May 2019 Archives

Armadillo blithely walking past trap (animated gif)

It's been awhile since we've published a Random Thursday article [Ed--After reviewing this, it's obvious that it hasn't been long enough.]

Trapping Fails

Following a very quiet winter and early spring in which I actually contemplated the notion that I had trapped out the nuisance wildlife population in our immediate neighborhood. Lately, however, our game camera has captured images of cavorting raccoons and armadillos, and while I myself have been known to cavort, I draw the line at the divots those animals have begun to inflict upon our lawn. So, out came the traps.

I did catch one raccoon last week, but as the images above and below demonstrate, my attempts to corral the armadillo have been futile. The gif at the top of this page shows the 'dillo blithely traipsing by the open trap. They follow the same path pretty much every night, but I managed to miss that path by about a foot.

The following gif demonstrates a more frustrating situation, wherein the armadillo actually enters and activates the trap, but one door drops only half way, and the animal makes a u-turn and walks out the same way it walked in. As it turns out, the trap wasn't completely level, so one of the doors was caught in a bind.

Armadillo escaping from trap (animated gif)

In the immortal words of Snidely Whiplash...Curses! Foiled again!

Update (05/29/19): And the fails just keep coming. I trapped a raccoon overnight but waited until after breakfast to haul it away. That gave it enough time to bang into the trapdoor and escape. Does it have enough discipline to avoid the temptation of more sardines tonight? We shall see.

Texas Music

MLB and I spent last weekend in Fredericksburg (that's Texas, y'all, not Virginia) at the annual Crawfish Festival (which has been the subject of a previous Gazette post), and we spent several hot and humid hours over two days dancing to a variety of music, mostly country but also zydeco and rock & roll. On Saturday evening, we cruised over to Hondo's for stacked enchiladas, and stuck around for some dancing on their patio. It was a fun time, made more so by the musical antics of the Mitch Jacobs Band

I suspect that most of margarita-fueled crowd at Hondo's didn't even notice that the lead singer inserted an entire verse of The Who's Pinball Wizard into the band's rendition of Folsom Prison Blues...but I certainly did. Can't quite get a handle on it? Try these lyrics with this tune:

He ain't got no distractions
Can't hear those buzzers and bells
Don't see lights a flashin'
Plays by sense of smell
Always gets a replay
Never seen him fall
That deaf dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pin ball

It works, right? The only logical question might be "why?" but there's no logic in Texas music.

Later on, the band performed the Waylon Jennings classic, Luckenbach, Texas, and the singer took the liberty of impersonating Willie Nelson, Julio Iglesias, and -- wait for it -- Bob Dylan. Again, I don't think he got the crowd reaction his skillful performance deserved, but I was impressed.

The Dogs of John Wick

I took my truck in this afternoon for scheduled maintenance and [the always ridiculous] state inspection. Since the garage is within walking distance of the movie theater in Marble Falls, I suggested to MLB that she meet me there for the matinee of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. [As an aside, the use of both a colon AND a hyphen in a movie title is incontrovertible evidence of the producer's delusions of grandeur.]

If you're familiar with the John Wick franchise, you know that the main character has an affinity for dogs, and there's a canine sub-plot in each installment. JW:C3-P is no different, except there are TWO dog plots. Without spoiling anything, MLB and I both felt that some German Shepherds absolutely stole the show, without even being main characters. I suspect at least some of the dogs' performance was CGI-enhanced, but it was seamless with the actual animal acting which was nothing short of breathtaking. I wouldn't bother going to see the movie if you're only in it for the dog action -- the overall level of violence makes the first two seem like Mary Poppins spin-offs -- but if you know what you're getting into, the Shepherds elevate the action considerably.
Alert Gazette readers will recall this account of suspected predation of a nearby bird nest by a rat snake. As devastating as it surely was, the parents refused to be discouraged, went right back to work, and hatched another brood of birdlets (black phoebes, to be precise). To date, the new batch of nestlings has escaped victimization by viper and the siblings have grown to become the avian equivalent of millennials. Of course, that comes with a whole new set of challenges.

If you thought the snakes were tough, mom says something like..."hold my beer."

In a bit of serendipity, MLB happened to perceive some commotion on the back porch in the vicinity of said nest, and had the presence of mind to video the goings-on with her phone. The result is an extremely interesting bit of nature that I've only read about -- and even then, I've always thought it was fictionalized. I've stitched her video footage together with some of mine (things got even more interesting following her initial recording), and the following short video is the result. Feel free to take a look, then let's unpack what happened, shall we?



So, at the risk of overly anthropomorphizing the situation, this appears to be a case of a parent getting fed up with the kids who moved back home after college, and who spend their [brief] waking hours playing video games in the basement and not doing their own laundry. If any of you find yourselves in a similar situation with your progeny, perhaps you'll take some comfort in knowing that the instincts that you're barely suppressing are actually a normal occurrence in the natural world. 

Hawk in back yard pecan treeBut, we still have questions. To wit:

  • At least two nestlings were thrown out of the nest, but one was left. How did the parent decided which ones needed to go, and which one could stay?

  • After evicting the little bird from the nest, did the parent really warn it about the presence of the hawk, as I've theorized in the video? How else can we explain the quiet stillness of the little guy while the hawk was in the tree, given its animation before and after the hawk's appearance?

  • And finally, how much therapy will the remaining nestling need after witnessing the plight of its siblings?
If you care to weigh in on these ornithological puzzles, please do so. But until I hear a better explanation, I'll continue to assume that parental tough love doesn't preclude life-preserving behavior.


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This page is an archive of entries from May 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

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