Early Morning Open Thread

Here’s a post because nobody should have to wade into the two preceding threads in search of a insomniac/early riser company. I bailed about a quarter of the way through each, and I usually enjoy sniping that’s not directed at me. Jesus Christ!

Have you noticed the past several days have been especially fraught, politically speaking, remarkable even in a time of galloping craziness? It’s like we’re standing on a rickety-ass bridge over alligator-infested waters, listening to the rebar pop and watching the stress fractures spider out beneath our feet. It’s no surprise folks are a bit tense.

Sometimes looking at fuzzy things can be calming. Here’s a pair of busy limpkin parents:

And here are two of the fuzzy chicks who are keeping them busy:

I think there are five chicks altogether, but it’s hard to get an accurate count because they move fast, darting between cypress knees and taking cover in vegetation. They are guests under my dock, and I welcome my fuzzy overlords.

Friday Afternoon Open Thread

Here’s another pretty limpkin to look at:

When I first got into birdwatching a few years back, limpkins were high on my list of local birds to spot. We hiked through miles of trails along rivers and lakes looking for them. We saw all kinds of birds during those trips but never a limpkin. They’re shy, but I don’t think they’re all that hard to find — we were just unlucky/lacked skills.

Well, at our new place, limpkins are everywhere. They keep me up nights with their unearthly screams and crap on my canoe daily. That’s because there are tons of apple snails around here, which is their favorite food. The snails lay their eggs all over the cypress knees, piers, boats, whatever is near the water. The eggs look like blobs of vivid pink caviar.

Has anyone heard from TaMara? It seems like a lot of pets and their humans are struggling lately, which really sucks. Not just on the blog but in meat space too. I’m keeping good thoughts for them all, wishing I could do more.

Open thread.

Hungry Critters Open Thread

Here are a couple of beautiful, voracious birds I saw hunting for dinner yesterday evening. First up, an osprey perched in a tree looking for fish:

The same osprey giving the wings a stretch:

I had hoped to capture video of it diving for fish. It perches nearby and dive-bombs fish just about every day. But after training my camera on it for several minutes, I got distracted by other things. Immediately afterward, I heard the splash (which sounds like a small child doing a cannonball into a pool) and knew I’d missed the shot.

Also, this gorgeous woodpecker was in a nearby tree pecking for bugs:

Speaking of dinner, I tried something new for our’s yesterday evening. Our local grocery chain (Publix) sells packets of “skillet gnocchi” in the dairy aisle near the fresh pastas. I’d never noticed it before but thought it would make a relatively cheap and quick weeknight dinner — instructions said to sautée it in a couple of tablespoons of butter for five minutes and serve it with sauce.

Instead, I sautéed it with butter and a drizzle of olive oil and added a handful of mushrooms and a couple of julienned sage leaves, then threw in some minced garlic for the last couple of minutes (so many recipes instruct people to burn garlic!). Then I squeezed a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice on it and topped it with grated Parmesan.

My husband put red sauce and yet another sprinkling of Parm on his because that’s how he rolls, but I had it as described above, unadorned. We both agreed it was fantastic. Probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but so easy and tasty!

Got any cheap, fast dinner hacks to share? Feel free to discuss whatever — open thread!

Emergency Cormorant

How about a thread about things that don’t suck?

Open thread!

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread

Here’s a tricolored heron with its breakfast:

I think the luckless critter that was on the menu is a frog; my husband suspects it’s a crawdad.

Fun facts about tricolored herons: the male builds a rough frame for the nest, and the female does the trim work, adding smaller sticks, grass, etc. IIRC, the plumage is the same for both sexes. The blue skin around the bill means he or she is ready for romance!

Open thread!