Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas tree

Creating this tree each year IS my favorite tradition. I love waking up Christmas morning and looking outside and seeing all the birds gathered eating the bounty I've provided for them.

Petey 38 months

Christmas was wonderful this year. Having all my beautiful sons gathered under the same roof for the last week and a half has been amazing. I am totally enjoying them as never before. I feel such peace of heart and mind when they are all at home, as if I can exhale. As a parent it takes a long time to let your children go, to stop thinking and worrying about them.

There hasn't been much time to get outside for more then short outings with my Petey, because of all the holiday preparations. I'm almost afraid to run him for too long, but that has been torture for him. He doesn't care that he is sick, that his heart is damaged. Today we got out with Daddy and had a wonderful hike in 50 degree weather. It was gorgeous out. Still very hard for me to look at Petey with out feeling so much pain and sadness. I love him too much. I spend more time with him then anyone else in my life. He is my side kick my constant companion, my joy. I feel such anger that he is sick, that his life is going to be cut short. I'm trying so hard to get rid of these feelings to enjoy the now, to be thankful that I know his days are limited, so I can fill them with fun, for both of us. We hiked up to the Beaver pond, he has been busy and even had a hole in the ice so he can continue to get on land to take trees down. I was so happy to see that he is still up there surviving.

Yesterday I did the XMas count with my hawkwatch friends Denis and Tom. It was about 38 degrees and raining. Despite the weather we covered about 60 miles of driving and 7 hours searching for birds out in the black dirt region of Orange Co. NY. We were only able to list about 37 species. Highlights of the day...Rough Legged hawk, an immature dark phase female, who we were able to get very close to and watch hunt. Savannah Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

50! What? How did that happen???

Although I'm still reeling from Petey's very recent diagnosis. It has been a blessing in disguise as it has pulled me back into the today. I think the hardest part of life, is to live it for today, it is a lesson I've been trying to get right since I was about ten years old. No doubt about it, Petey lives for today....he wants nothing more then his run, good food,a bowl of fresh clean water, several play times and affection, he is here now....and as long as those needs are met, he is very content and happy. He shares his happiness all day long. I can't help but smile when I look at his beautiful big face and his little nub of a tail wiggling away. His joy about the little things is contagious. How we humans manage to complicate our lives so far past today just amazes me, and we all do it! I guess most of us never really live life as full as our beloved dogs. They don't need as many years, because they fully live their lives from their very first breath. We start living ours much like them, and somewhere in childhood we let everything else around us take over the very joy of being alive, at seeing the wonder in an ordinary day. Once Petey has taught me life lessons that no human could. What I take into my second century of life, is the gift of Petey's lesson, when I look at him I will remember not to take another moment with my family and friends for granted. We all have to die and as my beloved father told me only six days before he left us suddenly. When it is your time, it is your time. When your number is up there isn't a damn thing you can do about it! My dad was a very wise man. I miss him dearly but know in my heart he is watching over me today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sad heart....

Yesterday my beautiful boy Petey was diagnosed with a fatal genetic heart disease. He will not get to grow old. We aren't sure how much time he has left, he could die suddenly any moment now, or could last a year or more. The disease progresses differently for each Doberman it affects. This information has left me in shock, numb and in complete disbelief that this could be happening to him at only three years old. He has been the light of my life since the moment he joined our family. Although DCM is a possibility in every line of Dobermans, for some reason I really didn't believe it would become Petey's story, or if it did, he would be nine or ten. He has three grandparents who are ten, and one that died at ten. I thought we had a good shot at a decent length of life. I've done everything right by him in the health department and yet there is no stopping this disease. They are born with the gene that causes the cells in the heart muscle to stop contracting. Petey has already lost 50% and he hasn't even had a symptom. I pray he gets some more quality time with us, and that he doesn't have to suffer at all with this horrible disease. He is the picture of health right now, thin, huge muscle mass, white teeth, energetic, just no way I would have imagined that his heart had become a ticking time bomb. I will do my best to stay in the moment,and make his last bit of time here on earth a blast! He has been my best buddy and I owe him a normal life to the end. My heart is broken once again....first comes love....then comes pain...that's what life is all about. No one escapes the pain, unless they go first. Good vibes for my baby boy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Letter to the Editor....

From a Wildlife Rehabilitators Perspective.

As a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator in NYS I support Suzyn Barron's (the president of the Warwick Humane Society) position, that all cats need to be kept indoors. It is estimated by scientists in the United States, that Cats Kill millions of birds and more then a billion small animals each year. Cats are not a part of a Natural Ecosystem and they compete for food with Native predators that are already stressed from loss of habitat. Wildlife Rehabilitators across the country take in and care for tens of thousands of animals and birds each year that are injured by feral and free roaming cats. For the safety and preservation of our Native Wildlife, I ask that you please consider keeping your pet indoors or supervise it while outdoors. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yule Decorations

Thanksgiving in VT

The last couple of weeks have been very busy that I haven't had time to write. I had my last day at the Hawk watch several weeks ago, an excellent season for different birds, I'm never disappointed that I take the time out of my life to volunteer up there. My last day was very cold and windy, lots of Red Tails so it was well worth the wind burn.

Last week we rented a house up at Killington VT. It was three stories high, 8 BR, 5.5 Baths, 3 LRs, 2 Kitchens. It was the perfect place of family and friends to gather for a wonderful Thanksgiving. This is the second year we have done this, and I really love to go away for Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday, and it is so nice to enjoy it again after more then a decade of hosting it. We had a total of 26 people over the course of the week. Truly wonderful time. Best part was that Petey was able to join us, I wouldn't have rented the house if he couldn't. He had so much fun...three levels filled with his favorite people on earth. I enjoyed giving him lots of new toys, Christmas at Thanksgiving. He loved being the center of attention. When ever he would run upstairs to my moms apartment, he would be met with oh the boys here! He ate up all the attention.

