The Infamous Beardie – Sam (2)

Sam’s first sighting of a seagull brought with it an identity crisis which was never resolved. Was he a Beardie, or was he a bird? Hard to be certain – but Sam’s uncertainty led him (and me!) in to many a predicament.

Perhaps the worst occurred one January, when the wind was whipping the sea in to such a frenzy that mountainous waves were assaulting the Gower coast and the tides at Three Cliffs and Pobbles Bays were singularly untrustworthy.

That Sunday morning, I had no thought of going down to the beach. Walking with Sam high on the cliffs, my priorities were to return to the warmth of home and have breakfast. But my bird-dog had other ideas!

As I paused in my walk, to talk to a fellow stroller, Sam took himself off. Next thing I knew, he was barking from way below me, on golden sands that were fast disappearing beneath the incoming sea. Happy as can be, he was all but flying across the beach in pursuit of a whole flock of gulls that were adding to his fun by lifting off in different directions.

This way and that Sam went, oblivious to everything except trying to fly like his friends. He had not noticed that the sea was rapidly taking over his territory. I shouted to warn him, but my shouts were wafted away on the wind. Not that he, engaged in his favorite activity, would necessarily have heeded my warning, had he heard it. Scared stiff, I hurtled down the nearest path – reaching Pobbles beach just as a gigantic wave crashed over rocks at the furthermost point and curled across the shore, lifting Sam bodily and sweeping him out of his depth. With that one wave, the last of the beach had vanished and I had had to scramble on to a rock-formation jutting from the foot of the cliffs in order to avoid sharing Sam’s compulsory swim.

Terrified for him, there in that churning cauldron, panic froze me for a few moments. In my frozen state, I saw Sam succeed in clambering on to a solitary rock that seemed to me, then, to be situated in mid-ocean. As he clung, with waves surging round him, I strove to work out how best to mount a rescue operation.

My bedraggled boy clearly had no intention of leaving his rock voluntarily – and if I went to him the chances were that we would both drown. But if I didn’t, and a wave tossed him from his precarious perch, it could also hurl him against my range of rocks, stunning him, with perhaps tragic consequences.

Remembering that life-saving equipment was positioned by the path from Pobbles, I began a race against time, trying to reach it and Sam before the sea claimed him.

Luckily, there was a man walking his Corgi down the path – and he reacted speedily to my cries for help. A native of the area (while I was a relative newcomer) he understood wintry tides better than I did. Waiting for a wave that receded farther and faster than its predecessors, this good samaritan plunged in to the sea waist-deep and waded out to Sam’s rock. Surmounting this, he pushed the wingless bird into the water! Riding, literally, on the crest of a wave, Sam surged toward me and was deposited safely on the far side of a deep gully. Even without wings, this presented no problem and we were soon enjoying a soggy reunion.

But his rescuer was still stranded on the rock! Shouting my heartfelt thanks across, I heard the response: “I may yet need rescuing!”

Fresh panic set in. How fast could I alert the rescue services? I must save Sam’s savior if it was the last thing I did. His Corgi looked at me expectantly as I tried to look confident… and competent.

Before there was need for me to demonstrate my rescuing ability, a giant wave surged and then receded sufficiently to permit a reprieve, after which thanks could be properly given.

Did Sam’s life-threatening experience deter him from further gull and sea-related adventures? I wish I could report that it did, but it did not. If gulls were in the vicinity, Sam seemed to lose all doggy instinct. I even saw him surrounded by rabbits, on the moors, unaware of their existence because a gull was overhead. And I saw him ’round up’ a solitary sheep on Rhossili beach, only to abandon it as the gulls again began teasing him. But that’s another story…

Copyright: Pamela Glynn

Achieve Lofty Levels of Shelter From the Elements With Vertical Window Blinds

Of all the types and styles presented, fabric vertical blinds are the especially greatest selection for insulating your home from the effects of external sound and weather. Whether you live in a suburban home or an efficiency urban high-rise, a familiar predicament of both situations is how to best insulate your living room from outside noise and effects of the weather. Even in your large suburban cottage, with only drapes or curtains as window blinds, you can hear the neighbors’ offspring playing some type of ball diversion, the trumpet or drums until the weather turns cold and at that moment shouting merrily to one another while sledding, building snowmen, or ice skating on the adjacent frozen pond. Yet, with installation of fabric vertical blinds as window blinds throughout the house, you can hear yourself reflect (and even hear the antique grandfather clock ticking away peacefully in your living room). And, believe it or not, in that tiny little residence in the metropolis, with no more than drapes at your front window to shield you from all the street sounds beneath, you can listen to every utterance of any strangers’ conversation, as they innocently chat about anything and everything. Although complicated to suppose, that same insignificant city apartment, with fabric vertical blinds at the windows, will be a haven of peaceful quietude. The solitary exterior clatter you may take notice of, if you are lucky and have hung the proper window blinds is the sporadic cheeping of your next-door neighbor’s pet bird.

