Sunday, April 27, 2008

More Cuteness! With Some Weird Stuff Thrown in For Good Measure.


I was finally feeling well enough that the cabin fever and boredom won out over my cold, so Robb and I saddled up the bikes, and headed down to Cesar Chavez Park, where he had seen Ground Squirrel babies. Few things in the world are cuter than Ground Squirrels, but their babies are so adorable that it could make a sane person's brain hurt. They are tiny, just a bit bigger than an eastern chipmunk, and smaller than a gerbil. Unlike their fearless parents, baby Ground Squirrels are shy and timid. But they are clearly very curious, if you are patient and very quiet, you can watch them, exploring their world.

"What does this rock sniff like, I wonder?"

"Are sticks tasty?"

Ground Squirrels aren't the only ones with new families. Canada Geese are very good parents. Robb and I have noticed that they often have an "auntie" who helps raise the goslings. In the case of this family, a gull was harassing the little ones, probably with the idea of getting a meal. Mom and dad made that gull sorry that it ever had that idea.

The weather was beautiful today, so many folks were out basking. This lizard seemed quite smiley, and I got so close that I was almost able to touch it. I always envy my Imaginary Friends on Flickr, who seem to know the trick for picking up reptiles. (Sure, they get bitten from time to time, but I'm not swift or crazy enough to get that close.)

My sister and I laugh about the impression that some people have of me, taking photos with some humongous lens. The truth is that I am way more of a dork than that. I look like a total idiot, sneaking up on Nature. I think that Robb pretends he doesn't know me. He uses the fact that he's much slower than me as an excuse.

"You take those pictures, Lisa, and I'll keep walking. Catch up to me when you're done."

Robb missed this little gopher snake. But he sees loads of these during the week, when he cycles for therapy. This little dude was about a foot and a half or two feet long. How cute!

Robb may have missed the snake, but he did get to witness me transforming into my super-hero alter-ego, Animal Rescue Girl.

We were cycling along, not a hundred feet from the 80/580 Freeway, when we came upon a group of people with net, trying to catch some domesticated rabbits that had been "dumped" in the park. Before I knew it, I was helping the Animal Control Officer net and cage a couple of surprised-looking bunnies. And then, much to Robb's chagrin, I spent the next forty-five minutes trying to find the rest of the rabbits.

I cannot fully express my contempt for people who buy animals as pets, tire of them, and then take them out into nature and (said with bitter irony) "set them free." These rabbits don't stand a chance in the wild. If the traffic doesn't kill them, the many species of raptors who frequent this park certainly will.

Robb needed to keep moving, so I do not know if the rabbits that were cowering under the blackberry bushes were ever caught. When I left, things were at an impasse. Nets were useless in the thickets, but nobody was willing to give up. I got the business card of the woman from Animal Control, and Robb will be watching this part of the park.

The rabbits who were caught were headed to the Berkeley Humane Society, who would be contacting the local House Rabbit Society. They stood a good chance of survival.

Robb and I also stopped by Lake Merritt, for a bit of letterboxing. This was a great excuse for Robb to do a bit of walking.

I, as usual, cozied up to all the Freaky Nature.

The Eared Grebes, which were one of the species of birds I cared for during the oil spill, are still sporting their breeding plumage.

But they cannot compare to the sheer sexiness of our urban White Pelican. Every year, he grows this astonishing protuberance on his already-freaky beak. This, apparently, drives the ladies wild.

Personally, my tastes run in other directions. I find myself strangely attracted to the slow moving, but fast-thinking type. Or at least to one in particular.


cath said...

Love love love your photos!! The (wild) bunnies have returned to our yard--they know a good thing. They are eating up our clover, waiting for my strawberries to get going. We never got any strawberries last year, because the bunnies got them all first.

gollygee said...

The ground squirrels are SO adorable! I can't believe how many different animals you saw over the course of just one day! :) And the poor bunnies, I really hope they all get rescued! :(

The male pelican isn't doing it for me either though... :D

Ginger said...

I loved this post. How I wish I could get out there some day and see all that wildlife.

Except the pelican... :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, living in Michigan, Canadian Geese are quite a problem to us for many reasons (I will spare you details). As they are EVERYWHERE here in the fall during migration, I don't think I've ever seen babies. Thanks for sharing such a neat pic of them... best of all from afar!

Marcie said...

The male pelican is definitely doing it for me, but then I'm very pro-pelican. :)

Gina said...

What a sexy protuberance!

Anonymous said...

What incredible pictures! Esp the snake and pelican. Is the white pelican around ehre? I thought ours were little browns.
well guess we'll have to get over to Lake Merritt soon for tha tnew letetrbox!
PS sorry but my baby mallards at McLaren Park in SF are far, far cuter than those.. those.. *rodents*!
(just kiddin'. sort of. Try baby bocats..)


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