While up in VT we went for a short visit to VINS Vermont Institute of Natural Science. What a wonderful Rehab Facility. I wish we had a place like that within driving distance, what a super volunteer job that would be for me, maybe at retirement. They have a vast collection of Raptors that are unable to be released back to the wild for one reason or another. While they are an excellent teaching tool and helps support the Rehab work that VINS does, it is still very sad for me to see such noble birds spending their lives in cages, even the beautiful cages that VINs provides for them. As I get older I see nature and wild animals so different then I used to. I hate to see any animal caged, and unable to live out their lives as they were meant to, wild and free. All of my life I've been able to travel to beautiful natural areas, every year going further from home,having the opportunity to see so many wild animals has made me even more committed to help preserve habitat, and to do Rehab work to help animals return to the wild where they rightfully belong.

Today's hike was up to the Beaver pond, he is very busy....lots more trees down. Today there was ice on the pond up there, must have been very cold and windy up there overnight. On the way home, I went to several locations and gathered berry branches and greens for Yule decorations outside the house. Looks pretty and is also food for the birds visiting the yard.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I spent the past 3 days immersed in classes up at Lake George with the NYS Wildlife Rehabilitators Conference. Taking the steps to sign up for and then attend this conference was so outside my comfort zone I amazed myself. It truly was the most eye opening experience I've had in a very long time. The classes were excellent and the veterinarians and Rehabbers were remarkable. Their dedication to raise or heal injured wild animals and return them to their rightful place in nature is incredible. They make sacrifices that few people would ever consider. I learned far more then I expected. The classes were well put together and the lecturers very well spoken and prepared. I plan on attending every year from now on. Next year it will be in Buffalo. I hope they have a few turtle classes again, as that is what I plan on specializing in. I found support in two wonderful women who have devoted their lives to saving our native turtles. I hope to design a program to teach the public about turtles and how important it is to leave them in the wild and not capture and keep them as pets. I'm feeling really happy and good right now, having found more direction as to what I can do to really make a contribution in this world. Saving a adult Wood and Box turtles contributes so much more then I had even thought possible. It takes a female wood turtle about 20 years of her life to just replace herself. They don't breed until they are into their teens, and with predation few babies live to breed. I need to figure out how to educate the public, I am determined to get the information out there.

Hike up at Cascade Lake Park today. GORGEOUS OUT! About 55 degrees. Still 4 Eastern Painted turtles out on the pond, one being my little head start guy from last Winter. Saw a deer, lots of Beaver sign up at the top of the mountain. He has taken down quite a few small trees in the last week, and put up a ton of browse for himself. Winter Wren,Juncos, W.T. Sparrows, Canada Goose still on the pond. Lots of Turkey Vultures and one Red Tail.

Bears still out and about, got my feeders last night!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Red-Bellied Turtle

This is the turtle that I've mentioned in other posts. Last Thursday night, October 30th I was able to walk right up to her, and pick her up. No struggle at all. I had been keeping an eye on her for about two weeks now, knowing something must be wrong that she hadn't hibernated and was getting increasingly slow to react to people coming near her, even allowing photo shoots. Poor old girl has a URI. She will be spending the Winter with us, housed in a 110 gallon stock tank in my family room. She is 13 inches long and weighs 9 pounds. The vet gave her a broad spectrum antibiotic shot on Wednesday night, and she will get another tomorrow, and possibly a third on Monday night. I am very happy I was able to save her life. Her name will be Jilly.

Today is my last shift at the Hawk Watch. NW, 8 MPH winds expected, perfect Red-Tail flight conditions, but no clouds for hawk-watchers to see those migrating. Hope the forecast is wrong about the cloud cover. It would be great to go out of the 09 season with a bang!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Transport

Today I transported this Bittern for my Humane Society. He lost a leg so he couldn't be released unless he has had long term rehab and after the Winter as his species has already migrated for 2009. He was placed with a nice man up in Petersville NY. It took me two hours and forty five minutes to drive up there. What an amazing man, he houses about twelve hundred birds. I got a tour of the facility, and held a people imprinted wood-duck who talked to me. What a cute bird. I so enjoyed being involved with the Bittern.

I may end up going to the Humane Society and walk dogs again. Brakes my heart how many animals are there now. So many purebred dogs too, who if they had been purchased from a good reputable breeder could have gone back to them, to be re-homed. How little people must care about their animals, treating them as if they were possessions they are tired of. Even with job loses, I wonder how many people put their dog or cat in a shelter and yet still have internet, cell phones, cable TV, smoke, drink, or do any number of things that could add up to being able to keep their pets. I know when I was a poor nineteen year old college kid and got my first dog, if it was between Khan or myself eating....Khan ate. I lived in some pretty crappy places so I could have my dogs. They came first, they were my family. Something has to change....4 million dogs can't continue to die because of the selfishness of humans.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bucket List AGAIN!

Amazing new turn of events.....I have direction! I know what I want to do with my life~finally~everything is falling into place! I want to do some things for myself, but I NEED to do charity. The humane society....two miles from my house has a great need for a wildlife is going to be ME! Today I went over and met with the director and also met a sick patient, that I WAS ABLE TO GET TO EAT! Overwhelmingly incredible moment, seeing this poor sick creature look and go for food. I want this animal to make it and go back into the wild where he belongs. My heart feels so big I'm not too sure it fits in my chest right now. Can't think of another moment that was so powerful, and such an ah ha moment. Yes Carol, this is what you always dreamed about, helping wild animals! I am going to a wildlife conference in three weeks up in Lake George NY, for three days to learn more about wildlife care. In a year I will be going for my Rabies Vector Species, and then six months after that my Federal license so I can do migratory birds. I am also studying to get my Master Naturalist designation. One last thing....I'm also going to become a bear educator, classes on how to educate the public to stop feeding our local bears. How great life is at almost 50 years old, so exciting!

