Friday, September 28, 2007

CUBS WIN!!!!!!!!!!

The Cubs are in the playoffs!!!!!!!! NL Central Champs!!!!!!!!

Clark and Addison Cam

It's Getting Hot In Herrre

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Northern "Red-Shafted" Flicker

While in Carrizo Canyon in SE Colorado I watched a Red-Shafted flicker drinking from a spot on the trunk about 30 feet up where a limb had fallen. It seemed to be water that had accumulated in the hollow area, but I guess it could have been sap. I got some video of it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I and the Bird #58

The new I and the Bird #58 is now up over at Nightjar. Will and Dr. Who go on an adventure through cyberspace and check out some bird blogs, including my post on the Lewis' Woodpecker. Take a look!

Once and The Swell Season

Maggie and I just bought tickets for The Swell Season. They are the two lead characters in the movie Once. We saw it a few months ago, loved it, and then went on line to learn more about the music, artists, etc, and found out they had played at Old Town the night before!!! We were sick. So when I heard on the radio today that they were coming back for a show at The Vic I bought a couple tickets.

The movie is just amazing. If you haven't seen it you need to. Here is where it's playing in the Chicago area. I love how it is a musical without feeling like a musical. The characters are well developed and the act of creation is somehow shown on film, a real feat. My class is writing about their creative identity and creativity in general. I wish I could show them this movie. Anyway. Can't wait until Nov. 24th!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Digiscoping and Lark Buntings

Near the Colorado/Kansas line I ran into around 100 Lark Buntings along a dirt road in Cimarron National Grasslands. They were everywhere, but I was in my car and could only set up my scope and camera outside my driver's side window and of course all the birds were in front of me on the road or near the passenger's side! I managed a few shots.

Now you see it.

Now you don't!


End The Plague of Junk Mail!!

Junk mail is one of the most heinous contributors to environmental degradation, but also to our daily clutter and sanity. Just think of going to the mailbox and getting only what you need or want! It is a dream I know, but this site can help. There's a whole program to win prizes etc... but I'm only interested in getting the word out on reducing junk mail so do with this what you will! So if you want you can click on my junk mail pledge. It's really a pain to send letters to all of these marketers to remove your name and address from their lists, but the New American Dream people make it as easy as possible by generating letters where all you have to do is print them out, fill in your personal info and send them off. I am going through the process now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I was driving right by Black Mesa (in the Oklahoma panhandle) and this guy comes loping across the road! Big cat! was my first thought and I have to admit I was thinking Mountain Lion for a split second, but once I gathered myself I saw the short tail, etc... He/she joined another Bobcat and they headed toward the mesa. I quickly got my scope and camera set up on my window and snapped this picture. I've only seen one Mountain Lion and that was in southeastern Arizona. I've seen a few bobcats here and there, but mostly in Kansas. It's always cool seeing a wild cat!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fried Green Tomatoes!!

Well, these are the last of our tomatoes. Maggie's been making fried green tomatoes all summer and here's our last batch of the year.

Slice them up. I like thinner and crispier. Maggie likes them sliced thicker.
Then dip them in egg.
Next coat them with bread crumbs and corn meal.
Then give them a nice toasty deep fry. This removes all fat and calories!
and here you have them! Mmmmmmmmm!!! Mmmmm! Good!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lewis' Woodpecker/Favorite Bird?

In class the other day my students asked what my favorite bird was. I think this is a fairly common question asked to birders and when I get it I usually qualify my answer by saying how tough that question is and how I really don't have a favorite bird, etc... But for some reason when they asked me I answered without much hesitation, Lewis' Woodpecker.

The easiest and closest place to see Lewis' Woodpecker from Kansas is Carrizo Canyon
in southeast Colorado. There can be no migration, no birds at all and you will still see a dark woodpecker flying across the canyon between oaks and cottonwoods. I love watching them flycatch from the tops of cottonwoods. They are just beautiful birds and they are also somewhat rare. Their distribution is patchy and they seem to be on the decline. They also don't look like a woodpecker! They look like a crow more than a woodpecker. Their black backs are a glossy blue-green-purple-black color which truly defies description. Plus they are named after Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame! I'm a sucker for history of the west and add onto that history of birds/birders and I am hooked.

