Sometimes, rather than writing 'something' fancy about any one subject, it is best to just let the video speak for itself.
What can I say.....the video says it all. I am not even sure where this was taken but it appears to be an Osprey with a young shark in it's talons......
Sometimes, rather than writing 'something' fancy about any one subject, it is best to just let the video speak for itself.
Simply fascinating and a bit scare.... taken from the naval Pilot's eyes as they attempt to land an aircraft onto an aircraft carrier...in the wind, fog...etc. This is a skill that I would most likely fail in.
One just doesn't wake up one morning and land an aircraft on the high seas on a pretty small deck. Practice....more practice is needed. Sometimes the pilot misses on the first time around and has to feel the heat under his collar as he knows 'all eyes' are upon him during these attempts. Bee bee eyes....all staring at the pilot. Pressure on man....come thru to 'earn your wings on the water'.
Earning your wings is simply not an easy task all the way around. There are three phases of flight school as a naval Pilot.
Phase 1: Prove you are worthy of earning a commission. Competition is fierce....you need to perform ...
Phase 2... Earning your Wings. This is a six week ground school call API (Aviation Pre-flight Indoctrination) where you will study the academics behind flight. Then on to a primary base where you will be given a plane and you start learning in flight
Phase 3... Just because you have earned your wings doesn't mean you are ready. Now you move on to Fleet Replacement Squadron or FRS where you are doing Phase 2 on the water. Here you learn the specifics about a particular plane you are flying landing that object on an aircraft carrier.
So.....today as I came back from my humid walk .....I was sitting outside feeling the wind dry off the sweat. A good place to do this is on the patio as I can observe bird behavior. This time of the year is fun for there is a lot of activity with adults busy 'training' the juveniles in all types of skills. I am just thinking that 'flight' itself is a learned instinct. I don't necessarily see any training wheels on the birds or parachutes for soft landings etc. Flight just seems to occur yet, there are still some phases of flight that need practice. I have listed the three phases I have developed to equal that of naval flight school.
Phase 1 where they are proving they are worth it. This involves learning how to get food from a parent.... growing wings, learning how to tweet etc.... Are they worthy of being a bird? Competition is fierce as some might tweet louder and get more food.
Phase 2....While flight itself might be instinctive this phase is the practice state of earning your basic wings. It doesn't quite last 6 weeks as birds operate under an abbreviated schedule, so please keep that in mind. But in this phase they are taking that first step from nest to branch.... to branch, to branch. Perhaps in the case of a nuthatch (as I witnessed them today) the branch can be substituted for the trunk of a tree and then learning how to walk up and around. So basic flight and landing both occur as does a navel pilot in their phase 2.
Phase 3...earning your wings to eat and beyond. During this phase birds are beyond the practice stage of flight itself and have mastered movement over several long distances and are now being more specific in flight as well as landing. They have their chosen tree and now learn how to navigate around the branches and leaves and as I saw earlier; how to land on suet for food. Landing on suet is not an easy task and especially if the suet is swaying in the wind, like an aircraft carrier is moving on the high seas.
Below is 'actual simulated' video from the eyes of a nuthatch as it attempts to land on the suet holder. It might be a bit scary for you as we are not birds, but this is a phase 3 skill that has to be mastered. Many unsuccessful attempts I have witnessed as they have to not only take into account the wind and movement of the suet holder but flap their wings around the same movement, and put down their landing gear. I mean, wow.....intense. Baby brother or sister is looking on... The wren from the nest is staring. The robin pretends they are not looking but yes, they really are. Intense.... Enjoy the video....
If you have never visited 'my patch', perhaps it is time to do so. My patch is about 15 acres of land although adjacent to a much larger patch of land. Egg Harbor Township has designated a Nature Refuge off of Zion Road, and if you take the right turn from Zion onto School House Road, you will find the Egg Harbor Township Arboretum. It is here at this arboretum that I call, 'my patch'.
This has been a great spring...going into summer. The birds are about. What I am finding fascinating is not the bird species in numbers but the behavior I am witnessing and the growth of all.
