Monday, October 27, 2008

SPOOOKY! Trees, Larks, Merlins and Frogs!

Do you dig the new Halloween look for the blog? Very scary.

Anyway, nothing too thrilling to sing (or report) about here on the old blog today. So I'll get started with the inane blah blah.

1.) We, the Annapolis Environmental Commission, gave away 200 trees to City of Annapolis residents this past Saturday morning. It was a huge success. White Fringe Trees, Serviceberries, Dogwoods, American Hollies, Sycamores and even White Oaks were part of the mix. Enjoy some crappy iPhone photos.2.) I saw some HORNED LARK in Howard County at Western Regional Park on Sunday morning. Whopdee do. Enjoy a photo.3.) I finished the day with a chance meeting with a MERLIN at Greenbury Point in Annapolis. Enjoy some photos.I feel a bit like Columbo here, but uh... one more thing. I ran into some cool amphibians too on Greenbury Point. An EASTERN SPADEFOOT and a BULLFROG. You can guess what's next right? Wrong. Before you enjoy some photos, a lesson about the Eastern Spadefoot, courtesy of Bill Hubick.

In a recent email, the freshly-married Bill wrote, "EXCELLENT find on the Eastern Spadefoot. I just finally found my first ones on the western shore this past summer, and they happened to be in southern Anne Arundel. Yours was the closest one to home I've heard about, and it's great to hear they're still out there at Greenbury--yet another reason to take care of the place. Spadefoots are interesting because they are subterranean so much of the time (usually except right after rains), so it's hard telling if my lack of western shore finds is more to do with actual numbers or well-timed looking. Either way, I'm sure the conversion of the majority of agricultural land has drastically reduced range and numbers on the western shore in the last 30 years. Great find and well done."

Oh, and now... enjoy some photos!Sadly, these days, it, "Ain't Easy Being Green."
Good (frightful) birding (and amphibianing)!

Dan

Friday, October 24, 2008

Borneo

THIS is alarming.

A subscription to National Geographic Magazine is money well-spent. Sometimes, however, reading some of the articles truly sends shock waves down the old spine. This piece written about Borneo and it's utter destruction due to the logging and palm oil plantation industry is jaw-dropping.

Forget about acting local.

If one ever doubted that our world is connected, just take a look at the stock market. We need to do something to help the people of this county, to sway the governments, to end the corruption and to save what's left of the lowland rain forest jungle on this small, yet incredibly important land.

The cure for cancer could be in that rain forest. Biodiversity is being lost forever due to corruption and greed. And in the end, the people of Borneo, who are only trying to survive, end up as poor and desperate as they were before they began to log and destroy the land.

JUST LOOK AT THESE PHOTOS.

Get a copy of this month's National Geographic Magazine and read it for yourself.

Light pollution is another issue that gets tackled within those pages. I've not read it yet, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

Best,

Dan

Monday, October 13, 2008

Greenbury Point: Restored!

I've got great news: They (someone with a large tractor) have done some fine work out on the very tip of Greenbury Point recently. I've not been out to the radio towers in some time, but it would appear that the meadows have been restored! There are a few patches of trees and the rest has been mowed, hacked and plowed down to what might well become a great grassy habitat.If they were going to build something, they would've torn everything out, but this looks like it was done with nature in mind, not buildings. I can't wait to see some positive results, migrationally-speaking. I realize that this point just North of Annapolis doesn't sit too far out into the bay, but perhaps this might be a nice spot to hit at first light in order to see what might fall out of the sky?With the few patches of trees, picking things out is a lot easier than before with the overgrowth of weeds, snags, vines and tangles.

As I was about to call it a day, I noticed a small hawk flying low over in the mulching facility. It perched on some mulching machine. I walked over and got some photos. Then I walked closer and got some more. And then, I walked right under the raptor. The hawk really could have cared less. After a few minutes, I found myself within feet of a perched Cooper's Hawk. The bird didn't mind at all that I was right below it, taking photo after photo with my camera (not my iPhone). I actually had to back up to keep the bird in focus. The bird finally got bored (I was almost bored too), and flew over to the edge of the field. It looked as if it was still looking for an evening snack.

On the way home, I checked the marina and happily found an adult and a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.

Without further rambling, on Monday evening I observed...

Canada Goose 17
Mallard 2
Double-crested Cormorant 37
Great Blue Heron 2
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Laughing Gull 3
Ring-billed Gull 7
Herring Gull 2
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Caspian Tern 1
ROYAL TERN 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
RED-EYED VIREO 1
Blue Jay 5
American Crow 2
Fish Crow 4
Carolina Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 9
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 18
HERMIT THRUSH 1
Gray Catbird 10
Northern Mockingbird 12
Brown Thrasher 5
European Starling 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 13
Palm Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 4
Eastern Towhee 8
Song Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 4
LINCOLN'S SPARROW 1
White-throated Sparrow 4
Northern Cardinal 12
House Finch 1


Please enjoy a few photos from my CLOSE encounter with a COOPER'S HAWK, as well as a few other avian species.

