Thursday, October 8, 2020

Nature Comes to Me



 Note:  You don’t need to bust your eyes out trying to read my handwriting on the journal pages.  My text here is a slightly expanded and edited version.  

 

Oct. 7.... I was pretty bummed when I saw the air quality this morning.  We’ve had day after day of light smoke and promises of clean air coming.  So far, when we do get a day of decent (not too smoky air) there always are chores to do in the yard or an appointment.  Usually we are out and about at least three days a week.  We haven’t taken a wildlife photo since Aug 31!  

 

The air was supposed to be good by last Sunday .. Monday ... Tuesday ... now it’s Wednesday and the air quality is getting worse.  I felt a little like a boil ready to pop if I didn’t get out into nature.  

 

But then nature came to me!  We’ve had a family of crows in the neighborhood all spring and summer.  I see them out my front window many mornings.  I’ve nicknamed them the ‘Bad Boys’.  I like the crows, but named them that way because one of my neighbors wishes they would disappear. She has a legitimate beef.  Last year she watched them raid a bird’s nest.   

 

I enjoyed listening to them beg when they were nestlings and now we watch the raucous bunch swoop in and inspect one area after another.  Lately their focus has been on harvesting walnuts. Until this fall, I wasn’t aware of a small walnut tree in the next block.  I looked for it when the crows started dropping nuts on the asphalt and was surprised to find I can see the top of the tree from my couch!  

 

I decided to brave a little smoke and go outside to sketch the Bad Boys.  The crows were most cooperative.  I could see how easily they rip the green nuts off the tree, and how easily the green husk pops off then the nut is dropped.  Once the husk is off, the nut looks like the unshelled nut you and I buy in the grocery store; but now the crow needs to get that hard shell off.  Sometime the crow drops it onto the asphalt again; sometimes he flies to the top of a telephone pole and pounds away.  He may pound for 2-3 minutes before making any progress and another 5 minutes to harvest the yummy nutmeat inside.  

 

I watched one crow wait patiently for another to finish his nut and then the glean was little was left up there.  Another crow just flies in and steals without much of an argument.  He must be ‘top dog.’


While watching I had another treat in store. Our local grey squirrel was also making trips to the walnut tree, and racing back with one nut at a time. He is a fussy inspector, but eventually picks a spot to bury his nut.  Our neighbors across the street are in the process of extensive landscaping.  I think they are going to have a few walnut trees they didn’t plan on.  

 

I started my crow sketches outside, but finished up inside.  The squirrel was a constent motion machine so we took photos of him for me to sketch from.  After a mix of being outside and finishing sketches inside, I had a good taste of nature.  I felt ‘centered’ again.



Friday, September 25, 2020

Summer Sketches


 Here is a series of sketches I painted over the past summer.  The first, the full moon, mentions smoke but it was smoke coming all the way from Siberia!  They must have also have had a bad fire season.  Our fires have stopped growing.  We’ve had enough rain greatly reduce the threat, but they won’t be totally out until more fall rains come.   At least for now and our air quality has been wonderful and I doubt many more Oregon acres will burn this season.  California is still too dry.


The next three little paintings were painted while watching the osprey nest (I blogged about the osprey several times).  This is the farm house to the south.  


Orange Sulphur butteries are as bright and sunny as a summer day. They didn’t make an appearance until our osprey nestling had nearly fledged.  




The unexpected is often as interesting as the expected.  On Aug 19 we were quietly waiting for an adult osprey to return to the nest when this little family of California Quail scurried across the road.  During all our sitting we’d heard them a few times but only had one good look.  Members of the grouse family are unusual in that even at this tiny size they can fly.  Most birds are nearly full grown before taking to the air. 


Grasses turn gold by the end of June in Oregon and stay golden until the fall rains come.  These swallows there zooming low over the tall grasses, catching bugs.  


... and finally here is one of my favorite flower combinations:  Queen Anne’s Lace and chickory – also painted at the osprey nest. I knew both were there, but when I went to paint them, I couldn’t find the chickory.  Much to my surprise I discovered chickery close their blossoms in the early afternoon.  Next morning they are open bright and early.  

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Wildfire Update: September 16

 

I hadn’t planned on blogging about the wildfires near me in western Oregon – I like to think my blog is a pleasant place where readers get a whiff of nature; but now that things are improving, I’m motivated. I won’t dwell on the misery, instead I want to focus on a few observations … a different focus other than our media coverage.  Other than a brief introduction, I don’t need to repeat information readily available on the news.  

