Bird brained stories!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Time is my enemy, or why I haven't blogged here lately

Back to work. Back to soccer. BIG storytelling commitments, detailed on my other blog. The start of a new People to People travel season. Crummy, crummy weather when none of these others are demanding my attention. I have not been out birding in so long, it hurts.

I've watched as the goldfinches in my yard lose their bright yellow feathers, gorging themselves on the Echinacea seed heads left standing. The chickadees are more numerous in the yard. Blue Jays and crows seem to have moved in of late, overpowering the persistent chirps of the chipping sparrows and resident cardinals. That's pretty much been it for me, except...

...we had a near full moon not too long again. As the moon was waxing and a nasty storm had just moved through, I was sitting near an open window about 8pm when I heard it...a distinctive bird call not like the usual night birds I hear. I stepped out onto my deck, and though the still cloudy conditions prevented visual confirmation, I knew the skies overhead were filled with migrating birds. I sat out in the ozone charged air post storm, reveling in the nearly continuous calling of birds on all sides of me. Others on the wisbird list with clearer skies later reported little bird silhouettes against the moon. I knew it to be true, just from the delightful soft travel songs they sang, like feathered voyageuers, keeping the rhythm of their travels. To think all these many years, I was unaware of such wonders! I stayed out for nearly an hour, and it never ceased. Finally, knowing that my old enemy, time, was calling me in, I took one quick look at the nexrad site to see what our "liftoff" had been. An incredible 35dbz.

There is so much wonder out there to be found. We only need to take the time to look. Now, if some of those Chestnut-sided, Tennessees and a Magnolia or two would please stop here for a few days? Our black walnuts are loaded with tasty insects we'd be glad to share with y'all before heading further south!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Only FIVE warblers? How lame is THAT?

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I don't want to see more goldfinches, chickadees, herons or cardinals. Or catbirds. It's not that I have anything against these birds. Not at all. Actually, they're among my favorite avian species. It's just that....well, it seems they are all I've been seeing lately.

I went out on Saturday morning, hopeful of a warbler migrant fallout. I missed a lot of these flying gems in the spring, so hoped to pick them up on their trip to the beach for the winter. Hmmph. While others reporting on the Wisconsin and Minnesota bird listservs talk of 10-20 species on their outings, I could find, oh, maybe five. Let's count them. Yellow Warbler. Big deal, they're all over the place. Common Yellowthroat, same thing, though a bit more difficult to actually spot sometimes. American Redstart. Ditto. Prothonotary Warbler, always a delightful sight, but I've been seeing them all along, too. Aha! Is that a Black and White Warbler flitting through the treetops? Yes! One new bird for the year. So there's my grand total of five warblers. I should have my American Birding Association membership revoked!

Still, it was a nice day to be out, large warbler counts or not. The Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons are numerous, chasing each other away from fishing grounds, and being uncharacteristically tolerant of that human with the big camera lens. Green Herons are hanging about as well, and though unseen, the Sora was laughing from the cattails. Noteably absent were Red Winged Blackbirds, usually among the most common of the marsh birds. Are they already gathering to migrate south?

To add insult to injury, I have to teach tomorrow. Now mind you, I'm not complaining about my job, I enjoy it a lot. Problem is, my job is interfering with an awesome opportunity. You seen, several birds not usually seen anywhere near here have been blown north from the Gulf coast, and some area birders are making the trek to a lake near Iowa City to see a Magnificent Frigatebird that's hanging about. It's just a wee bit too early in the school year to be running off with personal days. Besides, I need them to go to the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee next month.

Let's hope that when I go, I pick up a few of those birds as they make their way south!

And in another little bit of news, I'm humbled to have had my previous blog entry about the Whooping Cranes included in the current edition of "I and the Bird." Check it out. John, who writes A DC Birding Blog, did a wonderful job of gathering great examples of bird blogging and presenting this edition like a schedule from a birding conference. Thanks John for putting me in such fine company!

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