Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where Were Ya When We Needed Ya

Juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallows

Susan and I took a walk up Chippewa Creek in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park this morning. (Okay, technically that section is within the Cleveland Metro Parks purview.) A creek walk is part of a ritual we’ve done with our grandchildren for the past five or six years. Our leader today was our six-year-old granddaughter, Lily. This kid takes to the water like a duck and is turning into an accomplished fisher as well—to mix a metaphor.
So while Susan and I paid a lot of attention to the avian activity around the creek, Lily snagged about 10 pounds of minnows with her little net. In the heat of the day we came upon a family of Northern Rough-winged Swallows, six juveniles, plus adults feeding their brood.
The species is not uncommon in our area—unless you’re working on a census in the park, as we did all last week, and did not see a single Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Today, we walked up on this clutch of birds, which did not seem to care a bit about us; looked at us hopefully in fact.
Go figure.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Plan Your Shot

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on bee balm

There are times when you plan a shot for hours—maybe days or weeks. Trying to figure when the light will be right, or migration at its peak, or making sure you have all the right gear in the bag.
And some days you walk out in the garden, half forgetting you have a camera on your shoulder because your mind is in some other world; the critters sense this and know they can do their bird or bug thing unmolested by the paparazzi.
Today was one of the latter. 

Bumble bee on Verbena Bonariensis

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Finding the Right Words

A patient six-year-old. That's not an oxymoron.

For the past six months I’ve felt like I’ve been on a carousel ride where the operator quit his job and forgot to hit the “off” switch on his way out the door. Recently, about the time of the summer solstice, I was grousing to Susan that I can’t recall another time in the past 50 years when I’ve gotten this deep into the fishing season and not yet purchased my license.
She did not rise to the bait. Her response was, “Oh, by the way, Lily is coming to visit all next week. Better think of some things to do.”
Lily is our six-year-old granddaughter and things-to-do for her are not always the same as things-to-do for me. So, I put together a list of local parks, hours for the library, gardens, cartoon channels on TV, museums and swimming spots—things that kids could/would/should like to do.
This morning, the first day, while trying to drink my morning coffee and read none of the news that’s fit to print, all while stepping over the enormous pile of stuff a six-year-old can haul into the living room, I asked the fatal question: What should we do today, Lily?
Her response: Can we go fishing?

"That was easy!"

Whoa! It don’t get much better than that. At least that’s what I thought until a few hours later—after she landed 25 or 30 bluegills. She asked , “Can I put the worm on the hook?”
Oh my, I think I need some oxygen over here …

The fish that has saved many a grandpa

Thanx to Susan for the great pix