I was at the Hawk Watch for 6 hours today and was incredibly rewarded with a full adult Golden Eagle! Life is Good...Good...GREAT!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And the sightings continue!

I've never had a better Fall for seeing bears then the one I'm having right now. I had a really large beautiful male in the yard last night, that I was blessed to be able to watch for ten minutes. He was in amazing shape, full coat and very good weight. Tonight while driving up to Cascade Lake Park for our evening hike, there was another one back in a yard, so I pulled over and watched him work his way over to the road. He really wanted to cross the road, and I was inching down it trying to get a shot, he gave me a little warning huff and stamped his feet, then took off and ran. Too cute for words. These two sightings are numbers twelve and thirteen in a little over two weeks! My heart is screaming how lucky am I????

The colors today are astounding! No words to describe the beauty of each Fall day here in the east. I'm loving every minute of it, feeling blessed for having the time to get out in nature every day. Birds, bears, colored leaves, what more could a nature girl want??

Monday, October 12, 2009


Well Winter can't be far behind, today the woods were filled with Dark Eyed Juncos. They are my Harbinger of Winter weather. Petey and I had a nice hike up to Cascade Lake and then on up to the AT for the view. Lot's of Winter birds around, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, T.T. Mouses, Ruby Crowned Kinglets. Other notables were a Woodduck, two Red-Tails locking talons, Red Shouldered Hawk and a Sharpie.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bucket List continued.....

Lot's more thought going into my feelings of sadness about not accomplishing *something BIG* with my life before it's too late. As much as I pretend that I don't feel this way, I have always been disappointed in myself for not getting a college degree and pursuing a career in something related to nature, wildlife biology or something else related to those fields. Since I was born I've had a desire to do things to help benefit the environment and nature directly. I thought that having my sons go to college would be enough to help me get over not finishing myself. It isn't. I have decided to pursue a couple of different at home study courses that I can get certified to be a Naturalist. After a lifetime spent in the woods and the constant quest to see wild animals, I can finally do something with it. I can help educate the public. It's never too late! Just need time and the desire.

Hubby was funny....he said, you are going to finally be getting titles on your name instead of getting titles for your dog! Petey has his WAC and CGC titles. Very funny man I've lived with for three decades!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Bucket List

Tonight I saw another bear up at Cascade Lake Park. He was across the stream and I was able to get right to the edge and take his picture. Petey then had to ruin it, by leaping in the stream, swimming across and chasing him. Petey won't be doing that again anytime soon. No more chasing bears. This bear made for a total of eleven sightings over a 15 day period. I'm a lucky women.

A good friend and I were talking about her new goal in life, something big on her bucket list, she plans to hike the AT. She is over 50 and has started already, hiking on the weekends the portions close to home. Hearing this kind of put a little pit in my stomach that I should have an ambitious goal like her, she hasn't spent even a fraction of the time I have out in the woods in nature. But I thought about it for a while and decided, this will be her time out there! This is her dream. For me, I'm not about big goals, never have been. I choose to live in the moment by the seat of my pants. I thought about what I really want for the rest of my life, and it is seeing animals in the wild. Seeing beautiful places are nice, but for me it is so much better if there is a bird, reptile, amphibian or mammal to see. Because of how I feel every time I see an animal in the wild, my bucket list is going to contain all opportunities to see and spend time watching wildlife. That's what I dreamed about since I was a child and was only able to see most animals in the books I constantly read or in the zoo. Finally in my 5th decade, those dreams are coming true for me, having been to Yellowstone National Park this past Summer has completely opened my eyes as to how much more there is out there for me to see.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Red-Bellied Turtle

Several years ago I happened to notice this 12 inch turtle sunning herself on a log at a pond at one of my hiking spots. She is easily the size of 4 painted turtles, but would bask among them. I hadn't seen her since early Summer,and think about her every time I pass the preferred basking spot. Well today she was on the other side of the pond and I was able to walk right up to her and take a picture! She looks very healthy and I'm hopeful that she has another successful hibernation this up coming Winter. I'm not sure if he is one of our Native Red-Bellieds which would make her very rare for our area, or if she is a southern species who was purchased as a pet, and was let when they could no longer keep her because of the immense size. Where ever she came from, I always enjoy sightings of her, and today was no exception, and it was even more special because most reptiles are already starting to dig down and hibernate, awaiting the first frost. What a terrific gift to see her today.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Won the lottery this week!

In the past ten days I've had seven sightings of black bears! A total of five different ones. Every time I see one, I think to myself, this might be the last time, I never take for granted at how special each and every bear I get to see is. Edit to add on October 5th....a total of 10 sightings now in 13 days. Two more just now on our road, and another 2 days ago also crossing our road. Very cool Fall thus far!

Bear Facts: Taken from the North American Bear Center Site.

General Description: The black bear is approximately 4 to 7 feet from nose to tail, and two to three feet high at the withers. It has small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, a short tail, and shaggy hair. It differs from grizzly bears in being smaller with a smaller shoulder hump, a furred rear instep, a less concave facial profile, smaller claws that are more tightly curved, and longer, smoother, and more tapered ears.

Classification of Ursus americanus, the American black bear: Kingdom: Animal, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Subclass: Theria, Infraclass: Eutheria, Order: Carnivora, Suborder: Fissipedia, Family: Ursidae, Subfamily: Ursinae (all bears except the giant panda and the spectacled bears), Genus: Ursus, Subgenus: Euarctos, Species: americanus.

