The Wild Life

A few weeks ago, I was driving down the main artery of my housing subdivision and noticed a flock of spectators standing at the side of the road.  They were staring into one of the many large heritage oak trees that grace our community property. I have to say these oaks are pretty impressive, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a crowd gathering just to stare at one before.  The people must have come from far and wide to view this spectacle, whatever it was, because the crowd included pedestrians and bicyclists.  Many stood motionless, cell phones in hand, breathlessly ready to snap photos. 

As I approached the band of sightseers, I slowed my car and peered at the tree as I passed.  Then I saw what was captivating the crowd.  There were three fuzzy, feathery faces peeking from a messy nest in the fork of the tree.  These little puffballs with eyes were baby owls. Obviously, a worthy tourist attraction.  I made several trips back and forth over the next couple of days.  It was pretty easy to tell when the baby owls were making a personal appearance by the throngs of admirers gathered beneath the oak branches. The owlet view never got old. To be honest, I was gurgling and chortling with the best of them every time I drove by and saw…  WHO? The young ‘uns, of course! 

Once, I saw the mama and daddy owls.  I’m not sure if an owl can actually be self-satisfied, but the avian parents sure seemed to be gloating over their breeding prowess.  They stared out of the nest, languidly eyeing the fans below.  I guess they deserved to exhibit a smidgeon of smugness.  Those babies are quite an accomplishment!   

Some days, all I saw was the nest. Before I saw the baby owls, I probably would have been excited just to see the nest. Now a collection of twigs and leaves woven into a bird condominium fails to impress me.  I crave the whole baby owl experience.   

About a week ago, I drove by and noticed that someone had secured an area around the owl-occupied oak tree with yellow police tape.  Apparently, the hordes of admiring fans and cell phone paparazzi freaked out the baby owls.  In the interest of wildlife conservation, someone decided to give them a little space.  Not privacy exactly, because crowds still gather regularly to gape at the nestful of adorableness. Owl baby pictures are splashed all over the covers of Facebook.  Still, now the owl aficionados have to maintain a respectful distance from the owl nursery.  The cordoned off perimeter is sort of like an ecological restraining order.  The owls are able to get their forty winks (and don’t owls just seem like they wink a lot anyway?) without worrying about a crazed birdwatcher committing some manner of nest invasion crime against them.   

I like living in a community where yellow police tape means “please don’t disturb the owls” instead of “please don’t disturb the evidence!”

With the coming of the owlets, I guess spring is officially here!  What makes spring official for you?  Please share your perspective by adding a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Sorry about the early post this week.  I have to be out and about early tomorrow morning, so thought I’d post tonight.

Have a hoot of a day! 🙂

Terri/Dorry

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture.  A kind soul shared it on Facebook.

The Hoppiest Place on Earth

When I moved to Florida,

There was no one to caution

That I’d find plagues

Of Biblical proportion….

 

It wasn’t an eclipse of the sun.  Water didn’t turn to blood.  I don’t have boils.  It is frogs.

The other day, I opened the garage door.  Max came out to open the garage screening so I could go to my water aerobics class.  He took one look at what lurked outside on the driveway and, without moving the screens, he fled to retrieve a broom.

Frogs.  Hundreds and hundreds of them.

Yes, there were literally hundreds of baby frogs lethargically hopping around outside our garage door.  They were each about the size of a watch battery and the color of raisins.  I’ve never seen a raisin-colored watch battery move before, though.  These critters were definitely moving, although pretty laconically.  I guess baby frogs don’t really have a sense of urgency.

I dealt with the lizards.  I dealt with the snakes.  I guess I can deal with the frogs.  But what’s up with them, anyway?

I hopped (with considerably more energy than the baby frogs, I might add) onto the internet to google “invasion of baby frogs.”  As an aside, doesn’t “google” just sound like something relating to frogs?  At any rate, I learned that it is actually quite common to encounter zillions of baby frogs hanging out around your property in central Florida.  Apparently, mother frogs lay sufficient eggs to result in up to a thousand baby frogs at a time. Then, the moms just hop off to greener pastures.  Our driveway was the froggy equivalent of a doorstep on which to leave a baby…. excuse me…. vast quantities of babies.  There are no baby froglet Mommy and Me classes. Apparently, there is no nurturing or rearing of any kind.  According to the Internet, few of the thousand or so baby frogs survive beyond their first week.  Go figure.  I’m sorry to say that the baby frogs born in our driveway amphibian maternity ward probably have a shorter life expectancy than most.

I didn’t really have anything against them per se.  They didn’t annoy Max as much as the lizards did.  They didn’t creep me out the way the snakes did.  They were actually kind of cute little buggers.  It was just the sheer number of them that was kind of disturbing.  There were so dang many of them; it was almost like there was an entire layer of frogginess on top of our driveway. I’d say there were more frogs in my front yard than there are people in my entire community during the summer.  We were definitely outnumbered.  It was kind of alarming.  We sprayed some stuff across the entry to the driveway and swept away as many of them as we could.  I’m sure I probably ran a few of them over as I backed my car onto the street.

As we looked around the perimeter of the house, we saw that we were kind of surrounded.  Everywhere we looked, more baby frogs.  We kept spraying and sweeping so that the baby frogs stayed “around the house” as opposed to “inside the house.”  This operation continued every time we wanted to go in or out any door to our house for the next several days.  Knowing it was a self-limiting condition made it easier.  Sure enough, after about four days, we no longer had layers of visible frogs surrounding the house.

It has been a couple of weeks now since the frog plague.  We still see the odd toddler frog around the yard.  They aren’t bothering me, so I don’t bother them.  After all, if we have to have a plague of Egypt descend upon us in central Florida, frogs aren’t the worst of the bunch.

Of course, I still have a few niggling doubts.  How do we know that the frogs are the only plague in the offing?  What bothers me most is that both Max and I are first borns…

Of all the situations I’ve encountered since moving, I think the frog invasion is the oddest!  What about you?  What is the weirdest thing that you’ve experienced in moving to a new place?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  Have a great day and hop to it!

Terri 🙂