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Smoking Buddy

(28 posts)
  1. timelord

    timelord

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    Like many others on this forum I usually just smoke by myself; mainly sitting on a bench in the park reading a book or watching the sail boats in Sydney Harbour. However, in the warmer months I have a buddy who likes to come and just sit and keep me company. He's not about at the moment because it's winter and temperature is far too cold for him but I thought I would share a picture of him whilst I wait for the warmer weather to arrive in a couple of months and his return...

    My smoking buddy is an Eastern Water Dragon; this one is just shy of about 90cm (about 3 feet) in length (so about as large as they get); there are 3 or 4 smaller ones in the same park but they are very wary of humans unlike this fella who has been know to sit right next to my feet!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  2. cobguy

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    He's really cool!
    I had a Bearded Dragon for many years that used to keep me company while smoking.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  3. redglow

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    Very cool. I don't have any visitors like him. But, I have my bird feeders right outside my porch and enjoy watching the feathered friends cavorting about.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  4. didimauw

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    I'd love a smoking buddy like that!

    "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    Posted 1 month ago #
  5. puffy

    puffy

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    Really Neat

    Life's most valuable treasure is..Love
    Posted 1 month ago #
  6. newbroom

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    I have anoles everywhere, but a pair live on my screened in porch and go in and out under the screen door, due to an insufficient bottom weather strip that I could easily fix/repair/replace. I chased a damned skink out of there yesterday. I am not fond of those reptiles.
    There are alligators out there too, and I almost tripped over a 5 footer one day while walking the edge of the 'water hazard' along the golf fairway.
    I just came back inside after a puff or two and saw three perched hawks all within the same sight line. The one I can see most clearly is a sharp shinned. I regularly see Red Tails and Coopers too. Bird rich environment around here.
    If I were to catalog a typical day's sightings, it would include waders, perchers, raptors, and song birds of incredible diversity. (not meant to be a political statement, but, I am pro diversity.)

    Posted 1 month ago #
  7. cortezattic

    Cortez

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    I'm all for diversity and a rich ecosystem, but I would rather not live where there are reptiles.

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    Posted 1 month ago #
  8. mso489

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    This dragon is an interesting friend. I wonder if he/she is drawn to the pipe smoke, the company, or both. It could be because you sit in one place. He knows you're alive from occasional movements, but he sees your stationary habit as being similar to his. I think creatures do respond to stillness, taking it as non-aggression. Saw an interesting PBS Nature special on crocodiles. The narrator, helping transport a relatively small one (about four feet) took the head end. The animal had its jaw taped and various other bindings, but it lunged just a few inches and split the narrator's lip requiring flying out of country for surgery. It was like a really lethal boxer's punch. blunt force. Reminded me of WWII incident where a U.S. unit was anticipating an amphibious attack by the Japanese. When nothing came at them, they proceeded cautiously toward the landing beach/swamp and eventually realized the croc's had dispatched the attack force. Nothing left.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  9. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Wild. I'm envious. If I had one I'd offer him a bowl, but of course I'd have to hold & light it for him, since he "ain't got no 'posable thumb."

    Bill

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  10. mso489

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    Since it's a dragon, and it isn't clear whether it is male or female, you could name it Puff, on the pipe theme.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  11. timelord

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    @cobguy I've not seen any Bearded Dragons in the wild around here (Sydney's Northern Beaches) - plenty of other things though...

    @redglow A few birds around here too; mainly Australian Magpies and Crows, Common Mynah, Lorikeets and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. There are several other species common in this neighbourhood but they don't tend to visit this list park. The most common ones around here Ibis, Pelicans and Brush Turkeys (actually, the Turkeys are quite interesting in that they've only arrived in the last 3 or 4 years. They have been slowly migrating down the East Coast and have now reach Sydney (right into the centre). The occasional Pelican and Sea Eagle will pop by and we do have breeding colonies of Little (or 'Fairy') Penguins in the rocks just below the park - you won't see them during the day but they are surprisingly vocal at night.

    @newbroom Fortunately we are way too south for the Salt Water Crocodiles to make an appearance (though someone did make a life size replica of one in sand on the beach last year - in the early morning light it looked extremely realistic!). The only other lizards in my immediate neighbourhood are small geckos.

    @cortez You should probably avoid Australia then; we have loads and they are all protected species.

    This side Manly(my suburb) is a bit of an oddity in that various reptiles which are very common just a couple km away are not found here. So in the North Head Reserve (i.e. National Park) just across the cove from me the only snakes to be found are 'swamp snakes'; plenty of small marsupials, Blue Tongue Lizards, geckos etc. Probably some Skinks too but I've not seen them there. Whereas, across the other side of Manly (only about 4Km) at Queenscliff (where I lived before the current gaff) you could add to these all the usual suspects (pythons, tree snakes, Red Belly Black snakes and Brown Snakes - with some claiming to have seen Tiger Snakes on the golf course but it's pretty hard to tell the difference between them and Brown Snakes without getting closer than sensible...). Various friends in the area have some other interesting wild life in their gardens too (tree snakes and Pythons are pretty common garden residents, various small lizards as well as the large Monitor Lizards.

    @mso I doubt he's (and the one in the picture is a male - there are females around, slightly small and more restrained markings) attracted to the smoke! It's just I usually sit in the same spot and quietly read a book and don't make any sudden or threatening movements. After hibernation when he first comes out he will be as wary as the smaller ones for a few days but eventually he'll decide I'm pretty harmless and won't be afraid to come closer if he needs to (my company is unlikely to be the reason!). Any strange noises or movements (such as heavy footsteps) will cause him to dive under the nearest bush (although later in year he might feel brave and keep me between the threat and himself!). One day last spring he was about 4m away having chased away a smaller male who was encroaching on his territory when some tourists came to the park; they weren't aware of his presence and disturbed him. Instead of diving under the nearest bush - which is were his opponent was holed up - he very quicky - and they are fast runners - ran towards me, stopped and turned around so his back was to me and he was facing the newcomers. Prompted one of them to ask if I was his big mate as it definitely look like he running to me for backup! (of course, more likely he was just used to me being 'part of the bench' and any cover would do.

    @Bill Hmm. Think they local rangers would be down on you like a tonne of bricks for that...

    Posted 1 month ago #
  12. timelord

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    Since it's a dragon, and it isn't clear whether it is male or female, you could name it Puff, on the pipe theme.

    I'll ask him what he thinks when I next see him

    Posted 1 month ago #
  13. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Think they local rangers would be down on you like a tonne of bricks for that

    Why? It's not like it was a bird & I was contributing to the delinquency of a mynah.

    Yeah, I know. It was dumb, but I'm in a dumb-joke mood this morning & there just doesn't seem to be any help for it.

    B

    Posted 1 month ago #
  14. mso489

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    timelord, interesting behavior. Maybe I'm extrapolating too much from our cats, which like all cats are half-domesticated and half-wild, but the dragon may be using you, indeed, as a big friend who will ward off the interlopers. When there's political unrest between our cat trio, they will use us as diversions or shields. Because reptiles can be either static or seemingly simplistic, they have the appearance of having rudimentary brains. Yet they have some fairly nuanced behavior too, whether purely programmed or thought out in some way. I'd guess a slowly evolving combination. My suspicion is that even an ant or grasshopper has two or three neurons devoted to rudimentary thought. People think thought sprang to life with them; I doubt it.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  15. alaskanpiper

    alaskanpiper

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    Radical. No shortage of smoking buddies around here. Moose, Bear, Birds galore, especially owls at night, Snowshoe Hares.....all common visitors to the back deck. All fun to hang out with (and some of them delicious). The only downside is the most common smoking buddy, the mosquito. Smoke helps fend them off

    "We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us." ---Hank

    "Yeah, well, you know that's just like, uh, your opinion, man..." --- The Dude
    Posted 1 month ago #
  16. mso489

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    It's pleasing to have a species that is gender specific, only because it makes you feel like you know a little something about your acquaintance. Some species are decidedly different between genders, like this dragon, and others aren't at all. I think an internal exam on a sedated animal is required for croc's and alligators. With chickens it's clear. With geese not so much, unless you see them in a pair. I was proud of myself, with a kitten, which are often hard to tell, that a farm-raised friend insisted it was female, and I said no, I don't think so, and I got it right. Not only male, but a little son-of-a-gun. You have to have male kittens "fixed," or they spray, leave home, and fight, but they still have all that swagger, considerable aggression, and the usual self-importance, though female cats have a hugh presence in their own right.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  17. timelord

    timelord

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    Why? It's not like it was a bird & I was contributing to the delinquency of a mynah.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  18. timelord

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    @mso My brother used to have two cats and large garden surrounded by farms. Plenty of wildlife about. The cats used to chase (and kill) small birds until one day three Peacocks moved in (as an aside, RSPB when contacted suggested the Peacocks probably lived at one of the large county estates nearby and just fancied a change of scenery and would probably move on in a few weeks - they did, after about 5 months!). At night the Peacocks would roost on top of an outbuilding which contained the central heating boiler so they got the warmth from the flue. This meant they were immediately above the cat flap...

