Sunday, August 30, 2009

A day overflowing

Today, awake at 5 am to chase a Western Kingbird at the Oxbow with Les.
No kingbird, but still.

A day overflowing:

A quiet, chill Sunday morning
Perfect for watching the world with a like-minded soul

Tracks at Oxbow

Adding to my ever-growing list of things that fly
Tennessee WArbler
(Tennessee Warbler)

We watched a thousand swallows dance over
A million sparkles of light

Leaf and loop
The smallest things caught my eye and became beautiful
Least sandpiper

A small animal in need found us and came home with me
Les and stray cat
(He's not staying.)

Afternoon: Germantown Metropark with my family.

A different place but the same feeling of overflowing
Orb weaver and Isabelle
Enjoying an elegant lady resting

Dancing with dogs,
Tytus and Lorelei

Catching baby leeches by accident
Baby leech

And pursuing an Eastern Tailed-Blue by choice,
Eastern Tailed Blue
Showing that elusive blue, just a glance, like fancy petticoats under a printed muslin.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We are a Kindergartener!

Last time we went through this, I obsessively folded and re-folded my kitchen towels all day. I cried a little. I worried and waited. But it turned out fine.

Today, it was Lorelei's turn to venture forth into Elementary school.

Can anyone tell that this kid is UBER-ready for Kindergarten?
Lorelei first day of Kindergarten

She was brighter than the sun.
First day of K

She sat at her desk, and while the other kids were jumping up and down, talking loudly, my Lorelei just sat with her hands in her lap and smiled, overjoyed to finally be there.
In classroom

I stayed maybe thirty seconds longer than I needed to. After I hugged her goodbye, she didn't look my way again. I took my leave.
I spent the day sitting by the river, making calls for RAPTOR programs, some shopping (I took the plunge, so to speak and bought a new push up bra. This is a big deal...I'm happy to report that I was able to buy a whole size SMALLER than I usually wear. Still hovering at about 30 pounds lost...gonna have to bring out the big guns to keep losing)
Geoff and I walked out together to meet the bus....
Off the bus
And she was still brighter than the sun.

Off the bus 2

The excitement of the day seems to have affected her a bit.
She fell asleep before dinner.

I was more composed this time around than I was a few years ago when Isabelle went off for her first day of school. But I still worried. I thought of her every...oh....10 seconds.
I kept going back in my mind to the day she came into my life. And I can't believe how fast it all goes.

(January 28, 2004)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's not really about the birds all the time...

On a bird walk at the Cincinnati Nature Center this weekend, it was less about the birds and more about plants and things underfoot.

I am so thankful for Nina. Not just because she is a sweet, wonderful person, but also for her brain, chock-a-bock full of nature info. She was able to point out new plants for me:

Agrimony...I will always remember the name of this plant, because it rhymes with "alimony" and I started calling it the "Give it all away plant".

I found a nice big skull in the underbrush, so we puzzled away at who the previous owner might have been.
Teeth marks on skull
It even had teeth marks from mice just trying to get their RDA of calcium.

must have braaaaainssss
(Brain case)

At the end of the walk, Kathi squirreled it away and weaseled the answer out of one of the naturalists, I guess. It was a raccoon.

Ultimately, as you have read on this blog and others, it's really about the people you bird with:

Mary Ann Kathi pointing
Kathi (pointing out the yellow-throated vireo that I barely saw) and waaayyy in the back is Mary Ann, of Facebook fame. Mary Ann doesn't have a blog, the poor dope.

(I feel that half of my life is on the blog and the other, juicier half is on Facebook. If you aren't on Facebook, go try it.)
Mid-to-late summer isn't the best time to go bag a lot of birds, but who cares? A morning spent with the Cincinnati members of the Flock and a poor dope without a blog (but she's fun and nice, anyway!) is an excellent time to catch up, laugh until we fall down and scare off what few birds there are to see.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coming live to a radio near you!

I will be on WMKV FM today for a one-hour interview about RAPTOR, Inc.
If you live in Cincinnati, reception is best North and East of downtown. If you can't get the station on the radio, you can listen to it live, starting at 1 pm, on your computer through the station's website:

Click here to hear my dulcet tones!

And don't call in and prank me. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"My kids...they never call."

Long-time readers of this blog will remember my obsession with the Lake Isabella Great Horned Owl family. These ever-fierce, powerful avian predators have nested at the man-made nest site continuously for years, and I have been watching them since 2006.

