Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Rambling" about Belle Isle and the indifference to management of Michigan natural resources by the DNR stewardship

I just posted this on the se-mich birders list and copy it here. (see note at the bottom that triggered my ramble ...) - "Dr. Bob"

Jack –

Thanks SO much for this! Well done! Thanks for taking the time, and thanks for informing us!

It is rare today that any of us understand what the politicians are doing. (I am sure they like it that way …)

When I first heard of Belle Isle being considered as joining the state park system, I was overjoyed! It needs help! Belle Isle is a wonderful ecological treasure within an urban environment! It is a place Judy and I visit several times each year. Besides the great birding along the river, the small lakes offer exceptional views of waterfowl, and great opportunities to photograph them! Add to that the Nature Center and surrounds (including some older forest) and it is truly incredible! Cool! State Park! Far better maintenance than cash-strapped Detroit can provide. Yet, now I wonder …

I am sure all of you birders have seen Allen Chartier’s bird survey reports from Belle Isle on the birder’s listserv. You also see many postings from other birders throughout the year. Indeed, it is an exceptional place for special bird sightings! It needs ecological preservation!!!

An older interesting blog from Allen highlights botanical specialties there:
Indeed, again! Far more than birds – botanical treasures! It is a rare ecological environment! Allen’s blog included links to some of the groups that advocate Belle Isle as a very important treasure.

I am sure I could have found more … but I am “rambling” now and just picked one.

Sadly, I tend to doubt any of the involved parties (Detroit City Council or DNR) have consulted Allen’s studies. (I hope I am wrong …) Each side seems to have their own agenda and I do not think Nature ranks very highly.

Until recently, I thought very highly of the DNR-run Michigan State Park system. It is wonderful that lands were set aside and managed for preservation of opportunities to enjoy nature. When I came to Michigan more than 15 years ago, I found a very dedicated staff! Sadly now, I tend to think that economic times and changing personnel have pushed the DNR beyond their former commitment to preservation of natural settings. Yes, the $11 passport fee (paid with your vehicle license fee – cheap- cool!) allows access to all state parks and DNR launch sites (a bargain), but I now think the added revenue has launched a totally different mindset in the DNR! I hear about selling park lands and harvesting resources within the parks now.

I read Jack’s excellent review (!) while remembering the recent postings of my friend Rob (Hiking Michigan) as I read what the DNR is doing to hiking trails in our natural areas. Rob comments specifically about proposals (and actual work) at Holland Ponds and Highland Recreation Area to convert trails into bike paths, and also refers to (and provides a link to) the overall plan. I have always enjoyed the growing network of bike trails in Michigan – and in fact support “Rails to Trails”. Wonderful! I wish I were young enough to fully participate in enjoying them on a bike – the places I could go…!. But converted “rails” are one thing. Trails to bike trails – no thanks! Especially when habitat loss is part of the equation!

Check out the Hiking Michigan site (several postings – scroll down):

Yes, Rob is incensed – and I think appropriately so - and his recent posts are very different from the normal park and trail maps (excellent!!! – see the site!) species ID lists, outdoor etiquette and preparation stuff he has been posting for years. But when you read the HM postings, coupled with Jack’s evaluation of Belle Isle, I think a larger picture emerges!

And, also I seem to remember several previous proposals to set up profit centers on Belle Isle because of the location. Sure, a winery would be cool – great environment. I think it was in the location of the endangered tern nests!!! But we have so many great wineries in Michigan already … why Belle Isle? Sure an amusement park would be cool. But why did Detroit not use the old cement docks for this? Detroit had a horrible waterfront! We used to go to Windsor fairly often and were appalled by the comparison of their accessible waterfront parks with Detroit! (Yes, the new riverfront in Detroit is getting better …). Or have casinos on the waterfront for that matter? Now, that might have put Detroit on a par with Atlantic City? Connected casinos. A destination! Well, Detroit passed. Casinos are now self-standing, and with the possible exception of Greektown, maintain captive audiences. Casinos benefit – no Detroit destination.

