Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Celebrating Siber Monday

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  Did everyone have a good Siber Monday yesterday?  We sure did!  We went on our morning walk, just like always - and wished everyone we saw a most festive day!

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"Have a joyous Siber Monday, everyone!"
"Happy returns on the day to one and all!"

You might not think Siber Monday is that widely celebrated, but it truly is!  Check out this Red-Tailed Hawk we saw -- he was certainly embracing his inner Siberian:

IMG_3199RedTailedHawk
"Happy Siber Monday!"

And so was this tiny American Goldfinch:

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"Siberian joy to all!"

Not only was his back turned, but what great camouflage!  We could barely see him in there!

We even saw a Canada Goose at the Kansas Ocean who was in full celebration mode:

IMG_3145CanadaGoose
"Embrace your inner Siberian Husky, everyone!"

As Mom likes to say, they were all being so Siberian!!!  How WONDERFUL!!!

When we got home, Mom asked me if I'd like to play with one of my favorite, under supervision only toys.

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"You don't mean ..."
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"YAY!  It's Sneaky Snake!"
"Didn't his tail used to be WAY longer, Maggie?"

Well, yes.  He used to be about three times that size, but what was her point?  I don't know, either!  What I DO know is that I still love playing with Sneaky Snake!

IMG_6707MagsSneakySnake
"C'mere, you little Sneaky Snake, you!"

What a great day!  I hope all of you enjoyed celebrating as much as all of us did!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Monday, November 28, 2016

Siber Monday!

Greetings to all and hello, everyone!  It's us - Mags and Cammie!  We'd like to wish ALL of you a most joyous Siber Monday!!!

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"Siberian pose, Cam!"
"Happy Siber Monday!!!"

Embrace your inner Siberian, everyone!

Mags and Cam

Sunday, November 27, 2016

That's A Fine How-Do-You-Do

Hello, everyone. It's me, Cam. Our internet has been out all day, so we aren't able to put up our planned post for today. I'll just be here playing with my lime green Zogoflex Tux toy.

Cam and Mags
"Hello!"
"Oooh, this one?  I could make mincemeat outta this baby in no time!"

Oh. There seems to be a change of plans.

Cammie!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Serene Scenery Saturday

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  I know ... we usually do our serene post on Sundays, but we wanted to  get this over with  share our photos from last weekend with you.  We had quite the remarkable trip down to - you guessed it - Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Here's a shot of Cam and me on the way down:

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"Snuggle on in here, Maggie."
"Zzz..."

It takes about two and a half hours to get down there, in case you were wondering. Plenty of time to catch a few Zs and still help navigate.

Our first stop at Quivira was just south of the Big Salt Marsh. It was very exciting, as the Sandhill Cranes were swirling all over the place! It's like they were staging themselves, gathering together before they head south!

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Sandhill Cranes!!!

At times, they filled the skies!

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More Sandhill Cranes!!!

They also have a beautiful song! Mom isn't very good at taking videos, but she did shoot a few clips with Dad's Canon SX60 - take a look and listen!


Click here to watch on YouTube or click here to watch on FlickR.

Isn't their song wonderful?!!? We loved listening to them!

We also saw a few geese out at Quivira:

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A "few" geese

That is mostly Snow Geese. We also saw Greater White-Fronted Geese and Canada Geese. Here is a Snow Goose sneaking into a Canada Geese formation:

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One of these is not like the others!

I'll bet they spotted him, but he did a good job infiltrating!  (He's the mostly white one, near the rear of the formation.)

Other highlights were Mom being able to get some shots of this Eastern Meadowlark:

IMG_8064EasternMeadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark on barbed wire

We have both Western and Eastern Meadowlarks here, and usually see the Western (our state bird). The best way to tell them apart is by their song, but Mom didn't hear this guy sing. She went with "Eastern" as the ID because they prefer the wetter grasslands, and since we were in a marsh ... it just seemed right.

We saw a lot of hawks, like this one:

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Red-Tailed Hawk

And we saw tons of ducks! This photo is a real "who's who" of the duck world:

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American Wigeons, American Coots (not ducks!), Redhead Ducks, and Mallards

Duck-wise, we also saw Green-Winged Teals, Lesser Scaups, Buffleheads, Gadwalls, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Pintails, and Northern Shovelers (Mom's fave!).  Oh.  And Pied-Billed Grebes -- but like Coots, they aren't ducks, though they like to hang out with them.  Anyway ...