Here is a pic and video I took while in Colorado. It doesn't do the bird justice, but it is the bird I sat and watched for nearly an hour.

You can read Lewis' account of the bird here.

So put the gorgeous Carrizo Canyon together with the equally outstanding Lewis' Woodpecker and you have my favorite bird! At least for now!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Picture Canyon, Baca Co., Colorado

During my trip I made a stop at Picture Canyon in southeast Colorado. I didn't know the area very well so I just hiked a little ways, but I did get to see some rock art. I'm not sure of the history of these paintings/carvings. I haven't been able to find much information on them. I was disgusted by the amount of graffiti. It made my stomach turn to think of how oblivious to history and art a person would have to be to carve their initials into rock art. Uggh!

I missed quite a few sites because they were further back in the canyon. I just wasn't sure of where to go. I hope to go back to explore more.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Morton County, Kansas

Last Monday evening I packed up a rental car, kissed Maggie and hit the road. I wanted to get to the southwest corner of Kansas before a cold front was supposed to hit on Tuesday night. So with a 4-pack of Red Bull and Fellowship of the Ring on CD I was going to drive the 1000 miles and 16 hours straight through the night. The excitement of the road kept me going past midnight, but soon after, I had to start hitting the Red Bull. Red Bull had gotten me through an all-nighter from Portal, AZ to Garden City, KS in the pursuit of some Roseate Spoonbills, so I had confidence in its power.

I was also boosted by the lunar eclipse which started a little before four in the morning. I was in the Flint Hills when it was at its fullest coverage. It truly was an amazing experience (heightened by Rusted Root and Red Bull at this point). I pulled over at the cattle pens off of I-35 and tried taking a picture. Here is my attempt.

As I blearily made my way through western Kansas I came into Greensburg. Greensburg was hit by a tornado and was totally devastated. Maggie and I had driven through in the spring on our way to Santa Fe and we weren't allowed to go through town. We could see it had been flattened, but we could only see the outskirts of the devastation. I believe a lot of the rubble has been cleaned up so now there is little left except stripped trees.

Growing up in Kansas either leaves you terrified of tornadoes or makes you want to hop in the car and chase them down. I'm of the former!

When I pulled into Elkhart around noon I went straight to the Sewage Lagoons which I blogged about here. There were a few birds around. A flock of 15 American Avocets, many Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers, Spotted Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, a flyover Long-billed Curlew, Black-billed Magpies, Black-crowned Night-Herons, and many Turkey Vultures roosting in the trees around the lagoons.

I then headed to my favorite spot in the Cimarron National Grasslands, Point of Rocks. Travelers on the Santa Fe Trail would stop here and survey the road ahead. Standing there, looking over the Cimarron river valley, I always feel steeped in history.

This has always been a great place to find western birds in Kansas. But this day there wasn't much except some Rock Wrens, Swainson's Hawks and Kestrels. But I never have had a bad time there.

Can you see the Rock Wren? He didn't care for me walking in his area! Click on the picture for a little closer look.

Below the point you can see the ruts from the Santa Fe Trail.
And before I completely crashed I checked the sewage lagoons one more time. I call this one Sunset Over Sewage. (Edit: I just took another look at this and it is actually a sunrise over sewage!)

I went a lot more places and saw more birds and country that I'll hopefully write about later.

Loggerhead Shrike

I had planned on writing up a bit of a travelogue from my trip, but time constraints may keep me from that. I will probably post some pics and video like this Loggerhead Shrike. Morton Co. Kansas had quite a few shrikes, one of my favorite birds!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Home Again!

Just got home from birding in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Migration was fairly nonexistent, but I had a good time. Lots going on this week. I've got to get stuff together for three classes, teach the classes, go to a Cubs game, and sleep for about 12 hours straight!