I love biking, especially in Boulder. There are trails everywhere, and lots of fun wildlife. Whenever I’m out I see hawks, prairie dogs, red winged blackbirds, rabbits, and more. Sometimes even owls.
What I did not expect to see the other day, however, was a big ol’ turtle lumbering across the bike path! [Click the picture to testudinate.] For scale, I’d guess his (hers? Who can tell?) shell was about 30 cm across. He was trying to get to a creek off the path, I think, when I got this shot.
I switched to video on my camera, and happened to catch a moment that I’m sure would embarrass the turtle if it had access to YouTube:
Ha! Boom. Clearly, he shook it off and kept going. After I took this clip, he got a better look at how steep the creek bank was, changed his mind, and turned around. That process took several minutes; turtles are in no hurry.
As far as video quality goes, my apologies for a) the panting; I had just gotten off my bike to take the video so I was still catching my breath, and 2) the wrong aspect ratio for the video; I was holding my phone sideways to take pictures and didn’t turn it upright for the video. Sigh. I guess turtles have the right idea. Hurrying just gets you in trouble.
Ah, Caturday. When else would I post a picture of two adorable owlets?
[Click to strigiformenate.]
These are two Great Horned Owlets, babies from a mated pair that come back every late winter to the same nest in Boulder not far from my house. There’s a bike path there, and so I see them frequently. My brother-in-law Chris took this shot a few weeks ago; since then they have flown off to do whatever it is owls do (but he has another way-too-cute pic of them snoozing on that branch, too).
However, yesterday the weather was nice so I took a ride along a different set of trails. I spotted a group of four people peering into the trees off the trail, and had a hunch what they were seeing. I stopped and asked, and they pointed out to me an owlet nestled between two branches about ten meters away. They told me one parent owl had just left, and they had seen another owlet earlier. I had always figured owls all nested around the same time, but clearly that’s not the case; the owlets pictured above are at least a month older than the one I saw yesterday.
I love Boulder. Not just because I get to see owls, which is actually pretty cool. But also because people will go out of their way to get a peek at them, and welcome others to join in and watch as well. I know that’s not unique to this town, but it is definitely a part of this town.
That, and the owls.
Today is Caturday, expanded in these parts to include all animals, things animal-like, and pretty much whatever I want it to mean.
Including dogs. My brother-in-law Chris is a photographer, and snapped this funny picture of my pseudonymous dog Canis Minor just as she was about to do one of her favorite things in the whole world: catch a ball.
I love my dogs. They’re friendly, smart, quirky, and loving themselves. But it’s pictures like this that remind me that while we may have domesticated them (really, domesticated each other), there remains some of that fierceness of their pack hunting past in them.
I was in a conversation recently about how smart dogs are, and whether they are self-aware. It was an interesting topic, and it centered on humor; it seems logical that to have humor you must be self-aware. Do other animals besides us have senses of humor? Dolphins?
I’ll note that when she was a puppy she couldn’t catch a ball if her life depended on it. Then suddenly, one day, boom! She never missed. It’s amazing to watch a ball take a bad hop when I throw it, spinning it off in a near-random direction, but she still manages to catch it even when running alongside it. Dogs have astonishing reflexes.
* Just the other day, though, my other dog was looking at me in the mirror as I talked to her. The sound of my voice was clearly coming from behind her, but she was looking forward, at my reflection in the mirror as I spoke — when I stopped talking, she turned her head away from the mirror and looked directly at me. She may not pass the mirror test for her own reflection, but it really looked like she was aware she was looking at my reflection. I can’t be sure, of course, which is why scientists like to test these things carefully.
It’s Caturday, and I have decided to expand my definition once again to include not just animals but also things that aren’t alive that look like things that are alive.
So I present to you angry slippers yelling at you:
What are they yelling about?
These slippers were a gift from my mother-in-law to The Little Astronomer, which just goes to show you the world’s a pretty funny place if you keep your eyes open and sense of humor primed.
I took a family vacation recently (as those who follow me on Twitter already know; see also here, and here). I haven’t talked about it at all, but we were visiting friends in Mexico. We took a day to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza — the day after the Equinox, thankfully; it’s massively crowded there due to a light show on the Temple of Kukulkan, the great ziggurat there — and it was spectacular. I promise I will write about that at some point, for what I hope are obvious reasons.
But in the meantime, since it’s Caturday, and I’ve chosen to expand that to any animal, here is a little fella we saw while we were there:
[Click to iguananate.]
We actually saw dozens of iguanas, and my brother-in-law Chris took lots of excellent pictures of them (like this one, too).
We learned the Mayan word for iguana is xtoloc, pronounced SHTO-lok. This is my new favorite word in the whole world (ironically, taking the spot previously held by "Quetzlcoatl"). Whenever we see a lizard on TV, I turn to The Little Astronomer and say, knowingly, "Xtoloc", and it always gets a smile from her.
If I ever write a Star Trek story, I will name a Vulcan character Xtoloc.
I actually learned many Mayan words while down there, and it’s just about the coolest spoken language I’ve ever heard. Plus, they start lots of words with X, which is really just inherently cool as well.
It’s Caturday! What better day for a nap?
Despite any folk tales, Leo did not steal any of Mrs. BA’s breath. But you can still tell she’s planning something evil. I know what she’s capable of.
Here at Chez BA we have two dogs and a cat. They get along, kinda. There’s a lot of sniffing followed by swatting, for example, and the occasional spirited if short-lived chase.
But there is also harmony. Sometimes. It’s common for the animals to fall asleep together on the couch, and it’s usually extremely cute. I saw Canis Major and Leo (not their real names) napping on the couch recently, and thought what a sweet picture that would make. But when I took the shot…
This explains a lot of things, including the worried look on Canis Major’s face, and the recurring red marks on my arms.
I haven’t posted a Caturday picture in a while, and this one presented itself to me.
How proud am I, that on a cold Boulder winter’s day, Canis Major sought out the brightest astronomical infrared source she could find?
The simplicity of this belies its awesomeness.
Ah yes, they use the Lirpaw. But that’s expected in the koon-ut-kah-li-feeline.
My brother-in-law Chris is becoming a mainstay here on BA Caturdays. But his pictures are just so good! And since it’s Caturday, why not go big this time?
[Click to enfelinate.]
That’s a mama tiger and her cub at the Denver zoo. My family went there recently (without me; I was under a deadline for an article and was leaving the next day for North Dakota) and had a great time. I went with my wife and daughter last year, and it’s a really nice zoo. One of the better underrated ones.
While they were there Chris got lots of other great pictures, including this lazy ursine fellow. He’s also been taking pictures of hikes into the Rockies, and they’re spectacular as well. Check out the rest of his stuff on Flickr!