A Stolen Hour, by Charley West

IMG_1925Prologue: Various exigencies of late have kept me isolated so I went to the CF for an hour @ 6:30 this morning to unburden. I parked myself @ the Carlos Parnell Lopez bench, which faces NW when looking straight ahead over Phair’s Pond.

 The morning introduced itself with 50% cloud cover with low, cumulus puffs with ill-defined edges in a light-blue sky. Breeze was non-existent -- it was as if a tree would be penalized if it were to stir a leaf.

I hasten to point out (admit?) that I’m like the three Chimps with their respective hands covering ears, eyes, & mouth. Not that I’ve got any wisdom to impart, it’s just that I can’t hear or see as “before,” acknowledging that I’m on the shady, downhill-side of the mountain. 

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My Book Interview with James Bond Australia

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James Bond Australia and its sister site Bond on the Box just posted an extensive interview they did with me about my book, Bond, Fleming and 007.

Lots of unusual questions, like:Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 3.46.35 PM

Fleming describes James Bonds name as "the dullest name in the world", and as being "brief, unromantic and yet very masculine." Do you think the Bond novels would have been as successful, had Fleming chosen a different, equally, "dull" and "unromantic" name?

My answer:

Would Sherlock Holmes have been as popular if Arthur Conan Doyle had chosen another name for his consulting detective? Probably.

007's name is just one small aspect of the books' and movies' success.

You start with a highly skilled writer and add a dashing hero, incredible archvillains, beautiful women and international intrigue, and you have a terrific recipe for success.

You can read the whole interview here.

Scenes from the NJ Botanical Garden

I love the New Jersey Botanical Garden -- lots of beautiful flowers, butterflies and birds -- and plenty of room to roam.

Here's a sampling from yesterday. The Indigo bunting, singing away in the parking lot, was the first I've seen since the World Series of Birding.

(As we all know,  bunting always welcome in the World Series.)

The butterfly is a Little Wood Satyr and the flowers are Siberian Iris. (Thanks for the I.D.s, Deedee!)

Another Painted Turtle?

Screen Shot 2020-06-28 at 12.06.38 PMSeen laying eggs in Mahwah.

How do you tell the difference between an Eastern Painted Turtle (native)  and a Red-eared Slider (invasive)?

This is all I could find in a hurry on the net:


My friend who saw the turtle writes:

"I should have measured the turtle before she disappeared.  Some of the candidates for ID have maximum length of 3 to 4.5 inches.  This turtle was definitely over five inches. 

"I didn't want to disturb her egg laying and so did not interrupt her and turn her over.  When I magnified photos I saw yellow on face and red stripes on front legs. 

What do you think?




Map of the Celery Farm

Screen Shot 2020-06-27 at 6.16.35 AMIn my last post, i mentioned I had seen a toad in Barbara's Bog and a Wild Turkey with poults in the Dead Zone.

Where are these places, you might ask. (Someone already did.)

They are on the Celery Farm trail map, created by the talented Deedee Burnside.

There's a map on the Fyke Nature Association website, here.

Barbara's Bog, by the way, was so named when it was a meadow. It may have been named after a woman who donated some land for the preserve, It is now woods.

The Dead Zone is just after you head north from the Celery Farm parking lot.

Few birds are seen there (hence the names), but there have been some memorable ones, including a Prothonotary Warbler and a LeConte's Sparrow.

(Thanks, Deedee!)

Turkeys, Toad and Turtle at the Celery Farm

Walking around the Celery Farm is wonderful -- you never know what you might see.

This week I pulled off a rare triple-T trifecta:

A Mama Turkey with her poults in the Dead Zone, an American Toad in the Barbara's Bog, and an egg-laying Painted Turtle (I think) laying eggs at the Warden's Watch. (Click images to enlarge,)

Top that!

Monday Morning Twitter Mystery Answered

Screen Shot 2020-06-13 at 5.04.10 PM On Monday I asked readers what the name of the Twitter bird is.

The answer is Larry because ...  A founder of Twitter is reportedly a Boston Celtic fan -- hence "Larry" Bird.

I also asked folks to  I.D. the species. The best answer was from Diane Louie, who wrote:

The Twitter Bird reminds me of the birds in Snow White:

As for the species of bird in Snow White, the color scheme is closest to Mountain Bluebird, which is not European.  (Snow White I assume is European, so that doesn’t jive)….But I’m probably overthinking this.
After all, we’re talking cartoons here.
(Thanks, Diane!)