Friday, June 19, 2020

Almost winter

Six months from tomorrow will be the first day of winter. Monday, December 21, 2020. The moment the winter solstice arrives at 3:02 a.m. MST. will be the moment winter begins.

As I write this on June 19 at 7:45 a.m. MDT, winter will arrive in 184 days, 19 hours, and 15 minutes.

On December 21 our planet will have traveled halfway around its orbit and be on the other side of the sun. We'll happily whiz along at an average of 66,600 mph and on the first day of winter we will have chugged nearly 300,000,000 miles on orbit. That's nearly two light seconds! in only half a year! We be smokin'!

But, so, yeah, tomorrow at 3.43 p.m. our time (MDT) summer will begin. The sun will touch it's farthest north apparent point in the sky and begin moving back south immediately. Tomorrow will be the longest day of the year and will also feature the shortest night of the year. Henceforth the days will get shorter and the nights longer.

Until the flip-flop happens On December 21.


On with the show!

Yesterday's job was to seek out, find, and collect data from the Greater Short-Horned Lizard, (Phrynosoma hernandesi). So I was up early and doing ranch work before fun work.

As we were setting off and as I began my search I happened to be shooting some "what a beautiful day" video (plenty more of that to come) when a Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) exploded off her nest and did the "chase me I've got a busted wing!" thing. In case you've never heard of this behavior, it's the ground nesting bird's way of trying to lure predators away from their nests and vulnerable young. They flop along the ground and the predator follows. The flopping bird stays just barely out of reach until it decides the threat is far enough away from the nest, when it miraculously recovers from injury and flies away.

Me, I'm a predator. No doubt. I didn't intend to hurt the baby birds, but the mama bird had no way of knowing that, so she did her thing. But I've seen this thing many times before and I learned years ago not to chase the flopping bird. I haven't done that since I was, oh, 55 or 56 I guess. I did want to get some video of the baby larks. The drama unfolds about the 1:00 mark.

We got stuck in and looked for lizards. They weren't very cooperative. Pretty morning though and very enjoyable work.

We kept working and kept getting shut out. Didn't stop being an enjoyable way to spend the morning and provided a great workout.

Wandering up and down the canyon walls on a nice day in late spring is more than a bit magical.

Somebody put a seabed here 150 million years ago. It was below sea level then; today it's at 5,000 feet ASL. Go figure.

By noon we were still shut out. I got a call from a cattle guy and had to decamp for less lizardly work. I was a mile away from the pickup and made it in 13 minutes, gimpy shit and all. Got some American Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) video too.

Brief PSA on drunkenness.

Pretty sound and sight. In my mind anyway...

By the time I'd finished cattle business the Herps were calling it a day. They had caught and gathered data and DNA from seven lizards. While I wasn't there of course!


Last night was a train firetrucking wreck. I had to fight through a lot of pain but finally got to sleep, only to be awakened by the train firetrucking wreck. Well, we'll sleep when we're dead. For some of us death may come at a tragically young age. Which is nothing new. But no less sad for all of that.


Morning and still muzzy from attempted sleep. Beautiful rainy day.

Chuckin' fickens...

Water and the stupidity of smartphone programmers...

Long blathery boolsheet that you should skip...

Butterflies humping in the rain...

Don't be a cricket when the butcher birds are around!

Noisy, mostly crap video. I was trying to sneak up on a Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) sitting on her nest. I did, and she soars at 1:25. I tried to find the eggs but lost my mark and did not find them. The rest of the video is mostly noisy crap.

However, this is what nighthawk eggs in a nighthawk nest look like. At least around here. I found these yesterday about eight miles north of where I shot the video this morning.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


  1. Nothing to add, just checking in to let you know your posts are working. And read.
    Glad you got the herpes out on their way, so you might be less tempted to push too hard.

    1. Thanks John. The support I get from you readers is so very cool and so very much appreciated! There's one grad student still hanging around. I'm gonna show him some sites today as well as try to get some fencing done. I'm in the middle of a complex dance, trying to find an ever moving sweet spot between too much and not enough. It's frustrating but also a challenge. It's hard but better than the alternative of quitting.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Pretty day out there.

    Really hoping you get some relief on the nerve pain, that's gotta suck.



    1. Super beautiful out here this spring.

      I'm forging ahead on the nerve pain front and making progress. Whether medicine/surgery will be able to add useful help we'll find out over time. At least the logjam appears to be shifting. Just hope all them logs don't break loose at once and mash me into pulp!

      Yeah, software...

      Some people's kids...

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Skip, thanks for stopping by and commenting!