Thursday, March 24, 2011

Watching the eagles of Hornby Island

Watching a pair of eagles raise a family is another of those cool experiences brought to us by the wonders of video cams and the Internet. I got hooked last spring after DJan posted a link to the Hornby Island Eagle Cam.

Mom laid her first egg of 2011 on Tuesday evening. She is likely to lay another by Saturday. Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,000 viewers were watching, and more than 300 were logged into the chat room. Some will be there from sunup until dark for the next several months. I won't be there quite that much, but it does get to be habit-forming, especially once the eaglet pokes its way out of the egg, about 35 days from now.

Last year's story didn't end well. The healthy and active eaglet called Phoenix (the only hatchling in the nest) died suddenly of a lung infection, probably from eating tainted roadkill lovingly provided by her parents. But the cycle has come around again, and if you are interested, you can check out the YouTube video below (and sign up for updates) or the Hornby site, or both.

Two or three minutes into this video, Mom begins to make birthing sounds (who knew?). Then voila, an egg.

P.S., I just discovered this eagle cam at Norfolk, Virginia, where three eaglets have already hatched. They don't provide sound, but the video quality is excellent.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I said it was a diphthong but he could just call it two letters

Augie's preschool teachers take the children outdoors every day. A sign at the classroom door says "Inside Start" or "Outside Start," a signal to us (grand)parents to help the child dress accordingly. I had taught him to look for "I" or "O" on the sign, but one day he decided to sound out the whole word.

He was quiet for a minute and then he asked, "Grandma, is the 'O' silent?"

His teacher gave me a "He knows about silent letters?" look. He does, and he had realized that the word "outside" doesn't start with the traditional "O" sound. The next day I explained that there are pairs of letters that work together to make new sounds. The word "outside" is not pronounced "oat-side" or "oh-oot-side," because the two letters make a new sound. We found lots more "ou" words in stories we were reading, and I pointed out some other letter pairs. With his parents, he's been talking about "th," which also comes up a lot when you're sounding out words.

Some days he loves the sounding-out process. Other times he just wants to listen, to hear the story and let his imagination run and maybe snuggle close and hold somebody's hand while they read. It's all good.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Deep snow in Minne-snow-ta

We have a small backyard, intruded upon by a garage and a big driveway.

During a winter of enormous snowfalls, as we've had this year, clearing the driveway means creating a huge mound of snow and ice on one side of the yard. The peak was about seven feet; it tapered down to about four feet near the house.

Last week, Augie and Vi enjoyed climbing atop the "snow mountain." He loved being so close to the crotch of the tree, which is usually far out of reach. He kept looking for a way to climb up, but the icy surface didn't allow it.

The photo at the right was taken in June 2009. The angle is all wrong for comparison, but last week he was standing at least a foot-and-a-half above the bench - and that was a low spot on the "mountain." Rain and warmish temps have melted much of the snow in the past few days, but that bench is still firmly buried.

The melt is slowed by the fact that everything refreezes at night (one reason much of the pile is ice rather than snow) and the sun hasn't been out yesterday or today. But that's a good thing, since a slow melt means less chance of flooding.

In any case, I'm so ready for spring!


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