Thursday, September 27, 2007

Birding in My Yard and Away

My mind has been spinning these last few days. So much is going on and I have several bird trips coming up. It's less than one month until the Cape May Autumn Weekend and the First Birder Blogger Conference. This will be my first out of state birding festival and I'm getting more excited by the day. I've started making mental lists of what I need to bring. I'm hoping to learn lots from great birders but really what excites me the most is meeting the bloggers that I've gotten to know. My air and hotel reservations are made, the car rental taken care of, and my confirmation for the weekend events came in the mail yesterday. It's not too late to join us!
Tomorrow is my birthday and Art is taking the day off work to take me birding. There are a couple of local spots that I've wanted to visit and I'm really looking forward to spending some time outdoors, just the two of us. Tomorrow evening we have a wedding to attend. It will be Art's oldest nephew and the first of our kids' generation to marry. Everyone got new outfits for the occasion. There's a dinner and dance but I won't be staying up too late because Saturday morning I'm headed up to Duluth with a group being led by Sharon the Birdchick and Stan Tekiela. If the weather is good we'll be going to the hawk banding station that Sharon's been posting about and if the weather is poor we'll check out the migration along the lake. Either way it should be a blast!

Who's this little guy? I've had lots of warblers eating insects in my back yard this last week. My frustration level goes through the roof trying to id these green/gray/yellow twitchy birds.

Maybe if I look upside down...

Ahhh... a bird I CAN id! A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers turned up yesterday. I heard their distinctive call long before I saw them. There are usually one or two that winter in my neighborhood and make frequent visits to the suet and Zick dough. Speaking of Zick dough, my local grocery store finally got their shipment of corn meal. It was impossible to find here for the last month. Any ideas why? Their warehouse said they'd heard it was because distributors were getting more for selling their corn for ethanol production.


I bought enough corn meal to make Zick dough throughout the winter.

Here is a super frustrating moment in warbler watching. This grassy area was vibrating with twitchy warblers. I could not get a picture so finally I decided to focus on the yellow leaf and see if maybe a bird would hop into my focus. No luck. Or at least I didn't think so until That is I uploaded this picture and zoomed in to check it out further.

Take a picture- it lasts longer!

Look! It's another green/gray/yellow bird that I can't id!
Cute though...

The Sky Last Night

All in the space of three minutes, then the rain came down.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Marie According to Art

Ruthie tagged me last week to play the middle name game. The name of the game is to:

List one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, use the name you would have liked to have had. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog post containing your middle name game facts. At the end of your blog post you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

I've been trying all week to come up with something for my middle name Marie but I've been stumped- more creatively challenged than usual if you can believe it! I was mumbling to Art about how hard it was to think of anything and he said he'd give me all the answers! So- here's Marie according to Art:

M is for married. I'll admit this is the most important relationship in my life. We were
both 32 when we were married. (no longer spring chickens according to my Mom!)

A is for approachable. I'm told I am a pretty friendly person and I have an open
face. Strangers talk to me all the time. (much to the puzzlement of Art!)

R is for responsible. I take my responsibilities very seriously. According to Art I take
on everyone else's responsibilities too. I'll admit to that. Just let go Lynne.

I is for iron willed. Art said "you are a little hard to deflect once you put your mind to
something". OK, I'll buy that.

E is for entertaining. I enjoy conversation. I love to laugh and can be a bit snarky,
usually at my own expense.

So there you have it. Marie according to Art. Having Art choose the ideas was a bit therapeutic!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I copied this quiz from Delia at Beginning to Bird. It's a quick quiz- check it out!!

Your Power Bird is an Eagle
You are spiritual and able to soar to great heights.
You are a true inspiration, and many people look to you for guidance.
And you are quite demanding in relationships... but you're worth it.
People know that you will become even greater than you imagine.

Friday, September 14, 2007

White Goose

Coming home from the grocery store I saw this white goose fly into a field with thirty or so Canada geese yesterday afternoon. I found a place to park in a business lot, I grabbed my binoculars and camera and started off after them. It took a while to get near enough for a photo as they were very hinky about my presence. At first I thought the white goose was a partial albino Canada goose but looking closer it was quite a bit larger with a thicker neck and bill. Here I am, throwing myself on your mercy for an id again! Would a domestic goose fly along with a wild flock? Could it be a hybrid?

What do you think?

Nice DOES Matter

Barefoot Gardener at the blog Barefoot in the Garden (a fellow Minnesota blogger!) kindly awarded me the "Nice Matters Award". I am particularly flattered about this award because I've always believed that nice DOES matter. Kindness matters. An elderly Sister who was my freshman biology department advisor in college told me years ago that it was important to raise people up every day. She explained that we need to lift our faces and look at others with a smile. Some times it's a greeting or a kind word. Other times it might be a helping hand. Even the people who irritate or just don't like you- raise them up with a silent prayer. She said raising people up would change lives. Well, it changed mine. Thank you for the advice Sister Helen Joseph Sanschagrine. Thank you for thinking of me Barefoot Gardener.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Many Sides of a Chickadee

The front side.
The back side.
The side side.
The under side?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hasty Brook Feeders

