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.
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.
May 3rd, 2010
As I was pulling out of the driveway this morning heading down to do breakfast at Roundstone Farm, I saw a young Red Shouldered hawk standing on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. A pick-up truck had just missed it. I stopped the FJ and jumped out to try to wave off any cars coming up the hill. Luckily, there were few that early in the morning. The hawk was just standing there, it didn’t appear like it had been hit, but it didn’t make any attempt to get away from me as I came up to it. I knew it would get hit if I didn’t do something, for the neighborhood crows were already gathering for a kill. So, I took my jacket off and threw it over the hawk. I then grabbed the whole bundle, hawk and jacket. The hawk was surprisingly light and it didn’t put up much of a scuffle. Still I remembered a similar encounter I had with a Great Horned owl a couple of years ago. Similar situation, for it too was standing on the road, but in that case it had been hit and had lost an eye. I threw a jacket on that one too. But unlike the hawk, that owl’s talons went right through that jacket. I learned from that experience that you had to hold that baby pretty tight, there was no “nice owl, I just want to see what you look like.” I held on tight until I was able to put it into a dog carrier. Same thing this time with the hawk, however, at least this hawk didn’t smell like skunk, which was a major prey for the owl. After breakfast I went up to the house to see how the hawk was doing. Seemed to be ok, so I put a pair of welding gloves on and reached in to grab it for a better look. Man, what a set of talons. It puffed its feathers up till it looked twice its size. I thought about letting it loose to see if it could fly, but thought better of it, because if it couldn’t fly and it got away from me, the crows and scrub jays would have killed it for sure. So, like the owl, I took it to Wildcare Animal Hospital in San Rafael. After about 20 minutes and donating $100, I left with the dog carrier, for the hawk was in good hands. The volunteer on duty gave me its patient number if I wanted to call back later to see how the hawk was doing. On the way home I did a couple of errands and stopped to get a latte. I parked in the shade and read for about 10 minutes. Forty-five minutes later I woke up and drove home. Actually, it was probably more like an hour and a half. (Isn’t life grand?) Anyway,when I got home, there was a message on the machine telling me that the hawk was ok and that I could pick it up the next day to bring it back to Olema. The caller noted that the hawk might be one of a pair that was taking care of a couple of young ones, so it was needed. Cool, I get to bring it home. Not like the last time with the owl, for they wouldn’t give it back to me to let go where I had found it. Wildcare kept that owl a little too long, I think. It died. Karen and I were bummed about that owl for years. We’ve been given a second chance with this one.
April 27th, 2010
Those of you that have listened to some of my stories around the breakfast table are well aware of my ability to take a simple task and create a monster out of it. Well, here is another one to add to that long list! Every year at this time, for at least the past 20 years, we have been blessed with hundreds of cliff swallows returning to build their mud jugs on the inn and our house, which is about a hundred yards away. I should say first, that Karen’s view of the swallows returning and mine isn’t the same. She thinks we’re blessed. I, on the otherhand look at it with mixed feelings. After all, Karen’s not the one that has got to wash the windows (multiple times), climb up on the ladder to put the little birds back into their nest after they’ve fallen out (the record is three times), and, then knock down and clean up the nests when everybody has split to wherever it is that they go. I think you get my drift.
About tenyears ago I broke the swallows routine of returning to the B&B; of course, I then had to agree to let them all come up to our house to build their nests and raise their young. Well, little by little I’ve been putting plastic screening under the eaves to keep the swallows off certain areas of the house - like where I barbecue my ribs. (Karen actually agreed to that)
To get to the point, Karen went to Washington, DC for a couple of days a week or so ago, so she was not here when the big wave of birds arrived. I thought, great, this is my opportunity. I got together all my netting, staples, and ladders and proceeded to cover the eaves. After two-days, I had done it. Totally protected from mud nests and bird doo-doo. It was a great feeling! No longer would I have to chase our cats off the bed while they waited for the birds to commit suicide by crashing into the windows; which they never did. I mean, I had won. Finally!
