Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Favorite Books of the Year...so far...

 I realized that I have never posted any kids books...that's going to stop today with this wonderful book, "Pretty Betty Butterfly" written by our good friend Sally Deems and illustrated by Wendy Fedan. Sally has been an award winning writer for quite some time and this book is a great read for children of all ages...even me!

The Doodles said "while reading this this book I recalled that carefree feeling of the wonder of nature through a child's eyes, and chuckled over Betty's funny eyes." If The Doodles likes it, it must be good. And she's right about those googly eyes of Betty's!

 Another children's book by another good friend is "Alphabetical Bugs in Color" by Larry Hohman. We've met Larry a number of times at different local birding events and he always has a new alphabet book and artwork to show. The Doodles bought a few of these books for her nieces and nephews over the years.
Larry is an outstanding artist and always manages to find unusual subjects for every letter. Of course my favorite is the bird book...

 "Bringing Nature Home" was a surprise find for me while cruising the internet for a native plant book for The Doodles. Written by Douglas Tallamy, it covers just about everything you need to know to change your habitat from harmful to helpful. This is a great book to help you or a friend change your little piece of the earth.

 As Mr. Tallamy states, "...insects have done fine on this earth without humans and would continue to do so in our absence. If insects were to disappear, however, our own extinction would not be far behind."

 "The Thing With Feathers" by Noah Strycker truly will surprise you with the amazing things that birds do...and make you realize that we may not be the most intelligent life on the planet. If you love birds and want to delve a little deeper into their personal lives and their knowledge, this is a great read.


 Once again, Princeton University Press has come out with an outstanding field guide. This time regarding the "Bumble Bees of North America." I loved this book because of all the bumblies that zoom around our garden. No chemicals used here! They are amazingly soft and wonderful to watch as they flit from flower to flower working tirelessly to gather pollen.

This book will help you simply figure out who is who in your garden...

 "The Trees of Eastern North America" is a book that can help birders identify more birds. How? You know when someone screams out "It's over THERE! Up in that green tree!" and you stand there with that blank look on your face, because like me, you're color blind and all the trees may be green for all you know. Well, this book will help you learn and ID those "green" trees so you can sound smart and say "It's at four o'clock in the Black Oak!" Folks will be impressed...really.

 This is a wonderful book for all of you "hunter gatherers," folks that want to add to their life lists or search for new frustrating birds to aggravate you. "Rare Birds of North America" by Steve N.G. Howell, Ian Lewington and Will Russell is a great tool and wonderful guide to the rarest vagrants that visit North America every year...or almost every year.

I'm still waiting for one to land in my garden.

For my friends in Britain, or even those of you that want to be in Britain, read  "A Sparrowhawk's Lament:How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring" by David Cobham with Bruce Pearson. Mr. Cobham discusses fifteen species of raptors that reside in the UK today and the efforts by scientists and conservationists to stabilize their populations. He uses personal stories and connections to the effects of documentary films on changing peoples perceptions of these wonderful birds. Every chapter has great illustrations by Bruce Pearson which brings the stories to life.

  And then there's "Ten Thousand Birds, Ornithology Since Darwin." I've had this book for a while now...and I'm still reading it! Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny and Bob Montgomerie did a fantastic job with this book.

I'm one of those short attention span folks...if it has more than ten pages and isn't illustrated on every page, I'll fall asleep. I was surprised and delighted when I discovered that this rather large and detailed tome was so easily readable. I keep going back to it over and over again. It's broken down by the major areas of ornithology, including evolution, classification, migration and more. And yes, there are great illustrations and photos throughout!

 I highly recommend  reading "The Passenger Pigeon" by Errol Fuller since we've just passed the anniversary of the passing of Martha, the last passenger pigeon. This beautifully illustrated book has many interesting facts  about the Passenger Pigeon and its demise. There are illustrations, photographs, paintings(including John James Audubon's,) specimens, poems, historical accounts of the billions that roosted and blackened the skies for miles and days and more.

Very easy to read with answers to the many questions I had about this bird and its life...and the over hunting that wiped it out.

SO, these are much better than video games and ugly sweaters...give the gift of knowledge this year, or even get one for yourself!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You...

Today I'm' thankful  for all those little warblies that sit still long enough for me to get a nice photo...

 I'm also thankful for great friends like Kim Kaufman of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory for all they do to promote conservation and the love of nature.

 We need to also be thankful for all of the Audubon groups like Western Cuyahoga Audubon for their ongoing support and protection of the Important Bird Areas.

When I thanked Kim for  promoting conservation, I also need to be thankful for all the young people that have heard the call of the wild.
Support groups like The Ohio Young Birders Club!

