Cats, Snakes, and Trash Cans

So last night I’m working peacefully on my laptop on the bed before calling it a night.  My hubs is working in the music studio so I’m alone in the house and everything is quiet – except for my two cats, Claudia and Max, who are softly playing with something in the kitchen. .probably one of their toys.  After a few minutes I realize they’ve walked their toy into the bedroom and are sitting in the doorway, staring intently at the floor.  Then it hits me – they don’t actually have any toys.  I can’t see the floor for the edge of the bed..but I figure I probably should check this out. Whatever it is, it’s probably not good.  Claudia has a litter of kittens in the laundry room, and she probably has brought them a mouse.  Probably.

I don’t want a poor mutilated mouse in the bedroom.  So I get up and walk around the edge of the bed to see what’s so interesting and … SNAKE!  The freakin’ cats are toying with a live, slitherin’ snake!

Photo Courtesy LearnNC site; and The Beach Ranch Post, Texas

Good thing I’m the naturalist-type and not a screamer.  Closer inspection revealed it was a harmless ring-necked snake, but since my naturalist tendencies end at picking up snakes, I opted for the bathroom trash can and a wooden spatula.  Of course, while I was fetching the utensils of release, Claudia chased the thing under the bed, which then required moving furniture around at midnight to find it.  I was at last able to scoop the snake into the can and take it outside, where I released it into the cover of the rose bushes.  It seemed grateful.

No pictures of course – never even crossed my mind at that hour, but in searching for a photo with permission to use, I found this one on the Learn NC website, which actually looked like a pretty cool site and I’ll have to check it out another time.  The snake in the photo may not be the exact type of ring neck, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I officially dislike cats now – at least for a while.  Except for maybe kittens.


What I Learned Today

That you don’t watch a documentary on the Kentucky Bigfoot the night before you go banding alone before sunrise in a foggy misty field.  That squirrels cutting walnuts from trees are potentially dangerous monsters.  That howling coyotes and vocalizing barred owls are creepy when it’s dark and foggy.  That you have to have a sense of humor and real dedication to be doing this…or be a little bit nuts.

The day warmed quickly and more birds started moving after the fog lifted.  A new species for me was this lovely yellow-throated vireo.

Also banded a nice hermit thrush, easily separated from other thrushes by the noticeably reddish tail.

The colors are beginning to show and I’m enjoying the changes taking place in the field where I’m banding.  I set up the feeders at home and I’m getting the first regulars – Carolina chickadees, white and red breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and red-bellied woodpeckers.  Waiting for the goldfinches.  They are in the fields, but haven’t hit the feeders yet.

Beaches and Birds

You have to admit, there are some pretty strange-looking sea and shorebirds out there, especially when you’re more accustomed to the beautiful little songsters we’ve handled and featured here in the past.

For instance – I went out to do some birding yesterday near Honeymoon Island, which is very close to where I live now – and one of the first birds I found was this American Oystercatcher.

American oystercatcher

American oystercatcher

The photo doesn’t do it justice though.  Remember now, I’m reduced to taking photos of birds at a distance, at least for now.  Until I get a better camera, these will have to do.

Black, brown and white plumage is actually quite lovely – but what gets your attention is the long, bright red-orange bill and the yellow eyes on the black head.  Shades of Halloween.

Well, yes, you say, doesn’t my new favorite bird, the black skimmer, also have these Halloween colors?  Yeah, but skimmers have a lot more character

Honeymoon Island is a state park and the beach is condo-free and breathtaking.  This particular section has a lot of rip-tide currents, and is not recommended for swimming, so there are few people.  I suppose that the winds are ripping today and the water temp has dropped into the mid-60s also kept folks away.  Fine with me, I had the beach to myself.  Dressed in warm layers, I enjoyed exploring this beautiful place.  I’ll share more of it with you another day.  Life is good.
natural beach

natural beach

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