Amusement park? Sure Boblo Island seems like it was a great place and time. It was back then – far before my time. If an amusement park is desired, I suggest Detroit has HUGE blighted spaces that could easily be opened up! Disneyland is inland, and created a huge financial resort center around it! Similarly Knott’s Berry Farm that started with a roadside stand selling great jams and jellies. On the other hand, I tend to think about the State Fair and Detroit Zoo – also in open spaces. Could management have anything to do with it?

OK, fine, I rambled again. Sorry, got lost in possibilities.

My point here is that our present DNR does NOT seem capable of making decisions for the benefit of our natural environment and national ecological treasures! In my mind, some pieces are coming together. While I doubted the Detroit City Council for fighting against the takeover of Belle Isle (hey, free money and management), I now applaud their hesitancy – albeit for their possible different reasons.

There are magical – almost mystical – facilities (like the old zoo for one) on Belle Isle, and with restoration, I believe the isle could be restored to its former glory. Witness the aquarium and the conservatory with so many dedicated members and volunteers. Witness the Nature Center that while small, is a focal point for our visits.

But, primarily, our visits are for the birds. Yes, I realize the old phrase “for the birds” renders my opinion almost meaningless in the context of decision makers, but now any political body that knows the economic value of birders needs to seriously consider us! I fully suggest that all politicians should recognize us!!! We birders are not so unlike the hunters and fishermen who dictated the use of Michigan’s resources for all time. Add to that all of the people who truly believe that Pure Michigan (the ad campaign) means that Michigan offers opportunities in the outdoors that few other states can provide!!! Pure means just that! Our resources – pure outdoors!!!

As a former Californian, I guarantee that turning natural spaces into amusement parks or personal physical demonstration venues (like mountain biking) will far diminish the value most of us outdoors people (birders, hikers, photographers, walkers, fishermen, hunters, parents teaching children, and everyone seeking solace away from the stress we experience daily within “society at large”), will diminish our own selves as well! Sure, places are needed for playing with new “toys” (snow mobiles, off-road vehicles, mountain bikes, etc.) but please DO NOT create them in our special natural places! Yes! Rails to trails! It is cool to be able to go from one side of the state to the next! It is sad the railways (part of America’s heritage) are no longer profitable, but it is so wonderful local communities bought the rights and made them available to us all.

But do NOT drop a new bike path on the trails at Holland Ponds (jeopardizing the largest heron rookery in the state) or take out nature trails along a lake margin!

And, do NOT jeopardize a national ecological resource and treasure like Belle Isle when our DNR is thinking more like a business that only wants to make money more than as a conservator of a place where so many people find peace, wildlife, and solitude in the outdoors! Fishing, picnics, hiking, birding - family times! Indeed, yes, Detroit needs to put more money into preserving Belle Isle! Drugs, vagrancy and upkeep of facilities are indeed concerns! But as occasional visitors - (Never on hot summer weekends, and NEVER at night! They gotta work on this…) - we have experienced little more than “just regular people” enjoying the outdoors.

Thanks, Jack and Rob for allowing my thoughts to coalesce! Moral – times are changing! As much as it is another “thing to do” in our busy schedules, we all have to become better informed about the political changes taking place in our state that will affect us all in the future pursuit of our happiness and the solitude we take for granted in the great outdoors! We need to - as Jack and Rob are doing – become more involved! The alternative is dismal.

Not that it really matters much to me … I will not be here … but I am “just saying” …

And I really care!

- “Dr. Bob”


From Jack:

The “birder’s list” posted a link to an article about Belle Isle, which prompted me to look up and read the actual Lease being proposed for Belle Isle. While State funding could, indeed, be a benefit to the island, I did not feel that the Lease language was fair to the City or necessarily beneficial for Belle Isle. Here is a copy of the letter which I drafted and sent to the members of the Detroit City Council today.
Dear Detroit City Council member:

As a brief introduction, my name is Jack (…) and I have lived in Detroit for most of my life. Although I have recently moved, I am still involved with Friends of Rouge Park and I still maintain a deep interest in the preservation and revitalization of the City. I founded and led the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy for over 20 years, and have protected nearly 3,000 acres in southeast Michigan. I am also a licensed Michigan Real Estate broker (over 30 years experience) and have read numerous real estate contracts and leases.

