There Is A Bear…

There is a bear I’ve never seen
Who lives in our back woods
I don’t know if he’s nice or mean
(But aren’t bears mostly good?)
There’s lots of signs he’s been around,
His footprints, or some hair
And battered logs ‘neath which he’s found
Some termites hiding there.


There is a deer I’ve never seen
Somewhere behind my house
He comes at night and eats my greens
As quiet as a mouse.
In springtime in my daily jaunts
I find his antlers shed
And in the deepest forest haunts
I observe his nightly beds.


There is a squirrel I’ve never seen
Way high up in the pines
I hear his chatter, loud and keen
If I disturb his peace of mind.
He cuts cones from the highest trees
And shucks them at the base
But seldom leaves one nut for me
That I might take a taste.


There is a bird I’ve never seen
That sings from somewhere near
His lilting call is sweet and clean
But ne’er does he appear.
I imagine feathers gay and bright
As gaudy as his song
Which greets me with the morning light
And lasts the whole day long.


There’s many things that go unseen
That hide from human eyes
In treetops high, or deep ravines
With colors that disguise.
These gifts of life we can’t forget
And thus, must always care
That safe and well they’ll all remain…(and yet,
I’d still LOVE to see that bear!)

Dean Carrier-1988

Encounters With Weasels

Sitting in the blind 10 yards from the water basin where I had been watching for various birds to come in to drink, I was growing drowsy…the intensity of the sun in a cloudless sky heated the inside of my fabric blind and there was little action at the basin.  Suddenly, an abrupt movement in the rocks surrounding the basin jarred me alert.  As I watched, a long-tailed weasel appeared and disappeared, seeking out the nooks and crannies where a hapless chipmunk may be hiding.  Finding none, it went to the basin and drank, then stood on its hind legs surveying its surroundings, then into a crevice where it allowed me the time to capture a number of images.  Then, as swiftly as it appeared, it was gone.

Long-tailed Weasel 2a

I reviewed the images on the camera’s screen and saw an animal one could only describe as “cute.”  Bright eyes, groomed fur…a teddy bear of a wild creature.  But as a biologist I knew that behind that “cute” was an animal that survived through its ability to kill; its sole purpose in life to execute and devour small animals; and its propensity to kill more than it needed to sustain itself because that was its nature.  To look at it, who would guess?  But cute?  Oh my, yes!

Yellow Pine Chipmunk 7a

Returning home the next day I found my wife in tears having had an encounter with a “weasel” of a human being…a neighbor.  This person feigns concern for others but on the inside the fires of hatred and anger burn brightly.  Blaming my wife for her one failing, being overly compassionate for all living beings whether they be other humans or animals, she chastised and threatened my wife and accused her of acts she knew were unfounded and false in an obvious effort to hurt.  Her anger likely stemmed from several former incidents, probably the foremost was my wife’s refusal to abandon a neighbor and friend who had suffered a severe setback as a result of the actions of her family as well as serious illness.  The issue had the potential to reduce the property values in the neighborhood so in the neighbor’s mind, money outdid compassion and forgiveness.  Not surprisingly, this person is an avowed Christian, but the emotions of compassion and forgiveness are apparently not part of her Biblical interpretations and she looks at life in a purely self-serving manner.

As I pause to consider the incident I realize it was launched with a single purpose…an opportunity to degrade and belittle another so as to impose superiority, an all too common trait of civilized humanity.   It amplifies my questioning the purported preeminence of the human race.  I wonder if the weasel isn’t more honest in its dealings with the chipmunk who knows its sole objective is to devour it.


There are people I know–many of whom I’ve known almost a lifetime– who are convinced Donald Trump should be our next president.  I have grown up with these people; played with them; gone to school with them; laughed and cried with them; drank beer with them.  Our children were playmates.  We all believed in America; believed we were on the right moral path; strove for success, not only for ourselves but to pass it on to our children and their children.  Many of us had to abandon the remnants of the past; the racial biases; religious biases; the disdain for those who loved differently than us; and I believed all of us had.

