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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Let me tell You


A picture of patience, as he waits while I count the birds

A story from long years ago.

It happened on this day.

 I arranged for brother Matt to take my place for evening milking at the farm where I helped milk 160 Holsteins twice a day. There was no need for my bosses to know why, so I didn't tell them.

A couple of friends went with us to the justice of the peace outside Johnstown and stood beside us as we swore our futures to one another. No one knew except us, those friends, and Matt,

They took us out for Chinese after. Sure was tasty.

Thus began 39 years together.

We never had a lot of money, but in between the headaches of working on a farm with three generations scrambling around each other to get things done, we sure had a lot of fun.

 Sundays between chores we hit all the free museums in the area....and in this place of Revolutionary War history, innovative commerce, and indoor and outdoor science there are plenty...or went to the creek in Schoharie to rummage around the rocks for brachiopod fossils.

We went to all the fairs on a state fair pass, and showed cows and ponies and sometimes chickens at Fonda, Altamont, and the Cooperstown Junior Show. So much fun bitd.

It's been such a rewarding life and I am grateful for it. I hope we have a few more years together before they bring the curtain down.

Happy Anniversary Ralphie. Sure do love you.

Happy Father's Day

To the father of my children

And fine fathers in my life

And to good men who went before, leaving hollows in our lives.

Hope you all have a wonderful day without too many embarrassing neckties and unexpected power tools.

Love you all. 

***there are uncles who are not pictured, because I don't have photos of them, but they are and were not loved less because of that. 

Friday, June 14, 2024

Flag Day


Due to the date of my birth I have always felt a special connection with, and a great affection for, our nation's valiant flag.



Clay-colored Sparrow from last year
Didn't get any pics this year, alas

Did something new yesterday. There is a group called Thursday Birders from the bird club to which I belong, Hudson Mohawk Birders. They hit destinations all over the area nearly every week looking for birds of interest. I have always wanted to participate, but between terminal shyness, acute introversion, and geographical ignorance, have watched from afar.

This week they visited our home county and went to two places where we have been stopping for years. They were in search of Upland Sandpipers and Clay-colored Sparrows, a pair of rarities that continue to be found in two areas in the county.

It was great! I have the hardest time screwing myself to the people-meeting sticking point, but I am so glad I tagged along. Both species were found and quickly and gave good views and experiences for all.

For me one of the high points was hearing the continuing song of the sandpipers. Being about half blind I rely heavily on songs and calls to find birds. It helps a great deal in retaining calls to actually hear the real bird, as opposed to a recording of same, in the field, and often. Plus the call is a jungley sort of delight and so enjoyable to me. (If we are FB friends, check out the Cornell video on the arctic songs of the various sandpipers that breed there. You will be glad you did. UPDATE: Here is a link to it.Here is a link to it. )

Also, the question was raised as to whether the fluttering, looping flights with song ongoing were courtship rituals. Although it is late in the season, they did fit the description of courtship in Birds of the World, so....could be....but then again, only one bird was involved so maybe not.

We originally found the Clay-colored Sparrows on Dingman Road back in 2020 but when the field where they were nesting was cultivated for corn they moved up to Salt Springville Rd. I personally could not find them again, but another birder, who is really good at that stuff, refound them last year and they are back in the exact same spot this year. They are pretty little birds with nicely distinctive songs...for sparrows anyhow...and obliged by singing and flying right out to the group.

I was hoping that someone with more experience than myself would find a Grasshopper Sparrow, as both places have had them in the past, but no luck with that. I am kicking myself...the second I got out of the car at the Uppie stop, I heard an insect-like buzzing right next to the car. Why did i not record it right then and there? Dunno, but it was gone when I got back from chasing sandpipers. Oh, well, maybe another day.

Anyhow, it was fun and for icing on the cake the boss and I went up to Hillside greenhouse afterward and bought ALL the flowers. Good Lord, what was I thinking!?! Now I have to plant them all, and the gardens and pots are already full of stuff...but, oh, my, they are so pretty. Ralph even picked out a couple of boxes of marigolds for the front yard round bed (left behind from a kiddie pool the girls bought for Peg. It killed the grass and I jumped right on that handy dandy bit of bare ground.)

Have a good one! It just stopped raining so the garden calls.

Places everyone
Oh, wait, there are no places. lol

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Wild America

The boss took me birding this morning
, the first normal morning trip since his surgery. We checked out the boat launch, where not much was happening, so we went down to Yankee Hill Lock.

There is a little outcrop where I stand to scan the river to the east...you can see quite a way. I spotted some sort of large water bird through the bins, but couldn't tell what it was, so I set out hiking fast down toward the Eagle Trail.

I soon found the bird, which was an immature Common Loon, not a bad find for the river this time of year. Once out on Eagle Trail I decided to try for the Louisiana Waterthrush, which other birders found there last year.

