Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Up and down week

The week of August 20th was a bona fide roller coaster ride. Monday was the first day of pre-registration for our Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival. Dot Bambach worked to remove any foreseen roadblocks. She had alerted the on line company and requested assistants. She even talked to the CEO and got tips on how to make it smoothly. We knew that at 9 am when we open the sight we were still going to have a glut of folks wanting to get on a few trips. We talked the night before so I could be on the same page as she & Amy when it started. Well best laid plans….. But we made it through it. Because we were ready and called back and forth during the morning we jumped the hurdles of first crunch. Of course St. Catherine’s and Andrews Island closed with the first hour. Little St. Simons was close behind those two.
Driving over to the Jekyll Island Welcome Center there were Barn Swallows dipping and swirling around. Roseate Spoonbills were pink and present. It made the drive a treat.

On Friday I met “the Babes” a team of five astute women. They are Becky Valentine, Cheryl Kanes, Darlene Moore, Lynda Wiggins and Nita Wynn. They came together as a team back in 2005 for the All Women Birding Bust. They felt they would need a name for this new adventure, so Cheryl and Nita, in a brain storming session, came up with the playful name of Babe-breasted Warblers. As they birded around the state the name got shortened to “The Babes”. These women are great ambassador for birding Georgia. It is always a treat to bird with these women so after a tough week I met them under the Sidney Lanier Bridge on Gisco Marina Road for the egret party. If you get to this spot at the right time you can have a wide variety of herons, egrets, storks, gulls, terns, and shorebirds all feeding within a small area. We were there and so were the birds and the babes arrived just as I located three Black-necked Stilts. Tearing ourselves away we were headed to the southend for some shorebirds. It was already hot but we did find a young lesser Black-backed Gull and an adult Common Tern to help us sharpen our identification skills. The heat almost did us in so we headed off to the Bird Sanctuary in the Campground. It was a great time. We ended up with about five different warblers there. Northern Parula, American Redstart, Yellow throated Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Prairie Warbler we added Pine to our list at the amphitheater. All in all it was a wonder day. When I did my list I had 77 species for the day and the delightful company of other birders.
I finished my birding week with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the bottle bush in my own yard. It was a good end to a roller coaster birding week on the coast.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Birding Companion

Today’s blog is not about birds. I will get back to the birds tomorrow. Today’s post is about a birding companion. This companion can proudly state that he went to and thru 29 states of this wonderful union of ours birding. He liked to bird watch and for years there were three of us in various vehicles traveling around to find birds. But Stella who was the Belle of the Ball where ever she went passed over the Rainbow Bridge a few years back. She had traveled through forty states so she tried to teach Hart how to travel with a bird watcher. He, of course, had his own ideas.
Here is about where you will ask me who in the world am I talking about. I am talking about Valentine Restless Hart. Hart is/was an Australians Shepard. I drove to pick him up in Valentine, Ne in the space between Christmas and New Years of 1993. This is the home of my dear life-long friend Connie Wharton. She knew I was looking for a puppy to train for agility. She had some puppies that might do. So as I drove to Valentine, I struggled with a name for the new puppy as I drove to pick him up. Stella was no help; in fact, she was not too thrilled with the wiggling mass of liver red fur. Stella was refined and aloof. As soon as I saw him he became Hart or Hartman. He was an unusual solid red-brown color. It reminded me of the fleet-footed deer of Europe. The males of those deer are called harts. Hart had his name. Connie & I added Valentine for the town where he was born. Restless was chosen because all of Drifter’s puppies had to a name that fit the wanderers that Drifter implied. So Valentine Restless Hart weasel his way into both Stella’s & my heart.
Hart was not a perfect dog if truth be told far from it. He was to be my great companion/agility dog. Hart turned out to be too protective & too demanding for that but he taught me so much more about life than games. His very protective nature scared the living daylight out of most folks. Hart taught me steadfastness and patience. Over the 13 years Hart travel with me, he never caused any trouble. He never chased a bird on the beach. He watched White-throated Swifts in Utah, McCown’s Longspurs in Colorado, and he watched Scarlet Tanager in our own back yard. In our travels together I never ask him his life list but it was up there. He sat in four states at once. He went through the geographic center of North America, the geographic center of the lower 48 states. He was a challenge and he was a champion. Valentine Restless Hart crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this morning. He will be missed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Swallows of August

Summer time heat and humidity has settled over the Golden Isles of Georgia. There are pop-up rain storms. Folks just do not want to go out in the heat. I do not disagree but well. I grew up in the south east US. "August is hot" is a fact like water is wet….life goes on. For me August is a time of wonder and discovery. Birds are beginning to move around. Some of these birds are driven by hormones others are driven by food. For me the fascinating birds are swallows and this is the time to watch them. In August I like to be at the south end of Jekyll somewhere from 8 am to around 10-10:30 am. There are times when the Barn and Bank Swallows are swirling around. There can be Cliff Swallow and Purple Martins mixed in. I would love to take a chair and just sit and be amazed.
After the swallow show I like a change of pace and go to the Jekyll Island Campground. It is good to sit in the swing. Last Thursday there were three North Parulas back and forth at the bird bath. There two young ones looking sleek and one male who was not so sleek. Also I had Yellow-throated Warblers, Painted Buntings, Indigo Bunting, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Summer Tanager, just to name a few of the birds that were coming into the sanctuary.
So just because it is hot don’t let that stop you from going birding, just remember to go slow, drink lots of water.
Don’t forget pre-registration for the Georgia Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival starts Monday August 20, 2007. Good Birding