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Archive for September, 2010

I took these photos a few years ago when I was fortunate enough to spend a week in March in Anza Borrego Desert State Park in California.

We caught the wildflower bloom at its peak.

Desert Lily

 We hiked up dry canyons and found groves of native palm trees, remnants of a wetter climate from thousands of years ago.

Have a great weekend!

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A couple of days ago I was in Indiana visiting my parents. I was taking a walk down the middle of a narrow tree-lined street when I heard a loud, splatting noise behind me, like someone had dropped twenty gallons of Jello from the tree-tops onto the road. It was loud, people.

I turned around. And behind me, on the road, was a fox squirrel laying limp. I didn’t have my camera with me but you know what they look like.

well-fed fox squirrel

I glanced upward. The nearest branch was at least thirty feet off the ground. Five seconds earlier and I’d have broken that squirrel’s fall with my head.

Anyway, I was pretty sure it was dead but I was still fascinated. I mean, I’ve seen a squirrel fall out of a tree and land on leaves and spruce needles and then run away, but this was pavement.

So, I took a step toward the motionless squirrel. My brain was a mix of sadness for the squirrel, and researcher for my writing. How did it die? Why did it fall? Poor thing. It looks so healthy otherwise.

I took another step toward the squirrel and it started to shake. I turned to my wife and said. “It’s moving.” Is it in pain? Is it having a seizure? What should I do? Am I going to be faced with the possibility of ending its suffering? If I get too close, will it try to bite me like an abandoned seal pup did years ago?

I took another step toward it and it started moving—slowly—very slowly—like slow motion-slowly, toward the base of the tree it’d fallen from. It looks like all its legs are working. It’s kind of shaky, but it’s walking.

Then it did something amazing. It proceeded to climb the very tree it’d fallen from just forty seconds ago.

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Just to keep everything fair, I had my buddy Clayton (pictured below) choose a winner for the awesome YA novel, Jumping Off Swings, by Jo Knowles.

Clayton

The ball landed on Terri Tiffany! Congrats to Terri, and thanks from Clayton and myself to all who stopped by and entered.

I’m hopping on a plane tomorrow—heading home to Alaska after two weeks of visiting family in New York and Indiana.

Look for a mid-week post regarding a strange but cool thing I witnessed in the mid-west a couple days ago.

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That’s the egg of a Black Oyster Catcher. It’s vulnerable—exposed to the elements and predators. I almost stepped on it during a beach walk on our kayak trip last month.

But these eggs are tough, and can even survive if they become submerged during a high tide, which I find kind of amazing.

And, the chicks (little balls of brown-gray fuzz) are capable of leaving the nest after one day. I’ve seen them scurrying around in years past.

Here is a borrowed photo of a chick (I didn’t have a digital one):

I didn’t have a good photo of an adult oystercatcher so I borrowed this one too:

Black Oystercatchers are some of my favorite birds. They nest in the same kind of places I like to hang out—deserted rocky, beaches.

There’s still time to enter my contest to win a copy of Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles. It’s open until mid-night Friday. Just leave on comment on the contest post.

Have a great weekend.

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