Red-breasted Nuthatches were happy takers at the feeders over the weekend. They're beautiful little birds with big attitudes, happily chasing larger birds from the sunflower hearts. Their aerial acrobatics were a treat to watch.
There was a flock of twenty or so White-throated Sparrows always staying just beyond the clearing.They were very flighty and wary of us. This is the only picture I could sneak. Please check out Laura's Birding Blog for some interesting information about the white-striped and tan-striped plumages and the corresponding behaviors of these sparrows.
Always happy to help clean up spilled seed, this little chipmunk quickly became comfortable with our presence. He's on the picnic bench about 2 feet from where I'm sitting.
These two crabby geese were hanging around the little lake down the road. We brought John up to the lake to do a little fishing and these guys tried to bully him away. Don't they look like they're wearing full, dirty diapers? Maybe that's why they were so crabby! Migrants stopping over? Escapees from a farm? It's hard to fly wearing Pampers.
This little Downy woodpecker spent twenty minutes just hanging there in the sun. It was only 45 degrees so I'm thinking the sun felt good. I thought I'd creep as close as I could.
At about four feet away she turned around to give me the evil eye!
I didn't see one single warbler in the woods this weekend. There were nearly as many Northern Flickers as grasshoppers in the grass along the dirt roads. I did see one lone bluebird on the power line overlooking the hay field at the farm south of us. The winds were roaring out of the north Sunday morning and by noon there was a near constant stream of raptors riding the wind, barely visible with the naked eye. Safe journey.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I Need ID Help Again!

Another weekend at Hasty Brook. It rained more on than off on Saturday, but today dawned sunny and chilly. It got down to 41 overnight and was still in the upper 50's when we left mid afternoon to drive home. Perfection! My apologies to those of you still living with heat and drought. I'm willing our cool, dry air along to you!
I'm not sure about this little bird. It took half the day for her to make her way timidly out of the trees to the feeder. At first I thought female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, but I think she's too small. My next thought was female Purple Finch.
Below you can see the notched tail like a Purple Finch, but the white line on the Purple Finch is supposed to start behind the eye and this one looks to start above the eye.
The beak is too chunky for a sparrow right? Oh gosh, I'm tired and can't look at these pix any longer. Help me birders!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Can You ID It?

What is this? Mojoman was this first to guess correctly- it is a moth, a sphinx moth! To be more specific it's a Pink-spotted Hawk Moth. I came upon him on the door handle at my dentist's office Wednesday morning. I was going to get my new crown. I really can't stand going to the dentist and the cost of the new crown nearly made me cry. I have been saving for months to buy a Birdjam to work on birdsong id over the winter. Then I broke a tooth and now my Birdjam has taken the form of a lovely porcelain crown. The only thing to make me smile that morning was seeing this beautiful moth.
When I left with my very expensive tooth the moth was still there! Since I didn't have my camera with me I gently scooped him up into a little box and brought him home.

Just look at the size of those eyes!

I wanted a picture if him near my hand to better show his size and when I tried to nudge him onto my finger he spread his wings a bit and I saw the beautiful pink underneath.
I gently place him in the shade in my flower bed and wished him luck- hoping he'd stay around a while.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What a Difference One Year Makes

John (12) and Molly (13) on the first day of school last year.
One year later, John (13) has grown about 3 feet! I can't see my little boy in his face any more. The pediatrician looked at his feet and predicted he'll be well over 6 feet tall. Molly (14) has changed too, both inside and out. She started her first day of ninth grade in a public high school. She and I were both overwhelmed at her orientation last week. She has gone from a class of less than 30 eighth graders to being one of several hundred ninth graders. The school in HUGE and the student body very diverse. She left for the bus stop yesterday morning at 0640 full of anxiety and came home full of excitement and confidence. Not ten minutes after she came in the door, a new friend was calling on the phone.
Do you like John's hair? Last night I heard a little too much laughing coming from the bathroom and when I opened the door, I saw Molly with an electric hair clipper SHAVING HIS HEAD!! I didn't know whether to scream or cry. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I screamed. For Art.
Molly: "John wanted a mohawk"
Me: "John goes to Catholic school- that is NOT an option!"
Molly: "I don't know if I can fix this"
Me: "Too bad- you started it, YOU FIX IT! And John- if it looks stupid, YOU deal with it tomorrow"
I had to go sit down in the dark. Smoke was coming out of my ears. She finished his whole head with a #1 attachment on the clipper. Art and I were furious that they would think to do something like that without a word to us.
I told my 89 year old Mother about it today. She listened to me rant, she clucked her tongue saying she was surprised they would do such a thing. Then she paused a long time and said "It's only hair". She was right. It was a stupid decision on their part, but the consequences weren't permanent. It's not a tattoo or a piercing. It gave us a chance to talk about making decisions lightly. We talked about how a group mentality can sweep you up. We talked about stepping back and thinking a moment before acting. I told them about a teen that came into our emergency room over the Labor Day weekend, intoxicated, not wearing a seatbelt, ejected from the vehicle. Stupid choices. I wanted to warn them about EVERYTHING! My kids are growing up fast and it scares me. Time to back off. I can see it in their faces that we've talked enough. You're right Mom, it's only hair. Thank God. When did you get so smart Mom? I don't remeber you being that smart when I was a kid.