Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall is coming!!!!!!!!!!!

Diane and I just like to walk in the Arboretum, as many other people from Ann Arbor do....It offers many trails along the river, in the woods, along the prairie. Many Joggers and Runners take advantage of one of the steepest hill in the county to perform their weekly hill trainning. The dog owners walk their dogs, most of them responsively.

Last Saturday in the Arb was absolutly pleasant. The day was a perfect autumn day, blue sky, a bit cool in the morning. Despite the Michigan-Wisconsin game in the afternoon, promising a 100,000 visitors influx of in the city, walkers were sparse, and runners few.

The Beach - La Plage

Birdingwise, we had a great time. Blue Jays were flying around everywhere, a Carolina Wren (troglodyte de Caroline) hopped over a fallen tree, a red breasted nuthatch (Sitelle a poitrine rousse) (our first this fall) was feeding amoung the pine trees. A flock of mixed warbler (blackthroated green, chesnut sided and pine warblers, plus others I could not identify, high in the trees) (paruline a gorge noire, paruline a flanc marron, paruline des pins) put a show next to the peony garden. The first white crowned sparrow were seen along the prairie. Rubycrowned and Golden crowned Kinglet (Roitelet a Couronne Rubis, Roitelet a Couronne Doree) were also seen.

White Crowned Sparrow (Bruant a couronne blanche)

On the way back to our car on the edge of the prairie, we took an infrequently used trail, both to get a little exercise and to get a chance to see a Thrush or a Wren in the brushy slope. Annoyed, I discovered a Dog Owner......with a dog unleashed.

Now, there is nothing that infurriated me more that wandering dogs in the Arb. Not only they scare ground birds, squarrels and deers, and disturb habitat, but they have sometimes highly variable social behaviour. Friendly, TOO friendly, agressive (I was bitten once by a dog in a city park 2 years ago). This is why I always try to remind them (the owners) to keep their dog on leash. Rarely it works. Most of the time they disagree, more or less politely, with my recommendation. This time, though, the dog owner tried a different strategy.

Me : "M'am, I think you should keep your dog on leash"

No answer. Ok, that's a classic. She hopes I will just give up.

Me : (louder) "M'am, I think you should keep your dog on leash!"

Her : (in French, but with a strong American Accent) "Je ne parle pas Anglais" (I don't speak English)

Now, maybe some readers of this blog have not noticed yet, but I happened to be born and raised in Amiens, in the north of France.

Me : "Bien essaye, mais il se trouve que je suis Francais, et vous devez garder votre chien en laisse. Et votre accent est pourri, vous n'est pas Francaise" (good try, but I happened to be French, and you should keep your dog on leash. And your accents stinks, you are obvioulsy not French)

Stupor from the Dog Owner

Followed a rather animated conversation, in French of course. Of course it did not change the fact that she kept her dog unleashed, but I gave her a hard time, and that was my main goal. Maybe next time she will go somewhere else, or bring a leash with her.

Following this rather nice walk, we ended up at the Farmer's Market, buying some heirloom tomatoes. The farmers thought the first frost are coming in a week or two. l

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Birth of a Birder

Went birding last Saturday on Lake Erie MetroPark, hoping to improve my skills in Raptors Identification. Dropped Diane at a cat show in Allen Park (the location of the show reminded me an infamous Snowy Owl Adventure with Jochen), and went on the beach hoping to improve my skills in Hawk Identification, and specially for the Broadwinged Hawks. Reports from previous days were specially promising, with more than 30,000 Broadwings on Thursday alone.

Alas, the birding Gods (or, to be more specific, Aeolus, the God of the winds) were obviously upset, and declined to give me the number of raptor I statistically deserved on this day. A few dozen Sharp Shinned Hawks, a juvenile Bald Eagle, one Harrier and an Osprey were the only raptors seen between 11h00 and 1h00 this day. On the butterfly side, though, a few monarchs were observed crossing the water toward their sunny destination.

Walking on the boards to go back to my car, I enjoyed the sight of several yellow-rumped warbler (I tried to digibin a few of them), cedar waxwings, as well as a couple dozen pie billed grebe who were feeding close from shore. A group of 300+ double crested cormorants was seen at a distance.

First try at digibinning on a yellow rumped warbler

Premier Essai de digibinning sur une paruline a croupion jaune

A cedar waxwing, the rock star of american birds, is clearly not impressed by a little yellow on a rump

Un Jaseur d'Amerique (Diane et moi les appelons les rock star) n'est evidemment pas impressionne par un peu de couleur

I also tried digibinning on a flying Egret

J'ai ensuite essaye d'ameliorer ma technique sur une Grande Aigrette en vol...

Enjoying the beautiful day, I sit on a bench and reflected on the day when, two years ago and stuck in bed by a terrible back pain, I discovered the world of birding by reading "Kingbird Highway", by Kenn Kaufman. The next day (it took me just one night to finish the book), still dreaming about this transcontinental pursuit of birds (and probably something more than birds), I purchased a field guide, tried to look through my window with a 20$ pair of binocular (I guess I should have called it monocular, as one side was constantly fogged), and discovered a different world......3 pairs of binocular and 2 field books later, here I am, rich of new friends, new experiences, new knowledge, and a new obsession....

Back at home with Diane, we got a good surprise at our feeder. A female Rubythroated hummingbird was resting and pruning at our window. We enjoyed her for 30 mn.

Female Rubythoated Hummingbird, resting during migration

Colibri a gorge rubis, se reposant pendant sa migration