Tuesday, December 3, 2013

red phalarope, northern saw-whet, brown pelican

Well, a couple days without a post. Now that time permits, i am free to see bird celebrities in the near vicinity. The last two days were above freezing, and not breezy, so it was comfortable with seasonable clothing, to be outside. The week of days previous were not, they were below average in temperature.

Yesterday, was a rather interesting day. I drove behind Westerly Sewage (or if i were polite, Edgewater Marina), and before stopping my car, i saw a red phalarope and a couple dozen of Bonaparte's gulls. What is a phalarope? you may ask. A birdie, some kin to a sandpiper. They are now in winter plumage, the breeding feathers are red/rufous. Now, the breeding grounds are the arctic coasts about the pole. 

They are considered to be a rare sighting around here, but it seems several wayward birds have come here these past months. Now, you almost need a good birding guide (or use the Wikipedia fallback, which probably has cribbed passages) to find the distinction between this phalarope and the red necked. This one has a thicker beak. For many similar species, such particular distinctions are the only visual clues to discern. By reading the guide description, it often confirms the behaviour one sees. These birdies like to make little circles in the water. They feed off the top of the water. They are not skittish of men. And this i saw. Amongst these shore birds, the female is the larger and more colorful; this is counter to the general rule, and it is not a rarity.

There amongst the birders, there were no fishermen, nor boaters, were two Michiganer cars. They read of the presence of this bird, and the snowy owls, brown pelican, and a couple of other migrants in the area. Now, some of these folk went to site after site to bird watch, and to take snapshots.
As i said, not skittish, and rather small. And i would not sit on a deck of gull guano.
Sunday, after Mass, i went to the Gordon impoundment/Dike 14. These people were one of the clutches come to gaze on a wee owl, the Northern Saw-Whet, and they were approachable. One to the other was trying to point out the pocket within the pine wherein our hero sat. The bird did not move for hours, he was hidden where he could see well, and one could only see him only in the direct shaft of sight. He was more than fifteen feet up the tree, but one had to be less than six feet standing to see him. He was easier to see from the slope, half a yard left or right and he was completely invisible. Person after person, who when seeing him said, or at least thought, "o yeah, there you are, right there". One woman had a camera on a tri-pod, and she focused in on him, and the viewing screen was on him for the others to see. I was told this fellow was elusive, but saw-whets have been seen in these few pines before. It is awe inspiring, really, these creatures travel so far, sometimes more than a thousand miles and they habituate a particular spot, a few square feet, sort of like the television character Norm on Cheers. It is easy for a man to believe he sees the hand of God in such natural activities.

And these people related the local birdy news. There are now eight "snowys" in town, four at the lakefront aeroport. One young woman showed a photo of a said bird perched on yellow construction equipment. Thibodeaux, the pelican, was still in town, and East 55. I did not* see him Sunday, but and Monday, when he was in a slouched heap on one of the boater docks, surrounded by gulls. One could tell by the color of feather, and size. He showed only the back of his head. I was told he was sighted as having frostbite on his pouch. The news on the phalarope was a foot injury, and on the saw-whet, someone left white mice for him.

I went to Gordon Park boat launch. A fellow from Columbus had scoped an eared grebe, and for a while he was visible without it. He said the bird had just swam amongst the docks, he had been seen by others earlier. There were a few horned grebes in my sight. All of these birds have been in town for a few days, once along with the gannet, the kittiwake, and a load of gulls. Monday i saw four large black backed gulls on the breakwall west of the Cuyahoga mouth, and only me and my nephew were the humans about. That was not a hot spot that day, but it was good viewing.
Finding him was harder than finding the glass pickle in a Christmas tree.
postscriptum: this post took thirty extra minutes to place on blogger, because of blogger hiccoughs. It should have four fotos, and seven paragraphs.
postscriptum 28 December 2014:*looking back at my fotos i did see him on the first of December:
 well, identify the several species
Yesterday, Friday the 27th, WKYC-TV3, reported the last local sighting of Thibodeaux was on 9 December; as did the Cleveland Metropark Facebook.

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