Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Community Kills Bees (and who knows what else?)

Last night, my wife Emery, five-month old son Declan and I decided to go downtown to get some ice cream on a warm summer evening. As we were walking out to the car, a truck came by spraying for mosquitos. What???

I started running towards my car and threw Declan and his car seat into the car and slammed the door. My wife and I unfortunately had the cloud of toxic chemical flow right past us. I was beyond upset.

So I called Anne Arundel County this morning. It turns out that our West Annapolis Community ASKED for this crap. Unreal. I never got any notice and our community association is weakly organized at best. There is NO online website or place on the web to find contact information except for a website that was last updated in February 2007.

The gentlemen with Anne Arundel County whom I spoke with this morning was very nice. He told me that the driver should have turned off the mist spray whenever anyone was near. This driver did no such thing and he no doubt saw me running with my my infant to get him out of the spray. Well, I am now (after the fact) able to exempt my property from this toxic gas. What parent in their right mind would chose THIS over a few bumps on their child's skin? People are so screwed up with their priorities.

Here are some highlighted hazards that my community actually ASKED to have sprayed into our lives:

HAZARDS TO HUMANS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS
Caution. Causes moderate eye irritation. Harmful if swallowed, absorbed through skin or inhaled. Avoid contact with skin, eyes or clothing. Avoid breathing vaporor spray mist. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling and before eating, drinking, chewing gum, or using tobacco. Prolonged or frequently repeat-ed skin contact may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before reuse.

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS
This product is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Do not apply directly to water, to areas where surface water is present or to intertidal areasbelow the mean high water mark. Do not apply when weather conditions favor drift from treated areas. Drift and runoff from treated areas may be hazardous toaquatic organisms in neighboring areas. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment washwaters. This product is highly toxic to bees exposed todirect treatment on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds while bees are actively visiting the treat-ment area. Do not allow spray treatment to drift on pasture land, crop land (other than crops listed), or water supplies.


Incidentally, I thought we were supposed to be concerned about massive honey bee die-offs. But here in West Annapolis, we requested their demise in order to hopefully prevent a few bug bites.

My family and I live amongst fools.

If you think your community might be getting poisoned with this crap, here is a form you can use to EXEMPT your property. Click HERE to view and print the form.

-Dan

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Barred Owl Family on the Eastern Shore

After work yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a trip to see the Dickcissel on Egypt Road just North of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. I arrived around 6PM and wouldn't you know it, the bird was a no show. Actually, all three birds I was looking for (Dickcissel, Black Rail and Whip-poor-will) were no shows! However, on Egypt Road there were some Northern Bobwhite, an Eastern Meadowlark, several Grasshopper Sparrows, a Blue Grosbeak and a Prothonotary Warbler who were all kind enough to have made appearances.I enjoyed seeing a family of Barred Owls perched all along the trees along Bestpitch Ferry Road. I snapped some photos of the two little ones with Mom (or Dad) closely watching over them from a tree further off into the woods. A mile or sp down that same road, two Northern Bobwhites sang a duet with a two Seaside Sparrows and a Marsh Wren.On Elliott Island Road, the Chucks were singing as well. Quite loudly, I might add. I counted seven, but there probably were more. No Whips sang, but I did enjoy an Eastern Screech Owl whistling it's trill in the last stretch of pine before the marsh takes over the landscape. Around 10PM, I heard 'part' of a Black Rail's call, but not the part that would lead me to conclusively identify it as such.Under last night's nearly full moon, the marshes were surprisingly quiet. It was still an enjoyable way to spend a Tuesday evening in Maryland.And in non-birding news, there were many of Maryland's famous Sika Deer foraging along the roadsides yesterday evening. They're actually non-native (like most all of us) to this part of the world.Sika Deer were brought here from Japan by a gentleman named Clement Henry. He released them on James Island in 1916. You can read more about these deer here. Personally, when I see a deer of any kind, all I can think of is ticks. Argh.

