Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I have posted before about the birds I care for in the Haven. As with all animals, from time to time some have to be replaced. In the last year both the Violaceous Euphonia Euphonia violacea, and the Peters Twinspot Hypargos niveoguttatus, males have lost their mates. I have found them some replacements at last. Whenever I have new animals arrive they have to undergo a thirty day quarantine before they can come into contact with existing animals. So for the last thirty days I have had a large bird cage next to my desk. Last week I moved the cage up into the Haven so that the two females could begin to get used to their new surroundings.

This is the least stressful way of moving them. Also birds that are reared in a cage tend to have underdeveloped flight muscles so you do not want to just set them out in a huge space immediately. After a week the cage door is opened and the birds are left to find their way out in their own time. The cage is a safe space to them so if they become stressed in the larger space they will have the ability to return to the cage, I will leave the open cage there for another week.
This is what their new home looks like......

Quite a step up from a cage!
Of course as soon as I bought the cage in with the two females inside, the two males who were already in residence got very excited. There was a lot of whistling and showing off (seems all men are the same! :) ) The male Violaceous Euphonia has stayed in very close attendance.

Clearly he doesn't want to wait for the girls to get used to things, he has been trying to work out how to get into the cage ever since they arrived.

The male Peters Twinspot, a real Prince Charming, and a personal favorite of mine, is much more circumspect, he watches, longingly, from a respectful distance.

How could she resist such a handsome fellow?

Tomorrow is the big day when I open the cage door. Hopefully all will go well. It is quite an adjustment going into this huge space.

We also have Button Quail Coturnix chinensis in the Haven, today I spotted one of the females sitting on eggs.

Photo Credits - CJT

Monday, December 29, 2008


OK I admit it, I am a big kid at heart, and in true kid style if I get a new toy I want to play with it right away! Today was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day so I took a couple of minutes out of my work day to go outside and start getting to grips with my new camera. I must say I think it is going to be pretty good. There is not much green around at this time of year so I had a go with a few seed heads.

And then I tried some tiny specks of lichen on a tree trunk.

Nothing was off limits, not even tree stumps! (I know, It's goofy!)

Inevitably a squirrel came to check me out and see what I was doing.......

This Milkweed pod caught my eye.

It seems my new camera may indeed be idiot proof! Trust me, it will need to be :)

Photo Credits - CJT

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Santa has been very generous this year.
I collect miniature Steiff animals (probably another effect of not being allowed to have pets in our building!) This Christmas I had three new ones to add to my collection. The two on the left are vintage and the one on the right is a new addition to my Christmas bears collection.

My mother-in-law has an amazing ability to find the coolest animal earrings ever. (I wear them to work and am known for them). This year she excelled herself, I opened these delightful penguin earrings first, and was thrilled.

But there was more to come! These bat earrings are the best yet (I love bats by the way)

In case you think that everything I have is animal themed (you wouldn't be too far from the truth!) I did have some other lovely things too, one of which was this fabulous purse.

And why, you may be asking, am I talking about my Christmas presents? Well I'm getting there! Santa's big gift this year has a direct bearing on my blog.........

An all singing, all dancing, fancy schmancy new digital camera! I am very excited and a little daunted, as I am hopeless when it comes to technology but I am determined to get to grips with my new camera. Hopefully it will also improve the quality of my pictures for my posts!

Photo Credits - CJT (with old camera!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

SKYWATCH FRIDAY (Memories of Summer)

Like many other people who are doing skywatch pictures this week, there is an element of escapism in my photos. At present we have a thick blanket of snow on the ground, last night the temperature dropped to 5 degrees so now everything is covered in a layer of ice, today we are forecast to have freezing drizzle and fog, then high winds, then torrential rains with a rise in temperature to 44 degrees and flood warnings for our area! This is just not conducive to rushing outside to take pictures of the sky. So I have unearthed some photos from our trip to Cornwall in June when it was actually a pleasure to be outside rather than a misery!

These first two pictures are of an ancient stone structure called Lanyon Quoit, it is a burial chamber that predates the pyramids. The whole structure would have originally been covered with an earth mound and the body would have been inside the chamber created by the stones. It was a perfect day when we hiked up to this spot and we could see for miles, I love the fluffy white clouds floating by.

Not far from the quoit is the remains of an iron age castle. There is not much remaining apart from the entrance way and most of the protective wall that surrounded it. If you go inside and look carefully amongst the bracken you can make out areas that look like possible fire pits and there is the remains of a well there too. The people who chose the location for this castle were very smart, you can see for miles in every direction so there would be no chance of being attacked without warning. It is a great spot to sit and gaze up at the sky. Very often in the Summer the skylarks are hovering way up high and singing their beautiful song. (I told you I was indulging in some escapism! :) )

For great skywatch pictures from all over the world, check out Skywatch Friday.