In terms of weather effects, fabric vertical blinds are an outstanding key for subduing frosty, blowy wind-created drafts which otherwise would invade your home through any cracks (or even scarcely noticeable spacing) left without insulation around window frames and casings. In older homes that could use some transformation, cracked wood and sealant around windowpanes is liable for constantly disturbing temperatures. If decreasing heating overhead is a chief mission at your house or apartment, eye-catching fabric window blinds as insulating window blinds will, with no doubt, cut your heating energy expenditures while they add to the stylish d├ęcor of your dwelling. When fully rotated to create a vivid, elegant and mildly wind-proof guard, your fabric vertical blinds will faithfully maintain warm and pleasant interior temperatures for your comfort. And the smooth, understated action of their formed headrail and mechanism allows you to adjust the blind slat position without any extra sound or distraction. And, in spring and summer months, these same amazing, chic window blinds with their subtle textures and pleasing colors reduce incoming heat from hot sunshine and any water leaks or moisture buildup on windowpane interiors.

In addition, the tall, slim slats of your fabric vertical blinds can be purchased in varying degrees of thickness, which is of use when window blinds are needed to control exterior noise, as well as chilling conditions caused by stormy weather. Even though imprinted vinyl vertical blinds also make available comparable protection from noise and organic elements, the most effective and cost-efficient where noise level and window insulation are concerned are fabric vertical blinds. Fashionable as they are, to many homeowners and apartment dwellers, their main attraction is that of controlling year-round outside weather and noise influence on your heating or cooling bills and on your ability to have true peace and quiet for the benefits of your home and your sanity.

Fabric vertical blinds are also helpful in discouraging visits from unsolicited animal guests arriving to land on your window sills, peering in while you’re having a meeting of the neighborhood ruling body in your living room, or serving an intimate dinner party in your multiple-windowed dining room with its glass-wall effects. While cute and amusing at times, a group of bushy-tailed squirrels cracking nuts at your windows while you hand out the hors d’oeuvres-or the occasional owl hooting absurdly and sarcastically at your jokes is not only distracting, but takes away from the beauty of the otherwise calm setting. With the support of your attractive fabric vertical blinds, however, you can entertain in grace and privacy minus your animal kingdom audience.

The Purple Martin Connection

East of the Rocky Mountains, Purple Martins almost exclusively nest in birdhouses provided by humans. This bond between man and bird did not always exist, of course. It evolved over centuries naturally and likely by accident. Now that Purple Martins are so dependent upon us for their housing, it becomes incumbent upon us to foster this uniquely beautiful relationship. Let us briefly explore how this bond became so strong, and examine the opportunity it gives us to step into our roles as stewards and caretakers – rather than ravagers – of the natural world.

Originally, Purple Martins nested in abandoned woodpecker holes, decaying trees, or wherever they could find a cavity big enough to contain their nest. Native Americans initiated the human connection with the birds. Gourds were hollowed out and hung from poles or tree branches to cure, to be later used as water vessels. The people were probably surprised when first they saw a pair of steel-blue martins making a cozy abode in their beverage ware!

Later, European colonists and frontiersmen took note of the ties between Purple Martins and the Natives. In 1831, a man named Alexander Wilson observed, “Even the solitary Indian seems to have a particular respect for this bird.” [“Thanks to Native Americans, Purple Martins Underwent a Complete Tradition Shift” – James R. Hill, III] The Native Americans may have nurtured the relationship with Purple Martins because of the massive amounts of insects they eat. (It is important to understand, though, that mosquitoes are not on the martins’ menu; that myth was an invention of unscrupulous marketers trying to sell more birdhouses!) It is also quite possible that the Natives simply enjoyed the aerobatic feats of these nimble flyers, as many people do today.

As people expanded into the Purple Martins’ territory, there were fewer and fewer places for martins and other birds to nest. Luckily, people already knew how to provide homes for the martins, at least in a rudimentary fashion.

However, our encroachment continued, and the pressure on Purple Martin populations increased exponentially. Urban expansion, suburban sprawl, road building, deforestation, river damming, and many of our other activities nearly spelled the end for the enchanting, gregarious martins.

Finally, concerned citizens began to try to reverse the downward trend in the number of Purple Martins. New types of housing were developed, eventually evolving into the multi-unit bird apartments that can now be seen all across the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada. The designs and specifications of Purple Martin birdhouses continue to change as we learn more about these wonderful birds. The large, mansion-like houses, made of wood, plastic, aluminum, or some combination of these, supplanted the natural gourds as the favorites of Purple Martin landlords; but the gourds, like the martins themselves, are making a comeback. Many people spend days carving and curing gourds to hang from wires or mount on poles. The birdhouse manufacturers have also thrown their hats into the ring, producing durable, attractive artificial Purple Martin gourds that the birds seem to love.

The Purple Martin enthusiasts began to spread the word about the plight of the birds, and, over time, more and more people ventured into the realm of Purple Martin landlording. The number of martins nesting in the U.S. and Canada has rebounded significantly, though the population is still meager in comparison to its former size.

The prevalence of competitors like European Starlings and English House Sparrows, coupled with the effects of human society will prevent Purple Martins from reestablishing their former number, but there is no reason why they cannot have a robust and healthy population. Their fate is now in our hands. We, who initiated the Purple Martin Connection so long ago, can make all the difference.