“There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.” ― Albert Camus

Friday, October 8, 2021

"Birder 2, this is Birder 1, over."

When we are birding and separated, communication is often an issue. Silence being golden, hollering, whistling and pointing has proven to be less than satisfactory. I shopped around for electronic attention getters - buzzers, whistles, etc. I finally settled on these little walkie-talkies for $32 a pair. Really little more than toys, the reviewers complained about lack of range, which shouldn't be an issue for us. 

Now we have to review our radio protocol. "Breaker, breaker, good buddie? ", or the more formal military radio protocol, "Birder 1, this is Birder 2"? 

The only downside so far is that white and blue really ain't birder colors, but they missed the market niche and olive drab isn't an option. 

Birder 1: over, and out.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Spotted Towhee

I have seen an Eastern Towhee in our yard once thirty years ago. Towhees are about as dressed up as a sparrow can get, so when a pair showed up today I was excited, snapping photos with one hand, calling Lorna on the cell with the other. Fixated on the male😖, I got some nice shots, as did Lorna.

(Addendum: This has proven to be an out of range Spotted Towhee.)

Lucky boy, 

New Birding Venue

When the spring or fall Warbler migration hits I like to sit down by the Growlery to take photos. Lorna prefers looking down from the high deck steps. This fall she began sitting on the deck walkway outside our bedroom door. This puts her eye level and very near birds in the trees above the water and gives her a close top view of the stream. 

She was squatting down, shooting between the deck uprights, which was awkward and a potential back killer. So her husband, a retired designer and general putzer, made a discreet gate - virtually invisible, kid and dog friendly when closed and latched. The view below is of the gate closed. What gate you ask?

Below, the view with the gate open. She has a low camping chair and now her view of the trees and stream below are unobstructed. 

If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy. 
- handy Gunnar 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Labor Day Birds

 Labor Day. Many of the family young bucks labored on resurfacing our driveway while I putzed in the garden. Technically our neighbor Tim may not be family, but he is in the true sense. He has stood up in family weddings and is there when we need him. As the project wounded down he came down to collect his pay - two beers. As we talked I took photos and identified the birds for him. Here are some of them, including a first of season Cape May Warbler.

Cape May

- Gunnar

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Raining Warblers (and a Vireo or two)

A small number of the hundreds of photos I took on 8/25/2021 at the water feature of 1410 in the Oakwood neighborhood of Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Yellow-throated Vireo

Spring Warbler migration progress can be monitored online by the satellite images. Fall is difficult to know exactly when they will come through, but I believe more consistent for us year to year. In Spring they seem to be in a nervous hurry to get to breeding grounds. Some years they catch a front and blow right over us. In Fall they seem maybe a little more laid back, just resting, feeding, moving on down the line to the tropics. Nothing  scientific, just a feeling I get watching them. 

- Gunnar

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

More Warblers From Yesterday.

Golden-winged Warblers

This is my favorite seasonal backyard Warbler. It is beautiful and becoming rarer. 😢Historically they nested in the Appalachians and northern tier states west into Minnesota. Now due to habitat loss and a complicated relationship with its cousin the Blue-winged Warbler, it nests primarily in northern Minnesota.  

If migrating birds can remember and return to the same local nesting location, maybe they remember the pit stops along the migration route. Maybe? For whatever reason, we have gotten them every Spring and Fall for a number of years. Yesterday they showed up right on schedule. A couple of rest days and they will be on their way again to Central America. 

Amazing 31oz bits of blood, bone, gristle and feather.

-  Gunnar

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Canada Warbler

 Lorna's cousin Fritz stopped over to drop off a bag of mixed prairie grass seed to help fill and anchor the garage back slope that I have been planting with small trees and shrubs. He is not a birder as such, but it hard to ignore a Redstart hopping about. Oh yeah, my first of season Chestnut-sided Warblers today too,

The real star was the male Canada Warbler ... and the Golden-winged Warbler! that showed up high but refused to come down after I spilled my beer all over my pants.  A Golden-Winged is reason to get up and go sit and wait tomorrow.

Be well, stay young,