Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Feather and a Rainy Walk

I found this feather while walking to the grocery store last week. What kind of bird do you suppose it came from? I can't think of anything with spots like that, at least not in the wild. Maybe a turkey or pheasant but I don't think we have many of those wandering around West Hampstead!

My grandfather would say it was an auk. Whenever he was uncertain about the identity of a bird, or annoyed with a bird for doing a lot of loud squawking early in the morning or pooping on his car, he'd grumble and call it an auk.

Speaking of wildlife, I set up the garden cam again the other day. From half an hour of motion-activated video I got 19 seconds of footage of a beautiful fox -- out in the daytime, at almost noon! I'm surprised a fox would be slinking around our garden at that hour, especially since Olga is likely to be out. We'll check the camera again in about a week and see what else turns up.

So how's life in the age of coronavirus treating you? We're doing OK here. Dave had to go in to the hospital yesterday for a routine infusion of his Crohn's medication. I wasn't happy about that, fearing he'd be exposed to something, which could be catastrophic with his reduced immunity -- but he called his doctors and they told him to come in as usual. (I've asked whether he should suspend his medicines altogether and allow his immune system to strengthen, but the doctors tell him no, because that could re-activate the Crohn's -- and then he could wind up with coronavirus and a Crohn's flare.)

Anyway, he reported that he saw very few people at the hospital, so that's good. And I'm sure they're sanitizing the heck out of the place. So fingers crossed he should be fine.

Meanwhile, I went grocery shopping again. I got frustrated because I asked Dave for a grocery list, and he gave me one, but when I went to the store to collect everything I found I couldn't carry it all! I somehow schlepped almost everything home and now we should be good for three days or so.

We're still not wearing masks. The World Health Organization still asserts they're not really useful or necessary for the general public -- but now there are contradictory reports that they may do some good after all. So who knows. I just haven't quite crossed that bridge. I'm washing my hands like crazy, though. They look like appendages on a scaly red reptile.

Of course Olga and I took a walk yesterday afternoon. Being an island nation, the UK's weather is extremely variable, and although we started walking in sunshine, we got caught 15 minutes later in a downpour. You can see Olga waiting it out above. She went into obstinate mode and refused to move from that spot under the trees until it stopped.


  1. What a beautiful feather. Belonging to a spotted auk, no doubt.

  2. As the renowned author of "Feather Identification: A Beginner's Guide" I would say that that feather once belonged to a guinea fowl. Lovely photo of it by the way - so delicate.

  3. Next time, before I start searching the web to identify a bird feather, I'll read previous comments. I was so excited to determine it was a guinea fowl feather only to discover that Yorkshire Pudding had already saved me the trouble (really fun and not trouble). Great photo of the feather!

  4. Can't say what the feather is but that fox is beautiful, so red, ours are more pale in colour.

  5. What a beautiful feather picture!

    And Dave's doctor is spot on. I am on similar meds for my yukky disease and they have actually been upped this time round because a flare up could be worse now.

    Anyway, I am glad to read you are well.

    From the daily virologist podcast info we get here, it is a fact that masks do not protect against the virus, unless you wear one of these n75 masks and these should be reserved for patients with the virus and medical staff treating these patients. They are also hell to wear.

    But, so we have been told, wearing a mask, any kind of mask, helps to stop spreading the virus from YOUR hands to YOUR face, which is the main transmission route of this virus, if you see wearing a mask as a kind of training to avoid touching your face.

    Also, it's a gesture, a sign to others that you do in fact give a damn.

    There are plenty of youtube videos on how to make your own mask without sewing, using a shawl, a teatowel, a hanky, coffee filter, hoover bag, whatever.

    I wrap my face in a big shawl thing when I go out which is almost never anyway. The man has made a couple of nifty ones and went shopping wearing one made from a stripy tea towel.

  6. A field hospital is set up in Central Park (NYC, my hometown) and a US Navy hospital chip is docked on the Upper West Side. Penn Station is a ghost town, and last night the Empire State Building turned its lights red with a spinning white light in honor of all the emergency responders who have been working through this epidemic. So, yeah, life is getting weird.

