Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
(Bird Count that is)
by Henry Lappen, Amherst, Massachusetts
'Twas the night before Christmas (count that is)
when all through the dark
not a creature was stirring
not even a lark.
The stockings were hung
on their feet with care
in hopes that real frostbite
would not settle there.
The birders were quiet
listening for owls
filled up with coffee
which gurgled their bowels.
And Jan in her kerchief
and Scott in his cap
were straining their ears
to hear any yap.
When out in the field
there arose such a clatter
we sprang from the forest
to see what was aflutter.
When what to our wondering
eyes should appear
but a miniature flock
of eight tiny Killdeer.
I got out my camera
lively and quick,
I knew in a moment
I must have a pic.
More rapid than eagles
the birders all came
and they whistled and shouted
each calling a name.
They're buntings. No, warblers.
They're swallows. No, grouse.
They're Mallards. No, nightjars.
Or maybe titmouse.
To the tops of the trees
the birds flew away all.
Oh dash it! Oh darn it!
Did you hear a call?
As varied opinions that before
no proof will fly
the arguments of birders
will mount to the sky.
They're sparrows. No, bobwhites.
No, alcids. You dolt:
They were Black-headed Gulls
in second-year molt.
And then in a twinkle
we heard from the air
a trilling or chirping
or something unclear.
As we drew in our heads
and were turning around
down to the clearing
they came with a sound.
They were all dressed in feathers
from head to their foot,
they were dark as if tarnished
with ashes and soot.
A bundle of speckles
they had on their breast
their belly and shoulders
but not on the rest.
Their eyes-how they twinkled,
their mandibles-how pale.
Their cheek patches brownish,
not much of a tail.
Their dull little coverts
were brown like the wing
and their backs and their heads.
They had no eye ring.
They were chubby and plump
all filled up with berries
and also from composted
A wink of an eye
and a twist of a head
soon gave us to know
we had something to dread.
They sprang to the air
to our team gave a whistle
that sounded as raucous
as an incoming missile.
But we heard them exclaim
e'er they flew out of sight
many starlings to all
and to all a good flight!
Been tossing and turning Since a quarter past eight.
The birds and the places have my heart full of cheer
But I just can't decide who to help out this year
A Snowy Owl turned up in the County of Murray.
Now Janet is hoping the bird does not scurry.
She's trying to get in place a good team
So Audubon accepts this count with more glee
Gray Jays are flooding in to the northwest
For DL and Crookston that may be the best
Now, Tamarac and Warren may get them too
But how will I get to them all? WHAT TO DO?
But three! Not just one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Seem very reliable - that may be a cinch
Though Carlton-Cloquet is across the whole state
And would mean a long drive after its already late
But darn it the Marshall Count's on the same day
( Maybe I'll pass it off and get far away. )
I've always wanted to help the count in Duluth
(I'd like to live there to tell you the truth)
that get titmice and eagles to the just the least
Winona, I think, would be a neat place to go
I'd rack up some new county birds then, you know.
Consistently get waterfowl while on their migration
Then perhaps I could join Hockema on Rochester's count
Wait. That's the same day... that idea's out.
International, and Fergus might be just too far
Redwood is closer, Little I've done
(And I mean the location, the count there was fun!)
That congregate together so many nice faces
Grand places like Rapids, and also Marais
(Places I'd also love to permanently stay)
Owatonna, New Ulm, and Rice Lake NWR,
Pine County, Long Prairie, Crosby, Battle Lake
Wild River and then Albert Lea - - heaven's sake!
And know I can't make it to Ely by my own.
Aurora and Bemidji I'd both like to try
And want to get to Wabasha 'fore I die
I want to try Pillager, and do Philbrook with Ben.
Mountain Lake-Windom is closer to Home,
But how I would love to again Baudette roam.
The vast metro area always turns up good birds
Maybe for Northern Wright County this year's my turn.
Excelsior, Afton, Cedar Creek Bog, Hastings-Etter
The possibilities just get better and better.