It’s not that we haven’t had political views that are conflicting.  That is not an unhealthy condition between friends.  Such alternative views stimulate the thought process and often result in the finding of a common ground based on moral values and common sense.  But Donald Trump is not an alternative view.  He is neither a conservative or a progressive or a moderate.  He meets all the criteria of promoting a path of that of a fascist dictator[i], a sociopathic being whose focus on anything else but himself rapidly dissipates.

It is assumed that all politicians are liars, or at least adept in embellishing the truth.  Donald Trump is more than that; he is unequivocally an unabashed liar.  And what he doesn’t outwardly lie about, he either disparages or ignores.  His refusal to allow inspection of his tax returns should ring an alarm loud and clear and yet he began his political career on questioning the authenticity of our President’s birth certificate.  But the lies go on, even though totally disproven, and the adoration is unfazed.  It is over-written by a slogan on a ball cap– not a plan–to “Make America Great Again!”

It’s uncanny to me that so many Christians have readily embraced him.  A man with no religious history; a man whose actions defy Jesus’ teachings that “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17); a man who believes in never turning the other cheek; a man who outwardly brags he has nothing to be forgiven for.  What happened to you moral compass?

To those of you whom I direct this concern:  I cannot grasp your attraction; that you are satisfied that Donald Trump embodies what America has been, what it is, and what it should be in the future.  You appear delighted with his demeaning attitude toward other ideas, including discounting science should it interfere with the bank account; his disdain for other races and genders; and his support of torture; his propensity of developing demeaning names to describe those with whom he disagrees.  Do you really want him as your American role model for the rest of the world?  Are you satisfied that only he can “fix” things (even if he hasn’t produced any plans of any kind)?  I would have to concede you must have lost your minds.

The realization that you, my current and former colleagues, friends and, yes… loved ones, would embrace such a person to represent our American values to the rest of the world is beyond my comprehension…or forgiveness.  I must conclude that I couldn’t ever have  really known you or that you cleverly deceived me as to your true values, not values based on charity, family, compassion, honesty or dignity, but those based on personal greed and self-serving values abandoning any consideration of others, and the future of the world, it’s peoples and even your own grandchildren.

I cannot recall a time I have been so saddened.

[i] A regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

PANAMA (Again!!!)



But it’s not just a canal!


What a place for birds… almost 950 species.  The birders in the group logged about 300of them in 8 days.  Not so good for the photographer (me) as the bulk of the birds were either high in the rain forest canopy or flitting through the dense undergrowth making finding, focusing, and photographing a real challenge.  Still…I got images of almost 50 species (that included 9 species of raptors), 7 mammals and various butterflies.


It was hot, humid and rained a lot but well worth the discomfort.


Lots of rainy days.


Finding a bird in here and trying to focus and get an image is easy…Right?


Open lands in the valleys provide extensive wetland habitats.

Here’s a smattering of the images I got:


Ornate Hawk-Eagle 3x

Ornate-hawk-eagle-The grand prize of the trip.

White & Black Hawk-eagle 3x

White & Black Hawk-eagle

Black Hawk-eagle 1x

Black Hawk-eagle

Yellow-headed Caracara 1x

Yellow-headed Caracara

Plumbous Hawk 1x

Plumbous Kite

Savannah Hawk 2x

Savannah Hawk

Pearl Kite 1x

Pearl Kite

Snail Kite 1x

Snail Kite-Coming in a close second

Striped Owl 1x

Striped Owl



Common Moorehen 1x

Common Moorehen

Pied Water Tyrant 1x

Pied Water-tyrant



Purple-throated Fruit Crow 1x

Purple-throated Fruit-crow

Golden-collared Manakin 1x

Golden-collared Manakin

Trogon 2x

Slaty-tailed Trogon


Smooth-billed Ani 1x

Smooth-billed Ani

Orange-chinned Parakeet 1x

Orange-chinned Parakeet

Linneated Woodpecker 1x

Linneated Woodpecker

Blue-crowned Motmot 1x

Blue-crowned Motmot

Chestnut-headed Oropendola 1x

Chestnut-headed Oropendola



Black-throated Mango 1x

Black-throated Mango

White-necked Jacobin 2x

White-necked Jacobin

Long-billed Starfrontlet 1x

Purple-throated Starfrontlet

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird 3x

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird



Tamandua 3x

Tamandua 1x

Tamandua-Very exciting to spend 10 minutes following this small anteater through the rainforest.

