Sunday, October 21, 2007

On the Patio

I finally made time to set up chairs on the patio. I need to find an inexpensive table, sturdy, but not too heavy, to use as a base when I go outside. I think if I'm able to set up my computer, it will make it easier to manage outdoor blogging.

The picture above was taken with the MacBook's built-in camera. One BIG advantage is that it makes no noise. I've been trying for several weeks to take a picture of the birds that nest in the bushes along the left front of the house. No luck so far, and my vision is not that good that I've been able to find out what they are. I need to set up camp in the front yard, with binoculars, and wait. Sooner or later, I should be able to get a good look at them.

Time is the BIG constraint in this. I've not been able to make it home early enough in the day to get much time outside. By the time I get home, it's usually near dark, and we've yet to eat.

Today, I'm sitting, enjoying the sounds. Although it's a quiet neighborhood, when I focus on the noise, it seems to overwhelm me. Among the sounds:
  • Planes overhead at a distance
  • Cars - about once a minute. And this is on a Sunday. They are not right outside my door, but the sound carries from about a mile or so down near the highway.
  • Birds - many are fairly high up n the trees. The sounds include cawing, chirping, and a kind of trilling. As I listen, I can begin distinguishing between the sounds.
  • Dogs - we have some prodigious barkers.
  • Motorcycles - they seem to be around more on the weekends.
  • A train - we're a few blocks from a train track, but I can hear it clearly in the distance.

    I just took a video of a squirrel in a tree. It appeared to be sending a threatening message - possibly at me, since I am the only other large organism in the area.

    [Due to technical difficulties, I'm going to have to upload the squirrel video later]

    Daddy-Long-Legs abound near (and sometimes inside) the house. I've mostly left them alone, occasionally moving one away from the door.

    I just spotted a hawk flying overhead. That's the second one today (the other was a few blocks away, at our church parking lot.

    Their flight is a wonder of efficiency - they bare move as they soar through the air. They seem to be able to catch even a slight updraft, and minimize their energy output.

    The silvery shimmer of webs runs through many of the paths of the grounds. So far, I've left them mostly undisturbed, except as I needed access to other parts of the grounds.

    Today, I walked around, familiarizing myself with the back part of the grounds. I'm beginning to know where to look to find life.

    What I just saw took me by surprise. I saw a small (sparrow-sized) bird, black head, white front, small beak. I was so astonished that it was so near, I just saw there, watching it. Completely forgot about my camera.

    I've seen several moths fly by close just now.

    I'm back inside, grading, and have just looked through the Sibley book for the bird.

    Nada. Zilch. I'll try later on the web.

    3:04 pm - I'm reasonably certain that the bird is a tree swallow. The head appeared black, but it could have been a very dark blue-green. It's one of the few common varieties with a white underbelly.
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