Friday, September 22, 2017

Cat Tales

Almost forgot to bring you up to date on my cat adventures.

Tigger wasn't nearly as "wily" as I perceived and walked right into the live trap on Saturday night and got transferred to a carry case. Fuzzball (now named "Tribble")  got scooped up first thing Sunday morning and also got put into a carry case. Both spent the balance of Sunday in the basement getting a few strokes and a couple of tablespoons of food.

I had no luck getting near Collar after the scratching incident earlier. That cat wanted no part of being picked up again and stayed just out of arms reach while feasting on the canned food I put out for Coffee and Collar.

Monday morning, to the great dismay of momma Coffee, I put two squeeling kittens in the back seat of the Tundra and headed off to the clinic in East Smithfield. There they got dropped off for surgery, rabies shots, and leukemia testing. (I also delivered three 36-can boxes of cat food.)

Tuesday I went to pick them up. (And drop off two more boxes of canned cat food.) That's when I discovered that both Tribble and Tigger were females and leukemia free. Tigger does test slightly positive for heart worm, but they told me it was untreatable and not of great concern in outdoor cats.

I brought them home and fed them another tablespoon of cat food in their carry cases before returning them to the "wild" of my yard. (Terry wouldn't let me keep Tribble inside. Yet.)

Seems we dodged a bullet by getting two females (three if you count Coffee) fixed. I don't want to think about how many litters of kittens we could have had around here next spring!

Still trying to gain the confidence of Collar so I can get that one over to the clinic, but I'm not having much success. There's a 50-50 chance that Collar is also a she.

New Car Coming--Sooner than Expected!

So. Last week I drove the Jeep Compass to take Terry up to Corning Hospital to get her knee scoped. Along Route 15 I noticed some vibration in the front end at 65-70 mph and told Terry she should get it checked out before she drives to St. Louis next month.

Yesterday she dropped it off at the Jeep dealer in Mansfield and they called back saying it needed new front brakes, new tires ("the belts inside were broken"), an alignment, a new tie rod, new struts, and a couple of other things. Total would be around $3000. This is a car they had in the shop last spring because one of the front brakes was making a squeeling sound. Now, I'm not a mechanic, but the Compass doesn't get a lot of miles put on it during the summer. It basically sits on the side of the house. It's one "big" trip was to the Carolinas and back. (On second thought, maybe we should stop going to Columbia, SC. Every time we do something needs an alignment.)

Anyway, we had been thinking of replacing the 2009 Compass and had already started to do some research. We had narrowed our choices down somewhat but had hoped to wait until spring or fall 2018. I told the Jeep people not to do any work and Terry and I drove over to Williams Toyota to see what they had available. Our targets there were the Sienna and the Rav4. They needed to have either 4-wheel or all-wheel drive because, hey!, we live in hilly snow country.

Well, Terry thought the Sienna too huge for her needs (the third row seating was just a little too much), but liked the size of the Rav4. The only model with all-wheel drive (AWD) on the lot was a base model in a pretty plumb color which we did take for a short test drive. Terry liked it, but I wanted a few more bells and whistles than the base model offered. They did have an XLE with AWD in Barcelona Red (same as the my Tundra) over on the Elmira lot, however. We could get either $2500 cash back or 0% financing on the Rav4.

So, we go back on Saturday to look at the XLE and--probably--sign some papers.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Life at the Aerie

Not a whole lot happening at the Aerie this week.

Sure, Terry and I went to Point Pleasant Beach, NJ last weekend for her high school class' 50th reunion and had a great time with a bunch of people from St. Mary's High School of whom I knew just three. But the bar was open almost all night so there's that. And the weather was gorgeous so we got to walk on the beach and boardwalk both Friday and Saturday. Waves were marvelous!

Then on Sunday we stopped at cousin Nancy's to meet up with lots of folks from Terry's side of the family to look at a bunch of old photographs. The goal was to ID as many people as possible. As I didn't know many of them (or plead the fifth), I sat on the side and watched while recovering from the high school reunion. (See above. re: "open bar".)

