Thursday, November 26, 2015

Catlins Creed    December 2015

    In honor of Native American Heritage month of November I wanted to recommend my favorite Native American books from George Catlin (adventurer / artist / author) written in 1844. See down below the photos. 
A great Turkey Vulture story by Maggie Rufo (Volunteer with RATS and The hungry owl project)

 Also I am thankful for those great people out there dedicated to wildlife who deserve another mention,

Please take a look at;

American Bittern

Northern Harrier

Red Tailed Hawk

Golden Eagle

Rock Wren- I think-please advise

Ferruginous Hawk

Northern Harrier

Red Legged Frog

Golden Eagle

Northern Flicker

“Catlins Creed” An American Indian story     

             George Catlin wrote two volumes (two complete books) titled “Letters and notes on the manners, customs and conditions of North American Indians”. From 1832 to 1839 Catlin ventured among the Indians of North American Plains (48 tribes visited in the eight years of his adventure) during a time when they were enjoying their last years of freedom and dignity on their own land. During this time he visited, studied and documented his accounts of many native North American tribes. Catlin was an adventurer and thankfully a self-taught artist who provided a unique perspective into the times most of us know little about. His drawings, paintings and stories along the way provided a realistic “dances with wolves” adventure through the buffalo country during the horse culture years. Catlin includes his experiences with buffalo, wolves, grizzly bears and the “war eagle” an Indian name for the Western Golden Eagle.  Catlin was with one of the first columns of the cavalry who met the Comanche in their own country in the south west. The powerful Comanche’s were described in a long line of armed warrior horsemen far out numbering the visitors. He described the scene eloquently noting Spanish defectors mixed among the Comanche’s on horseback. The Calvary had come to locate a kidnapped boy believed to be with the Comanche or Kiowa. Concerned with communication issues and language barriers, the soldiers were surprised to find a black man who spoke perfect English.  This man and other blacks from the east have joined the Comanche living free to gather honor and respect from a society who held no prejudice. Comanche’s, Catlin noted, rode one horse and had their favorite horse on a leash for the possibility of extended ventures on the plains.

Catlin also visited the Mandan tribe prior to their demise. It was here he painted a paled skinned blonde woman who was Mandan. (Mint-Email photo) He noted others within this tribe with light colored hair and skin, hazel and blue eyes. He spoke of the brave, fierce honorable warriors dressed in spectacular fashion with cougar of bear skins, eagle feathers and war paint on their faces.  He also told of men who would not fight, assisted the women and wore the skins of docile small animals such as otters and mink. They were clean handsome well-dressed men though were not allowed by the tribe to be painted by Catlin. This older Indian tribe vanished within about five years of Catlin’s visit due to a small pox epidemic.

Of the Northern Cheyenne Catlin stated “there is no finer race of men than these in North America, and none superior in stature, excepting the Osages, stating the average Cheyenne man were over six feet tall.”  

     George Catlin, who lived for eight years among the Native American tribes, was quoted in 1841 “All history of the subject goes to prove that, when first visited by civilized people, the American Indians have been found friendly and hospitable- from the days of Christopher Columbus to the Lewis and Clark expedition”…and so also have a great many other travelers, including myself. Catlin goes on, “Nowhere to my knowledge, have they stolen a six-pense worth of my property, though in their country there are no laws to punish for theft. I have visited forty-eight different tribes, and I feel authorized to say the North American Indian in his native state is honest, faithful, brave… and an honorable and religious being.”

Copied below is Catlin’s Creed from Ed McGaa’s outstanding book “Native Wisdom”
 Catlins Creed:           by George Catlin
I love a people who have always made me welcome to the best they had.
I love a people who are honest without laws, who have no jails and no poorhouses.
I love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read them or heard them preached from a pulpit.
 love a people who never swear, who never take the name of God in vain.
I love a people who love their neighbors as they love themselves.
I love a people who worship God without a bible; for I believe God loves them also.
I love a people whose religion is all the same, and who are free from religious animosities. 
I love a people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my property, where there was no law to punish for either.
I love a people who have never fought a battle with white men, except on their own ground.
I love and don’t fear mankind Where God has made and left them, for there they are children.
I love a people who live and keep what is their own without locks and keys.
I love all people who do the best they can.
And oh, how I love a people who don’t live for the love of money.
            When his journey was over he met his wife in New Orleans. He arrived with his small canoe type boat he utilized during the eight years of travel to navigate through the many rivers and lakes to meet the native tribes. The Natives stored and carried his boat for him at times.
             In his first night in New Orleans back among his countrymen with his journey now completed, Catlin’s canoe was stolen.   

