Monday, October 29, 2007

Married. And the Chickadees would vouch as witnesses!

Emery and I are officially Wife and Husband. Sixty family and friends dropped by the Haas Home on Saturday just after the rains ended to make way for the sun. Frantically, I prepared our patio for an outdoor ceremony while house finches, blue jays, cardinals, house sparrows, white throated sparrows, robins, chickadees and one dark-eyed junco watched.

Our wedding was far more emotional than I anticipated. A better day and evening I could not have imagined.

During the ceremony, we had a moment of silence, interrupted only by a rustle in the leaves. I believe that rustle was a sign of approval from a White Throated Sparrow under the Oak Leaf Hydrangas. It was a most beautiful day for Emery and I. To those who were in attendance, we are deeply honored and grateful. To those who were not there; we wish you could have been!

Here are two photos, courtesy of Moe Hanson, my artistic neighbor. Many more photos to come...

All the best,

Dan & Emery

Emery is such a hottie!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Marriage and Yard Work

Ladies and Gentlemen, I extend to you my sincere apologies.

Sure... I could've posted the exciting details about how I did NOT see the recent rare visitor, a Calliope Hummingbird in North Beach (or how Warren Strobel was the lucky one to last see the bird). I might have talked to you about how I am still noticing the occassional Osprey overhead, or that a Merlin flew over my car this afternoon in Severn. I could have told you about how wonderful it is to watch the White Throated Sparrows perform their little moon-walk dance in search for a meal in the mulch. Nope, I just kept quiet this week.

Instead I've been quite busy planning for a little wedding this Saturday. Not just any wedding mind you, but one involving Emery and myself. Mmm, that'll take one's mind off of birds for a week or so.


In preparation for guests, I must tell you that the yard and garden has NEVER looked better. The home is about to get a thorough, detailed cleaning. And all of those little fixes I've been avoiding are now repaired and complete! Everything, including the recent rains, is wonderful.

Am I stressed? Sure. Running short on time? Absolutely. Wondering just how I will squeeze in a bachelor party between now and Saturday when I have gigs on Thursday AND Friday night? You bet. Do my arms, legs, back and other parts hurt and ache from all of the hard work? Uhm, I'm typing this with my nose.

So wish me luck. In the meantime, enjoy these BirdCam photos! I love my BirdCam. Did you get yours yet?

If you need me, I'll be practicing the words, "I DO." Oh, and I am trying to teach one of the local Chickadees to feed from my hands (see last photo). Patience, Daniel Son. Patience.


I just noticed this heron diving in the wood!


Can you see the Chick-a-dee contemplating taking a meal from my hand?

Good Birding,

Dan

Monday, October 15, 2007

Birds and the Moon

I got my Wingscapes BirdCam up and running. I love it. I just know that while I'm out and about visiting schools during the day for work that all sorts of rare birds are stopping by my yard. They are surely visiting the feeders, perched in the Tulip tree or the within the roses. These beautiful migrants are drinking from the water sources, or pecking on the ground for something interesting. And now that I have this camera, oh you can be sure, they're going to be caught in the act. (NOTE: This afternoon, I did manage to witness a Coopers Hawk flying into the tall Silver Maple tree in my back yard. At that moment, ten or more Mourning Doves scattered into sky in a panic! Great fun!)

Back to the point of my blog: today, the only birds that posed for the camera did so only to mock my new device. Notice all the mooning going on in these pictures? Yeah, the House Finches have turned out to be devious little posers.

Tomorrow I will find a new spot for the camera. I assure you that a rarity photo will be coming soon!

House Finch Rear


Doves Bathing


House Sparrow


Smile...

-Dan

Thursday, October 11, 2007

White-Throats Whistling Again

I've been reading the MDOSPREY lately and feeling left out of the loop. Birders from all around the area have been posting sightings for the past week (maybe two) and I've yet to have heard a peep. It's as if the local flock of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, who regularly spend their cooler months around my yard, have been purposely ignoring the Annapolis area. At long last, that familiar song was heard once again while I was out walking Oiseau late yesterday afternoon. Being a musician, I welcomed this familar and quite catchy tune.

Sure, it's a sign of winter's inevitable arrival to Maryland, but it's also like a dear old friend coming back for an extended visit.

This weekend is going to be excellent for the birds. The weather has turned cooler, recent cold fronts have brought some great migrants into the Maryland area and on a personal note, I don't have any music gigs. (I do need to get back to the business of song writing very soon though...). Oh, and while you're in the yard around your homes, listen up for the White-Throats. I've heard that they're taking requests this year.

In other news, I've finally set up my BirdCam from WINSCAPES! (Thanks Bart for inventing/creating this very cool device.) I can't wait to catch that Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker on camera. But here now is a rarity... already! Yes, as you can see from the photo below, I've managed to capture the first sighting of an American Dodo! And people thought they were extinct... hah!


