effects of resource subsidies on animal ecology. Gompper is the editor of Free-Ranging Dogs and Wildlife Conservation.

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15. Signs

 

This morning, as I gathered my things to go to school, I saw a flash of orange through my office window.  I looked again, and smiled to see the fox trotting down what we call Main Street in the campground.  Heading home from a night of hunting, I guessed.  Instead of passing by, he turned toward my front yard, and stepped a paw on it, I gasped.  He seemed to change his mind, backing off the lawn and continuing past our house on the other side of the hedge, toward our campground gate.

But where the hedge ended, he again turned onto the lawn.  I grabbed my camera, which still had the big lens on it, and  flew to the living room window.

And there he was, investigating under the bird feeders.

fox outside window 4-1 2

I really didn’t need that large lens, but I didn’t want to take the time to switch it out.

Click, went the camera. He turned my way . . .

fox outside window 4-1 8

What amazing hearing they have!  He stayed for a minute or two, even came next to the house to sniff around under the bird feeder in the window.  Again, when I snapped a photo, he seemed to look right at me.

Fox outside window 4-1

Write the story, he seemed to say.

I knew what story he meant.  His story.

But I shrugged it off.

Later today in class, the students were issued three writing prompts and told to choose one. Most dove right in.

Two did not.

I coaxed.  I gave my best helpful tips.

And yes, I threatened to make them work through our read-aloud.

“Buuuuut it’s soooo hard!”  One young man moaned.  He was quite angry with me as he lives for the read-aloud.

“Yes, the first words ARE hard,” I explained.  “Write anything, anything that comes to mind.  And once you start, the rest will come more easily.”

“It’ll just be junk though!”  He closed his ipad, crossed his arms and put his chin in his chest.

“You’re right,” I agreed, deciding honesty was best.  “But you can delete what you don’t want once you get going.  The important thing is to begin.  Don’t be afraid of the blank page-”

I stopped talking mid sentence.  All the students looked at me, waiting.  Finally, I sighed, shook my head and laughed.  I confessed to the young man how I’d been holding back from writing those first words too.

Then I thanked the class for teaching me something.  I needed to follow my own advice.

I haven’t started a brand new project since 2011.  Mystery on Pine Lake was complete when I sold it, and Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest was half done.  Starting from scratch IS scary!   And I’d been losing myself in fox research instead of taking a chance and writing those junky first words.

fox outside window 4-1 9

Well, it’s time.

Consider Book 3 officially started.

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16. Mystery Of The Eagle’s Nest

 

MysteryoftheEaglesNestFinal

Well, it’s official!  Mystery of The Eagle’s Nest is off to the printers!

The release date?  August 17th!  We’ll be having another book launch here at Poland Spring Campground.  I’ll post more details as we get closer.  I couldn’t be more excited to share this story with all of you!

So what’s next?  I’ve begun research on Book 3, which will feature fox kits.  It’ll be set in late April, early May, so I’m doing my setting research now, taking notes about weather, foliage (or lack of!), what we’re doing to get the campground ready to open -

and what the fox family is doing.

I’m lucky enough to be able to do this research first hand, just like with the loons and the eagles.  Two years ago, I found a fox den on the property quite by accident.  You can read about it here.  Those little faces just melted my heart and I knew I had to put them in a story.  I have the trail cam on them now. Up until last week, I had only seen the adults coming and going and bringing furry mammals to the den.

But last Friday, after changing out the SD card from the cam, I walked a few yards away before stopping to safely tuck it into a zippered pocket.  Then I checked my phone.   I was putting it away in my back pocket when I heard a noise, like falling sand. I turned in time to see an adult fox exit the den and shake himself off.

fox den 1

 

fox den 2

 

I froze.  How gorgeous, he was!   He sniffed the air, then turned back to the den.  A tiny reddish-brown fuzzball stumbled out.  The adult licked it across the head, then it’s back.  Gently it nudged it back toward the opening of the den.

I was so in awe, I forgot to take a picture of the moment.

But sometimes, it’s more rewarding just to watch. To soak it up into your memory.

I’ll wait a few more days before I collect the SD card from the trail cam again.

And if I’m lucky enough, I might get to see a kit as well.

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17. #541 – Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub by Darci Pattison & Kitty Harvill

abayomi the brazilian puma.

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub

by Darci Pattison & Kitty Harvill, illustrator

Mims House           2014

978-1-62944-001-9

Ages 6 to 8       32 pages

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“From the award-winning team that brought you WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, comes a new heart-warming story of an orphaned puma cub. A mother puma, an attempt to steal a chicken, and an angry chicken farmer—the search is on for orphaned cubs. Will the scientists be able to find the cubs before their time runs out?

