Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Second Harvey Mountain Video

The dogs and I emerged from the woods back into the Lowbush Blueberry fields atop Harvey Mountain. The trail leads right through these fields and, except for blueberry picking, I'd not strayed off the path lest I trample the plants. But this time I noticed deer paths crisscrossing the fields and decided that I could, in good conscience, follow them. The dogs were quite happy about this development. You can see some of the scenery off in the distance and hear the winds and bird songs:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Harvey Mountain Blueberries - Part 4

This is post number 4 of our Harvey Mountain hike. I was walking (hiking seems to be the wrong word for this easy trek) up to the summit with four of my dogs and hoping that I'd find lots of ripe Lowbush Blueberries. I wasn't disappointed and had snacked on wild blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. But it was a very hot day and the trail led from the blueberry fields into the cool, shady woods, so that's where we headed next:

Baby Clover was by now tired enough to be more obedient and had been relieved of her leash. She was having a grand time leading us all into the woods. She considers herself the Big Boss Lady and, I suppose, always will. I only require that she not be unkind to any other animal and that she obey me. She is very sweet, cuddly and loving, but deep down in her soul, she KNOWS that she's been divinely ordained to be Queen Clover:

The forest was indeed cooler and more pleasant - except for the gnats which, though they didn't bite, were so pesky that they were getting stuck under my eyelids every time I blinked. Off to the side of the trail, I saw a marker:

It designated the Massachusetts/New York state line. I've read that some (New York) locals hike this trail just to come to this spot and pee across the line onto Massachusetts, a good natured jab at our New England neighbors. As for the dogs and me, I'm afraid we'd already emptied our bladders and had to be content just to gaze across the line:

I did, however, set up a happy photo op with me on the Massachusetts side and the dogs still in New York. Don't they look happy? Clover was too busy sniffing out the woodlands to join us:

Seamus needed a rest, but Fergus led the two Papillon puppies on an exploration of an old stone wall:

Fergus seems to love to walk atop these old stone fences and both Clover and Daphne seemed to enjoy it also:

We hiked a bit farther into Massachusetts, but the gnats in my eyes eventually persuaded me to turn back towards New York and the blueberry fields. Clover was quite happy to lead the way:

Papillon puppies in the forest. They seemed right at home. Just as I'd read about the breed, they are not shy, limp-wristed toys, but adventurous and active dogs in small bodies:

This is one of my favorite pictures. It's Fergus emerging from the forest back into the blueberry meadows. The magical contrast of shade and light with the sense of a fairy tale adventure is very true to life. This sort of scene seldom looks the same in a photo, but this time the camera seemed to capture the magic. Well, our hike was not finished yet. I'll post more in the days to come:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Harvey Mountain Blueberries - Part 3

I was hiking up Harvey Mountain with four of my dogs. It was an easy hike, which was a good thing because it was a very hot day. We'd had quite a bit of shade from the forests on each side of the trail, but as we neared the summit, the landscape opened up. You can see the summit just ahead of the dogs in this photo:

Clover was still on her leash because she wasn't yet sufficiently tired to slow down and come when called. She was close to reaching that point, though. This picture shows how thin she is, and that she still has her puppy fuzz. Papillons grow an adult coat of longish, silky hair as they grow up. The vet was worried that she looked so thin, but when she tested negative for worms, he concluded that she was just naturally built that way:

Almost to the summit and with the sky opening up just ahead, Seamus decided to take a rest by the side of the trail. Daphne trotted over to keep him company:

And at the very top of Harvey Mountain were acres and acres of Lowbush Blueberries, many of them ripe:

And they sure were tasty:

The trail traces its way up through the blueberries. I stayed on the trail, but the dogs seemed to enjoy prancing through the blueberry bushes:

The acres of Lowbush Blueberries are not only tasty, but are also excellent for allowing views out over the surrounding Taconic Mountains:

Seamus was hot and needed to rest in the shade. Daphne and Fergus were happy to join him. Both of the Poodles had very woolly coats which were cut short after this hike:

Little Clover, now tired enough to be more manageable, was off her leash and decided to come over and join the resting dogs:

The views from the mountaintop were lovely, but I decided to continue on the trail as it reentered the forest and headed for the Massachusetts state line. But I'll post more about that tomorrow:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Havey Mountain Video

When we arrived at the summit of Harvey Mountain, we found a large field of Lowbush Blueberries. This was of course good for me as I like to eat them, but also a fun place for the dogs to explore. You can hear the winds blowing and the birds singing as the dogs play in the blueberries. They didn't seem to be hurting them at all:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harvey Mountain Blueberries - Part 2

I was hiking up Harvey Mountain with four of my dogs and hoping to find the mountaintop covered with ripe Lowbush Blueberries. The trail was a seldom used service road and quite pleasant. I endeavor to keep the dogs slightly ahead of me so that I can keep an eye on them, but not so far that I can't quickly call them back if necessary. They were doing pretty well - except for baby Clover, that is, who was again exhibiting her stubborn, independent streak. But in this photo, all is going well:

Clover and Daphne, both Papillon puppies, are buddies and like to do as much as possible together. They are incredibly active and athletic. Papillons, I've read, were originally bred to be toy Spaniels, but I've come to think of them as toy Border Collies because of their intelligence, high energy and need to have a job to do. Well, on this day their job was hiking and exploring. They considered it great fun:

Fergus can almost keep up with the two Papillon puppies, but he also understands the need to do as he's told and keep close enough to me. When he forgets, though, he immediately comes when called and we're balanced once again. In this picture, he's exploring an old stone wall, an activity he seemed to enjoy more than once on this hike:

It was a very hot, sunny day and we tended to slow down as we hiked upward. You can almost see Seamus' feet dragging in this picture:

And then I began to see Blackberries all along the trail:

Most of them weren't ripe yet, but I found enough which were ripe to make me happy:

And mixed in were Red Raspberries. They were a real treat. Wild berries heated by the summer sun and eaten out of hand with the birds singing overhead and the aroma of mosses and pines in the air, are among life's greatest pleasures. What version of heaven could compete?:

And then I heard splashing. Seamus was hot and tired, and had found a small brook just off the trail but screened by foliage so that I hadn't noticed it. It had a high population of Wood Frogs which scrambled out of the way when the dogs came down to cool off. You may notice that by this time, Clover was dragging her leash. That's because she was still running too far ahead and not coming when called:

All the dogs got a drink and enjoyed the cooling effects of the shaded brook. The two Papillon puppies were fascinated by the Wood Frogs:

Back on the trail once again, the woods opened up somewhat and we got more sunshine. This made it hotter, but also kept the Steeplebush, Spirea tomentosa, blooming beautifully. But we hadn't yet reached the summit, so I'll post more tomorrow:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvey Mountain Blueberries - Part 1

Once again I felt I needed a short hike and a scenic view for the benefit of my mind and spirit. I'd been to Beebe Hill only this spring, but I happened to know that Harvey Mountain was very near to it and had the biggest patch of Lowbush Blueberries I'd ever seen in my life. And, I suspected, they'd be ripening right about now.

So I piled Seamus, Fergus, Daphne and Clover into the car and headed down to Columbia County. Soon after turning off of the highway, I stopped to snap this lovely scene from my car window:

These are the Taconic Mountains, and many of their hiking trails are exceedingly rugged and steep. Harvey Mountain (and Beebe Hill also) are notable exceptions. They are both easy and scenic. Still in my car, I could see more Taconic peaks just beyond the mountain pass:

I couldn't be sure, but I suspected that this friendly green giant was Harvey Mountain and we'd soon be up there eating blueberries:

It's only a few minutes from the highway to the trail head. Well, actually, I've discovered a service road which is much more pleasant than the designated trail. So I parked near the gravel road and headed up hill with the dogs:

There's a locked gate at the bottom of the hill, so a hiker doesn't need to worry about motorized vehicles. In fact, I've never seen another hiker on this trail, at least not until this hike. I passed a woman and her Labrador Retriever just as we began our hike:

So we began our ascent and the dogs were all excited, especially little Clover. She was once again running too far ahead and refusing to come when called. I could tell that this would be another learning experience for both her and me:

The walk up this service road is so smooth and pleasant that it's almost wrong to call it a hike. The scenery is beautiful, the bird songs are plentiful and the sunlight which penetrates down to the edges of the service road makes for lots of flowers in bloom:

I saw a new and bizarre fungus which looked like popcorn I made a very small attempt to identify it on the internet, but quickly decided to appreciate its beauty and just call it "Popcorn Fungus:"

Fergus' moods are changeable. He wants to run ahead sometimes, but other times only wants to tag along by my heels. At this point he was slightly ahead of me and moving at just the right speed:

The beginning of the hike is quite woodsy and in places the forest cover is quite dense. The dogs ran a bit, but mostly stayed on the open trail without much running off into the forest. For that I was very grateful:

And growing in shady places near the road were lots of ferns and mosses. This mossy patch was covered with fruiting bodies/spore capsules:

The dogs and I continued up Harvey Mountain. But our adventure was just beginning and I took lots of pictures, so I'll post more in the days to come:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dogs In Their Natural Habitat

Today's post is of the dogs at home. First is little Clover, the youngest. She is now 15 weeks old. She's apparently going to be a small dog, but she's a lively one, probably the future boss of the pack (after me, of course). She's squinting because of the bright sunlight:

Seamus was all too happy to hold still for a photo and Fergus was willing, at least temporarily. It was more difficult to get Clover to sit still long enough. You may notice, however, that she was happy to gaze admiringly at her big buddy, Seamus:

And then Daphne got to feeling left out and joined the group:

All the dogs have the use of a fenced back yard. I don't know how I could do it without one. But they enjoy lounging in the sun, playing and (of course) barking:

Seamus, the gentle giant, in the July sunshine:

And indoors, Seamus with his two little buddies, Daphne and Clover:

Winky isn't much for cooperating in general, but he came over to see what was happening by the Rose of Sharon bush:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

At Last, A Happy Farewell

You may recall that I'd had two nests of baby Ringneck Doves hatched June 8, 10 and 11. I posted lots of blog updates on their growth. Well, all four of them grew up and were ready for new homes. I placed an ad with photos in the Want Ad Digest:

A week or two later, I hadn't had so much as an inquiry from that ad, so I place another ad in the online Albany Times Union. Yet another week or two went by without so much as an inquiry:

These first three photos, by the way, are of the two babies from nest #1, both of which hatched on June 8. They've certainly grown into lovely, graceful birds:

And this is one of the babies from nest #2, hatched June 11. It was born totally naked, a day later than its nest mate and never grew as well. But as it grew, I realized that it was a true albino with the "silky," fancy feathers. This was a special baby:

The albino baby not only lagged behind the others in growth rate, but was slow to feather out. When the parents stopped feeding the babies, this one balked and for a while, I thought it might not be able to become self sufficient. But it began eating and growing and all was well:

This is the other baby from nest #2, hatched on June 10. I think it's a female because it's long, lean and graceful:

Isn't she lovely?:

I was becoming desperate to find homes for these four babies and stopped at the Rensselaer Bird Center to ask about putting up a poster. I got talking to the owners and they agreed to take them and find them homes:

So I put all four baby doves into a small cage and drove them to the store one day after work. In case you've never been inside, this place is a bird lover's paradise:

They have birds, cages, feeds, treats, toys, perches, toys and much more:

These nice people put my four doves into a large cage with natural perches, high quality seed and grit and even a bird swing. One of the owners has a dove which uses a swing. And in case you're wondering, that is indeed a live African Gray perched outside the community flight enclosure. He has functions as one of the official greeters:

While my doves' new digs were being set up, I toured the store. It's truly an amazing place and even has a resident dog and cat:

One room appeared to be devoted to large Macaws:

And every bird had lots and lots of colorful toys:

This is a fascinating place for any animal lover, and their customers are all bird lovers. I've purchased birds there myself:

So the story of the four baby doves has a happy ending. They have gone to a bird paradise and should soon have new homes with people who love birds: