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.