Cougar!

Aug. 6th, 2015 12:20 am
furtech: (no cookie)
I recorded an animal lifer on the dogwalk tonight: Cougar.

Honestly, this is the one lifer I -never- wanted to see. Coyotes are annoying (and city coyotes are more mellow then their wilder relatives); raccoons are moderately dangerous (more so than coyotes, really); skunks are just a pain.

Cougars scare the crap out of me. None of the others are capable of killing an eighty-five pound male husky and then leaping over an 8-foot fence carrying it (which happened around here a few years ago). Cougars are seriously scary.

We were walking/hiking around midnight (too hot to walk during the days now) near a gated community, at the north end of the neighborhood near the foothills. The border collies had been restless this evening and at one point took off after something. I heard a new sound in the darkness (never a good thing), a brief kind of "Rackh!" sound. Something bounded down the hill and leap a drainage ditch: for a moment I saw it silhouetted against the night sky: a long, lean shape.

My first reaction was, "Huh." Too big for a cat; too big and too long for a bobcat; and that tail-- uh-oh. The long, fat tail. Fuck. Fortunately, it had to be a yearling: The dogs were able to startle it into running and from the brief sighting, it had the smaller size of a yearling. She took off and the dogs returned to me, good boys!

I'll say that getting back to the car was unnerving. I kept fearing the cougar would change her mind and circle around to snatch one of the dogs. We were still a mile away from the car.

I'm still freaked.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
The dogs and I got a precious, rare invite: to celebrate King Dog Tay's birthday up in Oakhurst!
Oakhurst Snow
There are more gorgeous images of the Ranch, dogs and snow here

The timing turned into the most perfect trip we've ever made up there: the day after we arrives it snowed. Just enough fell that the ranch and the mountain turned into a winter wonderland. This was *ideal*: the snow only lasted for about two days-- then it melted and allowed us to drive safely back down the hill and home.

The night we arrived there was also a bit of excitement: on the night walk Carol and I discovered a brush-burn that had gotten out of control (these are supposed to be watched by the burner until the fire dies down). Between the windy gusts and all of the pine needles that hadn't been cleared, the fire had spread well into the brush nearby. A fallen pine was in flames and embers were spreading under the pine needles. We went back to get Eric and shovels...Carol got all of the water jugs (they keep them for pump failures).

firefighter

With a lot of work we got the flames down and the embers mostly doused. The owners of the lot finally arrived with a tractor and used that to completely bury the rest of the fire. They were grateful that it had been discovered, so it was all good. Plus, bonus activity points for me.

new snow

We awoke the next day to a winter wonderland: several inches of snow fell during the night and it was cold enough to stick. Check out the link above to see how beautiful the area became. The dogs (all four border collies) and I took a number of hikes in the silent, white world. I love walking in fresh snow (especially when it's only a few inches deep) and watching four crazy border collies run around on Very Important Business.

There are few places that aren't improved by a fall of snow. Since Casa Coyote starts out quite lovely, the snow transformed it into a fantasyland. R0ndo and Apache loved it: they had experienced a dusting of snow in Seattle a few years ago and had a lot of fun...but this was like doggy-disneyland for them. They bounded through the small drifts and still managed to dig ghost varmints. They loved that it was nice and chill out and if they get hot or thirsty they can just eat the refreshing "white dirt".

Tay was showered with goodies and treats. He enjoyed the ribeye steak he got as a present. As any good tyrant, he tolerated the manic attention of all three of the other dogs. He's well-deserving of his Kingdog title!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Before friends bought a house in Los Osos, I had never heard of this city. I was more familiar with her sister city to the north: Morro Bay (and its famous rock). After visiting this beach town, I'm in love with this area.

LosOsosSunday
Full Flicker Set Here

I can see why they chose this locale: this city is beautiful. The people are nice- if a bit on the organic-side. But any town where drivers take notable care to give walkers, dogs and bicyclists room and do it with a smile is aces in my book.