Taxonomists generally separate black bears into 16 subspecies based on minor differences in appearance and DNA. : Ursus americanus altifrontalis (Pacific Northwest), U. a. amblyceps (Southwestern US), U. a. americanus (widespread from Alaska to the Atlantic), U. a. californiensis (interior California), U. a. carlottae (Queen Charlotte islands of British Columbia), U. a. cinnamomum (WY, eastern CO, ID, western MT, southwestern Alberta, southeastern British Columbia), U. a. emmonsii (coastal AK from Glacier Bay to Prince William Sound), U. a. eremicus (northeastern Mexico and the Big Bend area of Texas), U. a. floridanus (FL, southern GA, southern AL), U. a. hamiltoni (Newfoundland), U. a. kermodei (portion of coastal BC), U. a. luteolus (southern LA, and southern MS), U. a. machetes (northwestern Mexico), U. a. perniger (Kenai Peninsula of AK), U. a. pugnax (southeastern Alaska), U. a. vancouveri (Vancouver Island). Taxonomists update subspecies classifications as they learn more about regional differences in DNA, body form, and behavior.

Names: Some black bear subspecies go by different names, like Kermode bear, Cinnamon bear, or Glacier bear, but they are all black bears. We prefer calling male and female bears simply males and females, but many people call them boars and sows, like pigs. Although pigs and black bears are both omnivores, they are not related. A group of bears is sometimes called a sloth of bears after the Middle English slowthe, meaning slow. The term is inaccurate because bears are not slow (see below), and few people use the term anymore.

Range: The American black bear is found only in North America. The population is estimated at 750,000. They live in forests as far south as Florida and northern Mexico and as far north as forests grow in Alaska and Canada. In northern Labrador, where grizzly bears no longer live, black bears range out onto open tundra where there are no trees to escape into. People are becoming more tolerant of black bears as we learn more about them. Many people are enjoying having bears live close to them where the bears were once feared and killed.

Color: Body fur usually black or brown but occasionally blonde, or rarely white as in the Kermode subspecies of coastal British Columbia. Brown muzzle. White chest patch is uncommon in most populations. Eyes brown (blue at birth). Skin light gray.

Adult Weights: Wild male black bears of breeding age usually weigh between 125 and 500 pounds, depending upon age, season, and food. Very well fed bears can be heavier. The record is 880 pounds in Craven County, North Carolina, and a close second from northeastern Minnesota weighed 876 pounds on September 5, 1994. Wild females usually weigh between 90 and 300 pounds with the heaviest known female weighing 520 pounds in northeastern Minnesota on August 30, 1993. Black bears in captivity may exceed these records.

Adult Length: 50 to 80 inches long, nose to tail, with males being larger than females.

Mating Season: Usually from late May to early July. In the eastern deciduous forest, mating season can extend into August.

Implantation: Delayed until November.

Birth: January or early February.

Number of Cubs: The number of cubs in a litter is usually 2 in the western United States and 3 in the eastern United States. First litters are often only 1 or 2. Litters of 6 have been reported in several eastern states.

Birth Weight: Cubs weigh 1/2 to 1 pound at birth.

Fall Weight of Cubs: By their first fall, cubs may weigh as little as 15 pounds or more than 165 pounds, depending on food supply.

Parental Care: Cubs usually stay with their mother for 17 months (rarely 29 months). One to six days before the mothers are ready to mate in late May or June, they force their yearlings to stop traveling with them.

Age at Production of First Cubs: 2 to 11 years, depending upon food supply. Typically 3 to 7 years.

Interval Between Litters: Typically 2 years, but it can be 3 or 4 years if food is so scarce that they have to abort their blastocysts, embryos, or fetuses. If a litter is born but dies before the mating season, the mother will mate again and produce cubs in consecutive years.

Sex Ratio: Nearly 50:50 at birth. Males are killed by people at a higher rate, though, so the sex ratio among mature bears is often one male per 2-5 females.

Vision: Bears see in color and have good vision close-up. Their distance vision (over two hundred yards) has not been tested.

Hearing: Exceeds human frequency ranges and probably twice the sensitivity.

Smelling: Their smelling ability is extremely good. The limits are untested. Their nasal mucosa area is about 100 times larger than in humans.

Intelligence: Large brain compared to body size. One of the more intelligent mammals. Navigation ability superior to humans. Excellent long-term memory. Can generalize to the simple concept level.

Sounds: Usually silent (except in movies in which sounds are dubbed in). A variety of grunts in amiable situations. Loud blowing noises when frightened. Clack teeth when frightened. They use a resonant, humanlike "voice" to express a range of emotions from pleasure to fear. Does not threaten by growling (except in movies). In story-telling, any sound a bear makes is called a growl.

Swimming Ability: Good. Speed and distance limits are untested. Can swim at least a mile and a half in fresh water. One swam more than 9 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. Can swim to island campsites.

Running Speed: Lean bears can exceed 30 mph. Can run uphill, downhill, or on level ground. Fat bears in winter coats overheat and tire quickly.

Daily Activity Period: Most bears become active a half-hour before sunrise, take a nap or two during the day, and bed down for the night an hour or two after sunset. However, some bears are active at night to avoid people or bears.

Preferred Foods: Nuts, acorns, fruit, insects, succulent greens. Meat and less succulent greens are eaten when preferred foods are scarce. A scarcity of preferred foods can result in failed reproduction, stunted growth, failure to add optimal amounts of fat, and death of young bears, especially cubs.

