Thursday, November 30, 2017

Landscapes And Raptors And Big Birds - Oh My!

Hello, everyone! It's me, Cam. Maggie and I are going to take the next two days to fill you in on our 18th of November trip down to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. We have been again since then, but Mom is just now starting to process those photos! Anyway, let's load up and go!

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"It's very windy today, Mags!"
"This could mean exciting things!"

You never know what the winds will bring in Kansas.  Cold weather?  Hot weather?  Pollen?  Cool birdies?  Or ...

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TUMBLEWEED!!!

We had to stop to let it cross the road.

Anyway, we had maybe 40-45 mile an hour wind gusts, which made driving a bit of a challenge for Dad and steadying the  bazooka  Canon with the 600mm lens a bit tricky for Mom.  It sure brought in awesome skies, though!

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Road through Quivira NWR

The sun and shadows made for interesting lighting.  Wouldn't you like to sit down on the bench in this next for a while?

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A bench just perfect for enjoying a beautiful day!

The clouds in this next shot seemed to go on forever:

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Our big sky!

Mom likes that she got a windmill way out there, plus the corral and barbed wire.  Very Kansas-y!

On to the raptors!  This one was a "lifer" for Mom -- she may have seen them before without knowing, but got a positive ID on him this time!

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Rough-Legged Hawk!

Our most abundant hawk:

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Red-Tailed Hawk 

And we saw the bird nicknamed "The Grey Ghost" :

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Northern Harrier

I think he was checking Mom out!

This birdie kept teasing Mom -- posing on fence posts for a split second, then flying off, then landing, then flying off ... what a great bird!

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American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America.  Quite possibly the most amusing one, if you ask me and Maggie!

How about another Kansas landscape?

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Ah!  Kansas!

One of the larger birdies we saw was this one:

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Great Blue Heron

That one was highly cooperative, posing like a super model!  We'll eventually post more pix of him on our FlickR site; we'll keep you posted!

The largest birds we saw were among Mom and Dad's favorites:

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Sandhill Cranes!  And assorted ducks.

We all delight in being able to watch them, to see them fly, and listen to their magical song!

We'll take a break for now, but there's more to come!  Meet you back here tomorrow?

IMG_6258MagsCamKSWetlandsEdCtr
"So they have a couple of Prairie Dogs in there, but we aren't allowed to go in?"
"It just doesn't seem right, does it?"

Have a great day, everyone!

Cammie!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thank You!

Hello, everyone! It's me, Cammie. As we mentioned the other day, we had some houseguests here for a few days! It was wonderful - Maggie and I worked very hard helping them feel at home. We shared our fur with them, sat on the floor with them, and I made sure to let them know what I thought about everything - especially if they left the room then came back in. I'm not usually the vocal one, but I was feeling good and thought I'd do a lot of the talking. You know - making pleasant conversation and all.

Anyway, it was our "Aunt" Donna and her sister Nancy! Aunt Donna brought us homemade treats (!) that are very yummy, her sister brought Mom some homemade jelly that is apparently also very yummy (Mom won't share for whatever reason), and Aunt Donna made us all these beautiful embroidered mini-quilts:

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Me and Maggie!
The quilts read, "Fall in love, Leaves are falling, Autumn is calling."

She made us some patriotic ones that we showed you a while ago and a set of Christmas ones that spell out "JOY" -- we'll have to show you those once Mom gets decking the halls around here!  Anyway, isn't it beautiful!?!  She does such incredible work - such attention to detail!

We love it, Aunt Donna -- but most of all, we loved having you and Nancy here!!!  Thank you from all four of us!!!

Cammie!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Siber Monday

Greetings to all and hello, everyone! Mags and Cammie here to wish all of you almost joyous Siber Monday!

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"Girls? Girls?  Mags?  ... Cam?  Look this w--- aww, c'mon, please?!?"
"Oooh, something smells good over there!"
"Not feeling it, Mom."

Make today a great one -- and remember to embrace your inner Siberian Husky!!!

Mags and Cam!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Serene Scenery Sunday

Hello, everyone! It's me, Cam. For Serene Scenery Sunday this week, we thought we'd take you along on our morning walk! Are you ready to go?

We walked up some hills first, then headed down this one:

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"Another awesome day in the great state of Kansas, Cam!"
"Isn't it beautiful!?"
"Yay, down hill!"

We turned to go by the Kansas Ocean:

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"Not much going on today!"
"We have the boardwalk all to ourselves."

As you might be able to see, they put in a small water park of some sort behind one of the casinos on the left.  I think it might be closed for the season now -- the water park, not the casino.  Or it could be a hotel - people seem to live there.  Whatever.

Anyway, after we looped around a bit, I made it quite clear that I wanted to go up into this parking lot:

IMG_6472MagsCamWalk
"Hey, cool, Cam!"
"We haven't been up here in a while.  I thought we should check it out."

We looked around for a while, Maggie found lots of stuff to try to snarf, then I thought we should check out this place:

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"Hmm."
"Hey, what's over there?"

And that's when it happened.  Siberian serenity.

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"Hey!"
"BOOM!"
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"BOOM!"
"UMPH!"
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"MRRF!"
"BOOM!!!"

Oh, it was so peaceful!  Then we found some limestone chunks and posed on them:

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"I like doing the BOOM better!"
"Me, too."

After that, it was time to head out:

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"I'm so glad we came up here!"
"Me, too!  That was awesome!  And quite serene!"

We looped behind the fire house ...

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"I smell bacon!"
"I wonder if the firemen would share their breakfast?!?"

