Monday, November 12, 2012


Yesterday, Natalie and I enjoyed one final day of "warm weather" birding. With temps pushing 70 degrees for likely the last time until spring, we did some local birding where I had a chance to meet an acquaintance  of mine. I first met him a few years ago. 

Alfred Erikson was only 34 years of age when he died in 1926.  Pushing up daisies in the tiny Bloomdale Cemetery in Trenton (located on King Road at West Jefferson), Erickson was apparently heavily involved in illegal booze trafficking (it was the heart of the Prohibition Era). According to an old newspaper account (uncovered through research I did for work), Alfred was motoring down a side street in Wyandotte after dark.  An assailant (never identified, as I recall) ran out of the shadows, jumped on the running boards on the driver's side of the car, and proceeded to ventilate 'ole Alfred with a machine gun.  The scene might have looked something like this (advance to the 00:18 mark). 

The tiny cemetery, like so many others,  has some cedar trees.  These evergreens are little refuges to tiny little Saw-whet Owls as they migrate through the region.  The dense nature of the branches gives the owls cover during the daylight hours.

I'm gonna find an owl in that cemetery if it is the last thing I do, dammit.  

Anyhow, before we had a chance to really start looking around, Natalie pointed out a Northern Mockingbird along the edge.  I managed a crappy photo:

What does any of this have to do with anything, you might ask?  It turns out West Jefferson between King Road and Sibley is a hotbed of Mockingbird activity.  After finding exactly zero owls in the cemetery, we proceeded northbound and found FOUR Mockingbirds on the route.

It turns out a probable fifth Mockingbird was not seen north of the Grosse Ile Pay Bridge. There is often a bird there, but not on a our impromptu "survey".  

So as birders continue to bird the region, all indications suggest that this stretch of road is pretty damned reliable for Mockingbirds. Sure, birding is never guaranteed, but most birders with Mockingbird on their Wayne County list have seen one of these birds along this stretch.

All this brings us back to names.  One of these birds was named "Jim" by Natalie some number of months ago.  While not the coolest name in the world ("Paul" is much better"), his affinity to the area immediately around Jim's Garage made naming pretty easy. For months, we have been noting the bird's location to each other.  "Hey, I saw Jim at the car wash today" or "Jim was kicking was the crap out of some starlings by the bar".  

Sure, the confirmation of four birds makes the name thing a bit tough, as we don't know if it is Jim, his squeeze, his kid, a new comer, or some other variable. There is no way to tell.

So where does this leave our new Mockingbird friend at the Bloomdale Boneyard?  

I propose "Alfred".   Its perfect.  Alfred the bird was there many months ago, but I assumed he was Jim from the up street.  I'm not so sure now.  In any case, he seems to have taken an affinity to the place.

Alfred, the rum-runner, has an affinity to the cemetery, too. He hasn't the left the place since 1926!

Alfred?  Meet Alfred!


dave boon said...

nice post Paul,some Laughter some tears,kept me on the edge of my seat!! All joking aside,very interesting!

Paul said...

Hi Dave - Thanks!

I shed some tears too. Natalie pointed out to me a number of editing errors after the post went live.

Damn my sloppy reviewing!