Here are a couple buddies hanging out together on the beach:

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Greater Yellowlegs and Least Sandpiper

We also saw a lot of deer! This was the biggest one!

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White-Tailed Deer

Isn't he beautiful!?!? Mom cautioned him about watching for traffic and hunters. (Still no hunting allowed at Quivira right now, in case there are any Whooping Cranes lingering around!)

We took a rest stop in Ellinwood on the way out and the way back. While Mom and Dad had their sandwiches ...

IMG_6638MagsCamHR-V
"Sandddddd... wich....."
"Maggie has passed out from hunger, Mom.  She really needs a bite of sandwich.  I'll take one, too."

Works. Every. Time.  (Mom wanted me to point out that she does bring water and snacks for us ... but that doesn't count.  Right?)

I helped navigate on the way home:

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"OK, now stay straight on this road for 87 million miles ..."

But I have to admit, that first stretch of I70 does this to me:

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"She'll be OK, she's just super serene."
"Zzz..."

We hope you enjoyed our most recent trip to Quivira! If you'd like to see more, please click here to view our album!

Yours sincerely and serenely,
Margaret Thatcher

Friday, November 25, 2016

Aftermath

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie.  Yesterday was a mighty busy day here at Ao4 Headquarters, so today ...

IMG_6750Mags
"Zzz..."

Yeah. That's all I've got right now. (Of course, this was after our nice, long morning walk and a round of zoomies!)

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

"O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms."
Psalms 95: 1-2
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"Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!"
"We are thankful for our many blessings, large and small."

Please remember to say a prayer of thanks for the members of our military - many of whom are not able to be home, celebrating with their families. May God bless and watch over them! And may God bless each and every one of you!!!

IMG_6679CamMags
"I smell turkey!"
"Mmm... turkey!"

From everyone here at Ao4 Headquarters - from our hearts to all of you - we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Cam and Mags

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Re-Make The Bed?!?

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie.  The other morning, Cam and I were just hanging out in the bedroom like the very good girls that we are ...

IMG_6585MagsCamBed
"Who, us?  We weren't doing anything."
"What do you mean, you'd like us to get down?"

So, yeah.  Mom actually accused us of horsing around, and said that "someone" needed to re-make the bed because "someone" had messed it all up.  Hmm.  In an effort to find out just who this "someone" might be, I proposed the only logical solution:

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"OK, hold it everybody.  One potato, two potato, three potato, four..."
"Hey, wait!  Mom's only got one paw in!  I mean 'hand'.  Whatever."
IMG_6592OnePotatoTwoPotato
"Mom!  No cheating!  Keep that hand here and put the other one in, too!"
"Tell her, Mags!  OK, you were up to the '5 potato, 6 potato' part."

For the record, since Mom tried to cheat and only put one hand in, Cam and I declared her the loser and she got stuck re-making the bed.  It's only fair!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Monday, November 21, 2016

We Got Goosed!

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  Yesterday, we all got belted into our HR-V and headed back to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  It was another awesome day, full of surprises, gorgeous scenery, and birdies galore!  We'll fill you in on everything we saw once Mom processes through her photos.  In the meantime, we saw great birdies right here at home this morning!

When we took Mom and Dad on our walk, we saw something we haven't seen in quite a while -- birdies at the Kansas Ocean!  There we were, strolling along the boardwalk, when ...

IMG_6661MagsGeese
"Look, everyone!  Birdies!  Gooses, to be more precise!"

It was very exciting!  Due to all the construction along the waterfront, we haven't seen many waterfowl enjoying the KSO!  It was great seeing them!

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"Mostly Canada Geese ... but I think those two smaller ones might be Cackling."
"What are they cackling about?"
IMG_6665MagsCamGeeseKSO
"You'll pay for this later, Cam."
"I know ... it was worth it, though."

Pun Husky's got nothing on Cam.  I'll get her for it this afternoon, though -- trust me.

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

PS: A Cackling Goose is sort of the Canada Goose's "mini me" - smaller, shorter neck, and a smaller bill.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Serene Scenery Sunday

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  As we told you earlier in the week, last weekend we went back to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge - and also hit Cheyenne Bottoms a bit, too.  We thought we'd share a bit of how that trip went with you today - ready to hit the road?

