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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Musings on Computers, Nature and Stuff.

I'm plodding today. Building Virtual Grub Street's family of blogs is oppresive at times. Wrestling with the various computer equipment involved (all of it in pretty marginal condition, to begin with) is regularly disheartening. Between designed obsolescence and poor product design it verges on the miraculous when one manages to get anything done.

Of course, without computers an undertaking like VGS (or, for that matter, freelance writing at large) would be impossible. Each new dilemma adds just a bit more to a skill package which one's friends can call upon one to provide (along with however many hours) for free. Well, you get the idea.

One source of respite is nature. When I first came to the Lake Worth, Florida, area, some eleven years ago, there were perhaps as many as a dozen Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) within a ten mile radius -- generally two mating pairs in the immediate neighborhood. The last of the hawks retreated several years ago, the local woodlands having given way before the walled communities that are constantly being constructed in the area.

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It was a surprise, then, when I saw a fine, large specimen, in the rufus stage, alight, in the tiny remaining swatch of woodland nextdoor, two weeks ago now. I do occasionally hear the cry of the Swainson's, in the distance, when the noise of passing traffic is momentarily stilled (although, it is difficult to be sure whether a single cry has come from the far more vocal Osprey or from the Swainson's) and suspect that there may be a mating pair as close as a mile or two inland.

Several years ago, I noticed a young Swainson's swoop from a tree, at the corner of Lake Worth and Kirk Roads, and take a Starling in flight. He flew with it into a nearby fenced yard. Generally there is an aggresive dog in the yard, but, apparently, the hawk knew its schedule, and, when I did not hear the dog chase off the hawk, I peered over the fence to see the prey clasped securely and pinned to the ground. The hawk, however, noticed me, after a time, and chose to fly off in order to prepare his meal in privacy. When I turned around to leave, I noticed myself being glowered at very intently by a gentleman who had stopped perhaps twenty feet behind me, in his pick-up truck, to ask why I was staring over other people's fences into their private yards. I explained that a Swainson's Hawk had taken his prey into the yard which explanation was lost upon him.

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