Do bears hibernate? When hibernation was defined simply in terms of temperature reduction, bears were not considered hibernators. New knowledge of hibernation processes has led biologists to redefine mammalian hibernation as simply a specialized, seasonal reduction of metabolism concurrent with the environmental pressures of scarce food and low ambient temperatures. Black bears are now considered highly efficient hibernators. They sleep for months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating. Hibernators with lower body temperatures, such as chipmunks, woodchucks, and ground squirrels, cannot do this. These smaller mammals must awaken every few days, raise their temperatures to over 94 degrees, move around in their burrows, and urinate. Some of them must also eat and defecate during arousals. Black bears have far more insulative pelts and have lower surface to mass ratios than the smaller hibernators. As a result, bears' body heat is lost very slowly, enabling them to cut their metabolic rate in half and still make it through winter, maintaining temperatures above 88 degrees--within 12 degrees of their normal summer temperature. (Excerpted from "A Bear In Its Lair" by Lynn Rogers, Natural History Magazine, October 1981). Mothers wake up to give birth, typically in mid to late January, and take excellent care of the cubs in the den, licking them clean and responding to every cry for warmth and milk.

Length of Hibernation: The length and depth of hibernation is genetically programmed to match the regional norms of food availability. Hibernation is deeper and can last over 7 months in the northern portion of the black bear range where abundant, high quality food is available only from May through August. There, some bears hibernate so deeply, especially the leaner bears after a summer of unusually scarce food, that a person can jostle them for several minutes before they wake up. However, in southern states where food is available year-round, some do not hibernate at all, and those that do are easily aroused. Lean females cannot bring their fetuses to full term and do not give birth.

Potential Longevity (lifespan): Black bears can live 21-33 years or more if they are not killed.

Causes of Death: Very few adult bears outside of national parks die of natural causes. Nearly all adult bears die from human-related causes. Most are eventually shot. A few are killed by vehicles. The average age of death in hunted populations is three to five years of age. Bears less than 17 months old sometimes die from starvation, predation, falls from trees, and other accidental causes. Very few die of disease.

Core Home Range Diameter: Typically: Yearlings: 1-2 miles. Adult females: 2-6 miles. Adult males: 8-15 miles. Excursions to 126 miles recorded.

Ideal Habitat: Black bears like large forests with many different kinds of fruits and nuts. Small sunny openings within the forest provide many kinds of food for the bears. Lowlands and wetlands provide tender and juicy vegetation. Streams and woodland pools provide water for drinking and cooling. Mothers with cubs like large trees (over 20 inches in diameter) with furrowed bark (like white pines or hemlocks) for bedding sites. These trees are safest for small cubs to climb.

Living with Bears: Many people are moving into black bear habitat. The bears' future depends on how well we understand and tolerate them.

Long-Term Problem: Magazines and movies have given black bears an unrealistically ferocious image, causing people to fear them excessively and kill them unnecessarily. There are many misconceptions about black bears.

Greatest misconception: The greatest misconception about black bears is that they are likely to attack people in defense of cubs. They are highly unlikely to do this. Black bear researchers often capture screaming cubs in the presence of bluff-charging mothers with no attacks.

Defense of cubs is a grizzly bear trait. About 70 percent of human deaths from grizzly bears are from mothers defending cubs, but black bear mothers have not been known to kill anyone in defense of cubs.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I've been getting outside every chance I can and thoroughly enjoying all the gifts of beauty that our glorious Fall here on the east coast has to offer. The weather has been beautiful, and the bird migration has been good. Today Petey and I hiked it up to the AT Greenwood Lake overlook. Beautiful view, breeze blowing perfumed with the scents of Fall. I wished that I had thought to pack a small lunch and some water, so I could have sat and enjoyed the view for a little longer. Back down at the old beaver pond the area was full of Warblers, Phoebes, and Ruby Crowned Kinglets. Later on at the pond I had my first W.T. Sparrows. Phoebes are my Harbinger of Spring, and also of Fall.

Ten days ago I had a big day at the Hawk Watch with 1381 birds, very nice considering I thought two days before that was our big day at Mt. Peter. I was also present for the afternoon of the other big day, and added quite a lot of birds to the count. I've had some great looks at adult Bald Eagles, Osprey, and a Peregrine Falcon. The Broad-wing flight although not great this year, afforded those of us who put the time in, some nice close looks at hundreds of them, doing what they do best kettling in large flocks, one of the phenomenons of nature I never tire looking at. I'm a bit sad that their flight is over.

I think bears are my totem animal, I see so many every year, and still get just as excited as the very first time so many years ago. Edit to add on October 5. A total of 10 bear sightings in 13 days, just had two at the same time, both big adults. One was crossing Pumpkin Hill into our yard and the other was in our next door neighbors yard at the same time. Petey treed one in Cascade Lake, saw one little guy 3x up on Cascade Lake Road, and had 4 other different ones on our road in the last week. The most bears I've ever seen any year so far.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A gift...

Although I buy Petey many things all the time, I finally purchased something that I know he loves, the gift of a silent walk. I found found a company that embroiders names and phone numbers on collars. No more name tags jingling, he can fully hear the world around him.

Dad and Uncle Scholar on the Cobia

This picture is a cherished childhood memory for me. It is of my Dad and his best friend in the entire world, heading out to do what they loved doing best, fishing. Look at the JOY on my Uncle Scholars face. The location of the photo was while we were on our annual vacation to Mr. Whites cabins in Aquebogue LI. We went each Summer for two weeks, for thirteen years. Some of my fondest lifetime memories were from those vacations. Two weeks of complete bliss living in a tiny cabin on the bay. Dad and Uncle Scholar would head out fishing everyday, some times forgetting about all of us, as they would continually see birds over schools of fish, and head to the next hot spot. We never minded, as we would have fresh fish to eat that night. Some nights after dark they could be seen out jacking crabs with a spotlight. The laughter from the two of them would echo all the way through our tiny cabin walls. We knew that the next day a feast would be at hand, nothing tastes as delicious as a fresh Blue Crab. Some days Uncle Scholar would dig clams at the and bar. At Mr. Whites there was nothing but time to immerse yourself in nature. Back when there was no TV, radio, computer, or cell phone. Nothing to distract you from real life. It was time to became who I really was, if I forget as I often do, those are the memories I reach for to refresh my soul. Summer wasn't the only season Dad and Uncle Scholar would find themselves spending time together. Luckily my mom also became best friends with Uncle Scholars wife, my Aunt Judy. The two couples made it a point to see each other many times each year. Mom and Aunt Judy would head out shopping at every given chance, and dad and Uncle Scholar would be either hunting or fishing. Our visits with their family coincided with the outdoor sporting seasons. In the Spring we would find ourselves up on the Esopus Creek for Trout Season, later it would be for Bass. Fall would bring us back upstate for pheasant and then later deer. My childhood revolved around these trips, I looked forward to each one and will never forget how much they enriched my life and love of nature. I loved watching my dad hang out with his best friend. They had such a comfortable friendship, that few people get to experience in their lifetime. My dad was never happier then when he was outside in nature spending time with his best friend. It warms my heart to think about them together. My dad has been gone for years, so now when I see my Uncle Scholar, I cherish every moment I get to be with him, he is a part of my dad that I still have here on earth. I am grateful for that.

