Saturday, December 11, 2010
This entry closes out the year, and I’m left in the awkward position of feeling a need to look back. We’ve moved to a new town, and I’ve started substituting 5K runs for some of my dogwalks, so there have been noticeably fewer photos this fall. I took some of the best bird pictures I’ve ever gotten, and I still look back wistfully at photos of the time Ojo spent with us.
By the way, in terms of looking back, Copley (far left) has grown quite a bit. You can go back for a reminder of how teeny he was only 11 months ago.
Lots of non-dog, non-bird things happened this year, but this blog has really become my venue for writing about photos, so there’s a large, unphotographed portion of our lives that I don’t talk about here. I wonder how many folks think I just go for dogwalks every day and then to bed. I have a job, though you wouldn’t know it.
Actually, that part of my life has its own blog too.
He’s still a lightning puppy, particularly when a ball crosses his path. I can’t help but wish I still had his white-faced brother by my side too.
One of my favorite things about his looks is how little maintenance it requires. Many show Goldens are brushed out daily, washed a couple of times a week, and trimmed or “neatened” all over. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but Comet looks really good without a haircut, which to me better embodies the spirit of a working dog.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I don’t usually talk too much about the humans who join us on walks, but for reasons that will become apparent shortly, I’ll mention them this time.
Ben, Jen, Jeremy, and a very pregnant Naomi came to walk on the beach and watch the sun come up. The dogs, of course, wasted no time jumping in and out of the water and staring wistfully at seagulls out of reach.
I love it, and I love the overwhelming sense parade of a warm coffee in the hand, a sky wider than my field of vision changing across its whole scope, two red-gold blurs charging about interested in smells more than sights, a cold breeze seeping in through the zipper of my jacket, and friends close at hand.
Let me break for a second to quickly plug her business: PoeticGold Farm Dog Training.
I was not disappointed by the light. Soon after sunrise, the dogs were lit up in spectacularly rich color, and they ran between the salt marsh behind us and the beach in front of us over and over.
Sanderlings. When not being chased by Golden Retrievers, Sanderlings feed by running onto the wet sand as a wave recedes and feeding quickly on the creepy crawlies left on the sand. Then, they run away from the wave as it returns.
They run back and forth like clockwork toys, as if, as my dad puts it, they’re stitching the sand and sea together. That little description may be paraphrased from an earlier source than my father, so my apologies to any poets we may have unwittingly plagiarized.
Miriam was born the next day. I’m a fan.
Why is this part of the story next to a quintessential picture of Jax flying out of the water? No reason at all. It just felt like the right moment. And what else is there to say about Jax that isn’t crystal clear in the picture already?
The resulting picture was not what I intended, but it pretty neatly sums up the dogs’ personalities.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
I called Jeremy and Naomi, and we took a stroll around the Supply Pond park. We came upon a Great Blue Heron, who wasn’t too concerned about the dogs and politely hung out for a minute or two.
This Downy Woodpecker was part of a mixed flock of chickadees, thrushes, sparrows and woodpeckers I photographed for several minutes. He and his mate worked the tree over, presumably looking for bugs, unlike his friends, who were clearly drawn by the berries high up in the tree.
Hermit Thrushes, and they were definitely there for the berries. The All About Birds entry I linked to even mentions that they supplement their winter diet with berries, and I can now personally attest to that fact.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a bird I’ve never seen in Connecticut. If you ever wondered whether or not they were fructivores, here’s your proof. In this amazing light, the rich, deep red of his head and neck were striking, and his yellow belly, which is usually really hard to see, was quite obvious through the telephoto.
As for my part, though, today I’m still crowing over the birds and the pictures I managed to get. It was definitely one of my all-time best bird photography outings.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
It was also a beautiful year for foliage.
We moved closer to some of our favorite old haunts, like this place. Andy showed it to me not long after we first met, and we took Gus there, then Gus and Comet, and now Comet and Jax.