Good Birding,

Dan

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Respones...

Since my last post about the 'competition', I've spent a lot of my spare time reaching out, in every direction, for help, assistance and suggestions. I called and emailed many politicians, educators, environmentalists, birders and local businesses. In short, I contacted just about everyone I could think of who might share an interest in restoring the environment and the "School Yard Species Competition."

Thus far, here are a few of the respones that I have received:
---------------------------------
From the Mayor of the City of Annapolis:

Actually I have a plan for school yard habitat restoration. It was to begin when our Eco-park at Back Creek was complete. (Check the City's white paper at Annapolis.gov )

However, I like your proposal, and think we could start on this before Back Creek is completed in the Spring.

Sincerely,

Ellen Moyer
Mayor
---------------------------------
From the Anne Arundel County Executive:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue with me. I have asked my assistant Mr. Bob Leib to review this and report back to me. Please call on me anytime I can be helpful to you.

JOHN R. LEOPOLD
County Executive
---------------------------------
From Audubon:

Thanks for writing. I like your thinking here. In fact, I've had something stuck in my craw (is that the expression?) for a while, somewhat similar, that would engage students in a competion.

First let me say that I was at a Richard Louv event the other night and it only fueled my desire to get kids outside and into nature more. Louv made the point a few times that parents should not rely on schools to do it...and he's right; schools, right or wrong (mostly wrong) are so focused on reading, writing, computer skills, and here in Pennsylvania...the dreaded "state tests" that there is no longer time for nature. Kids "might" get a field trip once a year, but beyond that, very little EE in schools. So, from Louv's standpoint, it's up to parents to get out with their kids. But the broader picture for me is to change the perception of school boards and re-establish the importance of the understanding of the natural world. (which reminds me of something Audubon Arkanas is working on...I'll forward it to you.)

Now, the competition...though I haven't fully read through all your stuff here, it's congruent with what I had in mind. That is, use the existing (and relatively new) citizen science program, The Great Backyard Bird Count, to have schools compete for having the most species diversity on campus. Obviously, urban schools are going to be at a disadvantage, but perhaps you put schools in catergories (urban, suburban, exurban, xx acres, etc) and they compete against "like" schools. The problem with the GBBC is that of course, it's a winter count and once a year. I think the competition would be better if it took place in seasons where you could actually count insects (and plants) as you've suggested.

We're working on a propety recognition program here and I'm in communication with Britt Slattery who is my counterpart at Audubon DC/MD. This recognition program is not only suitable for schools, but can be duplicated (once the internet part is up) in any state. Might work nicely with the competition.

Let's talk more,
Steven Saffier
Audubon At Home Coordinator
Audubon Pennsylvania
---------------------------------
From Annapolis' Wild Bird Center:

You know that we are already involved at West Annapolis ES and stand ready to do more.

Bill
Wild Bird Center
West Annapolis, MD
---------------------------------
From Sean Pelan, a Science Teacher at Matapeake ES on Kent Island:


Hey, was reading your ideas about establishing bird habitats and creating opportunities for science lessons and I'm interested. I teach 2nd grade at Matapeake Elementary on the island. It's 3 years old and was designed very environmentally friendly. A new middle school campus just opened on the same grounds so it's a heck of a campus. Lots of ponds and environmental touches. Google Map it and see. You've been birding at Terrapin Park so you know the potential. Nature abounds. Great blue herons greet us in the pond every morning, and ducks and geese love us. At school our kids find praying mantises, frogs and toads, and watch as ducks are raised in our courtyard each spring. The last four just left this week it seems. Our science curriculum in 2nd grade is in transition this year, so the time is right to get creative and take advantage of the environment outside our doors. As a teacher and fellow musician, consider me openminded to your ideas and one you might want to collaborate with as far as getting them off the ground. We don't have money, but we have a great PTA, a willing staff, inquisitive kids and the freedom to step out of the box and get our hands dirty which is rare these days, yet essential if you're to see these things come to fruition. The next turn on Rt. 8 after us is a nursery, too.

Take it easy and keep the strings tuned...
Sean
---------------------------------
I am delighted to have heard these responses. What's more, it's thrilling to know that people and organizations are hard at work on their own initiatives for habitat improvement.

Perhaps I should host an evening summit in order to present this project in greater detail? A discussion could take place as to how to best build this competition, make the rules, implement it, as well as how we might solicit participation from outside interests (local business, DNR, FWS, Audubon, Parents, Teachers, Other Experts).

Once everyone has had an opportunity to express their concerns, ask questions and offer suggestions, this competition could be well on it's way to becoming reality.

So, who is interested?


All the best,

Dan

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