Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coyotes on the Hunt

     The other night two coyotes visited the back yard.   Off and on during night the resident bunny had been playing and drinking from the water feature.   About 15 minutes after his last visit, the coyotes showed up.
      I don't think they found him, but it wasn't for lack of trying.   They hunted for at least a half hour.   The pictures came from my Bushnell Trophy Cam. I edited them into a short movie.   This is my first attempt at using Picasa to make a movie.    I don't think Sundance will be calling, but have a look if you have a few minutes.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Coyote on the Cam

It finally happened!   I "captured" a picture of a coyote visiting our water feature on the new Trophy Cam that I set up.  

The coyote only stayed a few seconds.   He enters the picture on the right side and exits from the top left.   Here are the 6 pix:

I hope these are only the first of a lot of pictures of our backyard wildlife.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Backyard Trophy Cam

     For a long time I've wanted to set up a camera to record the wildlife that comes to our water feature.  During the day we see rabbits and quail almost every day.  Occasionally we see coyotes, road runners, and Harris Hawks.  Last week we saw a different bird of prey, which I think was a Cooper's Hawk. I wish I had a photo to study or show to someone who would know more.
       So I was excited when Kent surprised me with an early Christmas present a few days ago--a Trophy Cam.    I've had a great time working with getting it set up and experimenting with the settings.   Here are some of the photos:

   The rabbit on the left is the first one we "captured".

    I changed the location slightly here:

   So far I've only captured rabbits and quail.  But I'm sure that one night I'll catch the coyotes dancing in the moonlight.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Vancouver to Victoria

BC Ferries

We signed up for a Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour with Westcoast Sightseeing, which involved taking a ferry to Victoria.    The journey was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  

The islands are pine covered, with lighthouses and a few homes along the shore.   I don't know what the houses cost, but they have million dollar views.

          There are restaurants on board and plenty of comfortable seats.   But my favorite spot was on the deck.  With the wind blowing and the sun shining., it was the best seat on the ferry.    

Thursday, July 31, 2014

River Otter Swimming

Here he comes!

River - Not Sea - Otters in Stanley Park

River Otters in Stanley Park

      Recently Kent and I made our first trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. We spent a Sunday in Stanley Park and walked along the Sea Wall. I spotted something swimming.  Initially I wrote that they were sea otters, but I was wrong.  A reader sent me a Comment, and he or she was correct:   They are river otters. 

There were three of them.  As we watched, one of them swam toward the shore.

According to Wikipedia, sea otters are members of the weasel family, and weigh between 31 and 99 pounds.   That makes them heavy for weasels, but among the smallest of marine mammals.

These are river otters that I mistook for sea otters.  According to information from "Ask an Aquarium", one of the best ways to tell the difference is to watch how they swim.  "At the surface, river otters swim belly-down and expose very little of their back, while sea otters swim belly-up and float high in the water due to their air-filled fur."   

I was so excited to watch him swim all the way to the shore.  

I've learned that sea otters hunt in short dives which usually last between 1 to 4 minutes.  One amazing fact is that they are the only marine animals that are capable of lifting and turning over rocks.  They do this with their front paws.
Since this one turned out to be a river otter, it isn't surprising that we didn't see this behavior.  But our river otter was looking around for something tasty to eat.

We watched as the otter climbed onto the rock and  used it like a table.  According to the experts, sea otters also use small rocks to open up shells, which make them one of the few mammals that we know use tools.  I'm not sure if river otters do the same thing. 

My favorite picture of him---smiling for the camera!

Sea Otters are endangered in the U.S., but rebounding better in Canada.  He turned out to be a River Otter, but he was still fascinating to watch.  I feel very lucky to have been able to see him so close.  
To find out more about river otters, check out '''Ask an Aquarium" at

To learn more about sea otters, check out the Wikipedia article.

Monday, June 30, 2014

No Lions...No Tigers...But Bears!!!! Oh My!!!

     Earlier this month we took a trip to San Diego to escape the heat and have some fun.   Fun for me meant a trip to their zoo.

     I took lots of pictures, but the ones of the bears turned out the best.    The day was cool and the big guys were active.   Even the polar bears were out and about.

After all that bear watching, we went to Alberts, the zoo's nice restaurant for lunch.   A great day!

Pictureless Posts

For some reason Blogger won't let me upload any images.   I tried to do it last night but with no luck.  I decided to start fresh this morning.  So far I've spent about 2 hours this morning trying to troubleshoot the problem, but without success.

After a bit more searching, it appears that the problem is Internet Explorer.   I'm going to experiment with Firefox and see what happens.....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Rare Event - Rain

        Yesterday it rained for the first time since December 20.    That's a long time, even by Arizona standards.     It was even more unusual because it was an all day, soaking kind of rain.    The kind that gardeners love.

