Tuesday, February 14, 2017

VISIT TO BODEGA HEAD RAVENS

After many days of rain, mudslides, downed trees and general weather mayhem in the Napa Valley- the sun came out!  So we decided it was a good day to pack up the old trusty van with pillows, comfy pad and sleeping bags and venture to Bodega Bay for the day.  It was a beautiful day with no wind and a high tide.  Our first stop was The Tides Restaurant in Bodega Bay.  Since it was a Monday we got right in and snagged a seat at the window.  We had a great lunch and watched the crab boats going in and out of the harbor.  We also saw some fishing seals and diving ducks from our window on the sea.  It was a great location and a wonderful start to our day.  We then drove up to Bodega Head and situated our van so that the back of the van was facing the ocean.  With the back door of the van up we had a beautiful view of the ocean and could listen to the waves hitting the rocks below.  We could also lay in the back of the van and read our books in comfort. (an aside- I was reading the last of the Midnight Louie mysteries- number 28.  After 25 years the author is ending this series and I will miss Midnight Louie and his band of humans and cat friends.)
We decided to take the trail walk the goes around the promontory.  From this walk you can see the opening to Tomales Bay, the open ocean, the protected opening to Bodega Bay and Doran Beach.  It is quite the view.
As we approached a gnarled cypress tree- lo- what did I see but my Bodega Bay raven friends.  They were perched up in the tree watching our approach.  I just happened to have a bag of unsalted roasted peanuts in the shell in my pocket.  I tossed some out but they landed in the deep wet grass and the ravens had a hard time seeing them.  So I put some on the dirt path and here they came!  They followed us for awhile and I would put peanuts on the trail as we walked.  It was all good fun.  We also saw a great blue heron and a great white egret sitting in the raven tree.  All and all it was a great sight.  The heron and egret were not interested in the peanuts.
When we got back to the van I saw the ravens sitting on a small rise above the parking lot.  That crafty pair were watching me to see if I had anymore peanuts.  I had saved a few.  As soon as I approached the ravens they strutted down the small hill toward me.  They had fingered me, those crafty birds!  I had a hard time getting the peanuts to the ravens as we had attracted a crowd of noisy seagulls.  I then had to wait for the seagulls to lose interest before I could resume feeding the ravens.  I soon ran out of peanuts and all I had left was an oat breakfast bar package.  I broke the bars up into 4 pieces and threw them to the ravens.  One raven picked up three pieces and the other raven got one.  They were immediately chased by the seagulls but did not drop any of the food.  From now on I will give the ravens their snacks away from the parking lot where the seagulls hang out. 
So all and all it was a great beautiful day at Bodega Bay.  We finished the day by stopping by the shack that sells chowder (yum yum) and bought some for our dinner at home that night. It was all special and I am grateful that I live so close to the ocean and such a beautiful spot.  It was also special because I had my Valentine Chuck with me for the days adventure.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Stealth Ravens of Crystal Court

I am so happy to have a pair of ravens visit me every morning at 8:00 AM.  They come flying in very quietly to the spot where I put their food of the day.  I never hear them clacking and hooting as they come in for their daily snack.  This is a good thing. I live in a suburban neighborhood of mostly retired people.  I do not believe the neighbors would take kindly to noisy ravens at 8 AM.  How do the ravens know this????  They are ravens of the open vineyards and parklands across the street.  Perhaps they have had some interactions in the past that have taught them to be quiet when collecting food in housing areas.  Ravens are very smart and do adapt to local conditions.  They know just how to behave in my little court.
This morning the food on offering was raw bacon pieces, cooked chicken leg, raw chicken egg and peanuts in the shell.  A virtual raven FEAST!  I put the food out at 7 AM and went to the window at 8 AM and there they were.  The meat was all gone.  Remaining was the egg and some of the peanuts.  Two squirrels came running up and grabbed a peanut each and ran off.  Raven did not have time to pull their tail like the Mt. Veeder ravens used to do.  Give them time and opportunity and I am sure raven will get around to it.  With the peanuts gone, raven picked up the egg and flew off with it.  I never get tired of seeing this!  Oh goody, goody I have a raven pair in my life once again!  They are so interesting to watch and I hope by providing chicken eggs, the will leave the bird nests alone this spring.
The last time my granddaughter was over for the day and night, we started watching Raven Tales.  This is a series of videos made in Canada about the First Nation People.  Each program is about First Nation People's interactions with Raven, Eagle and Frog and events in their lives.  Each one has a moral to the story. An example is getting along with people that are different than you.  The stories are done in cartoon style of First Nation art and are very appropriate for children and adults.  I highly recommend them for anyone interested in stories and art of First Nation people.
It is foggy and cold this morning in Napa Valley.  We have had lots of rain and the reservoirs are filling up.  This is such good news after 6 years of drought.  The daffodils are coming up and all is right with the world this morning.  I am going to the Napa Valley Women's March this Saturday to put my two cents in for a right world.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Ravens are Really Here!

