Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Night Nibble!



At your service.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where've I been?

Sick in bed, that's where. With a bad cold.

(I refuse to call it a "flu" because I've never had the flu before. I've never had anything where I've been throw-uppy and diarrhea-y, so I've. never. had. the. flu. So no, I'm not getting a flu shot, so quit asking me.)

(But I have had pneumonia.)

(And bronchitis.)

I think the worst part of being sick AND a curmudgeon, like I am, is that now all those people who were coughing around my cubicle last week are all whispering about ME --"why doesn't she just go home and quit spreading her germs!?" Which is what I was saying about THEM last week. Big jerks. If they'd stayed home when I'd grumbled/asked them, I wouldn't be sick!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Prayers and hopes are answered!

I went into the vet's office last night expecting the worst. It's kinda in my nature to be a pessimist; it's only when I'm outside among the birds and trees, or when I'm with my dear friends like The Flock or my Matty McMatterson, or when I think about our wonderful new president, that I'm upbeat and happy and hopeful.

And so it was with heavy heart that I walked with my little Son, Moon, and Stars™ in Ellen Scholz's All Creatures Veterinary Care Clinic. I knew we had an uphill battle, fighting an infection that had affected Niblet's skull, so I was prepared to hear bad news.

Boy, was I wrong.

Indeed, Dr. Scholz was surprised at how fast and how well Nibble's incision has been healing! She then cleaned out the fake-ear opening she made, pulling some hair and some scabby stuff out of the site. Then she flushed the wound: NO PUS! Niblet's beating the infection! Everything came out clear, and we're on the road to a full recovery!

I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear this; I became giddy, joking with the doctor about how strong my little man is, how he can poop more poops per hour than any other bunny known to man! How he can eat a carrot faster than a speeding bunny! How he can put a hole in my shirt lickety-split with one nibble! I was so happy.

So here's my sweet bun, back home from the vet's office, having a little treat because he was such a brave boy:He didn't have to be put under anesthesia or anything for the stitch removal; they just held him and he was very brave about it, barely even flinching. That's my tough little guy!

This morning, I squirted his antibiotics onto his pellets and he ate them up like a good boy:So you can see where he's bald still, the affected area from the surgery. And the little red spot is where he has his fake-ear opening. I asked Dr. Scholz about what the goal is, and she said we'll keep him on his Baytril for another week, plus there's this steroidal ointment I have to squirt into his fake-ear opening once a day for a while, and then we have to go back for another check-up in two weeks (and she'll file down his molars--more on this later). Ideally, everything will still be clean, and the hole will be there to release any kind of drainage from his inner ear etc., and then he'll be a normal little bunny! (or as normal as a cute-as-a-button earless bunny can be)

The molars thing: His front teeth are actually fine--he's been eating his hay and his fruit-wood sticks and stuff, and he's fine. But apparently, bunnies' molars don't meet flush and so where there's no meeting (and thus grinding down), the molars tend to get a little "peak" on them. This must be filed down from time to time. So that's what she'll do in two weeks.

The best thing is that I finally had a night where I didn't suffer from the reflux I've been having for the last two weeks or so. I'm weird with stress; my mind and my emotional well-being are rarely affected by stress. My body, on the other hand, shows stress like a badge of honor, with searing pain in my neck or shoulders, or the old standby gastro-esophageal reflux. That's always fun. I actually threw up the night before the appointment, it was so bad. But last night, happy and with Nibble munching his hay contentedly, I slept well and without too much pain.

We still have our check-up in a fortnight, but I'm confident that things will be fine. Niblet and I will take good care of his little fake-ear opening, and we'll watch Buffy on DVD, and we'll welcome the coming spring together while we listen to the Ella Fitzgerald CD that Lynne, that sweetie and lover of turkey vultures everywhere, sent us to show she was thinking of us:It even has one of our favorite songs, "It's Only a Paper Moon!" Once again, all is right with the world.