 

The fires started September 8.   Very unusual winds came from the east, bringing hot, dry air from the high desert.  The dry winds slipped over the Cascade Mountains and suddenly we had several large fires in the Cascades.  Our Governor Brown says in 72 hours 900,000 acres of Oregon burned.  Our yearly average is only 500,000.  National news made the mistake of saying 500,000 people were evacuated.  Actually the number is around 40,000 and the rest were put on alert.  

My journal page pretty much says what happened from my perspective:  

Today was supposed to be just another hot day … too hot to go ‘bugging’ (we photograph insects a lot).  I had just started eating lunch when I noticed a dark cloud hugging the western horizon.  With a sinking heart I knew it was wildfire. 

A big, thick pancake of smoke eased over all of Roseburg.  I got on the internet and found three fresh fires.  Not only that, but Lane County to the north is erupting and Insterstate 5 has had to close south of us.”  

 

At 3:50 PM I couldn’t even take a picture with my camera set on automatic.  I had to set manually.  I turned the lights off in the living room and couldn’t read.   Really hot weather was predicted.  I worried. Is it going to be like sitting in a hot car.  Just how hot we would get with all our windows closed up tight?  We don’t have air conditioning.  I assumed we fry.  Big surprise.  The heavy smoke shielded us from the sun.  Instead of roasting, on two of the days we turned the furnace on!  Plus, the air quality in the house stayed pretty good.

 

Even though we have felt reasonably safe from the fires, I feel a little as though we have been thrown into a COVID-19 quarantine – only with bad air.  Other than quick trips to the mail box and to wet down some shrubbery we have stayed indoors … nine days of indoors and we’ll probably have more as the wind shifts back and forth. My planned grocery trip was for a week ago.  We’ve held off, not wanting to stand around the parking lot waiting for the wonderful store near us to bring our groceries out.  I look forward to finally placing an order tomorrow.  

 

Meanwhile its tinder dry around here. Two years ago we took ‘defensible space’ seriously and took 70 cans full of blackberries and brush to the mulcher.  Even though we already have done a pretty good job of removing burnable vegetation from around the house, Dale decided to wet down whatever is near the house.  He fooled the termites!   Usually a big emergence happens when the fall rains come, but, all of a sudden, the yard was full of flying termites.  They had a horrid surprise when they emerged – bone dry and smoky.

Stellar's Jay -- taken up in the mountains

Most insects disappear when it gets smoky – that’s why bee keepers use smoke to calm their bees. Meanwhile our bird feeder birds seem to be gobbling down our offerings.  Perhaps there are getting fewer insects than usual and eager for our food.  We even had a Stellar’s jay in the yard today.  I think that is the first one in all the thirty plus years we have lived here.  They are common in the mountains and wooded areas, but not in town.  He probably is wandering about looking for a new home. 

 

At noon today (Wednesday, Sept 16) we saw a change coming.  The air quality finally dropped out of ‘hazardous’.  When I painted the red sun midday (at the top of this blog), I was already excited. The local internet was full of friends heaving a sigh of relief.   Then, late Wednesday, did you hear a big cheer coming from Roseburg?  Oh my gosh!  Our air quality actually dropped from hazardous to green in about eight hours thanks to a shift in the winds.  Emotionally it feels as if the fires are under control. They aren’t, and won’t be for weeks, but they are slowed way down  … and what did I do?  I grabbed my vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming.   After the news telling me not to vacuum for days, I figured I finally had a window of opportunity.  I never knew I was that domestic.

 

My last observation also reflects on my domesticity.  We’ve been running an air filter in our dining room.  It sucks in air and whooshes it up and away – up towards the ceiling.  I had no idea I had so many cobwebs up there.  They all got dusted with tiny particles and now I can see them.  Guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.  


... and just to make you smile, here is a little barn owlet.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

More Osprey Watching: Near Catastrophie!


 When I ended my last osprey blog, the remaining two youngsters were just beginning to flap hard enough to briefly lift off the nest.  That was July 22.   I can’t help but hold my breath when their nesting platform seems so small and so high up in the air.  I wonder if a miscalculation when they were practice flying resulted in the death of the one chick (see my last blog). 

 

During the following ten days we hit a hot spell here and so we didn’t spend much time at the nest, but every time we checked, the remaining two chicks were on the nest and doing just fine. 