2 -toed Sloth 1x

2-Toed Sloth

3-toed Sloth 1x

3-Toed Sloth with baby

Sloths don’t move much so where they are when you see them, that’s where they stay.

Geoffery's Tamarin 2x

Geoffery's Tamarin 3x

Geoffery’s Tamarin-Only 9 inches tall with a 15 inch tail, they were lured with bananas

White-faced Capuchin 3x

White-faced Capuchin

Hower 1x

Black Howler Monkey

Bats 1x

Unidentified Bat

Agouti 1x

And the ubiquitous Agouti



2016-1st 6 Months

Klamath Refuge, California

Hoping to get breeding waterfowl (especially western grebes courting) I headed to the Klamath Refuge in far northern California in mid-March.  Bad planning as I was too early but there were still a lot of bald eagles and some waterfowl so I didn’t come back with nothing.                         


Bald Eagle

Rough-legged Hawk 3

Rough-legged Hawk   

Merlin 9          Merlin 



Sandhill Crane 47

Sandhill Crane

In mid-April we embarked in mid-April on a trip to the southern deserts of Anza Borrego (California) and southern Arizona but it was too late as we missed the desert blooming and active bird-life by about 3 weeks.  Towed the trailer 2700 miles; uninviting RV parks; hot weather and wind; but great times visiting old friends on the return trip.

Anza Borrego

Leapin’ Lizard RV Park was well kept, quiet and nicely laid out but was (unbeknownst to us) 17 miles from the State Park and surrounded with a very unscenic squalor of…rural “treasures”.


En route to Borrego Springs you pass original steel welded sculptures created by  Ricardo Breceda.  These scultures, commissioned by the late Dennis Avery (Avery Labels), land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates.  There are over 130 metal sculptures depicting pre-historic life in the area.




After 2 mornings of driving the 17 miles to the park headquarters for bird photography with limited results, I decided to cut our visit short and head to Arizona.

White-winged Dove 10

White-winged Dove

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 5

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher



We cut the proposed long drive to Amado, Arizona in half by staying at a Motel 6 in Yuma…minimally acceptable but one of the only one to accept our dog.

Amado, Arizona

Arriving at our RV Park destination in Amado, we quickly realized (again) that it definitely is a mistake to select a park by their web site.  Driving through our initially chosen park we decided to forfeit our deposit, selecting the “next-best” alternative (that was not that much better…but it was paved and had a couple of trees for shade).  Still very windy, though.


My reservation at Bill Forbes Pond at Elephant Head proved profitable in local bird photography from the blind at the pond and a day-trip to Madera Canyon produced a couple more species.  But we had to contend with the wind and thus Kathy spent the time inside the camper reading.

Gamble Quail 8

Gambel Quail 

    Gila Woodpecker 4

                                                                              Gila Woodpecker

Ladderback WP 7

Ladderback Woodpecker

Curve-billed Thrasher 16

Curve-billed Thrasher

Hooded Oriole 4

                                                                        Hooded Oriole


                                                                      Cactus Wren


                                                                                    Mexican Jay

Roadrunner 15


Pyruloxia 8


After that it was strictly heading back north and visiting friends in Arizona and southern California but after 2 weeks it was great to get back home.

 Paradise, California

Due to increased spread of avian disease resulting from birds crowding at feeders in California, we followed the advice of the California Fish and Wildlife Department and removed all our bird feeding devices with the exception of one suet feeder that normally has one bird at a time.  So, photography was limited to watering areas, our trees surrounding the property, and the open space behind.


Acorn Woodpecker 

Phainopepla 12


Oak Titmouse22

Oak Titmouse

Bathtime 9


Off to Panama in July!