Sunday, November 1, 2015

“Anna’s Fury”   November 2015

Featuring recent wildlife photos taken here in the bay area. Anna’s hummingbirds are prevalent in all areas of the bay area. In the springtime they are vulnerable to predators while nesting and raising their young. Once late summer comes around they are top dogs harassing everything from large mammals to birds of prey, and most notably each other.  Watching them at the South end of Los Vaqueros reservoir can be at times concerning based on the sheer numbers of hummers racing thru the skies. This is in part generated from well-designed landscaping highlighted by a myriad of hummingbird preferred plants generating numerous birds buzzing in all directions. Girls chasing boys, boy’s chasing girls, some defending territory, some invading territory, some bee lining towards the hills, others returning, some taking breaks in the trees, others bolting out after a buddy or foe.  Who knows what all this is about?  All the while maneuvering thru the air much like fighter pilots chasing each other while dodging trees, fences and humans. They are without a doubt the masters of multi-tasking. 

The photos of the hummers don’t tell the story, but show a few of the culprits up close. Other wild animals pictured in our bay area, a few leftovers from earlier encounters.


Great horned owl

Blue heron / Perch

Red tailed hawk



Tule elk


Black tailed male

P.S. The perch got away...
Thanks, Dave Harper

Monday, October 5, 2015

“Season of the Warrior” October 2015 Bay Area local wildlife

                                I was able to capture photos of the Black tail deer and Tule elk rut season. Establishing their harems of females and fighting off challengers enables the species to breed with the strongest of genes intact. In the Tule elk reserve at Tamales bay near Point Reyes this means defending from 10 to 20 or more females. Despite some bad lighting in a few of these photos, I was able to capture two separate leaders and some of their ladies. The bugling sounds from the male fill the sky this time of year. Any others attempting to gain access close to the group is taking their lives in their own hands. (Including humans, and I was warned years ago by game wardens) It’s amazing to witness this reserve, I would recommend any interested to take a day trip at to Tamales bay and enjoy the views. There are also photos of the some of the others living among the country of the warriors…

   Wanted to give a thumbs up to R.A.T.S (Raptors Are The Solution) who had their open house last week. I had a great time meeting all the outstanding people behind the scenes who are making the world aware of the hazards of using rat poisons. They are a selfless group interested in preserving our wildlife. Please check out their website to see the accomplishments, challenges and educational information relating to protecting wild animals including Raptors.

P.S. I have changed the higheagle website slide show to “Summer of Swains” a fast forward look at the mighty swainson hawks who have returned down south by now for winter. Please click the link and adjust slightly for the photos…

Sunday, August 30, 2015

September 2015 Tribute to our bay area eagles.   
Remembering "Tass"  the fallen Eagle

It is so sad hearing of the passing of the Female juvenile golden eagle that was grounded by the old style bird killing wind mills near Altamont pass. Fitted with the radio transmitter collar to help us understand the daily lifestyle and range of the golden eagle, ends up telling us what we already know about these windmills. They are deadly to raptors.    

An article in the Livermore independent tells the unfortunate story. 
Writer Carol Graham who wrote about the great celebration of releasing the eagle back to the wild last month, finishes the story with the unfortunate ending none of us wanted to hear. She has done a great job telling the whole story with all the details as perhaps we can learn something from all this. Credit goes to the Livermore Independent and Carol for the following article...