Better not forget The Doodles for putting up with me!

And the lovely birds that have visited our gardens and brought a little joy and a sense of wonder to our lives.

I am very thankful for our friends at the Las Gralarias Foundation for helping to save wild areas in Ecuador for our feathered friends.
There are groups like this the world over that need our support.

Thanks to all of the bird banders and researchers that strive to help and preserve the birds that we love so much.

 Our friends at all the the parks and refuges that are struggling to protect a little bit of nature through all of the government cuts and inane laws need thanks and support as well.

 On behalf of the birds on this Thanksgiving, I thank the insects. Yummmmm...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hide and Go Seek...

 The Song Sparrow didn't see him either...

So...we heard about a Cattle Egret, somewhat of a rarity up north where we live, not too far from our humble abode of the burds. We don't often chase birds, bad for gas, bad for the environment...and we usually get there too late anyway. This time we thought, what the heck...not much to see around the home turf and it's a great excuse to blow off yard work again!

We were told he was being seen in the grass right along the parking area and "DON'T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR!" because you may scare him away. Fine. We drove to the parking area. We sat in the car. We got bored. No Egret of the Cattle. Nuthin. Humph.

"Let's at least go for a walk" said The Doodles. The Dave agreed and so off we went for a little traipse through the moisty marsh. Maybe we'll see him along the trail...

 Nope, that ain't him.
That's a Dark-eyed Junco too far away because no one has sent Loopy a Canon 500mm lens yet.
(It's almost Christmas, though I have been bad this year.)

 Nope.
Redhead...Ruddy Duck...American Coot...no Egrets of any sort there...

 There's something moving back in the marshy stuff.
Nope.
A couple of Green-winged Teal playing hide and seek...

Nope.
Just another old Coot...

 Nice, a Common Loon but NOPE!

Nutz...let's just go back to the car and go home for lunch. I'm cold, I'm bored and I'm cranky.
What was that Doodles? You see something in the grass in FRONT of our car? WHAT?! Go figure...

 We got bored and left the car...don't ever do that!

 We crept quietly back to the car and, as you can see, the stoopid Cattle Egret is out in front of the Burdbuttzwagen. 
Well, we did have a nice walk...

 He's laughing at me...I can tell...stoopid burd.

 Lot's of yummy crickets in there!

 They must tickle his beak...
 
 Or maybe they taste better upside down...

 Grasshoppers are like peanut butter...
They stick to the roof of your mouth.
Deeelicious!

 Marching off to battle the bugs with his mighty bill of doom.

 So...until we meet again...Toodles!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

An Autumn Walk in Our Neighborhood...

 A nice early walk in the woods...

Huntington Reservation is within a couple of miles of our humble and crazy home. We really should visit more often, just seems to slip my feeble mind I guess. They have nice trails running through a mixed woodland and down a ravine to Porter Creek, then out to Lake Erie. Picnic tables and benches abound along with an ice cream shop...during the warmer seasons. This park is also home to the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, a great place for a family outing with rescue birds and mammals to see, a planetarium and more.

I love walking through the woods in the fall...the crunching of the leaves and the smell...peaceful and relaxing...a great escape from reality and the insanity of election time. The areas of fir trees and the fallen needles are especially aromatic on a brisk morning. It was fairly quiet, Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice could be heard calling. The occasional Northern Cardinal and White-breasted Nuthatch peeked through the scrub then promptly disappeared into the safety of the woods.

We know a pair of Barred Owls have nested here over the past few years. We've been hearing a pair calling after midnight in our yard as well. I have yet to see our calling friends...too dark and too late to wander our gardens and street with a flashlight. One of these days...


 The Doodles somehow spotted this Barred Owl perched near the top of this evergreen.
A little later, we saw one the owls zooming through, silently.
 
 The peak weekend for autumn foliage.

 The Chipmunks were very wary today...too many dogs unleashed and running free.
Please, if you go to a park with your pets, keep them on a leash for the safety of the wildlife, other hikers and the pets themselves.

 This was a big weekend for thrushes in the park.
We saw at least a dozen flitting about in the scrub.

 We think they were Hermit Thrushes...but then again...were they Swainson's?

 I think I'll stick with Hermit.
None were brave enough to come all the way out of the brambles.

 The squirrels were being very wary...camera shy?
 
 If it would have been warmer, I would have waded through the creek.
I'll have to wait for spring...
 
 The Mallards found the rocks in the creek to be perfect for preening.


 
 Enough rocks for everyone.

 Porter Creek viewed from the upper trail.

 I now know why the squirrels were all so wary...

We saw this Red-tailed Hawk flying low through the forest on the hunt.
He perched for a moment and I found a hole in the forest to get a peek.