Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Little Birdie on the Big Plane

Written by on September 19, 2012 2 Comments

While I thought that a dog, a cat, a ferret, some fish and 10 or 11 hamsters was enough to care for and interact with, my husband, Mark, did not.  He wanted a bird.  And in particular, a bird that would sit on his shoulder, talk to him now and again and just pal around.   He looked high and low, north and south, and found a guy in Florida that spends his spare time breeding mynah birds. 

Like every other critter that has come into my house, I knew nothing about mynah birds.  And I knew even less about how to get a small bird from Florida to Michigan.   It turns out that all we had to do was pay the seller for said bird and allow him to make arrangements for the bird to come by airplane.   Then all we had to do is make plans to be at the closest international airport to pick up said bird.  Then we had to wait for a hurricane to blow through Florida.  Then we had to wait another week for the seller to obtain the proper container for shipping said bird in the cargo section of an airplane.  Finally, two weeks later, we went to the airport to pick up said bird.

Mark was so excited about his new pal that we left at 2:30 to pick up a bird whose plane was to land at 5:00 at an airport that was only 1.5 hours away.  That means I had a long time to hang out outside this building. 

Delta Airline's cargo flight parking lot at Detroit Metro.

I also had plenty of time to take photos of the plane the birdie might have come in on.

One of many planes I got to watch come in.

The 5:00 plane the little birdie was on became the 5:30 plane and it was around then that we learned it can take another 1.5 hours for birds to get carried from wherever they land to where Mark and I were hanging out bored to tears.  It was 7 p.m. when a guy finally walked in with a container that looked like what we were waiting for.

The container the little bird came in.

Because Mark was suddenly acting oddly nervous, I bravely peeled back the green mesh that the seller had put in front of the windows and doors.  Inside, I saw something brown and yellowish lying on its side.  I cringed as I told Mark and the clerk behind the counter that I thought the birdie was dead.  As the clerk was responding with, “Well, you’ll have to take that up with…” this thumping noise came from the cage and I heard flapping inside the cage.  I peered back inside and saw the bird in the back.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that the blob in the front turned out to be a very ripe banana the seller had shipped with the birdie. 

Mark smiled as he carried the carrier to the car.

Mark carrying his birdie.

He placed the carrier in the back of the car and we enjoyed about five minutes of quiet before the bird began throwing itself against the side of the cage, flapping, making squawky noises, and slowly making the entire car smell like banana.  I was a bit of a wreck by the time I got home.  Mark, on the other hand, was beaming and said he couldn’t wait to play with his new pal.  

It was 9 p.m. by the time we took the bird to her new home in a spare bedroom.  We held the carrier up to a real bird cage, thinking the birdie would be happy to get out of a small container it’d been in since 11 that morning. 

Mark trying to get the bird into its new home.

The little birdie suddenly stopped flapping around.  After several minutes and a complete standoff on the part of the bird, Mark reached inside the carrier and gently grabbed her.  She squawked and attempted to gnaw on Mark to show her displeasure.

Little birdie trying to show Mark who's boss.

 Amazingly though, in a matter of minutes, the bird settled in to her new home.  She hopped from one perch to the other, found the water bottle, and found the free standing dish of water and took a brief bath.  She also ate some of the 25 pounds of food Mark had purchased.   The next day, she ate fresh fruit, including blueberries, pear pieces and apple bits.  She also snarfed the dried mealworms we’d gotten to attract bluebirds.

Over the course of the next week, the bird’s name morphed from little birdie to Little Buddy.  Mark spends time with her each day, sitting next to her as he reads a book.  She hops right over to the side of the cage to see him and, after a while, sometimes chirps and makes other higher pitched calls. 

Two nights ago, we opened her cage door for the first time and I snapped a couple of photos.

Little Buddy checking out the outside of her cage.

After hopping in and out of the entrance to the cage, she finally built up the nerve to fly around a bit and ended up on top of the cage.

