Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sunsets, Birds, Trees and Tom Hanks

The weather has been very pleasant for the past few days: cool, overcast, with the occasional little burst of rain.  Heaven, in other words.  I haven't dreamed about moving to Alaska since last weekend.

The sunsets have been spectacular, especially on Monday night.  I took two shots, the first of the sunset itself, then in the second I used my telephoto and pointed my camera into the heart of the clouds.  The colors, the fire, the beauty of the evening...

I had two Nat Geo moments yesterday, though I'd already blogged twice earlier in the day, so thought I would just wait until today.  As usual with the way the world moves, one of my stories has to do with a Hummingbird, and wouldn't you know, RandyG at Inverted Sky posted the most beautiful photo on his blog this morning, of a wee bird sitting on her nest.

One of my National Geographic moments is my own Hummingbird tale...

Though there's been a bit of rain, it's not enough to truly soak my garden, so each evening I go out, drag the hose up the embankment, and water my raised beds and the flowers.  I have a resident Hummingbird--one I have blogged about before and often see in my backyard...

Photo taken in Feb 2012

So, I'm out watering last night, and I hear the whirr whirr of incredibly fast-beating wings.  I turn my head, and there he is, hovering right off my shoulder.  I smile, and strike up a quiet, one-sided conversation as he darts around me at the speed of light.  Then--and I couldn't believe this--he hovers right at the edge of the water spraying from the hose, and has a drink!  I froze, not daring to move, afraid if I did he could drown in the stream.  He fills up, then darts toward me, dodges around my head, then disappears down the mountain.  What an amazing thing.

Second Nat Geo moment...

My mailbox is about half a mile from the house, so every evening (Summer) or late afternoon (Winter), the boys and I take a walk to get the mail.  Last night, just as we head back to the house from the box, this large quail dashes out of the bushes...

Photo taken in May 2012

He spots us, and starts running away down the middle of the road.  We keep walking, the dogs not really caring about the bird as they're too busy looking for squirrels, and I figure he'll make his escape down the slope any minute.  He keeps running down the middle of the road.  We're catching up to him, so I make some shshing noises, and even flap my arms, to make him get back under cover, but no, he's running the NYC marathon down the flaming road!

This keeps up for the entire trip back to the house.  He stops, I stop, the dogs stop, then we all go forward, repeat, repeat.  It's actually pretty funny and by the time we are within sight of my driveway, I'm having quite the conversation with him, cheering him on, etc.  I expect that he'll keep going down the road once we get to the house.

But no.

He makes a perfect right turn with no hesitation at all, and runs right up the driveway!  Well, now that's poaching into the boys' territory, so they finally acknowledge the poor (no doubt exhausted) bird, and chase him to the fence.  Somehow he mustered up enough energy to fly, just barely, over the fence and down the mountain.  I have no idea why he walked/ran for half a mile when he could have easily left the road at any time, but it sure was entertaining.


Last week I noticed this bizarre tree whilst walking the boys along the river; I didn't have my camera with me that day, so this morning I grabbed it, and off we went to this spot across the bridge from our usual place--which I've been avoiding since the flying debris experience.

This tree reminds me of octopus tentacle suckers, or whatever they're called.  I don't know how the tree lost so many limbs, but on a dark and stormy night, can't you just imagine this tree using those suckers to grab the unwary?  (Have I watched too many Tolkien movies?  Sleepy Hollow?  It's not just me.  Right?)

I had the boys off-leash so I could take a picture without jiggling, and when I turned to see where they should have been...they weren't.  I call out.  I spin in a circle.  No dogs.  Walking past the Octopus Tree, there's an opening along the bank, and I can see the river.  The boys are halfway down.  No, no, a thousand times no.  This is a sheer drop and not one I want to attempt, thank you very much.

Thankfully, dogs, like small children, respond to The Voice.  They froze on the bank, then with a last wistful glance at the water, the mud, the wild abandon, they turned and ran back up.  I leashed them, then took a moment to look at the view.  It was then I saw this:

A Green Heron.  He was fishing and probably cursing the fact the dogs had disturbed his morning.

I made the boys sit and be still, then took a few close-ups.

They're funny little squat birds, not the tall, elegant herons most people think of.  And their feet are yellow, webbed and splay out like a frog's.  I was just bringing the camera down from my face when he struck...and I missed the damn shot.  Still, I got the aftermath, which would have been a true Nat Geo photo if he'd caught the fish!!  Just my luck he wasn't a very good

And the last thing...really...

There's been this, I don't know, promo-type thing on Yahoo for the last few weeks.  It's usually in the sidebar when I'm looking at stuff on the internet.  I see it, wonder for a second what it means, then move on.  Yesterday, I finally decided to see what in the world Electric City was, and what it had to do with Tom Hanks.
Turns out, it's like a video comic book.  Each episode is only about five minutes long.  Tom Hanks wrote the story several years ago, and now it's been made into this internet animated story.  He plays Cleveland Carr, an assassin; everything takes place in Electric City, long after the world we know has fallen.  At first I thought it was weird, but I ended up watching the first episodes and now I'm hooked.

Not sure when the next installment was coming, I checked this morning and there are a few more posted.  I don't know much else about it, but it's curious, interesting, and I gotta go.  Who knows what's happened in Electric City since yesterday??


  1. Thanks for the nod. :)

    I think the quail was doing a "distraction display". He wanted you and the dogs to go to directly your house, so he led the way. When ever I see that, I usually go back to where the bird orginated and often find a nest in the area.

    Nice photos!

    1. You're welcome...I love your Hummingbird photo.

      That poor quail really put in the effort to distract me then--it was a very long run.

      I have a large family group that live in the bushes down the slope from the house. They've just had their...chicks? now I have a whole tribe of parents and babies running all over the backyard. No matter how I try to sneak a photo, it never works; quail are the most skittery birds ever.