Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good Times aboard the "GoodTime I"

Our first event at the Midwest Birding Symposium was a sunset cruise on Lake Erie. We walked through the picturesque entryway to the Lakeside dock to board our cruise boat, the "GoodTime I."

I don't think we could have had a better time if we were aboard the "GoodTime II."

Boating birders (birding boaters?) ready themselves for the ride.

Cruise organizer and all-around party girl Cheryl Harner, taking pictures as the boat gets underway. That's photog Ernie Cornelius in the orange hat in the background, doing the same thing.

Ben Warner's job was to chum for gulls, using popcorn as bait to draw the birds in for their close-ups. Ethan Kistler's job was to supervise Ben.

Liam tried chumming for gulls with a carrot stick. I don't think he had much success.

The popcorn worked a treat, allowing us many good photo-ops of gulls, mostly Ring-billed, in action.

(click to enlarge)

A view of one of the small islands we passed.
[I forget the name of this one.]

As promised, a sunset ended our cruise as we returned to the dock.

Ssshhh. Listen closely. Can you hear the sun sizzle as it hits the water?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Look How Cute!

This Gray Treefrog was found in our kennel area this evening by an employee. My tech rescued him and put him on a leaf of the Bradford pear tree outside our back door. When I heard about our visitor, I had to borrow the office camera to snap a pic, then take the memory stick home to upload the photo and work out the ID.

He is about the same size as my thumbnail. Isn't he the cutest thing ever?

Birding with a Celebrity

Miss Jane Alexander, celebrated actress of stage and screen, now known to the 800 plus participants at the Midwest Birding Symposium as a fellow enthusiast. Who would have guessed? She's a birder!

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Our keynote speaker Saturday night was Miss Alexander. As Bill (Bill Thompson, III, a celebrity birder in his own right) was announcing her, he said that she agreed to come to Ohio for our little birding event only if she could come early, in order to listen to some of the other presenters, her birding idols, people like Kenn Kaufman and David Sibley. This despite the fact that she is supposed to be in rehearsals, learning 70 pages of dialogue for a Broadway play with Stockard Channing. Isn't that cool?

During her address, she told us about birding at home and abroad, with her husband or with her grandson, but mostly alone, since her schedule often forced her to cancel out on guided bird walks. She regaled us with tales of dangers she encountered while birding - black mambas and bushmaster snakes in the tropics and a homeless man with knife in Florida, leaving us with these words of wisdom: "Don't bird in Orlando!"

The next morning, my birding buds and I headed out early to get in our final bird walk, driving half an hour west of Lakeside to the incomparable Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. As we pulled in a little past 7am, to a glorious dawn, a
large black car joined us in the parking lot. Two birders got out, a man and a white-haired lady. Both were wearing the requisite birding uniform and were pulling gear out of the back. Nina elbowed me: "That's Jane Alexander." I looked, then looked again. Then, frankly, I gaped. It was!

"What do we do?" What do we say?" we whispered frantically. As we walked past, we merely nodded, said, "Good morning!" and continued on our way along the dike path, heading for pond 2b where shorebirds had been reported. Miss Alexander and her companion were not far behind us. Every time we stopped to look and listen, I found myself turning and glancing back. I tried to convince myself that I was scanning the entire area for birds - after all, that singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet which was clearly in the bush ahead of me just might have slipped behind us. I should thoroughly check out the entire 360 degree field of view, shouldn't I?

In truth, I was checking to see where Miss Alexander was. And she was still there, stopping where we had stopped and checking out the birds I had just seen. So, while we weren't actually part of the same group, we were birding the same trail, and appreciating the same beauty and wonder. That is why I will always remember that day of Bald Eagles, Caspian Terns, and Snowy Egrets as the day I birded with Jane Alexander.

Do I have any photos? No. I was carrying my binoculars, my spotting scope, my BirdJam-equipped iPod and speakers set, and my field guides. I had decided to leave the camera behind. But, I like to think that even if I had it with me, I would have refrained from intruding on another birder, who was savoring a rare moment of peaceful birding in a little spot of heaven called Ohio's North Coast.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dusk and Dawn at Lake Erie

Two images from the Midwest Birding SymposiumSunrise, at the Marblehead lighthouse
Sunset, from the Lakeside dock

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Birded with Jane Alexander!

Teaser title with details to follow...

Just home from the Midwest Birding Symposium, where I was not able to blog - too little time, too many people trying to use the same WiFi. I'm exhausted and I need a shower and sleep, so more later ---

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Next Update from MBS

Tomorrow, I'm off to northern Ohio, to the Great North Coast, Lakeside on Lake Erie for the 2009 Midwest Birding Symposium.