 

Little Buddy about ready to take flight.

It took Little Buddy about 20 minutes to build up the nerve to fly around a bit.  It took us over two hours to get her back inside her cage.  Apparently, we have a lot more to learn about mynahs.  Or at least about Little Buddy.

Farewell to the Special Fuzzy Friend That Picked Me

Written by on August 29, 2012 5 Comments

Back 13 years ago, my criteria for picking out a pal for our male dog, Dusty, was pretty simple–I wanted a female, bijon friese-lhasa apso mix, and she had to lick me to indicate she licked me.  This is the puppy that picked me. 

Little Dipper on the way home from the pet store 13 years ago.

 

 Little Dipper and our first puppy, Dusty, got along from the get-go.

 

Dusty and Little Dipper, 1999.

 

And Little Dipper was also my pal.  She figured out right away that if she wiggled just so, I’d take her for a walk.  It worked every day, including Tuesday, the day she died. 

Little Dipper flying across the snow.

 
Outside, Dipper liked immersing herself in the snow.
 

Little Dipper in the snow.

 
She also loved to swim.
 

Little Dipper in Lake Michigan.

 
And she liked to play on the beach.
 

Little Dipper at the beach.

 
If she got cold after swimming, I was always there to get her warmed up and just be with her.
 

Me and Little Dipper on Lake Michigan during a "pups vacation."

 
Little Dipper was also my traveling pal.  Every time I picked up my car keys, she was at my heels, ready to go.  One of our regular jaunts together was to McDonalds on weekend mornings when I ordered one sausage biscuit and one sausage patty for the dogs.  Little Dipper became a bit of a celebrity at the drive-thru.
 

Little Dipper getting her bits of McDonald's sausage, 2008.

 
At home, she liked belly rubs, which she trained Mark to do by simply flipping upside down on the couch.  And she liked to snuggle amongst the pillows and blankets.
 

Little Dipper's eyes peeking out from beneath the blankets.

 
She also loved to soak in the sun.
 

Little Dipper in the sun.

 
 
She also had a way of letting me know when she didn’t like something.
 
 

Little Dipper didn't really like this outfit.

 
Some say that Little Dipper was spoiled.
 

Little Dipper finding another comfy place.

 
But the fact is, Little Dipper simply wiggled her way into the heart of everyone who saw her.   

My pal.

Last night, a stroke led to her quick departure.  The hole she left in my heart is huge.  I will miss my walking pal, my traveling pal, my McDonald’s pal, and the little puppy that first licked my face to tell me she was the one for me.  May she run across the heavens and may belly rubs be waiting for her afterwards.

Our Latest Fuzzy Addition; Deer Swimming

Written by on July 29, 2012 1 Comment

Since everyone should probably get at least one hamster in their life, and because I’d never had one of my own, I set about to get a hamster of my very own . . . to add to the ten or so that Mark already had in the house.  Her name is Daisy and she was all by herself in a cage at the pet store, winked at me, and well, that was it. 

The hamster we named Daisy.

 Daisy took to her cage fairly well and really took to pepitas and pumpkin seeds.

Daisy inside a container of hamster food.

Perhaps you’ll excuse this shot of Daisy from the back.
 

Daisy from another view point.

 The other nifty thing that happened this week was looking outside at 6:30 in the morning a few days ago and seeing these.
 

They're all ears! A doe with her two fawns.

 
I got to see them swim from the island to a small peninsula across from the golf course. 
 

Doe with her twin fawns coming out of the water.

They stepped out of the water, and without shaking themselves like dogs do, simply walked off into the woods.
 

Mom leading her fawns into the woods.

 

How to Keep Dogs Cool in the Heat

Written by on July 22, 2012 No Comments

I’ve seen a few boneheads recently–people walking their dogs in the heat of the day; people walking their dogs on black pavement; people leaving their dogs in the car while they run into the store.  So for the boneheads out there, here are some tips for keeping your dogs healthy and happy during the heat waves.