    The cats obviously thought some giant bird gods had been summoned as punishment for all the small birds they had killed! Both would very cautiously look out through the cat flap and if they saw the giant birds quickly withdraw their head and then whimper. I don't think I'd ever heard a cat whimper before - certainly my own when I had one didn't. Even after the Peacocks moved on it was a several weeks before the cats were brave enough to stay out and resume their mission of terrorising smaller creatures (oddly, they never went for the chickens).

    RSPB - Royal Society for Protection of Birds

    Posted 1 month ago #
  19. timelord

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    alaskanmpiper Not too sure I want a bear coming around whilst I'm smoking, not that there is any chance of that in Aus. My only experience with a moose is when I was cycling (that is a pedal bike not a motor bike) through New England for the Fall (1989 if I recall correctly). I was slogging up the Kancamagus Hwy when I became aware of a very large antlered head watching me pass. He was just standing chewing and watching me sweat up the hill. I was just praying that he didn't decide to investigate as my only thought was that I couldn't out run it going up hill and I sure as hell didn't wan't to back to the bottom and have to climb it again! Fortunately he just stood their and watched me carry on.

    With the exception of the crocodiles in the Far North most of out wildlife - deadly as a lot of it is - is fairly laid back (they are after all Aussies) and will ignore humans who are not jumping around or otherwise threatening them.

    There are a few exceptions of course:
    - large male Red Kangaroos are very territorial in the Spring, the trouble is sometimes they think your back garden is theirs;
    - the heavier species of pythons are not to be trifled with when they get over 5m in length - it's at about that size their view of humans changes from 'something to be avoided' to 'something that might be good to eat';
    - death adders - very small snakes that have the annoying strategy of hiding in the soil and waiting for their pray to walk over them - so they don't slither away when they feel vibrations from footsteps - they also happen to be one of the fastest striking snakes in the world. Don't wear sandals when walking in the bush!

    Fortunately none of that lot live in my area.

    With the exception of those, sitting still, keeping calm and smoking a pipe is a pretty good defence mechanism (and other than the pipe bit it is pretty much what is drummed into kids when they go to first school).

    Posted 1 month ago #
  20. mso489

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    Interesting that female hawks in most species are larger than the males, almost look like eagles if you don't have a ready comparison. The males are called tercels, hence the name of the erstwhile small Toyota sedans. When our little female cat lived in Ridge, Long Island, she dominated the ground around the house. Cats sometimes have a misperception of their size. Our little gal approached a pair of guinea "hens," a mated pair, thinking to pounce, and they looked down on her with disdain. What are you thinking? The cat figured it out and didn't charge. Later the guineas disappeared for a while and we thought they'd met a fox or coyote, but later we saw them with a string of their chicks, seemed like five or six. A neighbor had ordered the guineas and raised them before he let them free. Back to the large female hawks, I had one visiting our chipmunks and dining on them now and then. I called the local vet school to see if the hawk might go after my large orange tabby. The vet guessed, apparently correctly, that neither animal would take the chance, neither wanting to risk its hunting capabilities to the injury the other might inflict.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  21. alaskanpiper

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    alaskanmpiper Not too sure I want a bear coming around whilst I'm smoking, not that there is any chance of that in Aus. My only experience with a moose is when I was cycling (that is a pedal bike not a motor bike) through New England for the Fall (1989 if I recall correctly). I was slogging up the Kancamagus Hwy when I became aware of a very large antlered head watching me pass. He was just standing chewing and watching me sweat up the hill. I was just praying that he didn't decide to investigate as my only thought was that I couldn't out run it going up hill and I sure as hell didn't wan't to back to the bottom and have to climb it again! Fortunately he just stood their and watched me carry on.

    Most bears mind their own business unless you threaten their kids, space, or food. Keeping in mind that all food is their food (even your food). Sounds like a memorable experience with the moose on your bike. We encounter them daily here, and they live amongst us, even in town. Mostly mind their own business, but it is always wise to steer clear, especially if it is a female with a calf/calves. Most dangerous animal in Alaska by a long shot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhODbr1Cp7Q

    Posted 1 month ago #
  22. timelord

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    msg Yes the relationship between animals can be quite surprising at times. The same garden that had the peacocks had a breeding pair of pheasants, a breeding pair of foxes and quite a few wild rabbits in addition to the chickens and two cats. The cats didn't interfere with any of the wildlife (I guess the pheasants were just a bit too large and feisty for the cats and that the foxes would be too high risk; not sure why they didn't go for the rabbits though). Interestingly the foxes didn't seem to bother the rabbits and pheasants either; the chickens were a different matter though. The foxes had plenty of chicken suppers!

