Thursday, July 31, 2008

Egrets, I've had a few...

...but then again, too few to mention. Thank you, Mr. Sinatra. I'll take it from here.My wife Emery's 29th birthday was yesterday. What an amazing woman she has become in such a short time. I mean, she is ONLY 29. I can remember when I was 29. Oh, wait... no I really can't. I'm sure it was nice. I'm just lucky to have her in my life.The Dec-Man (A.K.A. Declan) is growing and laughing and talking and having a ball.Ahhh. My son... He sure has all his ducks in a row!And the birds? Being that it is almost August, it's kind of slow. But there are always surprises and I am doing my best to try and find the next one.

At the moment, I have ticked 258 bird species in the state of Maryland this year. I am hoping to crack 300. It is a lofty goal, so wish me luck as I will need flocks of it.

In the meantime, how about a little story, told with more photos? Wouldn't that BEE nice?Lisa, one half of the super-fun-to-read blog THE BIRD COUPLE, is also a bee keeper. These are HONEY BEES (right Lisa?) on what is Maryland's State Flower, the BLACK-EYED SUSAN. Lisa tells me that I must have a hive nearby, as HONEY BEES will only fly about a mile away from their queen. (Much like me and the distance I am allowed to travel away from my wife.)

Incidentally, the B.E. SUSANS, along with a forest of pink CONE FLOWERS in my front yard, are starting to bring in loads of AMERICAN GOLDFINCH.

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH nest rather late in the season. They time it just right for feeding lots of their hungry chicks. By delaying nesting, they have better luck feeding the young when food sources (like these flowers) begin to yield seed.And look who else has decided to stop by for an extended visit? A RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. She has been frequenting our feeder, which hangs just outside my office window, for well over a ten days now. We couldn't be more pleased. Although, I must tell you... she has been chasing off other HUMMINGBIRDS on a regular basis. Three different hummers have snuck in for a quick drink, but all three were shown the door (or escorted off the property) by our newest precocious tenant.Speaking of tenants, a second brood of HOUSE WRENS have fledged this season in the yard. They went with the gray-blue house this time, instead of the yellow one. Every bird has their own style, HOUSE WRENS included.So what is one to do when the birding slows? One looks for other things that fly and attempts to identify and learn about them.Care to take a guess? How about this one? I saw this young bird at North Beach, on the border of Calvert and Anne Arundel Counties.Stumped? Here is an easier one.In Gambrills, on Cecil Ave, there has been a noticeable increase in the CATTLE EGRET population. A recent count today by a local birder tallied an even 100 CATTLE EGRETS for this area and other parts of Anne Arundel County.Clearly, this bird can see that it's nuts to stand in this general area.Hmm, that's better. "Hey, 387... take me to that shady area under the tree. And make it snappy."This must be the bird that best exemplifies Donald Trump's hair style, right?Said the CATTLE EGRET to the COW, "Did you hear the one about the cow that walked into the bar? Yeah, I probably shouldn't tell it. I'd egret it later. Have you tried the water here yet? I mean, sure... it's better than drinking bottled water, but it's just not all that fresh. Seriously, whad'ya say I jump on your back and you and me... we go for a stroll in the field? Do you think I talk to much? Maybe I do. Maybe not. Hey, if you keep looking at me like that, I'm going to start to think that you don't take me seriously. You really are a handsome cow #526. May I call you 526, or would you prefer Mr. Cow? Well, it's true... you're gorgeous and I mean that. Seriously, I've never said to another cow before. I really think highly of you."Now if you'll excuse me, I must go clean up the kitchen after Declan's bath. Splashing is mandatory in the Haas House.

All the best,

Dan

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Strange Visitor?

My good friend and band mate Josh Chapman had this strange little visitor drop by he and his wife Anne's front porch yesterday in St. Margarets, MD. Could it be a commonly-sold DOMINANT SILVER ZEBRA FINCH? They go for almost $40 smackers! It's more than likely an escaped pet, but the identification is still a fun activity worth exploring.The little bird flew away soon after these two cell phone shots were taken. No more updates to report as of today.So, regardless of how you feel about those cute little birds trapped in cages at your local pet store, what do you think it is?

The little guy (or gal) sure looks sad in that second photo, eh?

Dan>

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Become Enlightened

It's raining here at the beach, so I went on the interweb. There I found my friend Josh Cohen's blog. He is my local Representative and lives only a block or two away from my home. His yard is looking good, but what's more, his website is very informative. If you live in Anne Arundel County, I would go so far as to call it a 'must-read'. It even has the same minty-green background. Soothing to look at, right?And now... some bird-related news: North Carolina, the state located just South of Virginia, and North of South Carolina, has a great deal of fun. I've seen a lot of new life birds: SANDWICH TERN, WILSON'S PLOVER, BACHMAN'S SPARROW, EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE, and a bird with the absolute, best name... a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE.And though I've seen a WOOD STORK in Costa Rica, finding over 30 of them in two trees was an impressive sight.The even have an island devoted entirely to goats. I've your in North Carolina, you simply must goat. It's not ba-a-a-a-a-a-d.I've been birding with my wife's sister Eliza's significant other this week. The famous Chris Murray. Here is a photo of Chris, Eliza, Emery, Declan and myself enjoying a moment of beach bliss. The Dec-Man LOVES the beach, the water, the sand, the surf and of course, the ladies.We hope you are enjoying your own bliss this week as well.