IMG_6434CamMagsHR-V
"Settle on in, Mags."
"Might as well, Cam!"

Yep. Might as well get comfy!  I know the drill by now!

Anyway, as I said, we hit Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area first this time. Not much exciting stuff there, but Mom did climb the observation tower and got a good look around. While up there, she shot some video; she pieced that together with other footage from her iPhone and put it together -- we'll include that later in this post. OK, so then Dad thought we'd take some of these cool back roads over to Quivira -- it's 40 miles away. Thankfully, Dad had done a good map study before we left, so there was no need to panic when the GPS did this the WHOLE TIME:

IMG_6426UnhappyGPS
Yeah.  'Recalculating.'  As in 'Take a U-turn as soon as possible.'  Ha roo roo roo!

Thank goodness it wasn't one of Mom's hair-brained schemes, or we could still be out there!

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The roads were a bit ... dusty.

As I said, Dad did a superb job beforehand, studying the maps, and we got there just like he planned. It was very scenic and got us to Quivira in good time.

Here are some of the bird highlights!

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American White Pelicans, up close and personal.

Those guys got SUPER close to Mom!

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Immature Black-Crowned Night Heron

I'm not sure why Mom calls him "immature".  Maybe he tells goofy jokes or somethi---oh.  Yeah.  Never mind.

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Greater Yellowlegs

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The equally great Great Blue Heron

These next two Great Blues put on quite a show; you've heard of Swan Lake?  How about Heron Marsh?

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"Twirl!  C'mon!  Just like we practiced!" 

Something like that, anyway.

There were more than a few geese there:

IMG_7435GreaterWhiteFrontedGeeseSnowGeeseSandhillCranesCows
Greater White Fronted Geese, Snow Geese, and Sandhill Cranes.
Oh.  And Cows.

We also saw our first Bald Eagles of the season!!

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Juvenile Bald Eagle!

Compared to all the tiny shorebirds Mom has been photographing, they seemed huge!  Sadly, they were about 1/2 a mile away, but she gave it her best to get them.

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An adult Bald Eagle, pausing to give thanks before his meal

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And chowing down!

Here's another, more cooperative raptor:

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Northern Harrier

It came way closer than the Eagles!

We also drove over to a lookout point we hadn't previously gone to - it allowed us to look out over the Big Salt Marsh from the south.  As Mom scanned with her telephoto lens, she saw two large white birds.  At first she thought they were Pelicans, but they were upright ... and huge.  Then it hit her:

IMG_7685WhoopingCranes
WHOOPING CRANES!

The sort of rusty blob on the left is an immature one; the one on the right is an adult.  Isn't that cool?!?!  Their time here in Kansas is drawing very short, so that may be the last time we see them this Fall - the cold front that came through may have sent them on their way.  We're not sure, but guess what?  We're going back today to check!

As I said, Mom shot some short video clips and put them together.  She didn't think it was windy until she downloaded everything, so we apologize for the noise.  It's Kansas, what can we say?  Anyway, this will give you an idea of what Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira are like!


If that doesn't play, please click here to view on YouTube.

We hope you enjoyed looking around.  We'll take our traditional rest stop ...

IMG_6454CamMagsSandwich
"Oooh, it's that super-grainy whole wheat bread!""And peanut butter!  Look into my eyes ..."

Mom shared.  Of course.  Who could say no?  Oh.  And yeah, yeah, yeah, she brings snacks specifically for us, too, but ... it's PEANUT BUTTER!  You know?

Let's get buckled back into the HR-V and head home!

IMG_6473MagsHR-V
"Keep it serene, everyone!"

Have a great Sunday!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

PS:  For more photos from that trip, please click here for our FlickR album.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Security Detail

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie.  When Maggie and I are out walking Mom in the morning, Mom says there is one way she can tell there's something amiss behind us.

IMG_6531CamSensesTroubleMags
"Halt!  Who goes there?!?"
"Ooooh, leaves!  Cam, there are leaves blowing up there!"
"What is it, Cam?!?"

That's right. I'm Mom's Security Detail.  I always alert to people I spot out on the trail - no one can mess with my mom while I'm on the job!  Besides ... what if it's someone who wants to rub my ears and tell me how pretty I am?!?

Cammie!