Enjoy your week,

Dan

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something Mysterious Is Happening At Greenbury Point

First off... Declan says hello!

It would appear that something good is happening at Greenbury Point in Annapolis. The trails are mowed. The signs have had the weeds, tangles and brush cleared away so any hiker or birder can read the poetry. Best of all, as I was leaving after my brief visit this evening, I noticed that the lights were on inside the Nature Center Building. In all of my years hiking on the point, I'd never seen anyone near the place. At long last I got a chance to look inside the building.

It's filled with native actual stuffed birds, mammals, posters of plants and loads of information. You know... nature stuff. Which, if one is trying to operate a 'nature center'... well, it's relatively important.

So, I'm happy... make that delighted... that someone is working hard to Greenbury Point a better place for everyone. But just who is behind all of these improvements remains a mystery.

What isn't a mystery? The birds I spotted tonight during my brief hike. Let's just say it was a tad slow, a bit windy and the lack of light didn't help matters. Without further rambling, here is the list from my stroll around the scrub around the Navy's Greenbury Point Nature Center.

Wood Duck 2
Mallard 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Chimney Swift 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 3
Blue Jay 4
Carolina Chickadee 1
Tufted Titmouse 3
Carolina Wren 4
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
Brown Thrasher 1
Eastern Towhee 1
Northern Cardinal 17
House Sparrow 2

Enjoy this photo of an Eastern Phoebe, one of the more impressive birds that I observed this afternoon.Finally, enjoy this good news. It's all the more reason why you should do everything you can to improve the habitat in your yard, your neighborhood, your community, your school and your place of work. Do it for the birds. And do it for all the other living creatures. Listen, the more species, the better off (and safer) we all are in the end. Everyone in favor of biodiversity, say "I"?Seriously, it's jaw-dropping stuff. Declan says that it's time to fix up the world.

Best,

Dan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gypsy in the Backyard?

This 'white-wing-tipped' Mourning Dove was on my feeder this afternoon (well, it's tail anyway). To quote some more lyrics, this time from the great Stevie Nicks..."Went today. Maybe I will go again tomorrow. And the music... there it was hauntingly familiar. And I see you doing what I try to do for me. With the words from a poet and the voice from a choir. And a melody. Nothing else mattered." What does all that mean? Oh baby oh... I don't know. But look, here's an odd little bird.I'm guessing the bird was probably sixteen years old. At most this bird was MAYBE... just barely on the 'Edge of Seventeen'. Seriously though, perhaps this dove inadvertently perched on the edge of a can of white paint? A far better explanation might be that this bird was fast asleep when the truck that paints the lines on the road came by to lay a fresh coat?Please excuse the bad photos (yet again). Emery was cooking up some delicious dinner, and I was feeding Declan. I had to take these photos through an admitedly filthy kitchen window. But admit it, you're starting to get used to these bad photos of mine.

UPDATE: I should have checked a Sibley (or any field guide for that matter) in order to quickly learn that this 'white tip' is actually the normal color and pattern on the tail feathers of Mourning Doves. I'm not really all that smart, which makes it so much easier for me to learn something new. Maybe you did too? But really, you are probably just enjoying a hearty laugh at my expense. I'm happy to be offer up some light comedic bird-related nonsense to brighten up your day.

Best,
Dan

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hummingbird, Hummingbird

HUMMINGBIRD

His goal in life was to be an echo
Riding alone, town after town, toll after toll
A fixed bayonet through the great southwest to forget her

She appears in his dreams
But in his car and in his arms
A dream can mean anything
A cheap sunset on a television set can upset her
But he never could

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

His goal in life was to be an echo
The type of sound that floats around and then back down
Like a feather
But in the deep chrome canyons of the loudest Manhattans
No one could hear him
Or anything

So he slept on a mountain
In a sleeping bag underneath the stars
He would lie awake and count them
And the gray fountain spray of the great Milky Way
Would never let him
Die alone

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

A hummingbird
A hummingbird

-Words and Music by Wilco

Enjoy.

Dan

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Canon is BACK!

At long last, the fancy camera is back in my possession. As always, I make NO promises as to photo quality. This year, it's all about the 300. Next year, I'll be focusing (get it?) my efforts on both improving my photography skills and bettering my bird identifications.

Until then, here are a few images from today's photo expedition.

EASTERN PHOEBE

TENNESSEE WARBLER #1


TENNESSEE WARBLER #2

BROWN THRASHER

I'm also looking forward to getting some photos of Declan (if I can CATCH HIM!). He is crawling now... and he has some speed. Time to Declan-Proof the house! He is super adorable though and just growing like a weed. His photos are coming soon!

Best,

Dan

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