 

Aug 2:  We arrive about 4 PM – two on the nest and one on a nearby pole.  Suddenly I realize one of the birds on the nest is an adult – and the bird on the telephone pole is a youngster.  They are really flying!  And to make matters even better, the second youngster, the male, flies over to the telephone pole to join the first.  He is a klutz.  He tries to land on some bulky hardware, rather than the cross arm – not a good perch for an osprey.  It a learning process. 

Oh no!  The female youngster takes off.  Behind her drags three feet of tangled fishline and junk.  She loops around and returns to the pole.  I walk closer for a better look.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.  She has a tangle of fish line, a small stick, and possibly fish skin dangling from her left foot.  She doesn’t like me so close and flies off again. 

 


She makes it safely to the nest platform.  Soon the adult male comes in with part of a fish.  They’ll be busy for awhile.

 

Aug 3:  As we drive down the two miles of blacktop towards the nest I dread what I fear we shall find.  Will she be hung up and dangling form the nest?  If she is still alive, will Pacific Power be willing to come and rescue her? 



So far so good.  Both youngsters are on the nest.  The young male soon takes off and tries a couple of clumsy landings on a green cotton wood tree and then on a snag.  The young female stays on the nest. The tangle of fish line dangles from the edge of the nest, probably still attached to her foot.  We’re hoping she’ll fly too, but instead the male brings in a nice bass.  That’ll keep them busy for quite a while. 

While we wait, twice the adult female flies in with a fist full of dried grasses.  Here the chicks are flying and she still brings in nesting material!  I supposed it helps keep the nest clean.  It must get to be a mess up there.  Sometimes I can see yellowjackets buzzing about, attracted to fish remains. 

 

We stay until it is obvious the chicks and adult female are settling in for the night.  We don’t know if the young female is still tied to that dang tangle of fish line.

 

Aug 4:  We arrive midmorning.  How is the young female doing?  Both chicks are up there and while we watch the male comes in with a small fish.  Big  squabble!  The female chick is an aggressive monster – MINE!  She seems to get the hog’s share of food up there.  It doesn’t take her long to eat the little fish. 

 

Off she goes!  The young female is flying, and without a long tangle of fish line!  My heart sings.  Our photos show she still has line wrapped around her foot and about three inches dangling, but I doubt very much that tid bit will tangle her.  Most important, she appears to use her foot in a normal fashion.  Eventually that bit of line will rot off. 

 

Aug 28: We’ve stopped at the nest several times since we first found the youngsters have started really flying (Aug 2).  Each time we see at least one bird up there for at least part of the time.  Today the young male perched on the nest by himeself and begged for a good half hour.  He finally flew off.  I feel pretty much the same way.   Time to move on.  Part of me wants to spend hours watching to see how long the adults feed their youngsters, but recent watching has been pretty dull.  I think the youngsters are close to independence and I’m ready to move on too.

One last note.  We must have brewed good osprey karma during all this osprey watching.  This photo is of a different osprey, but also a young one.  Dale was sitting quietly on a log on the edge of a small pond.  Suddenly this osprey dipped down and landed about 45 feet from him!  … and sat for several minutes.  The osprey seemed concerned about watching the sky.  When it flew, a red-shoulder hawk took off, hot on its heels.  The red-shoulder is a much smaller hawk.  Hardly a threat, but birds often harass each other.  Fun to watch.






Sunday, August 23, 2020

Watching Osprey: Nestlings


Watercolor sketch of the osprey nest.

It is hard to believe it was nearly two months have flown by since I last posted about the osprey nest – and we are still watching them!  We have stopped, and usually stayed for 2-3 hours, on 48 days since April 12.  Fortunately for us, during this strange time of staying close to home during the pandemic, the nest grabbed our attention.  We’ve had a fascinating sense of discovery and hardly a dull day while sitting along a rural road watching ‘our’ nest.  The youngsters had recently hatched when I ended my last post.  This will be glimpses during their growing up process. 


July 3:  The chicks have a nice covering of feathers.  Their body feathers have buffy tips and their flight feathers are stubby pin feathers.  Eyes are a rich burnt orange. 

 

July 7: We watch for nearly 3 ½ hours … wait and watch and wonder where the male is.  No fish during all that time.  Generally the male brings fish for both the hen and the chicks.  Has something happened to him?  Late in the day we give up 

July 8: 3:35 PM: Yeah.  All three chicks look just fine, but beg. 

