Leucistic Buzzard

leucistic_buzzard

While driving from Clifford toward Elkdale in the valley through which the east branch of the Tunkhannock Creek flows, I noticed a kettle of turkey buzzards riding a thermal to who knows where.

I did a double take, noticing that one of the birds was nearly completely white. It’s not uncommon to see more than one type of bird riding together on thermals, and figured a hawk of some kind had gotten into the mix.

But, after watching for a while, it was apparent that the white bird was a Turkey Buzzard. It’s flight pattern, with slightly twitching wings was the same as everyone else. Both the top and bottom of the wings were white, as was the entire body. The underside of the wings retained the silver feather pattern as typical buzzards,

Yup, that’s not something you see everyday.

That view was just slightly less impressive than the Blue Heron that was standing in the middle of the road a couple of miles later. That fellow, however, took off to the meadow before I could get a clear picture.

I wish I got a photo of this fellow standing in the middle of the road in all his lanky splendor – it looked like he stood more than 4 feet tall!

blue_heron

Neighbors Laurie Graham and Larry Wilson sent these photos of the white Turkey Buzzard:

White Turkey Vulture 9_6_15 #3 White Turkey Vulture 9_6_15 #2 White Turkey Vulture 9_6_15

 

Sky

sky

The skies this Summer have been nothing short of magnificent.  It seems that many times while driving around the neighborhood this season, the sky looks like the day that they take photos for postcards.

Unlike a few years ago, dramatic skies were soon followed by strong, damaging storms.

This year, however, the clouds and winds have rarely conspired to wring out much more than pleasant showers, and light rains.

Dinner from Mom

dinner_from_mom

No doubt animals have feelings and thoughts, or at least instincts.

Who would deny that this little guy is having one of his best evenings of the summer?

Whether that vaguely uncomfortable sensation of need in his body provoked the thought “Hungry, I better go find mother”, or the instinct to follow his nose toward the familiar warmth of mother’s scent, the end result is the same: mouth to teat, milk to belly, belly filled, uncomfortable sensation replaced with contentment ensuing.

After eating his fill, he might be thinking “Good time for a nap!”, or feeling rejuvenated and energetic from his evening meal, maybe it’s time to find some pasture mates, nip at each other’s hooves and frolic. Or maybe just enjoy a full belly and stay where the comforting scent of mother is warmest and thickest.

Certainly animals are subject to sensations. The heartiest of cows and horses still need at least a three sided structure in their pasture within which to shelter themselves from driving wind. Horses and deer will bed in snow midway down a lee slope – far enough from the crest to avoid the worst of the wind, high enough from the bottom to avoid the coldest air that rolls down the slope and pools in valleys.

Some say cows are so sensitive that they can predict the weather. If cows are lying down in a pasture, it will rain; if standing, clear weather will prevail. Or, most often observed, some standing, some lying down – no doubt a reliable indication of partly cloudy weather 😉

Habit requires thought, or at least conditioning. Some evenings require a walk into the pasture to lead the herd back to the barn for milking. Some evenings, bags swollen, all the girls come back to the barn anticipating the relief milking will provide.

It is undeniable that cows have personalities. Some will wait patiently to be milked, some will kick and thrash about. Some seem to enjoy the pressure of the farmer’s head against their belly as he sqauts and applies the milking machine. Some seem rather modest and indignant to have their nipples washed, tolerating daily milking only for the relief it provides.

If large enough, a herd of cows will develop social cliques. Even within a small herd, cows have best friends, and those individuals they will avoid. Just like people, they are naturally attracted to some, and develop aversions to others.

It’s probably impossible to say if cows enjoy sunshine more than a cool gentle rain, or if they find the shape and texture of some clouds more pleasing then others. Their sentiments may be restricted to keeping in proximity of those individuals to whom they are drawn, finding where in the pasture the combination of moisture and sun causes the grass to grow most sweetly, where a shelter, natural or man made, provides the greatest comfort from the elements.

Cast this way, it’s pretty evident that when you get down to basics, cows are not much different than people: they like their bellies comfortably filled, they enjoy the company of their family and neighbors, and shelter from the elements.

The Perseid meteor shower – August 12-13, 2015 before dawn

from: http://earthsky.org/

August 12-13, 2015 before dawn, the Perseids
The Perseid meteor shower is perhaps the most beloved meteor shower of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. Fortunately, the slender waning crescent moon rising at or near dawn will not obtrude on this year’s shower. The Perseid shower builds gradually to a peak, often produces 50 to 100 meteors per hour in a dark sky at the peak, and, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, this shower comes when the weather is warm. The Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. They radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero, but, as with all meteor shower radiant points, you don’t need to know Perseus to watch the shower; instead, the meteors appear in all parts of the sky. They are typically fast and bright meteors. They frequently leave persistent trains. Every year, you can look for the Perseids to peak around August 10-13. Predicted peak mornings in 2015: August 11, 12 and 13. The Perseids combine with the Delta Aquarid shower (above) to produce a dazzling display of shooting stars on what are, for us in the N. Hemisphere, warm summer nights. In 2015, as always, the Perseid meteors will be building to a peak from early August until the peak nights; afterwards, they drop off fairly rapidly. With little or no moon to ruin the show, this is a great year for watching the Perseid meteor shower.

Dinner for Two

dinner_for_two

These beings are enjoying a sweet late summer dinner, on a cozy flower for two.

Though requiring flowers and crops to be watered more often, the weather has been dry and seasonably warm; just about perfect for August.

Some of the foliage is reacting to the dry weather, and fading to a paler shade of green. Some foliage, however, is reflecting the time of season, and whether one views this as an indication of the end of Summer, or the start of Autumn, some leaves are already displaying a touch of yellow, a hint of orange.

Labor day is just about a month away – say “Yes” to any Summer activities that present – it will be a Winter away before they avail again!