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Yesterday, there were a TON of animals about, on and off the trail. The ground squirrels, gray and black and tan, running everywhere, then oblivious when eating. A flock of wee brown birds, nearly invisible in the oak leaves, chirped and flitted above me when I walked my mindful way in the morning.

In the afternoon, I paused on my bike, on the trail above the reservoir, to let most of a flock of ducks get off the high path, where they had been scrounging for tasty tidbits. A flock of canada geese stood ankle-deep (insert goose equivalent here) in the flat shallows at one coastal access point, unmoving, sturdy and peaceful.

Today, silence.

I saw one great hawk at the top of a shivery tree, golden-red breast reflecting the low sunlight.

It's going to be cold tonight.
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the red-shouldered hawks

squirrels, everywhere sitting upright on haunches, the classic pose, nibbling acorns

a flock of turkeys, pecking away, a dozen feet off the path... a couple of birds keep watch, but most go about their focused business

a big wild pig, much broader than the one I saw in the spring, forages through the small ravines, instantly invisible

pairs and triads of wood ducks, swimming fast in the newly-deepened waters (relatively speaking value of 'deep')

acorns are only scattered about, the green year is sparse

a fat raccoon, considering the neighborhood cats, fearless and waddling



Aug. 17th, 2010 04:30 pm
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I think, a first. His coat matched the local flora astonishingly well; tannish brown with an edge of gold-just like the brown hills with it's dry golden plants. Very cool.

It's been an odd harvest time. Virtually no plums... a few purplish smears create abstract art on the bike path, but there was never so much fruit hanging that I noticed it and went picking. Right now, the first green acorns have fallen. There is a fig tree on the trail, laden with green and hard fruit now; maybe I'll get lucky there. And the green golf balls of new walnuts has shown up. Interestingly, I've never gathered the tons of walnuts on the trail. We gathered them when I was a kid; maybe that is why.

Think I'm glad I'm not trying to live off the land right now.
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I wrangled another turkey today. In my fifteen minute walk, she made it through the gate and into the parking lot. So I took a minute and carefully shoo'd her out again. Time to start closing the gate behind me. ! I didn't expect a daytime foray.

On the return journey on the trail, I saw an unusual bird on the gray walkway. It was about small robin-sized, but had a whitish head. ! Did a robin get into paint? Very thorough job if so... and as I got closer I saw it was kinda fuzzy. It flew up onto a low branch, and I realized it was a chick. Very likely a hawk chick. Big eye looking at me. After a bit I walked on, and heard the chirps of young 'uns up in the trees (they've been peeping for a few weeks now). I am guessing the baby I saw was the first one out of the nest.

Pretty cool! And a first for me, which is very cool indeed.
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Much to my surprise, the huge mystery bird has stuck around, roosting high in one of two trees pretty much every day. This afternoon I got a chance to look at with my pocket-sized binoculars; and yes, it is a golden eagle! Proud chest on that bird. Some feathers are fluffed out right now, getting ready for the rain I suspect.

How cool is that?

I'm turning into one of those crazy nature guys, wandering around with cameras and binoculars. Thank ghod for miniaturization. ! Makes me wish again for a fine 'real' digital camera (ya'know, the type with lenses and such). It's been years, but I would have fun.

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Last week I discovered a blackberry bramble off the trail, near the velodome; a place where the creek has retreated over the last couple years (see: a zillion invading reeds), and hence, the bramble has invaded. I'd climbed over a log just to see what was there, further out, and found the berries.

So today I returned to the same spot, armed with an empty tortilla bag. And proceeded to pick a couple handfuls of small and tasty berries, using an old cane to help guard my legs. A little anyhow. I rinsed the berries in water (park faucet; did you know you have to let the water run for a MINUTE to make sure it's not germ filled??). And there I was with damp berries in damp bag.

Not big enough to wind up and knot over my handlebars. Too big really to go in my emergency-supply-filled crossbar bag. Of course; into my spare pocket. And away I went, pushing myself; it's late in the season and I'm looking to be as fit as possible for next month's event.

