Archive | December 2013

Happy New Year to you from Sequoia National Park in Winter!

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We are in the Land of the Giants, Sequoia NP, where the oldest trees are 3,200 years old, the tallest are 311 feet, and the heaviest 2.7 million pounds. Their bark can be up to 31 inches thick. Sequoia branches reach up to eight feet in diameter and their tree bases up to forty feet in diameter (Source: James D. Knoke).

We are spending New Years with the trees, and hardly any people. Due to California’s severe drought, many parts of the park not normally accessible in winter are open, and we are taking advantage of it! (Please click to enlarge).

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The satellite is not a happy camper up here which is why you haven’t heard from me for awhile, and we will see if I can get this post out. This is a shot of the sunset reflecting off the Sierras.

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Most Giant Sequoia’s have been able to withstand fires through the millenia, here are some scarred survivors.

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It is nippy up here but this lake should be frozen over and there should be at least 6-8 feet of snow.

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This is where the Giant Sequoias live,
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with their heads in the clouds! I envy them. They see us come and go.
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Jim likes these wise old trees and “finds tranquility here.” Here he is absorbing wisdom.
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I didn’t make this pinecone circle of love, someone else did, and left it for us here in the grove. Love & Peace to you from Sequoia! And the very Happiest & Healthiest New Year!

I Hear Lake Water Lapping with Low Sounds by the Shores….

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I hear it in the deep heart’s core- William Butler Yeats

(Please click to enlarge).

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We are spending the holidays with our family at pristine Lake Tahoe in Northern California.

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Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America.

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It is the second deepest lake in America, reaching depths of 1,645 feet.

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It is known for it’s pristine clarity.

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We are in a draught now in California, and although there is snow, there is not the typical 8 or so feet of it closing roads and making the lake almost inacessible.

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The lake views in winter are particularly beautiful!

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Perhaps the truth depends upon a walk around the lake- Wallace Stevens

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Cheers to you from Lake Tahoe, the skiing/boarding is not optimal, but the lake is purely divine!

Barn Owls, Holler Hawks in Flight & Happy Holidays to You!

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We met this barn owl in Antelope Valley California. (Please click to enlarge).

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He was rescued due to an injured wing and lives in a California state park named Velasquez Rocks (more on this park later).

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His name is Scooter and he is cared for by the Park Rangers.

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The Holler Hawks have been flying closer lately!

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Sometimes quite close over my head which is a big thrill.

 

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They have figured out I am not a threat to them.

 

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I can identify different hawks by their missing feathers.

 

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The best way to see a hawk of course is in free flight!

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Sending wishes for the Happiest of Holidays flying your way,

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From South Lake Tahoe!

 

Harris Hawks in Flight: Pt. III of IV

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Please click to enlarge. Hawk landing!

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Preparing to launch.

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Launching. Note hawk in the back preparing to follow.

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Another launch.

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Freedom!

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The joy of flight!

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Responding to call and returning to glove.

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Landing.

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Landing for Jim.

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Coming home! Oh don’t you wish you could fly?

We are on the road now en route to a family mountain ski trip for the holidays. Today we found and got close to more wild red tails and a barn owl. Stay tuned for Pt. IV, the red tails flying close ……and maybe an owl or two!

Cheers to you from the road!

Hanging Out with the Hawks: Pt. II (of III) The Harris Hawks!

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Meet the Harris Hawks! Click to enlarge. Please stay tuned to my next post (pt. III and maybe IV) to watch all the hawks in flight, what a sight!
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Here’s a sneak preview of them launching off! It was amazing to call them back to glove!

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We flew two Harris Hawks who usually hunt cooperatively in groups of 2-6, enabling them to catch larger prey like jack-rabbits.

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Harris Hawks are native to the southwestern United States, Chile and Argentina. The silver device you see on the hawks leg is a telemetric tracker in case the hawk were to get lost while flying.

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They are a highly social bird and are frequently trained by falconers.
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These hawks are working hawks who chase seagulls away from posh beachfront hotels in San Diego. Their presence alone is enough to scare the seagulls away.

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We flew them, watched them search, and called them back to hand!

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What a thrill! No wonder this has been the ancient art of kings and queens.


In fact, The earliest records of falconry date from Mesopotamia in 2ooo BC!

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When I returned to The Holler from my time with the hawks, the red-tails flew closer than ever before, enabling me to get some good shots. Do you suppose they smelled the hawks on me? Who knows? All I know is that hawks are very clever birds and I love them!
Cheers to you from Hawk Holler!

Hanging Out with the Hawks Pt I (of III): Red Tails

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(You really need to click to enlarge these photos to see these beauties close up!) I’ve been busy the last few days taking pics of hawks.

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I got to be up close and personal with Harris and Red Tail Hawks, hold, fly them, and photograph them.

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In other words, I was in heaven!

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Check out the pics of the red tail. Beautiful isn’t he! Next post I’ll introduce you to the Harris Hawks and show you them flying and hunting in tandem. Amazing!
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I took these pics at West Coast Falconery which is run by Kirk Selinger a licensed falconer and his apprentice Denise Disharoon. Kirk is a former National Geographic videographer, who now spends his time raising hawks, owls and vultures. He lives in a place just about as remote as The Holler, and we drove down a rutted dirt road to spend some time with him and his gorgeous birds. More pics of the red tail!
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This is a seven month old melanistic Red Tailed Hawk. It’s feathers are darker than normal due to excess melanin production.
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Here he is having a shower which he loves!
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To see Kirk’s operation click on: http://westcoast-falconry.com/falconry-education/west-coast-falconry-san-diego/
The Holler hawks have been very active and flying very close to me lately, so I’ll try to post some shots of them as well. Cheers to you from Hawk Heaven!