For instance.....there is a pair of breeding Cedar Waxwings and over the course of a month or two, I have seen their 'cupped' nest grow from just 'nothing' to a definite 'cup' full of seedlings and small branches and leaves. I have found that to approach I have to do so with stealth for they spook easy. I approach from the wee side (whatever that might be) and slowly come up to them. About midway in the tree the nest exists. Usually at 7-8am both pairs are in the nests, and as of yet....no young. Perhaps eggs? Not sure. But once I turn the bend and am in full view, one of them always flies off. The other might just hide in the nest, a bit out of sight with the exception of the yellow bar on the tail presenting itself to me as if saying 'I am here....do you see me?". Then, without much warning it will find itself perched in a nearby branch; same tree. I can hardly wait for the young to come about, a new season...a new year for many.
Then the rabbits.... I love em...some you can approach and others you can't. I often wonder who will live and who will become food. But as I approach some, they will scurry away and find a hidden gem of a tunnel, gently carved in the bushes. There....they disappear beyond my sight and carefully wait for me to leave.
A few Brown Thrashers will use the entire 15 acres...two juveniles and one adult. They usually are on the ground or near it. The juveniles want to find their own food....and the adult will toss the leaves like a towhee and within a few seconds come out with a chunky grub of sorts.
Many wrens....some House, some Carolina. And by some...I mean...quite a sum. The juveniles fight for the adults attention as a worm or fat insect in mouth, they are fed..... or spit upon. But in either case, the wrens are very active....
Northern Cardinals abound...I have seen a flock of 3-4 males race across any one area. Females abound, skirting around trees usually a step or two behind their partner. The juveniles will bother their elders.... I saw one over a fallen tree which overlaid the trail. The adult male would perch and the juvenile would do like. Like father...like son.
I saw a lone Indigo bunting the other day.....At first I thought to myself it was just the Bluebirds which entwine themselves between the arboretum and the power line open area.... they have a house there you see. But in this case the Indigo was just perched on a limb, just enough time was spent there for me to view and say...'wow, an indigo bunting'
Orchard Orioles abound....some dressed all orange and black...ready for Halloween I suppose while the younger counterparts are in yellow and black. Pretty cool to watch. Try it one day.....
There is one pair of Mourning Warblers.... they like to be more ground orientated and stay in the bushes. I will walk the trail and see a bush wobble and sway, just a bit.....and as I pause in mid-step, I see the Warblers playing in the seed reeds.....
Robins....did I mention robins? Why are robins so tame and use to humans while other birds shy away? But a dime a dozen they are here...adult and young and a blue egg or two spread out on the ground like a star shining in the night.....
When approaching the water...I might see an Osprey take a quick swim and come up with a fish or not.... I might see a Forester's Tern do the same..... or the gulls or geese. A Mallard might do a fly by too if I am lucky.
Catbirds meow and crows caw......Life moves forward day by day here; my patch. I am lucky to see this growth and change. I find myself in awe with each view as I come upon a nest of Red Winged Blackbirds buried within the tall reeds. They will talk to me and pretend that the nest does not exist. They are good at bellowing out and the females, like all of that Red Winged Variety will confuse the newbie into thinking, who are they, or what type of bird is that?
A wild turkey cross my path the other day...... just one. I am sure the others were there looking at me with there face cocked just a bit to gain a good glance at 'to whom' might be here.
Did I mention the Great Crested Flycatcher? I witnessed one the other day in a bush....not sure if he knew enough about me but I did of it. I saw it sit on a branch and by turning it's head, skewed one way or there, it inspected all the branches around .....finding that tasty morsel of an upside down insect hidden on the understory of any one leaf. Then it would hop to another branch, oh...let's say just 4-5 feet and do the same. Again, just like the moon might rise or the sun set.....the same would repeat.
So...my patch.... I do love it.... Same birds. I know who is there. I know where they are to be found and might even take attendance one day as if in school. For now though, I now just relish in not the numbers, but the birds I have come to have known this past spring. Join me.... in my patch.
Well, as you can see....a new layout to the site is being introduced. It wasn't 'planned'.....but as I was on the AAS I was playing with 'features'.... yes, 'features'. A funny thing about 'features' is that if you are just browsing 'theme layout' for the site and then accidentally press 'save'....it saves. So, as you can see we do have a new layout. Live and Learn....jim
It is my father..... I remember him so well, especially in our last years together. We would sit outside on the porch and talk about life. He would reminisce about his time before he was worn down by life and I; I was not even a glint in his eye. Sometimes now, I tear a bit thinking about his passing but you know, I know.....I just know that his leaving only made me a better father, a better grandpa. That is what happens. Good people, well....they create good people.
