Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't You Wish You Were an Insomniac?

Look at all the stuff you miss while you are sleeping!

Critters eating my tomatoes! I went out yesterday and picked a colander full of almost-but-not-quite-ripe tomats. This is what was left after I shared the bounty with Kent, who was kind enough to let me put a 4 x 4 raised bed in his sunny site.

Purple Princes, who are living up to their name, and Brandywines, who are almost the same colour, just a little different in shape. The Tiny Tims and Sweet Millions are red, there's a yellow pear tomato in there somewhere, a couple of green pepper and a few burgundy bush beans.

I wanted to leave the tomatoes on the vine until they were really ripe, but as soon as they get a day or two from "really ripe" some critter eats them. Anybody have a double-barreled shotgun? I've about had it with this thief.

But the spectacular thing you are missing while you sleep is this sound and the show that goes with it.

Great Horned Owls Chicks Calling Mom

I was sleepless at 1:00 am a few nights ago and heard that sound, to the right, to the left.... I knew it was a bird but wondered what sort of bird it was, and worried (as I do about everything) that a young bird had fallen from the nest and was calling to its mama. But two? There were obviously two screamers, as the second's rasping call would begin before the first one quit.

I got my bird glass and went out on the porch. Heck, didn't need the glass. Circling under the street lamp directly across from our site was a HUGE buff-and brown bird, with a two-foot or more wingspan. I immediately thought red-tailed hawk but dismissed the idea almost as fast. The bird dropped to the pavement, fluttered a bit, and took off again, something in its talons. Into the dark it went.

The screeching grew louder and more frantic. Yes, two juvenile Great Horned Owls, yelling, "Here Mama! Here Mama! Bring it to me!" One from the big willow by the community garden, the other across in the tenting row.

In a minute she was back, first to perch on the fence post directly beneath the light, where she sat for a moment and then extended her wings out to the side and held them there. In a flash she dove up beyond the light, whisked back in again and was gone. (Obviously not this one, but imagine one like this under the street lamp on Landry, adjacent to the tenting row at 1:00 am, and be suitably impressed!)

The Great Horned Owl mama was hunting for her hungry young'uns in the streetlight. Was she grabbing suicidal mice who had chosen that moment to dash across the road, eating moths, or perhaps catching bats? Hard to say, we have some enormous moths here. I found one whose wing span covered my entire hand last summer.

This show has happened several nights. I have only gotten up twice to watch her pirouette beneath the streetlight, but if you haven't seen her it's worth a few moments of lost sleep.

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