Friday, October 16, 2015

Backyard Wildlife

Owls: short video clips of owl visit in my backyard

 Owl at a birdbath (at dusk)

In the previous blog, I talked about owl visit in my backyard. On that day, the temperature was climbing over 100 degrees in Fahrenheit. It was about middle of the day in summer, shortly after lunch. I was really surprised to see owl during the day. All along, I thought owls are nocturnal creature and they are active only at night.  However, I soon found out that these owls are called "burrowing owls" and they are diurnal and nocturnal. That means they can be active during the day and night. Even though they are diurnal, they are more active during night hours.

It was a hot day, and these owls must have become hot and thirsty. They came out to my backyard and hung out at the birdbath. They were drinking and splashing water. They just came to play in the water. For us human, it is tough to keep cool these hot and dry summer days in Texas. 

  Owl and opossum (at night)

I saw an owl came back at night. I took out my old Sony Handycam video recorder. Believe or not, it uses 8mm cassette tapes and so you know it's old, but still works.  It has an infrared light switch for night shooting. I set it up to take about 2 hours after sunset. Owls are usually coming around sunset hours or shortly after that.  


Last summer I saw a very friendly young squirrel. It used to come to my back patio. When I stepped out to the patio, he just looked up at me and did not run away.  So, I got a few pieces of peanuts and offered them. He gladly grabbed the peanuts, and started peeling and eating them until all pieces are gone. 

Since that day, the squirrel came back and begged for more peanuts. One day, I saw him all the way across my neighbor's yard. I was looking over the 6 foot fence. I called out to him, and came hopping across the yard, climbed over the fence. 

Fall season came and wild pecans started to drop to the ground. Pecans are squirrels' favorite food. This is the season when a plenty of food is available to wild animals. The friendly squirrel's visits were less frequent.  The squirrel did not stay young. He was growing up.  And by this time, he was like any other squirrels.

Skippy, the friendly wild squirrel


The fall season went, and winter came and gone. Winter is a hard time for wild animals to survive. Around that time, the squirrel's visits stopped. He may have gone away from the neighborhood in search of food.  Also, there are dangers of small animals and wild birds being killed by stray cats and dogs in the neighborhood.  But I keep looking out the backyard everyday, thinking he may come back one day. 

Opossums and Raccoons

One summer night, I set up the video camera on my patio. I have seen opossums and raccoons and armadillos in the past. They are nocturnal animals. Opossums and raccoons are scavengers. Armadillos are bug and ground worm hunters. I cut up an apples in small cubes and placed them in the corner of the patio and some on a small table. 

This is the video I capture that night.

I hoped to catch raccoons more than opossums. But as you see in the video, the opossum came earlier at night and ate up most of the apple pieces. For an unknown reason, the opossum left one piece of apple on the table. The poor raccoon was happy to have one small piece. As you also see, he was looking for more and come back and check the table.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Owls' Bath

Just the other day,
in the middle of the day in Texas summer heat,
I saw owls in the backyard,
hanging out at the birdbath drinking water and splashing water.
Whether the summer heat caused this abnormal behavior,
I do not know, but it was an unusual sight.

庭にあるバードバス(birdbath, 鳥用の水盤)に

I got my Canon 20D camera to take photos.
I do not have any telephoto lens for wildlife shooting.
I needed to get close to them as much as possible.
Owls are normally more bold than other bird species.
I was able to get out to the patio without disturbing them.



Owls are mostly nocturnal and come out in the evening hours
and stay active during the night.
But, I just learned that burrowing owls are diurnal and nocturnal.
That means, they can be active day or night.
But they do spend quite bit of time in their burrow during the day.


In this photo, there are two kinds of owls.
There are two burrowing owls, and one screech owl.
Burrowing owls are standing on the edge of the birdbath.
Screech owl is the one in the water.
It's darker in color and may be hard to see.


When doing a Google search for "burrowing owl",
this web site caught my eye.
It's a "burrowing owl Live Cam" site.
You may catch a glimpse of active burrowing owls.
Check it out.

The location of this live-cam is in Florida.
You would have better luck of spotting owls
in late afternoons or evening hours.
Remember the timezone; It's Eastern Standard/Daylight timezone.