In my personal and professional opinion, the proposed Lease of Belle Isle to the State of Michigan is one-sided in favor of the State and does not have sufficient protections for the City of Detroit or for all of the people who cherish and enjoy Belle Isle.

My biggest objections are:

1) Length of the Term. THIRTY (30) years is simply too long. The City of Detroit should not enter any agreement which would bind it for more than TEN (10) years. The State may argue that it needs more time to recoup its investments, but any investments are for the benefit of the people--not for the benefit of City or State government.

2) Automatic Renewal. Lease language in Paragraph 4.1 indicates that renewals are AUTOMATIC, unless the City specifically takes action ahead of time. Lease renewals should NOT be automatic, but should require deliberation and a vote to extend the Lease, the same as is required to enter the Lease.

3) Lease Termination Rights.Paragraph 4.3 gives the State the right to terminate the lease upon 18 months notice. The City of Detroit should have that same right! (Perhaps after an initial 5 or 10-year period.)

There has been talk of giving the City the right to back out of the lease every ten years, but no language to that effect is in the Lease posted on the City Council web site. It only states that the City can get out of the Lease "for cause"--meaning a clear breach of the Lease by the State. Different--or even inappropriate--management may not be cause for termination of the Lease.

4) Sub-Leases. Under Paragraph 6.3 (as well as Paragraph 7) the State can lease property on Belle Isle to others ("Lessee has exclusive authority over all aspects of current and future Park leases..."). This would allow a lease similar to what happened in Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor--where public park land was leased to a private golf course developer. The City of Detroit would have no say in the matter.

Paragraph 7.1 allows the State to lease Belle Isle for uses inconsistent with the Lease--but the City must provide written consent "which shall not be unreasonably withheld"!

5) Management of Belle Isle. The State is claiming that the DNR would be a good steward of Belle Isle, but there is no guarantee that would be the case. The sole statement in Paragraph 2.3 that Belle Isle is to be managed "in a manner consistent with other state park operations" provides little insight as to how Belle Isle will actually be managed under this Lease. Will woods be cut down (as the DNR did in Highland State Recreation Area) to provide temporary parking for travel trailers? Will expensive marinas be constructed for the benefit of a few and blocking access to the river for many? Will historic structures be torn down in favor of "new" ones? Will Belle Isle be overrun by travel trailers, as is the case in so many state parks?

The DNR could, in fact, be a good steward of the historic and environmental resources of Belle Isle, but the City of Detroit has no assurance that it will--and even no say in the matter. Paragraph 2.12 calls for an "Advisory Committee", but an advisory committee is just that. Why not create a joint City-State "Authority" to run Belle Isle? Does the City really need to give up ALL rights to assure the continued preservation and maintenance of Belle Isle?

Belle Isle is a natural jewel in the Detroit River. It does not need a lot of expensive "development" to make it better. Money from the State may help--but it could just as easily detract from the natural character of Belle Isle and its accessibility to all. The Lease is simply silent on what is in store for Belle Isle's future should the State take over.

At this point, I would urge you to vote NO on the proposed Lease--or seek MAJOR modifications which will give the City of Detroit some say in the matter, and give the City ample opportunity to terminate the Lease--or, at least, give it the same termination rights held by the State.

I would be happy to answer any questions or to review future drafts of the proposed Lease. (I don't believe your City attorneys are doing a good enough job in protecting the City's interests.)

Sincerely, Jack (…)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Proud (sort of) ... but my ramble goes on farther... how do our photos live on?

Well, I finally entered bird observations from my deck for this year into eBird. I record them daily - at least once in the morning while having coffee and working Sudoku.Whee! I am up to date, and proud!

