Saturday, March 7, 2015

I am still here ... Recap 2014

NOTE: I am going to ramble about personal things in my last year and why I have not been keeping up my blog, and I am now going to also put up my last year's birding stuff here as well. If you want to skip the  personal part, quickly scroll down to the section with a headline in caps: START BIRD RECAP FROM 2014

It is hard to believe I have not done a thing with my blog since the Biggest Week in American Birding last year! Well maybe not SO hard. I did know I was neglecting it.

And, let me tell you I really feel bad about it!

Why did it  happen? Where/how/who am I?

First let me reassure you I am still alive. This does not sound like much without perspective, but at my advancing age, I get nervous when I do not hear from folks for a few months. Over the past two years, I have lost several of my college professors and mentors, my only two cousins (both younger than me) and several friends. Gone! Lost to me forever except in memories Not sos easy! Each time I learn of this, it hits me hard. I treasure and cherish the fond memories of the times we shared, yet each time I feel even older!

This contributes to my "writer's block" somewhat.

Another thing in my advancing life is that I realized I often used birding (and other fun things) as an excuse to not deal with the huge backlog of accumulated stuff I have around the house. It was really easy to ignore "stuff" when I was working. My life was: get up; go to work; commute; eat; sleep; repeat. And on weekends, go shopping and set up meals for the week. Cinchy. Not so bad! But "stuff" never left, and somehow just kept accumulating!

I still have some stuff from my biology days although I gave most of my huge library and seaweed herbarium to the UW decades ago.Most notably still here are a dozen mushroom models used in classrooms probably in the 1940s, a couple cases of unlabeled seaweeds collected in the 1890s (no scientific value, but lovely artifacts from Nature), a few older books, and especially one autographed by Alfred Russel Wallace!

I have stuff from my Space Shuttle days including launch and landing "covers" (envelopes stamped at certain post offices on the day of the events), mission patches, and assorted goodies.

I have stuff from my IT and project management days. Actually this is fairly easy to deal with. Too few fond memories of the pressures of that world. Recycle! But, in many cases they represent where and how I made a difference, so those few are harder to part with. And, yes, there were many good times as well, but few artifacts to deal with. I think the most interesting are the pics I took while in an office overlooking the Detroit River where I shot many of the passing freighters. I would like to photoshop the pics and pass to the group I know that archives freighter pics - Boatnerd. "Someday ..."?

And, importantly, I have many things from my parents. I am slowly sending the best to my son, his wife and grandkids. This IS fun!

And, I have more stuff! I still have my comic book collection. Doubt that it is worth much since I bought at the wrong time, but hate to "recycle" without some money! And my record collection of about 800 records. It is great  seeing vinyl coming back strongly! Music was such a huge part of my life. Many records are autographed by the likes of Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse, and other major bluegrass artists. These definitely need a great home! But I have all genre of records. Great bunch of  records including 70s rock all tracked at 1/4 gram. I would make  cassette tape of the record at first playing, then play the tape. Anyone interested?

I did make some progress. The largest of which was getting rid of my sports card collection. I lost a fortune (well for me it was a fortune...) on this. The removal of 80 cases of sports cards from the basement "pulled the plug" allowing me to shuffle the other stuff to evaluate, disposition, and dispose! SO much pending work!!! (... and SO many thanks to a neighbor - a retired cop (Thanks Ray!!!) -who dragged up many of my boxes into the garage so that I could evaluate,  and so the purchaser could reach the rest!!!) Geez! In my "old days " I moved these things several times myself, but age has taken a toll. And, Ray is far stronger than I ever was! Blessed and thankful am I !

OK, why did I put this on my bird blog? Well, mostly, it is "my blog"!  I get to "ramble" to my heart's content. But it would have been a bunch more fun just to go birding!!! But somewhere along the line, I realized that by just avoiding the home front, I would still come home to the very problems I had left. I realized that if I just got out and enjoyed life, I still had to come home to "stuff", and that I was leaving a very uncomfortable legacy to the eventual executor of my estate. Besides that, what I see as "treasures" will then become trash! Gotta get the good stuff to those who might appreciate!!! Soon!

But in the long run, it is just "stuff"! And what will it matter if I am gone? It would free my mind just to trash it myself and be free again!!! ... but I think I just addressed why I will not do that.