1.  Leave your dog at home when you go to the store.  If you want to find out why, sit in your own car for 10 minutes with the window cracked a couple inches when it’s 93 degrees outside.  You’ll soon discover that it’s way too hot to keep dogs in a car even with the window cracked for even a few minutes.

Leaving Dusty while I run to the store.

2.  If you don’t have air conditioning, keep some fans going.  Also, if you can afford to, get one of those kiddy pools.  You don’t have to bring it inside like we did a few years back; your dog will like it outside, too.

Dusty in a small pool inside the house. Circa 2001.

3.  Get your fuzzy dogs de-fuzzied.

Dusty a day after getting trimmed. He really was happier than he looks here.

4.  Walk you dog first thing in the morning or last thing at night when it’s coolest.  Not only is the air cooler, the pavement is also.  If you’ve never felt the heat on pavement, put your hand on some parking lot black top next time it’s over 80 degrees in the middle of the day to feel what’s it’s like on your pal’s fuzzy feet.

5. In Michigan lately, some evenings are still over 85 degrees an hour before sun down.  Consider dumping some water on your dog’s back to cool her off for the short jaunt.

Dumping a wee bit of water on Little Dipper before our evening walk.

6.  Keep the walks shorter than usual.  Even a cooled dog doesn’t stay cool for long.

7.  Keep plenty of fresh water in your dog’s bowl.  My two little dogs are going through two bowls of water a day lately. 

8.  If you can, take your dog to a clean body of water to cool off.  Dusty and Dipper used to love a wee dip in Lake Michigan.

Little Dipper and Dusty in Lake Michigan.

 9.  Even if your dogs are used to sleeping in your bed, it’s best to keep them cool at night in the summer.  In our case, Dusty’s ability to make the whole bed move when he was panting sent him off the bed and onto the bathroom floor.  We all slept better as a result.
 
10.  Finally, if you do let your dog hang out outside, don’t leave them out for very long.  Dipper would stay out for hours if we let her, but she’s 13 and a half now and it’s better for her to be inside.  Also, keep your eyes out for ticks–I brought one into the house recently from my backyard.  It’s possible your dogs may pick one up, too.
 

Little Dipper hanging in the sun for a bit.

Book Wrap-Up and a Visit from the Gawky Family

Written by on May 30, 2012 No Comments

April was dedicated to the sport of promoting my book via a virtual tour that lasted from April 8 – 28, and I have to say I learned a lot from my adventure, including:

  •  Doing a book tour is a lot of work because most hosts “offer” the chance to do an interview  and/or the opportunity to post something of the author’s choice.  During my tour, most hosts wanted one or the other, which meant I was writing marketing material every night in  April and ignoring just about everything else, including my poor, sad husband.
  • Most book tour hosts are willing to do a book review as part of a tour, but the thing is, they’re all honest people and are just as happy to give 3 stars for your book as a 4 or 5.
  • If you’re going to write a second book, it’s good to keep track of the book tour hosts that gave you high reviews and those that did not.  I mean, why invite the people who didn’t rate you well to participate in your next tour?
  • Not every tour host will “get” your book.  Two people thought my book was a children’s book and only one of the two of them backed out as a result.
  • One person backed out before the tour began for reasons that weren’t real clear to me, and  it was the very last day of the tour.  I was grateful to be able to call upon Joy V. Smith, who was one of the first (and best) reviewers of my book, to fill that last spot.
  • One tour host got in a car accident.  On the day my book was to have been featured, I told her nothing was more important than getting better.
  • Another tour host put down the wrong date on her calendar and her apology included information about her rare blood disease that is distracting her.  I also told her nothing was more important than getting better.
  • My tour included several give-aways, the success of which was highly dependent on the number of people that frequent the host’s site.  One site got 7 participants, another got over 100.  It’s good to keep track of which sites get the most traffic.
  • Author interviews on sites with lots of traffic can generate just as much interest as a give-away on a site that doesn’t get a lot of traffic.
  • I got the most participants (over 400) in a give-away via GoodReads.
  • I had some nifty jewelry to give away and some people had more to say about the jewelry than my book.
  • The book tour was probably mostly a great way to get my name ‘out there.”
  • Tweeting became a nightly event in April, mostly to boast about the good reviews I received.  I did not Tweet about the marginal reviews.
  • Facebook postings jived with my Tweets which was about the only automated thing that occurred in April.
  • Twitter parties should not be done on a Sunday morning because most people are either hungover or at church.  I would have been better off being hungover or at church.
  • As far as book sales go, I did best after a free give-away on Amazon Kindle.