Well, sort of ... I have a stack of records from last year to enter. They go back to August! Not so proud about this. The good thing is I have records.

OK, "stuff happens" and I kinda dropped out of posting records, and blogging, and so on ... for months. It is a new year, and I am hopeful I can do better.

I know I will post the past sightings to eBird over time - say a couple weeks every day or so? That will do it. It is easy when the weather is lousy in winter. I think I can handle this! Come Spring with new birds arriving - well, I can't promise anything. Gotta do it now.

But what of the thousands of pics taken during the same time period last year? They are all backed up on an external hard drive, and also to DVDs, but never "worked up"!

Funny thing this digital age! I can shoot hundreds of pics on one outing (free!!!), but then the time is needed to delete, process, post, share - it is too much!

In the "old days" of film, I could not afford it. On a week outing to amazing places in the West, I would take perhaps four rolls of  36 pics at a maximum - if that. Oh! I SO wish I had digital back then!!! I long to revisit the memories only captured in my mind! Yes, then I tried harder for a good shot. I think I was a better photographer before multiple pics and computer tools to crop and fix! I only took one from any vantage point. Now with birds (that I never tried to shoot then), I know they only give me fleeting glimpses, so I hold down the button and hope to get one decent one! Shoot, shoot! Amazing technology.

I traveled the entire West Coast - from Mexico to Canada - stopping at almost all ocean access sites in pursuit of seaweeds. In addition, as Associate Director of Biology Semester (a 16-unit non-biology-major course) at USC, I led week-long trips each year to at least five different habitats in California each year for three years. Oceans, deserts, mountains! We always took a cadre of experts with us. Everyone wanted to participate in an adventure that offered free food and great times outdoors! We normally had a botanist (me), a herpetologist, a mammalogist, an entomologist and a geologist. For deserts we added an astronomer (what clear skies in the desert! Oh the rings of Saturn!) and often several more biology grad students. And, we always had our staff psychologist with us. When a class spends the entire semester together, the psychologist really helped! The class was a "full load" - i.e., no other courses - and we met for lectures in a "shack" (really an older building on campus) with couches, beanbags, etc. Very informal.

Amazing times! Oh, what I would give for more photos!!!

I do have many Kodachrome slides (Geez! Anyone remember that word other than from a Simon and Garfunkle song?), but they also now need "processing". I need to scan them - one at a time - into my computer to fix them.

Yes - those pics and the thousands of ones from last year and years before await attention. Is it too much to think about? Definitely!!!

Forget it! I think I will just go birding instead! I know I will take more pics and be overwhelmed again. Maybe this year I will be better about doing at least something for sharing my pics. I intend to. I hope so!

And, just maybe, I will share some stuff from last year. At least I will try.

I think I will get caught up with eBird fairly soon. I feel strongly that this is a contribution I can make to birding to give back at least in a small way. Sure, the records of special birds (new for area, new at certain times of year) are important, but I think what really will count over many years is consistent reporting of birds from the same place throughout the year. It is called "data". Data means lots of records - not just special birds - but more importantly, volumes of records that can then be analyzed statisically to see what patterns emerge. Hey! Over many, many years, maybe my deck will give some data about global warming?!  

Oh, since I mentioned photos, one more thought. What happens to all of our pics when we pass to our new adventure? Even if we post them, who will maintain the sites in perpetuity? And, what will kids do with the photographic legacy on hard drives and DVDs? I am sure the answer is nothing. Not being harsh about the kids, but how would they even know what was good enough to save except maybe family pics? And, if I cannot find the time to process pics, how would they ever do it?

In "the old days", the Smithsonian Institution had a national charter to preserve all collections for perpetuity. Collections then meant actual specimens. Now, "collections" takes on an entirely new meaning! Birds are "collected" as records in eBay (hopefully accurate!) and/or as photos. I know many great birders who are also photographers (with great lenses!) who have amazing collections of photos! What will happen to these photos as they join me birding in the New Adventure? I doubt any organization has the charter, and certainly never the funding (!), to conserve/preserve a national photographic legacy! Case in  point, local bird photographer Richard Sleeman passed within the last couple of years. He had the most amazing collections of photos and was shooting with maybe $15,000 worth of stuff on a tripod. Where did his legacy go?