Great News, Fish and wildlife votes to end the trapping of bobcats in California…
See the story below

          Updated Bay Area wildlife photos featuring the Predatory bird species from San Pablo Dam reservoir and the surrounding watershed and regional park properties. The area begins from Tilden Park straight east down through wildcat Canyon, then connected to water shed property of E.B.M including the watersheds of Briones reservoir and San Pablo Dam.  Just east from there is Briones Park west of Martinez. This is an impressive wilderness corridor that also branches off in other directions with open spaces linking other parks and properties essential to wildlife survival and movement. These are some of the inhabitants, now including bald eagles…

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

Osprey / Rainbow trout

Bald Eagle

Double- Crested Cormorant  

White Pelican

Golden Eagle


Bald Eagle

White Pelican
About the pictures; Osprey with trout was dueling with marauding bald eagle trying to steal quarry, large female osprey screamed and out maneuvered eagle even briefly chased the larger bird. Golden eagles were photographed south of reservoir, yet on every trip to region I witnessed golden eagles, even a youngster flying with parents. Unable to get close, I choose these photos instead. Single osprey photographed near Shasta city. Ospreys seem to range back and fourth in this area sometimes ten or more can be same in one day at S.P. Dam, then the next day none. Depends on water surface fish  activity I suppose. I spent much time for several years working on the shores of San Pablo reservoir and noticed ospreys are very prevalent in fall and winter. Trout are in deep water in late summer, while bass,  and blue gills are on top. The bald eagles were present each trip I took and have their favorite perches overlooking the water. A good rule of thumb when hoping to see the prey birds is: If their are many cormorants and pelicans, all is good. Currently it is a bit slow as EBM has lowered water level in anticipation of El Nino, yet the upper Briones reservoir is full.
The photo slide show is still the Kites training day, click on last months link to check it out. Next month I will change to The summer of Swains...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2015 Dog days of summer photographs

"I have no idea what was wrong with the coyote pictured in the E mail. The song dog may have had problems un related to human involvement, my earlier venting of man related issues was just a rant of my own."
For those interested in viewing a slideshow from “Training Day” Three white tail kites trained in midair action including many pictures not previously posted on the blogsite. Please click the link below and adjust the screen slightly as some pictures are larger than others.

Wanted to add an additional link of an article written by Carol Graham for the Livermore Independent magazine. It was written about the golden eagle Tass (As I called her) released in May near Bollinger Canyon. Carol  is an outstanding writer which has written many excellent stories. Unfortunately, recent news is that our eagle did not make it and was killed by a wind mill near Altamont Pass. This was devastating news for everyone who was involved and became infatuated with this juvenile female eagle. Carol plans to write a follow up article. Look for her writing in the Livermore Independent magazine. I am sure it will be interesting...

 Bald eagles are on their way back, and viewing them in the bay area is no longer all that tough. The pictures of the pelican and cormorant below were taken recently at San Pablo Dam reservoir near San Pablo on an outing chasing ospreys and eagles. I saw several ospreys and at least one bald eagle though unable to gather a worthy photograph. Many of our area reservoirs have year round bald eagles these days. Up to a few years ago many moved on after spring, especially those in Contra Costa County. At Del Valle reservoir in Livermore eagles have been there for years. Like the Osprey, bald eagles are coming back strong after the ban of D.D.T.  When looking for the eagles a solid technique I have always believed in is “watch the ospreys”. They love to let the ospreys do the fishing then steal the prey. I am going to try and gather decent bald eagle pictures by next month.
About some of the pictures: Barn owl cave was taken a few years back on Morgan Territory Rd. The cave was washed out in a storm, however many owls were raised in the years it was viable. These owls in the photo had to be close to leaving the cave and go out on their own...
Where did all the burrowing owls go? This is the worst year I have ever had locating these owls in eastern Contra Costa, perhaps from some of the issues earlier discussed or bad luck on my part. I believe it has not been a banner year for burrowing owls...
The angry raccoon: It was over 100 degrees when I found this animal, all I had was a plastic bottle of diet Pepsi, tossed to him with no cap. He picked it up and tossed it in the bushes. Not sure what the issue was...  

White Pelican

Barn owls

Red tailed hawk

Western burrowing owl

Western coyote


Acorn wood pecker

California Quail

Western king fisher

Double-crested cormorant