Monday, April 7, 2014

A Real Pip...


 "What's up there?"

 So...there we were...driving along Wilderness Road in Shreve...during the Migration Sensation...after 4 or 5 inches of snow fell...under which was a plenitude of rain...which turned to ice...which made for an exciting evening drive the night before we were driving along Wilderness Road...in Shreve...Ohio...during the Migration Sensation...uh...where was I? Oh, we saw a bird!

Actually saw quite a few birds, but this one in particular got me all excited! I saw this little thing along the side of the road, at the edge of the water...probing and bobbing his little butt all the while. I said to myself, "Myself...who likes the waters edge, has a pointy beak, is streaky and has a bobbly butt?" Well...the first bird that came to mind, being a lover of those cute warbly things and being that it is getting closer to May Madness and seeing as how a number of these critters had been sighted in Ohio lately and being a lover of those warbly things(did I say that already?) I screamed out "IT MUST BE A WATERTHRUSH!"

SO...being a good bird nerd, I posted a message on the Ohio list serve stating what I think may be a waterthrush and the location...knowing that someone would be watching and tell me I'm an idiot. (Everyone knows me...) Well...good ole Jen Brumfield was quick on the draw...or email...and simply asked "Are you sure it wasn't a Pipit?" Doh.

 This is what I hoped my birdy was, a Louisiana Waterthrush.
Similar looking, eh?
Bobbly butt and all...

 American Pipit was what is was!
Eating delicious frozen buggies!

 And there he goes...running away from me laughing and telling ALL of his friends what a moron I was...stoopid birds...stoopider Loopy.

By the way!
I will have an exhibit of my "work" at the Carlisle Visitors Center in LaGrange, Ohio through the month of April.
My good buddies Jennifer and Mary from the Lorain County Metroparks let me in every year!
One day they'll learn better...

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Shreve Migration Sensation Time!

 The weather may not look very spring, but the Eastern Bluebirds will make you a happy birder!

 Yes kids, it's that time again! The Shreve Migration Sensation is this weekend...and I almost forgot!
This will be the 14th year it's been held in the areas surrounding Shreve, Ohio. This event always makes me long for the spring weather that I know is just around the corner. The first birdy outing of the year to get you "warmed" up for the onslaught of those little warbly things that will be zooming through here in less than a month.

If you're looking for a great way to shake off that cabin fever, this is it. They will have a vendor show at the elementary school along with special bird programs presented by a few folks and friends I'm sure you know...Kimm and Kenn Kaufman, Jim McCormac and Cheryl Harner just to name a few. And then there's the fantastic birding in the surrounding areas...Funk Bottoms(really!), Killbuck Marsh, Shreve Lake, Brown's Bog(don't miss that one!) and more.

So, turn off your stoopid computer and get out here!
The Song Sparrows are calling you!

 The Snipe hunting is easy down here!
There's four just in this fuzzy shot...and there were more down the shore!

 And there's water without ice...for a change.
"I look sooo beautiful!"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Birds and The Bees...in new books that is...



 There's nothing like a new book about bees to make you think spring may actually show up this year! Bumble Bees of North America by Paul Williams, Robbin Thorp, Leif Richardson and Sheila Colla from Princeton University Press is making me feel all warm and buzzy!

Over the past two years I've been watching and photographing the bees that visit the native flowers in our gardens. I was amazed at the variety. I always thought a bumble bee was a bumble bee...until I started to look closer. Now there's an outstanding field guide to the 46 species that live in North America. AND it's easy enough for even me!

In the introduction they note that "everybody likes bumble bees." Their big fuzzy buzzing bodies zoom around our gardens seemingly ignoring our presence. They are one of the main pollinators of our food supplies, there pollination service is estimated to be worth $10 billion dollars every year.

I think you are aware of the colony collapse of honey bees, evidence is now showing the same fate may befall the bumble bees as well. Too many chemicals and pesticides are being used in factory farms as well as residential areas. Everyone wants a pretty weed free lawn it seems...at the expense of the future of these lovely insects.

Franklin's Bumble Bee is thought to be extinct. The Rusty-patched Bumble Bee is now listed as Endangered in Canada. You can do something by joining Bumble Bee Watch . It's free and you can download your photos of bees and help this citizen science project.

Oh, and buy the guide too. Then you'll realize how many different buzzy things are in your garden!
 
 The information is very easy to use. Range maps and color patterns are shown for every species in addition to seasonal occurrences.
 
 Now to get to work finding the names for all of my bumbles...
 

 And then there's "Ten Thousand Birds, Ornithology Since Darwin." I've had this book for a while now...and I'm still reading it! Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny and Bob Montgomerie did a fantastic job with this book. I'm one of those short attention span folks...if it has more than ten pages and isn't illustrated on every page, I'll fall asleep. I was surprised and delighted when I discovered that this rather large and detailed tome was so easily readable.