Privileged childhood

I had a privileged childhood, I just didn't know it until now. I grew up on Long Island in New York. When I was six my Dad made an extravagant purchase for that time, a brand new 20 foot fiberglass boat. It was his pride and joy. He loved to fish and spend time out on the water and swimming in the ocean. Our family spent every Summer weekend out on the Great South Bay, going to beautiful Gilgo beach. This past weekend, I returned to the Great South Bay upon my good friends boat. I had not been out there in thirty years, the last time with my dad, as I fished along side of him, it was then he told me that is where he wanted his ashes spread. He also told my hubby the same thing a couple of years later while he also was fishing with him. Yesterday we were able to make his wish a reality, although most of him is in a cemetery on Long Island, a tiny bit of my Dad has returned to the place he loved best. It was a very emotional time for me, as I felt like I was setting dad free. I saw Long Island with new eyes, having forgotten just how beautiful the bay and ocean are. I realized how lucky I had been to be surrounded by something so wonderful, and how much the days spent playing in the sea shaped my love and awe of nature. Every year I must visit the salt water, it seems to make all things right for me. The sights, sounds and smells filled my soul like nothing else. The main reason we went out to the beach this weekend was for a benefit for a HS friend who has terminal cancer. There were eight bands playing, lots of old friends, good food, drink and the magical beach. It was like stepping back thirty plus years, cutting school and going to the beach. Because of the circumstances and reality of why we were really there, I stayed in the moment, being ever grateful for my good health. I absorbed every second of my day and night, hoping to take it home with me, and I have. I slept like a baby on the boat, first night in many months,the boat rocking me to sleep, the salt air clearing my head. My heart is so full, that I feel completely at peace.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nature Inspired Fitness

For today's hike I decided to give my new Five Fingers Vibram Shoes a try. I really like them, it took a little bit to get used to feeling rocks under your feet, but after a few minutes they felt great. I found the grip and balance to be outstanding. My legs are already achy. I guess we don't realize how our leg muscles are no longer completely worked out by wearing stiff soled hiking shoes, instead of being barefooted as nature intended. As I went along I watched Petey enjoying our hike. He got me thinking about how fit he is now, how his muscle mass is now exposed after his recent weight loss. He is really enjoying his new lighter frame, now able to run and jump with complete ease. He doesn't need any fancy gym equipment to maintain his fitness, he simply needs a hike in the woods. Spending his time walking, running, jumping and swimming is all it takes. We humans tend to complicate things, and really my fitness routine can be just as simple and pleasant as Petey's work out. Spend part of my hike using my body for more then just walking, do a little sprinting, lift something heavy, tree push ups, balance on a log, rock jumping and stretching. Petey never misses an opportunity for a good stretch. How enjoyable to spend ones time in the woods and not have to rely on a boring gym to stay fit and healthy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day......

It is truly labor day for the creatures of our area, all are out eating or storing the bounty set before them, getting ready for the long Winter that lies ahead. It is a glorious time of year for those of us who are paying attention to nature, so many things to see and savor. Each moment of every day offers something for each our senses. Get in the moment and partake of the beauty of this season.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Friday view for the next ten weeks....

Today I started my annual volunteer position at the Mt. Peter Hawk watch. I am scheduled to man the watch every Friday from 9-5 for the next ten weeks. Mt. Peter is the oldest all volunteer watch in the country, 52 years old this Fall. I've been heading up and watching the hawk, eagle migration for the last twenty years. Have met a lot of wonderful like minded people, that I really enjoy spending time with. I've been an official counter for about six years now. We count for hopefully helping to monitor the populations of our native hawks and eagles, and getting a clearer picture of how they are doing. It is a time of year that I look forward to, although today was pretty bird for five hours of sitting on top of a mountain. Most people have no idea that birds are flying over head in large flocks heading to their Winter destinations. They are in shock when you tell them, we see THOUSANDS of Broad Wing Hawks in a single day. What? Hawks in flocks? Yes...Broad Wings fly in large flocks. They leave their Northern Summer homes in Mid September because they are predominately reptile amphibian eaters, and their prey begins to hibernate as soon as there is frost. Hawks and Eagles head to South America where they can find better sources of food to survive the Winter. They fly over Mt. ranges to use the updrafts to their advantage. They follow one up and glide down, repeating this over and over until they reach their destination. It is with great excitement that I look forward to the next few weeks, we never know if our watch will get the BIG days or if you will be able to be a part of it.....I begin my watch of the weather, ready to switch my work days if the wind and temperatures seem favorable.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Last Day of August....