In this “Biography in Text and Art,” Harvill takes original photos as references to create accurate wildlife illustrations. Pattison’s careful research, vetted by scientists in the field, brings to life this true story of an infant cub that must face a complicated world alone—and find a way to survive.”

Opening

“In the far south, in Brazil, a puma cub was born in the early spring month of October 2012.”

The Story

Brazil, once covered by deep forests, now houses more people in cities and villages. To keep their cars moving more sugar plantations took over much of the remaining forest. Pumas, and other wild animals, must live closer to man and find it more difficult to hunt for food. One night, a female puma spotted some chickens in a farmer’s barn. Their normal diet of armadillos, capybaras, and ring-tailed coatis were getting hard to find. The puma needed to feed her cub and the chickens were easy prey. But she fell victim to a farmer’s trap. Before wildlife officials could get to the farm and safely remove the puma, she died.

Alone, hungry, and no mother to help, her cub had to hunt, but would he know how? Wildlife officials followed the mother puma’s trail trying to find her cubs but came up empty. Twenty-three days after his mom left and never returned, dogs a mile away from home cornered the cub. Dehydration and starvation ravished the cub’s body, stealing the energy he needed to walk. He staggered from place to place. This time wild life officials safely caught the cub, naming him Abayomi, which means happy meeting in the Tupi-Guarni native language. Scientists did what was needed so this little guy could return to the wild. Were they successful?

mom in wildlife officials cage

Review

The team of Darci Pattison and Kitty Harvill have made their second successful wildlife children’s book about a fascinating survivor. The first, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, garnered starred reviews. Abayomi will undoubtedly do the same. With simple language and thoughtful prose, the story of Abayomi will come to life for schoolchildren, many of whom live in urban areas and have never seen a puma. Though the death of the mother puma was most likely gruesome, Pattison wrote,

“. . . She fought back. Once, she hit her head hard against the side of the cage and was dazed. After hours of struggling, she died.”

The illustrations were just as easy on the subject. You see the puma in a cage and some chickens in a roost, but nothing more. Not one spittle of blood mentioned or seen. Children should not experience nightmares after reading Abayomi. All of the illustrations are soft watercolor renditions of actual locations in this true story, completely vetted by experts. Each image is realistic yet gentle on the eyes. The scrawny cub, shown from the backside, does not noticeably display starvation. The hips are noticeably larger due to a lack of abdominal body fat, yet not so much as to scare even the youngest children.

starving cub

The book concludes with some facts about Abayomi, the Corridor Projects, and urbanization, along with some resources children can look up for more details. Children could write an interesting book report after reading Abayomi the Brazilian Puma. Pattison and Harvill make a splendid team that children, parents, and teachers should not ignore. Conservation and wildlife experts and scientists fact check Pattison’s research. Harvill uses photographs taken on site when painting her illustrations. The pair have made clear choices that make the books assessable to younger children, while still interesting older kids. (Yes, like myself.)

As with Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma should be in school libraries and homeschooling bookshelves that cover wildlife, conservation, or the changing world. As starting points, Abayomi and Wisdom, are great resources for children. While not an expansive missive, these two books will guide students to other resources and further knowledge. The two books also allow younger children to learn about these subjects in a mild, non-scary manner that will peak curiosity, not provoke nightmares.

mom and cub

ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA: THE TRUE STORY OF AN ORPHANED CUB. Text copyright © 2014 by Darci Pattison. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kitty Harvill. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mims House, Little Rock, AK.

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Learn more about Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma HERE.

Get your copy of Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma at AmazonB&NMims Houseask for it at your local bookstore.

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Meet the author, Darci Pattison, at her website:   http://www.darcypattison.com/

Meet the illustrator, Kitty Harvill, at her website:  http://www.kharvillarte.com.br/artist.html

Find more Mims House stories at the publisher’s website:  http://mimshouse.com/

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Also by Darci Pattison

Saucy and Bubba, a Hansel and Gretel Tale

Saucy and Bubba, a Hansel and Gretel Tale

Vagabonds

Vagabonds

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.Also by Kitty Harvill

Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time

Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time

Vida Livre (published in Brazil)

Vida Livre (published in Brazil)

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Also New from Mims House

The Girl, the Gypsy, and the Gargoyle

The Girl, the Gypsy, and the Gargoyle

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abayomi


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Series Tagged: a changing world, Abayomi, Brazil, conservation, Darci Pattison, forest depletion, Kitty Harvill, Mims House, pumas, wildlife, wisdom

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18. And The Fox Kit Research Begins

Fox kits 4-17

I went to the fox den today, just thinking I’d be collecting the SD card from the trail cam.  But I didn’t get that far.  Once I saw these adorable kits outside the den entrance, I knew I had to keep my distance.

fox kits 4 4-14

I set up my camera and extended the lens. I itched to get closer, but resisted the urge. Two very young kits lay in the opening, curled around each other, soaking up a sunbeam.

