Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why Laughing Gulls Laugh

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Among the many delectable delights of the Delaware Bayshore is the constant presence of laughing gulls. They are everywhere and now, I think I know why they are everywhere, and why they are always laughing.

I'll let the photos do the talking from here on out....

El Fin. Master of his domain.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Some Recently Encountered Birds

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
During our time in Delaware, we DID do a bit of birding, and here is the visual proof.

Delaware's legendary Port Mahon Road hosts thousands of shore birds along its tideline each spring. These birds gather to feast on the eggs laid by horseshoe crabs.

We were shocked that Delaware still has not done anything to protect this vital stopover site for migrant shorebirds. Here some completely oblivious tourists are walking down the beach, spooking huge flocks of feeding shorebirds into flight. How could we blame them, there were no signs prohibiting beach walking.

To me this looks like a beautiful, tall woman on pink stilts on a busy street. In reality it's a female black-necked stilt among several dozen semipalmated sandpipers.

I love this red knot doing the angel-wing thing.

I found the knots devilishly hard to digiscope--they never stopped moving.

Jeff Gordon and Jim White picked out this lone least sandpiper (center). Note the dark "backpack strap", the yellow legs, and the thin bill as compared to the nearby semipalmated sandpipers.

Jeff G. also found several white-rumped sandpipers (center on the rock). Note the overall longer and leaner body shape, and the orange tint to the base of the bill.

A feeding frenzy ensues each May on the Delaware Bayshore. These are semipalmated sandpipers.

I kept watching to see if a sandpiper would walk between the legs of this stilt.

The ruddy turnstones were omnipresent, and this one was kind enough to perch on a post for me.

At Camp Arrowhead, I took this average image of a Forster's tern on a pier piling. Then I took the next photo.

Lightening his load just before taking off. It was total and complete luck that I got this shot.

It was not all shorebirds in DE. I stalked this male blue grosbeak, and this was the best I could do,. He was shy. I like how this shot shows the girth of his bill.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Faces in the Crowd

Monday, May 29, 2006
Here are some of my favorite images from this weekend's wedding adventure in Lewes, Delaware.

Next post, some bird images. I promise!

Liz, the bride, made magic bubbles in the afternoon sunshine.

Jeff and Liz at the post-rehearsal party, where, after a brief rainshower, a giant rainbow appeared--always a good sign.

The wedding's theme was luna moth. This wild luna appeared near the chapel on the morning of the wedding!

Phoebe, the flower fairy, and Marci Fuller (left) and Sally O'Byrne were the bridesmaids.

Liz's son Travis (right), an aspiring musician, and his pal Zach gave the event a punk flair.

Jeff's mom, Kathleen, gave him a pre-ceremony hug.

"Hey Jeff! It's WEDDING TIME, dude!"

Liz misplaced her shoes on the morning of the ceremony. It did not faze her one bit.

Julie and I put on our fancy dress outfits for the big day.

After our band played, Travis and his pals took the stage. This is Trav totally shredding.

Liam decided that he LOVES punk rock. He danced and danced. Later he announced that he wants us to call him Rockpile now.

Two boys, four ears, one IPod. No problem!

Marci and I compared notes on the fancy beer being offered to the guests.

Chet, like all of us at the wedding, had too much fun.

Vinnie Mele, the Musical Wonder of Marietta, accompanied us to Delaware and made our music 33% better. Here he croons a smarmy ballad.
I played more guitar this weekend than I have in years. It felt really great to just close my eyes and play for hours.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tying the Knot, Chasing the Knot

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Our pals Jeff and Liz tied the knot this weekend in Lewes, DE and the celebration has nearly ended--three days later. This afternoon a group of us unwound by heading up the coast to Port Mahon Road to see the concentrations of shorebirds feasting on horseshoe crab eggs. I tried like crazy to get a good shot of a red knot, but they were pretty skittish (lots of holiday makers on the beaches) and would not sit tight for a good photo.

I have a feeling we'll be talking about this wedding for a long time to come--it was quite a happening scene. Thanks Jeff and Liz for including us in your big day!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Song in My Head

Thursday, May 25, 2006
La Cienega Just Smiled
by Ryan Adams
from the album "Gold"

Whenever I'm prepping for a show, I find much inspirato from listening to music by my favorite artists. Ryan Adams moved to the top of the heap about five years ago and has remained there through his copious audio output ever since. His "Gold" album is still my fave. The thing I love most about this song, other than the simple, perfect lyrics, is the eight-note rhythm played by the acoustic guitar--both melodic and percussive, holding the entire song together the way the mud holds a robin's nest together or mayo holds your favorite sandwich together. Love this song...

La Cienega just smiles and says I'll see you around.....

In other news, and perhaps in a sign that the apocalypse is upon us, while listening to Pandora today, on my station built around the music of Wilco, up came music from an artist that nearly made me retch. Fortunately Pandora lets you veto an artist from your playlist, banishing them for all time.

