Turn up the volume and just listen....a pretty song by my good friend Paul or so I like to say. You see, all of us run into famous people now and then, right? I was at a conference one time where Paul was the main speaker and I was at the urinal and ran into him. Good friends.....
So....Bluebirds.... today we had a few of them in our back yard and their 'colors' are showcased so well against the grayness of the day. A bit of fog this morning but the blue brought a bit of a smile to our faces. These are the "Local Yocals' as I call them, the every-day variety, as opposed to summer passer-bye's.
In Arizona, I rent my house (to humans) and we call our renters 'snowbirds' for they flock from the colder regions of our country, (as in Wisconsin and MN and MI) and migrate south for winter. But in Jersey, when speaking about the 'birds' as in Bluebirds, we have the opposite thing going on. We have our local population now (just as in Arizona) but welcome in those who migrate in for a season. The difference is that our migrants of birds occur in the summer, and our locals are here all year. In Arizona, we have humans all year but our migrants occur in the winter.
I prefer the Jersey bird migrants over the Arizona human migrants. The Jersey variety of migrants always dress the part, be it winter or summer. They always bring a smile to my face....I like to feed them, watch them....they peck away on the ground now in the winter.
While...the human migrants in Arizona just get in the way. They add more cars, they love to use the 'check-books' in the store which slows up the line as I just hate that 'ripping' of the check as they slowly pay the tab. There is no Rhyme or Reason (John Denver) to their dress and most of them I really do not like to even look at.
So....the winner is:....our local yocals....the bird type as in Bluebird. Well, let me amend that. In the early 70's...I was a HUGE John Denver fan. I can still recall in 1973 when Sunshine on My Shoulder came out, I would plug my ear phones in from my 'radio' (Egads!!) and listen to it as I biked to work that summer. Those were days that were simple, they were soft.
So it is really a tie, John Denver or Bluebirds. Come to think of it, I am not sure where the 'tied' connection is to John Denver but, thought I would include it anyhow as a nice way to end this blog.
The other day.....I was in NYC...Harlem. I was taking my 1 1/2 year old grandson out for a walk at Riverside Park which is just on 'this' side (as opposed to 'that side') of the GW bridge. On the way, we were a bit startled by a rather large bird. It just flew from the ground to the rod iron fence and let us admire it's red tail. Just 'down a-ways' (decipher that), was another red tail, just sitting in a tree. Just two hawks sitting in a tree...they weren't kissing though.
As evident, we could darn near touch their beak, and they seemed not to bother. I suppose in NYC, if they aren't used to people by now, they are going to be pretty stressed out. I felt like we were in a zoo.
We just sat and watched......then walked on.
Voter's day......I needed to get away from this election so Cape May Hawk Watch was perfect medicine. As you can see after playing the video, not too many others had the same idea that I had.
One person who did show up was Pete Dunne. He casually strolled in and those in attendance knew him and it was fun to listen to Pete chat. The 'numbers' today mirrored the early Hawk Watches that Pete Dunne initially participated in ....few to none.
Let's see...... a kettle or two of Red-Tailed Hawks...a few Coopers, Sharpies, a Bald Eagle or two, a few Northern Harriers including a Ghost....Green Winged Teals, ......no Goshawks, no Sandhill Cranes. So, a quiet 4 hours I spent sunning myself on the top deck. That beats CNN, FOX....etc etc....
On Sunday, we joined the navy and had a bit of Sea Watch at Avalon....But we didn't have to be in uniform and we performed our 'watch' form shore....as we were anchored in the sand with a beach chair to guide us.
Deb and I made our way to Sea Watch in Avalon. We arrived on the nears-side of noon and while the wind was blowing a bit, if you parked yourself on the south end of the Avalon shed, you were windbound and were not going anywhere. A few of the lady naturalists were about as were a couple or two.
The activity was not in 'armada' form, but none the less, we had fly-bys. One particular fly-by was flying north. Now, why north? ...not sure but the only thing that we could think of was that a lone white-winged scoter was leading a flock of black scoters on an excursion. If I was a black scoters among hundreds of like ones, why would I risk going on an excursion 'led' by a white-winged scoter? How did he/she get in charge? "Come on guys, over yonder is a white winged, ....lets chase him up north!". And so it went. The white-winged scoter was most likely thinking he was leading the flock while in actuality it was the black scoter flock steering to the lee side the white winged.
A few common loons were making a short jaunt to the south while a flock of 'working Royal Terns' were way out in the surf, busy diving in and out, competing against the northern gannets. Amongst that crew, was one lone Humpback Whale who casually made itself known, once by view of 'full tail'...the other times just appearing to snort or two.
A flock of dunlins sputtered around, ...... never sure where they landed, if they did.
Cormorants came too, as scoters in flock. One scoter, (there is always one) found itself amongst the cormorants. That guy had to change gears a bit to match the lower speed of cormorants. Again, why? Why not just speed ahead or best yet, ride the waves a bit and then put to flight when you see your own kind coming up the coast. What makes a scoter fly with the cormorants or a white winged pass company with black scoters? Truly a mystery we are not akin to.