I awoke the next morning at half-light, went to the window to check out what was happening outside, and what did I find. At least a million cliff swallows flying around the B&B. I mean they were putting mud under the eaves and anywhere else that might hold it. Gads! Here it was Friday morning and a full-house of guests was about to arrive for the weekend to find bird doo-doo all over everthing. Most notably the windows. Believe me, from experience, a lot of people may say their “green” and that animals have their rights, but when it comes to bird doo-doo, all bets are off.
Anyway, after another couple of days running outside and yelling at the birds and cursing my stupidity, I got smart. I went up to the house, climbed up on the roof and removed all the nets that had taken me two-days to put up. I had lost another one! What is it they say about mice and men?
March 26th, 2010
Just at half-light this morning I heard a turkey gobbling down near the pond, but couldn’t quite pick it out visually. When picking up the morning paper in the driveway of Roundstone Farm, I saw it roosting in one of the big Cyprus trees. While fixing breakfast for the guests I started to hear more and more turkey’s calling. I assume they were in the trees also, but I didn’t see them initially. Anyway, while the guests and I were talking at breakfast I looked down by the pond and spotted a bunch of gobblers in full display. Man, they had their tails all fanned out and were strutting around all over the place trying to impress the ladies. Typical male reaction to Spring. And, it’s not only the turkeys, for I’m even starting to work out more…gotta look decent at the beach!
March 15th, 2010
A California thrush is, once again, taking dumps in my car. A couple of years ago I had a pair of California thrush that took it upon themselves to fly into my car whenever a window was open to defecate on my steering wheel. Years back, I had this big old, ugly, maroon Chevy Capri, which I loved because I could haul four boys with all their football gear back and forth to practice and games. I wasn’t the only one who liked it, for at that time there was a pair of thrush that would fly into my car whenever I left it in front of the garage at Roundstone Farm. I mean, they were in there minutes after I went into the B&B. And, they never got stuck in the car, even if the windows were only open a few inches. They were out of there in seconds when I came back outside. Cheeky devils, they would leave a pile on the steering wheel just where I placed my hands. They also used to leave a pile on my head rest, only mine, not the passenger head rest. The boys would often say, “Gads Frank, there’s bird doo in your car.” Like it was supposed to bother me. Well, for a guy that washes his car, at the most twice a year…it didn’t. That pair of thrush were around a couple of years and I totally enjoyed their antics. I doubt that it’s the same birds, but whomever they are…they can take a dump in my car anytime. I mean, what are friends for?
March 14th, 2010
What a day, sunny, clear and in the 60’s. Karen came down to the B&B where I was working on creating this Western Weekend’s Parade application and post card. If I may say so, it doesn’t look too bad, maybe a little utilitarian, but hey, the price is right. Anyway, we went up to Perry’s Deli in Inverness Park and each got a turkey sandwich. Loads of turkey, cranberry sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles…no mustard. Perry’s make the best sandwich in the area, as far as I’m concerned. We parked at White House Pool and watched the tide coming in. I used to sit there in my truck and take great naps. It wasn’t uncommon for people to tell me that they saw my truck there. Probably thought I was on a hike or something. There used to be a scrub jay there that would come to the driver side window most times I was there. I always gave it some crumbs, after which, it would sit on the hood and stare in the window at me. I really looked forward to seeing it. But it wasn’t there today. If still alive, it would be pretty old. Anyway, we totally enjoyed our visit to White House Pool.
February 22nd, 2010
Monday, February 22 is a gorgeous day! Blue sky, slight breeze and mild. The pond is looking great and almost full. Today there are a pair of mallards courting and two female Hooded Mergansers hanging around awaiting a great looking male that shows up from time to time. The Mergansers first started visiting the pond about 4-years ago and have been coming back every Spring since. The Coots appear to have moved on. But a White-winged Scoter has taken their place. We’ve noticed a change in what visits the pond since we took out most of the Tules last September. Those of you who have been at Roundstone Farm before know how we agonized over taking them out. But, they were filling-in the pond and we finally had to do it. What a weekend that was, I now hold the record in Olema for flipping a Bobcat.