Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ornithologically Yours

It's spring migraa-aaa-aaaation TIME!
My favorite time of the year. Mostly because it is the true sign that summer is coming, yet it's not yet hot and sticky and humidy here in New England.

Yesterday I did a bit of community service with my dad as we joined the great river cleanup in our area. It was the first time my dad would be out and about in his new kayak.

We decided to launch from a local site - normally we drive a few towns away and launch from the mouth of the North/South River, but yesterday we thought we'd try something new. Of course the day started dear father would not listen to my suggestion on loading the kayaks on the roof of my Subaru (something I've done totally on my own for two years now) and he knocked my boat off the roof. It fell on the grass, but knocked his kayak off balance, falling on the opposite side of the car, the driveway/stonewall side. Instead of trying to steady the kayak on the roof as it slipped, my dad tried to be a superhero and rush to my aid. Ummmm, unless you're Superman, it's not happening, you won't make it to me before my kayak fall. Soooo yes, disaster strikes, the kayak falls on top of him, pushing him to the driveway, and landing on the concrete stonewall. I hear a giant "F*CK" and expect to see a blood-soaked father emerge from below my car. Luckily he was unhurt, the kayak only scratched, and my car only mildly wounded, sans driver's side miror. Oh welllllll. I guess it's good I'm pretty c'est la vie when it comes to cars. What can you do really? Replace the thing and move on. I mean if it kept me from driving I would probably be pisssssed, but I can make it to the train and back without a mirror.

By the time we made it to the canoe launch it was an hour later than the official start time, but it was cool. We met up with a guy with trash bags and were off. Of course it was all I could do to focus on trash and not birds, though most of the trash I focused on was the bird-unfriendly, like fishing line and bobbers and the like. Despite the trash here and there, carried upriver by the tide, the place was a hidden paradise. Unlike the North River, this river is not boat accessible, but just deep enough for canoes and kayaks. It was wide open in some places and surrounded by trees in others, and there was no one else out there, making me feel like we were explorers seeing a place for the first time. It's corny I know, but it was a strong feeling I've rarely felt elsewhere. Kenya maybe. Alaska a teeny little bit - but to find this feeling so close to home? Awesome.

There were hundreds of red-winged blackbirds. We also saw yellow warblers in abundance, several eastern kingbirds, several great blue herons, comorants, an osprey, a rose-breasted grosbeak, a couple of orioles and a common yellowthroat. I'm sure I'm forgetting some as well, and since it wasn't a bird-watching mission, there are species I missed. Next time....this is going to be my new spot:
We came home and relaxed for a while. I cleaned a ton and then took a shower. As I was rubbing lotion all over my naked body, I saw a flash of red go by the window. HOLY CRAP! A scarlet tanager was taking a bath in a puddle left over from car washing in the driveway. I scrambled for my camera, shot a few pics outside the window, then scrambled for a robe and rushed outside. I flew by Jamaal fishwrangling on the couch. He looked at me like "what the HELL are you doing?" uhhhh just taking a picture dear. I got some shots in, but couldn't find my doubler, so they weren't particularly awesome. They're great to me though :)

I then proceeded to have kind of a lousy night. Dinner was fantastic, as I went out with Jam and Amy to a great Asian restaurant. Something disagreed with my stomach in the most foul manner though and let's just say, I spent a looong time in the bathroom. The pain and nausea was so bad I wasn't sure what was even wrong with me. It made me cry and it sucked. I started to wonder if I had something heinous like a bowel obstruction but...yeah, nothing was obstructed (EW). Amy and I are pretty sure I have a nasty food allergy to something in the lettuce wraps - last time I ate at Asian C I threw up afterwards, and everyone blamed it on the alcohol, even though I only had one drink...that time I had also had a mix of food, but it's just too much of a coincidence to have gastrointestinal distress again! b8tches.

Jam was a sweetie and gave me the bed, but I was up early this morning, still queasy as hell. It paid off though because I decided to go sit under a tree in the yard and focus on a small area of the yard. I saw a TON of birds! It was such a productive hour. I don't have any photos because I wanted to try and focus on species ID, and I think that paid off. Here's the roundup:

random seagull
ruby-throated hummingbird
downy woodpecker
northern flicker
eastern kingbird (a first for our yard)
tufted titmouse
black-capped chickadee
house wren
american robin
gray catbird
nashville warbler (a first for me AND our yard and total awesomeness)
yellow-rumped warbler
black and white warbler
common yellowthroat (pure awesomeness, plus he got sooo close)
northern cardinal
american tree sparrow
chipping sparrow
american goldfinch

Eighteen species and all I did was sit on my bum at the base of tree? not to friggin' bad in my opinion. I kind of want to wake up early every day this week and bird before work. It's sad that that can get me out of bed at 6am but work actually wouldn't. ha ha ha. There are some hazards to birding though; during "greet your neighbor" time at church the guy behind me picked an inch-worm out of my hair. LOL. Nature rules.

ETA: def saw a nashville warbler, confirmed that today - also I HEARD a northern parula yesterday but didn't see one......I will track it down.


Elizabeth said...

That's so cool! I love reading about your birding adventures. Also - there's a great Curious George episode featuring the Scarlet Tananger that I have seen SEVERAL times, and it was nice to see the real version, not just the cartoon creature!

As for your allergies: Boooo. If you call the restaurant and get a list of the ingredients, I can narrow done what exactly is causing your allergy and balance you to it so you can eat your lettuce wraps in peace without such heinous side effects. I can even do it at reunion if you want - it should take less than 10 minutes to figure it out and cure you.

Love you HONAY!

everything and nothing said...

Red-winged blackbirds are my favorite. Its the only birdsong I'm able to recognize.

Al said...

E: For real? I did not know that about Curious George! Also, will try to do re: lettuce wraps, but you know that aversion you get to something after it makes you sick? yeah, I don't think I'll be eating them again. But it'll be good to balance it in case I ever encounter the ingredient again...oh I dunno, like as a surprise on the wedding day!

they're awesome. we were saying just because they're the most common bird in North America does not detract from their awesomeness. They're so black and sleek and then when they get pissed or territorial there are these HUGE wing epaulets in bright red. Very cool. We should all kayak sometime - now we have two at my house!

Elizabeth said...

Yes! Kayaking! Done! Now let's set a date. :)