Little Rascals: Pets and Pests in Your Garden | What’s Up Magazine

There are 115,000 dogs and cats in Anne Arundel County, and more than a million in Maryland, according to the American Veterinary Association estimates.

Source: Little Rascals: Pets and Pests in Your Garden | What’s Up Magazine

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Life’s Small Dramas Continue

The first four weeks of our osprey’s return to paradise has been quite eventful…

Oscar and Opal, as you may recall, returned to the Naval Academy in mid-March.  Other than chilly weather, all seemed to be well… at first.  About five days into their summer sojourn, another osprey arrived.  He was less muscular than either Oscar or Opal.  He hung around on adjacent light posts, buzzed the family nest, and just made himself a nuisance.

See the source imageOne morning, Oscar seemed to be fighting with the new guy in town.  They flew around each other making arcs and circles.  The new guy would perch, and Oscar would fly down as if to knock him off his perch.

I began to worry that this new osprey might be a serious contender for primacy.  After all, Oscar is getting pretty old. On average, osprey live to be 20 or 25.  They don’t mate and begin breeding until they’re three.  So, if I have watched Oscar and Opal nest for 17 years, maybe he’s near the end of his life.  Was I watching Oscar being displaced?

One cold morning, I saw Opal but not Oscar. And, I didn’t see the younger male either!  I thought, “Oh, goodness.  Oscar’s been chased off. He’s flown away or fallen into the Bay. Opal will starve, and that young osprey will take over the football field!”

As I finish my walk,  I pass a lovely garden in which a large pond brims with plump goldfish. That morning, my heart heavy with concern for Oscar and Opal, suddenly, See the source imageoverhead, I heard the distinctive cheep-cheep call of the osprey – vocal sonar, perhaps.  I looked up just in time to see my old friend Oscar rising out of the walled garden, a large, gleaming goldfish in his talons.  “Go, Oscar.”  He headed straight for the Academy and home.

A few days later, I saw the young osprey perched on a light post over the soccer field.  (You may recall a few years ago when Pablo and Pearl nested over the soccer field, until their nest was disturbed by the replacement of the lighting system.)

Over the next few days, the new guy, since named Raul seemed to get comfy in his new territory.  He began a feeble attempt at nesting, carrying up twigs and branches to weave into his new home.  And then, to my delight and his too, I suspect, Ruby came to town.  Since her arrival in early April, Raul has steered clear of the football field where Oscar and Opal live in decorous splendor.

Raul’s nesting skills haven’t improved.  What’s passing for his nest looks more like a giant pin cushion or a poorly moussed punk hairdo.  But, Ruby seems content.  Like Opal, she’s a fairly regal gal.  She sits majestically on her light post, high above the boats and cars and runners below.  Raul races around trying to impress her with this twig or that fish catch.  We’ll see how this goes.

And Oscar has been, it seems to me, setting me straight on his prowess as top-bird at the Academy.  For three mornings in a row, as I approached the football field, Oscar has come flying down over my head – each morning with a large fish!  The fish, wriggling in his talons, has been as big as his own body.  I’ve watched him fly around-and-around the field, waiting for the fish to stop struggling.  I think he’s saying, “Don’t count me out yet, old girl!”    See the source imageAnd I certainly will not.

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Art in the Garden

Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together,” said John Ruskin, 19th century, British essayist and art critic. Applying Ruskin’s definition, one’s garden could be fine art. And if you add a work of art to a beautiful garden?  Can one art form, the garden, enhance the other, a sculpture?

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Small Spaces: Big Ideas My 7th Garden Column

  Here is my Gardens column in the March issue of What’s Up? Magazine.

I hope you enjoy the suggestions in your own gardening projects.

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They’re Ba-a-ack! 17 years and counting.

I’m delighted to report that our feathered friends, Opal and Oscar Osprey are back from their winter sojourn in the southern hemisphere.  They arrived right on schedule, March 16th, the day before St. Patrick’s Day.  (Last spring they were two weeks late, you may recall.)

Oscar was my first sighting.  He glided right over my head as I enjoyed my morning walk along the sea wall at the Naval Academy.  I like to think he was checking to see if it was, indeed, I – just as I was checking to see if it was, indeed, he.  We were both delighted!

See the source image

I didn’t see Opal that first day.  Oscar was busy gathering twigs and repairing the nest, somewhat battered, I suspect, after the long winter. But on St. Paddy’s Day, there was Opal, standing watch over her nest, checking that Oscar was making all necessary adjustments.

That was last week.  Since then, Opal seems to be staying close to home.  It may be she’s enjoying the warmth of her nest in this cold March weather, or she may be sitting on eggs, keeping them warm. Oscar seems to be out fishing most mornings, though today he was doing some vocalizing – that distinctive, sharp, repeated high-pitched call.

We’ll have to see how this season’s adventure unfolds.

I want to add an apology and addendum here. Last fall I failed to close out our friends’ season with a final report. You may recall that last year’s nursery was overflowing with four chicks rather than the usual two or three.

However, by mid-September when Oscar and Opal usually leave for the south, only three young osprey were there to accompany them.  While on my morning walk in early September, I came upon a small, sad pile of feathers that had once been a fledgling osprey. I don’t know if the fourth bird fell from the nest or was attacked by a predator, but the result was the same.

I’m eager to see how many hatchlings Oscar and Opal produce this year.  They’ll have a busy summer preparing their young for life in the wild. And, I look forward to a busy summer sharing the excitement with them, and with you, patient reader.

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