Well, except for the fact that we had snow flurries this morning....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Niblet update on an important day

Today's important because he's getting his stitches removed. The appointment is this evening at 6:15, and I'm vaguely remembering from his surgery appt that Dr. Scholz said he'd need to be anesthetized again for the stitch removal, as well as for a tooth check. Seems I haven't been giving Niblet enough apple and pear wood sticks to chew, and his teeth are just a hair (heh) too long. So she'll be taking care of that tonight as well -- at least I think I remember that. I really was pretty wacked out on the day of his surgery. I wouldn't be surprised to find out I'd forgotten to wear pants that day, but I don't recall any screams or stares.

I don't recall them, anyway.
I hope I'm not right about the anesthesia, because it's really traumatic to see him go under and then have to wake up and stuff. His little soft body goes so limp, and it makes me scared and sad.

This morning, I tried to look closely at the incision site because it seemed a little puffy to me, but I touched it and he ran away. Now I'm really worried that underneath, he's developed more pus and stuff, hence the puffiness. Let's hope not.
Full report tomorrow, probably with new pictures (I'm hoping she'll clean him up a bit and he won't be all bloody and stuff). Think of my little Son, Moon, and Stars™ tonight, friends.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Barnegat Light ordeal--close to home!

This morning, one of the more prolific commenters on the PA birding listserv informed us that HE was the one who fell between the rocks on the Barnegat Light jetty! He got some spectacular images, but oh, at what a cost!

If you're interested in his account (and photos), visit his site. At least he retained his sense of humor!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Indoor birding with bun

Thanks again for all your prayers and positive thoughts for me and my wee bun. I still haven't been able to bring myself to post a photo of him post-surgery, but I did want to give you an idea of the situation, so I've modified this little photo:So the red area is all shaved now, with some dried blood and such. (calming breaths) The little blue area is approximately where Dr. Scholz created a new opening to Niblet's inner ear. She had some difficulty, as normally she would've stitched the opening to his ear canal; however, as Niblet had no ear canal left, thanks to the infection, she couldn't do that. Still, the little hole is there, and we're due at Dr. Scholz's office on Thursday evening to get Niblet's stitches removed. At that point, I'm hoping to learn whether the infection is being minimized by the antibiotics and how Niblet's treatment will proceed.
- - - - - - - -

I don't know if there are any documented cases of sleeping sickness in Bellefonte PA, but I honestly believe I was bitten by a tsetse fly this weekend. I slept and slept, Niblet right beside me, and when I wasn't sleeping, I was obsessively making bird lists and thumbing through bird guides.

During the sleep-intensive weekend, Niblet and I aired out the house some, what with our temps being in the 50s. Niblet is back to his usual eating and drinking habits, which is a big relief. At first he wasn't too keen on the medicine smell in his pellets, but he's gotten used to it. He's eating his greens, accepting with relish the bits of strawberry I've taken to giving him, and nibbling up the small amount of pellets (with meds squirted on them) I give him in the morning and the evening. At night, when I get in bed and settle in to read or do a crossword, he jumps up there with me and that's when I squirt chloramphenicol ointment into his newly created ear hole. He's so brave, not even flinching when I do this. What a good little boy!

Meanwhile, Gretchen and I have decided to do our camping trip in Cape May instead of a state park in PA. Same price, and with the two of us splitting gas and costs, it'll be an affordable and fun way to get a great birding trip in before I leave for the West Coast!

All of my Flock friends will be in West Virginia, whooping it up with BT3 and Zick and Chet Baker -- which I will miss intensely! -- but this way, costs are kept down and I'm not away from Niblet for quite as long. The official dog of beginningtobird will be with us as well:
This is Domino wearing Laurie's winter hat. Gretchen and I have taken to calling this photo "Driving Miss Nommy." "That's not the way to the Piggly-Wiggly!"

I asked Niblet if he wanted to come camping with us, but he said there was no way we'd catch HIM camping out in a tent among the common cottontails and such. He has his standards. So his Auntie Anne will be coming over to take care of him while I'm gone.

