Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You...

Today I'm' thankful  for all those little warblies that sit still long enough for me to get a nice photo...

 I'm also thankful for great friends like Kim Kaufman of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory for all they do to promote conservation and the love of nature.

 We need to also be thankful for all of the Audubon groups like Western Cuyahoga Audubon for their ongoing support and protection of the Important Bird Areas.

When I thanked Kim for  promoting conservation, I also need to be thankful for all the young people that have heard the call of the wild.
Support groups like The Ohio Young Birders Club!

Better not forget The Doodles for putting up with me!

And the lovely birds that have visited our gardens and brought a little joy and a sense of wonder to our lives.

I am very thankful for our friends at the Las Gralarias Foundation for helping to save wild areas in Ecuador for our feathered friends.
There are groups like this the world over that need our support.

Thanks to all of the bird banders and researchers that strive to help and preserve the birds that we love so much.

 Our friends at all the the parks and refuges that are struggling to protect a little bit of nature through all of the government cuts and inane laws need thanks and support as well.

 On behalf of the birds on this Thanksgiving, I thank the insects. Yummmmm...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hide and Go Seek...

 The Song Sparrow didn't see him either...

So...we heard about a Cattle Egret, somewhat of a rarity up north where we live, not too far from our humble abode of the burds. We don't often chase birds, bad for gas, bad for the environment...and we usually get there too late anyway. This time we thought, what the heck...not much to see around the home turf and it's a great excuse to blow off yard work again!

We were told he was being seen in the grass right along the parking area and "DON'T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR!" because you may scare him away. Fine. We drove to the parking area. We sat in the car. We got bored. No Egret of the Cattle. Nuthin. Humph.

"Let's at least go for a walk" said The Doodles. The Dave agreed and so off we went for a little traipse through the moisty marsh. Maybe we'll see him along the trail...

 Nope, that ain't him.
That's a Dark-eyed Junco too far away because no one has sent Loopy a Canon 500mm lens yet.
(It's almost Christmas, though I have been bad this year.)

Redhead...Ruddy Duck...American Egrets of any sort there...

 There's something moving back in the marshy stuff.
A couple of Green-winged Teal playing hide and seek...

Just another old Coot...

 Nice, a Common Loon but NOPE!

Nutz...let's just go back to the car and go home for lunch. I'm cold, I'm bored and I'm cranky.
What was that Doodles? You see something in the grass in FRONT of our car? WHAT?! Go figure...

 We got bored and left the car...don't ever do that!

 We crept quietly back to the car and, as you can see, the stoopid Cattle Egret is out in front of the Burdbuttzwagen. 
Well, we did have a nice walk...

 He's laughing at me...I can tell...stoopid burd.

 Lot's of yummy crickets in there!

 They must tickle his beak...
 Or maybe they taste better upside down...

 Grasshoppers are like peanut butter...
They stick to the roof of your mouth.

 Marching off to battle the bugs with his mighty bill of doom.

 So...until we meet again...Toodles!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

An Autumn Walk in Our Neighborhood...

 A nice early walk in the woods...

Huntington Reservation is within a couple of miles of our humble and crazy home. We really should visit more often, just seems to slip my feeble mind I guess. They have nice trails running through a mixed woodland and down a ravine to Porter Creek, then out to Lake Erie. Picnic tables and benches abound along with an ice cream shop...during the warmer seasons. This park is also home to the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, a great place for a family outing with rescue birds and mammals to see, a planetarium and more.

I love walking through the woods in the fall...the crunching of the leaves and the smell...peaceful and relaxing...a great escape from reality and the insanity of election time. The areas of fir trees and the fallen needles are especially aromatic on a brisk morning. It was fairly quiet, Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice could be heard calling. The occasional Northern Cardinal and White-breasted Nuthatch peeked through the scrub then promptly disappeared into the safety of the woods.