The Raven Pair are coming every day now at around 9 AM.  I have a chicken egg and peanuts in the shell out in the lavender bed for them.  They sit on the top of one of the redwood trees or in the giant cedar tree when they first arrive.  They have a really good view of the ground from there.  They can check for people, cats, dogs and other wildlife from these vantage points.  Once the coast is clear- down they come- making raven noise of course!  I usually do hear them inside the house.  I then go watch them from my bay window.  I get such a kick out of the bigger raven picking up the egg and flying off with it.
I am so thrilled to have ravens in my life once again.  They are such fascinating birds and fun to watch.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

FINALLY!!! RAVENS HAVE ARRIVED AT MY HOUSE!

After six years of trying I have finally succeeded in attracting a saucy raven pair!!!  I have heard raven sounds around the neighborhood for the last six months or so but have had no takers for my lonely eggs that I have put out periodically.    Finally about 2.5 weeks ago I heard alot of raven racket so I went and looked out the front bay window and what did my delighted eyes see but a fine pair of ravens!  They were walking around the driveway looking at the two chicken eggs I had put out in the lavender bed.  The BOLD raven hopped right over, picked up an egg and flew off with it.  The SHY raven approached the egg, jumped back, approached, jumped back and finally flew away.  When I looked out about 20 minutes later the second egg had disappeared.
I have been putting out two chicken eggs every evening when I remember or in the early morning.  The ravens come between 8:30 and 9:00 Am every morning.  They can tell time.. and so can my cat Jack.  Jack gets his treat every day at 4:30 PM and he knows what time it is- treat time and starts bugging me.
When I hear the ravens racket in the morning I go out and walk around a bit in the front yard so that the ravens can see me.  Since ravens remember faces I want them to remember me as the egg lady.  It is good for them to know what person really likes them.  I think this pair comes from the open space across the way from our court.  It is a large track of vineyard and open land and I have seen a raven pair over there when I take a walk.  It is a short flight for them to come over to my abode.
I am so happy! What a great holiday gift for me!  My spirit animal has arrived to greet my day!!
So now that they are coming every day I can feed them food items that I have been throwing away that I know they like- like chicken fat- yum yum raven food.  It is all good.  I am sure we will have some raven/people adventures in future days.