A bald eagle made an appearance right over our grouping.....passing on from sea to land.
The weather was fine.....the sun was out.....our bins in hand and scopes set to watch. Not a bad day. A fellow came over from Hawk Watch with the news of a goshawk showing up at exactly 9:45. That makes three days in a row for the goshawk, a bird I would like to see in particular. Tomorrow makes for Tuesday, voting day. Hmmmm...sounds like a good time to call it quits with politics and pick up a bit with Hawks. I wouldn't have to think about 'red or blue ', just red-tailed, or gray-ish blue..... I'm in.
I spend weeks down in Arizona, between Tucson and Mexico in a house we own but rent out to snowbirds in the wee hours of the winter. This 'October' was one of those week(s). While in October I was visiting my usual birding haunts in Madera Canyon, Patagonia, the Mt Lemon and Sweetwater Marsh....all within an hour of my place. Also in the Tucson area is the Tucson Nature Store, much like we have in Cape May. A beautiful spot to pick up books, information, maps....etc.
Now, while I work with technology all day, one of the last things I want to do in my free time is, what else?...."Play with Technology!!". So I have slowly moved from electronic bird lists to record my adventures to a booklet type, where I actually write in with pencil or pen my new sightings. I addition, I keep a bird journal 'on paper' where yes, the same holds true. No Technology.
It wasn't always this way, and while in the late 80's I was into paper and pen, I worked into creating a bird list using Excel.. I would record my findings and link an image to them etc...Then I moved to The Bird Journal which is a UK based electronic birding journal for the world. After that I progressed to ebird; as many have. But I am telling you...after awhile I felt like my main intent in birding came down to 'recording'....Either that or 'taking a picture' and linking it to my electronic journal.
The 'fun' of birding slowly migrated from 'birding' to 'recording'.... It hit me 4-5 years ago that something was wrong. While in the field there were times I could hardly get back to the computer so yes you guessed it, so I could 'record' the bird and the sighting. My penchant became increasingly apparent. In fact, did I even have to leave the car anymore? Could I just grab my camera with long lens and shoot, then rush back to the computer to record. Yes, I can do that....
Then, reality hit....a brick in the face....a V8, slammed into a wall.... It finally dawned on me that I was missing the aspect of birding that attracted me to it in the first place. The laziness of a day birding. A casual stroll...a stop to look and sit and ponder about a bird or a flower or grass or a bug. A wonderment that a child has as he sees a rock or tree bark etc.... To appreciate nature I found out I needed to be 'in nature' and by being 'in'...I meant that it goes beyond just being 'in nature' as in 'my body is physically" but my 'mind had to be in nature too'. I need to pulllllll away.....I needed to grasp the human/bird side of birding once more.
Hence.....and 'egads!", I 'dropped' all of my bird programs and lost the password for The Bird Journal. I sharpened a pencil and bought a ABA listing of North American birds in the New Jersey Nature Store. I bought a listing of New Jersey Field birds and one for Arizona and the NW, and any other haunt I travel to. And yes, I started to record my sighings with my hands, my pencils...my eyes. But more importantly, I started to bird once more.
I was no longer a 'camera burro' ...I didn't have to have one slung around my shoulder aiming to capture the the bird image on digital film. Rather, I captured the moment in my mind. Gone were the days where I would wish I could 'record the bird on ebird' so others would know of my adventures but now, I spend more time in the field and just watch nature and appreciate the bird itself. I quietly come home after birding and sit down with a glass of wine and 'write in my journal.. I write my notes and my thoughts.
The other day while in Madera Canyon I was hanging out with a guy who spends his retirement days in his tent moving up and down the SE area birding, and then to Florida. He was a retired airline engineer from Boeing. He and I talked about birding and witnessed something he and I never saw before. We saw an Acorn woodpecker spend hours sitting on a telephone pole and then swooshing out into the air like a flycatcher to catch a fly. Then it would yoyo back to the pole and sit. Then do this again...and again...and again. I have never seen that before and no, I have no picture...no image of positive proof. But who cares? For I have my memory and the time spent remembering this behavior.
While in Tucson...I purchased a new Checklist to North American birds....it has a listing of 941 species. Hmmmmmm...what? How many? ....ah.... I have a ways to go I see.
But not so fast..... You see, as evident by the image on the top of this blog, do you see all of the "E's" ...? They mean 'extinct. Yes, extinct. Now why....why..oh why would they have a listing of extinct birds to go along with the checklist of those one manages to view? Doesn't make sense. So just because it is a printed object now to record my list, it doesn't imply it is any more saner than the digital one that drove me nuts for years.... In case you are wondering, it had well over 100= extinct birds and many accidental but, at least with those you have a chance to view them!
Below...my lists of sorts...