Moonshadows & Nights in White Satin~

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(Please click to enlarge so you can view the mountains of the Moon).

Oh, I’m being followed by a moonshadow…leaping and hopping in a moonshadow~ Cat Stevens

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Nights in white satin,
Never reaching the end,
Beauty I’d always missed
With these eyes before,
Just what the truth is
I can’t say anymore ~ Moody Blues

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Three things cannot be hidden, the sun, the moon and the truth~ Buddha

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The sun, the moon, and the stars would have disappeared long ago…if they’d happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands~ Havelock Ellis

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The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is undiminished~ Deng Ming-Dao

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The moon is battered isn’t she, all those meteor impacts, but still she shines brightly on us, to keep our nights from drowning in the dark.

When my children were young this was their prayer every night:

I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me~ Irish children’s lullaby

May the light of the moon always brighten your darkest nights. It will. If you just look up.

Cheers to you.

Be Kind to Your Web-footed Friends!

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I agree with this completely because I am so grateful for you, my web-friends! (Please click to enlarge.

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As 2013 draws to a close, I want to express my gratitude to this wonderful wordpress community that I became a part of almost a year and a half ago.

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Blogging is such a blast! I have formed important and meaningful friendships with intelligent, creative and interesting people from all over the world! People like you! Now when I travel, I have blogger friends in every country I visit. How cool is this?

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I love to read and look at your blogs! They are the bulk of what I read these days and I am a prolific reader. Your blogs move me, crack me up, inform me, sometmes make me cry, and always impress me with your talent and creativity. Books have paled for me now that I am reading such fresh, different, and creative blogs, on a daily basis. Thank you for your posts, I so enjoy reading them.

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I am grateful for all the awards you have honored me with. I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness behind each one. I don’t pass them on because I cannot pick “favorite” blogs from all the blogs I follow. Please know that if I follow you, I think your blog is worthy of every award, and I hereby pass them all on to you, Blog of the Year, and every other one, on down the line. You are awarded each one.

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I am so grateful for the  encouragment, support and friendship I receive from so many wonderful bloggers. I would never have continued blogging, if it weren’t for the incredible supportive community I have become a part of here at wordpress. You rock!

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I have gotten more serious about my photography hobby because of your steady encouragement. I even entered The Nature Conservancy’s, 2014 Calendar contest because a blogger suggested I should, and I made it to the final round which shocked the beejeezus out of me! I owe this to the encouragement I have received from you!

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Thank you for a rocking 2013!

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I greatly look forward to 2014!

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May health, happiness and good cheer be yours this holiday and in the coming year.

Cheers to you and thank you!

Hawk Headed Parrot!

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(Please click to enlarge).
Isn’t this guy gorgeous? It took me awhile to find out what he was. Thank you google. The unique Hawk-headed Parrot is the only member of it’s own genus, Deroptyus. It has unusual elongated feathers on it’s neck that it can raise in a frill or fan when threatened. It is, for this reason, also sometimes referred to as a Fan-headed Parrot. You can see these long red and blue feathers in the shot below.

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It is a fruitivore that lives in The Amazon Basin.

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Reportedly, HH Parrots are prone to be stubborn, ill-tempered, and even aggressive at times as pets.

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Maybe they prefer hanging out in the Amazon to being pets. Who can blame them? I’ve been to The Amazon, and if I were a parrot I would much rather be there than in a cage in someone’s house.

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This guy wasn’t threatened or ill-tempered at all however, and I couldn’t get him to raise so much as a feather for a shot. He probably likes the huge multi-level Owen’s Aviary at the San Diego Zoo and has never even been to the Amazon. If he ever saw it though, I bet he’d fly off in shot and never look back. There is nothing like seeing incredible birds like this in the wild!

To see what he looks like with his frill raised like a hawk, check out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-fan_Parrot

Cheers to you from the happy, well-tempered Hawk-head, at the Owen’s Aviary

Pandaring~

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I can’t resist pandaring, not in a sexual or political way, but in a panda way! (Please click to enlarge).

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There has to be something seriously wrong with someone who can resist a panda bear.

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Okay, I know they can be nippy, and they pass a lot of gas, but come on, how can anything be this cute?

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Besides you’d pass gas too, if you ate 26-84 pounds of bamboo every day. These guys are serious about eating their bamboo! I relate well to pretty much any creature who loves to eat this much.

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But, as usual, I digress. Giant Pandas are the world’s rarest bear. They are endangered and their numbers continue to decrease in the wild.

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There are 46 pandas living outside of China and an estimated 1,600 wild pandas living in China where they are designated national treasures. Six panda cubs have been born at the San Diego Zoo and most have been sent back to China for breeding purposes.

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Three pandas were on view today including two cubs. Visiting them was a gas, pardon the pun, because there were very few visitors and lots of up close time with them. They are peaceful, marvelous creatures, who seem very content and focused on their bamboo!

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I thought it most polite that this panda stopped eating long enough to wave goodbye to you with his bamboo! Cheers to you from San Diego Zoo’s Panda Trek!