Monday, October 17, 2016

RAVENS AND THE NAPA THAT WAS

Saturday loomed overcast with a forecast of rain.  Rain would be very welcome but I had an Estate Sale to go to!!  It was advertised as having several barns full of stuff and an old farm house.  This was just up my alley!!  So off I went.  It was a trip back in time to the Napa of the past.  It was located off Vichy Avenue where there used to be a family swimming pool and picnic ground called Vichy Springs.  As I child I spent many happy days out there with my friends and family.  As I grew into a teenager- we went out there to see and be seen in our bathing suits of course.  Many happy memories for me.  The road took me this way and that and finally to a fancy gate that had been left open for the sale.  I passed through the gate, past a very nice house and then to a dirt road.  The road led past several very old barns and I parked near them.  I walked up to the farm house from there.
The first thing I heard as I approached the house was RAVEN talk.  Oh the ravens were flying this way and that, talking, cajoling and calling!  The house was located right next to a narrow vineyard which was itself right up against the eastern hills of the Napa Valley.  The distance to the hills was about 300 yards at the most.  The bottom edge of the hills was covered with oak trees. The upper hillsides were covered with chaparral.  It was the look of Napa of my childhood minus the vineyard.
It was very lovely to have a home that close to nature.
I spent quite sometime watching the ravens.  They were coming and going with what appeared to be nuts of some type.  They were stashing them somewhere up the hillside. I think it was walnuts as there appeared to be walnut trees on the property.
At the sale I did find a bunch of old wooden thread spools, an English trug and the best thing- an automatic card shuffler.  Several days before the sale Chuck and I had been teaching our granddaughter to play Crazy Eights.  She watched Chuck shuffle the cards and wanted to try.  She is four and just could not do it and got frustrated.  When I was young my grandmother had one of these shufflers and I liked to use it so I bought that sucker for my granddaughter to use!  So it was a good day for Estate Sale finds.  But it was a bad day for Napa.  When I paid for my items I was told the property had already been sold, it all would be demolished and bulldozed for another Napa McMansion.  I was so sad.  This is happening all over the Napa Valley.  People with lots of money are coming in and buying up property and building these giant houses which are second homes or maybe third, who knows.  Anyway- another one bits the dusts.
The ravens will be OK because the hillsides, oaks and now the vineyard will still be there.  There is a lot of open land above the property in the eastern hills.  But still.........

Monday, June 6, 2016

A FANTASTIC RAVEN CONCLAVE!

We recently decided to take a break from regular life and go up and visit the redwoods in Mendocino County.  On arriving at our destination, I found a RAVEN feather as soon as I exited the car!  Wow- I knew this would be a wonderful visit.
There are ravens wherever you go up along the Mendocino coast.  They are flying from the redwood trees down to the beach and back.  Quite a display BUT the most incredible display of ravens was found just outside of Point Arena at the Garcia Indian Casino.
We decided to take a ride to the casino for a lark and I wanted a coca cola.  It is located on a bluff above a beautiful valley.  It is a tiny casino and I decided to pay my respects by playing $5.00 in the penny slot machine.  After a considerable time I had a balance of $5.04 on my account. So I decided to cash in- I was up 4 cents and I got a free coke.  So we decided to depart.
On going outside we were met with the most incredible raven sight ever!  There must have been over 100 ravens flying around in the sky overhead.  They were flying this way and that in a clump, then would split off and come back together.  Many were flying in pairs.  The pairs were doing aerial displays, flying, twisting, flying upside down, spiraling down toward the ground.  The Blue Angels have nothing on these guys.  It was an incredible display of flying power!
Sometimes a great group would land in the meadow and all raven stomp around looking for something and then they would all take to the sky again.  We stayed in our spot in the parking lot for 45 minutes watching as the ravens had a great time.  I have never seen so many ravens in one spot in all my life.  I have seen many mated pairs along the coast and in the trees near our abode.  But this was a conclave of juveniles all having a good time and perhaps selecting mates.  Many were flying in pairs and doing the most incredible aerial displays.  Wow- it was the sight of a lifetime.
What was amazing to me was that people were coming and going in the parking lot and not one lifted their eyes to the sky to see this wonderful display of nature.  It was sad really.
On the home front- I hear raven most days.  He is flying high over our house and sometimes lands in the trees along Redwood Creek.  Redwood Creek is right next to the house next door.  For this reason we see a lot of birds that like water for a habitat.  I put two chicken eggs out every day and some peanuts in the shell hoping to attract raven.  The eggs and peanuts disappear every day.  I do not know what is getting them but there are no egg shells left behind.  If it were a crow there would be shells left behind since they cannot pick up the egg and fly off like raven can.  We have many creatures around so something is having a good lunch.  Unfortunately for me, the deer are eating my hydrangea plants and nibbling at the camellias, so creatures are happy with the food supply.  We also have a bee hive in the redwood tree.  The tree has a split at the top and the arborist says we need to put a brace with screws to hold the split together.  So we need to get the bees removed.  We had a swarm from that hive last May.  A beekeeper was very happy to come and get it because it was only 9 feet above the ground, over the sidewalk and under the street light.  How convenient was that?  He parked his pickup under the hive, got on a ladder and at dusk he clipped the branch holding the swarm and it fell right into a cardboard box!  I do not think we will be so lucky with this bee removal job.  It has to be done so that the tree guys can get up into the tree.  We will call the beekeeper again and see what he recommends.
So life goes in Napa Valley.  I get reports of Bold and Shy up there on Mt. Veeder- 9 miles up the road.  They are doing fine, poking in people's compost piles, getting treats from others.
I read an article in the Audubon magazine the other day about crow funerals.  It was noted that crows hold what appears to be a funeral.  They gather where a fellow crow has died.  This confirmed my impression of the raven I encountered  at Bodega Bay that was standing over the remains of its mate.  It had been standing there for most of three days as told to me by observers of wildlife there at Bodega Head.  Humans are not the only ones that miss their departed mates/friends. And so I end on that note, thinking of our friend Dick that we lost in the past year.  Enjoy life as you can as it appears to be fleeting- go watch some wildlife!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

