Archive for the ‘Tracking’ Category
New Jersey at Her Best - Miracle Birds, Crayola Morning
Miracle Bird of Cape May - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher by Mike Crewe
In the midst of unpacking from my Cape May runaway weekend, I read one of my birding hotlines - and yes, I was there, Saturday morning, at Hidden Valley, near Higbee Beach, as this amazing flycatcher with its impossibly long train of elegant feathers, worked a ploughed field the way harriers work grasslands, quartering, back and forth, high among cedars, weaving in and out of its relatives, the kingbirds, who were dwarfed by comparison. A true miracle, never expected - was this the reason I had had to flee to Cape May?
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Flight, from Internet
Or was it the prothonotary warbler contending with the sun in blinding yellow circularity, surpassing the sun in song, facing dawn, at 7 a.m.? Or, instead, the indigo bunting, heard not seen, until kind fellow (unknown - that’s the joy of this fellowship) birders shortened their scope so I could see the song emerge from that open beak, that treasure house of pink and gold among all that blue?
Bob Zaremba’s Indigo Bunting is even more vivid than mine -
which seemed, blotched with white, to be transitioning to full breeding plumage…
Well, ‘my’ indigo bunting was singing, face-on. The friendly birders who let me peer through their scope gave me the gift of the inside of the bunting’s mouth in song, as pink and gold as the finest work on the Ponte Vecchio of Florence, Italy, in my first-ever trip to Europe in 1964. Only this pink/gold treasure was auditory as well as visual. I shall never forget it.
Indigo Bunting from the side, Singing - from the Internet
My hot-lines didn’t carry on about the other Crayola birds that morning - from this bluest of blues (which I had only seen once, arriving at Tom Brown’s Tracker School in Asbury New Jersey in 1983 in a cornfield) to the vivid crimson/scarlet and black orchard oriole that practically blinded me with its hues as it nearly deafened me with its song.
But, looking back at the entire weekend, much of which will be chronicled here with other images, the stunning scene remains not the rarest (the flycatcher) but that 7 a.m. burst of of sun in the guise of a bird - the prothonotary warbler I could see with my own plain eyes.
B. L. Sullivan’s sure hand, eye and lens brings us my sunburst warbler…
These are the joys of adventuring. Of going off alone, no idea why, some idea where, to where Adventure waits. And then waiting. Not needing a guidebook or a guide. Only attentiveness and attunement. And patience - only I didn’t require much of that in Cape May last weekend.
Here’s what Laurie Larsen sent about the flycatcher — copy it and read it for yourself. And go, set yourself up for adventure!
See the CMBO blog http://cmboviewfromthecape.blogspot.com/ for details of today’s Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, at Hidden Valley in Cape May. Laurie Larson
How to report NJ bird sightings: http://www.njbrc.net/reportto.html
But there was another bird, in those magical 20 minutes at Hidden Valley on Saturday Morning, all alone, except for a birder in shorts (not a good idea with deer ticks, poison ivy and thorns on all sides) and a red jacket (also not a good idea - birders ideally would wear camouflage, which I refuse for peace reasons - but at least muted tones, hats with beaks to hide our eyes from birds who would see us as raptors…). It was the man in the red jacket and shorts who insisted we’d see the flycatcher any minute now, who recognized the song of the indigo bunting, and identified the repeated music of the next bird in my Crayola Morning - the bright red deep-throated music of the orchard oriole:
Orchard Oriole from Internet
Orchard Oriole in Full View, full-throated Song — from Internet
NJ Wild readers know my constant tune, my leitmotif — that it is ESSENTIAL that we preserve sites such as Hidden Valley and Higbee Beach and whatever swathes of wild forest and grasslands we can, so that these magical creatures can migrate north in the spring and south in the autumn, to feed, to breed, to live anew, to sing, to light up the skies like melted crayons, for a solitary birder alongside a ploughed field near the Delaware Bayshores in the 21st Century.
WHY PRESERVE - THIS PLOUGHED FIELD HELD ALL MIRACLES OF MY CRAYOLA MORNING
NJ WILD and WILDNJ bring us good news, yet again. The creatures who belong here, as in bear and peregrine of this past week’s posts, and now, bobcat, are reclaiming their territory.
Fellow poet, Penelope Schott, now of Portland Oregon, but formerly of my new street, Canal Road near Griggstown, reports that, about a mile from here, where she used to live, she heard and saw coyotes. I look forward to their chorale. Early in the morning, on the towpath, inches from my new door, she once shared the trail with a porcupine.
The foot(e)bridge where I now enter my beloved D&R Canal Towpath is the site where I met the canal, when I first moved to Princeton, in 1968. The scene on calm days of reflections in that water can be very French, stirring my homesickness for my other land. But, does France have bobcats and peregrines? Not in the year I loved on the hill above Cannes. And if they did, they’d eat them.
Meanwhile, NJ WILD readers, we can rejoice in the return of the WILD to our beleaguered state. Here’s another retort for the “what exit” joke, which has NEVER amused me… bobcats in the Water Gap!
In case you’ve forgotten: SAVE HABITAT!