OK. Time to get along to the subject of my bird blog ...


When I last left my birding blog, we had just returned from The Biggest Week in American Birding. As finances allow, this is the only real trip we take beyond local birding. It is the highlight of our year! And it is not only the amazing birds that come thru there then, but also the wonderful friends we meet. What a great experience!!!

Yes, from my lack of posts it seems like our birding stopped there. But no!

I record "deck birds" daily (though I am quite far  behind in entering them on eBird ...) Actually, watching your bird feeders might teach you far more about birds than seeing them in the wild. Indeed the selection will be limited, but you can learn a huge deal about patterns and colors over time, but perhaps more importantly you will learn about behavior! What are food preferences? Who shows up at that time of day? Who intimidates whom?

You want pics? Start shooting your deck birds! Cinchy! You are comfortable indoors no matter the season. You might be amazed at the variety of poses you see!

But beyond that, there are several places where Judy and I go locally each year. Maybe we did not get out as much as usual, but we did have some high points on field trips.

For all of these, I am at least putting placeholders. I really have not "worked up" most of my pics yet, but sprinkle a few along the way.

Lake Saint Clair Metropark (LSCMP) - formerly known as Metro Beach) - May
We go there to see the Marsh Wrens It is really amazing to hear them chatter to each other!  We also go there too see the momma Great Horned Owl raising her kids in the washtub! What a gift to birders!

We sometimes get other photo ops! Judy did a great job with these Swamp Sparrows. !

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

[.... add Paul Poronto, Allen, Sarah, marsh wrens, bucket owls, screech owl and mating yellow warblers...]

Kensington Metro Park - July

This is Judy's favorite place to go birding! Birds will eat right out of your hands! We have had Chickadees, Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, and an occasional White-breasted Nuthatch feed from our hands. And the park allows songbird feeding. Please do not feed the Sandhill Cranes! They are Judy's favorite bird and nest there, but it is not good for them, and potentially dangerous to you.

Auto Show!

Be aware! Be very aware!!!

[Add more pics/words to this place ...!]

Pte. Mouillee - August
This segment I now (having added a huge number of pics) here envision as a mental "write yourself into a blog" blog post! You will recognize many birders and birds. Just pretend you were there ...

It was a one day field trip where the local Audubon Society had permission to drive the dikes at Pte. Mouillee. Judy and I had hiked it a few times in the past, but we can no longer do that. We treasure the annual trip where 4 cars are allowed on the dikes for a special day with an Audubon chapter and always reserve early. With hundreds of pics from both Judy and my cams, and wanting to say something to tell a story about each pic, you might see why  I was stalled in my blog post. So, here's an idea. Write your own blog post (in your mind)! If you were there, you already have words at your disposal. If not, I am sure you will get a feeling about this trip. I suspect many birding field trips are as rich like this, so just imagine! Birding is SO much fun and we have a great community of copacetic friends we meet along the road! You will see many great birders from Michigan and Ohio here! I am not tagging, but I betcha you know someone!

A self-directed young birder's field trip we met there.

My four gulls - one is a lifer!

The rest of these are "un-shopped"! Local Michigan/Ohio birders will probably see folks you know. If you were there you will remember the birds we saw. If not, there might be some lifers hidden somewhere! Indeed this day would make a great "ramble" by itself (as I intended). These are just a few of the hundreds we took there then on the annual special day when we could drive it instead of the 5+ mile hike to and fro we can no longer do. And SO much more fun with a great group of experienced birders! Anyway, it will give you some idea of what a field trip to Pte. Mouillee is like.

Accolades to lovely wife Judy!

The following are lovely wife Judy's pics. It is SO cool that I not only have a companion, but also a "photo-biographer" so sometimes even I appear in pics! (Photographers will know of what I speak!) Judy loves shooting pics of people - they are larger and dot not move as fast as birds! But she also gets good bird pics! She "kicked my ass" so many times with the SX50 I bought her, I went out and bought one for myself! Gotta love it!!!

September - Detriot Zoo

The Detroit Zoo has two free Senior Days each year - spring and fall. Lots of giveaways and free refreshments and Bingo for prizes, but mostly we love the free tram rides and free train rides. We can walk the length of the zoo and take the train back to the entrance. We really need it by that time! (Just do not wait until near closing time!!!)