When we weren't napping, Niblet and I were watching Buffy on DVD and making a list of potential lifers I'll have a good chance of seeing in Cape May. According to my Cape May checklist, there are 40 birds that are common or fairly common at that time of year that would also be lifers for me. It'll be harder to ID some of the peeps and such, without a real field trip leader with us, but I'm also going to be studying my copy of BT3's Identify Yourself to make sure I'm as prepared as possible to tell the difference between a Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Least Sandpiper or whatever.

Most of the birds on my list of 40 are peeps and other such shore and marsh birds. There are also a couple of warblers, some sparrows, and six or seven songbirds I'll be looking to see. I can't wait to go to my favorite spots on the cape--the Beanery, that marshy area owned by the Nature Conservancy? maybe? (I think it's called the Migratory Bird Refuge now), the big pond at Cape May Point, and of course the beaches at Cape May Point and Sunset Beach. We might also take the ferry over to Lewes and back for a "mini-pelagic," though I'm not sure we'll be able to squeeze that in. I wonder if Liz and Jeff Gordon will be home; I'll have to check. (How lucky am I to have gone to high school (and been in a children's theatre production of The Frog Prince) with Liz Gordon back when she was Liz Fleming? She played the wicked queen; I played a sprite named Spree. Ah, memories!)

Gretchen and her family used to go to Cape May every summer, so it'll be old home weekend for her too. We're both so excited about the prospect of doing some heavy-duty birding together, especially since she got a pair of Vortex binocs!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Newest news of the Nibble

Niblet is doing well two days after his surgery. The cage confinement didn't last too long, however; I got home yesterday and found his greens (and the strawberry) untouched and some massive disapproval in evidence on Nib's face. I was worried--when a bunny won't eat, you know the end is near.

So I let him out and he back-feet-flipped me off and hid under the couch. I ended up moving his greens and stuff near the couch and he ate them right away. He even finally ate the pain-med-suffused strawberry, but not until sometime after 1 a.m. I still haven't seen him drinking anything, however, and that worries me.

This morning he was lively and did his usual morning ablutions (litty, nibble on hay, litty, nidge my head to wake me up, litty, litty, disapproving looks, litty). I chased him for some 20 minutes before finally giving up on dosing him directly; I squirted the pain med and antibiotics into some pellets, left him a big pile of greens, and said "All this better be gone when I get home from work!"

No response from under the couch.
I'll give him one thing: he's stubborn like his mama.

Last night, a friend came over and we went for a walk in the cold night air. We cruised through downtown Bellefonte (like New York, only ... NOT) and found some pretty scary window-shopping:

Great Horned Great Eyed Great Nightmare Owl?

There were also some really creepy dolls, but it was too dark to capture their images. That, or the camera simply couldn't capture their spectral presences.

Once again, Niblet and I thank you so much for all your good wishes, and I'll keep you posted. At this point, I'm hoping that when we go to get his stitches removed on Thursday, Dr. Scholz will say that the infection hasn't worsened (no more pus has developed). She mentioned something about a draining mechanism to keep it all at bay, but honestly--I was a little in shock while she was talking about the future, so I'm not sure what the future holds. All I know is that we're taking it one day at time, one dosing at a time, and we're hoping for the best. I'm just not ready to lose my little love. (Will I ever be ready?)
Going birding tomorrow morning, I think--I've been obsessively thumbing through my Eastern birds guide trying to figure out the best places to get these birds before I leave for the West. I'm wondering whether a trip to Cape May is possible, so that I can get some more terns and gulls and stuff. Maybe another mad-dash day trip, but without the getting lost parts? Laura, what do you think?

Meanwhile, I'll just have to content myself with local birding. And if it kills me, I'm gonna see an American woodcock, dangit, not just hear it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Niblet update

Well, it was a long day of anxious waiting yesterday, to see what would happen when Dr. Scholz went in for her exploratory surgery on Niblet's non-ear. The results were not good. It seems the infection that brought about the abcess has been there lots longer than the abcess itself. It had completely eaten away Niblet's ear canal, and there were signs that his skull bone was infected as well.

