Saturday, July 27, 2013

Waiting out the Summer Doldrums

  My loyal following (no one) has been asking for new material since my two most recent posts were rehashed old files from my preblogging days.  Been working almost every day in June and July and not a lot of bird activity around.  Here are a few photos I've taken in the past 5 weeks.
  The first three were taken at the Antenna Farm on Haggerman Rd.

American Goldfinch

Savannah Sparrow
Back in the spring I was driving home from work on West Jefferson south of Vreeland and spotted an Osprey flying over the road carrying a stick.   I looked up and saw that it was headed to the top of a cellphone tower where it had started building a nest.  The next day I was going to pull over and take some photos but a strong overnight storm had blown away the sticks that were there the day before.  Since then the Ospreys reconstructed the nest and appear to have successfully raised a brood.  Late in June I stopped and took a couple of bad photos in poor lighting.

  For a few days around the Fourth of July I saw a leucistic Robin hanging around in front of my neighbor's house.

    Someone in my house keeps letting my cats out during the day.  Last week they appeared to have set up a speed trap for any lead-footed mouse that tried to cross Shed Path Boulevard.

Photographed  a couple of birds after work on Friday morning this week.

Spotted Sandpiper

(un)Spotted Sandpiper

Green Heron


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Exit stage five

     A Monarch Butterfly larva goes through 5 instars (developmental stages) before it matures into its adult phase. Perhaps you have even seen an educational video of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.  Equally fascinating but less hyped is the 15 minute process in which the caterpillar becomes the chrysalis.   While archiving old photos yesterday I came across a folder of still photos taken back in 2005 that I intended to make into a video clip one day.  Today was that day. 

Below is the time lapse video that shows how the caterpillar gets from this

To this.

  Here is the video

  One of the more interesting frames of the video occurs about one third of the way through the pupation process, just as the future Monarch's motion goes from springing like a slinky to a vigorous squirming like Houdini escaping a straight-jacket  At this point the skin-shed caterpillar's form is still discernible while the distinctly butterfly parts are taking shape.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why don't we talk anymore?

    On the weekend of May 17-19 my family traveled to Bloomington, IN to attend the wedding of my oldest nephew and his lovely bride.  By family I mean humans only.  Our three cats had the house to themselves and Roscoe spent the weekend in dog jail.  He was boarded at a kennel where I'm sure he was treated kindly but it was the first time in his 8 years that he spent extended time with non-relatives.
   When we stopped for lunch on the trip down there,  my daughter Hannah said she felt bad about leaving him for the weekend.  I felt terrible that I didn't feel bad at all about dropping him off at the kennel.
    I expected him to be ecstatic when I picked him up that Monday because he drives my wife crazy if I'm late coming home from work.  Alas while I spent the weekend celebrating, Roscoe spent the weekend reevaluating our relationship.   I thought I would be greeted as a liberator(wrong), instead he acted like it was my testimony that put him behind bars(correct).  He would not make eye contact with me.  He just stared at the door and he pulled the leash taut, as he dragged me to the car.
   On the surface he appeared to have emerged unscathed but his barker and whiner were out of service for a couple days after he got home. 
   This whole story has been a lead-in for a six-second video that Hannah shot six years ago.  I came across it yesterday as I was transferring 10 years of digital images stored on  2003-state-of-the-art archival medium (CD-Rs) to a 1tb external hard drive.
   If you could teach your dog to say one word what would it be?
this video is a windows media file and may not play on all devices, if it doesn't play try the link below.
  Talking Dog Video

Friday, July 5, 2013

Banded Northern Waterthrush Revisited

  On May 10, 2013,  I photographed this Northern Waterthrush on the east beach at Magee Marsh in Crane Creek State Park, Ohio. 

     The fashion statement this bird is making with its legwear is that it has been part of a Northern Waterthrush population study.  The colored legbands enable researchers to identify an individual bird without having to recapture it.  Interestingly the colors that the bird is wearing are Red over Aluminum on the right leg and Yellow over Blue on the left leg are similar to the school colors of neighboring state rivals Ohio State University (scarlet and gray) and University of Michigan (maize and blue).   To take things a step further the historical climax of the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio was the Toledo War of 1835-36 .  This bird was photographed very near if not on the actual strip of land that was disputed in that war.

   Anyway.  With the distinct color bands I thought that I should be able to find some information about this bird's story.  Luckily before I left the beach that morning I ran into Kim and Kenn Kaufman who were leading a birding tour.  Kim is the Executive Director and bird bander at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory at Crane Creek.  She explained the significance of the colored bands.  When I got home I fired off emails to two bird banding friends of mine Julie Craves of the Rouge River Bird Observatory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn  and Allen Chartier, they both sent me a link to the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) to submit my sighting.  Online I also found a study of overwintering Northern Waterthrushes in Puerto Rico that used colored bands. I contacted Joseph A. Smith from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center but he said that he had used only two bands per bird.
  At the time I filed my sighting I was given a timetable of 4-6 weeks for the report to be processed.  On June 25, I received an inconclusive reply saying no match had been found.  Taking the matter into my own hands I did a Google Image search for banded Northern Waterthrush and came up with a promising photo of a similarly color banded  Northern Waterthrush  from a study in Wisconsin.  I emailed the researchers involved,  Pat Heglund of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr Paul Rodewald and Dave Slager of the aforementioned Ohio State University.  They also had only applied two colored bands per bird. 
  This past Wednesday after this series of deadends I emailed Julie Craves again, asking her if she had any ideas on how to find out more about this bird.  She said she would post to a birdbanding listserve and see if she could find the bander involved. Two days later she had the details.

Here is the reply she received: 


I can probably claim this bird.

It looks like:2690-99221  R/A  on right leg , Y/B  on left leg, The color bands would be 2.30 mm Darvic bands from Avinet, Red, Yellow and Medium Blue.

    This bird was banded on 8 January 2013 at our site at Jobos Bay, on the south coast of Puerto Rico (17°57'04''N 066°14'49''W) in our interhabitat corridor site, moving between mangrove and dry forest.  She was banded by my subpermittee Ivelisse Rodríguez-Colón, who is both  my doctoral student and the Coastal Train Program Coordinator at the NOAA/PRDNRA  Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (JBNERR).

The season's  data are being edited now and should be submitted via Bandit to the BBL very soon.

Fred C Schaffner

(21719)Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico

   Here is a map of this bird journey, courtesy of Google Maps.

  The route as the Waterthrush flies was 1919 miles( actually it was most likely further, because it is doubtful that it made landfall on the U.S. in North Carolina). 

Thanks to everyone who expressed interest and helped tie up loose ends on this bird.  Special thanks to Julie for going the extra mile when I had given up hope.