       Usually we'll have violent, hard rains that obscure the road and soak you to the bone if you're unlucky enough to get caught in them.    Of course they do can worse than soak anyone unlucky enough to be caught in a canyon or a low lying wash area.    But yesterday's event had been forecasted for days and wished and planned for by everyone I know.    

        I took pictures of the clouds and the puddles it left behind, but Blogger doesn't seem to want to upload my pix today.    Maybe its because I've been AWOL for so long that it doesn't recognize me.    I'll try again later since rain is such a rare event here.   One that deserves to be celebrated.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wolves in Yellowstone - A Sad Update

      It's been a little over 4 years since I went on the Wolf and Elk Fall Adventure in Yellowstone.  That week was a trip of a lifetime, and I wrote a number of posts on my (then) new blog about our trip.   One of the highlights was seeing a member of the Druid pack, a little pup that is barely visible in the photo.   But despite the fuzziness of the pix, I was thrilled.    We saw a number of wolves, visited an old den, and had a great adventure.
       The only even that marred our trip was the re-opening of wolf hunting in Montana.  This happened as we were nearing the end of our trip.   Almost immediately one of the Park wolves was shot, a female who was probably looking for a mate.   She was collared and not far from the Park boundary, but that didn't keep the trigger happy hunter from shooting her.
        Those of us who love wolves were appalled, but the hunting lobby won out.    At a distance a wolf looks an awfully lot like an Alaskan Malamute or a husky.   So this hunter could easily have shot someone's pet.   If he saw the collar and still knew it was a wolf, he knew he was shooting a research animal.   Either way, it was a tragedy.  I worried about whether the wolves would survive or be totally killed off yet again.      
      A year later our friends Pat and Jerry went with the same tour guides on the Spring Wolf Adventure trip.   They were lucky enough to see and photograph even more wolves.   One even crossed the road right in front of them while they were in Lamar Valley.  They snapped a great  picture of him.   I was optimistic that the wolves would survive and continue to thrive in spite of Montana's hunting season.
      Sadly, that is not happening.
      In a recent article on The Wildlife News blog, wolf expert Kathie Lynch reports that seeing wolves in Yellowstone isn't very easy.   You can read her report at
       Although there are two very large packs (11 and 18 in each), the other packs are very small.  None of the wolves appear to be hanging out in the Lamar Valley on a regular basis. 
        The Wildlife News is an excellent source for updates about wolves as well as the history of their reintroduction. 
         In many states the killing of wolves is on the increase again.  U.S. District Judge for Idaho Edward J. Lodge has ruled that two wolf packs can be eradicated - totally killed - in Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.   The Idaho Department of Fish & Game has hired a hunter to kill the wolves, and he has already killed nine.  Ralph  Maughan, Defenders of Wildlife, and other wildlife groups tried to get a temporary Order to stop the killing, but the judge denied their request.  The case is Maughan v. Vilsack in the U.S. District Court in Idaho, Case No. 4:14-CV-0007-EJL. 
        Years ago I wrote letters to help in the movement to reintroduce wolves back into Yellowstone and some of the western state.   I joined the Sierra Club and other wildlife organizations, too.  When wolves finally returned in the 70's, I was over joyed.    
         Throughout the years I have maintained my membership in the Sierra Club and also joined Defenders of Wildlife.     I would urge you to do the same if you can.  They are leaders in the fight to save the wildlife and its habitat.  
        You can also link to Ralph Maughan's blog, which is listed at the side.  
        And finally, it appears that it may be time to get back to basics.   I've traded my pen and pencil in for a computer screen and printer these days, but letters to politicians are still effective.  If they know people who vote are watching, it does make a difference.
        But whatever you chose to do, I hope you'll join me in trying to save the wolves.


Thursday, January 2, 2014


Happy New Year!

         December flew by for me.    Suddenly its 2014!    Cheers, everyone!
         A few weeks ago, right before we left for our Christmas in Ohio trip, our neighbor gave us these cute skaters.   Since we've been living in Arizona, our yard has been empty of Christmas decorations because we always leave town.   We hang a wreath on the door, but nada else.  
          Our neighbor's yard, on the other hand, is decorated with lots of bright lights and cute Christmas scenes.   I love looking at her place and all the other homes that are decorated so nicely.  
          So I was surprised when this neighbor came over and told me she didn't have room for these two skaters.  She wanted us to have them.   I told her we were leaving soon and might not keep them on, but she said that was okay.   She just wanted to share the fun.   Otherwise, she said, she was going to have to toss them away.      
         I'm not convinced she would actually throw them away.  More likely she was giving us a really nice hint about showing a little seasonal spirit -- so we did.
         Kent placed the skaters on the river rock and set a timer so they would come on while we were gone.    When we returned he added the twinkling lights to accent the "icy" river.    (Glad that ice is as fake as the river!)   
        Now we look festive and fun.   A great way to start the new year.
        Thanks, Neighbor!