And so with my book tour behind me, I have a couple more free sites to advertise on and then it’s time to wrap up my next book, a humorous story about raising a whole bunch of animals I knew nothing about.  It’s much more marketable and gosh, as a result of a wee bit of work in April, I now have a list of several hundred Tweety-people, some blog followers, some book reviewers and some book host tours that I can call upon again. 

Between now and when my next book is finished, I’ll be back posting about people and critters.  For instance, during my book tour, Mr. and Mrs. Gawky set up a nest across from our house this year and Mrs. laid 8 eggs just like last year.  And like last year, there was one egg that hatched later than all the rest. 

Mrs. Gawky on her nest; one egg left to hatch.

The very next day, I stopped by and saw the last hatchling.  

Baby swan the day it hatched.

 A week or so later, the entire Gawky family stopped just offshore of our property to say hi.  Some of the babies had their back legs resting on their backs and I was a wee worried they didn’t all work properly.

Gawky family stopping by for a visit and to do some yoga.
 
Last Sunday–the day before Memorial Day–the Gawkies came into our yard for the very first time.  The chubby little babies could all walk, and they wobbled in like penguins.
 

Gawky family walking awkwardly into the backyard.

 
The family did some stretches, ate some grass and posed for photos.
 

Gawky baby enjoying the safety of our backyard.

 
Some of the babies wobbled around to find a comfortable place to lie down, using their huge wings as balance.
 

Baby up for a wee stroll.

 
Some of the babies felt content enough to take a nap.
 

Nap time in our backyard.

 The ever-watchful Mr. Gawky took time to preen himself.
 

Mr. Gawky taking care of his feathers.

 
 About twenty minutes after the Gawkies arrived, they all rose to Mrs. Gawky’s honk-like call and marched off in a line, back to the lake.   Good-luck little Gawkies!
 

Gawkies heading back to the water.

 
 

The Return of the Graylag Goose

Written by on November 21, 2011 No Comments

On Sunday Mark and I spent quality time with the four kids and some significant others munching on some delicious DeLuca’s pizza and drinking beer in honor of Kid #2’s birthday.  We made up for having fun by spending quality time in Home Depot on Sunday debating how to make smaller steps for Dusty, our 13-year-old dog whose short legs and chubby tummy have made it difficult for him to get up and down big steps.   We debated several designs, moved way too many sizes of concrete brick in and out and back in and out of Mark’s car, until finally settling on some lame setup that Dusty did not like at all.

Dusty recognizing poor craftsmanship when he sees it.

As a result of all our fun, it wasn’t until fairly late in the day Sunday that I was able to get out to take any photos of the migrating birds.  I hadn’t seen golden-eyes on our lake before and was quite thrilled to see the ones below even though they didn’t come close enough for a good photo. 

One golden-eye eying another golden-eye whose eyes are hidden from view.

I also got to see hooded mergansers on our lake for the first time on Sunday.  They were hanging out with the golden-eyes and didn’t come in close, either. 

Male hooded merganser (far left) and female (far right).

The coots came in close, though, so I got a decent photo of one of them.  Kind of a cute coot if you ask me.

A coot just offshore.

I was also lucky enough to see this grebe as the sun was setting.

Grebe with the sun setting on its beak, neck and back.

And this ruddy duck, which in the dim light looked more black than ruddy to me.

Ruddy duck.

But what really got me excited was the goose I saw.  You might remember seeing this odd-looking goose in one of my spring blog postings.  This is the one I accused of being a duck-eating goose but which was, in fact, just eating grass like every other goose.

Graylag goose in my neighbor's yard, circa spring 2011.

And you might also remember that shortly after I shot the above photo, I shot a photo of the graylag goose hooked up with a Canada goose.   And what was nifty about this siting is that the graylag is an Old World goose, meaning it’s usually found in like Europe, Africa and Asia.

Graylag-Canada goose couple, circa spring 2011.

So imagine my surprise when amongst a flock of geese Sunday evening after sundown, I heard the odd honking sound of a graylag goose and saw the pair, below. 

Graylag-Canada goose couple, November 2011.

It was a quite dark and the couple was not willing to answer whether they were the same ones I saw in the spring.  But I found it rather nifty to have seen a Graylag-Canada pair this weekend, en route to wherever it is they spend their winters.

Farwell Ye Dog Days of Summer

Written by on September 17, 2011 No Comments

I don’t know about you, but I already miss the dog days of summer, just sitting in the sun and relaxing now and again.

Little Dipper chillin' out in the sun.

With temperatures dropping and Mark back to school, Little Dipper won’t be sitting outside sunning herself much anymore.  Poor thing.
I also miss sitting outside and watching birds fly around, like this hummingbird.

Hummingbird at my feeder.

Of course, not even the hummers had it easy all summer long.

Stinging nasty chasing a hummingbird away from the feeder.

We haven’t seen any hummers for several days now.

I also liked watching the occasional bird take a dip in our bird bath.

Red-wing blackbird taking a bath.

Of course, not even the red-wing blackbird had it easy all summer.

Red-wing blackbird bath interrupted by a baby starling.

We haven’t seen a bird take a bath for weeks now.

I also miss the ants that were in our backyard.  We had a huge ant nest.  But one day about two weeks ago, I looked outside and saw hundreds of them lifting off into the air.  Mark said they were leaving our backyard to mate and start a new nest somewhere else.  Like it could be better anywhere else.

Winged ants at the top of a weed in my backyard.

I’m thinking the world looked pretty large from an ant’s point of view.

Winged ant looking rather puny in the grass and weeds.

The object was to climb to the top of a weed or grass blade and take to the air.

Winged ant beating its wings, ready to take off.

Some ants were more hesitant than others.

Ant on the left preparing for take-off; ant on right airborne.

Some ants had a hard time getting off the ground.

Ant struggling to get to the top of the grass blade for take-off.

Like most people, I wanted to help the little ant.

Ant I helped take off.

But even the ants didn’t have it easy all summer.  This crow came along more than once to poke at the nest with its sharp beak.

Crow on the ant nest.

The crow poking the nest aggravated the ants and caused them to squirt their formic acid on the crow.  This helps kill the crow’s parasites.

Crow getting a spa treatment at the ant nest.

 So when summer ends, ants take to the air to mate and start a new nest, hummers and black birds migrate south, and birds that stay around all winter stop taking baths and go dirty for months at a time.  Farewell ye dog days of summer and all the critters that I got to see.  I hope to see some of you next spring.

As for Little Dipper?  Well, she’s adjusting to the end of summer just fine.

Little Dipper settling into fall snuggling mode.

On the Passing of a Ferret

Written by on September 09, 2011 2 Comments

Holly and I named her Smiggles
because she smiled when she wiggled.

She played with both of the boys,
and stole some of Dusty’s stuffed toys.

 

She liked boxes and bags and anything new.
She once was so small she fit in Mark’s shoes.

She liked Pop-tarts . . .


. . . and cat food and ferret food, too

and super fresh water she got from her “pool.”

When she got tired, she curled up in some clothes,
and covered herself, including her nose.

But all things that wiggle must cease to one day.
Our Smiggles has gone up to heaven to play.

Only Chip now remains; she’s our last ferret friend.
We both miss Smiggles, who smiled `til the end.

A Wee Wooly Visit for Dad

Written by on September 05, 2011 1 Comment

The problem with having  two dogs, a cat, two ferrets and 11 hamsters is that cleaning up for visitors is a bit of an event.  And things don’t always go as planned.

Last Thursday, my dad drove from Grand Rapids to our house in Haslett to take us out for dinner.  The house was vacuumed, one bathroom cleaned and the place didn’t smell too barn-like except for one hamster cage.  We’d already cleaned the other hamster cages, the start of which involves removing the hamster from its cage and putting it in a separate container for a few minutes.

Little Buddha in a temporary holding container.

Cage cleaning usually doesn’t take very long.

A hamster cage about to be cleaned.

And usually in no time, the hamster or hamsters are back in their cage where they belong.

But last Thursday, we had a bit of a problem with one of the hamster cages.  Three male hamsters were holed up in this captain’s nook or side container or whatever you want to call it, and that same plastic container was where the bad smell from their cage was coming from.  As luck would have it, Dad walked in the door the moment we were trying to entice the male hamsters out of the container so we could finish cleaning.  You might say Dad got a real nice whiff of hamster upon his arrival.

Three male hamsters in a side compartment of their cage.

Dad then got to witness Mark and me both trying to talk three male hamsters into coming out of a stinky container.  This was followed by Mark gently shaking the container, followed by one swear word and then, finally, the emergence of one hamster after another from the container.  Finally, we cleaned up, returned the hamsters and sat down for a few minutes at the kitchen table to chat for a few minutes before going out to dinner.  Moments after sitting down, I happened to look up at the ceiling and saw this.

What I first saw on my ceiling.

And then I saw this.

Another ceiling caterpillar.

In fact, there were 50-60 caterpillars crawling around on our dining room ceiling.

While I went off to get the vacuum cleaner, Mark stepped onto a chair and tried to remove a caterpillar from the ceiling with his hand.  When the first caterpillar fell onto the floor, he said, “Oops.  Not sure where that one went.”  Then, without looking for the first one, he extracted another caterpillar and dropped it into the fish tank for his beloved discus fish.  He went back up on the chair to extract one more bit of “living protein” for his discus fish before sitting down at the kitchen table. 

“About the one you dropped on the floor?” I asked.

“Oh, he’ll crawl his way to the wall and up the ceiling and then we’ll get him.”

That idea seemed somehow unpleasant to me, so I got on my hands and knees and searched for the caterpillar without success.  Then I sucked the remaining caterpillars off the ceiling one by one with the crevice tool.  This took a good ten minutes, during which time Mark identified the source of the caterpillars:  a 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds on the floor by our deck door.  I had moved the bag inside because when I’d kept the seeds in a garbage can on the deck a raccoon kept knocking the lid off with a bang in the wee hours of the morning.  The sunflower seed bag looked like this on the outside . . .

Caterpillar on the sunflower seed bag.

. . . And it looked like this on the inside.

Caterpillar on the inside of the bag.

I took the sunflower seed bag and put it in the garbage can outside, raccoon lid banging be darned. 

With that, we could think of nothing else entertaining to gross Dad out, so we headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant.  We’d just sat down when Dad pointed out some decorative beige dashes on the wall that he said looked a bit like the caterpillars on our ceiling.  How lovely.  When our food arrived Dad pointed out how the Mexican rice also looked caterpillar-like, too.

We had a nice dinner in spite of everything and headed home.  Now, Dad is a rather meticulous guy when it comes to things like lawns and cars, and I’m quite certain that even considering my house cleaning failures, he was even more freaked out by the state of my car windshield as we headed home in the setting sun. 

Dirty windshield.

