Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Western Scrub Jay

I finally got a few decent pictures of a Western Scrub Jay. My mother-in-law filled up one of her bird baths, and within minutes, one came down for a drink. I've seen these birds all my life, but I wasn't as much into taking pictures until right when we moved away. We don't have them where I live now, but we have other jays like Blue Jays, Stellar's Jays, and Gray Jays. Just like the others, Scrub Jays sure are noisy birds.

Friday, May 23, 2014

California Quail

I'm at my in-laws' house in Ojai, California right now. Their house is right next to the house I used to live in before we moved to Montana in 2006. There are California Quails wandering around all over. I was just getting into photography right before we moved, so I never got any good ones. I finally got some yesterday. These are two of my favorites.

When the boys were little, they used to call these Nu-Nu Birds. They're so cute and usually pretty skittish, but this one managed to sit still for me for a long time. In fact, I ended up leaving before the bird did.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Well, at least that's what I want to yell. Last year we had such a horrible time with yellow jackets. We didn't get our traps up early enough, so we didn't catch the queens. It was so bad you couldn't even go outside at times. They'd swarm around us, even if we were just trying to get in and out of the car. They bit, too. We weren't the only one having problems though. They were horrible everywhere. All of the stores ran out of traps. We ended up making some out of old 2L pop bottles, which worked amazingly well, but were smelly as hell.

Anyway, we caught two nasty looking ones in our trap yesterday. They're huge—about an inch—so I've been looking to see if maybe we caught a queen or two. I hope so. I guess the key is to catch the queen before the rest get out of control. I took this picture above and it shows the markings pretty well, but I'm not positive it's the queen. What do you think?

It really is hard for me to tell. The picture above looks sort of like this graph of the queen, but my picture below shows the under-belly of the same wasps, which is where I get confused. I guess it doesn't matter too much—just as long as we're trapping them. They're nasty things.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I hope you had a great day, whether you celebrate Cinco de Mayo or not. The other day I began a new photo challenge on Instagram for book lovers. Today's challenge was "a book with a Mexican character". Well, I started going through our bookshelves when I realized I was coming up empty. How can we have so many books and not have one with a Mexican character? I only knew of one, but it was packed way in the back of a closet with our Christmas decorations. There was just no way to get that one. Then Neil reminded me of the little Mexican Chihuahua in Oliver & Company. I had that book, and sure enough, Tito was right on the cover. Whew, today's photo challenge was saved!

Even so, it still bummed me out that I didn't have any books with Mexican characters. The girls were older by the time Dora even came around. We have lots of books about other heritages like Chinese, Indian, American Indian, Jewish, and so forth. We just came up short on Mexico and I thought that was very sad. Anyway, today I was at the Salvation Army thrift store browsing through the books when I found the two above. I decided to get them both to add to our collection. Considering today is Cinco de Mayo, I thought the timing couldn't have been more perfect.