Archive for May, 2010

I was out yesterday evening fooling with the camera. I got a few terrible shots of Miley and couple of green blurs that pass for forest photos.

I was heading back with Miley, and I do recall that she was behind me.

But as I walked, the evening sun was in my eyes. I saw a dog-like form in the pasture maybe 50 feet in front of me. At first I thought it was Miley. Then I realized she was trotting up behind me.

The dog-like form raised its head out of the sunlight. I saw two prick ears and a slender nose. Then, a long bushy tail appeared from the tall grass.

It was a coyote, probably a small female. Her slender form became obvious in the tall grass. I tried to turn the camera on, but before I could get anything, she turned and ran over the high point.

I later estimated her weight to be something around 30 pounds. A small coyote bitch, at least for this area.

She was gone before I could get a shot.

This morning I went out, and there was a coyote track in the mud. It was smaller than Miley’s and had less of an imprint of the nails than I normally see in dog tracks.

So I took a photo, and that’s the one at the top of this post.

So here’s my big coyote photo. It’s just a track– the traces of what was once there.

I hear the coyotes all the time, but you never really see one. They are creatures of the mists and sun glares, always running away before your eyes can property train on them and register what they are. The coyote must know that if you’re seen, you’re shot.

And although no other wild animal around here is a predator, the sight of a person and a large dog is enough to make them split. Men with hounds have run them down. Men with guns have shot at them. The only way to live is to be more than a little scared of our species.

For coyotes, death stalks the land on two legs.

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ID the dog

This is too easy. I’ll have an answer by midnight:

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This goes out to all you trolls who have nothing better to do than read a blog you hate.

You can leave comments on this post, and you will be approved.

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I believe that this clip takes place in the Sundarbans, where the tigers will also eat you.


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They were whip-poor-wills (Caprimulgus vociferus).

It is a species of nightjar that actually says “whip poor will” in its call. The birds have unfortunately become less common in recent years. But a few of these land on the trees near the house and call every night in the summer. When they are very close, they don’t sound exactly like whip-poor-wills. They litterally jar the house.

The genus name for this species is Caprimulgus. That means “goat sucker.”  It was once believed that European nightjars sucked milk from goats at night. I’ve not heard of a similar legend about whip-poor-wills.

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As I have noted before, I have been writing this blog for nearly two years. It will be two years old in July 8th. My earliest scribblings were a bit didactic, full of information and not enough attention paid to style. I’m still working on it, but I think that my writing is a good balance of information, humor, and some absolute piffle thrown in. I also try to make the reader feel comfortable enough reading to leave a comment or two.

I read a lot of nature and pet blogs. Some of them are good at helping the reader understand. Others, not so much. Some of them are all about the blogger and that blogger’s ideas. It’s not about the readers. It’s not about trying to reach out to the world at large. It’s just about spouting opinions and analysis.

And if you do that, you will either bore people or tick them off. Of course, even ticked off people read your blog. People like to be outraged.

But if you actually want to do this right, you have to allow other people in. Maybe it’s because I’m a liberal, and there was a recent study that showed that blogs owned by liberals were much more open than those owned by conservatives.

However, it may come from something else. I have to have feedback.  I am forever trying to improve my writing style on goals I have outlined in the previous paragraph. If you don’t understand something, I’ve done something wrong. If you don’t feel like you can leave a comment, I’ve also failed.

Now, I do put myself in this blog quite a bit. I often leave comments to respond to the views of others, which means risking certain perils. One of these is that I can be a bit less edited  in the comments. Because comments don’t give me much opportunity to prepare my language, I know fully well that I’m going to have typos, and I’m going to say something wrong.

However, running a blog in this fashion does mean I get to “know” my readers, and that in itself is something interesting. I get tips in e-mails all the time, which I store away until I can use them in a blog post.  In my e-mail, I also get people who gripe, which I expected, and I also get people who gush, which I did not expect at all. The people who tend toward the latter category are now more prevalent in my inbox– whatever that means.

A blog can teach you many things. However, it is not merely the reader who gets informed. I learn more and more every day. I don’t think I could ever stop doing this. It’s a fascinating experience, especially when the blog starts to get thousands of page views a day.

I thank you for reading, even if you’re just here to be outraged.

P.S. I did go a little crazy last night. I have reasons for it beyond the nagging I got from a Millan-defending griper. It was a very bad time to start me on one of these.  I wasn’t exactly angry. I was full of beans, and when I’m full of beans, I get silly. The anger in the posts was but an affectation.

And I apologize for deleting the posts. There were good comments, but I don’t need those posts anymore.

And I know none of that makes sense.

It’s not supposed to.

Just give me the license to be silly on my own blog, and things will be fine. I working on a satirical post, but unfortunately,it has fallen flat. I need to retool it some more.

Yes. That whole last part of this blog post is a failure.

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Mark Twain in 1909, the year before he died.

From the Independent.

Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain’s dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.

The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.

That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.

So after one hundred years, we’re going to know the real deal on Mark Twain’s life.

Maybe rumors of his life have been greatly exaggerated.

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What a clever idea!


On second thought, it may be a bit of a let down for the male sage grouse.

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On Facebook

Hat tip to Dennis Crippen.

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This depiction of a cross fox comes from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America by John Bachman and John James Audubon.

The cross fox is a color phase of the red fox, which is found almost exclusively in the North American populations. In fact, I’ve never heard of a European cross fox, but if they exist, I’ve not heard of them.

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