I was feeling low as an earthworm when we arrived home and sat down for some after dinner coffee.  Mark had just taken his first sip when he noticed that one of the discus fish in the big tank was picking on another discus fish.  This is not behavior Mark tolerates in his discus fish, so he grabbed a net and chased the bad discus fish around and around the tank, knocking over plants and stirring up the water.  After several minutes, Mark nabbed the bad fish, placed it in a Ziploc bag and placed it in the Bad Fish Tank to acclimate.   For those that haven’t followed the blog, the Bad Fish Tank already held a bad discus fish and numerous bad tetras.

Bad discus fish in a baggie acclimating to the "Bad Fish" tank.

With the bad discus fish separated from the good, Dad said it was time for him to go, so we stepped outside to see him off.  I’d just gotten Little Dipper hooked up to her outside line and was about to hook Dusty up to his, when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  I lunged for Dusty’s collar just as he lunged forward to run after the the neighbor’s two Labrador retrievers, trotting by without their leashes.  Dusty apparently took exception to being surprised by two dogs off their leashes and he barked and growled like no other time before.  I had to pick him and put him inside the house where he continued barking and clawed against the door as if rabid. 

An hour later, I called my dad to make sure he got home and to thank him for dinner.  I told him I was sorry about the hamster smell, the caterpillars on our ceiling, the bad state of my windshield, our discus fish fighting, and Dusty going crazy.  His response:  “I just consider that to be a normal visit at your house.”

You Know You Have a Good Deer Blind When . . .

Written by on August 14, 2011 1 Comment

I needed a little downtime on Friday evening, so headed out to my favorite local park.  I followed some trails for a while and stopped at a boardwalk that crosses a marsh.  The marsh has jewelweed, Joe-pyeweed and other plants and in the few moments I stood there, this hummingbird buzzed in. I had one shot at it before it flew off.

Hummingbird slurping down some nectar.

I crossed the rest of the boardwalk and headed off the trail where woods end at a big, open marsh.  These transition areas–from wood to wetland–are usually good places to see wildlife.  To hide myself, I hunkered down amongst a mess of tree branches that had fallen on top of each other a few years back.  I sat in this blind for about a half hour, watching a downy woodpecker and several chickadees and jotting down some prose.  When I heard some sandhill cranes flying across the marsh, I wandered 15 feet to the edge of the marsh to try to get some shots, to no avail.  I stood there, staring out at the marsh for perhaps five minutes when a doe approached from the right of the blind.  She stopped ten feet away, flicking her tail and sniffing me with her nose.  She was actually too close for my zoom lens and interacting with her was special, so instead of taking a photo, I said hello and told her I’d be hanging around for a little while and hoped she didn’t mind.  She loitered nearby for a full minute, nibbling on some grass as if she had no fear of me.  I was distracted by a blue jay, turned back toward the march to see what it was hollering about and saw an owl rise out of the marsh and disappear again.  When I turned back toward the blind I saw this.

My blind. Note my notebook on the left, a pair of ears on the right.

I only saw the doe’s ears at first, and could barely make out her eyes.  Using a tree to steady my shot, I zoomed in for a better view.

The doe in my deer blind.

The sun was set at this point and I knew Mark would begin to worry about me.  I waited a few more minutes to see if perhaps the doe was hooking up with a pal or had some other reason to leave the blind.  She stared at me from the blind, I stared at her, and nothing happened for another ten minutes or so.  So, not knowing what else to do, I took two steps forward and took another shot.

Doe craning her neck for a better look at me.

I told her I was sorry but needed my notebook, and slowly stepped toward the blind.  She stood; I took one more shot.

Doe in my blind.

The doe walked off to the right before stopping about 15 feet away to watch me pick up my notebook.  I told her to have a good night, circled around to the left of the blind and tromped on through the woods towards the trail.  When I was about 30 feet away, I stopped and turned back, and saw the doe heading back to the blind. 

So this week’s lesson:  you know you have a good deer blind when you see a deer using it. 

I hope you had a good night, little doe.

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