Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day 2013

 A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher with attitude.

Even though the barrage of news related to the terrorist bombing in Boston and subsequent capture of the (alleged) bad guys is ringing in my head, it can’t drown the rallying cries of Earth Day 1970. For a number reasons, that late-1960s—early 1970s time period remains a bit foggy to me. I recall going to an Environmental Teach-in in Washington, D.C. in 1969 (I think), which I’ve always thought of as the first Earth Day. History seems to say otherwise. Damn revisionists.

One of many Hermit Thrushes passing through on its way north.

I do recall how intense we were, determined to change the world with our weapons of choice; signs, songs and marches. Our cause was just, visible and understandable. If people wanted to know who the enemy was, all they had to do was look for our long hair, beards or uniforms of jeans and tie-dye T-shirts. And guess what? We actually won a few battles! Now, 43 years later, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson’s dream of environmental awareness lives. I doubt anyone will say that for the acts of cowardly terrorists who chose to kill and maim innocent people.

Northern Flicker takes a break in Ohio on her way north.

This year I chose to honor Earth Day with my environmentalist-peacenik-birding-buddies Pat and Karin (a couple of Northeast Ohio’s top-tier, mid-level birders), in a search for early migrant warblers along the north coast of America—Lake Erie, Mentor Headlands State Park in particular. Cobalt sky, temperature about 33 degrees, winds mostly from the east: Who could ask for more? We could, actually. Seventy degrees and wind from the south would have be a bit more comfortable, however, as a birder, you take what you get, when you can get it.
We didn’t set any records for numbers of species (about 60, I think) or totals of birds, however, we had an eclectic mix of passerines, many first-of-the-season friends we were glad to welcome back—or say hello to as they head for Canada just across the pond. As we walked the trails we talked of how lucky we are to be birders, enjoying the spring migration, recognizing things others take for granted or see only as part of the landscape.

Rusty Blackbird admires itself--as did we--on her way to Canada

We saw plenty of changes in our landscape of birding, too. Things like piles of trash washed in from the lake during the winter and the widening of what once were mere walking paths into roads. We noticed the changes even if the birds did not. The big question remains: Are the birds noticing the change all the Earth Day celebrations have failed to halt—climate change? Stay tuned for reports from our grandchildren.
Happy Earth Day 2013. Peace, man. Peace

All I asked this Brown Thrasher was if that was poison sumac he was eating ...

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