also Scissorbill, Shearwater and previously known along the Virginia coast as Storm Gull.

I’d suggest the addition of Penguin Gull.

; )

Do you see the similarity?

My 1917 edition of the Birds of America is a joy for many reasons, but I particularly enjoy it for the local or historical names; so often these names are much more evocative of a bird’s spirit or some fundamental quality that we associate them with.

Peterson sort of dryly describes their call as *barking* or alternately as “kaup, kaup.” To me it sounds like something between a bark and a quack. Members of a colony at rest on the beach will call anxiously to one another as people approach on foot and it sounds for all the world to me like a childhood game of “Marco Polo.”

Listen for that next time!

Almost There

“Nature repeats itself in many forms. When I look at Queen Anne’s Lace, I see outer space. When I look to the sky, I see flowers.”

Some of you may have known Bobbie at Almost There and remember that she passed away back in late June of this year. I never met Bobbie, but we often kidded about meeting someday down at Cape May where she lived. In fact, I tried talking her into coming along on a Flock gathering many times; Bobbie was my Dad’s age and I guess the thought of running around with a couple crazy-birder-types seemed like too much to her. I’d have been content to sit beside her on a bench beneath the lighthouse and listen to her stories instead.

So I went this morning to her memorial service at Leaming’s Run Gardens and listened to her children tell her story, mostly by sharing excerpts from the writing she’d done through the years. Much of her family history and personal insights were included in a small memorial book… the opening quote about Queen Anne’s Lace came from there… and this offered me a better appreciation of a woman I’d admired from afar for the last couple years.


I pick the prettiest part of the sky and I melt into the wing and then into the air, till I’m just soul on a sunbeam. ~Richard Bach

Yes, I’m still checking off items from last year’s list…

: )

Kite flying has always looked like such fun to me and a little boy at the beach on Labor Day weekend with a stunt kite inspired me to get my own. A stunt kite has two lines for control and is not anything one can put up into the sky and tie off to a beach chair to be forgotten while you sunbathe.

You have to manage this thing and boy, is it fun! A gentle (or not so much) tug on either the right-handed or left-handed line will set the kite diving in whichever direction… the wind plays its hand and the kite is making loop the loops in a dangerous spiral towards someone’s umbrella…


There was much giggling and some cheering, even… a brisk wind and the sun low on the beach at Cape May… the lighthouse behind us… the curiosity of an Amish family out for a seaside afternoon…

I hadn’t felt so lighthearted in a long while.

And next I want to learn how to do tricks!

: )

25 in last year’s 39 by 40.

Who’d have guessed it?

I’d intended to post a “bad bird photo of the week” tonight, but this is not it.

Stop laughing. I can hear you, you know.

; )

I was at Cape May this past weekend and between the swarms of monarchs and tree swallows, which I mean to get to talking about eventually, there was an hour or so spent puzzling over the ducks at Lighthouse Pond in Cape May Point State Park.

I love ducks, but this time of year is awful for trying to identify any of them. There’s juveniles and females and males in eclipse plumage… basically meaning that no duck looks the way we expect them to… there’s hints to their identity, of course, but puzzling one’s way through bill and eye color is time-consuming and generally against the way I like to enjoy birds.

This bird was a puzzle we eventually gave up on… we’d called it a teal for a while… eventually settling on a Cinnamon Teal, even though we *knew* that wasn’t right…

Today there was this from The View at the Cape identifying this duck as a Northern Pintail. We’d never guessed that, I don’t think… some weird Wigeon, maybe, but a Pintail?

Of course it’s obvious to me now that I know what it is…

: )

Autumn on the doorstep

Some Borland tonight…

“Another week and Summer will be officially at an end, since we demarcate our seasons by the solstices and the equinoxes. We who live in a land of seasonal change will have Autumn on our doorstep. Even now the sun rises east and sets west, so far as the eye can see; and one hears regret that another Summer is gone.

In a sense, this is so; and yet no season, nor even any year, either stands alone or vanishes completely. Summer is rooted in Spring, and Autumn is essentially Summer’s maturity. The apple now reddened on the tree was a fragile blossom, a delight to the eye and a host to the bee, only a few months ago. The honey in the comb was pollen when June was at its height, and rains of April and hot July nights now come to ripeness in the cornfields. Even before the leaves come swirling down, buds are on the bough for another Summer’s shade.

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night; and thus he would never know the rhythms that are at the heart of life. There is a time of sprouting, a time of growth, and a time of harvest, and all are a part of the greater whole. There comes the time now to savor the harvest, to pause and know another year not yet brought to full finality.

The rhythm of life and thought and change will be close around us now, and the restless energy of Summer will be distilled into the stout brandy of another season. Change is ours to know and accept and build upon, even as the skies of Autumn clear and the leaves begin to fall. Fallen leaves open wider horizons to the seeing eye.”