Sunday, September 26, 2010


  Warren reached another major birding milestone today, seeing his 500th bird species in North America. The place was North Beach marsh and the bird was a gorgeous migrating Buff-Breasted Sandpiper.

  500 is an important step up the ladder in North American birding - it gets quite a bit harder after this!  It took Warren less than two years to go from 400 life birds in the "ABA Birding Area" to 500. But it will be a long, slow slog up to 600! We were helped this year by some excellent, excellent birding - our April trip to Arizona, a long weekend in late May at Magee Marsh in Ohio, and a pelagic trip off the mid-Atlantic coast last month.

  Princess Lisa is just 7 birds behind Warren, so we will have another celebration soon.

  W almost had a double celebration today. Just before we saw the Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, we had a Red Knot, an endangered species that does a long-distance migration between North American and (for some birds) the southern tip of South America. Warren thought that was Maryland bird 299, and thus Mr. Buff-Breast would be Maryland bird #300 as well as ABA Bird #500. But it was Knot to be. (L and W had seen a Red Knot in Ocean City in 2008).

  Still, W is enjoying the champagne as he writes this. (Bird listing is fun, but the birds don't care).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Presidential Motorcade birding list

Warren flew up to New York earlier today on Air Force One, having landed the singularly mixed honor of being in the pool of journalists who accompanied the president as he traveled to attend the annual UN General Assembly. (Not as glamorous as it sounds, believe me).

Visions danced in his head. He could start an Air Force One bird list! The flight path into JFK airport goes right over a national wildlife refuge. Surely some geese or herons and egrets might be seen from the air? There might even be an Upland Sandpiper in the grass near the taxiway? And then .. well, we were due to go by helicopter from JFK to Manhattan. A Marine One bird list. (OK, well Warren wasn't exactly on Marine One itself, but in one of the helos for staff and press that LOOK like Marine One. It was elegantly called Helicopter Four). The possibilities abounded. Migrating passerines. Hawks. Who knew what might fly by our whirly-gig?

Sometimes you have to reduce your expectations a little. Or maybe a lot. But all birders know there's no such thing as bad birding. So after the Air Force One flight, and the dash to the helos and the short helicopter flight, and the dash to the press vans, and the motorcade (25 vehicles long at least) up the east side of Manhattan, Warren can report that he now has a PRESIDENTIAL MOTORCADE BIRDING LIST. It includes a Rock Pigeon and a Gull, species. I thought of asking the President to stop so I could scope the avian attractions on the East River, but was unsure how that might go.

If he gets a chance, Warren will head up to Central Park on Friday morning to do some serious fall migration birding. (While missing Lisa terribly, of course!)

Warren also has an Iraq birding list, and a CIA birding list. What an odd way to make a living.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Birding makes the evening news

     As first posted by Dawn Fine at Dawn's Bloggy Blog, here's something we thought we'd never see: a semi-serious treatment of birding on the "evening news." It's a report by CBS on the Great Texas Birding Classic. The reporter portrays birders as quirky _ which we are _ without the usual snide comments. Some nice birds too!

     We tried to embed the video here, but were having problems. So here's the link to it...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Spider & The Butterfly



     I was stopped in my tracks this morning by this sight in Lisa's garden. A huge, hairy, ugly spider chomping on a beautiful, innocent butterfly it had wickedly trapped in a web strung slyly by some flowers that the butterflies favor.

    But is that what's really going on here? Of course not. The butterfly is not intrinsically "better" or "prettier" than the spider. We humans tend to anthropomorphize and idealize nature all the time.

    The duckling is "good" and the Cooper's Hawk that tries to seize it for breakfast is "bad."

    The tiger shark is "bad" and "predatory," and the cute little penguins it tries to snatch are "innocent."

    Chipmunk = good.  Snake = bad.

    Nature, of course, could care less about all this. Mr. Spider there has as much "right" to live as the butterfly, and he just got a step up in the game (if you can call it that) of survival and evolution. He -- or she -- is just doing what he or she does. One less butterfly is not necessarily a good thing, but one more spider is not a bad thing, either. Spiders -- and we have oodles of them here at the Lovenest -- play a crucial part in the ecosystem, keeping control of insect pests, among other things.

   I have no desire to be bitten by a Black Widow, mauled by a Black Bear, or chomped on by a Black-Tipped Reef Shark. But I wouldn't blame the creature if it happened. Which is more than I can say for human aggressors and predators.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If We had About $7 Million Dollars...

Well, first we would buy tons of bird dependent land and support some great bird organizations that conserve wild bird habitats....

But, then we might be tempted to bid on this tome:
A rare copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America," billed as the world's most expensive book is for sale by Sotheby.  

The collection of 435 hand colored prints will require a rather large coffee table as it is one big book -3 feet by 2 feet-  because Audubon wanted to paint the birds life size.

I could dance with a real life size flamingo!
I could have a glass of wine with a life size American Bittern!
I could have some laughs with a life size Laughing Gull!

I'll add this book to my ever growing Christmas list for Cute Husband to sort out....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mixed Feeding Flock #16

Lisa and I saw some nice mixed feeding flocks as we hiked the Appalachian Trail over Labor Day weekend. Warblers and vireos and tanagers, oh my!   But here, of course, we are talking about our occasional updates of birding and environmental news.

*  Today's good news is that the health of the Potomac River has significantly rebounded, according to a new study.

* The September issue of the Birding Community E-Bulletin is out and available here among other places. We'll cover the highlights for our readers soon.

* The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story here about hawk-watching at Hawk Mountain and Cape May.

* At Warren's workplace, McClatchy Newspapers' Washington bureau, colleague Les Blumenthal has an interesting articleAfter 20 years of protection, owl declining but forests remain, on the northern Spotted Owl.

* Say what? Some people just don't like birds. Check this out at Birdchaser.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gone hiking

Gone hiking again.


Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Just what the Gulf needs...more oil...

From The New York Times...
Oil Sheen Seen Near Damaged Platform in Gulf of Mexico

NEW ORLEANS — An oil platform exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning, touching off flurries of conflicting reports about sightings of oil slicks in the water and whether any workers had been injured in the blast.

Coast Guard officials said a sheen measuring one mile long by 100 feet wide had been spotted near the damaged production platform on Thursday afternoon. But the platform’s owner said the structure had not been producing at the time of the accident, and a spokesman for the company, Mariner Energy, told CNBC that there was no evidence of any spill.

The prospect of a second oil leak would be unnerving for a region still recovering from the environmental and financial toll of the months-long spill at a BP well this year. The explosion occurred around 9 a.m. Thursday, touching off a fire that had been contained but not extinguished by the afternoon. The production platform was positioned in relatively shallow waters — 340 feet deep — and to the west of where a drilling rig leased by BP blew up and sank in April, killing 11 people and touching off an environmental calamity....

Will we ever learn?