Got to work. Pulled the bag out of my pocket... and berry juice went flying. Ooops. Clearly, I am ten years old (up from eight! inside joke). So I wiped up with cached paper towels, and then hit the showered. Rinsed my shorts. And my work badge, cleverly tucked in the pocket below the berry carrier.

Tasty berries later!
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There's an area where I often see the turkey flock, when it is turkey time of year. Like now. Been wanting to stop and look for feathers. Why? For crafts, for my fondness of wild feathers.

Today is Friday, a good day for a slightly longer bike ride. Very warm out, but a brush of coolness now and again. Water is being released from the little dam; I don't know why. Rain in the Sierras I haven't heard about? Last year's snow pack making its way down at last? 

On the way back, I stopped at the area, just past an underpass, on a steeper area of bank. Shade and deep leaves to hunt through. Did require leaving my bicycle alone as I disappeared over the bank edge, but not many folks are out there, let alone getting off their bikes. Safe enough.

I was quickly rewarded with a couple interesting squared-off feathers; slightly iridescent at the tip, which surprised me. And lots of downy feathers. Oh yeah, and a subset of the flock of turkeys! They walked off in a brisk but not terrified fashion. 

I kept looking, and was rewarded with a couple of long quills. Both are of the brown striped variety.

Interesting how beautiful the feathers are, away from the silliness of turkeys. :-)  
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Took my morning walk a little early. Very quiet. On the way back, I spotted a buck, essentially across from the gate to the trail (well down the incline, across the little stream, and on the deer path on the other side). I would guess he was a few years old, looking strong and healthy. Two points on his antlers.

After a couple minutes of standing sideways, watching me, he turned full face (then I could actually verify the number of points). His black nose was shiny as he stood in the sun. Another couple minutes, and he moved away.

I did take a couple iphone pictures, including ones with the new Griffin case lens (supposed to be good for far away as well as up close I believe).
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Have a wonderful day all!

This week: I saw the first snake of the year; a thumb-sized, foot and a half long lil native. I saw my first deer of the year; zooming along on my bicycle, two deer were crossing the 'road'. I stopped politely, but they opted to retreat. :-) I've also seen 'my' hawk, and a few others. I saw a pair of kites chase a red shouldered hawk off the highest tree in the area! I wonder how that was possible. Another pair of hawks appear to be nesting on the freeway side of the road; I keep seeing one on a light post as I leave work. Interesting choice. Around here, a few trees are just starting to shed their blossoms, and others are just starting to blossom at all. It really feels like spring has arrived on the calendar date this year.

For myself, change continues. Letting/admitting formerly key parts of my life are formerly. ;) Making space for the new. Looking curiously into the openness, just like the kitten, and yet still solid in my own self.

Motorcycle ride tomorrow! A new choice.
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alongside the midsection of the trail! Excellent news. I don't think there was ever water there last year. I think there's more rain coming, yea.

The mustard is coming up alongside the trail; more every day. The trees are budding, but still shy. The trees planed by the generous park ranger are still alive!

There are a bunch of cat and deer prints alongside the trail in one area. It looks to me like mountain lion and deer; the prints seem big for a bobcat, and it's hard to imagine a bobcat going for a deer. Maybe a really big bobcat and a very small deer? Cool to puzzle at anyways.

As I walk, one ear is cool with shade and breeze, and the other is *almost* warm.
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Spirit Rock is a meditation retreat located in Marin. The facility is beautiful; a huge three level temple, some residence halls, and community centers nestled in the hills. 

The deer are unafraid of humans. A young buck danced across the road five feet in front of me, showing how butch he was. Another time a few seemed to be headed toward the food hall. Regularly, one could watch them settle in for the night (and find many deer hollows), or move from location to location, in little herds of five or eight.

Hawks. Turkey vultures.

A lot of poison oak, pretty red with autumn. Oaks, giving way to firs. Wild oats and short thistles. One morning I found a zillion spiderwebs, highlighted by dew in the dawn light; invisible any other time.

