Pier pressure

A male common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) standing on a pier (2009_05_04_018308)

Despite my better intentions, I’ve been on a forced sabbatical from the web.  This has generated not too small a bit of peer pressure as I’ve been remiss in visiting my online friends, let alone posting anything here.  Poor xenogere began to feel like a kennel with all the dogs gone.

No, emptier even than that.

But whatever impetus I felt to be online was self-imposed at best.  Life moves forward of its own volition with nary a thought for whatever obligations our imagination cooks up for us.

That truth notwithstanding, however, I do feel bad for not being out and about on the web of late.  I’ll try to do better.

Meanwhile, have some photos of “trash birds” perched on my favorite pier at White Rock Lake, the one in Sunset Bay.  Now this is real pier pressure.  And you can obviously see how trashy these bird species really are.

A rock dove (a.k.a. common pigeon; Columba livia) standing on a pier (2008_12_27_003613)

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  1. My apologies to anyone who’s tried to comment recently, most especially to several of you who tried to comment on yesterday’s entry.  Comments were broken due to a fat-fingered mistake I made in the code.  Oops.
  2. I really do have a bur under my saddle about the phrase “trash bird,” most especially when it’s used by those of stature within the naturalist community.  And while I desperately want to beat the drum of that rant, it will have to wait until I have the wherewithal to tackle it.  Just be warned that it’s coming.


  1. Male common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
  2. Rock dove (a.k.a. common pigeon; Columba livia)

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Before my first cup of coffee

Twittering calls fill the air and I turn to look out the window.  Clouds blanket the sky in hues of ash.  Yet the cacophony of morning discussions beckon me to start the day.

It’s then I spy a mockingbird giving chase.  The target: another mockingbird.  I can’t help but laugh as they dance a macabre rendition of avian merry-go-round.  Their turns tight, their wings spread, and still they loop endlessly around one small tree, first upward, then downward.  The circle they draw around the stoic trunk is small, undoubtedly less than the distance between my own hands were they held out.  But it’s an important chase, I’m sure, especially hearing the chaser’s constant grumblings about the apparent interloper.  Finally, they spiral up and away, over the tree, then over several others, and eventually out of sight.

Once my languid and listless body climbs out of bed, a cardinal flits into view, a momentary splash of red bright against the gloomy dawn.  Briefly it stands attentively in the tree and watches, waits.  Then as quickly as it arrived, it leaps into the air and joins the growing assemblage of song and wing.

There is much plotting and planning, I’m sure, what with all the raucous brouhaha.  Even a distant mourning dove adds its voice to the commotion, a lamentation to all but the dove.  How sad it sounds, how full of weeping.

I stretch my sleep-tightened body first this way then that.  Arms overhead.  Standing on tiptoes.  Twisting and bending like a pretzel.  Relief courses through every fiber of my being as weary muscles receive infusions of energy—or at least a dastardly and harsh wake-up call.

Briefly, and so quickly I’m almost unaware of it, a large opossum scurries by the patio.  Its long prehensile tail is dragged behind it almost without thought.  I watch it make its way along the length of the veranda before disappearing around the corner toward the lake.

Part of me feels jealousy for the apparent energy enjoyed by these creatures.  I’m lucky to make it to the shower before I’ve had my coffee, and here they are full of vigor and vitality, busy with their individual and group goings-on.  And not a damn one of them has had a bit of caffeine.  Bastards, the lot of you!