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I was keeping an careful eye on Irma as she tore through western Florida. I've relatives in Key LArgo and up the coast at Weeki Wachi. They all suffered minimal damage to their property and the folks in Key Largo were sane enough to have evacuated to areas around Orlando where they hunkered down. (And then went to Disney World immediately after since they couldn't get home.)

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Tuesday, Terry did a pre-op assessment over in Wellsboro and on Thursday she had her left knee scoped to remove debris and remove/repair a partially torn meniscus that has been troubling her since, well, the early '70s. She hurt it when we were going to climb Mt. Washington back then and reinjured it the next year when we went to climb Wildcat Ridge across the highway from Mt. Washington. Doctors back then pronounced it "hyperextended" and gave her some Tylenol, a pair of crutches, and sent her home. No MRI or anything. The current doc (who replaced both my knees in '13) said she also has arthritis and bone-on-bone contact on part of that knee may need a partial knee replacement if this surgery doesn't help.

Terry came home the same day (Thursday) and has been hobbling around the house with the occasional help of a cane. I'll be driving her down the hill to church on Sunday but she should be good to go on her own Monday or Tuesday.

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I've been knocking around the house doing some chores like cleaning out gutters and weeding the fallow garden beds in preparation for winter. I've also been mentally marking the trees I want to fell this winter for next year's firewood. (I'm still waiting for the power company to come through and do their right-of-way maintenance that they said they were going to do this summer. That might provide some additional wood.)

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I've also been plotting exactly how I'm to catch/nab/trap three 5-month old kittens to take them to the vets on Monday morning. I've been working on gaining their confidence so I can suddenly snatch them in an act of betrayal. One will be easy. (That's the one I played hide-and-seek with in the basement for 12 hours about a month ago.) A second is a possibility. (I've managed to actually pet that one a time or two. Granted it was only a quick stroke or two and very , very brief, but I think I can snatch that one.) They third.... Well, that's why they make have-a-heart traps. Tigger is a wily, wary one. My plans may be foiled, however, if they successfully bring down their own meals as they did last evening. A young, dumb bunny became an overnight snack that meant they really didn't need my can(s) of cat food.




Saturday, September 02, 2017

White-faced Hornet

I mentioned in a previous post how much I hate Yellow Jackets. Those wasps are just a pain in the a$$...and anywhere else they may sting you. Plus the rotters are usually found nesting at ground level where you might easily stumble upon them.

I had one nest of Yellow Jackets removed for me by (I assume) a bear. I also removed one from between the awnings of the trailer. So imagine my dismay/surprise to find a huge nest built on the antenna of the trailer.

I initially thought it was another Yellow Jacket structure but realized it was too large and so were the critters flying about it. I watched for days from the deck and finally got a good look at a few as they flew paste me. They weren't Yellow Jackets. They were White-faced Hornets!
White-faced Hornet

I thought to wait until things got below freezing before I tackled them, but grew impatient. I opted to hit them with two cans of Spectricide--the stuff with a 27-foot range--when I had a calm evening. That happened on Friday evening. I took a position a safe distance away and hit 'em hard! I soaked the one side of the nest with spray after the sun set.
I stood on the right side of the truck and was able to reach the center of the trailer roof. (The white piece to the left of the air conditioner.)

This morning, the deck of the house had a couple of dead hornets laying about and the roof of the trailer had even more. I watched for an hour or more and saw no hornets flying in or out of the nest. Hooking up a nozzle to the garden hose that would allow me to reach with a narrow, powerful stream of water, I spent half an hour spraying the nest. Damn thing is tough! It's still holding on to the antenna post. I managed to take half of the nest out and exposed larvae inside. The entire time I saw only two hornets fly into the area. They didn't stay.
Hitting the nest with a stream of water exposed the interior but didn't knock the entire thing off the antenna.

Exposed larvae of the White-faced Hornets.