From WildNJ today: TRULY WILD - a bobcat seen and photographed in New Jersey’s stunning Delaware Water Gap:
Reclusive bobcat caught on camera in Water
He had been stalking the big cat for months and finally had the shot of a lifetime –
Marty Schwartz, Gallery 14, Princeton Photography Club, captures Winter’s Stark Majesty
Winter needs a press agent. I volunteer. Spring is seriously overrated, winter unfairly castigated. My love affair with this season sneaked up on me. Having grown up in Michigan, then begun married life in gelid Minnesota, I had considered winter my enemy. Until I moved, that is, [1987 - 1989], first to Provence, then to Savannah, Georgia.
Living through two snowless years [well, flakes did descend, once in each place] birthed in me a passion for winter that I never expected to hold. I didn’t WANT marguerites [airy white daisies] in January, as in Cannes. I didn’t LIKE Georgia’s year-‘round roses!
Living without the crimsons and scarlets of autumn was bad enough. Come December, I found myself aching for the sculptural starkness of leafless trees. I required January’s tumultuous gold/purple skies, clouds scudding like galleons before a gale. I was stunned, in 1989, to re-encounter in New Jersey’s weed fields, whispers of rose and mauve and lavender. To have winter pour over me tumults of brass and bronze. New Jersey’s winter palette still stuns me — all subtlety and minimalism, –a potpourri of hues I insist on calling warm.
Even though editors tend to think Nature ends with Labor Day, Read the rest of this entry »
Brenda Jones immortalizes one of my wild dinner companions, the great horned owl.
My first solo dinner of the New Year held interesting components. My west-facing table held hefty home-made spaghetti, evidence of my split loyalties, featuring the new product, Jersey Fresh (canned! –available at Trenton Farmers Market) tomatoes, accented by herbes de Provence, complete with lavender. Bayberry candles fluttered before lace curtains, framing the relentless darkness of this time of year.
I could call this another “Silent Night.” I might add “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” As I relished this deeply nourishing food, I relived sustaining moments with dear friends who know how to honor the sacred times.
My room was quieter than a whisper. Suddenly, out across the floodplain, I heard the haunting courtship calls of the great horned owl. January is their spring. Each year, the male returns first, sounding forlorn to human ears, seeking the return of his mate. Immediately, the dark and my hushed room came alive, throbbing with true wildness. I rushed out onto my Canal Pointe porch, so that my very being could be brushed by sound waves from this welcome dinner companion. Read the rest of this entry »
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, Wisdom-Keeper
My little sister, Marilyn, and I were acutely attuned to Indians who had preceded us in Michigan, particularly summering at Lake Leelanau and Traverse City, then north to Naubinway and the Keewenaw Peninsula. We thrilled to Indian names of towns, creeks, roadways and landforms. Unlike Thoreau, Marilyn and I did not find arrowheads everywhere we walked.
But, particularly in a canoe or a small boat, on limpid wooded rivers of the Upper Peninsula, rowing over to and back from Tahquamenon Falls, we could sense Indians’ silent presence on all sides. In those days, virgin forests were frequent, one of my most cherished named after my favorite poem, “The Hiawatha Forest.” Even as little girls we knew that Indians’ absolute right to these regions had been profaned by miners and lumberjacks and all those soldiers with their primitive wooden forts.
It wasn’t popular in childhood, in Michigan, to be on the Indians’ side. I was the only girl in the entire theatre who wanted Indians to win, on the few Saturdays when someone’s mother could take us to a Western movie in a nearby town. (Ours, Lathrup Village near Detroit, had no store, no library, no post office, so certainly no theatre!) I never understood why everyone in those movies cheered the brutal usual outcome. I was not on Custer’s side. I waited a long time for Dances With Wolves. Read the rest of this entry »
Once I knew the absolute difference between coyote tracks and cougar tracks. Still, I know weasel scat and how to make red sumac tea, which tastes like strawberry lemonade, to prevent scurvy in wilderness.
It took me three days to make fire with the bow drill. At every break, when I crept out to kneel and try anew, I thought everyone else had accomplished this but me… Wrong. I have reaped grasses; thatched a sweat lodge; tracked psychically; foraged by night and blindfolded. If I never taste squirrel stew again, it’ll be too soon.
This by way of explaining when (1983) the Wild took me by the scruff of the neck. What is harder is the Why. A new friend, consultant at a major Fortune 500 company on a dozen of same, and I decided, in a Women Unlimited Workshop, that we were significantly underprepared should we ever come to the wilderness or vice versa. In fact, to us in our pampered air-conditioned lives, staying in a Holiday Inn would’ve qualified as wilderness.
We’d read Tom Brown, Jr.’s non-fiction memoirs, The Tracker and The Search. Enraptured by all that his friend’s grandfather, Stalking Wolf, had taught Tom in the Pine Barrens (where neither of us had ever been), we decided we had to BE with Tom. We had to learn Stalking Wolf’s Apache ways; and more than that, his wisdom.
Eight days would be required, in the height of summer. About 30 others showed up by noon on that July Saturday, far north near Asbury, New Jersey. Grandparents to boyscouts, we all had our Buck knives, our tattered paperbacks of Tom’s books, and various degrees of determination and experience. I rated high on the former, at the bottom of the scale on the lower. http://trackertrail.com/tombrown/index.html Read the rest of this entry »