I never *sneak* in to see them, quite the opposite in fact.  I let my hiking boots crunch and snap twigs so they know I’m coming and have the opportunity to hide.

These two didn’t scramble away though. They just peeked in my direction through sleepy lids . . .

fox kit 3 4-14

Stumbled around a bit on wobbly legs .  . .

Fox kit 2  4-14

Curled up together again, and fell back asleep.

 

I fox kit 5 4-14

I never did collect that SD card, as I would have had to take another seven giant steps in their direction.  Why disturb their nap in the sunshine?

The card can wait. I got what I needed for today.

 

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19. The Eaglets Are Here, The Eaglets Are Here!

A quick post today, as we’re frantically trying to get the campground ready to open on May 1st.  The late winter weather has put us behind schedule a little bit, which is kind of funny, because Cooper’s third adventure opens very similarly!

But you know me, I can’t resist a walk on a beautiful day.  Especially when a friend comes to visit.

Linda and I were lakeside watching the eagles when I saw one little gray fuzzball moving up and down.  Then a wing, then the head again.

I snapped picture after picture, not really sure if I was getting anything or not.

But I did!

Eaglets 4-25   (50a)

Eaglets 4-25   (36b)

Eaglets 4-25   (15a)

I hoped there were two, so I kept my camera lens trained on the nest.  But after 15 or 20 minutes I said to Linda, “I guess there’s only one.  Or only one strong enough to lift his head high enough.  Let’s -”

The eagle shifted in the nest.  And I saw it.

Eaglets 4-25   (100a)

 

Two gray fuzzballs.  Yet, how could I be sure the second one wasn’t a wing?

Eaglets 4-25   (87a)

 

Because she fed it!

Eaglets 4-25   (82a)

Year after year I monitor the eagles and watch their behavior.  I love watching them feed and care for their little ones.  This is the nest that inspired Mystery of the Eagles Nest.

Eaglets 4-21  (1)

Isn’t it impressive?

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20. How many fox kits?

fox den 2

I’ve only visited the fox den a handful of times, and recently I was lucky enough to catch either one or two kits peeking out from the den opening.  Last year there’d been five, so I admit to being a little sad at seeing only two.

And then I saw this clip from the trail cam.

Hold Still So I Can Count You!

Can you imagine feeding that many??   I have forty clips to wade through . . . and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Here’s another of my favorites so far

Tumbling Kits

Mom and Kits

Each of these is research!  Glorious first hand, research!

Such a tough job, watching these cute little buggers over and over and over so I get all the details right on their behavior.  But somebody’s gotta do it.

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21. Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers . . .

IMG_9804

Today, I got out in my kayak for the first time this season.

Oh . . . it felt wonderful.  The sun.  The breeze.  An eagle soaring overhead as a loon silently surfaces next to me.

IMG_9806

What’s not to like?  Or love?

The eaglets were vocal, chirping away.  The breeze brought me a little too close and I’m sorry to say the adult flew off the branch to a nearby tree.

Doesn’t this eaglet look like it’s saying, “Hey! Where ya goin’ Mom!?”

IMG_9807

As soon as I back paddled to a respectable distance, Mom returned.  I’m happy to report both eaglets are looking health and well.

IMG_9796

 

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22. And The Loons?

When I went out on Mother’s Day to check on the eagle family, I also did a paddle-by of all the loon’s favorite nesting spots.  I can’t put into words how disappointed and surprised I was not to see one, or even the traces of one, being built.   The loons had arrived somewhere around April 20th.  Why weren’t they on a nest by now?  They were last year.  And the year before that.

Or had they nested and failed already?  It was a good possibility.  I hadn’t been able to get out in the kayak before now due to high winds and very cold temps.  It was anybody’s guess.

Later into the kayak ride, I watched the pair come down the lake, diving and preening together.

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (10)

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (11)

I admit, I really want chick pictures!  Cute, little, gray fluffball photos.  You know, to go along with Cooper and Packrat’s story, and to put on the big screen at school visits, which will make all the students say, “Awwwwww!”

It made me sad to think they might not nest, especially after having had no success with two nesting attempts last summer.

