Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Changing Landscape

I’ve done a lot of fishing, not enough really, in my time, and I’ve used, even abused, just about every excuse there is for not catching fish. So when I find a new excuse, I feel it my duty to share with others, just in case you’ve used all the old ones and even your spouse no longer believes you when you said you got skunked.
Today’s excuse happened on the second fishing day of my somewhat irregular regular trip to the East Coast in lust of the Striped Bass, a worthy opponent. Yesterday hardly counts as a fishing day since I was only on the water for about an hour. I’ve learned, however, to some people, just having a rod in your hand counts as time fishing if there is some other chore that needs doing.
So today was more of an all-out effort. Having learned that stripers fish best on the incoming tide, it was pleasant knowing that I did not have to get to my favorite spot before noon. Time for plenty of coffee, reading and contemplating the vagaries of life before the battle. I got to the spot about an hour into the changing tide, lined up my rod, checked the clouds for wind direction, then had a minor coronary at the sight before me.
Someone, since last I was here, has built a house smack in the middle of my favorite fishing spot! How can this be? It’s not a houseboat or floating casino. It’s a functional house in the middle of—well I can’t tell you where since it’s a secret spot. There it sits, picture postcard pretty.
Truth be told, even on my best day I could not hit it with a cast. Maybe fishing buddy Tom could hit it with his double-hauling whatever cast. But then what would we do with a hook up on the front door?
And that’s why I didn’t catch any fish today. Honest.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Childhood Memory

Early this morning I caught myself channeling my great grandfather, Ed Court, whose name, in-part, I carry, and who could be celebrating his 134th birthday this year, had he lived.
Friday is trash day in our neighborhood. I went to retrieve the trash can (Is it still a can when made of plastic?) and decided to hose the thing out— just as I remember Grandpa Court doing some 60-plus years ago.
Since all things, real and imagined, are attached, the trash can memory brought back other memories of great grandpa: always spitting chewing tobacco on his worm when baiting a fishhook, using turpentine to cure all external cuts and bruises, plus his staunch Republican politics.
These things I can remember, yet am challenged to find my car keys …

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It’s All About Layout

Northern Parula, Magee Marsh, May 13, 2011

Dear Readers:
Several faithful followers have commented about the layout of the blog they’ve been receiving since signing on as camp followers—or whatever the proper term might be. I, too, have been receiving mywittsend.blogspot.com via eMail and the layout really stinks. It’s a pain in the neck, sort of like the experience for this Northern Parula I photographed last week, struggling for a bug (of all things). You should not have to struggle to read the blog. In the lower left corner of that eMail blog you received there’s an unsubscribe block to check if you want to make a quick departure.
Or, you can hang in there as a follower if you choose, however, I’d just make checking the blog on a regular basis part of my daily routine rather than using the eMail notification. I’m checking to see if there’s a way for you to just get a short eMail note telling you something new has been added to … I’m also contacting the BlogSpot folks to see what can be done about that lousy layout. I guess it’s the price you pay for a free service.
In any case, thanks for reading and thanks for the great comments. It all helps to make for a better blog.

Clyde the Guide

That feels better. Any questions?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Name Says it All—Usually

Black-throated Blue Warbler

It was the Biggest Week in American Birding for a lot of reasons, starting with the fact that the week was a 10-day-long celebration of bird migration. Big crowds and some of the Big super-stars of the warbler family in Eastern North America for entertainment.
It was fun listening to the many conversations surrounding us, especially the new birders who most frequently asked, “What kinda warbler is that?” Most are easy answers, like Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Chestnut Sided, etc.

Chestnutsided Warbler

Some names don’t always fit, like Prothonotary Warbler. I heard someone call it a “lemon head,” which sort of fits.

Prothonotary Warbler

Susan and I did an unofficial survey of license plates in the parking lot and found only 10 states missing. We’ll give Hawaii a pass. We saw two cars from Alaska! People from all over the globe migrated to northwest Ohio for a few days of intense birding. We talked with a wonderful group of birders from Scotland. I even spoke with a woman who works in Antarctica and came up for the event.

More than one person wondered if the event was not getting too big for its own good. I think we’re safe until the politicians get wind of the gathering and the fact that about 60 million people in this country consider themselves bird watchers—and we vote.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Catch the Wave on America’s North Coast

Blackburnian Warbler

When surfers talk about memorable moments on the water, conversation usually involves catching the wave. Same for birders, except we do it on land—and keep our clothes on, most of the time.
Our talk is about catching the wave of migrating birds—hitting the right spot at the right time. It’s tough to do, maybe a bigger challenge than that faced by surfers. Ours involves wind and weather, fronts and precipitation, plus a healthy dose of luck. Getting into the right spot is the easiest part.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Yesterday at Crane Creek in northwest Ohio (chosen as one of those spots in the world you have to bird before you die) was not necessarily a wave day, however, it was a damn good day for birding. It has been so long since many people up here have seen the sun, I watched several take pictures of the unfamiliar yellow globe in the sky to show their grandchildren some day.

Blanding's turtle and bullfrog in standoff. Turtle won when frog blinked.

Susan and I have had bigger days on the famous boardwalk at Magee Marsh, only two hours from home for us. It’s just that for many reasons, yesterday’s 14-warbler species, plus another 60 or so non-warbler species felt good. It was good to get out in the sunshine and see familiar feathered friends, as well as human friends.

Eastern Screech-owl Checks his camo outfit

If you haven’t heard, this is the Greatest Week In American Birding (www.greatestweekinamericanbriding.com), in-part sponsored by the indefatigable folks at Black Swamp Bird Observatory (www.bsbo.org). If you check its Web site, and that of author Kenn Kaufman (http://cranecreekbirding.blogspot.com/), our in-residence birder extraordinaire, you can follow the excitement or learn when to catch the next wave.

Black-throated Green Warbler