The first chapter mesmerized me."Yesterday's Birds" concerns the discovery of fossilized remains of lizards and what was soon  learned to be the earliest records of birds. Every important name in the historical records of ornithology is included.

It's broken down by the major areas of ornithology, including evolution, classification, migration and more. And yes, there are great illustrations and photographs throughout. This is a fine and easy to read history of the fathers of birding and ornithology.


 This illustration of Archaeopterxy by Rudolf Freund was for an article in Life magazine on evolution in 1959.

An Anhinga from Florida in 2006...by me. 
Of no historical importance.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Long Winter Along the Lake...

*Caution: There is one graphic image in this post...

Winter, like the ice on Lake Erie, just won't go away.

Like most of the Midwest, winter is still putting up a good fight with spring. We had one day in the sixties, followed the next day with a severe storm and temps diving back to zero. I don't like it when we're having "nothing" for a temperature. It's just not right.

This has been an especially bad winter for waterfowl trying to survive on the Great Lakes. With most of the lakes still frozen over, some for the first time in years, these birds are having a tough time. With so little open water, there's little to eat and birds like mergansers and grebes, no where to land and take off. 

The Doodles was out with Mother Doodles for the day, SO I decided to brave the icy winds and see what I could see on the lake front near downtown Cleveland. I ended up at Wendy Park on Whiskey Island, part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail. There was a breezy breeze blowing strong off the ice covered lake. I don't know how those crazy birds can sit in that water! I also don't understand how those gull watchers can stand there with their scopes, going through each of the thousands of gulls, one at a time, hoping for an Iceland or Glaucous in that crowd. I think I'll walk towards the mouth of the Cuyahoga River where the wind is less wicked...
 
 Yep. Them are ducks. And Gulls. Yep.
 
 Okay, this is what I want you to do...take off your clothes and sit in the lake.
I dare you.
You can tape a few feathers to your nether regions if you think it will help.
Brrr.
(By the way, those are Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Lesser Scaup and Redheads.)
No, not those kind of redheads...

This would be a Canvasback. 
I looked close...didn't see any canvas, just feathers.

 A lesson in scoping Lesser Scaup.

 It's much more fun watching mergansers taking off than watching those silly gray and white birds eating dead fish.
 
 A couple of Mallards chillin' out with the cool guys.
(See what I did there? Oh, those clever little puns!)

 One of the reasons so many waterfowl have perished this winter.
These guys fly in thinking the water is clear and it turns out to be frozen solid.
Once they land, it's nearly impossible for them to take off.
This Red-breasted Merganser managed, after a long struggle, to push himself into some clear water.

 There were hundreds of bodies scattered along the shore and ice.

This has been a rough winter for his first.

 This gorgeous female Red-breasted Merganser was preening with a group on a little sheltered area along the river.

Now that he's made it to a safe harbor, he can relax.

 Just making sure everything is intact after that long flight.

 Silly Herring Gulls, racing to get a dead fish.
"HEY! It ain't going anywhere!"
Silly gray and white birds...

 Typical blank stare on a typical Ring-billed Gull.

 Now this is odd.
There appears to be a little Beaver activity at Wendy Park.
Who'd have thought we have beavers living near downtown Cleveland?

 A sign of spring?
This little Chipping Sparrow was a pleasant surprise!

One of my favorite birds, a Song Sparrow.
He hopped along the path just ahead of me to keep me company.
We were the only ones not looking at gulls...

Maybe we'll see a few live wildflowers within the next month!

A trunk from behind!
The Doodles saw this washed up on a beach close by.
With the rivers freezing and thawing and flooding recently, lots of odd things have been washing up on our shores.

Keep your eyes open out there!
You never know what you'll find.
Maybe even an attractive gull...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Time to write letters and more!

 This is a wind turbine, or bird killer if I may, a few miles east of the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

 There had been a wind turbine planned for the Camp Perry air national guard site right along the lake and unnervingly close to an active bald eagle nest. Thanks to Kim Kaufman's hard work and the letters written by some of my readers, that project was stopped. Bad environmental planning and siting killed that one. But only because they actually volunteered to do an impact survey.

You may not be aware of the fact that turbines can be placed virtually anywhere without any Environmental Impact Statements or Assessments being done. Our glorious leaders decided that big corporations really care about our health and the health and well being our habitat. They don't need any silly laws or oversights.

Why is it that I have to have permits to have a new door installed and have it tested for lead paint? Why is it that if I have paint peeling on my garage I get fined? But if I want to put up SIX 300 foot tall wind turbines along a major migration path, that would be fine. Click HERE to see exactly what is happening along the coast of Lake Erie within miles of Magee.