We know a pair of Barred Owls have nested here over the past few years. We've been hearing a pair calling after midnight in our yard as well. I have yet to see our calling friends...too dark and too late to wander our gardens and street with a flashlight. One of these days...

 The Doodles somehow spotted this Barred Owl perched near the top of this evergreen.
A little later, we saw one the owls zooming through, silently.
 The peak weekend for autumn foliage.

 The Chipmunks were very wary today...too many dogs unleashed and running free.
Please, if you go to a park with your pets, keep them on a leash for the safety of the wildlife, other hikers and the pets themselves.

 This was a big weekend for thrushes in the park.
We saw at least a dozen flitting about in the scrub.

 We think they were Hermit Thrushes...but then again...were they Swainson's?

 I think I'll stick with Hermit.
None were brave enough to come all the way out of the brambles.

 The squirrels were being very shy?
 If it would have been warmer, I would have waded through the creek.
I'll have to wait for spring...
 The Mallards found the rocks in the creek to be perfect for preening.

 Enough rocks for everyone.

 Porter Creek viewed from the upper trail.

 I now know why the squirrels were all so wary...

We saw this Red-tailed Hawk flying low through the forest on the hunt.
He perched for a moment and I found a hole in the forest to get a peek.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stop raking leaves and read a book!

 Leaves make good mulch...and they're free!
Speaking of leaves...I wonder what tree they fell from?

 Oh...wasn't that caption such a clever segue to our first book? Where's that Pulitzer Prize? Just think of the camera gear AND that 500mm lens I could get...but anyway...

Princeton Field Guides recently came out with this timely tome, "Trees of Eastern North America" by Gil Nelson, Christopher J. Earle and Richard Spellenberg with wonderful illustrations by David More. I'm hoping with time and a little study of this book I'll be able to say, "Hey! Look in the Common Hackberry! There's a Turdus Migratorius at 4:15!" or something intelligent like that.

All joking aside, and that's very difficult for me, this is a great book covering over 800 species of trees found in the US. I even figured out what tress we have in our yard! Similar to a bird guide, trees are broken down by families with detailed descriptions of each. Habitat and ranges are listed for each as well as great illustrations  of the tree, it's bark, leaves and fruit. I now know that those large, painful nuts that the squirrels chuck at me are from our Shagbark Hickory! They hurt more than the acorns from our Black and White Oaks that we also have.

You know if I can learn something, this must be a worth while book to have. Oh...and for you folks on the other side of the Rockies, there's a guide for the western trees as well.

 Passenger Pigeon from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History collection.

I'm sure you are all aware of the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha on September 1st. I think the media glossed over the importance of that milestone. Audubon has recently released a report of bird species that are creeping closer to extinction. As they said, only nine bird species have gone extinct in continental North America in modern times...reading their report, we learn that as many as 314 could disappear by the end of this century.

It's time to wake up or politicians and leaders and tell them they can't rape the landscape for their profits any longer. Something need to be done NOW..not tomorrow when out children and grandchildren are so angry with us because there's nothing but parking lots and gas wells left.

I would highly recommend  reading "The Passenger Pigeon" by Errol Fuller as this appropriate time. This beautifully illustrated book has many interesting facts  about the Passenger Pigeon and its demise. There are illustrations, photographs, paintings(including John James Audubon's,) specimens, poems, historical accounts of the billions that roosted and blackened the skies for miles and days and more.

Very easy to read with answers to the many questions I had about this bird and it's life...and the over hunting that wiped it out.
 Red Kites flying over Wales during our visit a number of years ago.

I seem to have a theme here...birds on the brink. We were lucky enough to visit Wales in 2007 with a friend and see a farm where Red Kites were being raised and released back into the wild. They were virtually extinct in the U.K.due to persecution by farmers. Now they are on the rise along with other species of raptors in Britain. Which brings me to my next favorite book...

 "A Sparrowhawk's Lament:How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring" by David Cobham with Bruce Pearson. You may recognize David Cobham from the nature documentaries he's made over the years, such as "The Vanishing Hedgerows" the first conservation film of 1972.

