Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bird Tour

This morning drove to the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) to meet up with Naturalist Dave Spier.

Was early so drove into the pull-off across the highway from East Colvin Marsh. There were four Red-winged Blackbirds in the trees plus a Downy Woodpecker. Two pheasants were making their way down to Crusoe Creek.


Crusoe Creek

After leaving MAC and heading south on Rt. 89 we stopped to study the swans in the field beside farm lane east of the highway. Counted four Trumpeter Swans.

On Rt. 89 north of May's Point observed twenty Brown-headed Cowbirds flying among thousands of Red-winged Blackbird.

Continuing south on Rt. 89 just north of Thruway there were thirteen Green-winged Teal, an Osprey perched in a tree and one Red-tailed Hawk. Upon reaching Routes 5&20 we spotted another Red-tailed Hawk.

Pulling into North Spring Pool at the Montezuma NWR there among the stumps, logs and deadwood were Canada Geese, Mallards, Green-winged Teal, a Red-tailed Hawk , two Greater Yellowlegs, and Rusty Blackbirds.

Canada Geese

Green-winged Teal - on the left - note green patch

Drove into the entrance of the Visitor Center. Estimated 300 Canada Goose - 40 flying and hundreds to the north past Visitor Center building. Along the entrance were American Wigeons, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teals, Greater Yellowlegs and a Northern Harrier.

Northern Pintail

American Wigeon

From the Visitor's Deck we were able to observe Canada Geese, an American Wigeon, two American Black Ducks, Mallards, one Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teals, Northern Harrier (probably the same one as by the entrance), and two Greater Yellowlegs.

At LaRue's Lagoon there was a Great Blue Heron. Close in the channel by the Auto-Drive in the Main Pool there were six American Coots. Across the road were three Canada Geese.

Canada Geese

In the new shorebird area north of photo blind on west side of the Auto-Drive, there were fifteen Black-bellied Plovers, a Killdeer, and seventy Dunlins. At Benning Marsh we observed another Great Blue Heron and a Killdeer. Leaving the Auto-Drive a Red-tail Hawk flew across Rt. 89 and landed in tree on west side of road. North of Armitage near Wiley Rd. there was another Red-tailed Hawk. A White-breasted Nuthatch flew across Wiley Rd. and landed in a tree near the Wiley schoolhouse woods.

On Hogback Road at Colvin's pond were four of the its resident Trumpeter Swans.

Just before the MAC there were now nine Trumpeter Swans in the field east of Rt. 89. At Colvin Marsh we noted another Red-tail Hawk. It has been a busy day for the Hawk Family.

After leaving Dave at the MAC stopped once again to observe the Trumpeter Swans. This time there were by my count fifteen.

Trumpeter Swans

A great day for Red-tail Hawks and Trumpeter Swans. Plus four new birds for me: Northern Pintail, Black-billed Plover, Dunlin, and Rusty Blackbird.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week Forty-Three - 9 to Go

Not your Stephanie Plum. But if you remember your comic book experiences as a child you might enjoy this graphic novel. Having read Motor Mouth and Metro Girl, found the Evanovich’s characters, Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker, to be entertaining as they were depicted in this genre.

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks in 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

MAC Tour

This morning drove to the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) to meet up with Naturalist Dave Spier. Tour was scheduled for 10:30AM. Two Americorp women, Rebecca and Julie, joined us on the walk around the MAC grounds.

Once in the field Dave identified two flowers:

New England Aster
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

White Aster
Symphyotrichum ericoides

Dave also noted the Picris that was scattered along the path. He pointed out the rough leaf with its bristles.

We came upon several Evening Primrose stems. Dave mentioned how these stiff stems broadcast the seeds when the wind blows.

There were still several Queen Anne's lace plants gracing the fields. Dave mentioned that this plant is often referred to as wild carrot.

Queen Anne's lace
Daucus carota

Along the path into the woods Dave drew our attention to two different types of galls.

Goldenrod Bunch Gall

Goldenrod Ball Gall

Also along the path Dave showed us ground cherry, which I call Chinese lantern, rose hips, wild basil and burdock.

Wild Basil

According to Dave wild basil is a member of the mint family. He had us feel the square stems and touch the asymmetrical leaves.


Dave had us flip our binoculars and examine the burdock. There in the lens one could see the tiny hooks covering the surface of the burr. Dave then related the story of how Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, used the this information to develop Velcro.

Once in the woods Dave noted a Hackberry tree with its distinctive corky ridges and small wart-like bumps.

Then we came up to one of my favorite trees - the Wolf Tree.

Due to time restraints we did not continue down the trail.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping

Greta Grosch on the left. Courtesy of MGR Production

Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping produced an entertaining conclusion for the 2010 Merry-Go-Round Playhouse season.