If you build it, they will come..... If you build who you are 'inside'.... they will come. Remember that.
Like all of us, I am separate from my relatives with COVID19 but luckily someone has built 'something' although how it works or why is beyond my scope. But I can sit and listen and view and pass the day with my girls and families. Wow.... If you build it, they will come and indeed they did.
Today as I video'd with one set, I was drawn outside as the phone in their hands was picked up and plunked down. I found myself staring at the ceiling. But then my daughter cast the phone on the two grandkids and her husband. All, ....were looking outside at the feeder. My oldest grandson had a camera in hand and was capturing images of the feeder, and yes, the birds.
They built it, ....the birds came.
Now, the shots below from her phone and from 'his camera' are not the best.... but does it matter. The photo's show a family, together....looking at a jay on the feeder and enjoying the moment. A young man, barely 8, ....finding the thrill of a camera in his hands and the photo he produced. And you know, that photo, ...that love of birds was because of me. I talk birds and talk cameras and now there he is, away from his friends...school, life as he knew it. There he is, his younger sister grabbing on to his coat-tails, my daughter and her husband; together they are.
Is this Heaven?....
No it's New Jersey.
New Jersey? I could have sworn it was heaven.
Is there a heaven?
Oh yeah, it's a place where dreams come true.
Maybe this is heaven.
I took a small withdraw from life and visited Belleplain State Forest. My hope wasn't overly grand for you see, I just wanted to catch a glimpse of a waterthrush, perhaps on the off chance that it was playing amongst fallen leaves and dipping within reach of the watered area near the 'triangle'. No, I'm no natural fool to pass that way again, as yes admittedly, I have done brief excursions of that same area multiple times and come up naught, there are some that tell me that they are there. So I ' hunted''....once more.
There are some things that offer a deeper engagement to me more-so than others, and one I can speak to is that of 'walking on a country road'. Much akin to the western cowboy nature bred within me and spoken to 'by seeking solitude and contentment of being in solitude', even in a crowd. This is who I am, and a country road offers a display I can't resist. You see, I sense my connection to the earth as feet meet gravel, or sand, or rocks or pebbles. Well, just the other day I was walking another lone road and found a perfectly-shaped rock to kick. That rock and I played 'kick' for what must have been a thousand feet, just prior to 'it' edging away into the scrub foliage to the side. So walking a country road, brings me to my roots...
Once in southeast Arizona I stumbled over a rocky road, chalked with powdered dust...and found an old sweat house abandoned by previous Tohono's tribe members. I sat upon the lined rocks, circled around ashes of a fire-once, and just listened to the wind blow up the canyon road. Pure country. Just myself, alone, in peace. I simply don't want anyone to enter my space.
Or in Alaska I found myself north of Anchorage towards Denali, and crooked my head down a muddy inclined road and saw a boreal Chickadee dissolve into the pine stands.
Or Forest Service Road #147 in Arkansas.... a desolate place with nay wind to break up any silence, as I chased after high-top trees for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.
And yet even in northern Wisconsin I found a country road spotted with cow-manure as left behind to find their way home to the barn. There, just 'off' this country road in boundaries aligned with splashes of stale water was a flock of Harris's Sparrows.
So, Belleplain offered me a chance if not to find the waterthrush, but yet a chance to once more find myself. Though the waterthrush once again escaped my presence, I have a favorite country road in mind when there. Just prior to turning into the main road to Belleplain HQ, I venture further a bit on Route 550. I turn onto Vine Street and come across a narrowness, past a couple of bland abodes and stop at the 'T"....One must now decide a direction, either right or left. I take 'Right.' This allows me to drive down Steelmantown Road and onto MacKay Crossing roads. I get out and walk. I hear rustling behind trees and skip over puddles. I hear the scrunch of wet sand and look for movement along the side. I stop to ponder now and then. I gauge the longness of the shadows spread out over me from that tall tree, blocking my view from the sun. I listen to Cardinals and catch a glimpse of no waterthrush but of blue...of indigo. At last near the bend in the road I startle a Barred Owl who, like me....was looking for that country road void of all comers. It past me in flight and became once more lost in the trees but only 'over there' and not 'here'. Oh well.... We are both once more alone. We are on our country road.