It is too much to consider at length!

No, my photos are mostly not national archive quality. I take them for myself to enjoy and share. And as a record from which I can ask experienced birders for a confirming ID (thank you all so much!). And to offer to eBird for the very rarely requested confirmation of a good record. (I love it when they do that! It means it might be interesting - or that I missed the ID...)

With this, I just offered a thought imbedded in a "ramble".

OK. Done. I started out patting myself on the back for getting my eBird up-to-date this year, then launched into a ramble  ... as I am wont to do. Well, that is just another glimpse into the wandering mind of "Dr. Bob". I hope it gave y'all some birdy fodder for your own rambling thoughts.

Go bird! Shoot pics! Share with me on Facebook and the Birder's List. Post on eBird. Do as I say, and not as I sometimes do not do! :) And, please try to not "get wrapped around the axle" of overwhelming possibilities as I seem to have done last year...

New year! New possibilities! Let us experience it together!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Directions to Dutton Fields and another "ramble"

After my recent post, I had a few requests for directions to Dutton Fields, and answer them all at one time now.

There is a service road south of Dutton immediately east of Lapeer (M-24) behind two pizza places in a mini-mall. If you are coming up (north on) Lapeer from I-75, shortly after the Palace, and just before Dutton Road itself, you will see a sign pointing off to Dutton on your right. This goes to the service road. (Or you can proceed to the corner, and turn right on Dutton, then take the first right).

The area of interest is on the side of the street opposite the block wall. At present, I only seeded the driveway area opposite from and just north of the northern end of the wall, but I think I will try a tad southerly next time, but still opposite the wall. (I do note I only go there occasionally as an opportunistic fair-weather winter car birder so will not promise any attractants).

As I noted in my blog, the area has been cleaned up since the last couple of years.

I had one thought after my last visit. I seeded the same area as in the past two winters – the area by the “driveway” that goes down the hill. (And, no, I never drove down there – it is, after all, private property, albeit seemingly abandoned … besides, now it looks very muddy and slippery and highly NOT recommended). The birds seemed to like this driveway area for some reason. And still do! Those little Horned Larks can sure move their feet to run up the driveway! Just try to keep the camera on them when they are moving! I think they really like running! They seem to only fly when spooked or to talk birdie things with each other away from the “Ground of Silence”. But I am thinking; now with less hiding places, maybe it is better to seed a tad farther south where there is still a bit of weed remnants along the edge of the drop-off. I’ll try it next time. Maybe the birds can hang out over the drop-off and pop up for seeds? When I saw the Snow Buntings on my first visit this year, there were several below the drop-off and only a couple in sight from the road, and they were along the edge.

BTW, when the birds do flee/fly/(fo fum…), in 2011 they often went into the huge open field away from the road, and would often return within about 15 minutes.

I want to thank Ed Lewandowski who had the foresight to start this whole special place for winter birding in 2011! Also, I want to acknowledge Kim Smith for her great blog about her recent experience there. This woman can really write! And, yes, a Kestrel is a definite possibility. I shot my life bird there a couple of years ago.

A prior post from 2011 when things were hopping - or should I say -flapping:

In re-reading my cited blog, I remembered I saw few Buntings originally (like recently), but on successive visits there were many. One can only hope for a repeat if seeds are there. The current timing is the same. One never knows …

Hey! It probably would not hurt to toss out a few handfuls of seeds to your objects of desire … then check back. Please notify me if a flock of Buntings, or especially Longspurs, pop up. I just might have to pass on a nap and grab my camera!

BTW, I really appreciate the help of my friend and mentor Jerry Jourdan for telling me how to get photos into my last blog!!! I updated it.