The hiking is fantastic: the cool ocean air lends itself to nice weather year-round. There are plenty of hills and trails, along with a town that is just fun to walk around. There are beaches everywhere-- including a large sand spit (several miles long) that looks like it would be a great place to explore. The sunsets (as you can see) are like something out of a Bierstadt painting. The dawns are equally stunning: mist giving way to views of the 9 Sisters (an impressive chain of cinder cones) and the Morro Bay Rock. The dogs loved the dawn-hikes up sandy trails. Much digging ensued.

Due to the poor soil and misty (not rainy) climate, a species of oak grows there called "Pygmy Oaks". These trees are wonderful: they only grow to a height of about 12 feet...yet are every bit like a "regular" oak. The result is something called the Elfin Forest: little mounds of oak groves with ancient trees that only grow to about a dozen feet tall.

I visited Spooner's Cove which has great sand: coarse, but polished smooth-- wonderful for Bonsai toppings. There is a large sandstone outcrop in the middle of the cove. This takes a scramble to climb up, but it's worth it: you are surrounded by crashing waves and sea.

A nice bonus is that my friends compete as cooks: all are *very* good cooks and the meals-- breakfast and dinner-- were fantastic. There is nothing like people competing to make great meals.

I also visited two of the nearby apple growers. Ever since I picked apples in Connecticut a few years ago, I realized that I -love- fresh picked fruit. One (Avila Valley Barn) was a bit touristy for my tastes, but the other (Gopher Glen) was pure-apple and had GREAT fruit!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
While I was heading to IndieGoGo to donate to a campaign for a Hyena Sanctuary (more on that below), another crowd-funding project caught my eye: A Redtail's Dream . This is a web-comic written and drawn by a Finnish artist named Minna Sundberg.

This web-comic is gorgeous. The artist is experimenting with styles-- mainly a rich water color and acrylic look-- and an entertaining story. Talking animals (Ville-the-sometimes-dog is *wonderful*). Scandinavian folklore and interesting characters.
ARTD1

Wow.

Beautiful panels... then I am blown away seeing a panel like this:

ARTD2

Amazingly, she updates at least 6 days a week! For those of you (hi, Roz!) who hesitate to start reading a web-comic for fear the artist will lose interest, fear not-- the story is complete (she kept a 100+ page buffer). She is even holding an IndieGoGo
to collect the story into a hard-copy edition (*warning* Only about a day left on this IndieGoGo!). If anyone is ever considering doing a crowd-funding project, look at hers: this is the best-designed campaign I've ever come across. Great perks, good levels and an illustrated, VERY CLEAR explanation of what you get.


¡¡¡HYENAS!!!

Hyena Sanctuary of North America from C crocuta on Vimeo.


A good friend is also trying to crowd-fund the building of a hyena sanctuary to house the former members of a hyena research project (as opposed to the animals being euthanized when the research project ends). I highly encourage people to donate-- any amount would be appreciated!-- to this neat cause.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
After having a late breakfast at the Marketplace, I headed out to the Leipzig Zoo. As much as I might mock the teeny size of the Best Western Room, the second best part of this hotel (after price-- cheap!) is location. Five minutes to downtown Leipzig and under a ten minute walk to the zoo.

LeipzigZoo2013
Full Flickr Set Here

I try to get to any zoo at about 1pm: this is about the time most zoos feed the animals. If there is any time that they will be awake and active, this is it (the sweet spot is 2-3pm). So if there is an animal you love to watch and won't be satisfied with a furry, snoozing lump-- ask the keepers when that animal is fed. They will be glad to tell you and you will see them pace, eat, food-politic and then some.

I was hoping to see the maned wolf out and about-- but it was a lump. Visible, but just a reddish bump of fur behind a tree. Apparently they feed them at some odd-hour, because this creature did not move an inch the entire day (I kept checking back-- first thing in, during the day and on the way out after 5pm!).

I then bee-lined to the hyenas. After African Wild Dogs, hyenas are my favorite animal to watch. One nice thing about going to a zoo alone: you can dawdle as long as you like without driving friends crazy because you want to spend hours just watching a certain animal...

