9 September 12

Return -- Canidly

Apologies for the long absence. I have many half-written-in-my-head blog posts strewn over the past month that never made it onscreen. Rather than trying to gather them up, I’m going to jump in again.

I spent time with one of my vet friends on Friday evening. I like vets: they see the world in an entirely different way. For instance: any black-and-tan dog (Rottweiler, Doberman-type) is at huge risk of parvovirus; lumps on boxers should be removed immediately because they often turn malignant, and sighthounds (greyhounds, Afghans, wolfhounds, the big guys) have the reputation of looking for ways to die.

Mixed breeds obviously are the answer, but poor Molly from next door is terrified of gunshot and broke through the fence twice this morning (it’s dove season). She’s a pit bull mixed with a larger breed — boxer? — and is amazingly sweet. Just neurotic. I’m guessing this is not genetic, she was probably shot at before the landlord picked her up at the shelter.

The foxes at the Wildlife Health Center have moved on, possibly because of the parasite loads in their former dens. (Lots of my coworkers have been suffering from flea bites.)

Dog days of summer are over, and I’m trying to figure out how best to preserve the feral tomatoes…

Posted by at 11:36 AM in Critters | Link | Comment [1]

28 July 12

A Day At The Fair

Rides at the fair We went to the California State Fair today because Pica was helping Robin Lynde of Meridian Jacobs sheep farm with her stall in the livestock hall. Pica spent much of her time drum carding wool at the booth, an activity which a lot of people were curious about, and I was free to wander all about the fair. After doing an initial pass through the exhibit halls, I started sketching, beginning at the western end of the fair, where all the rides are (at left) and ending back in the livestock hall (see below at right).California Texas Longhorns

Posted by at 09:27 PM in Nature and Place | Link | Comment

5 June 10

Drawing Day At The Zoo

Plain-colored amazon Today is the worldwide Drawing Day 2010: we participated by going sketching at the Sacramento Zoo. Pica drew mostly birds; I drew a mix of birds and ungulates. At left is a sketch I made of an Amazon parrot, at right are a couple of giraffes. giraffes I need to submit my giraffe drawings to the one million giraffes project — the creator of this project has as of today collected 839,661 drawings of giraffes and has only 208 days left to reach his goal of one million giraffe drawings!

Posted by at 10:34 PM in Design Arts | Link | Comment [2]

25 March 10

New Morning Nook

Charlie in his new basket Charlie this morning pulled over the basket containing the newspaper recycling and after tentatively poking his nose in he settled inside it for his morning doze.

In other critter news, I saw my first Swainson’s hawks of the year this afternoon, two birds flying into the black walnut trees on the opposite side of the road.

Posted by at 10:37 PM in Cats | Link | Comment [2]

17 January 10

River Otters In The Arb

We’re expecting three weeks or so of solid rain so we decided to go for a walk this morning out to the UC Davis Arboretum before the deluge hit. We saw a few new birds for the year (green heron, orange-crowned warbler…) but the big excitement was seeing a couple of river otters in the Arboretum waterway! Pica had heard that they were around several weeks ago but received no subsequent news about them. The waterway is a closed body of water so the mystery is how did they disperse into it — probably taking a sneaky path from Putah Creek following any number of culverts. We saw the otters working their way along the north side of the waterway: they were mostly underwater but we could spot their wake and air bubbles. The best view was after they had ducked into one of the storm culverts on the side of the waterway. One of them poked their head forward, and we had a clear view of his muzzle and whiskers! There is plenty of carp for them to eat, so we hope they stick around.

Posted by at 10:35 PM in Critters | Link | Comment [1]

12 April 09

You Know You've Been Standing In One Place Too Long

Azalea at the State Capitol …when a squirrel runs up your leg. This happened during yesterday’s outing: I was finishing up this sketch of an azalea in front of the State Capitol at the time.

Posted by at 09:43 PM in Critters | Link | Comment [7]

29 December 08

Yard Coop

Yard Cooper's Hawk Last week I was taking Charlie Cat out for a stroll in the yard when he noticed a lot of sparrow activity about the stacks of bee box stuff. I saw that he wasn’t the only one fascinated by the sparrows: there was a smallish Cooper’s Hawk very intently perched on top of Pica’s cherry tomato stands. I eventually took Charlie back inside, returned to work on sketching the hawk, who after a while flew down to the ground to catch a sparrow, and then flew over the building with it.

Yesterday I returned from an overnight trip to see lots of black phoebe feathers scattered near the carport and around the bend of the path. A little while later I saw the Cooper’s Hawk fly in and perch on the lattice outside our front windows, and I had a chance for another sketch. I saw the black phoebe still about though, so I think he must have had a close escape.

Posted by at 08:47 PM in Nature and Place | Link | Comment

11 December 08

Bird Book

Bird book Yesterday was the Yolo Audubon Society’s annual Fall Drawing and Bird Identification Workshop in preparation for Sunday’s Christmas Bird Count centered on Putah Creek west of Winters. In addition to the grand prize (a framed print of a Terry Isaac bird painting) we were all encouraged to donate prizes for the event. I made a blank book and decorated the cover by calligraphing the names of the birds on Yolo Audubon’s Watch List for the county.

Cold winter weather is coming, just in time for Sunday’s count. Our portion takes us up to the top of the Blue Ridge mountains, north of Putah Creek. There are rumors we might even get a snow flurry or two up there.

Posted by at 10:42 PM in Design Arts | Link | Comment [2]

27 November 08

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey in the yard Pica got me out of bed this morning to announce that our neighborhood turkey was in fact in our front yard. I’m sure he would be thankful to know that our feast this evening consisted of dal and rice.

Posted by at 09:06 PM in Critters | Link | Comment [3]

20 August 08


Magpies have recently been identified as the first non-mammals to exhibit self-recognition, using the usual protocol for self-recognition experiments of daubing paint on the animal and seeing if they react to it while looking in a mirror.

Surely self-awareness comes in more cognitive flavors than can be captured by the mirror test. Often when I scritch Diego, for instance under the chin or behind the ears, he’ll reach for my hand with his paw and use it to guide my hand to the spot he really wants scratched. Is that glimmerings of self-aware behavior? I don’t know but it’s pretty endearing.

Posted by at 10:00 PM in Critters | Link | Comment