A nice, long walk, Crazed River Otter Games, and the smell of bacon.  It doesn't get much more serene than that!  

We hope you enjoyed our walk!

Cammie!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

To The Ocean!

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  This morning, Maggie and I took Mom and Dad on a nice, long walk!  Here we are, heading out:

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"You get to pick the route, Cam!  Where are we going?"
"It's a sunny day - we should head to the ocean!"

It was the perfect day to walk there - we saw a couple of awesome Red-Tailed Hawks hunting in the open prairie (most likely because Mom wasn't packing her camera!) and the Kansas Ocean was like a mirror!  Mom asked us to pose on the boardwalk, so she could get the KSO and the trees in the background.

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"I'm not really feeling it, Cam. Are you feeling it?"
"No ... not really."

I mean ... she didn't have treats, so ... you know. Here's a shot of the ocean, though:

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The Kansas Ocean

It really did look lovely!

I hope you're all having a great day, too!

Cammie!

PS:  For the back-story on how the Kansas Ocean got its name, please click here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Great Walk

Greetings to all! It's me, Maggie. We hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving -- we sure did! We had out-of-town friends here for a few days (Cam and I worked overtime helping them feel at home!), then capped it off with a trip down to Quivira NWR yesterday! More on that later. This morning, we're getting back to "normal" - you know, the regular routine.

It started with breakfast, then a great family walk.

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"I miss our friends, but this is great, huh, Cam?"
"I do, too - but yes!  I like 'normal'."

Once we crossed the big street, things REALLY got back to "normal" ...

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"Hey, Cam.  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Bring it, Mags!"

I'm not saying who started it or anything, (cough, Cam-a-roo, cough) but we had a great outburst of Crazed River Otter Games!

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"Ha roo, Cam!"
"Ha wooooo, Maggie!!!"

What a great start to the day!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

We have a lot to be thankful for again this year at Ao4 Headquarters.  Topping the list is that Cam's cancer is in remission; we thank God for this - and the good, good people at the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University.

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Cam after her appointment this week
"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
IMG_6164MagsCamPlay
"I love you, Cam!"
"I love you, too, Maggie!"
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"BOOM!"
"BOOM!"

From all of us at Ao4 Headquarters - we wish all of you a wonderful, blessing-filled Thanksgiving!

Cam, Mags, and our bipeds

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

More About The Straw People

Greetings to all! It's me, Maggie. I've told you about the straw people Cam and I see on our walks - and how that little one is all off by himself. I thought I should take it up with the bigger straw people when I saw them - maybe see if I could bring some family unity to the situation. You know, what with the holidays upon us and all.

IMG_5946MagsScarecrows
"Hey!  Hey, straw people!"

I told them about their little relative all by himself out on the Hudson Trail, just sitting there all alone and everything.  And do you know what they said?

Nothing.

I know - right?  I let them have it!

IMG_5948MaggieWoo
"WOOOOOOOO!"

They had it coming.

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"I could just de-stuff those big straw people, Cam!"
"Always looking out for the little guy, aren't you, Maggie!"

I gave my little friend the news when I saw him.

IMG_5949MagsLittleScarecrow
"So... I saw your people.  And yeah.  They didn't respond..."

Come to think of it, the little straw person didn't have much to say, either.  I told him he could have Thanksgiving at our house, though.  I hate to think of him being all alone.

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Monday, November 20, 2017

Back-Tracking!

Hello, everyone. It's me, Cammie! A couple weeks ago, we started telling you about a recent trip to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding - then we got sidetracked! We thought we'd back up and fill you in on the rest of the trip! (Especially since we went again on Saturday ...)

Anyway, on the way down, we stopped at a rest stop along the interstate to stretch our legs.

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"Ooh, Maggie - check it out!  All about our adopted home state of Kansas!"
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"OK, I'm done."
"Wait!  I'm still reading."

As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, it was quite foggy that day.  Like ...

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Road to Quivira NWR

... that foggy!  There were lots of deer out!  This White-Tailed Deer stopped and posed for Mom!

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Mom to deer:  "... beware of cars!  And be careful - there are a lot of hunters out!  And ... oh, you're so beautiful!"

She loves deer.

Anyway - this is one of the first birdies we saw, and it was a "lifer" for Mom!

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Black-Bellied Plover

Apparently, when they have their Winter outfits on, they don't have black bellies.  How confusing!

We saw both kinds of Meadowlarks!

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Eastern Meadowlarks
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And the Western Meadowlark (our state bird!)

Mom had some people in one of her birdie groups help with the ID on them; they can be very hard to tell apart.  She said that day, the easiest way to tell them apart was that the Westerns were much more cooperative!

There were lots of ducks there, like this tiny girl:

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Ruddy Duck

In the much larger birdie category ...

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A Bald Eagle, communing with some Mallards.  Cows in the background.

We also saw lots of Sandhill Cranes and some Whooping Cranes!  (Link to those at the end of the post; we were really far away.)

Back to small birdies, we saw this little Pied-Billed Grebe:

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"Hi."

He was friendly enough!

There are some other shorebirds still out there, such as:

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Greater Yellowlegs
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American Avocets

It turned into such a beautiful day!  It was fun exploring different parts of the refuge.  We even went down some rather ... interesting roads.

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There WAS a road sign, but ...
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"Are you sure this was Dad's idea and not yours, Mom?  Seems like one of yours."
"Dad?  I think you need to let me drive."

What a great trip!  Thanks for coming along with us!  If you'd like to see more from that trip, please click here to visit our FlickR album (it's a 2-pager)!

Cammie!