June 19th, 2011
I’m sitting here on the deck, having just gotten up from a great Father’s Day nap, marveling at the cacophony of birds right now at Roundstone Farm. Actually, most of the commotion is from this years baby crows and a pair of young hawks that have been hanging around for the last week. The hawks must be from the same brood, for they seem to be inseparable. I don’t think they’ve got the hunting down, for I haven’t seen them actually catch anything yet. They just sorta sit around and scream at each other. Like right now, one is sitting on a barbed wire fence looking at the pond while the other is on the taller of the gate poles checking out the grass at the base of the pole. They’re just sitting there, backs to me, with their heads tucked into their broad shoulders, checking out the territory and every so often screaming at each other. They seem to be unaware of the crows calling all around them. In fact it’s odd that the crows aren’t driving them off. Normally, any hawk perched on that particular gate pole would be incessantly buzzed by at least one pair of crows. Not with these two, it’s almost like the crows realize that these two hawks are just too young and inexperienced to be a threat. Of course, I should note that most of the crows making all the noise are this years young themselves. When you first look at them, they appear to be adults, for they’re the same size. But after a couple of minutes it’s clear that they are just learning the ropes. I’m looking at four of them now, they’re all on the ground about 50 yards from the hawks. Neither the hawks or crows appear to be paying much attention to each other, or at least it seems. I have no doubt that at least two of the crows are the young of one of the other, for they’re right behind mom or dad as she/he walks around the pasture looking for this or that. Every time the adult stops they’re right there with their mouths open, begging to be fed. However, I think the adult is trying to wean them, for she/he is eating everything it turns up and is not sharing. Now, on a fence just off to the left sits two morning doves. I’ve seen these two a bunch of times. Definitely this years, they’re about half the size of their parents. They’re just sitting there watching the finches on the feeder. Every once in a while letting out a couple of coos. They are really perfect knock-offs of their folks. One of them almost took my head off this morning while coming in for a landing. I was in the side garden watering some yarrow that I recently had planted when here they came. One of the two had to pull up real quick as it tried to land. I don’t think it saw me. Whatever, it stopped so abruptly that it seemed to almost fall from the sky. If that one keeps flying like that, there will only be one little one sitting on the fence next week.
It’s interesting that most of the bird talk has subsided. Some times I can see a reason for all the commotion, like when a sharp shined hawk buzzes the back yard, but a lot of times there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why all of a sudden everyone seems to chime in. It’s similar to, “why do the spring peepers in the pond all of a sudden stop peeping at one time, and then start peeping again in unison?” Some graduate student should do a study on that one.
May 21st, 2011
This years parade will start at 12 p.m., Sunday, June 5 on Main Street in downtown Pt. Reyes Station. After 62 yrs, you can bet that the locals have a lot of good stories to tell about past happenings. The parade is not as rowdy as it used to be, but it’s still the place to be if you want to see a lot of local color. Curb seating and parking is limited, so get there no later than 11 a.m. And, don’t forget the Farm Bureau barbecue immediately after the parade, the food is always pretty good.
January 18th, 2011
I can’t see the moon through the fog, but it must be there because it’s so bright, However, it’s not the same type of bright that exists with a clear sky and a good moon. It’s a thick, gray blanket that somehow is reflecting whatever light there is through my bedroom windows, and, it is wet. Dew has been dripping off the roof for at least the past hour.
The fog also seems to be stopping the night sounds from drifting outward, because everybody seems to be just a few feet from the house. By everybody, I mean the three Great Horned Owls hooting back and forth (I read that owls are courting this time of year), the neighbor’s little rooster and the seemingly thousands of Spring Peepers down at the pond. Oops, the peepers have stopped for a while. How do they do that? They always stop at once and then they always just start up again at once. It’s so cool! (I wander if any graduate student has figured out why?) The owls are really going at it! There are only two now, the third must have given up and moved on. Their hooting goes hand-in-hand with the fog…a perfect fit.
That’s odd, the peepers haven’t started up yet? Ahh, there it is, the moon. So the moon was behind the fog after all. The peepers have started again, all is well.
I hear a car in the distance, people are starting to go to work. In fact, Karen is about to leave. What a way to wake up, and, it’s Jay’s birthday. Yep, a great day!
January 15th, 2011
Karen and I were beginning to worry, for we had not heard the peeper chorus at the pond so far this year. The peeping usually starts in December, but nothing this year. To our joy they started two-nights ago. I don’t know why they’re late…maybe it’s the abnormally cold weather we’ve been having?
December 11th, 2010
It is quite common for me to find fox scat or pee on one of the two morning papers laying at the head of the B&B driveway. I think it’s one of the adult Gray Fox that hunts the property routinely that is doing it, but I haven’t caught him/her in the act.