Last night was such a beautiful evening, Petey and I took a walk. I never tire of looking at the small miracles of nature. Petey and I had Cascade Lake to ourselves, no other humans to disturb the beauty and peace of that tiny moment in time. Flowers in bloom, Insects singing, gentle breeze blowing, air scented with impending Fall, wish I could hold onto it forever. 2009 was a gorgeous Summer, so full of beauty. Life is what you make it, it isn't dependent on the weather or how you feel, it is but a moment in time, and yours to live and enjoy fully if you so choose. Look for the everyday miracles in nature, they are everywhere free and yours for the taking. Savor the moment.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Renewed Faith....

I just submitted another letter to the editor. My broken heart is healed! Here's the letter.

Thank YOU turtle Crossers!

A few weeks back I wrote a letter to the editor about helping our native turtles cross roads. I have had so many people who read my letter come up to me and proudly tell me that they had helped save a turtle this past Summer. Sunday evening we were returning from a weekend away, I was able to see fellow turtle crossers in action. We came upon several cars stopped on RT 17A in Florida. A couple of people were out of their cars and looked very upset, as we drove past we could see that a very large Snapping turtle was in the middle of the road. We pulled over and I went to see if I could help move her. The next two cars on either side of the road decided to stop completely and block any further cars from potentially hitting and killing the turtle or injuring those of us that were helping her. A man had a shovel in his car and was able to move her off to the side of the road she was traveling to. I just want to commend all of you who stopped, for taking a moment out of your busy lives to save this wonderful creature from being hit and killed. Watching everyone pitch in to help, was heart warming. Your act of kindness has renewed my faith that each of us can make a difference and save our planet one creature at a time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do they have a chance?

It is with a sad heart that I write about this beautiful creature. Tuesday evening I had the great privilege of finding about a half dozen monarch caterpillars in a park that Petey and I visit several times a week. Always such a special find. The caterpillars born this late in the season might be the chosen few that will live up to eight months and migrate to Mexico. Unfortunately they were all killed. Some one with in my town thought it was a good time to backhoe the entire area down, to ready it to plant GRASS?! Taking all the milkweed down and crushing all the creatures who called it home, including these rare special caterpillars, that had a huge job ahead of them to help their species survive another year. Most humans have no regard for nature, they only save what they can see,which are the mammals, the little creatures are all part of the whole, we need to preserve all the creatures of this earth, including insects. They are all connected in the web of life, you crush one strand and it weakens the next one. Sadly I'm pretty sure that all the turtle nests of this year were also destroyed, as where they backhoed it the nesting area for the pond, and it is too early for the baby snapping and painted turtles to have hatched. Walking upon the scene Thursday night, I felt as though I had been stabbed in the heart, sick to my stomach, one small scene of destruction that represents what is really going on all our world. Will nature survive in the wild or will we end up with all the species that remain living and breeding in man made zoos? Will our souls survive if that is what it comes down to? No wild and free places on earth, just tamed fake nature. My soul won't survive it. I need nature to feel alive. I know that I'm going to do my part, just a small part, I will be planting a milk weed garden next year or even this Fall if I can transplant some plants. I will create a small piece of heaven for my fellow creatures. So out of this bad experience will come some good. RIP Caterpillars.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Night time

Last night Petey had a midnight need to go out one last time, I was not too happy to be woken out of a rare bit of sleep as lately I haven't been getting too much of it. Once outside I begin to welcome the chance to see another world. During the night the world becomes a completely different ecosystem that what we have during the day. The creatures that roam have their own niche. It has always fascinated me to wonder about all that goes on in my yard as I sleep. Fox, Raccoons, Skunks, Possum, Flying Squirrels, Coyotes, bears, deer all roam more freely and safely while we humans sleep. Last night the stars were out, the air cooled and I felt thankful to have a glimpse into the night. On the way back in the door, guess who was sitting on my step, a toad. He brought a smile to my face, and I really felt like it was worth while to get up. I love toads nearly as much as turtles. My new gardens and landscaping continue to attract more creatures each day. I am happy to have done the work, and can now enjoy the fruits of my labor in my Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I've always been a reptile person, I don't know why, there is just something about them that warms my heart. My first pet was a Anole, the second a water snake and the third was Pee-Wee the turtle, he came into my life when I was eight years old. On an outing to the local pet store my sister and myself each had a quarter. We were going to purchase a baby Red-ear slider turtle. When we walked into the store, there was a tank with a much cooler bigger turtle that cost a dollar. We really wanted that turtle, begged our mom to please give or lend my sister and myself the other fifty cents. She did and Pee Wee came into my life for the next 28 years. Pee-Wee was a Asian Yellow Pond Turtle who was wild caught. Although Pee-Wee got used to life in captivity, he was never really happy. He constantly tried to escape his tanks and every so often did so and spent a day or two enjoying his freedom exploring the house. Pee-Wee went away to college with me, and then after I was married he also moved around for a few years to different states with hubby and I. I always kept him in a decent size tank, but it was never enough. His final escape came when I was 36 years old. I had a house full of kids for the week, my own four and three of their cousins. All under the age of ten. Pee-Wee had been out on the lam...and some how got out a door, never to be seen again. I was heartbroken. I had been with Pee wee longer then anyone in my life. About ten years later I finally found a turtle breeder in Florida that had captive bred baby Asian Yellow Pond turtles, I bought a tiny three month old and had him shipped up from Florida. He was promptly named PJ aka Pee Wee Jr or the initials for my favorite band. For his first three years he seemed so happy. He lives in a heated, filtered 50 gallon pond in my family room. He spends his days basking in his heat lamp and catching live guppies. He would come up to you and take food from your fingers. He didn't even mind Petey giving him a daily poke with his nose. Well all of this has changed, my once happy go lucky turtle started climbing out of his tank too. Several times in the last couple of weeks he has been on the lam, happened again, I couldn't find him. Fearing the worst, I swore to myself, I'm done with pets other then dogs. I felt sad over allowing this to happen again. I was convinced he was gone for good. The other night I was sitting at my ornamental pond feeding the gold fish and all of a sudden guess who rises from the darkness....yup PJ!!! He is alive and well, and apparently wild and happy! I can coax him over to me with food, but the second I move too quickly he is GONE! I did manage to catch him tonight, luring him in with a smelt. I looked him over and he looks great, Petey came up to give him a poke and PJ bit him in the nose and repeated it several times! I put him back in his new Summer home a 1500 gallon pond, I will continue to feed him by hand everyday and when the weather gets cold, he will have to slum through the Winter in his tiny pond. Neat to have a turtle in the pond to watch, he spends his days chasing the goldfish and frogs, basking in real sunlight and getting a lot of exercise.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The thing I love best about living in my town is the bears. It is "common" for me to see them while out hiking, driving or even in my own yard. They add such a wonderful sense of wilderness to even the simplest of hikes close to home. Every time I lay my eyes on one I think....How lucky am I? How blessed has my day just become? Seeing animals in the wild opens my sense of wonder back up to the the way I felt as a young child. Yesterday while out for my daily hike with Petey this young boy of about 3 years old came running right towards me. Petey was ahead of me on the trail and must have caught his scent in the swamp and took off to investigate. I heard what sounded like something large crashing through the brush, and it was making a coughing noise. I thought OMG it's Petey and he must be badly hurt, why would he be making that noise? I looked in the bushes and there was a bear coming right at me...and he was making a grunting noise. He stopped about 3 feet from me, looked me in the eye, turned around and up the tree he went. He was not about to tangle with Petey nor I. He only wanted to get away from us. I took a minute to snap a couple of pictures, and then left the poor scared boy alone. What a thrill. No matter what, every time I go to the woods, I'm never sorry for the time invested, braving the weather be it rain, heat or snow, dealing with bug sighting of a bear makes all the time worth while. Can't wait to get out there again!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Smell The Flowers.....

