Things are progressing on the house hunting front…first off the adults have narrowed down their wants…they’ve eliminated the smallish 1,000 square feet range places as too cramped, well actually there’s plenty of living space but storage wise they’re too cramped and in addition they’re mostly duplexes or quads which they’re not interested in. So…they’re concentrating on houses in the 1,700-2,200 square foot range with 3 bedrooms, an open floor plan, a great kitchen that opens out into what they’ll call the ‘where we live’ area but what most would call the den/family room or something like that. In any event…he wants to be able to see the TV and participate in whatever conversations are happening with Connie or guests while he’s whipping up his culinary masterpieces. Almost all of the houses they’ve looked at so far have a kitchen/den combo like this with an eat-in bar separating the kitchen proper from the living spaces. Connie also has a requirement that the view has to be nice…in other words not the back of somebody else’s house…what she really wants is water…one of the places we rejected had canals on 2 sides of the yard but unfortunately the house was from the 80s and is pretty closed in…completely lacking the open plan that they want. Pretty much everything down here has HoA fees that cover lawn and landscaping maintenance so he’s on board with that…and most include basic cable and wifi throughout the neighborhood although whether that also includes high speed internet to the homes hasn’t been determined.
They visited 10 homes in 4 developments last week…and 3 are on the short list for the finalists so far…two of them are up in Magnolia Landing which has the advantage that it’s across the street from Saint Therese parish where we go but the disadvantage that it’s not down close to the Elks and other places we frequent…in fact there isn’t much entertainment wise up in that area but (a) it will eventually get built up, (b) it’s only 5 miles or so down to Pine Island Road where most of the stuff is and (c) we’ll just develop new favorite haunts like wing places, bars, Chinese takeout and the like.
Neil’s rounding back into bike riding shape…60 miles this month so far with another week to go so he should be up around 80 on the way to his normal 100ish.
Gordon (our local mobile RV tech) fixed the leaking seal on our toilet so that’s good to go…Neil could have done it himself…but it’s plumbing and he and plumbing generally don’t get along. He also replaced the burned out thermostat on the electric side of our hot water heater…the gas still worked but we generally use the electric when the weather is warmer as it’s more economical.
Big whoop-de-do down at the Elks with the Ladies of the Elks at our old lodge. Can’t provide a whole lot of detail…but it’s been causing stress in Connie’s life a bit…but it’s all working out for the best as things progress toward a resolution. We went over to the lodge for the Snowflake Ball…unfortunately she didn’t have a gown to wear but we’ll solve that problem once we get a little more closet space. There’s a Gatsby Ball the end of December and Neil already told her to buy herself a flapper dress for the occasion.
Saturday Neil headed off to the eagle’s nest down the road 4 miles for his first visit of the season. Harriet laid 2 eggs on November 12 and 16 so they should hatch right around Christmas again. This means that either she or her mate M15 is always on the nest incubating the eggs and protecting them from predation. He got there a few minutes after sunrise at 0656 and found that M15 was on the nest and Harriet had been gone for over an hour by that time…atypical for her as normally she’s not gone more than about an hour or so at a time during nesting season.
You can’ see it…but here’s the nest where M15 is dutifully incubating the eggs…yeah, I know it ain’t much to look at but trust me, he’s there. They just built the sides of the nest tall enough to keep the eaglets in which means there’s no visibility from the ground either. If you want to check the nest out…it’s
here. The second image is M15 sitting on the nest…it’s a screenshot from this morning and not from during yesterday’s visit…but it pretty much looks like yesterday’s would have looked like.
With no eagles to be found…he and his assorted friends started looking around for something else to photograph until something better happened along to see. Over on the ‘snag’…that’s the local nomenclature for a dead tree that the eagles frequently perch in…they spotted this Red Shouldered Hawk. He/she looks pretty rough…like it is suffering from a hangover from a hard night of drinking or something…it apparently hangs around this area along with another Red Shouldered…after a few minutes it flew off and wasn’t seen again for the remainder of the time he was there.
Here’s an extreme closeup so ya can see what Ima talking about it looking rough.
A bit later…they spotted the other Red Shouldered sitting in the fallen over dead tree…it doesn’t have a specific name yet…from Hurricane Irma a couple years back…not a real great shot as it was in amongst the branches and shadows but at least it doesn’t look like it is having a bad feather morning.
A bit later…this one hopped farther out to the left on the same branch and posed with its back towards him looking back over its shoulder…very nice indeed.
The next find was this American Kestrel…not the world’s greatest shot of this really small member of the falcon family…its only about 10 inches long or the size of a Blue Jay…and it was about 75 yards or so out there so even with Neil’s bigger and better bird lens…a Tamron 200-600 G2…it’s a long reach out there for a photo.
About that time…the 2nd Red Shouldered above hopped down into the grass below the branch, picked up a grasshopper for breakfast, and then hopped back up to a different branch that was in full light and posed perfectly for us…only about 20 yards away from the fence the photographers were standing behind.
Showing its back as well.
A little post snack preening.