In fact, I remembered the other day that I had a picture of Gus and Comet together from November of ‘08, not long before Gus died, so I posed Comet and Jax in the same spot.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The dogs didn’t like the move (all their stuff disappeared slowly and we didn’t go for many walks), but they love the new house.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Jax had many, many opportunities to shake off, but this was by far the best one.
If you ever want to judge how amazingly quick a movement it is, try to shake off your hair after a shower. Unless you give yourself a brain hemorrhage in the process, you’re unlikely to get as much water out of your hair as Jax gets out of his coat in one shake.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
The high tide in the grass brings out the monster in the brothers, and Comet is often the brunt of their desire to chase and bite. I always watch to make sure they’re not too hard on him, but he’s constantly going over, taunting them, and running off.
(Top to bottom: Ajax, Ojo, Comet)
Friday, July 30, 2010
So, we set out early one morning to check out Devil’s Hopyard with the dogs.
(Left to right: Ojo, Ajax, Comet)
Regardless of how the formations came about, it’s a lovely park on about 860 acres, which gives you enough space to wander without bumping into too many folks on the way.
(Photo credit: Ben Taylor)
(Photo credit: Ben Taylor)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Ojo, as you can see, does beautifully.
(Left to right: Comet, Ojo, Ajax)
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I spent July taking the dogs all over the place, but we consistently returned to our favorite river spot. Since there’s a field on the road’s side of the river, it was a nice spot to fetch for a few minutes and dry out the wet dogs before we returned to the car.
(Left to right: Comet, Ajax, Ojo)
Seconds after the last photo, Jax caught up to Comet and I caught him in the midst of a very bratty body check and muzzle bite. Comet will sometimes outrun or outfake Jax in the ground game, but Jax is a fierce competitor too.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
This is a Great Egret, a larger cousin of the Snowy. Like the Ospreys, he obligingly engaged in interesting behavior for photos instead of just standing there like a lump. For reasons that make perfect sense if you’re an egret and no sense at all if you’re me, he puffed and ruffled himself for a few minutes.
The end of July saw us at the salt marsh quite a bit. Because of beds of aptly named razor clams by the trail, I only like to go there at high tide, when the dogs are less likely to slash up their paws. Fortunately, it seems as if every time I’ve checked a tide table, high tide and sunny weather were predicted at exactly the time I wished to head out there.
A large part of the trail crosses the marsh on a raised concrete causeway. The dogs happily slog and swim their way out through the grass and the channels, and then they sprint back along the causeway when they’re called.
Snowy Egret is one of many wading birds that frequent the marsh during the day and roost nearby it at night. When he first saw the dogs, his first tactic was to freeze, which worked surprisingly well. A flapping bird is an object of religious devotion for a Golden Retriever, but a still one might as well be made of grass.
He did eventually spook and fly off a few minutes later, to my relief, since I’d hate to have one of the dogs successfully injure a heron, which they’d no doubt do if they managed to catch him.
(Photo credit: Ben Taylor)
Willet from an e-mailed photo. Though I have a great field guide on my phone and an even better one on my bookshelf, it’s often more fun and less work to test my dad’s mettle.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The walks are starting to blur together, particularly the ones at our standby loop on a local town land trust. Fetch in the field, swim in the river, hike the loop, swim in the river, fetch in the field again, back in the car.
All times become each time, as if we took a hike for weeks and weeks, circling back to the same spot with no breaks and no loss of charm in the repetition.
Damselfly identification is a huge pain. This one may be the same species I’ve photographed before in Vermont, a Black-winged Damselfly or Ebony Jewelwing. The female Calopteryx maculata has a white spot at the tip of the wing. Her wings tend to be less dark too, but in this photo, that’s not particularly helpful.
I’m still working on acquiring the knowledge of all three hundred or so birds who spend at least part of the year in New England, but once I’m done, if there’s still time left over, maybe I’ll move on and learn about all hundred and fifty odonates.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Ojo’s really getting into our routine, and the regular swims may be making him shinier. That or possibly the high fat food and the fish oil supplements I’ve been plying him with.
(Left to right: Comet, Ojo, Ajax)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The shot below needed to be blown up for full effect. Even when Jax gets it, everybody has fun on the way back.