 

5:13 PM:  I’ve just finished grumping about the male not doing his job when here he comes with a nice bluegill.  That makes the sixth species of fish he has brought in. 

 

I don’t think this will make a full dinner for hen and chicks … and he must agree.  He hangs out for a couple of minutes and off he goes. 

 

About 6:30 the hen erupts off the nest calling loudly.  Kids know to hunker down and hush up.  I look about as she circles higher and finally spot an immature bald eagle way up there.  Soon both are so high they are hard to track, and finally I no longer see either.  She returns about ten minutes after leaving.

 

July 12:  We arrive 2:55 PM.  Kids alone and quiet. 

Usually the hen is only gone for about ten minutes, but this is longer. 

 

3:25 PM:  Here comes an adult, flying low and not from the usual direction – carrying something heavy.  Fish or nesting material?  Often the female brings back a stick or nest lining material. 

 It’s the female … and she has a large, headless fish.  A bass I think.  First time we’ve seen the female come in with a fish.  We sense fishing has been difficult.  Maybe hot weather has sent the fish deeper to cooler waters. 

A fight erupts between chicks.  Quite vicious.  Is this a sign the food supply has been inadequate? 

 

Now the male arrives with a bass.  He lands on the nest with it, but all the attention is on the female who is feeding her fish to the chicks.  The male leaves and flies to a nearly telephone pole, where he proceeds to eat the head of his bass.  Soon he returns to the nest and starts to feed one of the chicks with what is left of his bass. 

 


8:20 PM:  We’re back, wondering what they do at dusk.  Shadows are long.  Yellow sunlight still warms the hills around us.  The hen sits on the nest.  Kids are mostly sleeping. 

 

9:00 PM. The sun has left the farthest hills and the few clouds have lost their peachy frosting.  Coolness seeps in.  The breeze still ruffles peach leaves.  The hen sits alone, upright.  The chicks lie flat.  No sign of the male. 

 

Gradually the sky darkens.  One lone star appears to the east.  When we get home, I put the spotting scope on it – Jupiter and four of its moons. 

 

July 16. 9:15 AM:  It is going to be another snotty hot day.  We’ve decided to come early and eat a ‘Yellowstone Breakfast’ at the nest.  Already 77 degrees, but there is a slight breeze.  The barnyard roosters are crowing.  A kingbird comes and sits on the line and sputters for a bit.  He catches a lot of insects on the fly, and sometimes drops to the road to catch another.  The osprey chicks are hungry.  The hen just sits up there at the edge of the nest. 

 

One of the chicks poops ..  lots of poop.  That is a good sign.  Perhaps they already have been fed this morning.  The day we watched for 3 ½ hours without food, the poops got pretty small.

About 11 AM:  Alarm calls!  The hen circles higher and higher until I can hardly see her.  Chicks are flat on the nest and quiet. 

 

Coming back now.  Chasing!  She is hot on the tail of an intruding male osprey.  Zigging and zagging, they fly low and close.  Finally he gets the ‘you’re not welcome’ message.  Hen returns to her nest. 

July 22:  Oh bummer!  Before we are even parked, I spot a sorry pile of feathers out in the plowed field across from us.  My first thought is, ‘I hope it isn’t the male.’ 

 

It isn’t, but one of the chicks has come to a sorry end.  Why?  The last time we were here I thought I saw a chick flap hard enough for a moment of lift.  Did he get too rambunctious?  Did one fall overboard during a squabble?  Did a gust of wind knock the chick off the nest?  Possibly an eagle scooped him out of the nest.  I suspect we’ll never know. 

The other two chicks are doing just fine.  With some energetic flapping one is briefly air born!  

 

….and that notation was a month ago.  I’m surprised to find there is still something to watch when we returned to the nest yesterday.  Stay tuned. 




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Osprey Have Hatched!


This is a follow up to my earlier blog posts on an osprey nest.  This nest has given us many hours of contentment since we first watched them setting up housekeeping in mid April.  Since we started we have come to the nest on 21 days between April 12 and June 27, most since they hatched. (See my blog posts “Half a Fish is Better than One: Part I and II) for the early days.
            We watched them several days when they were getting ready to nest, knew that incubation would probably be as dull for us as it is for the them, and now is the time to pay attention again.  Our many hours of watching has verified what I’ve read about osprey, i.e. that both will incubate and that after hatching the male brings in the fish, but it is the female who feeds the chicks.  I also read Osprey eat a variety of fish.  We’ve seen the male bring in bass, trout, chub, bullhead, and shad.
            Here are some highlights.