The image, plus the title says it all......
I am so thankful that Forsythe is open.... yes, a lot of people around but I am happy to see young families and kids enjoying the 'outside world'... yes, it might get in the way of birding, but ....creating future birders, more people interested in the environment should be a goal that all of us 'veteran birders' have.
But....I had an 'ouch' the other day. Prickly Cactus is Native to New Jersey and is found at Forsythe, just off the path behind the weather station near the Visitors Center. Lots of Prickly Cactus.
I bent over to take this image and after I did so, the phone dropped in the grass. Not on the cactus but, in the grass. I didn't think anything of it but just picked up my phone and also a very pointed needles with it. I am used to Prickly Cactus as I have some in my yard in Arizona but I usually am careful around it down there. For some odd-reason, subconsciously I must have had the impression that the Jersey variety wasn't as toxic as the SW variety. I can admit when I am wrong, I am not trump.
The common name is "Devils Tongue'...fairly accurate. And the fruit/ flesh of this cactus is edible but you really have to be careful. Can you imagine getting one of those fine needles on your tongue?
When my daughters were young, I can remember we were in a restaurant in Portland, Oregon where they had these cactus in tiny little planters spread around each table. My oldest was curious and wanted to see what they felt like so she touched it. I think she learned a lesson.
Well, so have I....the Prickly Cactus here in Jersey are just as prickly as those in the SW. Trust me.....
''The wind was so cold and dry it gave you goose-pimples' ....Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.
Today was one of those days.....windy, cold....bit at me; it did. But I persevered and completed my 5 mile walk. As I walked, yes....my head might have been more to the ground than normal but I did break my eye's from the earth, well...every once in a while.
At one time I came upon a mockingbird. Now usually this mockingbird likes to hang out a few roofs down but today I noticed it bunched in a tree. As I approached I must have startled the bird for 'off it went'. Not to my surprise though.
As it 'went'.....I took note that it flew off 'down that way', and then edged in a bit, then edged in to the left a bit more and finally made flight for a bush where it lost itself from my eyes. But this startling, which caused flight, made me ponder some as I recalled at a later hour the reason for it's flight 'path'.
Now I have discussed this before in a prior blog as I sat in a car at Shop-rite and sketched out the flight patterns of several birds. Yet here I am once more pondering the same reasoning behind a somewhat incoherent flight pattern only at this time I believe I have at last; 'figured it out'.....
Birds in flight, that is. I looked this up and found some Scientific Analysis which included the calculations of Salt and Zeuthen (1960) and equations such as this:
D = Cd * S * 0.5 * ρ * V2 (Go ahead, figure it out math brains).....But vocabulary such as aerodynamic drag, newton-meters, chemical energy, air density, co-efficient of drag, and on and on. Frankly, I couldn't figure it out written out in some scientific terms. Okay, I give you some proof. Observe the following chart:
So let's skip the intensity of science here for a minute and see my grasp of the situation. You see... it all has to do with energy. The more a bird flies, the more energy and calories it consumes. Pretty simple.
Given that, and given the windy day.....the mockingbird unknowingly performed all of that science in their bird brain. No calculator needed, not tech...no computers and not even a pencil and paper. Just good old fashioned bird-sense.
And what might this look like from a human's perspective. Well, check it out below as I mapped out the issue.
It is all about ENERGY and conserving energy. A bird knows naturally how to conserve energy and I think this drawing above shows exactly this. The Mockingbird had it's initial contact with me at the * in the above map. From that point, follow the #1 flight pattern. The ending area was the bush on the left. Notice the way the prevailing wind was coming. If the mockingbird would have taken flight pattern #2 which is the shortest route from * to Bush, it would have flown directly against the wind, thus using a ton of energy.
But the bird instead took flight pattern #1 which at first looked to me to be haphazard but in reality it was very well 'thought out'.... Perhaps not 'thought out' but just instinct. The Mockingbird, by instinct knew to fly 'cross-wind' as if surfing the wind and taking a ride over much of the real-estate. No or little calories used in the first leg as it flew cross wind. Then it edged to the left a bit to the bush, but not much. The mockingbird actually flew beyond the bush, and then....turned to intersect the movement of the wind. Again, an easy surf.
