Sunday, April 19, 2009

Celebrating a birthday and Hermit Thrushes at Belle Isle

This afternoon my friends, Randy Messick and Dana Novak, and their eleven month old twin sons, Henry and Oliver, went to Belle Isle to celebrate Randy's birthday and to do a little birding.  Both Henry and Oliver are teething so the outdoor adventure was a welcome distraction for them as well as for Dana and Randy.
This is Oliver.
This is Henry.
Starting out with a kid in each backpack.
Finishing up and everyone is still smiling.
 Oliver fell asleep in his backpack and Henry did not.  This turned out to be important later.
The secret, I learned from Dana and Randy, is to keep moving.  So, we did not stand still for too long at any one particular stop along the woodland trail.  Our first intriguing sound was the partial song of a warbler.  I said Black-throated Green (Dendroica virens) and Dana and Randy favored Northern Parula (Parula americana.)  As it turns out, both are possible on April 19th. But we never did see the bird so its identity remains a mystery.

We were accompanied by Hermit Thrushes (Catharus guttatus) all the way around the woodland trail seeing perhaps five or six.
I was pleased with these photos, especially the one below where the bird is entirely unobstructed.
The south side of the trail was definitely birdier.  We saw all of the expected woodpeckers and of these two vocalizing Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius) were the best.  Brown Creepers (Certhia americana), Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) and Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalamus) finished up the migrant list.  The resident birds were all present and vocalizing.  Of note, we did not see a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata); still needed by all of us for the first of the season.

Following Belle Isle we went to Hamtramck for a late lunch at Polonia's Restaurant on Yemens Street (as always, I wish I took photographs of the restaurant.)  This is where we found out the benefit of Oliver's nap in his backpack.  Both boys ate a little of their own lunch and then it all proved too much for Henry who did not have the benefit of a nap.  We all took turns walking him around much to the delight of the other diners.  The most frequently asked question was "are they twins?"  It occurred to me that Dana and Randy must be asked this question all the time.  They confirmed that they hear this often and while they always answer politely, they also have a string of responses that they use for their own amusement.

It was a great day to be out and not in - not as nice as the past three days - but, the weather still cooperated fairly well.  I was happy that I could spend this time Dana and Randy and the kids.

Postscript:  Anthony Bourdain, host of No Reservations on the travel channel, recently filmed a segment for the show at Polonia's Restaurant.  It will be aired sometime in May.  Keep your eyes open. 

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