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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bird Sounds

 

Ovenbird

I received an email yesterday from the Macauley Library at Cornell that amazed and delighted me. It said, in part, "Dear Marianne, This summer we released Sound ID in the Merlin Bird ID app, and we wanted to thank you for the part you played in this release. 3 of your recordings were used to train Merlin to identify bird sounds based on their spectrograms. Thank you for sharing your media! We could not have done it without your support."

Wow. I have this small and mostly pointless project of populating our home county's illustrated checklist on eBird with as many photos as possible, as well as a few sound recordings. With just a camera, and now thanks to Merlin's new bird sound recognition feature, my phone, to collect them, the quality is not great, as compared to the many dedicated folks who use real sound equipment. (Warning, some of the photos are really bad too, but you can generally ID the bird with them.)

Still, this has been fun for me, and a personal learning tool as well.

To know that a few of my amateur recordings were among the thousands used to train the AI was a really nice side benefit of my pretty much all-consuming hobby. And now I want to go out and record something. 


Fledgling White-breasted Nuthatch

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Sunday Stills....Where you Sit

 


I am not averse at all to sitting and this is one of my favorite spots....when the wrens will let me that is. They hatched a second batch of little ones this week and are downright snobbish about who comes out here.

For more Sunday Stills.....


This is of course not my photo
However it looks as if I liked sitting
there too.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Triggered

 


Found out what is going on around here. Somebody triggered the Yakushima Rain Ducks.

I found a little family of them where my garden flooded last night and you can just bet there are thousands...maybe millions...more out there.

No doubt it will be all over the news once people spot the little pests. 



In the Jungle

 

What home feels like

*Update...99% chance of rain tonight

I expect that any day now a troupe of monkeys will swing by on the local grapevines oohing and scratching, as they admire Tarzan's mighty jungle call.

It is so wet now that even though I am indoors and have not been exposed to any actual precipitation...so far today that is.... my skin feels clammy and damp.

You probably know that it has been wet here. Only went two or three days this whole month without measurable precipitation. It rained most of June as well.

Last week one storm was so bad that Fonda, right across the river, flooded horribly, closing both state roads for hours and destroying a lot of people's properties and possessions. It took out our driveway, which is even at the best of times long and arduous, as well. The boss spent hours repairing it with the skid steer.

It didn't even have time for the gravel to settle when....

It did it again.

Worse.

Last time Liz couldn't get her car down the drive until Ralph fixed it. This time she couldn't get up at all, had to park at the bottom of the barn driveway and walk up and over. Our vehicle, which is a large, heavy, 4-wheel-drive SUV barely made it.

More hours fixing, last night, almost impossible because the gravel is so saturated as to be nearly liquid.

I don't know how much it rained overnight, but the new little garden I built this spring is under water. The entire covered porch is drenched all the way to the back wall, which has NEVER happened before, and the greenery along the driveway has drooped into a sad and soggy tunnel. The area is swathed in muggy, oily, fog, that looks, smells, and feels awful.

The worst of it is, now that the ground is this saturated, every day that it gets warm and then cools off in the afternoon is going to bring still more rain. That's how it works.


At least the corn likes it

Ralph hasn't made a bale of hay in weeks and won't be able to until this pattern changes, which doesn't look to be coming any time soon. Several inches of water on all the fields and I am sure the tractor would sink to the frame if he ventured out there.

We watched a neighbor farmer trying to chop third cutting yesterday. They almost got the field done, but ended up having to quit and leave it.

I believe that we need to build a gigantic fan and blow all the water west and north and south where it could be useful and dry out our region before we start to see those monkeys and wild men swinging on our vines.

Or maybe dolphins swimming in our gardens. 


Doesn't it look innocent?

Friday, July 23, 2021

Fungally Yours


Stumbled on a wonderful state-marked trail the other day
, right next to one of my very favorite in-county birding spots. There is a pair of closed gates at the entrance and I always thought that, like most of the side paths on Sara Lib Road, it was a private lane.



However, the other day I walked up to the gate, where I found state forest markers and red trail markers. Color me excited! 



The trail starts right above the big swamp across from the quarry where we park while I peruse the cattails for the resident Virginia Rails, occasional Common Gallinules, and whoever else might be home on any given day.

I didn't walk far on the trail, as Ralph couldn't see me, and I didn't want him to worry and look for me. Also, although it was deliciously cool in the woods, I was afraid that he might get hot in the car...and he did, so I was glad I cut my walk shorter than I might have liked.



However, even in the little time that I had, I had a wonderful encounter with some Blue-headed Vireos. The male sang and sang until he decided that he didn't like me much.

What a scolding I got then!



With all the rain the woods was dotted with all sorts of fungi, many of which I hadn't seen since my Adirondack hiking days, which were a long, long time ago. Some shown like little lanterns in the softly decaying leaves and litter.


Not a fungus, but I love this log

I cannot wait to go back when I can take more time to hike farther down the trail. Meanwhile it was a thrill to stand many feet above the swamp, where I could look down into it. Although it was high noon that day, so things were quiet, I am hoping for an early morning visit sometime soon.



Anybody want to walk it with me? Slowly...so as not to miss any birds? And softly, softly, catchee monkey? Or maybe a Sora someday...



Thursday, July 22, 2021

Sharing

Blue Jay kids are brats

 
The Sitting Porch. Each year birds of one species or another, and even sometimes more than one at a time, nest on the porch where I grow my houseplants in summer...and where I like to sit and watch the valley and observe the occupants of the yard.

With some birds there is no problem at all. Last year a Mourning Dove used an old robin nest and never once flew, even when I sat a few feet away.

American Robins are utterly flighty and ridiculous though, and I hate it when they nest on the pillars. Silly things will not be on the porch at the same time as I am and make a big noise about it too. I usually water the plants quickly and leave them to it. Kind of annoying though, as I like to actually, you know, use, the porch.



No robins this year, but instead a pair of House Wrens. I let them enjoy their fiefdom with their first nest, in the little white house, which Matt and Lisa gave me for my birthday many years ago. For being just a decoration that one has an amazing history of having been nursery to Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and many, many broods of House Wrens.



However, when they came back just a very, very, very short time after fledging their first brood and built a nest in the other box...the red one, a Christmas gift from Alan and Amber...also not intended for birds...I got irritated.

Okay, you guys. You can nest on my porch twice, but this time I am not giving in. I will sit out here when I want to and you can just deal.


Look closely...you can see Mama's beak
at the bottom of the hole


It was as if they read my mind. Instead of panicking every time I wanted to water the banana tree or the petunias, the little hen soon stayed right in the box peering out at me. If she is out to lunch, as long as I sit very still, she comes right up on the porch and settles on her eggs.

D├ętente is a wonderful thing!


Feed me, Ma!
Feed me!

Along with that happy development, the Blue Jays brought their fledglings in to the feeders for the first time this summer. And after a couple weeks of the very best goodies being served in the little feeder in front of that porch, they even come in and let me photograph them.


Wot!
No peanuts?

Yay!



And yes, I am still feeding. A top notch bird expert I follow feels that the bird illnesses (mostly to the south of us) are insect treatment related rather than infectious, and as everybody local seems healthy and happy, I will continue until I see a reason to do otherwise...stop spraying cicadas, will ya?


American Goldfinches
have never been too worried
about my presence on the porch