Mr. Cobham discusses fifteen species of raptors that reside in the UK today and the efforts by scientists and conservationists to stabilize their populations. He uses personal stories and connections to the effects of documentary films on changing peoples perceptions of these wonderful birds.

Every chapter has great illustrations by Bruce Pearson which brings the stories to life. A number of these raptors have counterparts in the US such as the Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. The stories describing each bird and it's fate in life are very engrossing and enjoyable to read. This book really brings to light the great work all of the film makers and volunteers have done to safeguard these species.

This female Mallard photo was published in the November/December issue of Bird Watcher's Digest!

On a more personal note, I had another photo published in BWD magazine! If you've never heard of this magazine, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN HIDING! This is a great family owned and run publication headed by the ever delightful Bill Thompson III. Me and The Doodles have been lucky enough to meet Bill, his wife, Julie Zickefoose and their children a number of times as well as other family members. Great folks that deserve our support!

You're probably aware that more and more people are getting all of their "infotainment" on line now and smaller publications like Bird Watcher's Digest are having a hard time. This really is a worth while magazine to subscribe to. They have regular contributors like Bill and Julie of course, but they also have Kenn Kaufman(who will deny knowing me if you ask,) Paul Baicich(who will also deny knowing me!,) ID articles by Alvaro Jaramillo, humor by the hysterical Al Batt(he's of Welsh heritage by the way,) and all the great regulars. PLUS you get to see photographs and illustrations by some of the greatest folks in birding...oh...and me too.

SO, sit down, shut up and read a book AND a magazine.
Thank you, the sermon has ended...for now.

Monday, October 20, 2014

...uh...what?'s a blog post.

 Meanwhile...back on the mainland...
 The dreams of Kelleys Island are fading and we're back to reality, or as close to it as I can get. We decided to chuck gardening and chores for a trip out to Sandy Ridge Reservation. It was a little chilly and very cloudy that morning. It's autumn in Ohio and you never know how the weather will be from minute to minute. It turned out that we over dressed a bit as it became sunny and very warm. Ya never know around here...

 Frogs like this bull frog were still active and hopping about.
We're still seeing a few green frogs in our little pond at home too!

Neither one of us can remember ever seeing a Double-crested Cormorant out here on our past trips.
He was all alone and far out in the marsh.

 There's always a few flycatchers like this Eastern Phoebe here.

 This pair of grasshoppers (differential sp.) were a little too busy for this time of year.
I guess there's not much else to do if you're a grasshopper though...

 This is a Peeping Tom Grasshopper. Really, that's what he's called.
He was watching the grasshoppers from the above pic.

When ya got an itch, scratch it!
This Great Blue Heron had plenty...

A master stalker...this Great Egret had his eye on something under water...

I think he found it!

 A little fishy snack...I'll stick with my granola bar...

 Way off in the back are a couple of duckies...

 Oh look...a couple of Green-winged Teal butts.
They were too busy eating to be bothered by me.

 I'm amazed at the number of Large Milkweed Bugs we've seen this year!
We have them at home in our butterfly garden on common milkweed that we planted for the monarch butterflies.

 Finding this Lincoln's Sparrow was a nice surprise!

 And there's always a gang of Mallards...

 Another good find was a lone Rusty Blackbird along the side of the trail.

 We saw the Sandhill Crane pair wandering and feeding through the back of the marsh.
 This is just past the Cranes...beautiful place for a walk!
Just left of center, all the way on the other side is where Bald Eagles have been nesting and raising their family.

White-crowned Sparrows are here for the winter... ick...winter.

 I moved around for a better shot of the sparrows and this is what I got...

 Wood Ducks nest in this area.
Soon, we'll see flocks of migrating ducks of all sorts out here.

 Since I said the "WINTER" word, I thought I better leave you with the last of the wildflowers that bloom at Sandy Ridge...

Until we meet again...toodles!