Dan

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome to the Annapolis Environmental Commission

I'm honored. Recently, I learned that I was added to the Annapolis Environmental Commission. I am eager to learn about the role of the Commission. What's more, I can't wait to get some of my ideas turned into actions! I've got ideas for everything from regular community waterway clean-up events, to building chimney swift towers, erecting more purple martin houses, to implementing elementary school yard habitat improvement contests to... well, I could go on and on and...

Suffice it to say, I'm very excited.

Have a great weekend.

Dan

Monday, July 7, 2008

Falcon Update

Despite numerous unsuccessful checks for a nest this year to the Severn River Bridge, it appears as if the Peregrines may finally have set up shop. More details will soon be learned. US Fish & Wildlife Endangered Species Biologist Craig Koppie will be sneaking a peak sometime soon. With any luck, I might be able to join in on the fun. I will certainly keep you posted. In the meantime, here are three superb photos (taken by Craig) of the Peregrine Falcon Family from the Route 495 American Legion Bridge that connects Montgomery County, Maryland with Northern Virginia. Mom, Dad and hatch year female... all looking happy, healthy and marvelous.

MOM

DAD

HATCH YEAR FEMALE

Enjoy your week,

Dan

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Creek is Sparkling Clean

I trust everyone had a fine 4th of July weekend. Here are some results from today's excursions.

My friend Josh Chapman and I set out on kayaks at the crack of dawn (or maybe it was 10AM?) for the first annual 'Clean Up the Mess on the Bay Day'. Our prize? We took home SEVEN fully-stuffed black garbage bags filled with old cans, glass, styrofoam, nets, yards and yards of cloth, Tyvek house wrap, rusty wire crab traps, and more plastic bits of junk than one could ever imagine. I hope everyone enjoys the new, much cleaner looking Severn River.

Oh, but what about the birds you ask? Here are some highlights...

TWO PURPLE MARTINS. They have recently moved into one of the two Martin gourd houses that I installed around Weems Creek in West Annapolis. The white gourds are easily visible from the Ridgely Avenue Bridge just to the North. As for the second martin house, it is located high up on a hill at my friend's home, a far too difficult location for us to reach today. We had our minds on our garbage-collecting mission. I did send my friend an email to inquire about his gourds. As of yet, I have no information on the second martin house and/or it's possible current residents. As per the usual, there were numerous Ospreys and Barn Swallows. But the best news of the day: TWO PEREGRINE FALCONS may have started a family. After some extended observation, it is highly likely that these two have a scrape and are in the process of raising chick(s). More soon.

I returned home and took a much needed shower to remove that wonderful marshy-mud smell. Decided to get back out and do some more birding... this time with less trash.

Later, I was joined by Warren and Lisa Strobel of THE BIRD COUPLE fame. We spent a few hours at Waterworks Park and vicinity in Annapolis. Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, Northern-Rough Winged Swallows, Grasshopper Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlark, Belted Kingfisher, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Barn Swallows, Cedar Waxwings and Orchard Orioles were just some of the avian highlights. We also found some really interesting plants and empty eggs that will be fun to ID.

It was deja vu all over again. I returned home and took yet another shower, this time to remove the bug-repellent. And now... I'm happy enjoying some much needed relaxation.

Good Birding,

Dan

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ravens, Falcons and Cleaning Up Your Bay

I saw a poll on WBAL Channel 11's 6AM news cast this morning while feeding now my 6-month old son Declan his mushed-up bananas. It read something like, "Do you think it's okay for the Baltimore Ravens NFL Football team to fly trained Ravens over the stadium during home games?" They were asking people to email their responses about how they felt about the idea and about PETA protesting the live birds at M&T Stadium. County listers, I don't think this would count. Anyway, my son and I were covered in bananas, so I couldn't email the station with my response hon.

And here is a somewhat bird-related idea for the coming weekend...

This Sunday is the Chesapeake Bay's Kennedy Fitzgerald Pick Up or Shut Up (July 6th, 2008). It is an annual event dedicated to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I don't know exactly what it's about, but I'll be out on my kayak in the Severn River with my garbage bag cleaning up Weems Creek and the surrounding areas. If you have time on Sunday, perhaps you too might spend some time cleaning up a stream, tributary, or even the bay itself?

While I'm out there, I'll be sure to paddle over to the two Severn River Bridges. The local pair of PEREGRINE FALCONS have been using both bridges this summer for perching, hanging out, passing the time, etc. No nesting news available as of yet. If I find anything out, I'll be sure to let you know. The giant nest box that was installed this past winter has not been moved into yet. You can read all about that experience HERE.If you go to Jonas Green Park or the Severn Inn near the Naval Academy / Rt 450 bridge, look up under the span at all of the mounted lights. The male has been perched there on a few occasions under the highest part of the bridge. A scope would make this a more enjoyable experience.These two photos were from this past Saturday, June 28th.

Have a great 4th of July weekend. You should start your holiday by celebrating your independence from Rainwater Runoff. If you live in Anne Arundel County, get your RAIN BARRELS HERE!

Good Birding,

Dan

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