The hyenas did not disappoint! They had just gotten their food and the hierarchy politics were in full swing: there were two animals who were clearly dominant, plus a shifty-looking third who was not. Of course, this latter animal was the most interesting to watch. She (or he) had a nasty wound on her neck: clearly she had transgressed at some point. She would sneak down to the food pile-- which at this point was mostly turnips and other vegetables-- and, after giving the other two a quick scout, would nose around and triumphantly skitter off with a turnip. She was especially triumphant when she found an unclaimed caulifower. Love her.

Hyena

I had lunch at the restaurant at the back of the zoo, which overlooked the Savannah area of the park. Very relaxing meal except for having to share with the local wasps (what is it with all these wasps in Germany? The locals just ignore them as they bodly eat their food!?!).

I walked through the new, big exhibit, Gondwanaland: this is a huge greenhouse of a habitat that houses open-air tropical plants and animals under a gigantic dome. Humid, but very nicely done. The catwalks are pretty cool.

When I passed by the hyenas again, they were napping. Two of them had decided to snooze right up against the big glass wall, to the excitement of passersby. They acted like they *enjoyed* the attention: they would stretch luxuriously and ignore the many snapping cameras and glass-tappings. Best zoo hyenas I've ever seen! What hams!

Hyenas

About this time the zoo was closing, so I headed out. I walked past the still-sleeping maned wolf and back to the hotel. After all that walking, I took a rest. I ended up not going out to eat, but rather eating all my snacks and fruit from the marketplace: most of it I could not take on the plane the next day anyway.
furtech: (acorn)
...well, Chatsworth and Valencia, but close enough.

On a couple of recent hikes I have seen creatures (or creature-spoor) that I had not realized lived in this area or have only seen once before.

First up: Ring-tail cat track
[livejournal.com profile] martes and I were walking in one of the dry washes in Valencia when she spotted an odd track: her guess was a ring-tail cat and subsequent Googling seems to prove her right. I have never seen one of these creatures, but they are -very- elusive and nocturnal.

ringtailcattrack

Next up, on the same hike: horned toad!
I have seen one of these before, but not one that was so lightly colored-- almost an ivory hue. He patiently let me take several pictures and then proceeded to burrow into the sand.

horntoad

Last up: Long-tailed weasel!
I did not even consider that we had native weasels in this area. Escaped ferrets, maybe, but not a weasel! On the way to visit a friend in Chatsworth for a (hot) hike, I drove past what I initially thought was a dead ground squirrel. But something in my mind threw a flag out: the color was wrong. On an impulse I went back and checked more closely. I was glad I did: that wasn't a ground squirrel-- it was a small weasel! A bit of research tells me it was a long-tailed weasel, which apparently -can- be found in this area. I've certainly never seen them in the wild.

Not long after, on my way home, nature's garbageman was hard at work: a turkey vulture was making a meal of the unfortunate weasel.

Weasel pics under links: while the first isn't that graphic (small image), it -is- deceased.

weasel-deceased, small-image

Larger pics of weasel, somewhat more graphic

All in all an interesting week of wildlife!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
I am so behind on posts. I can't complain, though: work has been busy, but not so much that I have to sacrifice hobbies and hiking and dog-enrichment.

dogspring
Here's the fully annotated Flickr set

Dogs, foxtails, vets, Pet Expo, silken windhounds, dog-with-a-blog under cut )

For those who did the TL,DR I give you instead an adorable video of a pack of 11 border collie puppies!

furtech: (R0NDO)
R0ndo had his delayed birthday/Adoption Day rumpus yesterday. Since his AD falls on Veteran's day, it behooves us to do stuff later in the week, when there aren't crowds about. [livejournal.com profile] dustmeat and [livejournal.com profile] martes joined us for lunch at the Park Bench Cafe (whitest Mexican food I've ever had) and a day at the beach.

We couldn't have asked for a more-perfect day: temps in the 70's, light cloud cover, a very low tide and a nearly empty beach!

HB2012
Full Flickr Set

We frisbee'd and walked the beach for several hours until the sun set. R0ndo was very pleased.