I had two choices--1. put him down without letting him wake up from the anesthesia, and 2. go for an experimental treatment, in which Dr. S would construct a permanent opening by which we could access the infection and inner ear directly and thus treat the infection. Obviously, I couldn't just let him go--not without giving him a fighting chance. So we chose to fight.

I don't want to talk too much about the specifics of the operation except to say that I was there for the end of it and watched Dr. S sew him up. There was some bleeding from the bone, and that was worrisome, but it's stopped now. I took a photo of Niblet's half-shaved head, but it was still pretty bloody (she didn't want to wipe it too much for fear of starting the bleeding again) and I just didn't think you should see him that way.

Instead, you can look at him the normal way, eating some notes I took on a book about archeology:He's such a little imp!

He is very active and alert, and he wants to run around and be his happy little self. However, I have to keep him in his cage for at least a day or so while the bone stops bleeding for good. He needs to rest and relax and heal. He's not too happy about the cage, or the meds I have to squirt into his mouth, but I'm determined to take the best possible care of him.

Already he's started protesting in his little ways: his newest trick is to dig fiercely in his litty, kicking dirty Yesterday's News litter out of the cage and onto my bedroom carpet! He also won't take his meds the easy way--I was squirting them onto some pellets which he would then eat. Well, he seems to have wised up to this trick, and now he raises his nose at his pellets. Imagine! This bunny, who normally flips out for pellets like they're his crack or something, is now refusing to eat the pellets! Sheesh. I was a half-hour late to work this morning, chasing him around the apartment, under the couch, etc. I finally got the antibiotics down, but he squirmed away before I could give him the pain med. So I just poked the syringe into a strawberry and squirted it in there, and gave him the strawberry. I'm sure he'll eat it (I hope).

So wish us luck, pray, think good thoughts, light a candle--whatever you can do for my little Son, Moon, and Stars™. He's got to beat this bone infection. He's too full of life, as my dear FranSheIs said on the phone with me yesterday, to just go down without a fight.

Monday, March 09, 2009

More birds than I've ever seen in my whole life

this photo idea came off a lot better in my head than it did in reality

NOW UPDATED! with pics!

Middle Creek was soooo worth the long drive (~3 hrs), which of course is NOTHING compared to the "Horned Guan Death March" (lol) that Birdchick and Mike Bergin went on. Poor souls! I never would've made it up that mountain. They would've had to leave me there to die in the dust.

Still--it was a long drive, and I didn't know either of the people I was with, so you know my shyness was on display. . . . as if. Unfortunately, my brain snapped into "talk like your life depends on it!" mode, which means they got to hear all sorts of ridiculous Delia-lore. I won't bore you with it, but let's just say I think Maggie, Anne, and Deb (left to right) probably think I'm a psycho-clown:
Oh well.

Anyway--we arrived at Middle Creek around 3 in the afternoon, and I got my first look at Snow Geese and Tundra Swans! The official count was about 50K birds that day, which pretty much blew my mind. I even got video of a little swarm-up (a plane flew over and spooked 'em). [Can't get the video to "do"--grrr!!! Photos must suffice. Hmph.]
It was mind-blowing, seeing so many birds all in one place. There were dozens of people there too, all to watch this spectacle--which was neat.

I took lots of photos of the pure white geese, the pretty blue-morphs, and the huge Tundras. We also saw a Bald Eagle out on the water; he sat there for at least a half hour, just hanging out. We saw several baldies that day, all over the place, including one on a nest (no photo of that; we could barely make her out thanks to the fading light). We did not get to the see the Short-eared Owls that apparently EVERYONE ELSE on the listserv saw that day, but I did get to hear an American Woodcock! It was pretty dark, so there was no seeing them, but still--an ear lifer!

All told, I saw 30 species Saturday, and my lifers for the day were Snow Goose, Tundra Swan, Common Merganser, and the ear lifer American Woodcock.

