It’s hard to work very hard when the sun is out. Sometimes, I allow myself to get distracted when I am supposed to be hard at work. “Say, are those buds about to bloom? Maybe I should take their picture”

Reach for the sky
Reach for the sky, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

…or, “Hey, is that branch broken? Maybe I should go get a paperclip and fix that – and then take its picture.”

Prosthesis, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

So when the sun goes down, it is a little easier, but concentration is an art and a discipline. Vacation is coming up soon; more on that in my next post.

Window Seat

Window Seat by Tygh
Window Seat, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

Yesterday, I took off from work a little early and headed up to Saddle Mountain in the coast range. I had a couple of motives for heading up there.

The first thing I wanted was to get out of the house. The second reason was that I wanted to test some network gear that – at least theoretically should allow me to get work done in the evening while I am out of town next week.

I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t have to report anywhere for my job, I simply need to be able to access my VPN and be able to put in a good 6-8 hours a day on the various projects I am working on.

So in my head, I’ve been thinking about maybe planning a bit of a road trip; see the Grand Canyon, see the great lakes, drive all the way down the coast – both coasts.

I don’t know. This idea could very well be one of those ideas that sounds like a great idea until you try to put it into practice.

In the end, the technology yesterday worked great, but these were the challenges:
1) I ended up spending three hours on the road and once I got there
2) There was off and on rain which made it difficult to be productive.
3) when it wasn’t raining, there was considerable glare on the computer screen and this made it difficult to see.

All of these issues can be addressed. As for the mileage, this just needs to be accounted for in the plan. The other two issues can both be addressed with a good umbrella.

Just thinking here.


Watching by Tygh
Watching, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

Once upon a time, I hated starlings. These birds are really aggressive and ferocious. They eat everything in their destructive paths, evict other cavity nesters and make life generally difficult for native species.

A starling will devour a cake of suet in about the same amount of time it takes to put a new one out. The rudeness of these creatures is just appalling. …and there is never just a single starling. In my early days of birding, I was at a loss for how to control our local population of these demons.

Somehow during all this, it dawned on me that the existence of a pellet gun, along with the skill to use it could potentially address the problem. I had been an expert marksman in the military and I was confident that I had the technical ability. On the other hand, I was also a vegetarian who was appalled by what I felt was unnecessary cruelty at the center of the way we produce food.

In retrospect, it was a ridiculous notion. Making a dent in the population would have required a pile of starling bodies that would have made Buffalo Bill blush. I’m going to skip to the end of this story and tell you that I made no such pile of carcasses, but I didn’t take the high road either.

There was a single starling casualty at my hands. It was supposed to be clean and simple… a single shot and one demon less. I don’t want to go into the details of what happened, but I am compelled to write that the ferocity these birds show at the feeder is a reflection of the way they cling to their lives. An animal that will fight a dozen other birds for a scrap of food is not going to just die quietly.

Underestimating that animal’s tenacity was a hard lesson for me. I gained a respect for the individual, and the species that will always be a part of me. I still don’t like wasting bird food on them, but once in a while I allow myself to stare back at a starling and I am haunted by the knowledge of its fierce heart beating within.


Hidden Sparrow

Hidden Sparrow by Tygh
Hidden Sparrow, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

I love the way the light reflects off of the wild roses in the field behind our house. We haven’t had enough sun this year and so when there is a break in the rain, I like to go out and take a few pictures.

This was a moment when everything was still wet from the last downpour and the clouds cleared long enough to make all these new leaves glow in front of me.


Fierce by Tygh
Fierce, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

She is much tougher than she looks.

I made a mistake tonight. A pair of chickadees hijacked a nest box from some Nuthatches a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I hadn’t seen anyone come in or out of the box for a couple of days and so I was concerned that there might be a problem. I imagined an abandoned nest, perhaps some dead chicks or a parent. So I staked out the nest box for a while. I watched for what I thought was a long time and I saw no activity. After a while, I went outside and tapped on it and listened for any movement inside. Eventually, I stood on a chair and tried to peek into the entrance hole.

When I was pretty sure there was nobody home, I lifted the box down and carefully removed the lid…

… and there she was.

At first I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I saw the edges of a nest and just darkness at the center of the box. Once I could see a little better, I saw her tail and her head. She was not moving, she was hunkering down. I thought she might be dead, but something told me that she wasn’t. She was defending her precious clutch with astounding discipline.

I quickly put the lid back on the box and hung it back where I found it. Then I looked at the box for a while making sure that she didn’t leave her eggs. She didn’t.

I am so sorry for disturbing her. If she is going to use that box again, she is going to have to feel safe. I hope that if the nestlings fledge that she ultimately remembers that the box was successful and forgets the brief but serious invasion of privacy that she suffered this evening.


Viscious by Tygh
Viscious, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

For the past couple of days, the number of starlings around our house has dramatically increased. These birds are extremely aggressive.

One or two of them is no match for a swash-buckling woodpecker, but when they have numbers, they simply take over.

I went through three times the normal suet today despite trying to be a scarecrow all afternoon.

Not So Fluffy

Not So Fluffy by Tygh
Not So Fluffy, a photo by Tygh on Flickr.

Today was a nice, sunny day which made it harder than usual to concentrate.

I got a picture of a new visitor to the backyard this afternoon. I don’t know if he is here because I keep taking the healthy and strong competition out of the neighborhood, but this sorry little guy has taken up residence in some pretty choice territory.

He doesn’t have a bushy tail. Alopecia seems to have set in back there. He also has a bum right rear leg. As a result of these two conditions, he scoots along the top of the fence with a very low profile. He uses the gimpy leg to hook himself to the metal post as he leans toward the feeder to get a bite.

I was going to trap him like the others, but I can’t really bear it. He doesn’t eat the suet since he can’t reach it, and he is sort of a pathetic underdog.

I’ve even tried to catch him in the trap, but since he doesn’t sit on his haunches like other squirrels, he has been able to trigger the trap without latching it. If the trap doesn’t latch, he just slips out the way he came in.

Maybe I should call him lucky.