Sunday, November 18, 2018

The worst photos you will ever see ...

... of Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus).

On Wednesday, November 7th, leaving home around 6:30 am, I drove out to the spot and saw the bird.  Really a big deal and the first really good chase in Washtenaw County in a very long time.  This much was evident by the fury it created on one of the list serves.  As I was looking at the bird, I realized that I knew none of the other people gathered around to also see it.  The feeling of disconnect from a birding community I had once been so well-acquainted with was obvious.

The bird started out close, but before I could get photos of it in the close spot of the pond, it moved quickly to the back of the pond and behind some stumps and logs.  The light was gray and low so it's likely that my photos would not have been great anyway, but at the back of the pond the deal was done.

I counted five Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) accompanying this bird and so hats off to whoever found it.  It would have been easy to walk away believing only yellowlegs were present in the pond.  Of course, once it revealed its bright orange legs its presence would have been eye popping.  Many excellent photos taken by others reveal the orange legs.

It was an attractive little bird.  I had seen Spotted Redshank before, in breeding plumage, in Bulgaria.  But seeing this bird, so far from it's typical range, I was jarred again by the feeling of the specialness of birds and all they can do and all that happens to them in the course of living their precarious lives.  It paused comfortably behind the stump, preened a little and showed no signs of relocating.  I was underdressed and getting colder and there was no one I knew to talk to and I still needed to go to work.

I was distracted by flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying over the road to land in the cornfield beyond the redshank pond (hereupon to always be known as the spotted redshank pond in Washtenaw County).  Time for me to leave and get to work.

Driving east I was so happy that I had got through the morning rush hour traffic to see the bird when I did.  The backup on the westbound I-94 was overwhelming.  I would never have seen the redshank had I left home a 1/2 hour later.  After being present several days, I think the spotted redshank left the pond that night and was not seen on November 8th.  

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Mandarin Duck in Central Park

This NYT article from this past week is quite funny.

A Mandarin Duck in Central Park

I missed it by a month so saving for my next trip to Central Park. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Drama in the clouds

As the weather has gotten colder, more windy and more cloudy, Belle Isle has become a little less crowded.

First some photos from Sunday, October 15th, which was a very birdy day on Belle Isle.

Below, some photos from Saturday, Oct 20th.  First, I drove around downtown a bit to find the start  for the Detroit Free Press US half-marathon and the parking.  A few friends ran the race on Sunday, the 21st.  Race organizers had just starting setting up.  I thought about how it only takes one day to set up for a marathon.  We should have more marathons and fewer car races.

After this I drove over to Belle Isle, which with the colder and more threatening weather - as soon as I stepped onto the trail, loud, deep rolling thunder began - was not nearly as birdy as the previous Sunday.

Hermit Thrush above and female Eastern Towhee below were my two photo prizes.  Both of these birds were on the other side of the creek, but the distance was still doable and the lighting good.  I really love the towhee photo.  To me it seems that female towhees are hard to see and photo ops are rare.  Plus they are so beautiful.

Then came the cloud drama.  I think the one above is my favorite. Leaving the trail and driving around the park I had to stop for these photos.  All are cropped to get the construction mess around the park out of the shot.

Finally from the ABA blog a review of the book  Moving to the City:  Raptors in a Concrete Jungle just because I want to keep the review accessible for now.   

Monday, October 15, 2018

On-line Optics store

Potentially an on-line resource, Land Sea & Sky, follows our loss of Eagle Optics over a year ago.

I learned about this company from advertising on the back cover of the most recent North American Birds, Vol 70: No. 2, 2018.   I checked out the website.  Product line seems limited and product details wanting, but some of the bins and scopes are those desired by birders.  I think it's worth checking. Products and product details can always be added.  It seems like brick and mortar optic offerings are very limited with most offerings designed for hunters.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A day in the park

That is Central Park.  Last weekend I went to a hematology conference in NYC, specifically, mid-town Manhattan.  From the hotel that hosts the conference it's only a 14 block walk to the eastern edge of the park.  From inside the park it's approximately another 15 block walk to the Ramble.  

I am trying to think of the number of times I have visited the park as a birder - perhaps 3 or 4 times - and I would recommend to any birder.    

Rapidly moving stream which attracted birds in the trees overhead.

Female or hatch year American Redstart

This looks to me like a hatch-year cardinal or an adult female with worn feathers.

Acrobatic Black and White warbler on a log over a small stream.

I saw approximately seven Wood Thrushes. 

Robins are plentiful in the park - here a still spotted youngster.