One turbine is currently up and running within view of an active bald eagles nest. PLEASE! Write letters to your representatives asking them, NO, TELLING them that these wind farms need to be controlled properly.

You can find your Senator here:
You can find your state Representative here:
The Nature Conservancy:

The National Audubon Society:

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds:
The American Bird Conservancy:
 http://www.abcbirds.org/
 
May will bring thousands and thousands of birders to this area for The Biggest Week in American Birding. What a great time for all of us to descend on the wind facility for a little civil disobedience. So many birders just skulk in the background complaining, but only worrying about their next tick.
It's about time we stand together and DO SOMETHING!

Coming soon to a wildlife refuge near you...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cymru!


 Caban Coch Dam, Penbont Valley, Wales

 Just in case you weren't aware, today is St. David's Day. Being a David...and being Welsh...I always remember this day. There's not a lot of Welshmen  around, but there's four of us where I work. Go figure? I should mention that three of us are related, small details...We even had a little party at lunch to celebrate.

St. David is the patron saint of Wales and March 1st was chosen as the day of remembrance of his passing in about 569. LONG before me! Parades are held,festivals and lots of singing! I heard many stories from my father and uncles...ah, the good ole days! We were fortunate enough to be able to visit Wales on a birding adventure a few years ago...so, today's a good excuse to relive that trip...

This photo is of my family from about 1910. My dad is sitting on the lap of my grandmother.
Please note the smirk on granddad's face...same one I have!

 Red Kites were the highlight of the trip.
We visited a centre where Red Kites were banded and fed.

 Carrion Crows and Common Ravens waiting for the Red Kites to leave...
 
 A Common Buzzard.
In the states vultures are the ones commonly known as buzzards.
We would call this bird a hawk.
Wacky Americans...
 
 Pied Wagtail...in America we would call this rare!
 
 I would like a thatched roof home with an out of control yew covering our fence.
 
Uh...The Doodles has a way of finding the oddities of the world.
How many legs does a Welsh sheep have?

Happy St. David's Day to all of my Welsh friends!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lifers and Rarities...

 ...twas a dark and stormy night...well, it was kinda dark anyway...

 So...The Doodles went out on an morning bird walk(while I was WORKING!) with our friend and most excellent bird guide, Jen Brumfield. They hiked around Huntington Reservation right here in Bay Village, aka Loopyland. Jen knew of a pair of Barred Owls that claimed this area as their own and found them easily for the pleasure of The Doodles. Another lifer...while I was at WORK .  Doodles emailed me promptly to let me know and to rub it in a little that I was at WORK  and she got a lifer. Oh well, cheers for her. (bah.)

Being the kind hearted and thoughtful soul that she is, she suggested we go back out when I get home from WORK .  I thought that would be a peachy swell idea and proceeded to cough and it was decided I should leave work early to protect my health...mwahaha! I raced home quick as a bunny...though not exceeding the speed limit(honest.) I picked up The Doodles and my camera and went to see if any owls were about.

The Doodles led me to the site where the owls had been seen earlier in the day. We trudged through ankle deep snow...that would be knee deep for The Doodles by the way...nope, no body home. Doodles are known for their determination and she kept scanning the trees. Lo and Behold! Buried in the thick of the hemlock branches sat one lovely lifer!
 
 I'll crank up the ISO to 25,000 just to make sure I get one evidence shot.
(I didn't use any flash so as not to stress the owls.)

 Then I'll sneak through the underbrush to get a better angle...

 A second appeared!
 
 And this one is more in the open and easier to see it's beautiful plumage.
 
 And I even managed a butt shot!
Does life get any better?

 After calling out "Who cooks for you?" off he flew...

 A happy Doodles!

Speaking of hard to find birds...
 There's a great new book for all of you "hunter gatherers," folks that want to add to their life lists or those trying for a Big Year. "Rare Birds of North America" by Steve N.G. Howell, Ian Lewington and Will Russell is a great tool and wonderful guide to the rarest vargrants that visit North America every year.

This book explains very clearly what makes a bird a rarity, where they come from and how they get so far out of range. 262 species are covered, originating from the Old World, the New World's tropics and the world's oceans. An extremely detailed book with 275 outstanding illustration by Ian Lewington, you will learn where and when to look for these unusual visitors, and who knows, maybe add a few of your own lifers to your list!
 
 There are very detailed illustrations throughout, including flight images and similar species.
 
 I couldn't help but add a couple of my lucky finds in this post!
Though I didn't find these in North America...

This Sedge Warbler and the Northern Lapwing above, were both seen on our visit to Britain a number of years ago.