When Do We Finally Decide to Call in the Experts?

I should be feeling a great deal of security over the past several months as I have come to the realization that our elected officials, particularly those competing for the presidency, apparently have advanced degrees in physical and political sciences, sociology, economics, and now, military strategy. Obviously they must because they are able to rapidly analyze just what is wrong with our country…and the world…and then accurately propose quick, easy and inexpensive fixes to correct all these problems. They can even assure us that some things we think may be problems are no more than fairy tales. But they lament that sadly; the lack of implementation lies in the White House where our president refuses to listen to them and instead continues to ignore their “right way” to do things, purposefully dragging us further into the depths of becoming a third-world country, his ultimate objective. Some of them further inform us that even God is NOT on the side of the current administration and has commanded several of them to rectify this.

Our recent presidential debates clearly tell us just what is REALLY important to our citizenry. There is an abundance of discussion of Hillary’s e-mails to her daughter, Trump’s corporation bankruptcies, Bernie’s religious affiliations, Carson’s embellishment of his childhood violence, plus the evils of Planned Parenthood and birth control, our unmanaged international borders, and a lack of enforcement of the rules set down in Leviticus. The biggest audience applauses come after diatribes regarding gun rights, abortion and same-sex marriage with global warming and Wall Street corruption getting a real “Ho Hum!” While other issues of national and international importance are briefly addressed, the solutions the candidates provide involve “just doing things a lot differently” but don’t provide any definitive detail as to how or what. “Trust us…we know best. We’re going to build a great wall at no cost to us; we will round-up and deport 11 million non-Caucasians quickly and humanely; we will eliminate welfare, Social Security and Obamacare; lower (or even eliminate) taxes; quadruple military spending; calm the Middle East; repeal all environmental regulations; shrink government spending to less than that of a taco wagon in San Diego; make friends with Putin and eliminate Kim Jong-Un; give everyone a free Ivy League college education; greatly increase the GNP and eliminate the National Debt”; and on ad infinitum. And it all will be done at no cost in a matter of weeks, beginning immediately after the next inauguration. Then money will flow and our crops will grow. Wow! How can I not be excited about the future?

Isn’t the American public smart enough to witness a REAL debate? Aren’t we mature enough to hear the REAL facts? Regarding terrorism, why can’t we have the professional military personnel in our armed forces debate how best to deal with ISIS instead of having to listen to those with no military experience at all? Can we honestly examine the true costs of another war, both monetarily and in American lives? How long will we have to occupy these countries? Forever? Which ones? Can we afford it for the long term? (Rome tried it and it resulted in its collapse). And, please, at least realize, those rhetorical “boots on the ground” will be actually worn by our children and grandchildren, not by disposable and replaceable robots.

I fully realize there’s an overwhelming threat to world peace due to terrorism and religious fervor and something definitely needs to be done to alleviate it. My hawkish genes even admit that what might be required involves huge sacrifices in lives and economic stability. But I also understand that our country’s infrastructure is rapidly collapsing; our schools are in serious need of funding; our climate is changing by the minute; the middle class is disappearing (and dying earlier at an increasing rate); domestic poverty is on the increase; and I want to hear debates on solutions by the true experts, not from evangelical preachers or secularists; not from junior Senators from Florida, Texas and Kentucky ; not between Exxon and Greenpeace; not MSNBC and FOX News; not Solar City and the Koch Brothers; not between the NRA and Michael Bloomberg; not between Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz; and definitely, not involving those adjusting their rhetoric daily in order to garner increased campaign donations. I want to listen to the real honest-to-goodness professionals with the education and experience to effectively analyze these issues of dire importance to the future of this country…and the world, and provide well thought out options for potential solutions. Maybe then I can better decide on how I should vote.

We claim to be the most advanced, educated, and enlightened country on earth but we sure have ceased to function like it.

American Exceptionalism????

Hey Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and all you “Christian” members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans –who voted to turn your backs on Syrian refugees, let me quote YOUR Bible to you:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Matthew 25:35-40

Your piousness seems to only matter when it serves you politically.  SHAME!