Typically I photograph American Robins in the springtime.  I have never seen an autumn robin or got a photo of one with such obviously worn feathers.


Magnolia warbler in flight

Always charming and cooperative - Gray Catbird

Tree with fruit


Crouching cat

The Obelisk

Approaching the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the three bears statue.

Cultivar orchids in the museum's Japanese meditation garden.

The only dragonfly I saw all day - and somewhat unappealing poem below.

One of the fountains that bracket the stairs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Belle Isle

A few shots from Belle Isle on Sunday, 09/16/18 - with the exception of a couple of Magnolia warblers an otherwise very slow day.  This is race season at Belle Isle so the place was mobbed.

Alas, the DNR/State of Michigan is taking a very long time to complete their projects on the island.  For my money the jury is still out whether or not they have made improvements.  On a couple of visits to the park this past summer, I saw essentially no dragonflies.  There are a lot more visitors to Belle Isle, which on the surface is a good thing, but I couldn't help but notice that the park with filthy with liter - worse than I have ever seen it in the past 14 years.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Four Tex Wells stories

  Long time Washtenaw Co. resident and avid birder Tex Wells has passed. He was 96. His ashes are to be spread in one of his favorite birding spots, Sabine Woods, TX. No service is being held.
Take care, Sean

The above post to the Michigan list serve many subscribe to prompted me to make this post from the response posts that came in.  With all the mixed text, etc. this post will seem a little multi-media-ish with the various print styles, etc., but you'll read why I had to make the post to save the stories.  All were posted in the past 2-3 days in response to Sean's message of Tex Wells death.

Below from Mark Wloch:

I'm not one to save posts to birders in an archive folder, but I do have one saved post from the past.  It's Tex's brief report of a Washtenaw County Rufous Hummingbird.  It gave me a chuckle at the time. 

I arrived at ----- Whippoorwill Lane at 2:43 pm today and the bird showed up at the feeder at the house next door at 3:27 pm.  It fed for perhaps a minute, then disappeared.  I disappeared a couple of minutes later.

- Tex Wells

Also from Mark Wloch:

Mark wrote the following, very enjoyable, blog post featuring Tex.  Although a Rufous Hummingbird is also mentioned in this post, I don't think it was the same bird that sparked Tex's brief report above.  Mark lived in Wayne County when a Rufous hummer showed up in his yard.

Sycamore Warbler:  Just like Tex said

From your's truly, I offered the following memory:

I didn't know Tex nearly nearly as well as many but there was a brief period of time - maybe about 9-10 years ago so he would have been around 86 or 87 then - when I got to hang out with him occasionally and got to know him a little.  

Tex wanted to get a good start on his Michigan year list - "seen birds only, no heard birds" because he couldn't hear - and he had several targets in mind that could be seen on Lathe Claflin's and Gary Siegrist's February Soo trip that year.  He didn't feel he could make the drive all the way to the Soo and back by himself so he enlisted me as the driver of his car for the trip. "Don't worry, I'll pay for the gas, the motel, everything." When I protested that he didn't need to pay for my motel room he replied, "Why not?  After all, I'm not saving for the future anymore." 

From Washtenaw Audubon President Juliet Berger below:

Birders are known for our dry sense of humor about birding, a somewhat humorous hobby.  Tex was masterful at the art of writing silly reports about birding outings, without cracking a smile.  Below is an example of his writing, circa 1975, after a nasty, cold trip to Magee Marsh, then known as Crane Creek.  We mourn our oldest Washtenaw Audubon member's death today. We'll miss you Tex!

Juliet Berger
President, Washtenaw Audubon Society

Click on the report image to open and read the entire report.

There are many things to notice about Tex's field trip report.  I editorialize a little.

1.  So happy I figured out how to transfer the copy of Tex's original report to my blog.  Tex's report was perfectly typed on a manual typewriter for the very old-style Washtenaw Audubon newsletter - probably mimeographed.  It's a visual thing.  None of us will ever again read another field trip report written with a manual typewriter unless it's from the archives.

2.  I can only imagine how different Ottawa Refuge and Crane Creek must have been back in 1975 - over 40 years ago.

3.  For how terrible the weather was, the participants of this 1975 field trip certainly saw a lot of birds.

4.  Tex lists the birds seen with lower-case letters.  I think nowadays most would write out the birds names with uppercase spelling.  He was also fond of punctuating with commas. 

5.  This field trip report is all Tex Wells.  His droll humor and sharp wit never changed.  He was so much fun to be with.

RIP Tex.  You've left your mark, will not be forgotten and will be missed.