How can I possibly get to them all!?!
There's more than 70 Christmas Bird Counts this year!
The choice will be difficult, that's perfectly clear.
Will that Slaty-backed Gull stick around two more days?
Austin that next day then might be it,
But that conflicts with Two Harbors, oh I quit!
For me, this list is growing way too much.
Willmar, Virginia, Sherburne NWR
Morris, just maybe, or Isabella by car.
Moorhead, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
Yet Fairmont and Roseau and Hibbing need help
as they all too often are stuck by themselves.
But St. Cloud-Collegeville needs some help too.
How can there possibly be this many choices
Thirteen days could be filled with birds and their voices.
This frantic a pace - although fun - I could not keep.
I suppose its the same old thing this year again
Lamberton, Cottonwood, and Lac qui Parle...
... with good friends.
Yet the room comes alive with refreshing new cheer.
Reliving the day, and the days that have gone by
Perhaps close to home are the best counts to try.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
For release: September 25, 2009
Take a Mid-Winter Nature Break With the
Great Backyard Bird Count
February 12-15, 2010
New York, NY and Ithaca, NY—Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2010. Participants in the free event will join tens of thousands of volunteers of all levels of birding experience to count birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.
Each checklist submitted by these "citizen scientists" helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.
"Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds—all at the same time. Anyone who can identify even a few species can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities," said Audubon Education Vice President, Judy Braus. "Everyone who participates in the GBBC—families, teachers, and young people—will get a chance to hone their observation skills, learn more about birds, and make a great contribution to the future!"
Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. One 2009 participant said, "Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!"
"The GBBC is a perfect first step toward the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change," said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab. "Winter is such a vulnerable period for birds, so winter bird distributions are likely to be very sensitive to change. There is only one way—citizen science—to gather data on private lands where people live and doing this across the continent over many years. GBBC has enormous potential both as an early warning system and in capturing and engaging people in more intensive sampling of birds across the landscape."
Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2009 GBBC data highlighted a huge southern invasion of Pine Siskins across much of the eastern United States. Participants counted 279,469 Pine Siskins on 18,528 checklists, as compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005. Failure of seed crops farther north caused the siskins to move south to find their favorite food.
On the www.birdcount.org website, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators. Participants may also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website's photo gallery. All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.
For more information about the GBBC, visit the website at www.birdcount.org. Or contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 or (outside the U.S., call (607) 254-2473) or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Audubon at email@example.com or (215) 355-9588, Ext 16.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by generous support from Wild Birds Unlimited.
Editors: Please go the GBBC News Room for high-resolution images, top-10 lists, FAQS, and results of the 2009 count. To interview a participant in your area, please get in touch with one of the media contacts listed below.
Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delta Willis, Audubon, (212) 979-3197, email@example.com
Images by 2009 GBBC participants: Black-capped Chickadee by Rodney Smith, WA; Bird watcher at window by Terie Rawn, NY; Pine Siskins by Steve Gillespie, WV.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab's website at www.birds.cornell.edu.
Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation. www.audubon.org
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850
Call toll-free: (800) 843-BIRD (2473)
National Audubon Society
225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014
Call: (212) 979-3000
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Thurs, we hit San Pedro in the morning for Tropical Kingbird and then ran to Patagonia where we had excellent views of the Sinaloa Wren!
Fri night, we planned on camping at Catalina state park. When we arrived in Tucson, the rain was coming down so hard, that you couldn't see the road in front of the car. Water was pooling on the road and people were hydroplaning everywhere. We drove into the state park, but when we came to the first wash, I took one look at the amount of rain coming down and quickly nixed the idea. We ended up camping in a hotel parking lot.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
On Saturday, my friends Jacob, Tyler and Andrew invited me to come spend the day with them in the Huachuca Mountains. They left my house (where they had stayed on Fri and Sat, but that's a whole other post) and drove over to Carr Canyon. I had to stay for a high school group out from Tucson that I was taking Owling that night.