Photo Credits - Dominick V

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house
not a creature was stirring
not even a...........

Well mouse/rat, it's close enough and anyway he is just as cute as any mouse!

Happy Christmas to all creatures great and small from a mere human.

Photo Credits - CJT

Monday, December 22, 2008


The one disadvantage of going to England for ten days at the beginning of December is that all the jobs that need to be done in time for Christmas have to be condensed down in to a very few days, like getting our Christmas tree decorated. We decided to go out on Saturday to get it, by the time we had run all our other errands it was dark, and of course, it was snowing.

Here is my husband in the snow with our selected tree strapped onto the car. The big disadvantage of buying a tree in a snow storm is that you end up taking an awful lot of snow in to the house with you! Our tree stood and dripped in the kitchen for a few hours. After it had produced a small lake on the floor we finally moved into its 'official' spot and left it over night to settle in. In the morning we were pleasantly surprised to see we had actually managed to pick quite a nice one in spite of the the dark and the snow storm!

So yesterday was spent decorating it (one of my favorite tasks). I love rediscovering all the decorations each year and remembering where we bought them and why. Finally our belated tree is dressed and looking beautiful.

My collection of vintage Santas have taken up residence.........

My ursine nativity is in place................

And my Christmas Steiff Bears are hiding in the vegetation...........

When I came out of hospital last month I needed something to keep me occupied so I tried making some 'alternative' Christmas trees, here they are.

Then I made a little silver corner...........

And brightened up my fir cone basket.........

Now it feels like Christmas at home and I can enjoy looking out on the snow in the park and feeling festive. Just one snag, I haven't wrapped any of the Christmas presents yet! It never ends!

Photo Credits - CJT and Dominick V

Thursday, December 18, 2008


On our recent trip to Cornwall, England, my husband captured this wonderfully dramatic moment as he was walking along the cliff tops.

For more great sky watchers check out Skywatch Friday.

Photo Credits - Dominick V

Monday, December 15, 2008


I mentioned in my previous post that I may not have Internet access for a couple of days when I arrived in England, well as it turned out I didn't have access for the entire visit (don't ask!) so I am having to post about my trip now that I am back here in the US.
I am in the unfortunate situation of living in a building, here in Chicago,that doesn't allow pets. This is a first for me, I have never been without a pet. As a result I have to compensate by caring for animals for a job and when I go home to see my family I always monopolise the family dog. A few weeks ago my parents had to have our old dog euthanized at the age of fourteen. Needless to say this was a rather traumatic event. When the deed was done there were rumblings about not having another dog - unheard of for our family! After some long telephone conversations I convinced my parents that they should consider adopting an adult dog, as they are not getting any younger the prospect of a puppy was a little too daunting, as a result, they put word out that they were looking to adopt another dog. My parents have always had Pembroke Corgis, since they were children, and then when they met they continued the tradition so a corgi is a natural part of our family. The adoption group phoned them a couple of weeks ago with the offer of a three year old Cardiganshire Corgi. There were more phone calls and the decision was made to give it a try, and so Bryher arrived in their life.

This occurred the week before we were going to visit them, needless to say, I was very excited to meet the new member of our family. Bryher had a rather unfortunate time before my parents got him. He had been with an owner who had six other dogs and never took any of them out! He then went to a lady who had advanced Alzheimer's disease and so he never went out there either. The poor lady ended up having to go into care and so Bryher ended up in a kennels which he hated and pined badly. When my parents got him he was filthy, stinking and as thin as a rail.

This is him a week after my parents got him, I was quite shocked, when I first petted him because all I could feel was bones, his ribs, his spine and his chest bones were incredibly prominent. It really is so sad because this is the sweetest, friendliest, most loving dog you could possibly imagine. Anyway, he is in the right place now, he gets regular meals, has been wormed, probably for the first time, and gets taken for four walks a day! He thinks he has gone to heaven! And needless to say he gets endless cuddles, which he loves, by the way. If he thinks you haven't cuddled him enough he comes and climbs on your lap and snuggles against you. Yes, I am totally in love with him, in case you hadn't already guessed!

Because he has been moved around so much in his short life he gets terribly distressed if we leave him, when we go up to bed he howls and barks for an hour or so before settling down. Hopefully when he realises he isn't going to get left again he will get out of that habit.

I bought him a stuffed toy which he loved and carried about with him all over the place. He is a real clown and loves nothing better than to play. If he gets wet when he goes out for a walk he comes running inside and when you try to dry him he wrestles with the towel and rolls himself up inside it. We end up with a huge tangle of dog and towel and him lying upside down with the towel over his head! He will keep my parents entertained for a long time I think. I am so glad that we were fortunate enough to find each other and I only wish I could see him more often.

Photo Credits - CJT