Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Black Squirrel and Hopeful Hawk

I had not seen any of the black squirrels that live in the woods between Little Patuxent Parkway and the southern end of Lake Kittamaqundi all summer. I thought maybe they had been spooked by all the recent construction activity, then I spotted this one last Sunday afternoon. And a hawk was hanging around, perhaps hoping for a squirrel dinner. Black or very dark brown, these squirrels are probably a variety or sport of the regular grey squirrel, and they seem to get along with each other when they cross paths in these woods.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

blustery lake; mergansers; a tiger passes by

My eye on Lake Kittamaqundi's wilder northern half catches it on a very windy day yesterday.

 A pair of hooded mergansers found shelter on our lake this weekend in spite of the wind. This apparently is another species that will rest here during winter migration. Earlier this season, I spotted and managed to photograph buffleheads and a lone American coot -- all quite transient and moving onwards only a day or two later in their migration. (Credit must go to a Howard County Bird Club friend for some of these identifications in spite of my camera's limited zoom.)

A tiger passed by as I tried to get a shot of my own modest Christmas tree.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gracey wishes you a Holly, Jolly Christmas

And please enjoy any holiday that you celebrate at this time of year.
Gracey's thunder

Hearing on County Noise Control Exception, Dec. 19

The following is making the rounds in Columbia Town Center. I'm told by a neighbor who is tracking this issue that a specific venue of interest is Merriweather Post Pavilion. Concert organizers there don't want to be subject to sound level restrictions. (I had mixed results with preserving links in the original message when I copied and pasted here, but the main link to the text of the bill included below seems to work.)

The agenda item Howard County Delegation Bill titled Howard County-Noise Control-Exception has been added.  

Howard County - Noise Control - Exception
Submitted by the Howard County Delegation Chairs  

FOR the purpose of prohibiting the Department of the Environment, Howard County, or a political subdivision of Howard County from adopting any sound level limit or noise control ordinances, rule, or regulation that prohibits the electronic amplification of sound between certain hours at an outdoor concert venue with a certain capacity in Howard County; and generally relating to the adoption of sound level limits and noise control ordinances, rules, regulations that prohibit the electronic amplification of sound in Howard County 

The bill's pdf is too big to link to the TC News Flash.  The web address to read the bill is
Public Notice Hearing on Local Bill Legislation   
Scroll down to HO.Co.09-13 (LR 710)  Or, you can email and I will email it to you as an attachment.

The Howard County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly, chaired by Delegate Guy Guzzone and Senator James Robey, will hold a public hearing for citizen input on local issues being considered by the legislature during the upcoming legislative session. The hearing is scheduled as follows: 
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 7:30 p.m.
Banneker Room, George Howard Building
3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

early December lake; the Canadian Armada

I'm planning to make a series of this same view towards the north end of Lake Kittamaqundi as the seasons, the weather and developments around the lake transform it. This shot is from late in the morning on December 1. It looks like one of the last unspoiled views in Howard County, but any readers from out of the area might like to know that my vantage point for this view is on a paved exercise path in front of the Columbia Sheraton; behind me is our semi-vibrant lakefront with its restaurants, dock, paddleboats; out of view behind the trees on the left is one of the nearby townhouse condominium communities; and Route 29 lies beyond the belt of trees on the far shore to the right. (Traffic on 29 is audible from this point and even visible at this time of year.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

test photo: sculpted

The specially pruned or sculpted plane trees next to the Gehry building on Lake Kittamaqundi, late fall this year.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Water Turkey 2

My bird club friend confirms that not only do I have an anhinga (or water turkey) in my photos here and in preceding post, but I have a pair of male and female anhingas. Continuing from yesterday's post, here are more photos showing the birds and habitat, plus a Canada goose in a meeting of north and south. The manmade lake, off Highway 70 in Kinston, North Carolina, is partly surrounded by a few houses and the little Frenchman's Creek Mall with its koi pond garden and fountain. My photos also show a former garden center with a bridge going out to a small island from where I first noticed the birds. And I hope that the stray cats are not a threat to any nests.

In the first photo below, re-cropped from yesterday's post, the upper bird is the female. The lower one is the male, also seen drying its wings in other photos.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Water Turkey

Anhinga, or water turkey, seen on a manmade lake in Kinston, North Carolina, over Thanksgiving week. I thought I had a cormorant species, but this bird looks so much like the anhinga I know from my teenage years spent in south Florida. It turns out that the anhinga's northern range extends to North Carolina.