I'll hit the exposed nest with more spray later this evening. Then I may be able to use a ladder to get closer and on a different angle to attempt to knock the rest of the nest to the ground.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Saturday Birding and Celebrating

Yesterday (August 19, 2017) marked Theresa and my 45th Wedding Anniversary. As it so happens, she was in North Carolina for an EGA Seminar and I was home with the cats. (Sometimes things get reversed and I'm out fishing but occasionally, we are both in the same place.)

I decided to celebrate with some birding. (Okay, so it was the Tiadaghton Audubon Society's annual picnic. Still counts.)
Oldest Audubon Society in PA!
Before the picnic, I stopped at a couple of spots to do some birding. Things were less than active and I only spotted a few species at each of the stops. I did have a frustrating time with a passel of small birds flitting about in the leaves of one tree by the Ive's Run boat launch. They would never stay still long enough to bee identified, let alone photographed. I did hear some Black-capped Chickadees in the crowd, but there was more than that.

Anyway, I did manage to get some critters to pose for me.
Red-tailed Hawk at the Tioga-Hammond Connector overlook.

Northern Flicker at the Tioga-Hammond Connector overlook.

Pair of Ospreys on the pole along road up to the Tioga-Hammond Connector overlook.

Eastern Phoebe on the Railroad Grade Trail, Ive's Run.

Muskrat in pond along the Railroad Grade Trail, Ive's Run

Painted Turtle in pond along the Railroad Grade Trail, Ive's Run

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Visit to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

I haven't visited Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in a number of years and since we sold the property up in the Adirondacks, I haven't even driven past it in over two years. Yesterday that changed.

With three other members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society, I ventured north early Wednesday morning to view and photograph birds at Montezuma. Fresh from all the excitement created by the visitation of a rare White-winged Tern in our own back yard, this would be a much more relaxing outing. Robin and Sean, Gary and I would spend over five hours walking and driving around the refuge's main pools, the Seneca Canal and surrounding areas. We'd run into a couple of folks who had made their way to the WW Tern sighting, too.

When the day was done, I had over 200 photos to go through (many duplicates with just slight changes in camera settings) and over 35 species on my check list. My list of species doesn't do justice to the sheer numbers of individual birds we saw. There had to be hundreds of herons, egrets and coots for example. And migration hasn't even begun! Nothing spectacular pops up on the list, but we all had a very nice day spent with good company doing somethings we all love doing.

First the list:
Montezuma NWR--Wildlife Drive, Seneca, New York, US
Aug 16, 2017 8:15 AM - 1:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Walked the trail around the visitors' center then drove the road through the refuge and ended over on East Road past May's Pond.
37 species

Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Wood Duck
Mallard
American Black Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs 
Ring-billed Gull 
Caspian Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Kingbird
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38677291

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Now the photos--well, some of them anyway:
Killdeer

Osprey (There were many, many young osprey as well as juvenile Bald Eagles about. Never did see and adult Eagle, however.)

Green Heron. We saw many of these come flying into the channels and reeds Only a couple allowed us a peek at them.

American Coot. There were rafts and rafts of coots foraging on the algae in the ponds and/or just paddling about..

Pied-billed Grebe. Dozens of both adult and immature grebes were fishing in the ponds.

Common Gallinule.  There were many of these in the narrow channels between reeds. And a surprising number of little black, puffball/lollipop babies were also present.

Wood Duck. Many hens were seen. This one played coy behind some reeds.

Trumpeter Swan. A dozen or so trumpeters were spotted in different spots. This one was snoozing in a shallow pond and woke up only long enough to show its black bill and to do a little stretching.

Greater Yellowlegs. Scores of shorebirds were to be seen. Few could be IDed without debate. LOL!

Lesser Yellowlegs. I think.
Common Egret. Hundreds were to be seen hunkered down in the pond next to the NYS Thruway and at the end of East Road. HUNDREDS

Great Blue Heron. Again, hundreds were present virtually everywhere, but especially at the end of East Road.

American Bittern. How Sean spotted this guy is a mystery.