OH--forgot to mention this yesterday: we drove around the trail and encountered this field of fake birds, which even featured some moving decoys flapping up:
What did it mean? How did it work? Upon closer inspection, we found the culprits:We couldn't figure out whether they were hunters or park-hired "attractors," working to get the birds over to this other section of the park. ?

On Sunday morning, I got up and despite the rain, I decided to visit Bald Eagle State Park to see if there were any interesting ducks or other waterfowl. The lake was waaaaaay down, which was weird to see; no idea where all the water went. I saw a flock of about 70 Tundras fly over at one point--on their way home to the extreme north, I guess. Wonder if they'd been at Middle Creek with me yesterday.

I saw a little raft of about 30 Ring-necked Ducks, 6 Redheads, and then 3 "mystery ducks" -- UPDATE: Not ducks! Hooded Mergansers in winter plumage!

Told you the pics weren't too great.

Oh--I forgot to show you this little "rescue kit": So you use that plank that says "ICE RESCUE" on it as a ski, pushing with your shoe'd foot, and then turn the plank over and it somehow serves as an anchor (I don't see how--there aren't any nails or anything on it to anchor it--blind faith?), then I guess you push that ladder out there (that part's not in the instructions!). Luckily, there was no lake, much less ice, so no one needed this mentally challenged Texan to help him out. Whew!

So--pics now here, and ID done. Meanwhile, how was your weekend?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

San Antonio wrap-up

If this isn't a House Sparrow or a Field Sparrow next to that Black-crested Titmouse, that'll be another bird on my list! Any guesses? (It's probably just a house sparrow)

It was quite a week for me in San Antonio: I saw my family, much of whom I'd not seen in four years; I saw my parents' new home; I birded; I had good Mexican food; and I met a bloggy hero, Karen Zipdrive. I'm smiling as I type, just remembering all the good times.

I wish I could post a few more photos from my last morning of birding, but I left my USB transfer cable at my parents' house so I can't get the pics off my camera! Dangit! I'll include some other photos, though, and give you the birdy recap.

Total species seen: 35
Lifers seen: 6

Kinda disappointing, but it IS rather early, even in Texas I think. We had great weather (in the 80s) every day except my first Saturday (60s and cloudy/rainy) and my last Saturday (50s with a serious windchill). Still, there were a lot of cardinals and mockers everywhere, but not a whole lot of other birds.

My list, with lifers highlighted in red--there was some confusion in my brain as to whether I'd already notched a Blue-headed Vireo; I had. However, I realized I had not gotten a Carolina Chickadee, so that made up for it:
American Kestrel
Bewick's Wren
Black Vulture
Black-crested Titmouse
Blue Jay
Blue-headed Vireo
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Common Grackle
Eastern Phoebe
European Starling
Field Sparrow
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Great Egret
Great Horned Owl (heard only, not seen, dangit!)
Great-tailed Grackle
House Sparrow
Inca Dove
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Shoveler**
Orange-crowned Warbler
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Rock Pigeon
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Turkey Vulture
White-winged Dove
Yellow-rumped Warbler
**the mystery duck from my other post; thanks to the commenter who suggested that--I saw it again on my last day and checked out his huge bill and knew instantly

Not a bad haul, I guess--considering I had no idea where I was half the time. I'm sure there were other birds everywhere I went. I am certain I saw some sort of thrasher or thrush at one point, but I didn't see it long enough to get an ID. Also, I am almost certain I saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker; however, according to the SA Audubon Society's listing, it would've been rather a rarity. I only got a quick glance, but I'm pretty sure that it was a Red-bellied. I wanted to make it into a Ladder-backed, but I couldn't do that either; I just didn't get a good enough look.

Tomorrow, I'll be heading to the Lancaster PA area to visit Middle Creek, where there are up to 80,000 migrating Snow Geese at this time of the year! It snowed on Tuesday, however, so the birder I'm going with said it might be down to like 15,000 -- "only" 15,000. AS IF! My mind is already reeling at the thought of seeing that many birds (much less geese) at one time. I'll take pics, and I'll try to get a camera cord so you can see them. Can't wait!