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A FOWL TRIPTYCH – GEESE V SWANS ON WHITINS POND

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

In a nutshell, a three-picture story is a way to help you think about storytelling with images. To create a three-picture story, gather:

  • An establishing shot: a broad photo of your subject.
  • A relationship: two elements interacting with one another.
  • A detail: a close-up of one part of your subject.

- – - – -

Last April, the geese made a play for ownership of what has always been swan territory by stealing the nest from a pair of swans. Geese live all over the valley. This area is a watershed, crisscrossed with  rivers, streams, ponds and marsh — perfect nesting grounds for water fowl. From herons and egrets, to swans and all kinds of ducks, water birds nest and live in the Valley.

Whitins Pond has for as long as we've lived in the valley been "swan territory."

Whitins Pond has, for as long as we’ve lived in the valley, been “swan territory.”

Herons, swans and geese get along fine with ducks … but not with each other. Herons are secretive and nest far from other birds, but swans and geese are forever encroaching on each others’ territory. For whatever the reason, these two species are enemies, even though they share space with other water birds without problems.

By some quirk of fate, Garry and I were there with our cameras to witness the battle. Talk about serendipity!

War! Swans try to rout invading geese!

War! Swans try to rout invading geese!

Despite a temporary setback, there’s a happy ending. Six young swans cruise with mama on Whitins Pond. The geese are not in evidence, but I’m sure they’ll try again. They are persistent.

It’s a big pond. They could just share, but apparently, they don’t want to. You’d have to ask them why not.

All's well that ends well. Mother and "teenage" swans cruise the pond. The nest was rebuilt and the swans are still the monarchs of their piece of the pond. It's a big pond, room for all.

All’s well that ends well. A new nest was built and another generation of young swans live on the pond.

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BISHOP THE BOLD

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Bishop, our Australian Shepherd is possibly the most beautiful Aussie I’ve ever seen. From nose to rump (he has no tail) he’s magnificent. Okay, he isn’t necessarily the smartest of his breed but he may be the sweetest. He’s loving. Passionate even.

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If you look him in the eyes, all sixty pounds of gigantically furry pooch will be in your lap and licking you to death before you can say “No, Bishop, you’re too BIG!”

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GUARD DOGS!

As the tractor dug the layer of ice off the asphalt of our crumbling driveway, Bishop, who had been lolling about the living room trolling for treats realized he was neglecting his duties as watchdog.

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Bishop has never entirely grasped the whole “guarding” concept, but he has gotten very adept at the “keep barking until they go away” piece of the puzzle. Given even the slightest motivation, he will bark continuously. Motivation is loosely defined as someone or something in the driveway, on the property or nearby in the woods or on neighboring properties.

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If no reason presents itself, he will nonetheless bark continuously — for no apparent reason. Perhaps it is a preventative measure lest some unwanted human or critter be considering invading the territory.

Bonnie is more than happy to help with the barking. The two of them together, sometimes assisted by one or more of the other two dogs, can bark for hours if no one stops them — usually by suggesting it’s biscuit time.

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Today they had a reason to bark and bark they did. Mostly, it was Bishop’s day. That big green machine must have looked pretty threatening! And barking must have been the right thing to do because it went away. See? Bark and it makes everything alright.

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ANYONE WANT SOME TONGUE?

Daily Post: Take That, Rosetta!

by Ben Huberman on February 10, 2014

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TONGUE.

I want to learn DOG. I want to explain to all my canines in their own unique tongues so they can’t pretend they don’t understand (oh, I know your games … you understand fine when you want to) to stop barking all the time at absolutely nothing. Of, if you are barking at something, please … tell me what you see that I don’t see? And about that early morning chorus. You have such beautiful voices, my furry babies … but why six in the morning? If you are all about praising the Lord (other than Garry, your Dog God) … can we reschedule services for a bit later? How about 11 in the morning? Even noon. I don’t think a deity would be offended by a slightly late start and I would be personally grateful.

And about those tongues.

When I get out of the shower, you do not have to lick every exposed inch of my body. Really, I just did that with soap and hot water and although I’m sure you mean the very best, I always feel sort of slimy when you’ve finished redoing the process in your own special ways. And hey, I’ve seen the stuff you eat out in the yard. Don’t lie to me. I know where that tongue has been. Eww and double yuck!

I know you talk to each other. I’ve seen you each approach one another … then get up, and go and a pair to the next canine, then all three of you embark on some kind of group activity … usually barking in chorus or a good howl. Or a trip to the kitchen where you stand around giving us the dead-eye until we produce treats. So you communicate. I just would appreciate you letting me in on the secret.

I could make a pretty penny doing dog food commercials and movies if I could simply explain in native DOG … tell you guys what I want you to do. Training would be unnecessary. Just a simple chat, and voilà! Tricks? No problem. Then, instead of being fuzzy, over-indulged lounge lizards, you could become productive members of society. Maybe with dental and health benefits. And think about how great it would be if you could really tell me what was bothering you? I could stop guessing … a boon for both of us!

Thanks for listening. And please, whatever you are barking at? Give it a rest!

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CHICKENS, COOPS, CRAZY TURKEYS AND ONE OLD FARMER

Daily Prompt: Good Fences?
by Ben Huberman on February 8, 2014

Who are your neighbors? Are you friends with them, barely say hi, or avoid them altogether? Tell us a story — real or invented — about the people on the other side of your wall (or street, or farm, or… you get the point). Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEXT DOOR.

