Saturday, September 6, 2014


The BIGGEST and BOLDEST ravens I ever saw were in Alaska.  We went on a Princess Cruise out of San Francisco bound for Alaska.  It was so beautiful up there, the last frontier for the United States.  So much undeveloped land, so many ravens.  In Sitka I saw a REALLY big raven calling to me, well I KNOW he was calling to ME.  We took a walk in the beautiful temperate rain forest and there were many ravens flitting about and making those wonderful raven sounds.  I got some cool raven souvenirs too.
When some friends said recently that they were going on a cruise to Alaska, I said" I want to go BACK" and so we did.  This time we flew to Seattle and got on the Princess ship headed to Alaska.  We visited towns all along the inland passage and every day was sunny and warm.  We were told that they had had only two days of sunny weather all summer.  We really lucked out.  The train ride in Skagway that follows the trail to the Yukon gold strike of 1898 was absolutely breathtaking!   Everywhere we went was scenic and lovely,  BUT- no ravens were seen at most of the places that we visited.  I was so disappointed.  The exceptions were at Ketchikan and Juneau.
 At Ketchikan the salmon were running in their yearly return to the place of their birth.  There are five different varieties of salmon and the sockeye is my favorite.  Their color is so red and beautiful.  The creeks were full of returning salmon.  Most were busy swimming up stream.  Further up stream we found many dying salmon.  The ravens were competing with the bald eagles for a share of the dying salmon.  The raven gives way to the eagle and I can understand why- they are really big birds!  But raven was getting his share and flying off with hunks of salmon.
Our visit to Juneau included a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier.  This was a sight to see.  The melting ice of the glacier has formed a beautiful lake below the glacier.  One could see the fantastic blue color of the glacial ice from the viewing spots at the visitor center.  We walked around and came to a creek feeding into the lake.  There were many salmon swimming in the creek and the melodious sound of raven song in the trees.  That was very nice.  I enjoyed it all.
Our ship returned to Seattle on August 24th, a Sunday.  We were taken to the airport from the ship to await our flight home.  We got settled at the airport gate for our long wait.  Our ship came in at 7:30 AM and our flight to Sacramento wasn't until 2:20 PM.  I noticed on the TV screen near our seats that CNN was announcing that an earthquake had occurred in California.  I told Chuck I was going to go over to the TV and see where the earthquake was located.  I nearly fainted when I saw it was in Napa!!!!  I was really upset.  We had many hours to wait until we could get on the plane and make our way home.  I could only imagine what the damage to our home would be.  Our home on Mt. Veeder had survived the earthquake of 2000 with no damage, but the homes in the neighborhood where we now live had suffered serious damage in 2000.  Now in 2014, another earthquake!!!
We managed to get our daughter, Lexy, on the cell phone and she said she was going up to the house to check on the cat (big Jack) and the house.  She called later and said that there was a lot of broken glass and a big mess in the kitchen from the refrigerator opening and dumping the contents on the floor.  Furniture was moved around, fallen stuff everywhere and no cat could be found.  So with that news we waited for our plane.
We got home to Napa at 6:30 PM.  Lexy had cleaned up the kitchen and  dumped a large amount of broken glass in the garbage cans.  She was good to do all this as our homecoming would have been much worse had the kitchen been a really big mess.  We had stopped on the way home in Vacaville for groceries because she had warned us that all the grocery stores were closed in Napa.  We all had dinner and called it a day.  What a day.  After Lexy left I walked the neighborhood looking for Jack.  Lexy had had all the doors open while she cleaned to let the odor of spilled liquids out (crème-de-mint, pickle juice and ranch dressing all mixed together).  I figured that Jack had run out the door while the getting was good.  I could not find him so I finally gave up and came home.  When I got inside the house I heard a little meow- he crawled out of all the stuff that had dumped in one of the closets.  I was so glad to see him!!
The next day Chuck checked for structural damage and found none.  We are so lucky.  So many people have catastrophic damage.  Two story homes were hit the hardest, some in our small cul-de-sac.
I was so happy to be home.  It took several days to pick up/clean up/ install latches on the kitchen doors/ straps to furniture and get back to normal life.  To celebrate I put a chicken egg out in the platform feeder.  It has disappeared!  Could it be raven?? He is the only bird around here that can fly off with an egg.  The platform feeder has a squirrel guard so no mammal can get up to the feeder.  I like to think a raven has visited me on my return to the Napa Valley.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Yesterday was such a beautiful day.  We went to our music lessons near Sebastopol and then decided  to drive over to Bodega Bay for lunch at the Tides Restaurant. We were seated right in front of the window which looks out on to the bay.   During lunch I noticed a curious thing.  Every once in awhile I would see the surface of an area of water start to roil.  What was this?  There was no wind and the bay was smooth as glass.  This made the disturbance on the surface of the water very noticeable and unusual- UNTIL- wham up came the head of a shiny black seal.  With the seal came dozens of 6 inch silvery fish flying up into the air.  The fish were trying to escape the jaws of the seal.  Chuck thought they might be anchovies.  It was a sight to see and was repeated numerous times as the seal cruised back and forth in front of our front row seat in the window.  He certainly had a successful fishing day.
After lunch we drove up to Bodega Head State Park.  We parked our van so that we could open the back and lay about in the back and look out at the ocean.  The weather was perfect.  I got out of the van and started looking around for my raven pair that live at the park.  No raven pair in sight.  This was unusual as they are generally cruising the area looking for food.  It was then that we noticed a large lone raven sitting on a pile of dead vegetation on the edge of a cliff.  What was so odd about it was that very near raven was a large group of people whale watching with noisy dogs and kids.  Normally a raven would not hang around this bunch.  But there raven sat.  
We then decided to go for a walk up the cliff path and passed the raven.  From this vantage point I could look at the pile of vegetation where raven was sitting.  We thought as improbable as it might be, that perhaps it was a nest.  But no, it was not a raven nest.  When we came back down from our walk, raven was gone. This gave me an opportunity to go over and look at the spot where raven had been sitting on the vegetation. And there I saw it, the remains of a mature raven.  I moved away from the spot and raven came back and took up the watch.  It appeared that he did not want the seagulls to get to the raven remains.  I talked to a couple who had been at the park the day before.  They said that raven had been sitting there all day that day also.  It was a sad spectacle.
I wondered what this behavior signified.  Was it mourning?  Was it to protect a food source?  When I got home I looked in my numerous books on Corvus corax and could not find a reference to death of a mate.
Perhaps I will gain an understanding of this behavior one day.  For now I can say it was a sad day for raven and for me on Bodega Head.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Visit with Bold and Shy

It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a ride up Mt. Veeder way to pick up some rocks and take some food to the raven pair.  Our former neighbors are now feeding the ravens the food that I bring up for them.  They are enjoying their visits and learning about their behavior.  I buy 
big bags of peanuts for them at Costco and always take some chicken eggs.  When we got to their home I could hear the ravens off in the distance.  So I stood on their deck and yelled RAVENS really loud.  A few minutes later, here they came.  I put peanuts along the edge of the wooden deck.  They wanted the peanuts but would not come down with the four of us sitting on the deck.  They flew over our heads back and forth, what a lovely sight to see.  I just love to hear their calls. It was a lovely day and a lovely visit and I collected some rocks for my rose garden as well . All is well on Mt Veeder but we wish we would get more rain to sustain the wells and springs that people depend on for water.
Would a rain dance help?  I look out each morning at the sky for signs of rain.  The other night I dreamed it was raining so I got up to look, no rain, so sad.  There is still hope as some rain may still. come before summer arrives.  Oh that it might rain, I love the sound on the roof.