Last summer (2010), we had a litter of Gray Fox at Roundstone Farm. This was the first litter in years, for a distemper outbreak a few years back greatly impacted the local population. Anyway, last spring and summer I watched an adult fox (I’m assuming one of a pair) routinely hunt in the pastures surrounding the pond and on the backside of the inn. I watched the adult(s) catch many a gopher or vole in the volunteer hay. As long as I stayed about 5o yards away, it would let me watch it without running off. Once it caught whatever it was, it would head immediately towards the barn and lower pastures. It wouldn’t stop or slow down for anything…it was on a mission. I never did follow the fox, for I didn’t want to scare it off its den, wherever it was. Years back we often found a bunch of kits in one of our large Eucalyptus tree stumps. But, that wasn’t the case with this particular pair of fox.
Later that summer, in August, I was down by the barn checking out the summer’s blackberry crop, when I spotted a kit slink out of one of the smaller blackberry batches heading to the largest one in the middle of the bottom pasture. Once I got my “fox eye” I noticed a different kit watching me from a runway in the largest patch. It just sat there on its haunches watching me, it didn’t seem to care, it just watched. Almost immediately I saw another kit walking up the hill behind the patch towards it. The kit walking stopped abruptly and caught a huge alligator lizard. Well as would have it, the first kit that I noticed saw the third kit with the lizard and proceeded to try to take the lizard from it. Not a chance! The third kit ran off with it to some tall grass and chomped on that lizard for at least 20 minutes. I watched the three of them for another 30 minutes and headed home. I went back to that blackberry patch a couple of times after that, but never did see them again. It looked to me that they were about the size to head out on there own anyway.
So, I don’t know which one of the five (3 kits & 2 adults) is leaving me their little tid bits, but one thing I do know…they must be eating pretty good.
June 14th, 2010
I arrived at the B&B about 0600 this morning to do breakfast, as always. I got out of my car and saw a male Spotted Towhee thrashing around on the front fender of a guests Honda SUV. This is the same Towhee that has been hanging around for the last couple of months. I’ve seen him with a female, but only off and on. Anyway, this guy is sorta strange in that he gets up on the guests cars side mirrors and fights with the bird in the mirror. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out the front door and found him walking on the hoods of cars and pecking at the bird in the windshield. He’s even come to the kitchen window and pecked at it while I’m doing breakfast. Again, going at the bird in the window. He really is pretty. About the size of a large sparrow, with a black hood and white spots on his shoulders and wings. He’s got a deep belly on him and has rufous flanks and red eyes. He’s a good looking bird!
So, I go over to the SUV and find out that his right foot is stuck in the crack between the hood and the fender. His poor leg was rubbed raw and bloody. I didn’t want to shake him up anymore than he already was so I grabbed him. Man did he holler! I stroked his head and he took a dump in my hand. It didn’t seem like he could bend his leg like we do our foot or hand when we humans try to extricate either from a tight spot. Perhaps the Towhee doesn’t have something like an ankle or wrist? Never thought about it. I’ll have to research it a little bit..
Well, what to do, for I didn’t want to just pull it out and maybe amputate the foot. So, I worked he and the leg down the crack toward the headlights. Just slipped it down to where the crack was a little wider. Lo and behold it worked! The leg and the foot just slipped right out without further injury. I held him a little bit and then opend my fist and away he flew. He flew into the lavendar out in front of the B&B and out of sight. I went out a couple of hours later to see if I could find him, but didn’t. At least I didn’t find his dead body…so there’s hope. I really hope he’s ok, because I have gotten pretty fond of him and his crazy antics.
June 8th, 2010
As the president of the West Marin Lion’s Club and the 2010 chairman of Western Weekend, I am pleased with the outcome of the weekends events; especially Sunday’s parade. June 6 started at 0630 lining the streets of Pt. Reyes Station for the floats that would occupy 20 to 90 feet of street surface awaiting the parade start. It took four of us about 2 hours to line all of “A,” ”5th”, “6th” and “C” streets. Actually we were lucky in that the spacing seemed to just work out. The Wells Fargo Bank Stage Coach entered at the corners of “B” and “6″th. just as if we had planned it. The Coast Guard “Rapid Resopone Boat” ended up at the corners of “4th” and “C” streets. Again, just perfect. Someone watching would have thought that we knew what we were doing.
There were plenty of riders to consider, so we kept all the horses sequestered on “5th” street and just fed them into the main line-up when appropriate. Overall, I think we did a pretty good job of placing the animals so that they wouldn’t get startled by sudden noises or back fires from antique farm equipment.
In total there were “54″ floats consisting of animals, antique cars and tractors, marchers, drill teams and bands in the parade. The parade started at 1200 p.m. and went till about 1:30 p.m. . People lined the streets. It was noisey, exciting and smiling faces was the norm.
