Kevin vs. Killdeer

kildeerphotosml

When Kevin and I were in New Orleans a month or so ago, we were out birding and encountered this killdeer in a parking lot. It immediately set about convincing Kevin that its wing was broken. Really broken. SO BROKEN YOU GUYS.

Killdeer are, of course, justly famous for this trick. They do it to lure predators away from the nest. Kevin ambled after the bird with a camera and I watched them do a slow motion chase scene across the parking lot.

Eventually, having taken about a million photos, Kevin stopped. But the killdeer did not. There were four of us, but Kevin, rescuer of kittens, was clearly the menace. It was practically charging him waving its “broken” wing.

Kevin: No, I’m done, it’s okay.

Killdeer: MY WING IS SUPER BROKEN

Kevin: I have no interest in your nest.

Killdeer: THIS WING, RIGHT HERE? I BROKE IT IN THE WAR. TWO WARS. SEVEN WARS. SO MANY WARS.

Kevin: I’m starting to feel weird about this, bird.

Killdeer: AAUGH LOOK NOW MY OTHER WING IS BROKEN TOO

Kevin: …

Killdeer: I WILL RUN A LITTLE WAY AND FALL OVER WAVING MY BROKEN WINGS THE PAIN THE PAIN

Kevin: I’m not going to chase you.

Killdeer: YOU HAVE TO CHASE ME MY WINGS ARE BROKEN ALSO I BELIEVE MY LEGS ARE GOING

Kevin: This is just sad.

Killdeer: I BELIEVE I AM ALSO ON FIRE

Kevin: You’re still going.

Killdeer: THERE IS NO PAIN LIKE THIS PAIN PLEASE STEP A LITTLE FARTHER THIS WAY I AM SURELY ABOUT TO BE CAUGHT AT ANY MOMENT

Kevin: Fine, if it’ll make you happy.

(Kevin ambles after Killdeer)

Killdeer: JUST A LITTLE FARTHER…A LITTLE BIT FARTHER AND SURELY I WILL STOP RUNNING AWAY DID I MENTION THAT MY WINGS ARE SUPER-BROKEN?!

(Kevin, camera in hand, stumbles onto a group of King Rail chicks in the ditch)

Rail Chicks: AAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHHMONSTER

Kildeer: AHAHA DEVOUR THEM, MY ENEMY, WHILE I FLEE BACK TO MY CHILDREN ON MY MAGICALLY HEALED WINGS

Kevin: …that bird is a jerk.

(Photo by Kevin)

Many Legged Horror

So I was in bed last night reading on my iPad, with the lights off, and Kevin was asleep next to me with Sergei the cat curled up in the crook of his arm, as is Sergei’s wont.

Something tickled my elbow. I assumed, because of my position, that it was Sergei’s tail, and ignored it.

It tickled me again. I absently brushed at Sergei to get his tail out of the way, and realized that Sergei was curled up in Full Meatloaf and his tail was nowhere near me.

My brain executed a remarkable series of calculations in a very short period of time, involving what it must be, to be so…large…and then that I should under no circumstances swat at it because that would cause it to bite, and then that leaping out of bed would result in the monster being somewhere in the bed with sleeping Kevin and Sergei and Sergei might try to attack it and get bitten.

I have been bitten by this sort of beast before. It is agonizing and it lasts for days, like a hot wire being dragged through your skin.

The centipede–for such it was–wandered off my arm and into the blankets.

“KEVIN!” I hissed. “KEVIN WAKE UP AND GRAB SERGEI!”
“Aunnggh?” he said from the depths of sleep.
“Kevin! Wake up, now!”
“What? What?”
“There’s a centipede in the bed! A big one! You have to roll out of bed and grab the cat!”

Only a few phrases will bring one from a dead sleep to instant consciousness, but there’s a centipede in the bed is among them.

Like a precision drill team, we rolled out of the bed. The centipede, a sizable Florida Blue in the two-inches-and-some-change range, flailed around the blankets in multi-legged wrath. (Centipedes don’t get frightened, they just get angry.)

Kevin dropped a rudely awakened Sergei onto the floor, grabbed for his glasses, and went into the bathroom while I kept watch on the centipede. He returned with toilet paper. It is nearly impossible to stop a centipede with toilet paper–it’s hard enough just to beat one to death with a shoe or a shampoo bottle–but you can at least grab it and keep it occupied for five seconds to get it to the toilet and send it to a watery grave.

And then it was somewhere in the septic tank, and we both slowly climbed back into bed. I considered shaving my head so that every touch of hair on my shoulder did not send me into shrieking horror. I considered shaving the cats. I considered burning the house and moving to a new house that had never had centipedes, or at least the bed, which was now a centipede bed and not a human bed.

And that is why I did not sleep well last night.

Naturalist Mystery

palmettoswamp

A mystery for all my naturalist buddies out there…

I spent the weekend in the swamps of Lousiana, specifically a mixed cypress & palmetto bayou. (Early May, in case this post sticks around for awhile.) We were birding in the middle of the day, and at one point, we stopped because some Gray Gnatcatchers were bopping around in a tree with what may have been a Nashville Warbler.

All of a sudden, a sound started up off to one side. It was not a bird call that anyone recognized (and I was with two people who bird very well by ear.) It was not a gator grunt, nor a green frog banjo-twang, nor any of the tree frogs that I know, nor the buzz of a cicada. It sounded like someone driving with a squeaky fan belt.

“Fan belt bird,” said one of my birding companions.

And then the noise came very much closer and all of a sudden there were several of them calling, all around us, from high off the ground. The noise of multiple…whatevers…calling in this rising-and-falling sound had an incredibly loud, incredibly eerie effect. “It’s aliens,” I said. “Soon the probes will come.”

I have no idea what it actually was. My only guess is some kind of insect, but it could be some kind of frog. Does anybody have any thoughts?