At the end of this nesting season, banding of the single owlet brought out many dignitaries of the Cincinnati blogging community. Added to the nest was a "foster" owlet who needed a nest with a step-sibling the same age.

Baby owls go from small piles of dryer lint to tall, slightly fuzzy predators fairly quickly, "branching", i.e. leaving the nest and hanging onto large branches shortly after reaching adult size. And once they fledge, we may never see them again.

Enter Jack Verdin, Owl-Stalker.
Just got an email from him...he saw both of the six-month old owls today, bleating like goats at their parents. (Great Horned Owls, for their first year, will food-beg nearly up to the next nesting season, so just because their babies have left the nest doesn't mean the adults get a lot of peace and quiet.)
Jack couldn't make out the band numbers on the young owls, so he couldn't say who was who.

But a sighting of these once-fuzzy owls is a fine thing. A fine thing indeed.

They look all grown up, don't they?
(I think they need to work on those plumicorns, though.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Enough is ENOUGH, already!!!

That's it, people. I've had it. This post has been building in me for I don't know how long, and I have to let it out. I'm rather tense about it, so I apologize for any disconnected thoughts. This isn't Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism. This is me, fed up.

The time is way, way past for stopping the use of the terms "geek" or nerd". I'm going to focus on the stereotypes of birders and nature lovers, but this could easily spill over into the technical fields, fans of Sci-Fi, etc.
Let's start with the definitions of "geek" and "nerd", according to Wikipedia:
"a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc."
"a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers or will tend to associate with like-minded people."

Group at the Bobolink Field
(My favorite picture from the Flock's trip to WV...I just wish the whole Flock could have been in it)

As of today, I will be taking offense at anyone daring to call me, or any other nature lover, a geek, nerd, dweeb, snod (that's a new one I just learned), etc, etc, ad nauseum.

I'm not one to psychologically dissect any of this behavior, but my opinion is that it is a knee-jerk reaction to "label" a person based on their actions, especially when we don't understand the obsession.
*Star Trek conventions, with people dressed as their favorite character. Same with Star Wars, and any number of other shows or movies: Ever been to one of those? They are fantastic fun, booths selling things you are interested in, like-minded people who totally get you and your love of whatever subject you are all celebrating. Stars from the shows or movies come to these events, and you get autographs and a minute of their time to ask questions.
(Anyone else think this sounds like a birding festival? Except that we don't wear costumes, we wear bird shirts. And instead of Leonard Nimoy, we swoon over David Sibley, Bill Thompson and Julie Zickefoose, Scott Weidensaul, etc. )

As of today, I won't be tolerating any nature or bird lover calling themselves "Bird Nerds" or "Nature Geeks". I'm not having it.
Even if you are saying it in jest, or think it's a badge of honor.

I took a Cultural Sensitivity class years ago, a required study at the direct care facility I was employed by. There was a mix of all ages, races, financial "status", occupations, etc. The one thing that I have carried with me ever since is this:
Stereotypes, whether they are negative or positive, have the potential to be hurtful or damaging.
Any stereotype you can come up with, whether it is "complimentary" or "derogatory", puts not only the stereotyped person at a disadvantage, but it greatly depresses your ability to truly know the person. If all you see is the stereotype, then you don't see the other human being.

I can't address all of the parts of the "Birder" stereotype, but I have witnessed first-hand just how short-sighted and frankly inaccurate it is...

(I have yet to meet anyone who fits the "Birder" or "Birdwatcher" stereotype).
I guess that stereotype dictates that we are to be strangely-dressed, stodgy, socially-inept pantywaists who just sit on park benches and feed pigeons?
I beg your ****ing pardon?

If you read any of the blogs in our Flock network, you KNOW that we are supremely skilled at social graces, so there goes that part of the stereotype:

Out of the nine or so Flock members at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, only a few of us had ever met in real life. By the end of that first day, we were BFF's.

Stodgy? Sure, whatever. Bite me.

(Tim, playing KILLER COWBELL with the Swinging Orangutangs)
(Oh, wait! We aren't supposed to have fun or like rock 'n' roll! Stop it, Tim!!)
For every stereotype you throw at me, I can and will throw back an exception.
So what makes a stereotype worth a damn??? Even the "good" ones?
Stop being weak and lazy by using stereotypes. You can be better than that.

And while I am all fired up, I will say this, too...and the people who I am speaking to?
You know who you are.

When I was a phlebotomist, I would talk about my patients, or funny things that happened at the lab. And you enjoyed those stories. And you thought my job had value.