I've been lucky to share my life with many wonderful dogs, beginning at birth with Lucky the Labordoodle, back in the day known as a Mutt. To my present dog Petey the Doberman Pinscher, whom I hope will take me into old age. Each dog had come into my life with lessons to teach at a time when I most needed them. Some of the lesson I've learned were commitment, responsibility, patience, understanding. I've lived with dogs that had illnesses, mental issues and physical limitations. The biggest lesson I've learned from each dog was to live in the moment. No matter what they were dealing with, from cancer to OCD, all my dogs seemed to love life and enjoy where they were that instant in time. They always expressed their infinite joy over the simplest things. They were there to remind me to "stop and smell the flowers" Petey continues with this lesson on a daily basis, every flower he comes across....he takes a whiff. He lives for today, no thoughts about what tomorrow will bring, a lesson I need to remember everyday. Having Petey in my life is a constant reminder to really LIVE each moment no matter how I feel or what is going on to cause stress. He is a gift that I've given to myself.

Birds are already moving around, lots of warblers coming through my yard. Hawk watch is three short weeks away. This Summer has flown by. Enjoying every moment of beauty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've decided that my life is too bogged down. Lately I feel as though I am suffocating from all the mess and chaos that surrounds me in my home. I feel as though it is holding me back from being able to really live in the moment and enjoy my daily life. I find myself not wanting to spend time in my home because of it. I am going to do a major purge and clean out and get rid of everything I'm not using or that I'm holding on to for silly sentimental value. Today I'm beginning the planning stage. Notebook and pen in hand. My first order of business is to find people and organizations who want the things that I no longer have a use for, next is to STOP buying STUFF completely, other then food. Nothing comes in here unless something goes out. This is going to be a long project but one I'm determined to complete before my next birthday. A little each day will get me where I want to be and so I begin.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

33 Months old

I can't believe how fast time is flying by now. My parents told me the older you get the quicker the days, weeks, months and years pass you by. They were right. Petey is now nearing three years old. Doberman Pinschers do not get very long lives, the average male lives to be about nine and a quarter years. I can't imaging myself with out my beloved Pete in six short years from now. I am doing everything in my power to insure the most years possible for him. I feed Raw use no chemicals for pest control on him, I no longer do vaccinations, choosing to do yearly titers instead, exercise him everyday for at least an hour and keep his mind active learning and going new places. He is a dream come true dog. I couldn't ask for a better companion. Happy 33 month birthday to my sweetheart.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Family

I've won the lottery of is a great one, and I am so blessed to have four sons and the most amazing hubby to share it with.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Tale of 2 T-Shirts

While on Vacation last week my dear sweet hubby bought me two T-shirts that had major meaning for me. The day before we left for our vacation I showed Petey for his first and last time. The experience was not a good one, and I left it feeling very down and upset. Starting my dream vacation with a sad heart was awful. I decided once and for all, after that experience that organized dog sports and competitions just aren't for me or Petey. Having been a Mod on a Doberman Forum for the last two years, and constantly reading about all the wonderful things that people are doing with their dogs and the titles they are achieving, I always feel as though I'm not doing right by Petey and his heritage. I have felt as though he should have a job. I have looked into and tried OB, Agility, TDI, SchH and now the show ring. Petey is by no means a AKC show doberman, I think most of the "show" people find him to be butt ugly, he has too much bone and a bit too much fat(we are still working on that!!! I have him down to his 1 year old weight, which is 16# less then his all time high) We STINK at it all. I am a nervous wreck and that goes right down the leash and pours into to my beloved boy. I've decided that we are not going to take another class, its a done deal.....WHAT A RELIEF! No more chasing titles and thinking about what else I can do next with Petey, we both already know the place where our hearts sing the loudest....its in the woods. He is my hiking partner and protector, and you know what? is enough. He is living his life as his original ancestors were bred to do, as a humans constant companion and protector, and he is excellent at his job. He is the champion of my heart.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods. There is rapture on the lonely shore. There is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.- Lord Byron