It is now SO much nicer to read than having to click on dropped URLs! Yes, I had to get into the HTML code thing, but it was really easy. Thanks Jerry!!! (And … I know most of you did not click on the URLs to see pics! My lovely wife Judy was just at my computer and said “that is a photo of you I took”. Yes – she had looked at my blog but did not click on the URLs! I totally understand!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Forget "No". Here is "Yes"! Snow Buntings and Horned Larks in Oakland County

On my last blog I mentioned several places where we failed to see birds we might have expected. Here is a "ramble" about one place that has now produced!

"Dutton Fields" (Dutton and Lapeer Roads in Oakland County - off the service drive connecting the two) made for some incredible winter birding a couple of years ago. My friend Ed Lewandowski had seeded the basically barren area in the same place (Geez, Ed really knows his local areas!!!) and drew in a host (flocks!!!) of Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and even a few Lapland Longspurs. He posted the location and his sightings to the se-Mich birders list. It was an amazing year at this place, and drew in dozens of birders. We enjoyed large flocks of Snow Buntings to join the normally present Horned Larks! I really shot some good pics of Snow Buntings in flight, as well as on the ground. Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs were "lifers"!

(... In retrospect, I think it might have been Jan Olesen - now in Florida - who had reported Horned Larks across the street by the hotel where we saw out first ever Horned Lark the year before Ed even seeded Dutton- cool! Thanks Jan!). Before now, nothing there this year or last ...

Last year with the weird winter and just generally my non-motivation, not much to report.

So, I thought I would try again. I just posted that I had visited this spot a couple of days ago. I saw nothing! I had hoped the Horned Larks would be there for my "year bird",but nothing! It was interesting that all the previously-present heavy machinery had disappeared along with the company trailers. And, all of the rubble had also been removed! I suspected they might want to sell the site and had cleaned it up. They leveled much of the area within the immediate vicinity of the road to clean it up even removing most of the nearby stubble... I had few hopes.

OK. Well, anyway I went there and "seeded" it on Friday (2013-01-11). No birds. Hey! You can get cheap bird feed at Aco Hardware on sale. For maybe $5 per bag you can get 20 pounds! Not the "oilers" people like for their feeders, and with lots of crushed corn and stuff, but interestingly enough, just the stuff lots of winter birds like.

BTW, I even started mixing it in with the mostly pure "oilers" I was putting on my deck, and my American Tree Sparrows and Northern Juncoes have reappeared after a two week absence. Coincidence? How would I know - my "experiment" was totally without a "control group", but I like it and it is cheap!

Anyway - back to the story ...

For y'all who remember Dutton a couple of years ago, I offer a couple of pics Judy took of me today. Now it looks like an abandoned field. It does not look like much, but watch for flights of fluttering frivolous fantasies!

I went back yesterday out of curiosity. I expected nothing after only one day. But I found Snow Buntings!!! Geez!!! "If you seed it they will come"!!! (Reminds me of a movie ...!) And yes, grammatically, it also fascinates me - "I seed it", not "I saw it". With chuckles, I wonder that some kids today might not understand ...  :) (... this is a Facebook thing for making a "happy face"... I suspect it will not work here ...) I seed it and they came!!!

To prove it, I offer the Snow Buntings:

Pure luck and timing I suspect. I was there about 2:30 - 3:00 pm. I recorded 10 Snow Buntings and 8-10 Horned Larks.

Judy and I went back today - again about 2:30 - 3:00 pm. All we saw were Horned Larks (6), but they were not as spooky as Snow Buntings and allowed me to get out of the car - moving slowly! - to get a pic or two.Geez! It was so windy! But fortunately the bright sun allowed some pics that even I with advanced age and being buffeting by winds could capture.

YES! I not only shot my Horned Larks, but was lucky enough to get the Snow Buntings yesterday!!! Two great species for Oakland County and my "year list". Better than that, I suspect that the birds know another "fast food place" to include in their travels, so I suspect and hope they will tell their "birdie friends"! Maybe we will have another great year of special winter birds!

I can almost guarantee Horned Larks (incredibly beautiful birds!!!) on a visit, but at present, I think you will need some good luck to see the Snow Buntings. Try hanging out for a half-hour or more and rub your good luck charm.