There was plenty of food after the parade, for West Marin Senior Services had their Chili cook-off, pie and cornbread contest., while simultaneously, the Marin County Farm Bureau hosted a chicken barbecue. People pigged out. Natasha Jones and her band entertained the crowd while they ate and watched Halleck Creek Ranches “Cow flop contest.” Never did hear who won the $500 prize for guessing which number the calf would poop on.
Of course, the Western Saloon was wild. But, it didn’t get too bad. Monday morning I had to go around town to check out the trash cans and street litter in town. Well, the Green Team of West Marin Middle School did their job, for the streets looked great. That was money well spent. We payed the kids $15 a piece to clean up the trash. And, with 20 of them there wasn’t any more trash than there would have been on a normal weekend.
It was a great weekend and I may do it again next year. Maybe?
May 28th, 2010
A guest of mine told me that he saw two, young Great-horned owls in the group of Cypress trees next to the residence just above the Pt. Reyes Lifeboat Station. So, liking owls and thinking that there may be a nest I decided to drive out and check it out. Being Friday morning of the Memorial Day weekend, I had the road and Chimney Rock parking lot almost to myself. Once I got out of the FJ I heard multiple elephant seals vocalizing. I was surprised to hear so many seals, for this was May 28 and I thought they were gone by now. I walked over to the look-out to check it out and saw why there was so much noise, for there must have been about 30 elephant seals. Most were hauled out on the rock beach soaking up the sun. They looked like a bunch of hot dogs. Of course I forgot my binoculars. Typical! After about 30 minutes I headed over toward the residence area to look for the owls. Walking over I heard more vocalizing down by the fishing dock. So, I checked it out and sure enough I found a couple more elephant seals sunning themselves. Walking back up the hill, I caught a glimpse of something small and light brown below one of the rock outcroppings. It was a baby seal. It was tentatively heading toward the water. I didn’t see an adult, but did hear one a little further back in the rocks. Finally the little guy/gal entered the water and swam around a rock outcrop. I didn’t see it again.
As I walked around the far side of the lifeboat station I saw about 15 more elephant seals, but this time they were only about 20 yards from me. They too were enjoying the sunny day. This group had 3 little ones in it. Man they were cute. They acted just like little kids in that they couldn’t sit still. They’d lay in the sun for a while and then get up and waddle over to one spot and then to another. All the fidgeting got them chewed-out from their moms, just like humans kids get chewed-out for rousting around when mom is trying to take a nap.
Heading back to the parking lot I gave the Cypress grove one last look. I must be living right, because just as I was about to leave I caught a glimpse of two fuzz balls sitting in a tangle of Cypress boughs. Man, they really looked like adolescents, adult size but still wet behind the ears. I watched them for awhile, padded myself on the back for finding them and headed back to the FJ, totally satisfied.
May 11th, 2010
Sunset Magazine’s May 2010 issue lists boat-in camping on Tomales Bay as one of its top 25 secret camping spots. Well, thanks a lot, for if it was a secret, it’s not a secret anymore. But, being a local, I’ve got to admit that it’s tough to beat a paddle across Tomales Bay on a calm, warm day. If it’s windy, forget it because you’re gonna work. If you don’t own a kayak or just don’t want to drag yours along, you can rent one at Blue Water Kayak (www.bwkayak.com) or Point Reyes Outdoors (www.pointreyesoutdoors.com). Both offer great guided trips (some with food) if you don’t want to go it alone. If you plan on camping on any of the beaches, you will need to get a camping permit from the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. You can get the permit at the Park’s “Bear Valley Visitor Center” in Olema. Check out their website at www.nps.gov/pore for more information.
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May 4th, 2010
I didn’t have any guests last night at Roundstone Farm, so I was able to be at Wildcare when the hospital opened at 9:00 a.m. to pick-up the young hawk that I had taken into them yesterday. Turned out that it was probably just shook up and had no apparent injuries. I waited only a few minutes until the staff brought the hawk to me in a card board carrier. The young lady gave me instrutions as to how to transport it and precautioned me about not being directly over the carrier when I released it. I released the hawk immediately upon arriving at Roundstone Farm. I figured it had enough excitement to last it a life time. I must say though, I really wanted to hold it and spend some time checking it out. I tell you one thing, the girl at Wildcare was right…one didn’t want to be looking into that carrier when opening the top. Man, that hawk was out of there in a flash! It was out of sight before I could even raise my camera for a picture. But, I at least got a couple photos of it while it was in the carrier. It’s nice to know that I probably will run into it again. I’ll look at every red-shouldered from now on wondering if it is the one I took to San Rafael and back.