And it was off…
Back to it’s original perch in the branches making it difficult to see
At this point…the photographers figured the show was over and that…even if we remained eagle-less…it had been a very successful day. It’s not often that you can get a raptor to pose that close to you for 10 minutes in just about perfect lighting conditions. Wow!.
However…either the Red Shouldered wanted to really show us something…or else it was still hungry…I figure the latter as a single grasshopper ain’t much of a breakfast. It decided to do what raptors do…and went hunting.
We weren’t sure what it was on down here…but the prey was clearly struggling as the hawk kept obviously clamping down on its talons in an attempt to finish off the prey so it could eat. Normally raptors kill their prey in the initial strike typically by breaking its neck with their talons…but in this case the hawk just hopped down on top of it so that obviously would not work. I don’t k now if it they kills the prey by constricting the lungs with talons or by puncturing vital organs with the knives on the end of the talons…but the unknown prey was clearly struggling and took 4 or 5 minutes of trying to escape before it expired.
Ah…dead now so let’s see about properly positioning it and myself for takeoff.
Well…let us try the other way.
Having a rest.
Yeah…it has to go this way so let us try once again.
And we have liftoff…turns out the prey was a bunny that’s almost as large as and clearly heavier than the hawk is…so it was clearly struggling to achieve liftoff.
And we’re airborne…
For about 20 feet before landing in the grass.
After a brief rest…let’s try this again.
For about another 20 feet before settling into the grass again.
Rinse and repeat several more times…the third time was clearly not the charm. This is about the 5th or 6th attempt at takeoff. I think the only reason it eventually succeeded was because it got to the edge of a depression and the ground fell away a few feet allowing more time to gain airspeed and lift.
Almost touched down again but at the last minute managed to gain a little more height.
Kicking in the afterburners and finally was able to get enough speed to climb into this tree across the way.
The photographers all agreed that it had been an outstanding day…even without any eagle shots.
Here’s a screenshot from the camera overlooking the nest with M15 sitting on the eggs. For orientation…the road in the background runs pretty much east to west and this is looking southeast. On the far left you can see the cars and the photographers lined up outside the fence…Neil is the one farthest to the left just about out of the frame. There is another viewing spot out on the road about 2 o’clock from M15v in this shot…that will become important. The third primary viewing spot is behind the view you see here over on the road into the real estate company looking east toward the nest. That’s not a great location for the morning as everything is backlit…and in any event it’s farther from the nest and has less of a view into goings on…but it’s an OK place to go later in the day. The feature known as the ‘snag’ where the ratty hawk and Kestrel were perched is about even with the nesting tree but out of frame 100 or so yards to the left and beyond that is the pond where the adults drink and bathe…Neil’s gotten some pretty good shots there in the past. Neil texted Connie and had her grab a screenshot for him at about the time of the hawk/bunny shots above.
At this point…something spooked the horses in the field below the nest and they came galloping over past us towards their paddock.
Somebody yelled “Incoming!”…and we thought it was Harriet returning…but alas it was just a juvenile. The locals think that this is one of her previous eaglets that has come back for a visit. He landed very briefly in the tree 20 feet or so from the nest and M15 shrieked at him…followed by a rapid departure.
There was another lull in the action…so Neil grabbed a couple of shots of one of the Cattle Egrets that live in the field.
Finally…getting on to about 1000 and Neil was about to give up for the day…since it had already been labeled an outstanding photo day. Suddenly…lo and behold…somebody yelled “Incoming!” again and this time it was actually Harriet returning from the northwest after an absence of about 4.5 hours…far longer than she’s been gone in the past during nesting season with eggs or eaglets on the nest.
Approaching the nest…airbrakes deployed.
Flaps and landing gear.
And a perfect landing.
She perched here and screamed a bit…the nest is just below and to the left of this frame.
M15 left the eggs…it was plenty warm enough to leave them for a bit…and first perched below and to her left.
Then decided slightly to her right was a better location.
Here…she’s on the left and they talked back and forth for a bit.
Then he took her place and she hopped down onto the nest rim and shortly afterward disappeared into the nest to turn and incubate the eggs. He remained in that spot but it was kinda hidden behind the branch so Neil wandered around to the left from the primary viewing area to the one on the sidewalk by the road…at which point he was looking north toward the nest.
Got a couple of really nice shots of M15 perched there.
Before he gathered himself and launched off to find his breakfast…or more likely an early lunch after his turn on the nest.
He flew almost directly overhead where Neil was standing and then disappeared off towards the southwest to hunt or more likely fish as that’s over towards the river.
With that…almost all of the photographers called it a day…and a really successful day at that.
Interesting stuff found on the net.
A new form recently introduced by the Army.
This is the reason that the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich is in short supply I guess.
This one needs a little setup. All of you adults know what the term SOB means…at least metaphorically. Actually…the term refers to any male dog as a female dog is known as a bitch…but as we all know the term has other connotations. In the picture below…you’ll see an EOD…emergency ordnance disposal guy…he’s the one in the bomb suit. The guy behind him that’s about to smack the paper bag he blew up…well, he’s a sonofabitch…and now you know what the term really means.