Everyone - please tell me (direct e-mail or on the se-Mich birder's list) your experiences there! Especially if the Lapland Longspurs join the flock!!!

Good birding y'all!!!

- "Dr. Bob"

Monday, January 14, 2013

No, no, no, no ... and, Yes: a "Tale of Two Fishers"

NO: On Thursday, Judy and I went to Port Huron to get our Long-tailed Ducks for the year. It was a very pleasant sunny day at circa 40 degrees with no wind. Too pleasant! Yes, we did get the long-tails, but they were on the Canadian side (a few) or out in Lake Huron. There was NO ice on the river or even visible on the lake from there. No other birds than geese, mallards, and gulls. Too nice!

NO: On Friday, we went to Dutton Fields where I suspected to at least document a Horned Lark for the year. The area along the road was totally empty! All of the heavy equipment was gone! All of the rubble piles and stuff the birds used to use as temporary sitting sites were gone! All of the weeds near the road were gone! The entire place was cleaned out and had been graded/flattened near the road. Maybe they intend to sell it? Anyway, I “seeded it” as planned, but without dinky weeds as in past years, I doubt it will draw much. Only bird was a Turkey Vulture overhead.

NO: On Saturday, we went to Ray Twp. (Broughton Rd. and 26 Mile) to see the birds reported on the list. Nothing but crows.

NO: Then we went to Inwood Rd to catch the shrike. Nothing! However the washboard road is much better than in the summer because the constant traffic has filled in the ruts from the farm equipment…

Then, we washed the car.

This lovely weather was “for the birds” – NOT! The weather was for us fair weather birders! Moral – get out when weather is bad, or immediately after someone reports the birds! Darn birdies fly!

On Sunday, we planned to stay home. Judy took her morning walk and came home to tell me of a Belted Kingfisher working the small pond at the entrance to Streamwood. YES!

I put up pics on PBase:

I call my pic a “Tale of Two Fishers”, but it could have just as well been a tale of two birders. Do “previous” to see a better pic by Judy. YES!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Exciting birth of an e-book on birding

Last year during the Biggest Week in America Birding I had the pleasure to meet Gunnar Engblom at the first Meet and Greet in Ohio for Facebook Ohio birding friends. I have been following him on FB ever since. He is Swedish, leading birding tours in Peru, yet very knowledgeable as a worldwide birder, and obviously has been birding in our area.

On FB he has just started posting about a book he is writing. It will be available for free on the internet. It is a very different approach to birding. Basically it acknowledges that many (maybe now, most???) of us get into birding differently in this digital age that in older days. It sure rings true to me! I started birding by taking pics and wondering what I shot. After quite awhile of sharing pics locally in my neighborhood, a neighbor told me she had a relative who was into birding, and turned me onto the University of Michigan list serv. My life changed forever!!! All the subscribers have been instrumental in my rebirth as a birder! 

ref: (Thanks again, Bruce Bowman for such a wonderful accepting forum!!!)

Check out the link to Gunnar's book:

Gunnar lists the chapter headings for now. Fascinating! Makes sense!

Birds are universal. Birding is universal!

I truly suspect this e-book might draw many new birders into our passion! Indeed, I think we will all learn from it if Gunnar gets the support I think he will!

I would appreciate seeing comments.

Yeah, I could have waited until the book was e-published to send out a note, but I really believe that we in Michigan are so far ahead of many other places for sharing birding experience that I wanted some of our advanced birders to have a chance to input or comment on this e-book.

And yes, I started with pics, but now have a good pair of binocs – and even a cheap scope – and damn near all the local field guides and even more specialized books - so it really rings true for me. I am always learning! And it all started with “whazzat bird?”!!!

Good birding in 2013!!!


It is now another new year! I am quite remiss in that I stopped my blog mid-year in 2012. It is not that I stopped birding or enjoying the outdoors, I just had other things that needed attention. I will try harder this 2013 year ...