Then yesterday, as I was getting more eaglet photos, I heard their wail off the other side of our point.  Through my lens, I saw the pair floating slowly along their usual nesting area.  They were twice the distance away from me that the eagles were, and I knew from experience I wouldn’t capture clear photos. I wasn’t that good of a photographer. But using my lens like a pair of binoculars, I followed their progress.

They floated along together, separated, then came together again. They dove. They climbed up on land, and at first I thought they were adding to a nest site, but then I realized, they were mating.  Within minutes, they were back in the water, continuing on their way.

My heart soared at the thought of chicks!

After school the next day, I quickly checked in with my camp reservations clerk for any problems or messages, then grabbed my kayak key and paddle.   When I reached the shoreline, I stopped in my tracks.  White caps.  The wind was fiercer here than up by the office.  Waves rolled right to left in front of me without end.  The kayak would rock like crazy!  No optimal stabilizing whats-a-ma-jig in the camera was going to keep my images from blurring.

But through my lens, I saw a loon on the edge of the shoreline across the lake from me.

I took a deep breath, unlocked the kayak and muttered to myself the whole time I dragged it to the water’s edge.  So what if I didn’t get photos?  I’d still have visual confirmation they’d picked a nesting spot.  Or maybe I’d catch the pair mating again.

Oh heck. I’d just missed watching them over the last few cold winter months.  I *needed* to see them.

I dug the paddle deeply into the water on my left, then my right.  The kayak rocked back and forth just like I thought it would.  And not a gentle, baby-cradle-kind of rock either.  Good thing I wasn’t the seasick type.

When I reached the point where I knew the wind would push me past the loon, I rested my paddle in front of me to raise my lens.

Here was something I hadn’t witnessed before!

She was building her nest.

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (29)

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (28)

She dipped her head in the water to grab grasses with her beak, then tucked them into the banking behind her.

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (37)

And then, before my eyes, she climbed up on it.

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (24)

 

Loon Nest Building 5-13 (22)

And so our journey of the loon family begins!  Fingers crossed that they’re successful this year.

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23. Fox Kits Lost and Found

Okay, I admit it, I’ve been withholding information.

I was afraid to show you.

But you see, right around May 1st (not the date on the video) I was going through the videos, watching cute little fox kits tumbling all over the place, wondering which one I was going to show you on FB next,   when I saw a image that stopped my heart.

I gasped. “No!” I watched the video again.

Ben and David ran into the room to see what I saw.

Fox Den In Danger

I quickly watched the next video which showed an adult frantically sniffing the den opening.  So did the one after that. It wasn’t until four videos and two hours later (on the cam)  that I finally saw this.

Two Hours Later

But, five days later (still cam time), there was nothing.  No videos with kits.

Two weeks went by.  No kits.  Just adults.

I began to worry.

Obsessively.

Until an eighth grade neighbor found me between classes at school.  “Mrs. Wight, Mrs. Wight!” he called.  “Guess what I saw this weekend?  Me and my family, we were coming home and a fox crossed our driveway with a line of kits behind her!”

I just stared at him for a minute.  Then I grinned.  “Gabe!  You have my foxes! How many kits?”

“I think there were six,” he told me.

As it turns out, they moved to an abandoned den on his property. In my research I discovered that fox have a series of dens they use.  One by one, that mom took her kits across my property to his.  And I can tell you, it’s quite a hike.

But that’s what you do, to save your family when it’s in danger.

I couldn’t resist going to their den that very afternoon.  I was sitting on the grass taking photos of the kits through the brush, when my neighbor arrived on his bike.

As we talked in hushed tones about the fox behavior we’d seen on our trail cams , the fox kits watched us warily.

IMG_0027

 

IMG_0040

“Are you really writing a book about them?” he asked.

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“I am!” I told him.  “Book 3. It’s just an idea right now, but I’m researching.”

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“Cool.  Anything I can do, Mrs. Wight, you let me know,” he said, as he rolled his bike back and forth.

“I’d love to know if you see anything  interesting through your trail cam that they do,” I told him.

He nodded.  “I can do that.”

I can’t wait to hear what he discovers.

 

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24. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown | Bull-Bransom Award Winner, 2014

The Children’s Book Review | May 20, 2014 The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wy, announced that children’s book author/ illustrator Peter Brown is the recipient of the 2014 Bull-Bransom Award for his 2013 picture book Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. The judges called it “an exceptional tribute to the wild and rambunctious energy in all children” and […]

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25. Animal Board Books by the American Museum of Natural History

Both ABC Animals and Spot the Animals: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Colors are recommended for toddlers, and make unique gifts.

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