Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm Not So Sure...

Obviously, I like beer as much as the next guy (or gal, as the case may be).  

As it turns out, someone has taken beer yeast to a new level.  It has been located (and used in beer brewing)  in a place most people won't go or event think about...

Here is your clue.....

 No, not the dog.  It is has been taken from the other hairy thing in the photo.
In this case, I'm just not sure I'm game....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Okay.....Maybe Not So Slow......

If you read my last post, you saw how I was pouting about the hawk week being slow.  Weather issues had worked against us, and I found myself more or less saddened by it all.  To make myself (and my child-like emotions) feel better, I found a cooperative Great Blue Heron at Elizabeth Park. 

Anyhow, Sunday was a different day.....

Hawkwatching is usually enjoyable no matter what. When the birds are flying?  All the better!

By 2:00pm (or so), things were really looking impressive. Slowly but surely, the masses started building and by day's end, we had enjoyed over 30,000 Broad-winged Hawks. How cool is that?  

My pictures don't do this justice. Check out this video taken in Costa Rica.  NOW you get the idea.  Hypnotizing, eh? 

At times later in the afternoon, birds were literally 150 feet overhead. Trust me.  I have seen my share of Broad-winged flights, and that just doesn't happen very often. Sadly, it was happening because clouds rolled in and thermal generation ( a very important part of their migration strategy)  died.  They were struggling for lift and coming in low.  The clouds, of course, wrecked the lighting so I did the best I could. I managed one fair shot of a single bird during an opportune moment.

An assortment of other birds moved along that day, as well.  One Sharp-shinned Hawk came close and I was able to bag it.  (I know what some of you might be thinking "But it has a round tip on the tail! so it is a Cooper's Hawk!" Yes it does. So what.  This proves EXACTLY why that field mark is not always reliable. Sharp-shinned Hawk. Trust me.)

All in all, one can't complain.  Good birds. Good company.  Only one thing could made the day better.


With the Fan Club Party at the Fort Street Brewery handing out all the food you can eat with tons of free beer, it was great way to cap off a great day.  

Birds. Beer.  Best friends (Nat and Don where there).  That is how it should be!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Slow Week

 With five days off in a row and high hopes of a great hawk flight, I, like many others found the week to be a bust.  Sadly, the spectacle of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks swirling overhead and on the horizon would have to wait another year.

In the meantime, birds were to be had.  When the hawks don't fly, Caspian Terns are often putting on a show right in front of the watch.  Sadly, they don't fly as close as we would like.  They seem to stay just a bit toooooo far away for a really killer shot. But, I won't complain.

 With yesterday's hawk flight akin to the previous days (in other words, nothing), I left the park.  Knowing a buddy of mine, Caleb,  was hanging out at Elizabeth Park and knowing the birding at LEMP was all but dead, I decided to swing up the river and say "howdy".

After solving the problems of the world (pretty normal during times when the birding is slow), we spied a Great Blue Heron who basically didn't give a damn about people.  Folks on the side walk were walking within 25 feet of him and he didn't budge.  

Sporting our big lenses, Caleb and I thought we should shoot the bird (with a camera, I mean).  We had so much fun, in fact, I think I will be back.  I have a feeling that bird is hanging out there.  We'll see.  

So, I guess the moral of the story is this - when the birds are flying, go find some....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

#1343 - German Goodness

Here we are (Nat and I) on site at the Fort Street Brewery! The cask tonight? German Coffee. #1,343 but who is counting?

Using the Downriver Red (an older German style called an altbier) as the base, the brewer added coffee extract for the secondary fermentation. ( Please note this was not the beer originally planned for tonight. That one exploded in the cooler. )

In our Fan Club glasses, the heads are crazy thick. They belong on a pie! Dark amber in color, the aroma is about as complex as you can get. Malt. Hops. A tad of coffee. It is all there.

On the tongue, the coffee is more prominent but the taste is still hard to peg.

Even though I am lacking good vocabulary, this beer is lacking nothing. Damn good. 4 out of 5.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Yup.  You read the title correctly. My math is funny.  But it makes sense. Really. My pic is my proof......

Yes, the picture sucks, but look past that annoying detail, please.  There is a Snowy Egret here.  It is the smaller of the two birds (the other one being the larger cousin to the Snowy Egret, the Great Egret).  In addition to the smaller size, the bill is a give-away.  Black. Not yellow.  Ta-dah!

So, what is the big deal?  Ohh, about 150 feet.  That's the big deal.

As a birder (substitute "weirdo" as you see fit), I keep lists.  As a regular reader of this blog, you might know that I have a list of all birds seen in Wayne County and I actively pursue birds within the county so I can add more to the list.  Prior to just a few days ago, my Wayne County list was 279 birds.

I was paid a visit by a birder and he told me of TWO Snowy Egrets along Harbin Drive.  Harbin Drive is in Wayne County, but only by a matter of feet.  Maybe 100 feet or so.  The Egrets were north of Harbin Drive in the marsh (where they were actively feeding on minnows and such as they so like to do). Adding the width of Harbin Drive to the distance from the  county line, these birds were in Wayne county by no more that 150 feet when I took this picture.  

It should be noted that this bird has a largely southern distribution.  Seeing one is Michigan is always nice.  But I would bet most Michigan records are from Monroe County.  Specifically, I would bet most are from Pointe Mouillee State Game Area in extreme northeast Monroe County. Knowing this place is such a bird magnet, the thought that a Snowy Egret (or two) would leave primo-habitat in Monroe County and skip into Wayne County is really kinda cool. They simply don't do it that often.  

From a lister's standpoint, distances matter not.  150 feet.  2000 feet.  14 miles. Who cares. The bird is in the county, or not.  It is like pregnancy.  One is pregnant.  Or not.  Yes or no. There is no maybe.  

So, with the presence of Snowy Egrets (two in this case) on the fair side of the county line by only a matter of 150 feet, I added my 280th species to my Wayne County list.   Thus, my math: 2 birds + 150 feet = 280 species on my Wayne County list.  

Lake Erie Metropark is only 2,700 feet away (Google Earth is awesome).  So, if one bird does a short flight in the right direction, my new math would be: 1 + 2,700 = 252.  

I love math.