VISITS TO THE RAVENS OF BODEGA BAY

Here in California we have been praying for a rain.  Most of our rain comes between December and April.  This year we have had some good rains BUT we have had some lovely days with temperatures in the seventies.  This wonderful weather necessitates trips to the beach.  Our closest beach to Napa is Bodega Bay.
In early January we decided to go to Bodega even if the weather was not beautiful. We were in need of a beach retreat and the negative ions.  We had just lost a lifelong wonderful friend to an auto accident and needed our souls refreshed.  So off we went. 
When we arrived at Bodega Head, the wind was blowing, the waves were crashing and the raven pair were sitting on the railing where we parked.  What a great welcoming committee!  It appeared they had been waiting for us and our treats.  I had a great time feeding them peanuts in the shell.  This is no mean feat as the seagulls are ever present and very aggressive.  So I had devise to ways to get the peanuts to the ravens without seagull interference.  This amounted to throwing crackers to the seagulls in one direction and peanuts to the ravens in another.  The ravens appeared healthy and happy despite the rain coming down.  Ravens can look mighty unhappy in the rain.  Bold and Shy on Mt. Veeder often appeared to be sulking when it was raining in the redwood forest.  Perhaps these sea shore ravens are more used to wind and rain and take it all in stride.
Three weeks later we again visited Bodega Head.  It was a beautiful day, warm, no wind, lovely.  BUT there were no ravens in sight.  I have never visited Bodega Head without seeing ravens.  Very often they are flying above the bluffs, doing acrobatics in the sky.  This was very worrisome.  There were however many whale sightings.  The whales pass Bodega on their journey from the birthing areas in Mexico to the cold northern seas.  We had our binoculars with us and could see the whales backs as they came up for air and then dove back into the ocean.  What a sight!  I was sorry to have missed seeing the ravens and hope they are enjoying themselves in another area of the Bodega coastline.
In February we experienced another wonderful 70 degree day. We were scheduled to take care of our 3.5 year old granddaughter that day in Sebastopol.  Sebastopol is only 30 minutes from Doran Beach at Bodega Bay, so off we went to Doran Beach with all the accoutrements of a beach day with a young child.  When we arrived we were greeted by the resident pair of ravens that live in the trees near the beach. I really want to get my granddaughter to be interested in ravens.  I need a raven maniac buddy.  So we threw peanuts to the birds and I talked up RAVENS to her.  Alas the pull of the water was too much and off we went.  She is a dare devil so she requires careful watching.  She thinks she is a surfer and has her own wetsuit, very cute.  It was a grand day but I did not have much time to admire the ravens as we were very taken up with digging and piling up sand. It was another lovely day at Bodega Bay.