Around the block is a farm (Ee-i-ee-i-oh!)

Dairy cattle, chickens, fresh milk, eggs, and honey … and friendly farmers.

I love the chickens. They are not all regular chickens. Many are fancy with gorgeous plumage. They are all like pets — friendly. They used to range free, but foxes and coyotes were making inroads so reluctantly, the farmer moved the coops and put up wire enclosures. The chickens have a lot of freedom, but not unlimited range.

Wild Turkeys

The local wild turkeys hang around because the farmer feeds them. They are a pugnacious group. Wild turkeys used to be rare, but in recent years, they strut all over the place without any sign of fear, or for that matter, common sense.

No one hunts them. Unless they get eaten by a coyote, their biggest danger is getting run over by a car or truck. They tie up traffic and refuse to hurry.

Yelling at them to move faster makes them angry and they will challenge your car to a duel. They cross roads with no concern for traffic. If you annoy them further (or even they are in a particularly feisty mood), they will attack your car. They are apparently unconcerned whether or not the car is the likely winner of the dispute.

Although they are good flyers — unlike swans, loons and other large water fowl, they don’t need a long runway to achieve liftoff — it never occurs to them to fly. They prefer to stroll. Strut. It’s hard to rouse them to flight, or even to walk or run faster.

When confronted by overwhelming odds — large motor vehicles or people with shotguns — they cop an attitude:  “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?” This has given real meaning to the expression “What a turkey!”

As the old farmer said, “You know, it just takes one tire!” Except, of course, he’s the one who feeds them.

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PROTECTION DETAIL

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This is Bonnie’s spot, her lookout post. Up on the top of the sofa back, on her own cushion. Nose on glass with the picture window … which is so covered with nose prints, it is very nearly opaque.

She can see everything. She sleeps here, unless she is on the sofa with us and she would probably only leave there to eat or go outside and bark (and bark and bark and bark) if only we would join her rather than stubbornly insisting on sitting on the reclining loveseat — from which we can watch TV.

All the dogs have a “spot” that is their own. Nan’s is at my feet, under my desk in the office — if I’m in the office. Otherwise, on the foot of the recliner if I’m in the living room. Bishop sleeps outside when there’s snow cover. He really likes the snow. A lot. Inside, he sleeps on the landing at the head of the stairs or on the landing between upper and lower floors. I think it’s a guard dog thing.

Bonnie is the only one who cares about having a view. She watches. She looks asleep, but she is just resting, ready to spring into action in a heartbeat. Our little soldier, protecting her world and us.

SEASONS OF SWANS – 2012 to 2013

This time of year, the swans are  huddled deep in leaves to keep warm. Today, it’s raining, washing away the snow cover and the bitter cold will not return for at least a few days. It will give the swans a breather. I hope they are able to survive this terrible cold we’ve been having. This is a year and a half of the swans on Whitins Pond.

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: BEGINNING — NEW DAY FOR A BLACK-BACKED GULL

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As the sun rises over a beach in Maine, it’s the beginning of a new day for a lone black-backed gull.

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: JOY OF DOGS WITH THEIR PERSON

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Joy!  

A SERIOUS TALK WITH BONNIE

 I feel this is a perfect opportunity to air a grievance still fresh in my mind.

Although we are indulgent dog parents, we don’t sleep with dogs. They outnumber us two to one and the bed isn’t all that big.  Moreover, they hang with us on the loveseat in the living room and in the offices from morning till we toddle off to bed in the wee hours. The bed is ours. Ours alone. I refuse to feel guilty about it. Okay, a little guilty, but only a bit. We have enough trouble getting comfortable without trying to maneuver around you dogs.

Not to mention the dirt and fur that inevitably accompanies our beloved beasts. We have a gate across the hallway. We close it at night when we go to bed, confining our poor, oppressed pets to the living room, kitchen and of course the yard via the doggy door. For the 5 or 6 hours during which I try to catch some Zs, it’s No Dogs Allowed. You guys — yes, I mean you, my black-furred miscreant — know this is our time alone. You know perfectly well that when the gate is closed, it’s “give them a rest” time.

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Except last night, Bonnie, you didn’t feel like sleeping and proceeded to fling yourself at the gate. The whole house shook. I’m surprised you didn’t knock it right off its hinges. The howling and barking and yapping was bad enough, but this was like an earthquake. Totally uncool.

Bonnie, my beloved Scottish Terrier? Listen up. If you persist in flinging yourself at the gate through the night, it isn’t biscuits you’ll get. Just because you’re bored and think 3 am is a grand time for a romp and a treat, doesn’t mean we humans agree. You are going to wind up in a crate. Worse, I’ll take away your computer privileges. You won’t be able to use my laptop anymore. You know I can do it, darling Bonnie, so don’t test me. Last night, you were a wicked Scottie.

When you rousted me out of bed for that fourth and final time — was that just about 4 am?– you knew I wasn’t coming to give you a cookie. Because you ran out the doggy door and didn’t come back until I’d gone back to bed. How did you know I was mad at you? I didn’t say anything. The first three times you got your dad, then me up, you snagged a biscuit. That was supposed to shut you up. How did you know this wasn’t another goody on the way?

But you knew. You ran for the yard. Interesting. Was it the sound of steam coming out of my nose and ears? Or just the way I tread the floorboards?

Bonnie, my darling. You do that again, tonight — or any other night — and your spoiled rotten little life will be in serious peril. Do you understand? Don’t laugh at me. I’m serious. I’m mad at you!