This will be my first year to attend this event, held every two years in one of several Midwest/Great Lake states. Previous events have been held in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as Ohio in 1997 and 1999.

Many famous and infamous birders will be there - Ohio birders like Kenn Kaufman, Bill Thompson, III, Jim McCormac, and Julie Zickefoose, to name just a few.

Other nationally known speakers include David Sibley, Scott Weidensaul, and actress/birder Jane Alexander.

The biggest draw will be the beautiful scenery and birding spots of western Lake Erie - Magee Marsh, Ottawa NWR, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Marblehead State Park, East Harbor State Park, and Kelley's Island, among others.

Bill promises the bloggers WiFi access, so I hope to be updating you soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Midwest Birding Symposium: Young Birders' Day

Birders come in all ages, but if the older generations of birders are going to be replaced, we all need to encourage newer, younger birders to join our ranks. The Ohio Young Birders Club was organized for just that reason.

"No-longer-technically-a-Young-Birder" (but still pretty young compared to some of us) and Young Birder Club founding member, Ethan Kistler

"Really-young-future-birder," my second cousin, Oliver. (note the book in front of him)

Public service announcement: If you are going to the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio this weekend, bring along a Young Birder. Here is program for Saturday, September 19, with activities designed for all ages:

The Ohio Young Birders Club presents:


Activities for Young Birders!

Saturday September 19, 2009 is Young Birder’s Day at the Midwest Birding Symposium! Join us from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Wo-Ho-Mis (across the street from South Auditorium). Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Our friends from the Ohio Young Birders Club and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory will offer the following activities:


The Binocular Laboratory—kids will make a pair of binoculars and learn how to use them

The Feeding Station—kids will build a bird feeder out of a variety of common recycled items

Fun with the Hooos!—kids will make an owl puppet or mask

Middle School:

Midwest Birding Symposium Junior Duck Stamp Contest—We’ll help participants paint a portrait of their favorite duck, goose, or swan! Lily Sprang, winner of this year’s National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, will be leading the activity along with her brother Eli, an Ohio Junior Duck Stamp winner and national runner-up!

We’ll also give all our artists materials introducing them (and their parents and teachers) to the Junior Duck Stamp Contest. When the portraits are finished, artists can choose to take their art home with them or enter it into the contest. We will award prizes for the top three contest entries.

For Teens:

Bird Walk—The Ohio Young Birders Club will lead a bird walk from 8:00 – 9:45 a.m. Saturday on the Lakeside grounds. We will meet at the front entrance to the Hotel Lakeside.

For details, contact BSBO at 419-898-4070.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lots of Pots

I came back from my week-long pottery workshop at Wildacres Retreat, NC, with a pot-load of pots. Not only that, but I had some other pieces leftover from my regular classes that were sitting around, waiting for me to become inspired. During the summer, I have been gradually getting them all glazed, photographed and cataloged. Here are some of my most recent pieces, for the pottery fans of this blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Patty's Party Patio and Pergola, Plus Pretty Pictures

The newest upgrade to the amenities at Harmony Hill Vineyards, Estate Winery, and Resort - the patio and pergola area for private parties.
Wouldn't this be a nice spot for a reception, bridal shower, or anniversary party? I'll bet it will be even more beautiful once staff gardener Patty plants some sort of flowering vine-type things and other perennial flowers.Only three more weekends left to visit Harmony Hill before the end of the 2009 season!

Gratuitous cuteness: Alpacas who stopped by for a visit on Saturday.All together now, everybody say "ahhhhh!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wine Workers Walk: Want Wages

Apologies to all who have been waiting for new posts. I wasn't in a blogging mood, but I promise to improve. (Blame my FarmVille addiction)

* * * * * * *

When I went to work at my "fun job" on Saturday, Bill said, "Did Patti get in touch with you? We are having an impromptu, end-of-season staff party on Sunday to warm the new patio and pergola. Olive Garden is catering. We'd love to see you." Wine and Italian food? I'm so there!

When I arrived, Bill was opening the wine.
Patti called Bill over to the "hot seat."She sat him in front of the group
and opened the "staff meeting."

Bill: "Huh? We're having a staff meeting?"

After thanking the hospitality staff for their hard work this season, Patti came to the real point of the meeting. Seems she and Harmony Hill good friends and
neighbors, Jake and Jenny, are tired of working for free.

They were striking for a paycheck, and threatened to "Sell No Wine" before Bill signs.

Jake and Jenny present their demands.
Shop foreman Patti plans her strategy.

After the striking workers left the picket line, food and wine (or Coke for those under 21) was enjoyed by all.

Evan discusses the quality of another chambourcin wine. (Much inferior to HH's "Rubato.)
Bill was laughing so hard he cried.See why I call this my Fun Job?