Posts Tagged With: eggs

Poem #6

Milk in its prescribed glass

coffee, one sugar, steaming

a muffin tanned, gleaming with butter

Rain this morning, so 

an egg’s golden eye

peppered with sunspots

However wrong this day may go

ThisNow is perfect






the crunch of eggshell against teeth.



Categories: chickens are birds too, Nests, postcard poems | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

May was a very birdful month and I’m still catching up on my postings. Our big trip was to Montezuma NWR, the wetlands at the north end of Cayuga Lake. Since we had to be at the Ithaca end of the lake anyway, I really wanted to spend some time exploring this amazing habitat. I have a habit of road-birding which (I am told) can be unnerving for my passengers, so I was delighted to see Montezuma was perfect for me. No foot traffic is allowed. Cars must stay on the loop road with plenty of pull-offs for wildlife viewing. Given the unpromising weather, ours was the only car for a while, making it possible to drive while looking through binocs. Not that I would ever do that.

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We arrived on a drizzly grey morning, so right off we weren’t going to bother with warblering. MNWR has a nesting population of Cerulean Warblers, sky-blue birds that frequent the very tree-tops, and staring straight up into the rain will only get you a stiff neck and wet binoculars. Maybe they’ll still be there in August. A young fox trotted along the road’s edge, stopping to sniff, crunch something up, and leave some messages along the way. As we climbed an observation tower, a robin flew off calling angrily. We had scared her off her nest on the steps. Doesn’t she know the real estate mantra, ‘Location, location, location’?

If you’ve never seen your fill of Great Blue Herons, this is the place to come. We saw at least 50 in one marsh. I tried very hard to turn some into Sandhill Cranes, but they wouldn’t cooperate. Other waders included Green Heron, Great Egret, and Glossy Ibis, looking exotic and Egyptian. Lots of assorted ducks and grebes and a pair of Trumpeter Swans, and we had some good long looks at the weird Common Moorhen. They swim like a duck, have a head like a chicken with a wad of gum stuck to the forehead, and long-toed heron feet. They shared the flooded-field habitat with elegant Black Terns. This particular remote wetland was supposed to be our best chance of seeing the cranes. We did see Bank, Barn, and Tree Swallows, and an active Purple Martin colony.

Raptors included Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Ospreys, Turkey Vultures, and several Harriers including one pale grey male. I prefer the old name, Marsh Hawk, or Owl-faced Hawk would be a good name. Oh, did I forget to mention Bald Eagles? Yeah. Soaring overhead, fishing, perched five at a time in trees — yup, we saw a few eagles.

Shorebirds — oy. Little peeps, long-legged waders, busy-footed sandpipers, and most of them too far off to comfortably identify. Is it lazy birding to say I enjoyed just observing their lives for a while, their swift foraging, sudden flight, dash and stillness. “In Boston yesterday an ornithologist said significantly, ‘If you held the bird in your hand –;’ but I would rather hold it in my affections.” — H. D. Thoreau.

It was getting late in the afternoon; we were tired and as wet-footed as herons. We stopped at one last pull-off which offered a slightly elevated view down into the marshlands, giving us a better idea of the lay of the land. I was kind of discouraged — I really hoped to see a Sandhill Crane. Then suddenly a huge gray bird, bigger than a heron, flying with its neck extended, trumpeting its wild cry. I grabbed Bill’s arm, shouting, “There it is! There it is!” How exciting for my target bird to be the very last bird of the day!

We spent the night at the Hotel Clarence, and if you’re visiting the Seneca Falls/Montezuma area, I highly recommend it. It has vastly more character than the chain motels, for much the same price. And their cable included BBCAmerica, so we got to watch Doctor Who!

It poured overnight and was still raining lightly in the morning, and we did have a deadline for arriving at Cornell, so we did one more quick loop around, stopping to watch carp struggling to sneak from the barge canal into the waters of the refuge. Baffles on the sluices letting water flow from the Refuge to the canal stop most of the fish, though a few get through and are the source of startling leaps and splashes in the marsh. I filmed the carp-et of fish (thanks Caleb!).

And then we drove down the east coast of the lake through rain and dense fog, picked up our young man and his belongings, and headed home. Hmmm, it’ll be late August when we have to bring him back… migration time!

Categories: Bird photos, Field trip, Life bird!, Mammals too, OMG bird, What am dat bird? | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Far traveller

When I was a kid my parents bought a tiny bungalow on the farthest-East End of Long Island. Three rooms, no insulation, no heat, no running water in the winter, but my brother and I thought we were in paradise. The beach was at one end of the road, and in the back yard was a lake, and woods all around, “the kind of country you dream of running away to when you are very young and innocently hungry, before you learn that all the land is owned by somebody.”*

There was an osprey nest on the far side of the pond, one of the few active nests on LI in the ’60s. Dad and I would sit on the flat shed roof and watch the pairs’ thrilling dives for fish, taking them back to the huge ragged nest. Were there any nestlings? I don’t remember. This was only a few years after Silent Spring, and DDT wouldn’t be banned for another decade. The damage had been done. In 1966, only four chicks were hatched from 60 nests on Gardiner’s Island just across the bay, which 30 years before had boasted over 200 active nests.

Like other birds of prey, the Ospreys have recovered, with almost 300 pairs now on Long Island. Nature did a documentary years ago on the effort to reintroduce them, and I always remember the grizzled old-timer saying, “When the asprees come back to Ori-ant, that’s the sign of spring.” (OK, I can’t imitate it, but think more a BAAston accent than the stereotypical Lon Guyland.)

So where do ospreys go for the winter? This researcher is tracking an osprey named Bob.

Photo ©Tim Perry for the Suffolk Times

*from I See By My Outfit by Peter Beagle, which you should read right away.

Categories: Bird photos, Species count | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Sapsucker Woods, 10/8/10

We went up to Cornell to pick Will up for the weekend and finally managed to time it so we could visit Sapsucker Woods and the Cornell lab of Ornithology. Wouldn’t you like to work here? I told Will he should visit when he needs a serene place to study.

Bill, basking in the sunlight and contemplating moving in.

This wall is 30′ long and 2 stories high, looking out on a pond, and the other window overlooks several bird feeders and wildlife plantings.

We rambled around the grounds and trails for a few hours. I felt kind of disloyal birding Sapsucker Woods with the National Geo. guide instead of Peterson’s. Not a whole lot of bird activity, but the paths led to a few surprises.

I loved this peaceful vista over a little pond, the path covered in fallen leaves.

As we wandered, I saw this huge stone egg and said, “That looks like an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture,” … and I was right! It was so amazing to come across a piece by my favorite artist, and even more wonderful for it to have come as a complete surprise to me.

And just to prove that I really do exist:


Me and 'Sapsucker Cairn'



Categories: Field trip, Mammals too | Tags: , | 4 Comments

What? Chickens are birds too.

I stopped in at my favorite thrift shop/food pantry to drop off a few things, and one of the ladies asked me if I’d like some eggs. Why, certainly, thanks ever so. I followed her to the back of the store where they had an entire refrigerator full of eggs.  Apparently the donor had been showing her hens this cartoon. She gave me two cartons, I peeped in at them and realized:

They're green!

Wow! Martha Stewart designer eggs!

I think I’ll try them tomorrow. Maybe with a pork product.

Categories: chickens are birds too | Tags: | 1 Comment

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