friday birds (with bonus turtles)

 

Fox Sparrow (Red), © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Fox Sparrow (Red) – my favorite sparrow

 

Wood Duck, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Wood Duck

 

Hermit Thrush, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Hermit Thrush

 

Eastern Painted Turtles, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Eastern Painted Turtles taking the sun at Black Marsh.

field report: woodpecker redux

Recent intelligence gathering indicated the presence of a group of likely overwintering red-headed woodpeckers, including two adults, at another park in the area so I went to investigate. Again I found them immediately, as they were actively foraging and calling frequently. Their ‘rattle’ call is quite distinctive and often precedes a visual ID. Lighting was more favorable today, so here are a few photos accompanying a report on my findings.

Adult Red-headed Woodpecker at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Adult Red-headed Woodpecker strikes the classic woodpecker pose at Black Marsh, North Point State Park.

Adult Red-headed Woodpecker at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Adult Red-headed Woodpecker at Black Marsh, North Point State Park.

Adult Red-headed Woodpecker at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Adult Red-headed Woodpecker at Black Marsh, North Point State Park.

Red-headed Woodpecker at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

An immature Red-headed Woodpecker glares at the photographer, North Point State Park.

After spending way too much time attempting to photograph the woodpeckers I continued on from the Black Marsh Wildlands into the rest of the park. First I took the Powerhouse Trail.

Powerhouse Trail at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Powerhouse Trail at North Point State Park.

Rising up out of the woods before me came the trail’s namesake…

Powerhouse at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Powerhouse at North Point State Park.

Powerhouse at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Powerhouse at North Point State Park.

The property that is now North Point State Park was formerly a local attraction known as the Bay Shore Amusement Park during the first half of the 20th Century, and there was streetcar service extending to the park from the city (extremely hard to imagine today in this rabidly car-centric region). This concrete monolith provided power to the streetcars. Now it serves as an informal art gallery for graffiti artists:

Powerhouse at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Inside the powerhouse at North Point State Park: ‘Find the roots of everything.’

After leaving the powerhouse I took a spur trail to gaze upon the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Bay from North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Chesapeake Bay from overlook at North Point State Park.

Friendly people had left sand art on the beach.

Sand art at North Point State Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Friendly people were here…

After scanning the Bay for waterfowl and only finding a few bufflehead and a single double-crested cormorant, I left the park and drove farther down the peninsula to where it dead ends at Fort Howard, the former coastal artillery headquarters for Baltimore. Fort Howard has a rich military history, which I will not go into here but you can certainly read about it to your heart’s content elsewhere on the internet. The park is rather bedraggled and largely unused, likely due to its remote location. But there are some nice spots. Of course I only photographed the horrible ones because that’s just how I am.

Brandon Shores Generating Station, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

The Brandon Shores Generating Station, viewed from Fort Howard. A 2011 NRDC report based on EPA data described it as releasing the second highest amount of toxic air pollutants annually in the U.S.

Despite the glaring lack of visitors, there are more picnic tables and trash cans at Fort Howard than I’ve seen at any other park. I was curious about the trailer in the photo below but simultaneously afraid so I chose not to get any closer. I thought if I called the number someone might be willing to divulge the contents but then this person would have my phone number. So I didn’t call. I find that life is an ongoing process of weighing the pros and cons of situations like this.

Fort Howard Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Scenic picnic area where I chose not to consume my lunch. (Note: if you call the number please leave a comment below.)

After passing the scenic picnic area I came upon this:

Fort Howard Park, © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Menacing…

Again, I wasn’t sure what to do here. Were they keeping women locked inside or barring them from entry. I couldn’t tell, but I didn’t hear any cries for help and without bolt cutters there was not much I could have done. So I left. No doubt this decision will haunt me for quite some time…

red-headed woodpecker

Red-headed woodpeckers are uncommon to rare in my area and declining in general throughout their range due to habitat loss and changes in availability of their food supply (primarily tree nuts). However, over the past few years they have become more prevalent around here as an overwintering species. A handful of them now typically show up each winter, scattered around the region. Earlier this week one was seen at a local park, in the same exact spot where another one had spent the winter a few years ago. The interesting thing is that both birds were immature birds, meaning they could not have been the same individual. So, somehow this second bird found this same spot, and chose to use what I’m pretty sure is the same tree for food caching. I went over to the park today and immediately found the bird, after running into a fellow birder who had just seen it. The sky was overcast, so the photos didn’t come out that great, but here are a few nonetheless. Once the bird finishes molting into its adult plumage it will have a bright red head and solid white patches on its wings, instead of the brownish head and black-spotted white patches seen here. In the last photo there are a few red feathers visible in the throat/upper breast.

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

enter title here

As a child, Ravel’s Bolero touched me deep. Something about the repetitive melody building as it does to a climax. The drumming particularly struck me, so primal, stripped-down, staccato. And isn’t life so like this for a bit, at least. A crescendo to a climax, but then…a plateau. And what then, what then. The topography of the flat plain bewilders. The plain en plein air. The air all comes at you at once, with no rises to slow it, or alter its trajectory. This tundra is of our own making, sculpted and smoothed over time. Or is it. Maybe it is a figment of a voracious imagination, one that eats a life up one slavering daydream at a time. Perhaps this merits further examination. Or not. This isn’t some academic treatise. No one peer-reviews this blog, that I know of.

