Friday, May 17, 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Toad Haul

And I thought peacocks were a nuisance.

A Florida suburb is being plagued by thousands of poisonous toads.

Experts say the amphibians are bufo toads, also known as cane toads. Residents in the infested Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood worry toxins secreted by the toads will harm their pets and children.

News stations broadcast images of the small toads clogging pool filters, hopping en masse across driveways and sidewalks, and lurking in landscaped lawns.

Resident Jennifer Quasha told WPBF her family first noticed the toads Friday. She said hundreds of them were in her swimming pool.

Mark Holladay of the pest removal service Toad Busters told WPTV that recent rains coupled with warm temperatures sent the amphibians into a breeding cycle.

Holladay said even more toads are likely to spread throughout South Florida in the coming weeks.

PS: If you don’t get the punning reference in the title, go read The Wind in the Willows.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Catblogging

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve done this now that Snowball has retired, but when I got a housemate last January he brought along Sombra, which means “Shadow” in Spanish.  She spends most of her time watching the outdoors from her perch in the front window and, like she did yesterday, looking out over the patio at the backyard nature, including the ibises that come by to feed on the morsels in the yard.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Friday, November 23, 2018

Black Friday

I’m all in favor of capitalism and patronizing local businesses, so if spending money for Christmas is what you want to do, go forth, drive carefully, bundle up (if it’s cold), and remember where you parked.

Me, I’m staying home, doing some writing and reflection, and enjoying a four-day weekend.

Last year at this time the vanda orchid was in full bloom.  I haven’t checked recently, but it looked like it was getting ready to do it again.

“Chili pepper” vanda (from the last time it bloomed)

You kids have fun out there.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Moment Of Peace

This is the beginning of a short week for most people here in the U.S.; Thanksgiving is Thursday, followed by the rush to the holidays in the next six weeks.  So here’s something to calm you and remind you that even with snow pummeling the Northeast and traffic at the shops and stores is bordering on mob-like, there are quiet places and sunshine.

Enjoy this view of the hibiscus — one of many — blooming in my front yard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


One of the many things I liked doing with my dad when I was a kid was birdwatching.  We had bird feeders in the yard when I was growing up and I still have my travel-scarred and dog-chewed1962 edition of Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds.  I also keep a life list of birds spotted for the first time.  It got a lot longer when I moved to Florida and got to add such exotics as ibises, egrets, and anhingas.

Dad can’t get out much anymore, so the bird feeders are strategically located so he can see them from his easy chair, and yesterday when I was at the house I caught up with the birds, including goldfinches, juncos, and woodpeckers.  When it gets warm they’ll put out the bottles with sugar water and feed the hummingbirds.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Friday, January 5, 2018

Iguana Get Warm

Time for the annual Florida cold-snap post on reptiles, metabolism, and gravity.

Beware the falling iguanas in South Florida.

When temperatures dip into the 30s and 40s, people from West Palm Beach to Miami know to be on the lookout for reptiles stunned — but not necessarily killed — by the cold. They can come back to life again when it warms up.

In Boca Raton, Frank Cerabino, a Palm Beach Post columnist familiar with the critters, stepped outside and saw a bright green specimen by his pool on Thursday morning, feet up.

“It’s one of those ethical things: What do you do?” he said in an interview.

Iguanas, which can be as long as six feet, are not native to South Florida. They have proliferated in the subtropical heat, causing headaches for wildlife managers — and occasionally popping up in toilets. It took a prolonged cold spell to significantly reduce their population in 2010. (The same cold snap also resulted in the deaths of many invasive Burmese pythons.)

Iguanas climb up trees to roost at night, said Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami.

“When the temperature goes down, they literally shut down, and they can no longer hold on to the trees,” he said. “Which is why you get this phenomenon in South Florida that it’s raining iguanas.” (Including on windshields.)

The larger the iguana, the greater its chance of survival, Mr. Magill added.

“Even if they look dead as a doornail — they’re gray and stiff — as soon as it starts to heat up and they get hit by the sun rays, it’s this rejuvenation,” he said. “The ones that survive that cold streak are basically passing on that gene.”

He suspects that, within a couple of decades, iguanas will creep north because they will be able to withstand colder climates.

On Thursday, Mr. Cerabino poked at the animal with his pool skimmer, hoping to wake it up. In a previous backyard encounter with a paralyzed iguana, he said, picking it up with a shovel did the trick.

But no luck this time.

“He didn’t move,” Mr. Cerabino said. “But he’s probably still alive. My experience is that they take a while to die.”

So he opted for leaving the iguana where it was, “and dealing with it when I come home.”

“He’ll either get enough sun where he’ll revive himself and get himself up the tree, or he’ll continue to freeze and turn dark brown — almost black — and I’ll know he’s dead,” Mr. Cerabino said.

The iguana lived.

Now if only the same thing would happen with peacocks: Scoop ’em up and ship ’em out.

Photo by Frank Cerabino/Palm Beach Post, via Associated Press.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday

I had a wonderful time yesterday with friends at the feast complete with appetizers and the whole turkey lollapalooza. Thank you.

Today will be quiet here; no shopping and no venturing out. If you go, remember where you parked.

Meanwhile, the chili pepper vanda is showing its colors with some new blooms, and the hibiscus is always blooming. Enjoy.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Got A Hoot

Because I had the windows open overnight, I got to hear a Barred Owl.