May 29:
            It is hazy -- gentle, very gentle breeze. A very energetic rooster crows off in the distance.  A rancher is loading big rounds of hay and hauling them off.  Muggy.  Warm.  One feather lies on the ground near me.  I decide to paint it while I wait. 
            The female sits on top of a nearby telephone pole and picks apart a fish for at least twenty minutes, then preens, waits, watches.  Still no sign of a bird on the nest.    Fifty minutes after our arrival the osprey on the nest stands, then flies off without calling.  It’s the male.  The female immediately flies to the nest and settles.  I’m pretty sure the eggs haven’t hatched yet.
June 14:
            9:43 AM: Adult hunkers on nest with back to the sun.  No sign of chicks.  Quiet up there.
            I welcome the morning sun on my back.  The osprey has a backdrop of cotton ball clouds and blue sky.  A collared dove beats out his mantra, “Who, hoooo, hoo! Over and over.  Behind the peach orchard, a rooster crows. 
            I’m hoping to see an osprey chick today, but how long do I have to wait?  I amuse myself by drawing the tangle of wires underneath her nest.  An electrician would probably think a sixth grader was trying to build a time machine.  Such a tangle of wires!  And another set of cross-arms below this one. 
            10:41 AM:  I see a head!  One little head pops up, panting in the warm sun  Are there more up there?  I wish I could see into the nest. 
            …. And about an hour later I see two little heads pop up. Two chicks!

            12:45 PM:  Suddenly the hen erupts off the nest screaming.  She circles high above the nest.  Is she trying to call her mate in?  I see no sign of him.
            Overhead I see her cause for concern.  An immature bald eagle soars by.  No fuss.  The eagle continues on and the hen osprey returns to her nest.  I think she rose high so that, if she needed to, she could stoop on the invader. 

            June 19, 2020:  We see a lot of sitting here.  One field has been mowed and its hay stored in long plastic tubes.  Interesting to see one machine make the cylinders of hay, each about 6 feet long and 6 feet high; another carries them to the ‘wrapper’; and the wrapper wraps white plastic around the bales, connecting them in the process.  Finally there is a long tube filled with hay the length of the short end of the field.  It looks like a bloated grub that goes on and on.  Since then the hayfield has been plowed. 
            We see two peach orchards:  the smaller trees look healthy but very few peaches this year – too cold when the blossom should have been pollinated.  The older orchard was badly damaged by ‘snowmaggedon, Feb. 2019.  Ten rows have been cut to the stumps, one after another, since we started osprey watching in April.  No cutting recently.  Perhaps there is more pressing work to be done.
            Most late afternoons a father and daughter drive by in their ATV.  The little girl sits tall and proud, driving the farm vehicle. Nice treat for her.  If we are here around noon, a school bus comes along.  No school because of the pandemic, but food is being delivered to kids who need it. 
            While sitting here I think back to the last nest we spent considerable time at – the nest across the Lamar River in the Narrows (Yellowstone National Park).  That nest is built in a fabulous gnarly Douglas fir.  The Lamar rushes below; a backdrop of steep forest, and once even a bear watching us.  Here we actually have more privacy, but not quite the same ambiance.
            6:33 PM:  Three chicks!  All this watching and it’s the first time we’ve seen the third chick.  They all look about the same size. 
            June 22:  Hotter today.  88 degrees. We didn’t get here until 4 PM.  Hen sits with wings drooped and her back to the sun, shielding her chicks.  Sometimes I see a little head underneath her, in the shade of her belly.  The chicks pants.
            We’ve already noticed two differences compared to most days.  (1) for the first time the female muted (pooped) from the nest rather than a short fly around.  I assume she doesn’t want to leave the checks exposed to the hot sun … and (2) the farmyard chickens are quieter.  Hot for them too.  I’m sitting sideways, tucked tight to the car on my stool.  I’m trying to keep out of the sun too.
            Not a cloud in the sky, but breezy .. and another difference. There are fewer turkey vultures up in the air.  Often I don’t see any.  Usually I see 2-6.  I wonder where they hang out.
            The sun finally eases down, enough so that I can sit straight on my stool with my back leaning on the car.  Better.  At least I get to draw while we wait.