When I was a direct care specialist for adults with mentally retardation, I would talk about my residents, or funny things that happened at the home. And you enjoyed those stories. And you thought my job had value.

When I was the manager and technician for a medical office, I would talk about my patients or funny things that happened at the office. And you enjoyed those stories. And you thought my job had value.

NOW that I am an educator for a raptor rescue, I talk about my birds, or funny things that happen at the center. And you mock me. And you derisively call me "Bird Lady". And you think my job has no value.

I have a few words to say to that:

helen me and girls

I am a Human Perch for some of the world's most beautiful creatures.


I have learned to excel at opening the sky of knowledge and passion for thousands of people.

I have found work that completes me,
Two owls two ears
...that lights me up inside, like a light bulb behind my eyes,

Priscilla close
...I look forward to getting up ever day and doing my job,

Isis BLue Eye
...a job that I am very good at, a job that makes my heart overflow every single time I do it.

And you are jealous of that.

So I'm sorry you can't handle that you hate your job and dread getting up every morning.
But don't take it out on me. I'm one of the lucky ones.

And you can kiss my ass.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Birding the PITS with KatDoc

I got an invitation to go birding at the "Grand Valley Nature Preserve" from Debbie, a teacher who lives nearby and has a permit. And of course, I had to ask my FAVE Cincy birding buddy along (Kathi, aka KatDoc)
If you want to read about my previous visit with Kathi, click here.

Debbie might just become a new birder friend. She is a self-proclaimed "newbie", but fun to hang out with. She put up with tons of chattering and babbling from Kathi and me.
(When it comes to the Flock, we are all like BFF with anyone we meet)

Let's just focus on what we saw (it wasn't much):

The Pits
The day started hot and humid.
It continued with more hot and humid.
This place is stellar in the winter, just lousy with ring-necked ducks , both scaup species, mergansers, coots and grebes, a bald eagle has visited in previous years...just great stuff. rather boring.

Note: I didn't get a picture of it, but I saw a female Blue Grosbeak. I was the only one in the group who saw it, but I'm sure of the ID. Brown bird, huge conical bill, dark upperparts, paler underparts, darker wings and tail...sitting in a shrubby part of the preserve.
I have poured over pictures, habitat and range maps...LIFER! Number 220~

Grand Valley is rather proud of their Purple Martin colony...they ended last year with 35 nestlings, and this year, they counted 135 nestlings!
Jeez. I can't get one PAIR to nest in my yard.
PUMA out the wazoo

We saw many, many, many PUMA...the power lines were thick with them. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. Wish I had thought to get a photo of the powerlines. You could see the blackness of all the PUMA from across the preserve.

Kathi's eagle eyes spotted a green heron across the way:
Green heron
I think this is the first time I have seen one in sunlight. They are usually so skulky.

Mullein the Pits

We kept hearing what sounded like a Field Sparrow with an 'accent'. The typical song of a FISP has a trill that goes up at the end, but this one was trilling down. A listen to the good ol' Birdjam (Hi, Jay!!!) confirmed a FISP.
Kathi scans for the field sparrow with an accent
Kathi goes Off-Road Birding.
(Girlfriend needs a tan)

This single tree, stretching out of the water inspired us to try to make up a haiku for it.
(You know, a poem with the formula of 5 syllables, then 7, then 5?)
It was too hot and muggy, so we never even got past the first line.
Haiku tree
But sitting in the cool basement, I might be able to come up with something...

This tree small and wet
Mocks our panting and gasping
We are so sweaty.


Friday, August 07, 2009


As a person of nature, it is imperative to go out and embrace it whenever possible.

When the day-to-day grind wears down and you fly to find yourself in a sunlit field.

When the large eludes, you instead find the small, the overlooked.

young katydid maybe

Giving up on the skies, you instead look to the ground.

Dragonfly CSI
The remains of a feast of dragonflies.

In a wide open field, you can feel yourself expand with it, and in that expansion, a constriction down into yourself, where all is quiet, still and at peace.

In that stillness, the mind can focus on minuscule water drops, beading on a wing left behind.
halloween pennant wing water drops

You have to turn over coreopsis leaves to see the nursery underneath.
Little baby somethings on coreopsis

A dragonfly trusts you just long enough to gaze into your eyes.
Macro dragonfly

The path narrows and coneflowers brush your face.
Yellow coneflower

For a minute, dipping into the woods for its cool shade rewards you with a treasure growing right at eye level.
Orange mushroom

And stepping back into the sun, a tiny moment is frozen and stretches forever.
Clouded sulphur and skipper coneflowers