The Barred Owl’s hooting call, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” is a classic sound of old forests and treed swamps. But this attractive owl, with soulful brown eyes and brown-and-white-striped plumage, can also pass completely unnoticed as it flies noiselessly through the dense canopy or snoozes on a tree limb. Originally a bird of the east, during the twentieth century it spread through the Pacific Northwest and southward into California.

Thanks to my 1962 Field Guide to the Birds and the recordings of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I was able to recognize the distinctive hoots of this bird.  I can now add it to my life list.

If you think it’s unusual to hear a denizen of old forests and treed swamps in the suburbs of Miami, remember that I live in a part of the county that still has such growth.  And at times when I’m coming to work at my office, which is just north of downtown Miami, I hear roosters crowing in the pre-dawn darkness.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Gross Encounters Of The Turd Kind

The Miami Herald reports on the infestation of peacocks in the Miami suburb of Coconut Grove and other neighborhoods, including my own.

Beneath the oak canopy, residents who lived for decades in a cozy, peaceful, jasmine-scented corner of north Coconut Grove walked dogs, tended gardens, exchanged recipes and followed the love-thy-neighbor commandment.

Then the peacocks moved in. And multiplied. When they weren’t fanning their regal plumage they produced prodigious piles of poop. They howled and shrieked at all hours. They pecked at the shiny paint of cars — birdbrains who mistook their reflection for a rival. They ate flowers. They pried off roof shingles. They paraded in packs. They roosted in trees and dug dusty holes in green lawns. They had chicks, who grew into defecating, squawking, scratching, denuding adults.

Double-decker tour buses began rolling through the lush lanes, disgorging passengers who took pictures and dropped cigarette butts in front yards.

Today, the neighborhood stands divided. A nasty feud has pitted those who adore and feed cat food to the pretty peacocks they’ve nicknamed Cookie and Peg Leg Pete against those who loathe and shun the nuisance birds. They have called the cops, accusing neighbors of poisoning or abusing peacocks. They’ve tattled to code enforcement for revenge.

“Arguments, insults, fistfights — it’s out of control, just like the peacock population is out of control,” said Frank Cabreja, former chair of the Coconut Grove Quality of Life Coalition who lives on Natoma Street. “Our street is an example of the conflict between people who think they are cute and people like me who see this as a serious health and hygiene problem. If we were talking about ugly rats instead of beautiful birds, something would be done. Let’s not wait until there’s a horrible incident between emotional neighbors.”

All because of the peacock, or — to use the less sexist term that includes peahens — peafowl, which is the national bird of India, a spectacular creature with its iridescent blue and green coloring, long tail feathers with distinctive eye markings and crowned head that makes it look like a bejeweled invitee to a royal ball.

The peacock was likely introduced to the Grove by homeowners who wanted a stunning yard ornament. They’ve proliferated to Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, up north to El Portal, down south to Palmetto Bay, causing tension wherever they flock.

Nobody from the city of Miami, Miami-Dade County or state seems to know what to do about them because the city is considered a bird sanctuary and county law prohibits tampering with eggs or trapping and removing peafowl unless they are transferred to a protected place.

Even Ron Magill, the Zoo Miami communications director who would never hurt a fly —and would probably build a fly conservation area if he could — does not understand the preoccupation with feeding wild peacocks — an absolute no-no. Like pythons and lionfish, peafowl are non-native species that have upset the equilibrium of nature — and neighborhoods.

“South Florida is a Club Med for exotic, invasive animals,” he said. “People think that instead of a plastic pink flamingo they can have a peacock in their yard. But peacocks do not belong here. They are vectors for disease and parasite transmission, property damage and noise pollution. They have no natural predators. Birds are the most aggressive vertebrates on the planet. Through no fault of their own, these beautiful chickens have become pests.

“Everyone’s heart is in the right place, but even the most passionate animal lover will lose his patience when he slips and falls in peacock feces.”

Cathy Moghari is an animal lover. Her neighbors call her the Peacock Whisperer. At least a dozen peafowl make their home at her home on Crystal Court. They eat sunflower seeds out of her hand and come to her when she clucks her tongue.

“I think of it as a gift to wake up and see these guys in the morning,” said Moghari, calling Blue by name. “It’s kind of a paradise here, and if you can’t bond with nature in the Grove you should live in a high-rise.”

The solution is to round up all the nuisance peafowl and enclose them in the yards of the people in Coconut Grove who feed them. If they love them so much let them have them and see how long it takes for them to get that murderous gleam in their eyes after they scratch the paint off their car or kill their dog.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Backyard Drama

This week I am staging my own version of Aaron Posner’s play “Stupid Fucking Bird,” a hilarious send-up of Anton Chekhov’s “The Sea Gull” in my driveway. It seems that one of the perpetually in-heat feral peacocks was attacking my Mustang which is parked in the driveway while I am boarding a friend’s car while they have work done on their house.

Peacocks may be beautiful to look at but they are stupid beyond repair. This horny bastard thinks his reflection in the side of my car is a rival, and therefore he attacks it. I caught the befeathered and bewildered Lothario in action, chased him off around the house with a broom (and got in my cardio for the day, thank you), and then dug out the cover that used to protect the Pontiac, hence the tribute to Mr. Goodwrench.

In the meantime I am researching recipes for roast peacock. How about on a bed of wild rice with a side of red cabbage?