And then there was the cougar. One morning, after our 7:15 am breakfast (which was after the 6:30 a.m. sitting practice) I went hiking (mindfully) up the hill behind the residences. Found a cool top of a hill crossroads. Near there, another hiker just ahead of me (who had started out behind me, but whom I let pass ;-) ) had stopped. I looked where he was looking, and saw a mountain lion. Long tawny body, square head and tight ears, looking right at us.

After a few moments, he crouched. The other hiker and I made ourselves big, as the cautions all say to do. I felt myself rooted into the earth, ready to kick ass. I wasn't afraid per say, but I sure was going over options in my head. I was wearing flip flops (neither those nor my motorcycle boots made for good hiking shoes... though I did get complements on the boots after the retreat ;-) )... I could throw them. Run. Or the two of us could beat the cougar up...

After a few minutes, the lion opted out, and went back down over the ridge.

The interesting thing was, we had no way of knowing if he'd gone 'away', or was paralleling just out of sight.

The retreat was silent, but I broke it, quietly, on the way back down, warning about four other hikers of what I'd seen, so they had the option to continue or not.

I of course was bursting with excitement when I got back down into the retreat. But, no talking! but! I wanted to tell Abe who I'd gone there with (we saw each other maybe a dozen times in the entire weekend), but... And guess what, he came trooping by, and I leapt up and mouthed the words. lol Hand to his heart. We did exchange a few words. I was so happy.

And later he came up to me... yep he'd gone up the hill, and, astonishingly, seen the cougar. :-)

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I was cycling along. Had just come under the freeway overpass. And at the far end, in the new sunlight, a flock of turkeys began to cross the road. One at a time, single file. So I waited while 15 turkeys crossed the road. It seemed the polite thing to do.

Saw signs of the wild pigs down from the hills; crazed rototilling of the green land at the edge of the park bordering the reservoir; all dark lumps with their green grass on the wrong side.

Encountering a cougar, at Spirit Rock, was very unlike encountering a bobcat on my local trail. Broad tawny face and focused eyes. The very thought of it enlivens my whole body. Walking back towards the residence halls, not knowing if the cougar was pacing me just on the other side of the ridge.  A vulnerability Californians don't feel too often. Pretty 'wild'. ... Not that being close to a bobcat puts me to sleep. :-)
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A bobcat came bounding across the bicycle trail-lovely to see the body of the cat fully extended, big shoulder and thigh muscles working, pale underbelly long. I managed to follow her train of vision, and saw the fleeing ground squirrel, tail curled up high.

Didn't see the conclusion of the hunt.
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I'm loving it here; today is really beautiful. The first mustard and sour grass (yellow) flowers are in bloom, as are the old orchard trees (pink and white) along the creek trail. Which I though I was giving sufficient admiration and appreciation to (yea for spring coming!).

But then a guy came bicycling by, many electronic objects attached to his belt (ALSO wearing a fanny pack). Unusually, I was on foot, due to asthmatic lungs today. He passed me. Stopped. Passed me. Stopped. Repeat.

He was filming the flowers.

Must be a visitor from somewhere frozen. Did remind me to yet more grateful for what I 'have'. :-)
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A big ol' tom turkey, sitting on a branch about four feet off the ground! He looked perfectly relaxed and in charge sitting there. His red head and wattle were quite impressive. Oddly, I didn't see any sign of his flock (I saw a few of the hens elsewhere on the trail yesterday).

A bobcat, noshing on a bit of ground squirrel or similar, sitting in the middle of the trail. She didn't notice me for a few seconds, so I went a little closer. I looked down, drew out my phone, and by the time I'd set the camera on and looked up, she was gone.

An entire herd of nervous, fresh police bicycle trainees. A gathering of black shirts and shorts and shoes and bicycles. Many cones laying out riding courses.

They hadn't started when I first went past; were gathered on the ball court part of the people park, some standing, others coasting on pedals. Very slowly. My trip back, the festivities had begun. I paused a the top of a gravel hill they were riding up (and then down and through a tight little agility course: it looked fun and challenging). The instructor was very polite and thanked me for waiting.

And then I got back on and rode down at 'em. The herd parted to the left just enough to let me through. I was somehow very amused.

It's good to get infusions of energy. :-)


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September 2011

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