Good Birding,

Dan

Monday, June 9, 2008

The West Annapolis Flood of 2008

After Wednesday's storms, and Thursday and Friday's floods, how lucky were we all to have the temperatures climb into the 100's? So lucky. Especially us Haas family members.Our AC blew out last Saturday and the parts didn't arrive until Friday. Of course, installation of those special parts couldn't take place until a few hours ago on Monday afternoon. It's been a total nightmare.When we first stumbled on the flood waters at 2AM on Thursday morning, my guitars were under three inches of water. Most were in cases, but a few were in soft cases and soaked. They were dried immediately and seem to have survived. They'll all need a tune up and neck adjustment after the humidity spike. The cases are mostly dry now, but all have some damage. I lost a slew of CD's from being on the ground, as well as the two towers that held them organized on the wall.The desk that used to have twelve straight legs have now expanded to have thicker bases. The wood finish on the furniture all show the high water mark as well. Luckily, I saved most all of my studio equipment and microphones. Some paintings and memories were ruined and the carpet is no more. But, trying to work here in my home for three days in the 97 degree heat was nearly impossible.The good news is that the AC is back on and *hopefully* working. The wall board (drywall) and the insulation behind them were soaked over a foot off the ground. They will have to be removed soon. The hot water heater has also finally been able to stay lit. Up until today, the pilot light kept going off.Floods are seriously no fun. But I am still the luckiest person ever to have a happy healthy family.Emery, Declan, Oiseau, Kee Kee and I all owe my folks a huge debt of gratitude for housing us these past few days. What a mess. I hope you've enjoyed these few photos of our madness. There wasn't a bird in sight to be discussed in todays blog!

On a side note, I wanted to inform all of you who might be interested: I will be leading a kayak trip through our basement after the next big rainstorm. I hope you can attend.

-Dan

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rescue a Hawk. Lose Power. Enjoy the Flood.

So on Wednesday I was driving around Charles County visiting schools, solving problems, selling School Specialty products and shmoozing. It's what I do. I got to do some birding too. Well, not exactly.

I was driving on Route 6 in the extreme Southwestern portion of Charles County when I noticed this RED SHOULDERED HAWK sitting on the side of the road. I stopped, for there could be a good photo opportunity. Route 6, despite it's rural location, is a rather busy road. The cars on Wednesday were in a bit of a rush. In any case, I got out of the car and walked towards the hawk. It was very happy to be photographed. As I got closer, the hawk still didn't move and that is when I knew something was wrong.

I grabbed a towel (always have one in the car) and an empty School Specialty catalog box and scooped up the injured raptor.

It was now about 2 PM and the weather was about to turn ugly. I called Kent at the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia in Falls Church, Virginia. He answered, "Hey Dan. How's the bird?" Somehow Kent knew I had an injured raptor in my possession. What are the odds?

I drove an hour through some torrential storms in rush hour traffic to get the bird to Ken. The diagnosis, as I suspected, was that the bird was probably hit by a car. There were no serious bone breaks and all of the bird's functions appeared to be okay. It could not stand too well during it's examination. Ken got some fluids into it's system and began treatment. Shock probably best described the bird's situation at that moment. One thing for certain, it wouldn't have survived without some timely first aid.

The sad news is that this hawk was probably one of a mated pair. That means that there are, more than likely, some hungry chicks that need care and feeding. Hopefully the other half of the pair will assume this now larger responsibility. As a new parent, I know a lot a great deal about this subject. If my wife were ever hurt, Declan would sure have a time of it with just me!Oh, the other part of the story: when I returned home Wednesday evening, the power in my home was out and our basement was flooded under four inches of ground water. Today (Friday) the flood finally receded when the power returned. There is nothing better than a battery-powered back up sump pump (brand new) that fails! I saved my guitars. The cases and a lot of other stuff (carpet, furniture, walls, etc) did not fair as well.

PS: If there are grammar errors, it's only b/c I'm in a huge hurry to get back to the mess that is my home!

Have a great week!

Dan

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer in Annapolis For The Peregrine Falcons

I have great news...

BOTH PEREGRINE FALCONS

I dropped by Uncle Frank's this evening and was delighted to find both Mom (banded) and Dad (not yet banded with bird bling) PEREGRINE FALCON perched very near each other on the bridge.

DAD PEREGRINE

Mom is looking large and bulky, which is a good sign for what I hope is a mother-to-be.

FATHER PEREGRINE FALCON

During my hour long visit, she paced the girder, but never left for her scrape. I was hoping to see where they might be nesting this year. But since she was out and about, and not on eggs, it's anyone's guess as to whether or not they're trying to start a family.

FLYING FATHER FALCON

WALKING THE GIRDER: MOM PEREGRINE

Craig, Alison and several others put up a really nice nest box for them, but as of yet they haven't decided to use it.

MOM FLEDGED FROM THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE IN NEW YORK

Maybe it's due to the constant bridge work?

DAD, PERCHED AND WATCHING

Maybe they like the safety of being near Uncle Frank's place? Maybe they recall how they found their fledgling chick last year on Uncle Frank's beach drying out after she took a dip in the Severn River? Whatever their reasons, I'm looking forward to this year's events.

FATHER PEREGRINE FLYING ABOVE THE BRIDGE

Dad PEREGRINE was performing a few acrobatics in the brisk wind above, below and all around the West side of the bridge.

PACING MOTHER PEREGRINE FALCON

I look forward to my next visit and this summer's bridge watch. It's time to break out the kayak.

DAD FALCON

Happy Nesting!

Dan

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