Naturespeak A naturalist's view of the world

May 27, 2015

There’s a Joke Here Somewhere

Filed under: Animals,BlogsMonroe — wykes @ 4:51 pm

A Bagel photo IMG_9545_zpsugajhajz.jpg

It’s one of my few memorable jokes, or as my wife puts it, one of my three jokes. Organized jokes aren’t my forte. There’s the one about the skeleton at the bar and the human cannonball and things get thin after that. I’m more of a “make up your joke to fit the situation” and “bad pun” type of guy. But, seeing this over-eager Ring-billed Gull holding a thin-sliced bagel the other day prompted one of my organized jokes to bubble to the surface (and one I’m sure I’ve told in the blog previously, but don’t stop me if you heard this one before).

You see, it’s long been a bugaboo of mine when folks call all gulls “seagulls”. There is no such thing as a “Seagull” unless you consider Jonathon Livingston a real bird. Nope, there are Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Bonaparte’s Gulls and even Greater and Lesser Black Backed Gulls but no actual Seagulls. Some of them indeed live by the Sea and could be called sea gulls, but if one continues with that stream of logic then then a gull flying over a bay should be called a bagel (rim shot).

Thus, a gull with a bagel was too much to resist.

May 17, 2015

Really Most Sincerely Dead

Filed under: Uncategorized — wykes @ 2:23 pm

Big Brown and Dead Bat photo IMG_9084_zpsgl4rts4w.jpg

Last month, I brought you a little story about a Big Brown Bat hanging around the Monroe County Historical Museum. The little fellow showed up quite suddenly during one of the spring cold snaps and appeared to stick around due to the sustained cold. His chosen location was well sheltered and, in fact, cave-like.  I figured he was in “semi-hibernation” and simply waiting out the cold. We all enjoyed his presence (named him Bruno) and expected an equally speedy departure when a real version of spring arrived later in the week.

When things warmed up and the creature was still present, I began to doubt my earlier assessment. There were no droppings under his perch, but figured this was due to it being a day roost. His pose was virtually the same every day, although “seemed” to shift slightly, perhaps, maybe….. Last week, I checked him out at night and found him still in position and realized something was wrong. When he later dropped to the ground – small, withered, brown, and very dead – at least part of the mystery was solved.

Not only was the bat dead, it was mummified. I thoroughly examined it and can say, in Wizard of Oz fashion, that he’s indeed morally, ethic’lly, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead. And … “not only merely dead, he’s really most sincerely dead.”
In short, he apparently died soon after arriving and his death grip kept him suspended via his claw-like hind feet for those many weeks. In other words, my fellow munchkins, he’s been most sincerely dead for a long time.

Big Brown and Dead Bat photo IMG_9270_zpsbyuezuf2.jpg

I found a small hole in his side that might indicate an injury caused by a BB or shot pellet. Thus we can rule out rabies or distemper with such graphic evidence. Besides, I licked him and haven’t shown any sign of rabidity yet and it’s been a few days (although I am very thirsty as of late). My last theory on this matter, is that after being injured by an ignorant pellet gun shooter the creature sought a perch and died there a few days later. Wind gusts were shifting him about over the weeks and drying him out in the process. One final gust un-hooked his cold dead claws and sent the tiny corpse earthward.

I went back to the last photo I took of him (see the first picture – yes, that is a dead bat!) and saw the evidence I should have picked up on earlier. There was dust on his fur (something that never would be permitted by a live bat) and a sneer on his face that was very un-batlike. And the dropping thing?  Well that was just plain dumbness on my part. A live bat deposits dropping equally at a day roost and a night roost.

So Bruno the mummy enters the annuals of history and I am humbled by a dead bat.

May 11, 2015

One Pic Post: Up Periscope

Filed under: Animals,BlogsMonroe — wykes @ 11:05 am

An Otter in Periscope Mode photo IMG_9149_zps4ohi8jdy.jpg

I’ve learned over the past few years to read the bubbles on Dollar Lake. Different patterns serve as clues to identify certain aquatic critters before they appear above the surface. For instance, a cluster of bubbles issuing from one spot indicates the feeding activity of a muskrat as he pulls up plants from the bottom. A line of bubbles advancing slowly across the surface is the mark of a turtle plowing through the underwater grassland. A procession of quickly advancing bubbles – coming up here and suddenly appearing six feet further on- is the signature of a hunting otter.

A quick line of bubbles suddenly appeared on the lake this past weekend to serve as notice that the otter was back. Actually I’m not sure if it is THE otter or if different individuals come and go (I otter know but I don’t). I do know that crayfish are typically the main menu item. I don’t know exactly what this critter was nabbing this time around but suspect that a painted turtle was part of the fare (based on the large yellow plastron-like item it was swimming with earlier). Its last dive brought up a mysterious cigar shaped item -looking almost like a small foot!

Upon spotting me on the dock the otter periscoped to get a better view. With its sleek short fur, tiny ears, large eyes, and long neck the Dollar Lake Otter looked very much like a seal. Unfortunately I never got a better look because it retreated to the privacy of the wild side of the lake’s wild side. This was about as good a look as one could ever expect so it definitely gets my seal of approval.

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