By Mary Carton
I’ve been out of pocket lately. Some of my Facebook friends kept telling me I needed to check out the full moon one night before Christmas and get some pictures. I missed the bottom step, landed hard and then tripped over Patches. I didn’t fall, but landed hard. My knee that I had replace 14 yrs ago, and my hip kept complaining for several weeks. I finally broke down and went to see my orthopedic surgeon. The knee replacement is starting to fail and will have to be redone at some point. A steroid shot in the hip was more painful than the pain I was having. I was supposed to take it easy afterwards, but Patches and Blackie got into a knock-down drag-out fight over a stupid glove of all things. Patches has this thing for my leather work gloves and somehow she stole a well-worn one off of the shelf in the garage. I’m glad my newer gloves were a shelf higher. She chewed a thumb off of it and dropped it in the driveway just outside the garage. When I came out of the door to go feed them, Blackie spied the glove, grabbed it and was shaking it when Patches nailed her. I finally was able to separate them after they tired. Both are around 9 now and don’t have the energy they used to. Blackie was bitten in a joint on one of her front legs and was running around on three legs for several days. Mom kept worrying that the leg was broken as Blackie was holding it up around her. Around me she was putting weight on it and trying to climb a tree, so I knew it wasn’t broken. Since it was time for her shots, I went ahead to took her to the veterinarian in order to have some peace.
The winter weather here has been crazy. After the crazy summer we had, I was expecting a few sleet/snow storms. We’ve had temperatures that my area of Northwest Alabama hasn’t seen since the 1960s. The wheat crop is looking off colored and stunted. Even though we’ve had colder weather than usual, daffodils could be seen through the snow in bloom.
Most of the ice storms have been going south of us, hitting Birmingham and Mobile. We had freezing rain, sleet and snow on Feb 11 and again on Thursday, February 13. By Sunday, temperatures were in the 60s to 70s. Freezing rain and snow are predicted Wednesday night after temps in the upper 50s and 60s.
One of the early morning weather guys at a station in Huntsville kept saying he was from Minnesota and knew how to drive in snow. Before the first round, he didn’t stay overnight at the station situated on top of a mountain. The next morning he was doing his weather report while walking almost five miles up the mountain to work. A couple from New Hampshire left a hotel and soon returned saying that the consistency wasn’t anything like they were used to driving in. I was able to get some nice pictures while driving to work both days. Thursday I didn’t have to be at work until 8:30. I left at 6:30 and spent almost two hours on the road. It’s a wonder my window motor isn’t burned out from all that up and down during the two trips.
With the cold weather and my joints complaining about it, I haven’t done much as far as gardening. I’ve started my tomato seeds in a recycled clear rectangular salad pan with a lid. I’ve collected several of these at work to experiment with. I have been riding around a lot to several of the birding sites trying out a new used 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens I bought right after Christmas. I have a 2X convertor attached to it for birding. I used it without the convertor at the Jake Landers Blue Grass volunteering as a photographer for the Tuscumbia Museum of Art a couple of weekends ago.
This past weekend, the temperatures were in the 70s and with lots of sun. Someone told me they saw 10 bald eagles at Waterloo. So I get up early on a Saturday and head down Natchez Trace. At Waterloo at Alabama site number 11, I saw tundra swans and a large group of white pelicans, wild turkeys, but no eagles. On the way out along a tree lined narrow two-lane road, an eagle flew over my truck, and was only visible a few seconds.
Back down the Trace to Cherokee, I stopped at Colbert’s Stand and ferry at Alabama birding site 12 and Buzzard’s Roost. After that I swung by Barton Hall and took a picture with my telephoto lens from the road. I decided to follow the road on around and found another plantation home surrounded by a fence, the front yard being used as a pasture and storage of equipment. I found out later it was the Rutland Plantation. During the War Between the States, a battle was fought in that same front yard and the home was used as a hospital for casualties on both sides.
I put more than 200 miles on my new RAM going between home, Waterloo and Wheeler Wildlife refuge in Decatur. After I didn’t get an eagle picture at Waterloo, I decided to go to the refuge to see if I could get pictures of the whooping cranes and some of the 10,000-plus sandhill cranes. When I got to the observation building overlooking an area they like to feed, not a single crane anywhere, just ducks. Suddenly the ducks started scattering and the crowd spied a mature bald eagle killing one of the ducks in the water. It then found out that the duck was heavier than it could carry. After much struggling it finally dragged it out of the water while crows tried to share in on the bounty. The eagle finally decided that it wasn’t going to be able to fly off with the duck and started eating on it while the crows where still trying to grab a bite. After about 10 minutes, the eagle decided it had gotten it down to a manageable weight and lifted off with its kill. On the way home I stopped in at General Joe Wheeler’s home Pond Spring and took photos of it. It was 3 p.m. by this time and I had promised Mom I would take her to the Saturday evening mass at 5, so I had to bypass another birding site along the Tennessee River I hadn’t been to yet west of Decatur. So you know what that means?
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