    There was an article in the local paper last year (or possibly the year before) about a man who keeps chickens (keeping chooks as we call them over here is surprisingly common in Sydney) not too far to the north of me (still in the Northern Beaches area. One morning shortly after they were installed in their coop and run he found a 2m python in the run (carpet pythons have quite slim bodies). In he went and picked it up and after a bit of struggle he moved it to some local bushland. Couple of days later it was back; repeat the process. He was saying in the paper that it is now almost a daily ritual to pick and move the snake; but the snake no longer bothers to struggle and just seems to accept this is part of the daily routine!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  23. mso489

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    That's a well-traveled snake! A good while back, a member reported an encounter with a moose during rutting season, while he and his wife were out walking with their dog, a big bear-hunting breed as I recall. Without bidding, the dog went right to work to shoulder the moose out of their way, a significant hazard to the dog, but part of its breeding. I think that dog was well-fed that evening.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  24. alaskanpiper

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    A good while back, a member reported an encounter with a moose during rutting season, while he and his wife were out walking with their dog, a big bear-hunting breed as I recall. Without bidding, the dog went right to work to shoulder the moose out of their way, a significant hazard to the dog, but part of its breeding. I think that dog was well-fed that evening.

    Dogs can be invaluable during both moose and bear encounters, particularly in alerting you to their presence in the first place, which with bears can be all the difference, as you never want to surprise one. Unfortunately, if not well trained, they can seek out, engage, and anger the animal and then run back to their owners.....not great. Most of the time though, even an untrained dog will chase a moose off, moose hate dogs. I've seen jack russell terriers run them off before. Bears are a little less predictable, but I've had dogs run them off on occasion too. It really depends on why the bear is there in the first place. If it is just a random encounter usually they scoot. If they are after food, they are a little less inclined to depart.

    The bottom line is you should always be prepared to handle it yourself with both bear spray and an appropriate firearm on had if you are going to be outdoors, in addition to taking every preventative measure possible to avoid an encounter in the first place. But if you ask me, outside of hunting, I would rather have a dog around than not in either case.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  25. mso489

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    No experience with bears at all. N.C. has them, but the populations are in the mountains and in the coastal swamp areas. They turn up in small towns and rarely at the edges of big cities. I always wondered what the utility of large-caliber handguns is as bear defense. I think these are sold for people who don't want to, or can't, always have a long gun at hand. I surmise that someone who had regularly hunted bear and also had spent a lot of time at the range or in practice with a handgun might have success as a last resort, but getting off a good shot under that pressure would be a tall order. I hear bears move fast. I think the young males go wandering in the spring and sometimes see people as a good dining idea. Also females with cubs are not good to find. Hikers wear "bear bells," big sleigh bells rigged to fasten to your pack or belt loop, so the bears can hear them, move off, and not be surprised.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  26. folanator

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    Looks just like my first wife.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  27. alaskanpiper

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    No experience with bears at all. N.C. has them, but the populations are in the mountains and in the coastal swamp areas. They turn up in small towns and rarely at the edges of big cities. I always wondered what the utility of large-caliber handguns is as bear defense. I think these are sold for people who don't want to, or can't, always have a long gun at hand. I surmise that someone who had regularly hunted bear and also had spent a lot of time at the range or in practice with a handgun might have success as a last resort, but getting off a good shot under that pressure would be a tall order. I hear bears move fast. I think the young males go wandering in the spring and sometimes see people as a good dining idea. Also females with cubs are not good to find. Hikers wear "bear bells," big sleigh bells rigged to fasten to your pack or belt loop, so the bears can hear them, move off, and not be surprised.

    A handgun will work fine if you know how to use it. I prefer an open site rifle for bear protection, but in some situations carry a handgun, mostly when fly fishing so it isn't in the way. Bear bells and other noise are a very common means of avoiding encounters here as well, and statistically speaking bear spray is more effective than any gun. Although that is likely because many people don't know how to use them correctly, or don't realize that they need to have them OUT AND READY. When I encounter a bear the first thing I do is make sure my gun is loaded and in my hands ready to be aimed. All while slowly backing away of course. Because as you mention, bears are MUCH MUCH faster than humans. They can sprint up to 35 MPH and they are used to running through brush and over uneven surfaces, unlike humans. Bears do not often target humans as prey, they most often attack when threatened or surprised, or in defense/acquisition of food. They will target you if they are extremely hungry though, particularly polar bears, but this is very very rare. Normally they want to avoid you as much as you do them.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  28. mso489

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    alaska, good bear lore. Thanks.

    Posted 1 month ago #

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