            June 24:  We didn’t come yesterday.  Too hot!  The news says Roseburg reach 97 – a record.  It felt like it.  That hen had a hot job!
            Much nicer today.  Hazy.  Breezy.  81 degrees.
            We’ve been here an hour.  Still waiting.  I can hear the chicks today.  They move around quite a bit and one did an excellent job of backing up to the nest edge and pooping over the edge.  Out spurts a stream of liquid white, projected upwards into a nice arc.
June 27 --  Our 56th Wedding Anniversary!
            We arrive early: 2:32 PM .  The hen is feeding the chicks.  I wish we hadn’t  missed that fish coming in.  The male is perched on the snag near the farm house – just hanging out. 
            While we were there, the female brought in three sticks … it is as if she just has to get away from the kids for a brief jaunt.   If the male isn’t on the nest, we know she’ll be back within five minues. 
            By 6 PM the chicks seem content / well fed. It has been a very quiet day for us.  No new fish, just three sticks. There may be another fish before dusk, but we don’t think it will happen for a while.  Time for us to head home.




Sunday, June 14, 2020

Following the Oracle's Advice


No, this isn’t going to be a blog post about finances, but most of you know who I’m talking about when I mention the “Oracle of Omaha’ – he is a rather private man, well known for his financial expertise.  When the Oracle of Omaha speaks, people pause and listen. 

Recently I read a short blip about Warren Buffet .... that he reads a lot and makes time to pause and spend some time thinking each day.  Doing that goes hand in hand with his desire to learn something new each day.  Now that makes sense to me.  

Earlier this spring I did a good job of following the Oracle’s advice.  I was doing my thinking while standing and dosing myself with a good dose of ‘Paulson’s Patented Patience Powder’ and watching a lizard on lizard time.  Lizard time involves a lot of waiting / time to think.  

Dale found the western fence lizard basking in the somewhat tepid sunshine.  His spot of choice was a low, split rail fence that circles around a pole, keeping the unwary humans from accidently bumping into the pole: 


The lizard is a dark fella, hugging the top rail of a two rail fence and sitting only about eighteen inches off the ground.  I’m reasonably sure this a male.  Wait.  Wait. Wait.


Suddenly he perks up.  There is a second lizard, just a little smaller and a little lighter.  The first takes offence to the presence of the second.  Suddenly lizard time warp speeds into a flash dance.  Off they go, zipping around the circle of spilt rails.  At the far end the little one cuts a corner by jumping off the rail and scurrying through short grass, then back up onto another rail.  I get the feeling this is a well traveled path.

 

At the far side of the circle of rails, the big lizard pauses.  He has done his job.  The little ones continues a few more feet and settles into basking on a lower rail.  I’m back on slow-mo lizard time.  But I’m still hoping to get a really good photograph of that big handsome fella.  These lizards are used to people walking past so I can stand reasonably close to them.  They ignore cars parking nearby and a toddler wandering by, but a motorcycle causes both to disappear until the cycle quiets.  Even a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead doesn’t bother them. 

 

My back aches, a couple getting ready to go hiking must wonder why I’m standing there frozen, but I stick to waiting and watching. 

 

Good!  Big Fella is returning to the rails near me.  He basks for while ... more lizard time.

 

He perks up!

 

Now I see what has brought about the change.  A much smaller lizard peeks over the side of the rail. It isn’t the one that got chased.  That one is sill basking.  This one is much smaller and has elicited a very different response than the first did. I wonder if it is a female.

 

The little one seems comfortable in Big Fella’s presence.  She (?) holds still and allows him to half cover her.  Big Fella has a lot of blue on his throat.  – almost surely a male.  Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing? 

 

After about 30 seconds the two part.  The little one disappears and Big Fella goes back to basking. 

 

I sprinkle a little more patience powder.  The wait is well rewarded.  Big Fella perks up again and goes into ‘huff and puff mode’ -- suddenly he swells to nearly twice his size, he drops his dewlap of bright blue from under his usually flat throat, and does pushups! Obviously a male.   Mr. Macho.  The blue on his throat and sides is almost iridescent and set off by a bit of yellow. What a handsome dude.  I’ve seen the huff and puff mode before, but this is the first time I’ve gotten a good photo. 


After we returned home I followed a little more of the Oracle’s advice – time to read up on some lizard information.  We need more fence lizards!  I found out fence lizards have a protein in their blood that kills Lyme disease.  If the tick sucks on a fence lizard it won’t kill the tick, but it will kill the disease if the tick is carrying it.