アナホリフクロウの Live Cam があるのを見つけた。


keyword: backyard wildlife owl "screech owl" "burrowing owl"

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

お久し: Origami: Frogs, Owl Family and Elephants



These are my recent creation of origami frogs and an owl family.
Frogs are small; each is about the size of a quarter.
The owls are my first attempt to make.
I thought they came out good.
I asked a friend,
  "Can you tell what these are?"
  "One of those old computer game characters?", she said.
I wasn't expecting that, but what art is what the viewers see and what views feel.
I am happy that she had her own idea what they were.
I said, "hm, I see that's what you see.
You'll see more of them later".
I added cranes, ducks, moon and vegetations to frogs and owls
to create a nature scene.

The moon rises beyond tall vegetation over the hill.
Mountains are seen in far distance.
Ducks swim in the pond.

I was going to add horses or tigers in the foreground in the flat land.
I asked the friend, "What animal do you like?", "horse, or tiger?
Then I added, "or, elephant?"
"Elephant", she replied with no hesitation.
I don't know why I said, "elephant".
Elephant may not fit well in this nature scene.
But, I wanted to make what she likes.
So, one mother elephant and one baby elephant were added.

「 ゾウさんが好きだ」って返した。


"By the way, where are the frogs?"
The frogs, um...
..., they may have been eaten by owls, 'cause they are owl's favorite...

Later, in the absence of frogs, I added rabbits.

友達は 「これ、すごい!」と喜んだ。

人に喜んでもらえれば それが一番。


Spring semester is now over. Students are out for the summer. A couple of students are taking a trip to Japan. One has a family friend in Nagano. It sounds like she is in good hands. I expect she would have a ball while staying in Japan. The other student is going to Japan by himself. His Japanese level is low. He just finished the beginning class. His communication skill in Japanese is just about nil. But he is young and is looking forward to a new adventure. I am looking forward to hearing about their travel experiences when they return.




ブログを怠けていた理由は色々あるが、多分、第一の理由は Creativity 。第二はネタ。その他は、時間とか、興味とか、プライオリティーのことになるかも知れない。会社で現役で働いていた時、仕事上プライオリティーは必須である。だが、この年になって、私生活では何がプライオリティーなのか。俺の場合、それは、今何がしたくないのか、そして、面倒なこと。そんな物を常に後回しにする傾向がある。それらはプライオリティーのリストには上がらない。でも、ブログはプライオリティーリストにある。何か描きたいという気はいつもある。問題は、「ブログはいつでも書けるさ」なんて気持ちがあるからだろう。 ..、大学はもう夏休みに入った。7月に第二夏期講座が始まる前に普段後回しにしていることやらねば。

One of the readers in Japan mentioned to me once,

  "In the midst of rat race of family and work life, the opportunity to keep up with English language is hard to come by. But I have never lost my desire to brush up on reading skills, writing skills, and speaking skills. Therefore, your email and your English/Japanese blog are something I look forward to."

I thank readers like this person. She gives me the motivation and encouragement to write. But I have neglected blogging for too long this time. My creativity seems to have taken a hike. The truth is, I will have to admit I do not have strong creativity. Besides creativity is not required to do this. Other excuses are "time", "being busy" as people often say "I don't have the time for it", "I''m too busy".  These are no good reason and simply an excuse for procrastinating. Now that I have a couple of months break before starting to teach again, I determined to complete things I have neglected for some time.

Creativity なんて偉そうな言葉を使っているが、もともと俺には Creativity なんてものはない。それに、いいネタがないというのは言い訳にすぎない。ネタなんていうものはどこにでもある。ただ、どのようにあるネタを取り上げて、それに面白さとか、興味深さとか、思考を与えるものに変えていけばいい。それが出来なければ終わりだ。俺には兄貴が一人いる。彼は、この数年彼なりにエッセイを書いている。人に読んでもらう物もあれば、ただ、自分で書いて楽しんでいる物もあるようだ。彼の書き方にはある 型がある。彼は古典をよく読んでいるらしい。彼のエッセイの描き方の一つには古典を引用することである。例えば、人生の場面を描く時に当てはまる、ある詩人の詩や俳句を引用する。そして、その句を使って人生の場面を説明したり、正当 化させたりしていく。いい方法だと思う。読者に彼の知識の豊富さが伝わってくるし、引用した句、又は、文の応用力に反応できる。俺はいつも彼に同感するとは限らない。時には読者に何らかの知識を与えるきっかけにもなるのではないか。


Keyword: #origami #origamifrog #origamiowl #owlfamily #origamicrane
#origamielephant #origamiduck