Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Track of the Year

I finally dragged myself out there and did a track with Sugar. The fields all around our house are still dormant and so aren't too difficult for her to navigate. Later, they'll grow so tall and thick that I can't use them for tracking. Why it's taken me so long to get out there I'm not sure. I know I'm very much a fair weather tracker, and I don't think that's really going to work! You need to track and train in all weather. I could have been tracking for a month or more already. But. I haven't been.

She's right on here, and the field is so short I can use the little flags, no problem.

She did pretty well on her first track in a very long time. Three turns, track of medium length. I didn't age it for very long since it was her first track in quite a while. She got a bit muddled in the middle, but worked it out. Sugar loves being "the one" to be taken out to do things with me. She just turns herself inside out over it all. Makes me feel guilty about not doing it more often with her. She is so game! This weekend I'm going to a tracking seminar. I'm really hoping that will get me motivated, because I sure need it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weird and Wonderful !

We've had several new birds coming here this spring, and I've been trying to figure out what they all are - I find the easiest way is to get a good picture and then use that to identify them later. We've had Common Redpolls (for one day), Pine Siskens (ditto), a lone House Finch and for about a week now, several Song Sparrows. All of these were first time sightings for me.

I got this pretty good shot of a Song Sparrow, and no sooner did I figure out what it was, when a strange visitor appeared.

The first leucistic bird I've ever seen with my own eyes! I was lucky enough to get several shots of this leucistic Song Sparrow. I wrote a little about leucism here when we saw the leucistic alligator at the New Orleans Aquarium. Leucism can be partial or complete, but is not the same as albinism.

This is a grainy picture of the same bird - it was far away. I used it because from the front, it looks like a normal Song Sparrow (except for that solid white tail sticking out!).

Looking over its shoulder, tail and most wing feathers are solid white, with some white feathers mixed with brown ones on its shoulders. Head is a normal colour.

Really a thrill to see something as rare as this in my own yard!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

They're Back

We haven't seen turkeys around here for a very long time, but some of them obviously survived the winter and they're back again, looking none the worse for wear and scrounging under the bird feeders.

Beautiful feathers...

...with a face only a mother could love (maybe!).

I watched this chipmunk and turkey eating together - so close it looked like she was pecking him. The chipmunk wasn't bothered a bit by her size. Each ignored the other.

Turning tail.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Big Birthday

Today our Netta turns 15! It's been a rough winter for her as well as the rest of us, but Spring is slowly trying to take over and things should go much easier for her now. It's no fun watching your dogs grow old. I took these pictures over the last 2-3 days, never feeling satisfied that I was capturing the essence of my old dog. Looking them over though, there were some that were better than I thought. A bi-black is never easy to photograph, she sure was happy to toddle back into the house and to her bed once I decided I had something I could use. I wanted current pictures for her 15th birthday! She is somewhat unkempt as she doesn't much like to be groomed and at her age it's a real trial for her, so we do just the minimum to keep her looking decent, plus nails cut and feet trimmed.

Ch. Shadypines Viennetta at 15.

Netta is still top dog here. She has the kind of strong personality that had her vying for the top spot in the pack almost from the day she arrived here. She had a few ahead of her in line to conquer though, but eventually she moved to the top and has stayed there without challenge. She wasn't particularly nice to the very old dogs when she was younger, and I had to watch her. She would try to take them down if she thought she could. I warned her that some day she'd be the old one and then watch out! She's lucky though, no karma for her, everyone is quite happy to let her keep her position even though any of them could easily best her now. She still asserts herself every now and then, but all are most gracious and just pretend she's still as quick, spry and "bad" as ever, letting the situation diffuse with her dignity intact.

Our beautiful old girl.