Just Call Me MAM

I wrote MAM's musings weekly for almost 10 years. I began it with the Silver City Sun-News. When the editor who had taken on the column left the paper, I offered it to the Silver City Daily Press, and the editor, Richard Correa, grabbed it. Since early 2001, it appeared every Friday in the Daily Press, with the exception of two times that I recall. I'll update it as new sightings happen, so check regularly.

So MAM's musings has been re-created as Just Call Me MAM with a similar topic and musings about the outdors.

It comprises my observations and my opinion.

This edition of Just Call Me MAM will feature sunsets from two "News"—New York and New Mexico—taken on the same night, a couple of hours apart, Aug. 15, 2019

Granted, the water of Paradox Lake in upstate New York adds to the drama, but I personally think our sunset last night, Aug. 15, 2019, just outside of Silver City offers good competition.

Ellie George said: "To top off yesterday’s bear adventure, the sunset was spectacular at our home at Paradox Lake. It only lasted about 5 minutes, but what glory while the sun glowed from under the clouds."

img 5042Paradox Lake, New York, photo by Ellie George

img 5316Outside Silver City, Nw Mexico, photo by Mary Alice Murphy

[MAM Note: Through a mutual friend, Caroline Baldwin, I get to vicariously experience the adventures of Ellie George in upstate New York. Although she did see loons on this trip, the highlight was her (safe) encounter with a bear.] 

img 9811 young bear eating berries bear pd. 8 14 19I went to Bear Pond today to monitor the loons. I don’t really like to go to Bear Pond because it is too far from my house (an hour and a half drive), the loons are skittish, and the banded loon has very difficult bands to read with letters and numbers. Also, all the land surrounding the pond is owned by a Boy Scout camp, and a couple of years ago a camp counselor gave me a hard time and asked me to leave the pond, stating that the scouts owned the whole pond and I was not allowed on it. He was not correct, and after contacting the DEC about this they spoke with the scouts and told them that if the public gains access to the pond right by the road bridge, they have the right to paddle the pond, but not to get out on shore except at the bridge. That is what I have always done.

Photos and Comments Courtesy of Ellie George via Caroline Baldwin


The chicks are thriving, and are not even a month old yet but look bigger than their age. The parents continue to stuff them with small fish, and I rarely hear the chicks beg. Instead of racing to the parent who has just caught a fish, the chicks wait for the parent to bring the fish to them, and even then sometimes need some encouragement to take it. “Gee, Mom, do I really have to eat another minnow?” The chicks are lucky to have such great parents and to live in a lake with a large food supply. Now if they can just avoid all the motor boats. . .

[MAM note: For those of you who may be as awestruck by birds and especially loons, as I am, I continue this series of loon photos that Ellie George of New York state in the Adirondacks region takes near where she lives. Her photography is amazing.]

img 9430 2 chicks under dads wing paradox 6 21 19Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. On Wednesday I paddled out to Grass Island to check the loon nest and found only egg shell pieces in it. That meant that either the chicks had hatched or a predator had gotten the eggs. I found both adult loons swimming and diving far from shore, and no chicks were present. I watched them fish for awhile and decided that they had no chicks, and that the nest must have been predated. Sometimes loons will stash their chicks along the shoreline while they fish, but not usually with very young chicks, and I had not seen the Paradox loon pair stash their chicks last year until the chicks were much larger. I was sad that there would be no loon chicks on the lake this year.

owlpairnoshadowszPhoto courtesy of Alison TromblyBy Mary Alice Murphy

A friend sent me this awesome photo of two great-horned owls at her heated birdbath, which she says she loves. It draws all sort of wonderful birds to her place. She said she was about five feet away from them through the window. She was thrilled to catch the photo.

I'm thrilled to share it with you.

I love the great-horned owls who-whoo-who-whoos. I don't hear them much this time of year. Probably because the windows are closed, but I always appreciate hearing them during nights in the summer.

A few evenings later I had a special treat. No, not owls, but the misty rain we had all day that day, which, because it was chilly out, was fairly miserable to be out in. It redeemed itself when I went out with the dog after dark with my flashlight.

The smaller juniper trees appeared to be lit with sparkling lights where the light glinted off the drops of water covering the branches. Every color showed up in the light.

At first, I thought it might be frost, but it wasn't quite cold enough. When I touched a branch, drops of water rolled off.

It was like a winter wonderland, except no snow, just mists of water making the trees look almost white, with blues, reds, yellows and greens showing in tiny droplets.

Of course, my camera got a workout with the eight inches of snow we had at our house last Friday, Dec. 28. I don't have any tall boots, so my short boots didn't keep the snow out very well, but the photos were worth it.

I always love the way snow fills up the spaces between the pointy stems of the base of the agave plants. This time, it made a mound over the agave plants, not even the pointy tips were showing above the many inches of snow.

After the snowfalls of the past days, I, as I always do, took the dog out. I heard a deep-throated great-horned owl in a nearby tree, calling who-who-whooo-whooo. Imagine my surprise when from the other direction, in a higher pitched call, an answer or a new question? Whoo-whooo-who with an upward tilt to the pitch of the last short who. Male and female? Male and juvenile? I couldn't see either and didn't want to scare them off with the flashlight shining at them. I was enjoying their conversation too much. Wonder what they were saying to one another?

Days are special around here, and nights have their own charm. On clear nights, I love the stars sparkling in our dark skies.

May your musings bring you beauty!

img 2372 paradox chick swallows bass 7 27 18

[Editor's Note: A followup on the previous guest post.]

Hi All,

Last night I was dodging boat traffic and riding boat wakes to watch the
loons feeding their fast-growing chicks. While the slightly bigger chick
was swallowing a bass caught by the father loon, the mother loon surfaced with a sunfish for the other chick.

img 9798 loon feeds chick minnow paradox 7 8 18Hi All,

The loon chicks at Paradox Lake are growing very fast and are now about 2 weeks old. The parents catch so many minnows and small sunfish that the chicks are stuffed and often refuse the fish. I have never seen loons catch so much prey as quickly as I saw the Paradox pair do today.

The loon pair is quite tolerant of canoes and photographers, but the trick is to find the loon family. Today they spent most of the day not far from our shore, and I spent several hours early this morning watching them. They are still there tonight. However, on July 5 and 6 they were nowhere to be seen or heard from our shoreline, and the lake is good sized. I am so glad that this first pair of chicks in 36 years of my visiting Paradox are thriving and have survived the July 4th holiday boat traffic. There was an immature bald eagle watching the loon family from a tall pine on the big island on July 3, but fortunately it left without a lunch of loon.

I so hope that they continue to do well and that I will be watching the chicks learn to fly at the end of summer.


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