Wordless Wednesday

February 11, 2009


Wordless Wednesday


Savage’s Ditch Snowy Owl

December 30, 2008

I received an e-mail from Michael O’Brien today that contained the following photos of a snowy owl. He saw the bird at  the Savage’s ditch dune crossing north of the Indian River inlet, on his way home from participating in his home state of Maryland’s CBCs.

I am delighted we can add this bird as a count week species for the Rehoboth CBC. Which by the way had a lincoln’s sparrow, brown pelican and the black bellied whistling duck at silver lake along with all the regular suspects for a final total of of 136 species.  I will be going after the bird in the morning…wish me luck.


photo by Michael O'Brienphotos by Michael O’Brien

In case you don’t know how to get to Savage’s Ditch click here to go to the Delaware Birding Trail website and complete directions.

birds breed bad publicity

December 6, 2008

While driving to the “Flying Wild” training a few days back I found myself behind a large SUV.  In itself this is not so unusual.  Neither was seeing a bird on a sticker on the tailgate, although it was weird it was a Piping Plover.  As I pulled up to the red light behind the SUV I realized just what message the sticker was trying to convey….

Tastes like chicken?

Have the protection measures stirred up some bad emotions?

The sticker stated that Piping plover tastes like chicken. This is not the first sticker I have seen in opposition to piping plover nesting habitat protection. I have seen one other anti-piping plover sticker. That sticker was on the back of an Apple Electric Company vehicle– a piping plover inside a red circle and slash across the picture.  We all know that to be in universal NO sign. After google-ing Piping plover sticker–I found it is a widspread problem, from  Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras from the Hamptons to the Outer banks and all along the eastern seaboard. Upset people sporting stickers and wearing t-shirts to protest the amount of beach set aside in summer for the nesting needs of piping plovers.  One of the googled articles I found was a man who debunked the idea that piping plovers really do taste like chicken he had lived with shorebird trappers in south America and told why they would not be eaten on their migration south.

When I saw the first sticker on the Apple Electric truck I called  the number just above the sticker to ask why they didn’t want any piping plovers.  The woman was very apologetic and said it was only a joke.  She stated that her husband, the owner of Apple Electric, thought it was funny.  I explained I was new a to the area and a birder and why would anyone not like the piping plovers.  She was mortified to have to answer my call.  I expect her husband got a good tongue lashing that night.

I know it is a drag for me to go to Cape Henlopen State Park and not be able to get to the point to view birds because it has all been roped off for piping plovers.  But I understand the birds and their issues.  I can imagine how I would feel if I was ignorant of the birds and their needs and I wanted to fish and all my tackle was too heavy to carry.

I learned a lot doing this post & I hope never to taste piping plover.  I’ll stick to duck.  I’d also like to thank everyone who does obey those little string fences for helping the piping plovers.

This is an exhibit at the Ward Museum where kids can stand on a stool to measure their wingspan compared to many other birds.

This is an exhibit at the Ward Museum where kids can measure their wingspan compared to various birds.

This week I took the Flying Wild educators training course at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art. The Maryland Park Service and Maryland Coastal Bays along with the Ward Museum are city partners in bringing this program to the Mid-Atlantic region.  Flying Wild is kin to the Project Wild and Project Wet programs–basically, these are resources to help educators by providing them with games and activities that are able to fit into lesson plans incorporating math, science, and writing.

Flying Wild is specifically focused on birds and birding. The book even has all you need to know to put on a birding festival in a school.  The games we played were very creative.  One was Design a Bird. We were given balloons and pipe cleaners and colored paper and other crafty ingredients to build a bird.   Once we designed the bird we were told to describe its habits and where it lives, what it eats, and its behavior.  It was a fun way to think about all aspects of bird biology.

The girls from Assateague National Seashore designed an anklebiter bird that frequents visitor centers, eats dead skin cells and lint, and has very large broods because the offspring are always getting stepped on by visitors. The call for their bird was the sound of chimes just like one hears upon entering a visitor center.  Funny!

One of the other activities was a migration flyway game where you are the bird migrating. You picked a bird species to be, then rolled a giant foam die to move ahead along laminated papers–a giant board game! Along the way you might run into obstacles such as tall glass buildings. If you collided with one, you hurt your head and had to count to 45 before moving again. You might get caught in a bander’s mist net, where you would wait to get an orange plastic band before advancing.  Many of my fellow travelers were eaten by cats or shot by BB guns.

There were also fantastic feeding spots to help the weary travelers reach their hoped-for destination.  At the end we discussed who made it and who didn’t and why. I was a horned grebe and I made it alive to my breeding grounds. I felt it was a fun, effective way to help kids understand the perils of migration. Then there was a birding Jeopardy game. It was amazing how competitive we all were.

When  you complete the course you receive a manual to take home as well as a disc of all the printouts from the book.  This is a cool new addition because no matter how hard you try to get a good copy out of the book on the copy machine it never is perfect. With all the pages on disc all you do is print and copy. Technology is grand.

I am very excited to hold my first educator training course. Helping kids think about birds is one of my passions–the Flying Wild program makes a bit easier and more fun.

Steroscopic Vision Game

Bird versus Human Vision Game

Before the green flash

During our Big Sit at the Cape Henlopen Hawkwatch this year just before sunrise Jeff took a break from counting birds to set up his camera hoping to catch the green flash— a very noble but difficult goal. We all patiently waited. FLASH! It was an instant. A wow moment. I don’t think Jeff got the photo but it was an amazing sight that is in my mind’s memory card. That is one of the best things about being married to a fantastic tour guide. He adds so much to my world.  He not only gives me the moon but shares with me the stars and planets and various celestial phenomenon.

Jeff scans for birds during the Big Sit 2008.

Jeff during the Big Sit 2008.

Visit Skywatch Friday–it’s a cool blog to visit to see many other celestial photos from around the globe.  I find it fascinating to see other viewpoints on something we all share.  Enjoy.

Wild Delaware…Wife Delighted

November 20, 2008

wild-delaware-coverWild Delaware is a coffee table book designed to promote the vanishing wonders of Delaware. Kevin Fleming–no relation–is a slower Delaware native that work fro National Geographic for many years. He decided to embark on this project to help other people see the beauty that lower Delaware has to offer. It is a fine tribute to this small state. The essays by Jim White, Derek Stoner, Jean Woods, and of course Jeff are a perfect compliment to the gorgeous photos.

For information on how to order a signed and numbered copy from the Wild Delaware website or come see us Saturday November 22, at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth for a book signing and meet the photographer and the other contributors.