Think of swimming against the tide in the ocean. By swimming into the current you will simply use energy and get little results. But if you swim cross current, you will eventually make it to the shore. Much like swimming the mockingbird did much the same. Cross wind....cross wind....cross wind..... and finally the bush. The energy expelled to move from * to Bush was little compared to flight pattern #2. The bird knew. The bird saved calories. The bird took all of that 'math' and figured it out way prior to any of us who did that complicated equation. It is all about Energy usage.
What do you think....did I figure it out?
Do this....... Every time you go outside, observe a bit of nature. Whether it is a blade of grass blowing in the wind or a butterfly or ant or a tree. The point is, look at it and ponder it. Why do the clouds move the way they do? Why is it that the weed grows here? Why is it that the rain falls in a particular pattern when first raining ...etc etc. Challenge yourself and pull your head out of computers or the phone. Let your brain wander to that which is natural.
My sister-in-law picked up this two volume set of 'Book of Birds' from a Michigan library near her home and mailed them to me. The image above is the 1939 edition of Book of Birds by the National Geographic Society. The volume set was first printed in 1932, two years prior to Tory Peterson's book in 1934 and even then, Peterson's only covered the Eastern states.
Other books covered the New England States or Birds of California etc....So the National Geographic Society decided there was a need for a book that encompassed the entire United States so they printed this one. And the price was nominal because the cost of the prints, images etc...were assumed by the Society for many previous years so that cost was not built into the price for this two volume set.
It would be a birders dream to be transplanted back in time and land in South Jersey in 1930. Admittedly travel would be a royal pain but what you would see might astound you in 'numbers'. Although in the 30's the Audubon Society existed and membership (who promised to 'not molest birds') was strong, the commercialization and hype around 'birding' was not as intense as we have now. No 'Big Years to tout' or Christmas Counts' or maps and trails and guides, nor camera's that captures birds at 15 fps, or scopes nor binoculars. no eBird. These days were purely left up the the self-proclaimed naturalists without 'certification' or a degree. These days didn't have the ABA floating around or the politics as we see it now.
So to encounter such a treasure as this two volume set.....well, need I say more? While I am not back in time, I am.....I am reading about birding and knowledge of based upon 1932. I see prints made in the 20's and images in grainy BW. Ooo la la.....to say the least.
I have many pages to go but as I perused the book today, multiple feathered friends visited my house. One of them being the goldfinch so I decided to see what did the 1930's offer me in regards to the goldfinch?
In 1930 the Goldfinches species numbered 5, not three as we have today. Back east was the 'eastern Goldfinch'...as we have today although today we just label it as the American Goldfinch. In the 30's we have the Lawrence Goldfinch in the SW states, just as we have today. But back in the 30's we had the Pale Goldfinch in the Rockies, the Greenbacked Goldfinch in the California area and the more abundant Willow Goldfinch back west. For some reason, all of those three have been either combined to make either the Lesser Goldfinch or blend to form todays 'Eastern Goldfinch'....
I am sure the combining of Goldfinches was due to DNA, as much is today but 'yesterday' they were split up mainly due to appearance. What happened to the Pale Goldfinch? Did both the Willow and Green-backed now become the Lesser? ....not sure I am. But a curious question.
Another thing that came to mind as I skimmed thru the volumes and perhaps this is better know to others that myself. But the Peregrine Falcon was at one time called the Duck Hawk. That is a new one on me.
more to come....
Tough Times now......I was reading in The Atlantic Press that mental issues are arising due to many people who cannot handle 'not being around others and situations, stores, etc' ....I feel sorry for them. It is times like these where we need to pull together as a society and not fragment into two. Sadly, I feel we are again, even in a medical situation, starting to fragment into two camps.
Anyhow....to guide you thru some tough times, read this on Stoicism, which is something I have unknowingly been practicing for most of my life. It involves three disciplines (a) Perception, (b) Action, (c) Will. A small except is below of the meaning of Stoicism:
The goal of life is to live consistently in harmony and agreement with the Nature of the universe, and to excel with regard to our own essential nature as rational and social beings.
Stoicism was founded in Athen's, Greece....years ago prior to Plato I believe. Take the time to understand what this is, and if needed....attempt to do so.