Amazingly I found it right away. It was easily recorded singing and then showed itself right next to the trail. I was peering through the camera, intent on at least a reference photo as it hopped up and down a trailside log. 


A loud, emphatic snort just down the trail was followed by a speedy rustle of leaves. I glanced up.

Good thing, as a large White-tail fawn was racing full-tilt right at my legs. I barely stepped out of its path before it was past, literally inches from my knees, exactly where I had been standing a fraction of a second before.

Right behind it ran its mother.

I jumped into the bushes off the trail. Deer can be pretty fierce and I was between her and the fawn. My life kinda flashed before my eyes. At least Ralph knew where I was as I had just called him to tell him I would be out of sight while I chased the loon.

Fortunately she decided to turn around before she got to me, but she pogoed back and forth through the bushes a few yards away, snorting and coughing and flagging her tail.

My heart was pounding pretty good as I headed back down the trail toward the car park, hoping the fawn had turned off and doubled back.

Eastern Kingbird on Nest

Got some decent pics of the loon, but not so hot of the waterthrush. I wasn't a bit bored though.

There IS a Louisiana Waterthrush in this pic...
that brown blob there

Monday, June 10, 2024


I was pretty excited yesterday.
I've been participating in the NY Breeding Bird Atlas since it started five years ago. It's been an amazing experience, learning new behaviors, new ways of doing things, and a wonderful number of new things about the birds we see every day. (Many thanks to the regional coordinators who have guided me though a lot of getting it wrong, until I mostly get it right now.)

Anyhow, I thought when I went out to count birds on the farm that I was looking for confirmed species number fifty for my personal count. Last thing I knew I had found 49 species that were breeding in the Randall CE block, where we live, which is a priority block for the atlas.

I hoped if I really put some effort in I could find just one more and make it an even fifty.

Much to my delight I encountered a family of Eastern Bluebirds, lots of fluttering blueberry babies and a hard-working set of really pretty parents. I was nearly sure they hadn't been confirmed yet, and turns out they had in fact only been coded "probable".

When I came to the house I checked the Randall page and sure enough, bluebirds were newly confirmed. However, I also discovered that earlier this year we confirmed Common Ravens when Ralph and Liz found a nest on our cross-mow hay elevator...species number fifty. (52 species overall in the block, as House Sparrows were confirmed by another birder we know).

So now it's 51 found by Friers, mostly right here on the farm. Happy dance!

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Going Buggy

Red Admiral Caterpillar

Technically these are not all bugs, but they are certainly creepy crawly things. Walking around the farm and birdie hot spots you see all sorts of critters. Last time I went up the hill I saw the results of the incredible influx of Red Admiral butterflies this spring...there were black caterpillars in every stage of development everywhere I walked.

Black Swallowtail fancy dance

Birding has been heavily curtailed lately by all the appointments, pills, and people involved in getting Ralph through his heart surgery last Wednesday.

Box Elder Bug larvae They gather in clusters of a thousand 
or so, working hard to grow up and infiltrate our house this winter.
Wish they would stick to eating Box Elder trees

And that is all right. He made it through the operation and seems to be doing well so far. I am driving...in a state of terror...but driving, everybody everywhere they need to go. It isn't pretty, but at least I have a really cool car, as Alan and Amber sold us their Blazer. They needed a bigger car for all the kiddo gear they need to haul. It is truly a sweet little car and someday I may learn to work all the bells and whistles. Meanwhile, I am astonished by how terribly the state of getting from place-to-place has deteriorated since I was a regular car pilot. People are NUTZ! And getting nutzer.

Carpenter Bee (I think) eating our house
One larva at a time.

I took myself out birding one morning this week, just down to the river. It is a lot less fun alone...

After a sweet stretch of perfect hay weather we are back to monsoons. It was great to see the bales piling up and the wagons of sweet-smelling winter feed rolling up to the barns around town. 

But now, ugh! Anyone need some rain, come and get it...one size fits all, first come, first serve. We have plenty to spare. My sis-in-law reported 4 inches in a one-day dump of the rain gauge. 

Teeny tiny yellow spider, perhaps a Yellow Crab Spider?

I would like to get a couple of quarts of strawberries to make jam. Ralph can have just a little bit with his breakfast and he really loves it. However, I hate to try to can jam when it's been raining like this. It is hard to find berries that aren't covered with sand and hard to get the sand off if you buy them like that. Hope we don't miss the season.

Anyhow, hope you are all doing well and having a nice summer. I have all the nice I could ask for just having Ralph home safe from the scary thing. 


Hummingbird Moth, maybe a Strawberry Clearwing
Anyone who knows these bugs...feel free to chime in
and enlighten me. Thanks