Sunday, June 26, 2011

Roman Wall in Chester, England

This city of something over 77,000 people is quite a nice visit.  Certain we saw more old city than new on a short visit, we found the old Roman wall very interesting. A walk around gives a pleasing view of different areas of the city in vicinity of the wall.  Straight from Wikipedia with credit given, "Chester was founded as a 'castrum'or Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix in the year 79 by the Roman Legio II Adiutrix during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. Chester's four main roads, Eastgate, Northgate, Watergate and Bridge, follow routes laid out at this time – almost 2,000 years ago."

This photo shows a part of the wall on a foggy morning.  The wall also goes down by the River Dee, an interesting part of the walk.

Decency called for something more pleasing than the chewing gum ornamentation of steps in the previous post.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

From Chewing Gummed Steps in Chester to London Metropole Hotel

Consider which is most appealing in seeing humanity and the results thereof. Consider which is fun.  Here is a dramatic view at sundown from the Hilton London Metropole Hotel in 2008. Next photo is a view of steps leading to an ancient Roman wall in Chester, England.  Ahh...humanity from a distance in hustle bustle and what people have apparently made a game at various places in Chester:  Chewing Gum ornamentation.  I pity those who stepped in the gum on a warm day when fresh enough to stick to a shoe sole.

It Saved My Life: Look Left, Look Right at crosswalks.   Always a bustle, London is a neat and exciting city with more to see and do than an average holiday visit will allow.  If not mistaken with memory from 2008, the ground floor business with lit windows contained among the merchandise a reasonably sized food market and several tall cases of prepared lunches, salads, etc.  This saved our tummys.

Chester is a very pleasing city to visit. The old Roman wall provides an easy walk with many delights along the way.  Steps up to the wall at one point are shown here:  A depository of chewing gum remains.  This stuff is very durable once in the non-sticky stage, treaded into the concrete. We found several locations in Chester where gum had become a play thing decoration.  This is humanity in the everyday, some shamed by such behavior and others who like to do it.

Come up with your own thoughts on these contrasts. When I go down the elevator, take it all in again and feel qualified to write again about this subject, none of  that will matter for much.  I will not say more about it.  Remember, when you come to Chester, bring chewing gum and test yourself. I don't chew gum and had no temptation whatsoever.  This activity may be reserved for a special group and not passers through; I did not check into that.(?) Not having seen these steps in tourist brochures or websites, I felt compelled to post. In all fairness to Chester, the visit was quite pleasant and gummed steps were not necessary at all. I will plan to post  pleasing photos of Chester in the near future.  In the meantime, you have steps and gum from the personal side of the city.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baby Barred Owls Gaining Feathers and Eyelid Comedy

Baby owls can be very entertaining, in this case playing eyelid games without thinking about it.. They are cute in their baby fuzz while feathers come in.  Yet, make no mistake about it:  These are owls and even if young will show defensive measures and "ask" me to leave them alone. They do not want me in their enclosure and will make barking sounds by clicking their beaks, telling me to back off.   The smaller one on the right blinked and the photo shows the third eyelid, named the nictitating membrane.  This type of third eyelid is found in many animals and serves a general purpose of protection for the eye.  The owl is fine and healthy.  The photo just happened to catch the eyes with both nictitating eyelids closed.  In an instant, the eyelids retracted and the eyes were again the large deep orbs we are used to seeing in Barred Owls.


These two Barred Owls lost their nest and are being raised to be released into the wild. When ready, they will go to a larger enclosure to fly and strengthen their wing muscles. While there they will "hunt" and grab their dinners.  Without parents to teach these babies, training is not easy and during all of it the owls must keep their fear of people, avoiding us and not seeing people as substitute parents.

Check out this link to learn about the extra eyelid.
Nictitating Eyelid

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk Without Red Tail...a Growing Up Event

This Red-tailed hawk is named Jesse, a name suited to either gender and given while the bird was much younger and its sex was unknown. Jesse is still not an adult  but has the size and heft of a female. Larger size almost always means female in this raptor world. Side by side, males are obviously a smaller bird. Visit the Cornell Department of Ornithology website on Red-tailed hawks to learn specifics and hear the call: About Red-tailed Hawks

"Jesse, when you get a tail worthy of your name...then we let the school kids see you.  We do have an image to uphold."  Actually, the younger hawk will get the red tail before long. Her eyes are becoming close to the rich color of adult eyes but still have a way to go.  And...since the hawks are taken one at a time to educational programs, the large lady hawk on the right might not know that Jesse has already gone to educational programs and has done very well. They now occupy the same living quarters and seem to do fine together.

About the red tail...the tail will go red and I will try to follow the events with photos. This is how it works: Birds need balance in flight and when feathers drop as part of the natural events in the bird's life, the feathers drop symmetrically. Feathers from the same relative locations will drop from the tail, left and right. Then two new ones grow and are the red color. Then, two more drop and two more grow in.  The whole time, the hawk keeps "balance" in the feathers so flight is not adversely affected. That is a neat bit of knowledge.   

Both of the Red-tailed Hawks are fed freshly thawed mice and prefer eating from a gloved hand.  This means the bird jumps onto the handler's glove and then gets to eat the mice held there. The handler holds snugly to allow a little bite at a time but with a strong tug the hawks sometimes take the whole mouse to gulp down in one bite.  Each bird is fed a specified weight of food and what is and is not eaten is diligently recorded each day.

This ends the posting on the educational birds from the Clinch River Raptor Center. These birds are a wonderful asset to the region in helping people understand relationships between humans and wildlife. As usable habitat becomes smaller, we must learn to share with the animals  living on the land before us and treat them with respect as valuable parts of nature. I hope you enjoyed seeing these beautiful examples of raptors.

Two Categories of Hawks
The photo below is how all the educational birds are meant to the wild, perching or soaring as would the Red-tailed hawks. Red-tailed bodies and wings are meant to ride the air and from there they often hunt. They belong with other soaring hawks to a group called Buteos. Their diet is mainly rodents and similar small animals. 

The Accipters are the hawks who do not soar to hunt but are smaller with rounded shorter wings and are most agile and able to fly among the forest trees and bushes where other hawks cannot follow. Their diet is mostly birds. One day I will post photos of  a  Cooper's Hawk.  Look at the post of April 26, 2011 to see a Sharp Shinned hawk immediately before it flew to freedom after healing. These are much smaller hawks than the Red-tailed and are fine examples of the Accipter group.

The Falcons are known for speed and nabbing their dinner from the sky.  Have you heard of the Peregrine? This is likely the fastest bird in our area when in a dive. There are none of these birds at the center. The smallest Falcon in the United States is the American Kestrel, a bird feature in the post of May 5, 2011. While the Peregrine may diet on pigeons and similar birds, the Kestrel eats quite small mammals and insects such as crickets and bugs.

There are other birds of prey, of course. Eagles and Ospreys are just two of the other types. To find out more, visit the Internet and also find a good introductory book to birds in general.

The Birds Living at Clinch River Raptor Center
Do not shed a tear for the birds living at the center: They have a good home, are healthy, well cared and have adapted well to their situations. They are alive only by the grace of having been rescued and healed, now performing a service of education and always bringing wide eyes, joy and a new perspective to children and adults who first see these wonderful creatures from nature. While many rescued raptors are healed and released back into the wild, the educational birds do their part in helping the wild birds. The better people understand the critters of nature and realize these are valuable parts of creation, the more able we may be to share this planet. At least, that is the plan. The educational birds do much to help in this needed understanding.