Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wind, Birds, Toes, etc...

The winds were biting fingers to numbness today and it finally feels like winter in the Carolinas. Just an hour northwest from us in the mountain counties, there is a heavy snow warning for tonight and tomorrow. Michael is there on the VA side, so I might not see him until Thursday instead of tomorrow night. Sadly, I’ll settle for watching snow on TV. Above is a photo I took yesterday of a perky bird that I guess might be a female house finch. Or a mockingbird. I'm so screwed up.

Around noon today I braved the wind and took a short walk on the trail at the college and caught another mystery bird on a tree top. (Click on my photos for a larger view.) My wild guess is an Eastern Phoebe as it had a brownish back. It’s not a good photo and few birds were around today due to super gusty winds. I’m counting on my friendly bird experts to challenge me.

It’s so darn hard to focus your camera and keep your balance while wearing a very long trench coat in 35 mph wind gusts. Even while wearing athletic shoes, I have no balance. I have never had good balance and it’s because my toes are weak and my feet are flat. Your toes keep you standing, you know. Those who can use their powerful toes to accomplish little tasks have always impressed me. Like my daughter, Gina, who can grab a pencil with her toes, and probably write with it. Her toes are so powerful that I was always amused by her ability to wrap her toes on the edge of a starting block and dive into the pool during a race. That must take a lot of strength in those tootsies! I’m sure most people have strong toes but I’m not one of them. Skating on rollers or blades? Forget it. Instead of walking down a driveway with scattered icy patches to retrieve the mail, I wear tall boots and trudge through two feet of snow to save myself. I fall backwards on ice - on my rump. What has made balancing worse for me is having ankle surgery a year and a half ago which left three toes on my left foot numb and completely powerless. I can wiggle most of my toes slightly, but for the most part, they are just lame, lifeless fillers for the front of my shoes. With the wind howling around me today and my trench coat serving as a sail on a boat, I was bobbling forward and backward like the last bowling pin standing - the ten pin spare shot - lost. Not fair! Add holding a camera to your face while peering straight up to a bird perched two stories high and this is what you get (above). Enough of toe-talk. Geeezzz.

End result. Northern Mockingbird, I think… There has been little time for me to study my guide but I’m trying to devote myself to my new Stokes.

Other noteworthy musings,

Yesterday, our new class of police cadets began their 17-week journey of training towards their appointment of rookie cops. Already, three have bailed out. It is excruciatingly difficult for these recruits, as the commandants and drill sergeants are ruthless with them in the intent to weed out the weak. I have seen grown men, young men, and women sob. Those who prevail, in the end, are outstanding individuals. I’m looking forward to seeing them progress and lose the frightened look on their faces (and the pot bellies, too)!

Funny caption. Chloe on the right is thinking,

“Where’s Bella’s one-way ticket back to Stewartstown in Pennsylvania? Please…”


Anonymous said...

I'm loving your bird pictures and your excitement at learning is contagious. I'm learning right along with you! Love the picture of Bella and Chloe. Those big eyes are so expressive.

LauraHinNJ said...

Oh Mary. You make me laugh. Thank you.

Do you really need to be told that your guesses are good? That first pic is a mocker (too big to be a house finch and see that cocky tail?) And you have a phoebe! Lucky you!

I'm curious about your police cadets. They're trained at a college? Here the police academy is its own thing and they're located in the building next to ours so me and the other ladies at work amuse ourselves by watching them during their forced marches and runs around the parking lot. It's always easy to know who'll quit first - the ones way back during the runs - the ones who have to walk day after day.

You did a post a while back with more about your job - will have to go and have a look.

Susan Gets Native said...

Too much self-doubt going on here.
You are right on about your IDs.
The dogs look like they have been caught eating out of the fridge or something!
I miss Boomer.
(but he is doing well, loved and cat-free)

Anonymous said...

Great photos Mary! Love that sweet phoebe!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary, I found you through "A Mark on My Wall" and I love your photos! Beautiful!

A Very Happy 2007 to you and all your family!

Mary said...


Thanks for your help. I tend to get bored with things easily so I hope I keep enjoying watching the birds and blogging.

Sonia, thanks for stopping by. Keep visiting!

Laura, the comm. colleges in NC conduct BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training). It's quite intensive and I like watching their activities. I'm working in the Public Safety programs and we offer in-service training for all first responders, even including Flight Crew members in self defense tactics. Very interesting atmosphere... You are right, if they can't run the miles, they don't make it. We had a female who was awesome in every aspect of her training but she had to drop out of the program because she couldn't pass firearms.

Anonymous said...

Kewl birds Mary! I love the little rear end shot you got - so cute!
Sorry to hear about your tootsies - I'd rather walk through snow than walk on ice myself, just so I don't fall on my butt while looking up at a tree or bird or something.
Oh yeah, those guys need a lot of work to get into shape! Have fun watching them.
OMG - I love your dog photo and caption - LOL!

Anonymous said...

Love those bird pictures. Mockingbird -- not female house finch. No worries!

I find that the bird books get me close but sometimes I search on Google and then click on images to see pictures of REAL birds that I think might be the bird I'm after. It helps somewhat but not always!

Anonymous said...

Such wonderful bird pictures you have here! I love your puppies, they look like they love the camera! Keep up the great work on your blog!

Annie in Austin said...

As Laura noted, watch for that 'cocky tail'. Even when they're not seen clearly, you can recognize Mockingbirds by their attitude. They weren't around in Illinois, but we've become well acquainted here in Austin.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

The Swami said...

You and Laura made a common mistake. You thought that the bird in the first photo was a mockingbird when it is in fact the rare and elusive Mongolian Yak Finch.

The Mongolian Yak Finch is almost always an indicator that yaks are hiding nearby. There have been many reports that El Niño may be blowing some of these birds off course.
To ensure that these very lovely birds continue to visit your area, it is very important that as soon as possible you get your own herd of yaks.

Anonymous said...

Hey, tell Chloe that Bella is always welcome in Stewartstown, Pa. With 5 of my own now she will get lost in the crowd but what the heck the more the merrier! I loved those eyes on Chloe. Bella looks so laid back who would ever guess she isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer??? Mary, you always make me laugh! Whatever you do, do not let Swami talk you into a yak though, you have your hands full with Mr. Biggins!