As I leapt across the room for the computer to hit the "I Hate It, Banish This Artist!" button, I saw that it was.....


May the cosmos have mercy on our souls.....Hanson?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Aftermath of Lizapalooza

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

This weekend our friends Jeff & Liz are getting married in Delaware. We first met Jeff at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas, where he was leading field trips. Julie and I were there giving a programs and leading trips, too. Jules was also the featured artist for the festival, something that Liz, then festival chairperson, had arranged. So it was only natural that we'd all hang out together.

What was not so natural is that we had so much fun hanging out that we ended up having giant parties in the adobe cottage where we were being housed. We'd put the kids to sleep, then people would start showing up with guitars, percussion instruments, adult beverages, and the next thing you'd know we'd have 25 or 30 people singing, jamming, and laughing. We crashed at 3 and still got up at 4:30 for our trips!

Then we did the same thing, only bigger, the next night. Live music can have that effect on a party. Liz had so much fun that the party has ever since been referred to as "Lizapalooza."

After that weekend, Jeff and Liz, well, let's just say the rest is history. We're honored to be playing music for the wedding of these two special pals and world-class, incredibly cool people.

Long may you run, amigos!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fields of Daisies

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
If you're a regular reader of Julie's blog, you'll know that we have a soft spot for large patches of wildflowers (who doesn't?). While out on Twp 92 last Sunday afternoon (after dropping our old gas heater off at the township dumpster for Clean-up Day) I was spending some quality time with a flock of eastern kingbirds when I realized that I was standing thigh-deep in a giant meadow of field daisies.

This spring has been pretty cool and wet, which must be the perfect conditions for these sweet, and very fetching wildflowers. These flowers have the perfect combination of colors: white petals surrounding a lemon-yellow center--like a beautiful woman in a bright yellow sundress.

With the spring sun slanting in from the West, I stooped over to take a few snaps of the daisies. They seemed to smile sweetly, nodding their heads in the caress of the evening breeze. What a lovely way to end the day and the week.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kingbirds and Highways

Monday, May 22, 2006
One of the eastern kingbirds that have been hanging around in the fields surrounding our farm. A few will stay to nest here.

I love eastern kingbirds. They appear each May, zapping their "fork in an electric socket" calls and fluttering from treetop to wire and back again. This week we've had a half-dozen or so hanging around the neighbors' hayfields. And I finally had the time and cooperative sunlight to digiscope a few of them.

Recently I was given the honor of introducing Kenn Kaufman as the keynote speaker at the Ohio Ornithological Society's annual conference. Those of you who know me realize that I relished this opportunity as a chance to swerve from the middle of the road. Sure I could've done the boring emcee thing and cited Kenn's long list of accomplishments, his many published works, his years of leading bird tours, but no.

I decided to write a song for the occasion.
Kenn Kaufman, author, bird ID maven, lover of kingbirds. Photo by Julie Zickefoose.

And that song, copped from Hank Williams, Sr's "Lost Highway" morped into a song bearing the same title as Kenn's book "Kingbird Highway." If you have read the book, these lyrics might resonate with you. If you have not read the book, well, I am sorry amigo, but you have not led a full life. Get it. Read it. Come back here for the lyrics.

Kingbird Highway (with apologies to Hank Williams, Sr.)

I’m a rollin’ stone all alone and lost
For a life of birds I have paid the cost
When I pass by all the people say
There’s that weird dude who wrote Kingbird Highway

With binoculars and an old field guide
Eating canned cat food and trying to hitch a ride
To add one more bird to my big year LIST
If I miss that bird, well I’ll sure be…..MAD

I was just a lad, nearly 17
When I left my home to chase those things with wings
Then I lost my scope, it got washed away
Lord I paid the cost, on the Kingbird Highway

Now if you’re out just a chasin’ birds
At the sewage plant, where there’s lots of …..YELLOWLEGS
Just keep your cool, don’t get carried away
As you travel down that Kingbird Highway

Kenn dug it. Hope you do, too.
Meanwhile, spend some time appreciating what a great bird the eastern (or western) kingbird is.
BT3, your singing emcee introducing K2 to the OOS faithful.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

Sunday, May 21, 2006
Here are three new additions to my ever-expanding collection of inane, insane, sometimes profane signs. And, no, we are not making these up.

What's the fun in trespassing if you've got a permit?
Special thanks to Rondeau Ric for this one.

Italians are among the most socail people I've ever met. This ought to be really fun!

Either "Redneck" or "Hayseed" would have done it for me. But having both labels on this fine vehicle is just gilding the lily.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Wishing at a Train

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Liam loves trains. I believe that fact has been previously established here in BOTB. Today, after attending Phoebe's softball game in a distant village, we heard a train whistle, so we followed the sound over the river and parked next to the tracks as the train (a 100-car coal train headed north) rumbled and screeched past.

After watching quietly for several minutes, Liam laid this gem on us:

"Ohhh. I wish we were hobos!"

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Dove's High Coo

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mourning dove coos love.
Mates every month of the year,
so why the sad song?