Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Real Poop

I can't help it. One thing that fascinates me is scat. That's right the remains of what something ate the day before. (That is unless you are a hummingbird and then its only a few hours before.)

On a recent trip to Catalina Island, I had the honor of tagging along with the fox biologists for the Catalina Island Conservancy as they did annual trapping of island foxes to give them health checks. One of the things we came across even before we found an island fox, was their scat.

Look at this scat closely and what do you see?

Is it plant or animal matter? If you want to find out the real scoop on this poop, follow the link to Friends of the Island Fox.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Autumn Has Come

There is something in the air. A crackle of dry leaves, a cool morning breeze. It just happens. The parching hot days where the temperature soars over 110 degrees, disappear overnight. You awake one morning and autumn has come. I know most people in Southern California don't notice the change, but I do.

This is my favorite time of year. Oh, there still may be a few days of high temperature, but the air has a different taste. It brushes your cheek with a gentle stroke. The season has turned and now I start to look for the return of my winter migratory bird friends.

Watching the Kinglet

A white wingbar laces through
Green and golden leaves.
Pointed beak leads fluttering wings
over limb, past a mourning dove
up under a crinkled bough
to dart a gnat.

Pausing for a wingbeat,
The tiny kinglet chitters.
A warning? A scolding?
Then disappears behind a leaf
Weaves up through autumn heavy limbs
Plucks caterpillar from barky twig, then
Tilts his head at me just long enough
To flash a coral crest.

With raucous rant
He skips up out of sight.

The rose nods in silent observance.
The squirrel ponders the flavor of acorn.
Desert tortoise shovels last foot full of dirt
Before settling in for the winter.

Emerald green oxalis shoves
Up between geranium and rock
Attempting to overpower green brethren.
House finches dabble in the bird bath.
Orb weaver spins a spiral death net
Between two delicate stalks,
While her neighbor, funnel spider hides
Waiting for prey to approach her webby lair.

Unwary ant tumbles down the delicate slope
Of a cone-shaped pit and into the jaws of an ant lion.
Slender salamander silently stalks
Earthworm venturing from the safety of soil.
Shy rabbit passes by,

A crimson leaf surrenders to the breeze,
And the Cooper’s hawk swings low
scattering doves and finches.

The world is busy.
Stand in one place and its stories unfold.