There were a number of interesting sights this trip-- more than usual. First off there were a ton of shells (alive and otherwise) lying around. A bunch of teeny clams and some very small sand dollars. I saw a moon snail moving through the sand (they're kind of gross, actually). We found a mystery creature that I think is a kind of sea slug...googling leads me to believe it's a green sea slug , but it's not green and those seem to be on the East Coast. This picture looks very close to what we found.

Also found a deceased pelican ...it was beautiful. Strange to see an adult pelican dead like this-- looks like it drowned or broke its neck. But the way the surf left it on the beach was lovely in a haunting way.

On a more prurient line, I think I found a pair of hermit crabs having nookie. .

The sunset was gorgeous and a fantasting end to a wonderful day.

R0ndo Golden

EDIT: Mystery creature solved! I emailed Phil Zerofski of the Scripts Institute some photos and he ID'd the creature as a Sea Pansy! (Renilla reniformis) It's a community of polyps!
furtech: (Default)
Images from the fall of 2012.
october2012
FLickr set here

The weather has finally turned autumnal and dog walks can again be taken at any hour of the day. We took a couple of hikes in the mountains above the Valley and enjoyed the sunset.

The first hike had us watched by an early-rising gibbous moon. We noticed a jet-- a very modern fighter jet-- circling the Valley. Very unusual for that time of the day since there is usually a lot of airline traffic. Then I remembered: President Obama was coming in to town to be on Leno-- and his helicopter was hopping from LAX to Burbank at about this time. I love my camera: P&S it may be, but you can actually see the armament even at this distance.

A friend's daughter broke the zipper on her halloween/cosplay costume and E and I offered to repair it. The most difficult part: the zipper itself. 56" long with double sliders. None of the regular stores in the Fashion District (forget JoAnnes!) had anything even close. Despairing, I wandered the area and, true to FD form: came across Zip Up Zipper! A zipper super-store! The have zippers that are literally floor-to-ceiling-- there was one hanging from the warehouse ceiling that had to be 25 feet long! I found a stainless steel, double-slider zipper that was about 20 inches too long...and the owner just cut it down, added some ends and voila! Perfect! The FD is certainly one reason to love Los Angeles.

Bonsai class was a huge surprise!: the teacher took one of my pot-bound (cup-bound, really) 7 year old oaks and used a technique that will create a plant that has a foot of bare root, terminating in the soil of the pot. I had no idea that I'd see this that day-- it's an advanced technique that I'd never have the nerve to try myself.

tigerx3

Lastly, we had some special guests at work the other week: four Bengal tigers! It turns out that the whole place needed to be on lock-down: tigers are so temperamental and sensitive that no extraneous visitors or pets (especially barky border collies) could be in the building. One of the tigers was charming: she was a 17 year old veteran who was so calm that the trainers let us get close and take pictures with her. I've seen many tigers at zoos...but it's not until you see them this close that your really get a sense of the immense size and power. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet them.

Night Bird

Nov. 1st, 2012 01:19 am
furtech: (halloween)
mystery bird

While on a late walk this evening, we came across this bird sitting in the road. When we got close, it would flutter around, then land again in the road. Kept returning to this spot, though.

I managed to get this close-up pic of the bird on our return route.

Can anyone ID it? Roz? Tracy? I recognize it, but can't remember the name... "nightjar"?

Is that behavior normal?

Fruit Bats!

Nov. 6th, 2011 03:42 pm
furtech: (krazy)
I just spent five solid hours researching fruit bats. There are hundreds of species of bats. There are a gajillion pictures of bats on the internet. My eyeballs are at the "boiled eggs" stage of fatigue. But...I learned stuff.

Mostly what I learned is that baby bats are adorable.

babybatsblankets

Fruit Bats!

Nov. 6th, 2011 03:42 pm
furtech: (krazy)
I just spent five solid hours researching fruit bats. There are hundreds of species of bats. There are a gajillion pictures of bats on the internet. My eyeballs are at the "boiled eggs" stage of fatigue. But...I learned stuff.

Mostly what I learned is that baby bats are adorable.

babybatsblankets

Fruit Bats!

Nov. 6th, 2011 03:42 pm
furtech: (krazy)
I just spent five solid hours researching fruit bats. There are hundreds of species of bats. There are a gajillion pictures of bats on the internet. My eyeballs are at the "boiled eggs" stage of fatigue. But...I learned stuff.