Besides the normal captive critters and the wandering peacocks we see up close and personal, we enjoy seeing the visiting Black-crowned Night Herons (who nest there) and Turkey Vultures up close and personal enjoying sneaking food from the zoo critters.

Birds of a feather flock together, but when the cafeteria is open, forget that old story!

If "Dr. Bob" did that, he would be arrested!

And yet ... gotta advertise to get your gal ...

Saddle-billed Stork! Bizarre, yet for real! SO great!!!

September - Selfridge Air Show

Not birds, but I shoot flying things. I see birds everywhere! And sometimes birds in the clouds and I even see angels!!!

Blue Angels can go there only in the hands of God's angels!

I cannot help but thinking about the song "Great Speckled Bird"!

September Hawk Fest at Lake Erie Metro Park (LEMP)

Another annual favorite! The Hawk Watch (an on-going event where migrating birds are recorded daily for a couple of months) was great fun this year with having a chance to meet and talk with great photographer and volunteer counter Andrew Sturgis! We also love the annual weekend Hawk Fest put on by Lake Erie Metro Park (LEMP). Lots of great presentations! And a local hawking club gives us an opportunity to get up close and personal with gorgeous birds!!! Would have been a huge "ramble" about the Hawk Watch and also the Hawk Fest had I not been pre-occupied ...  Just some of many pics from  the Fest that I already "shopped", and some from the Watch. Again, you just have to imaginee your own blog ...

Lovely wife flaps in eagle nest!

A few more:

Young birder trip to Hawk Watch

A couple who birds together ... !!!

The race is on!

October - Sandhill Crane Fest near Battle Creek

Another annual trip! Hundreds of Sandhill Cranes flying in to roost for the night! Activities all day long with a crane-fly-in "finale"!!! Fun!!!  And another place to see great  birds up close and personal with pr esentations by rehabbers and a falconing club. Both Judy and my pics here. Uncropped ...

Good birding friends Heather and Ken Slayton and grandkids.
New crop of birders!

Yes. I "tank out" after a while birding. Oh, well ...

October - Hawk Watch (not the earlier weekend Hawk Fest, but a special trip to ongoing Hawk Watch set up by Charles Owens). The fun keeps on going! Write your own blog post ...

Thanks for my birthday card, Joanne! !!! 

Flashing my R. Bruce (he is a star performer at Biggest Week this year) t-shirt with BSBO supporters.
2014 - the rest of the year

Otherwise I just hang out and daily record deck birds - mostly over morning coffee. I get a couple hours birding every day. I make lots of notes that probably no one will see, but it pleasures me! I am very far behind in putting them on eBird. But I try. I also shoot hundreds of pics. Right now I am fascinated with "Shades of Grey"! Yes, that too, but I am talking birds here! ;)  Juncoes are SO hard to shoot and the light on my shadowed deck makes it even worse, but I see an amazing amount of shades! I know some are "girls" and some are "guys", but the distinction is lost due to the entire spectrum and especially photographically.

Anyway, I know this 10-point dude is a guy! (Yes, we have lots of other critters here too!)


I know my photographer friends will see the great opportunities I had to make most of these pics and the hundreds more pics memorable, but I also know my limitations. Yes, Judy and I got great pics if treated right (when cropped and shopped)), but I am sure photographers will know the burden of needing to "fix" each pic before posting!  And I am sure y'all especially know now another reason my blog is so far behind. If I wanted perfection in each pic, I would never post anything! Gotta fix my expectations in my own head! I really think my friends and followers really just like to see me posting again  ...
Well, that's my story for the night ... and for this last year ... It overwhelmed me! Now to move forth and try to regain my "write thing"! My "ramble thing"!

I know I did  a year's worth of bird stories/"rambles" - albeit mostly only in hints and some pics. Geez! So many possible  - wonderfully delightful and possible mentally chewable - maybe even memorable -  - rambles I missed"!!! But I hope it will be fun for y'all to "fill in the blanks".

Now I think I at least cleared my head enough to start writing posts again ...

Hope you enjoyed the "incomplete version" ...! :)