Gate birds

Leah and I were at the Tractor Supply store near Rome a couple of days ago, looking for a possible new cat house, when it kind of gradually dawned on us that there were a lot of birds chirping nearby.

littlebirdsCan you see them on top of the stack of fence gates? A whole flock of little brown birds, either wrens or sparrows (I can’t tell the difference). I’m not sure why they were sitting there. It was a gray and slightly misty day, but it’s possible the stack of gates might have collected enough solar heat to give them a little extra warmth.

I listened to the songs of the wren and sparrow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but I can’t tell which sounds more like what I remember of these birds’ song.

It was odd to see them there, but the funny thing was that they sang as long as we didn’t look at them. When we looked at them, they fell completely silent. It we looked away, they began to sing again. Shy little birds.


‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a …

Hey, Zeke, come on, you know Santa will never come if you stay up looking for him.

Zeke, get away from the door

Go on, Zeke, go to bed and go to sleep.

zeke in bedGood dog. Hey, Chloe, you heard what I told Zeke!

chloe looking outEveryone go to bed, right now!

That’s right, Lucy, good dog.

lucy in bedYou, too, Sylvester, good kitty.

sly kind of asleep

Come on, now, Smokey, you  aren’t fooling anyone.

smokey faking it

There, Smokey, that’s better.

smokey asleep

Look, even Chloe is finally asleep.

chloe asleepOK, I think everyone is in bed.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Chloe, Sylvester and Smokey,

happy christmas

and to all a good night!


This is a repost from last Christmas, but, unfortunately, one of the star players in that post, Zoe, is no longer with us. Goodbye, kitty.

goodbye zoe

Studied indifference

Back before my mother died, her little dog Lucy almost always found a place on Mother’s furniture if not on her lap. Since we inherited Lucy we haven’t let her on our sofa much, but occasionally Leah lets her up. She likes to bury her head under a pillow like this:

lucy hides her head

Smokey the cat also likes to jump up on the sofa between Leah and me. He does a little nesting, usually testing how soft my leg is, and then settles in lying as close as he can to me. Odd, since Leah is the cat person and I’m the dog person. I do usually give him an ear massage, and he turns his purr machine up to 11.

Smokey and the rest of our cats get along reasonably well with the dogs if their paths happen to cross, but they usually retreat pretty quickly when the dogs get too nosy. The other night Smokey and Lucy found a way for both of them to get their full sofa time.

lucy and smokey 2They ignored each other.


The Berry Eagle

I mentioned in an earlier post that someone had dumped a deer carcass near the intersection of Fouche Gap Road and Lavender Trail, not far from our house. On Saturday our neighbor stopped to talk when I was walking the dogs. He said that a bald eagle had been feeding on the deer carcass. I didn’t see it when we went down the mountain, but when we came back up, it was feeding. I stopped as soon as I saw it and took some pictures. Unfortunately, all I had was my phone, which has a wide angle lens.

eagle on deer_atadistanceThe eagle is the little speck that looks like it’s part of the shadows where the road curves back to the left. If you squint and take my word for it, you can see the bird standing on the carcass. Here’s a blowup that’s not much better.

eagle pointed out

I tried to get closer, but as soon as I moved, the eagle saw me and immediately flew up into a tree.


The image quality is not good, but it’s the best I could do with the phone. I cropped down as far as I could without losing too much detail.  I took my little Canon with a short telephoto lens on my dog walks on Sunday and Monday but didn’t see the eagle. I’m afraid the deer carcass is so worked over now that the eagle may not come back.

This was almost certainly one of a pair that has been nesting on Berry College property for the last few years. Berry has a Web cam at the nesting site. According to Berry’s Web page, this is the “first documented nest in the modern history of Floyd County.” There are two eagle nests on the Berry campus, but it’s not clear whether there are two nesting pairs. One nest is close to the main entrance of the college, and the other is somewhere on Lavender Mountain in an inaccessible area. The inaccessible nest is probably only a few miles from our house.

One pair has laid, hatched and fledged eaglets from the accessible nest.

Berry College had planned to construct an athletic facility near where one nest is located but has moved the construction site away to avoid interfering with the eagles.

I have never seen a bald eagle in Georgia, so it was a real thrill to see this one. There is an eagle nest on an old bridge over the Tennessee River near Scottsboro, Alabama. I used to cross that bridge almost every week when I worked in Huntsville, and I am pretty sure I saw an eagle on that nest on one occasion. The only other time I have seen eagles is when Leah and I visited Alaska on our honeymoon in 2005.

Representatives of the deer-hunting population

I know there must be plenty of responsible deer hunters around here. They must identify their target before they shoot and have the skill to kill it quickly. They must take the dead deer out of the woods and either butcher it or have it done by someone else. They must eat the meat or donate it to someone who needs or wants it. They may keep the head or pelt as a trophy, or they may not.

I know there must be plenty of them around here, but all I see is evidence of the other kind. Last year I saw five or six deer carcasses that had been thrown off the road over the mountain. So far this year I have seen two. The first was a small deer that was lying behind a large tree just off the side of the road. Its head had been removed, but nothing else. I saw that one about two weeks ago. The second was a larger deer that had been left at the side of the road near the intersection of Fouche Gap Road and Lavender Trail. It has been skinned, but nothing else had been taken. The meat the head were still on the carcass.

Of course the responsible hunters don’t do things like that, so all I see is evidence that deer hunters are irresponsible, wasteful and inconsiderate. And I think that’s a generous characterization.