A talented ensemble of actors provided this “family-friendly” musical with a slew of sight gags and physical humor. Brought bak memories of the old St. Alphonsus minstrel shows.

My only disappointment was that Greta Grosch’s decided to write the book for this show rather than reprise her role as Vivian.

Pastor Gutherson (Ed Romanoff), the single male character, did a terrific take on ‘60s rock-n-roll, especially his perfect Chuck Berry duck walk.

Previous productions this summer:
The Drowsy Chaperone
Promises, Promises
Meet Me in St. Louis
Man of La Mancha
Ring of Fire

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week Forty-Two - 10 to Go

While not earth shattering, Ang's book will provide the amateur with worthwhile projects.

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks in 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tim's Pumpkin Patch

This afternoon Joan and I made our annual trek to Tim’s Pumpkin Patch. Mid-week proved a good time to visit---no school buses filled with excited elementary kids, no large family groups with demanding siblings, and a well stocked inventory.

First we went inside the barn to gather up 4 wraps of Indian corn.
We also picked up two squash for dinner.

Then outside the barn we selected a dozen corn stalks.

The pumpkins near the barn were $3.00 a piece so we decided to pick your own for $2.00.
Grabbing a wheelbarrow we wandered into the field.
Similar to finding the right Christmas tree we walked around aimlessly until finally there they were. Loaded four into the wagon. But of course we would swap them out several times before going in the store to pay.

The best part of the adventure - freshly baked cookies. We bought two to share - a molasses and a chocolate chip. Delicious but instant sugar overload.

After packing our purchases we made the mandatory visit to the farm animals especially Porky.

Bird Tour

This morning drove to the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) to meet up with Naturalist Dave Spier.

Our first stop was at a pulloff by Black Creek Marsh. Getting out of the car two American Black Ducks flew off with three Mallards. Two Wood Ducks also flew overhead.

Using old Rt. 31 we drove to East Swamp, present here were five Yellow-rumped Warblers, one of which was eating poison ivy berries.
Among the dead trees there was a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Dave pointed out a lone Canada Goose on the northwest corner of the pond; Dave felt it was odd to see just one goose.

Continuing west on Rt. 31, came to the Montezuma Marshes (Black Creek). There at the west end of the marsh perched on top of a dead tree trunk was a Red-tailed Hawk. At first from a distance the hawk appeared to be an extension of the tree trunk.
We also saw four Cedar Waxwings at this location.

Parked on the shoulder of Rt. 31 between the canals to view eight Wood Ducks on the back edge of the north wetland and one Great Blue Heron.

Our next stop was Malone Unit #1. Roughly 50 Red-winged Blackbirds but there was a Brown-headed Cowbird. Dave mentioned that blackbirds have nine primary feathers rather than ten.

Coming upon the Savannah Spring Lake Rd. impoundments activity increased. Twenty-our Mallards flew out of the flooded vegetation. Present in the air flying across north field were a Killdeer and a Northern Flicker. We also observed two Blue Jays.

As we drove into Martens Tract there were two Ring-necked Pheasants walking along the roadside.
Dave mentioned these might be released birds. Upon leaving ten White-crowned Sparrows came in. Dave noted that most or perhaps all were first winter birds. Their brown crowns which Dave described as "butch-cuts" and pink-orange bills produced a colorful display.

Returning on the Savannah Spring Lake Rd. observed two Red-tailed Hawks, one was extremely close but became hidden by the sun once we stopped. At the Savannah Spring Lake Rd. impoundments there was a Northern Harrier. This juvenile raptor's orange body glistened in the sunlight.

Driving back to the MAC stopped at the south parking area of East Colvin Marsh and walked to the Tim Noga blind. Evidently hunters have been adorning the outside of the blind for hunting season. Dave noted the water level has been raised to provide an area for ducks.

Another fine morning spent in and around the Montezuma Wetlands. Today's sightings provide four firsts for me - the White-crowned sparrow, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the American Black Duck, and the White-throated sparrow. Plus thanks to Dave cataloging today's observations on eBird, my eBird account hit 100 species.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (October 12)

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

page 102 - I’m Guessing that stealing and selling a statue is pretty lucrative.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week Forty-One - 11 to Go

Diesel returns with a bang. Lizzie, a nice-girl alter ego of Stephanie Plum, gets caught up in the fireworks. Evanovich fans will enjoy.

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks in 2010

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (October 5)

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Let the soldiers return, thought the boy. Roots are deep and seeds spread...

Monday, October 04, 2010

Week Forty - 12 to Go

A tiny green shoot overcomes a bleak landscape. The outcome - HOPE.

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks in 2010