 The upper bird in this view is almost definitely an anhinga -- if I'm wrong, then call me a water turkey! The buff colored slender neck ending in sharp delineation with the darker lower plumage looks just like other images of anhinga I've been studying. I'm not sure what the lower bird is...
Meeting of southern and northern species.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Postcard from Lake Kittamaqundi

"Having a great time. Wish you were here." Another view from the wilder northern end, evening, mid-October.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Visiting our condominium at night to feast on the acorns...There is at least one large adult raccoon and lots of little ones, which have been more skittish and harder to photograph.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Gracey had a choice between her toy squirrel and a real squirrel. I think she's going for the real deal. (Don't worry: The squirrel outside is safe.)

I settled some choices in the voting booth this morning, and I hope my favorite Democrat candidate gets re-elected. Most of the ballot questions for Maryland were pretty easy for me to decide. In my mind, they boiled down to simply thinking, "How mean-spirited it would be to say no to this" -- including the civil marriage act in support of gay marriage and the in-state tuition issue for illegal immigrant students. I voted in favor of both.

The line at my polling place on Vantage Point Road in Columbia, Maryland, seemed long around 9:00 this morning, but it moved quickly and I was out in about half an hour. The line and wait might be a different situation now. I remember waiting in a much longer line that wound through the hallways of Vantage House when Obama was running for his first term.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sandy Visits Our Pond

A mix of photos taken around Lake Kittamaqundi between Tuesday, October 30, and today, Sunday, November 4. Hurricane or Tropical Storm Sandy blew through the area the night before Tuesday. A walk along the lake gave a view of the Little Patuxent River, which runs parallel to the lake, bursting its banks and cascading into the lake all along the shore of the northern half. It almost washed out the construction work road currently running along that side (topmost photo, showing the Gehry building and the Sheraton on the other side; latticework in the road was not visible before). The next two photos compare the same section of the lake, showing the river flooding into the lake on Tuesday and the silt-covered shore of the lake today, along with a nicely timed heron in flight. That heron could tell its own story about the storm, and I might get more photos of it onto the blog later. The photo of the great egret (still not migrating after all this?) also shows the flooded peninsulas on Tuesday. Saturday, the woods around the northern half were alive with birds, and I managed a shot of two of a small flock of bluebirds. hocoblogs@@@

From earlier in October: A particularly blazing maple in our neighborhood. That tree is bare now, but Sandy hasn't washed away all of the fall colors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Spirit, Harmony, Serenity" (and Gracey and Sandy)

The November show at the Artists' Gallery in Columbia features the Oriental brush work of Jing-Jy Chen. My photo shows the exhibit in place on Monday morning as a certain storm was arriving in the area -- the storm has passed and the exhibit is still there! The reception is tomorrow evening, Friday, November 2, 6-8pm. For details and a better look at that lovely triptych of cranes here is a link to the Artists' Gallery website.

 Gracey witnesses the storm's arrival on Monday morning.
Pondering the aftermath Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beavers in the Flood

 I have only seen one beaver at a time on Lake Kittamaqundi before, but yesterday I came across the whole family flooded out of their shelter by Hurricane Sandy. This is the stream that runs from Wilde Lake just before it empties into Kittamaqundi. Later, water level had gone down noticeably, and the beavers apparently had returned to their lodge (wherever it is on the lake). In the lower photo, there are actually three beavers: Look for two on land huddled next to each other. hocoblogs@@@
(Thanks to Wordbones of Tales of Two Cities for posting one of my photos showing the flooded lakefront.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lake Kittamaqundi before and after dredging

Above view from the northern tip of Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia was taken earlier this month (October 2012). This vantage point looking down the length of the lake offers almost an edge-of-the-world view, and the little cove is also a hideout for a majestic old great blue heron. Below: The same view in August 2008, before dredging began.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Great Egret on Lake Kittamaqundi

Photo taken around noon last Monday. The egret has been here all summer, and we're wondering when or if it will migrate.

My Cats

Ollie back in 2006. He would have been 12 years old this month. We lost him to cancer last spring, but not before we had a Big Party that lasted for five months. Thanks again to all of Ollie's friends for watching and reading and dropping by to see him.
Gracey in April 2012. The house screamed for a cat, and Gracey has answered the scream surpassingly.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lake photos: Purple Love Grass Attack [Pink Muhley Grass?]

And loving the whimsy provided by the new paddle boats.
Nearby along the Lakefront dock, grebes grebing on the lake. I'm told they are probably pied-billed grebes and probably migrating through.

///CORRECTION, April 2, 2013: The grass is probably Pink Muhley Grass. But Purple Love Grass Attack sounds better.///