    Here on the north shore of Long Island, my husband and I have started wearing masks when we go out to show that we care about those we might come into contact with, even from six feet away. We also tip at the grocery store, and thank the workers there for showing up.

    I've got a 50-episode Chinese historical drama to watch, but I'm running out of mochi. It seems ridiculous to make a run to the local Korean grocery store for ice cream balls, but they have become my comfort food during this sequester and I'm only on episode 22 of The Untamed. I hate to say it but yes, I'm frivolous enough that I just might make that trip. I'm going to hell for sure.

  7. Comments have become little windows into the worlds of this blog community, haven't they? I love that.
    Lily just announced the Publix is going to allow their workers to wear masks so I guess my project today will be to figure out how to make a few. I'm not sure it will help Lily at all but as Sabine said- it can perhaps help to remind her not to touch her face.
    Oh, who knows? We seem to know so little about this virus.
    Meanwhile, Olga knows what SHE needs to do and not do. I admire that in her.
    Stay safe, dear friend. Hold tight to the ones you can.

  8. I have just been reading in the NY Times that wearing some kind of mask may be a good thing, so I may make one today. We have been trying to limit our food shopping to one day a week, and we'll wear the mask when we go. I'm glad Dave felt safe at the hospital and that he was able to get his very necessary meds. Stay safe and healthy there.

  9. Your Olga and my Sammy have the same attitude about rain: No thanks!
    Glad that Dave was able to get his treatment...scary as a trip to the hospital is these days. You could go all wild west and start wearing a bandana as a substitute for a mask...just roll it up in a few layers. Not a bad idea in these uncharted days. Both of you stay safe.

  10. I'm glad Dave was able to get what he needed and that the hospital wasn't crowded. I definitely understand your concerns about him going up there. I keep reading those contradictory reports about masks, too. Since my friend Karen is sewing some masks right now I'm considering asking her for one that I can use when I go out to shop. It may not help, but it can't hurt, right? I'm scared to death of bringing the virus back home with me.

    I just love Olga, and that's a great photo of her waiting out the rain! My George hates getting wet, too.

  11. Life is good. I still haven't got to work on some of he projects that could be done while being locked up.

  12. What an interesting feather you found. I can't imagine where it came from. And, that fox video is fantastic. It is interesting to see him out during the day. I hope you found a somewhat dry spot to wait out that rain since Olga wouldn't move. I really am getting a bit stir crazy staying at home all the time. However, the stories I hear of people who have contracted the virus are so scary I have trouble sleeping at night.

  13. That IS a beautiful fox. Once, long before I knew her, SWMBO acquired a kit that had been rescued along with several others. Before he left for the wild after he became aware that he wasn't the humans' pet he used to love to run and jump underneath the swing in the backyard as one of the daughters would swing back and forth.

  14. What a beautiful feather. And that fox is gorgeous! I love how Olga found a spot to keep out of the rain. She's such a cutie. As for the mask, they really do help if anyone around you coughs or sneezes. You can't be too careful. I have three home made masks to wear should I come in contact with other folks. I'm so glad to that Dave's appointment turned out good. You be safe and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  15. Hi Steve,
    Glad you are all doing OK in this strange time! I saw a fox in our garden yesterday afternoon. They always pass through at the end of the garden, so we hear rather than see them, but this one came down almost to the back door. I think they must be lacking food due to people not being out in the evenings, dumping their chips and kebabs. I was thinking of putting the cat food that our cats don't eat out each night, but haven't yet. I like the way Olga decided to sit under a tree when it was raining-sensible dog!

  16. Olga knows her own mind! I love her obstinacy. I think I might be starting to become slight agoraphobic. I should go out and take a walk!

  17. Well hello,
    I hope that you, Dave and Olga are doing well. I hope that Dave doesn't have a flare up or either of you are exposed to this dreadful virus. Are schools closed in your area?

    It has been a long time since I was here. I can read a bit better than I can type however. It's been so long since I have been able to do both with my eyes. I don't have to go back for another surgery until April 13th so perhaps I can catch up!