Mostly what I learned is that baby bats are adorable.

babybatsblankets
furtech: (acorn)
With help from [livejournal.com profile] martes, I've spent the last couple of days planting more manzanita plants on the hill. Lots of dirty, muddy work. I wanted to get them in while the ground is still saturated from the rains.

Good news: a lot more plants survived than I had originally thought. Several desert mallows and matalija poppies are still alive (including one that I dug up, before I realized that though the top was quite dead, the root ball was still wick and creating new shoots). About 2/3's of the manzanita survived as well. Ironically, the new 1-gal plants I got were probably from the same planting as the ones I got last year, as they're larger than the ones I got delivered and about the same size as the ones in the ground already.

Two new trees to be excited about: I got a pair of Mini Royal Cherry trees and a pair of Surinam Cherry trees ! I'm very excited about both fruit trees.

Angelenos-- ever notice that there are no fruiting cherry trees in SoCal? That's because cherry trees need around 800 hours of freezing temperatures to stimulate them to fruit. The Mini Royal is a cherry tree that will fruit even in areas that don't get any days of freezing temperatures! They also fruit fairly early, with fruit similar to a bing cherry. Finally, a cherry tree in my backyard again!

surinamcherry

The Surinam cherry is a tree I've been meaning to get for a while now. Their fruit is neat: it looks like a cherry-sized lantern, with vertical ridges and colors from a bright red to almost black. They grow wild in Florida, apparently, and are often used as hedges there. Ever since I tried one, I've wanted a tree of my own and now I have two!

Talk about a lot of muddy, exhausting work: up steep hillsides, clinging on with a digging tool to keep from sliding down, mud and more mud. I'm not sure why I find this so enjoyable, but I do. At least this time I didn't injure myself. The dogs helped by digging huge holes where they weren't needed...oh, and I hate gophers and squirrels more than ever: aside from the huge erosion and landslide risk they create, they also have been chewing through the drip tubing. I had to make at least two dozen splices where the evil things chewed through them. Much thanks to Roz for the needed help! She'll make a fine ditch-digger someday.

Spider-haters, read no further!
PS, I found the largest black widow spider I've ever seen on the hill. Remember, I've seen a LOT of black widow spiders. SoCal has tons: they really have adapted well to urban environments, unfortunately. This one was HUGE: I had turned a rock over to check the drip-tubing it was holding down and she was right there, somewhat torpid (thankfully). I took pictures, then stuck her back under her rock (if this was in a building or heavily trafficked areas, then squish-- but out there where she belongs? Shrug.) I purposely put her under a link-cut to spare my arachnophobic friends the *horror*. Oh, and this is why you shouldn't make decisions when you are not clear of thought (like, using my own finger for size reference instead of a quarter because I was tired and not thinking...)
furtech: (acorn)
With help from [livejournal.com profile] martes, I've spent the last couple of days planting more manzanita plants on the hill. Lots of dirty, muddy work. I wanted to get them in while the ground is still saturated from the rains.

Good news: a lot more plants survived than I had originally thought. Several desert mallows and matalija poppies are still alive (including one that I dug up, before I realized that though the top was quite dead, the root ball was still wick and creating new shoots). About 2/3's of the manzanita survived as well. Ironically, the new 1-gal plants I got were probably from the same planting as the ones I got last year, as they're larger than the ones I got delivered and about the same size as the ones in the ground already.

Two new trees to be excited about: I got a pair of Mini Royal Cherry trees and a pair of Surinam Cherry trees ! I'm very excited about both fruit trees.

Angelenos-- ever notice that there are no fruiting cherry trees in SoCal? That's because cherry trees need around 800 hours of freezing temperatures to stimulate them to fruit. The Mini Royal is a cherry tree that will fruit even in areas that don't get any days of freezing temperatures! They also fruit fairly early, with fruit similar to a bing cherry. Finally, a cherry tree in my backyard again!

surinamcherry

The Surinam cherry is a tree I've been meaning to get for a while now. Their fruit is neat: it looks like a cherry-sized lantern, with vertical ridges and colors from a bright red to almost black. They grow wild in Florida, apparently, and are often used as hedges there. Ever since I tried one, I've wanted a tree of my own and now I have two!

Talk about a lot of muddy, exhausting work: up steep hillsides, clinging on with a digging tool to keep from sliding down, mud and more mud. I'm not sure why I find this so enjoyable, but I do. At least this time I didn't injure myself. The dogs helped by digging huge holes where they weren't needed...oh, and I hate gophers and squirrels more than ever: aside from the huge erosion and landslide risk they create, they also have been chewing through the drip tubing. I had to make at least two dozen splices where the evil things chewed through them. Much thanks to Roz for the needed help! She'll make a fine ditch-digger someday.

Spider-haters, read no further!
PS, I found the largest black widow spider I've ever seen on the hill. Remember, I've seen a LOT of black widow spiders. SoCal has tons: they really have adapted well to urban environments, unfortunately. This one was HUGE: I had turned a rock over to check the drip-tubing it was holding down and she was right there, somewhat torpid (thankfully). I took pictures, then stuck her back under her rock (if this was in a building or heavily trafficked areas, then squish-- but out there where she belongs? Shrug.) I purposely put her under a link-cut to spare my arachnophobic friends the *horror*. Oh, and this is why you shouldn't make decisions when you are not clear of thought (like, using my own finger for size reference instead of a quarter because I was tired and not thinking...)
furtech: (acorn)
With help from [livejournal.com profile] martes, I've spent the last couple of days planting more manzanita plants on the hill. Lots of dirty, muddy work. I wanted to get them in while the ground is still saturated from the rains.

Good news: a lot more plants survived than I had originally thought. Several desert mallows and matalija poppies are still alive (including one that I dug up, before I realized that though the top was quite dead, the root ball was still wick and creating new shoots). About 2/3's of the manzanita survived as well. Ironically, the new 1-gal plants I got were probably from the same planting as the ones I got last year, as they're larger than the ones I got delivered and about the same size as the ones in the ground already.

Two new trees to be excited about: I got a pair of Mini Royal Cherry trees and a pair of Surinam Cherry trees ! I'm very excited about both fruit trees.

Angelenos-- ever notice that there are no fruiting cherry trees in SoCal? That's because cherry trees need around 800 hours of freezing temperatures to stimulate them to fruit. The Mini Royal is a cherry tree that will fruit even in areas that don't get any days of freezing temperatures! They also fruit fairly early, with fruit similar to a bing cherry. Finally, a cherry tree in my backyard again!

surinamcherry

The Surinam cherry is a tree I've been meaning to get for a while now. Their fruit is neat: it looks like a cherry-sized lantern, with vertical ridges and colors from a bright red to almost black. They grow wild in Florida, apparently, and are often used as hedges there. Ever since I tried one, I've wanted a tree of my own and now I have two!

Talk about a lot of muddy, exhausting work: up steep hillsides, clinging on with a digging tool to keep from sliding down, mud and more mud. I'm not sure why I find this so enjoyable, but I do. At least this time I didn't injure myself. The dogs helped by digging huge holes where they weren't needed...oh, and I hate gophers and squirrels more than ever: aside from the huge erosion and landslide risk they create, they also have been chewing through the drip tubing. I had to make at least two dozen splices where the evil things chewed through them. Much thanks to Roz for the needed help! She'll make a fine ditch-digger someday.

Spider-haters, read no further!
PS, I found the largest black widow spider I've ever seen on the hill. Remember, I've seen a LOT of black widow spiders. SoCal has tons: they really have adapted well to urban environments, unfortunately. This one was HUGE: I had turned a rock over to check the drip-tubing it was holding down and she was right there, somewhat torpid (thankfully). I took pictures, then stuck her back under her rock (if this was in a building or heavily trafficked areas, then squish-- but out there where she belongs? Shrug.) I purposely put her under a link-cut to spare my arachnophobic friends the *horror*. Oh, and this is why you shouldn't make decisions when you are not clear of thought (like, using my own finger for size reference instead of a quarter because I was tired and not thinking...)

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