I’d rather it be a band on a nicer bird that I’m reporting, never having done this before, but I suppose I should think instead of the scientific or research value. How an understanding of this one mute swan’s behavior might help to protect less beautiful, but more endangered waterfowl species.

Click for a prior rant on mute swans.


I’ve been bothered to notice mute swans on my local rivers lately. Every spot with open water that I visited today had a bunch of them. There were quite a few sleeping on the ice mixed in among the gulls, too. At least they’re mostly civil to the other waterfowl at this time of year and tame enough (big, too!) to pose for my camera.

My favorite complaint while chasing ducks is that the prettiest ones are the first to fly away. Not so with a mute swan.

Anyone else ever reported a banded bird? Do they really send a certificate, like they promise? Anyone else find this form long and overly intimidating?

Come, winter wind

Pray for ice and a good, long cold spell to make it thick enough that this monster might make an appearance on the Navesink for the first time since 1920. The Rocket, with its 38 foot tall mast and 900 sq. ft. of sail, has been painstakingly restored and is ready to barrel across the ice, if only the weather will cooperate.

I’m hoping maybe the weekend after next, if this cold sticks.

Image from The North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club

A social worker quiz

Match the client or landlord’s statement with the social worker’s inappropriate response:

1. “Um.. I’m calling because I got a letter from you that says my share of the rent is $16.00 and I don’t think that’s right because my income hasn’t changed… I mean I never worked so how come I got to pay $16.00 a month if I’ve always been on welfare?”

2. “Are you my new case manager? I don’t think that’s right because Miss Linda never notified me she was going out on maternity leave to have a baby and why didn’t she take care of my business first? She could have notified me I was gonna have to deal with you now. Can I talk to someone else instead?”

3. “Yes ma’am. I’m calling to find out why I haven’t received payment for the month of January yet?”

4. “I just want it on record with you that my toilet is overflowing.”

5. “My landlord is just mad because I painted the living room without asking her first.”

6. “I wanna know how come you approved me to live in this dump?!”

7. “The sheriff was just here and left a foreclosure notice on the fence. Does this mean I don’t have to pay my rent this month?”


A. “Right, well… this is the government you’re dealing with!”

B. “Am I hearing you right? I must not be because it sounds like you’re complaining. And did you also notice that I payed the outstanding balance on your electric bill?”

C. “Maybe the real issue is that you haven’t paid your rent in 11 months! And will you please just stop talking for a second?!”

D. “Pay your darn rent!”

E. “Thanks for the update. Maybe you should call your landlord?”

F. “If I remember correctly, you begged me to.”

G. “Hold on while I find someone else.”


Any resemblance to real or actual phone calls today from clients of mine is sad, but true.

Bird dog

Can’t you just hear him promising not to pull the stuffing out of his new ducky?

A couple hours later he’s apologetic almost.

First to go was one of the pretty orange feet; then he attacked the seam and pulled all the innards out, including the squeaky bits. All that’s left now is some stuffing in the very tip of the beak that he can’t seem to get to.

Dead duck.

And I thought Labs were prized for their *soft* mouths?


Que linda!

I’m in a *I don’t feel like blogging* funk, but thought I’d share some happy pics from today.

My girlfriend from work Linda, on the right, had planned to have her baby daughter by C-Section on Inauguration Day, but well, things happened sooner than expected. Melanie was born a couple days before Christmas and we had Linda’s shower tonight.

I don’t often do baby showers, but this one was fun because I got to meet some of her family, including two of her sweet nieces who were busy making *hats* from the discarded ribbons and bows from the shower gifts. Isn’t their hair just the most adorable thing?

The star of the show! Little Melanie Isabel slept through the whole party being passed from arm to arm in the happy embrace of family and friends.



and I’d thought I was awkward-looking as a teenager!


Skimmers give no hint of their grace on the wing as they pass the hours between tides on a late October beach in NJ.

They’re somewhere far south now, somewhere far warmer than here.

Yet I can see the loveliness, come summer, as improbable as the bird itself, and as improbable as any lanky teenager, staring at herself in the mirror, waiting and willing her own summer come.

A friend is a lucky thing to have

My friend Janet and I are beginning to think that we’re something like good-luck charms for each other when it comes to getting life birds.

The last time we saw each other in May for the World Series of Birding it was a Cape May Warbler. The time before that, also on World Series Day, it was a Eurasian Collared Dove and a Wilson’s Plover.

Today it was this little beauty: an Orange-Crowned Warbler. Pretty, huh?

This bird belongs out west and is pretty common there from what I’ve read. There’s one at Sandy Hook most winters, but I’ve not ever bothered to chase it, thinking that it must be dull and drab and skulky and not worth the effort.
It was a bit skulky, of course, but its color stood out nicely against the winter browns of the faded goldenrod and leafless, but still lethal, poison ivy.

Neither of us could take very much credit for finding the bird; it’d been reported for a while and someone stopped into the bird observatory this morning during my stint there and told me exactly where to look for it. Janet and I set out together around 2:30, chatting merrily away, and happened upon another birder with his scope trained on it. Very convenient!

All of this leaves me wondering if I shouldn’t find more excuses to bird with a good-luck charm, or Janet.