Archive for May, 2010

Nesting Sandhill Cranes



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Why haven’t I written about this earlier?

Well, it isn’t like I haven’t tried.

But every time I do, I go into a rant.

You didn’t come here to read my rants.

At least I don’t think so.

This oil spill issue has me totally livid.

Part of this can be blamed on the Bush administration. More specifically, it can be blamed on Dick Cheney’s energy task force that got rid of the requirement for the acoustic switches that could be used to shut of an oil well in an emergency situation. The switches cost about $500,000, but the oil companies just couldn’t afford that.

But I’m not being fair here.

Since the spill has happened, the progressive, green, and hip Obama administration has not stepped up to the plate. They refuse to hold BP accountable, and allow them to have virtually full control over the attempts to shut off the oil well.

Now, I’m a Democrat. I voted for Obama. I probably will do so again.

But this is pathetic.

James Carville expresses these sentiments better than I can.

I wish the president had been more engaged.

Instead, he fumbled along. Why? I asked myself.

Well, in the end, I’m left with the view that I have long possessed about how things really work in this country. It is far from a rosy scenario. It goes something like this:

I’ve known all along that the US government was controlled by big corporations. That is the story of the US political economy for a very long time. Essentially, it matters  only a little bit about which party is in control. The big boys will have their say.

What’s the solution to this?

I can tell you it’s not just voting.

Voting is the least that can be done.

We have to be engaged as citizens.

Unfortunately, the level of civic engagement in this country is astoundingly low.

People are both demoralized and distrusting, and in that environment, only cynicism can reign.

But at some point, we’ve got to say we’ve got a stake in this. Otherwise, we’re doomed.

I used to spend time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina every summer. I really loved it there. I would walk several miles a day on the beach, where I’d see all sorts of seabirds, fisherman casting their lines into the surf, and occasionally would see dolphins and porpoises cavorting just offshore.

The oil will be there as it follows the loop current up the Eastern Seaboard. It will certainly have an effect on that landscape.

And when I think about it a little more, I wonder why we, as American citizens, didn’t demand a more rational energy policy? In hindsight, we all look like fools.

Let’s hope we don’t continue down that road with egg on our faces.

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At The Other End of the Leash:

What about “Circle Wag?” I made that term up, so don’t go looking for it anywhere. But in the best tradition of ethology, “Circle Wag” is descriptive, because the tail literally goes around in a circle. Here’s my belief about it’s ‘meaning’ (and that’s all it is, a belief). Circle wags appear to be done by dogs who are extremely happy. I see it on dogs who just adore adore adore a particular person, and I’ve seen on Luke and Will when we finished up a great session of herding and we both were equally proud of ourselves. I can not remember ever seeing it on a dog who appeared to be anxious or potentially aggressive, either defensive or offensively. Many dogs never circle wag, and I have no idea how many dogs actually do it. Ten percent? Twenty?

My dog does not.

However, I did have one who did.

She is actually doing it here.

When she would greet a person she knew, she would run up with her ears back. Her face would be all relaxed and friendly looking, and then she would start wagging her tail in great big circles. She would occasionally let loose a few yodels of joy.

Yes, circle wags mean extreme happiness. No question about it.

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The bear hunt

This was filmed in Dolomites, even though it is supposed to take place in British Columbia. That’s why they are running Beaucerons after the bears. Yes, that’s Bart the Bear.

Warning: This doesn’t end well for Dixie. Includes graphic content.


I’ve posted this before, but I didn’t post the whole sequence.

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Every time I see a coyote, I think of this song and of this particular version, even though it has nothing to do with coyotes.


I’ve still got that image of that animal standing in the sunlight etched somewhere in the back of my mind. That’s the way those animals are.  The first one I ever saw came within ten feet of me. It had been following one of my dogs, who led the coyote to me.  The coyote’s eyes locked in mine, and I’ve never felt as weird about a wild animal as I did at that moment. I had never seen eyes quite like that.  You could read the terror the coyote felt when it realized that it had come upon one of those dangerous creatures– the ones who can kill you if they see you.

Let’s just say that the coyote took off, just as my other two dogs appeared to chase after it as it disappeared over the hill.

But I never will forget those seconds when a coyote’s eyes met mine. I’ve never experienced anything quite so primitive and so disconcerting at the same time.

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When you read the word “creek,” please pronounce it “crick.”

This is West Virginia, after all.

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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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