    I loved the fox in the daytime video. It is a gorgeous creature and so awesome to see that you were able to capture it.

    Olga is a smart girl because she stayed out of the rain lol.
    Talk to you soon... Beth

  18. That seems like a good-sized fox you've caught on tape. They are probably not getting as man handouts or "found" meals with fewer people about.

    Olga is smart! I'd have stayed under the trees also :)

    I think the down sides to wearing a mask are (1) the virus is microscopic and cloth isn't adequate to filter that out, (2) people may touch their faces even more getting them on and off and adjusting them, and (3) they give a false sense of security. That being said, sometimes we need to do something even if it doesn't help just to ease anxiety, which can be dangerous in itself.

    I'm glad Dave has expert advice to help decide on a course of action regarding his medications. That, too, can alleviate a lot of worry all by itself.

    Stay safe, both of you.

  19. Okay, after a comment on masks on another blog, I went looking for the latest in mask information and found this very interesting article that would support wearing of masks of all kinds for the general public:
    Worth a read if you are conflicted.

  20. You just made my day with that video clip of the fox. Thank you:)

  21. Alphie: That's what my grandfather told me!

    YP: OK, I thought of a guinea fowl, but why on earth would a feather from a guinea fowl be blowing around in West Hampstead?!

    Mitchell: Ha! Don't you hate it when another commenter gets there first? I actually scanned the feather with our scanner.

    Briony: It IS a very red fox! I loved the brilliant color.

    Sabine: When I go shopping next I'll probably wrap my scarf around my face and hope that does the trick. At least, as you point out, it will convey the message that I'm trying. I wonder if bank robberies have gone up during this time period, with everyone walking around with concealed faces?!

    Vivian: I heard that Empire State Building display actually unnerved a lot of people, who didn't understand what it was for.

    Ms Moon: If I worked in a job where I came in contact with other people regularly, I would definitely wear one. It certainly doesn't hurt, does it?

    Robin: I just cannot be bothered to try to sew a mask. I think I'll wrap up in my scarf and hope that serves the purpose.

    Mary: Yeah, I think the bandanna-scarf will be my approach! Olga is such a princess when it comes to rain.

    Jennifer: This reminds me of everyone knitting "pussy hats" after Trump's election. Now everyone is making masks! It's the new global craft project.

    Red: Well, I think there's time!

    Sharon: Yeah, the virus is definitely not to be messed with. I think a lot of people have mild symptoms, but it's just not worth the risk.

    Catalyst: There are videos on YouTube of foxes playing with toys and other animals in gardens -- they're very playful creatures, apparently.

    Edna: I just don't know if I'm capable of sewing a mask! I can sew up a hole in my sock or sew on a button, but that's about it.

    Sarah: That's a good point -- I didn't think about the lack of food. Although to be fair we have foxes around all the time. I'll put some food out for ours tonight.

    37P: I think it's essential to get out sometimes. Just be safe!

    Beth: Well hello, and welcome back! I'm glad to hear your eyes are improving. Yes, schools are closed here -- they have been for about a week and will be for the foreseeable future.

    Jenny-O: I saw that article too. In fact I linked to it in my post! LOL! I know what you mean about easing anxiety. Frankly, I think that's what masks do more than anything -- they give us a sense of control.

    LilyCedar: You are welcome! It made my day too! Be glad you didn't have to look through all 30 minutes of blowing foliage to get to the good parts. LOL

  22. I see several identified the feather as a guinea hen feather. I'm trying to catch up on all the posts I've missed the last several days. so far only 7 (now) confirmed cases in my county though one of the recent ones is here in my town. we're just staying home except for trips to the grocery store (well, I did go to the vet and feed store yesterday). not going to extraordinary lengths to sanitize everything around me at home. I'll wipe down the door handles on the car, steering wheel, etc, things we are likely to touch in the car and then to door knobs. but once in with hands washed it's life as usual. not wiping down the mail or anything like that. it may be we should be.