When I went to feed and turn out yesterday morning, as I was getting Lily her hay I noticed a large dark area on the left side of her face right behind her mouth - at first I thought she had mud on her face but on closer examination it turned out that she had rubbed all the hair off so the dark skin was showing. She'd almost made it raw in places and it was swollen. I put some Bag Balm on it to soothe it, which she tolerated. There was no obvious injury or mark - I expect she may have been stung by a wasp or bitten by a spider or tick, and rubbed it on the fence in turn out. Last night it looked a little bit better, so I gently cleaned it and put some Nolvasan ointment on it, more for the soothing effect than for the antiseptic. This morning it didn't look too bad, so I left it alone.
I was able to take Maisie for a trail ride yesterday - our arena is under water but our trails are crushed limestone so were rideable even though they were wet - we did encounter one giant puddle that was almost knee-deep on her, but she gamely plowed through - this from a horse that when I got her would go to almost any lengths to avoid putting a foot in water! This water issue was one of the things we solved at one of the week-long clinics in Colorado with Mark Rashid that I had the chance to attend several years ago.
Maisie is in heat, and usually she isn't very "mareish" even then. Yesterday, however, although our ride went well, as we approached the barn on our return, Maisie became very "locked-on" to the horses visible in the distance - it was hard to get her to pay attention to me - and started screaming to them. She did focus well enough to walk back to the barn, but kept screaming. Since she was very antsy, we worked on standing still, and we stood in the parking lot on a loose rein for quite a while while the horses came in - at the end she was relaxed enough to cock a hind leg. Then, we went away from the barn for a ways - just a little farther than she really wanted to go - before turning back and being done for the day.
This morning I took my truck and trailer for their twice-a-year safety inspection. Even though I don't haul commercially, my truck and trailer are large enough (Ford F350 and 4-horse gooseneck) that I'm required to have them inspected. I have to drive about 10 miles away to a Jeep dealer, and get in line with the semis, taxis and other trucks. Today I was lucky - there was only one taxi in front of me. By the time I was done, there were three dump trucks and a taxi behind me - I'm sure glad I got there early. I was hitched, inspected and back home and unhitched in less than an hour and a half.
It turns out that we have a mixed flock of both White-Crowned Sparrows and White-Throated Sparrows - it turns out they often flock together when migrating to their breeding grounds further north. The differences are subtle - the males of both have white stripes on their heads, but the White-Crowned have a soft grey breast and a slightly longer tail, and the White-Throated have a distinct white throat, yellow spot by the eye and an overall more reddish appearance in the body. This afternoon I was fortunate enough to be able to closely observe two males, one of each species, foraging together under my bird feeder.
I consulted one of my favorite bird references, The Birder's Handbook (Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye) to remember how long the Killdeer eggs will take to hatch (assuming they aren't eaten by something in the interim - this nest seems particularly vulnerable since it's on a grassy area instead of on dirt and rocks, which makes it much more visible. The average clutch size is 4 eggs (there were 2 on Friday) and both parents incubate for 23-25 days. That would put hatching around May 17. The baby birds are precocial, which means they're up and running almost immediately. The parents then guard and teach them for another 22-31 days until they fledge. It's too windy today for pictures, but with luck I'll get some soon of the bird on the nest.