I drove past the flea market today and they had a new professional sign installed atop their sign pole. It read: Internet Sweepsteaks. I remembered a couple miles down the road that I had my camera but I did not turn around. Hence I can offer no proof of this gaffe.

I have a memory of lying on my bed as a child, listening to Bolero come through the wall from the hi-fi in the living room. But let’s not get all Proustian here.

I chased a bird today. I said I would not do that but I did. So I didn’t find it. I did find model airplanes. And in one of my phagocytic daydreams I shot them down with my model machine gun. A kingfisher objected to the model airplane. Well, of course. It flew overhead, calling in fussy agitation. In my head I am flying a model fighter jet from the cover of a waterbush. My jet is fitted with tiny model machine guns operated by tiny model soldiers. My tiny model army shoots down all the other model planes and I continue birding in peace.

Someone is singing fake opera down the block. This is unfortunate. I am listening to Nine Inch Nails for some unknown reason. Ah, I remember now. I came upon a NIN album in the car’s CD player. I turned it up loud as I drove slowly down The Avenue with the windows lowered, like I was 17 again. So I’m listening to that first NIN album now, because that was a big one back in the day, I won’t say which day because we’ve got to keep our occasional secrets haven’t we. And I’m trying to drown out the fake opera, but it is persistent fake opera and it refuses to be put down. Also, I’m finding that I’m not really into this album now, especially when he kind of fake-raps. In fact, I would postulate that this was a grave stylistic error on his part. But we all do things in our youth that we later come to regret. And so, perhaps this fake opera singer is also young and will undoubtedly come to regret the torture she put us all through one late September day.

And to paraphrase a sample from a Man or Astroman? song, “well, that’s all over now.” I took a break, between last paragraph and this, during which various events occurred. For example, I watched an episode of the new BBC Sherlock Holmes series. Oh, and I went to the arboretum with Farley. Now it’s just crickets, I’m afraid. Crickets and slugs, as per usual. Plinking out some tunes on my alphabet piano.

I enjoy aggressive music as much as I enjoy quiet melancholic music. It’s essential, you see, to achieve a balance. To be stale, it’s the yin and the yang. But really, each person has its halves. Call it what you will. Semantics notwithstanding, let us not deny our dark sides, or for that matter, our light ones. I embrace both, though it may not be obvious to the general populace. But I am not concerned with them. I am concerned with touching the thing inside. It requires a delicate touch. And it is finicky in what type of delicate touch is required.

I used to go to parties. In my experience, that was a mistake. End of story.

I am now listening to Teeth Mountain, a defunct local band whose tribal drumming and frenetic guitars I enjoy. Again with the drumming. One or two classically trained musicians were involved, I believe. Now said musicians play in another band, Horse Lords. I am interested in musical noise that transports one’s headspace into alternate galaxies. I support purveyors of such racket. I support many things, quietly and unobtrusively.

This may be over?

tenodera aridifolia = one riot, a failed raid

The One and The Other are on vacation this week. Or they may have time traveled or transcended reality or something. It’s hard to say for sure. They are unreliable narrators. I overheard them jabbering about surfing wicked eddies in the space-time continuum. As I left the room, I saw them out of the corner of my eye, a brief flash. I think they were holding towels. Perhaps they’re now cavorting with mattresses on Sqornshellous Zeta.

I saw many birds this weekend. Birds. Birds. Birds. I went to the park. Twice. I saw a Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia). It flew across my path and landed in a tree. Fun!

On Saturday night I played Bananagrams. I felt sure I’d win on account of all the anagramming I’ve been doing lately, but I did not. Win, that is. One of my opponents was a known fierce competitor. Fastest bananagrammer in the West, they say. Now, I’m an anagram purist and do not think you should be able to dump letters, even considering that you are penalized by having to take extras when you do. When I mentioned this I was accused of being difficult. I ended up screwed several times at the end of a round when I picked up everybody’s crappy discarded letters. I think I prefer Boggle and Scrabble.

Work is work is work is work is work. Bah. Read poetry outside at midday near the water. So many old white men in suits. Just wait until they get the corporate nudity memo. Bloated bellies, sagging flesh tubes, scraggly grey chest hair…THE WORLD WILL SEE IT ALL. No one will be intimidated again by your fetid air of combed-over superiority.

Reading again about how the lucrative used tire market is the nefarious cause behind one of my summer woes. Isn’t that a bitter pill. I can’t get over it. Me, who hates cars and doesn’t even own one. I dream of an apparently pre-1987 world where I could actually enjoy my deck instead of shrinking from it in fear for months at a time. Where assassins did not invade the sanctity of my home, lurking in the low shadows, inserting their proboscises into my flesh to make a blood withdrawal. Used tires? Are you kidding me?

So here I am with my brand new 1970s rec room molester carpet, my office looking much tidier as a result, the shaggy blunt brutality of Monday closing in on me. The horror, the horror. And those brats The One & The Other not even here to entertain me. Damn them.

This didn’t really go where I wanted it to go.

the vagulator’s map

I want to be somewhere unfamiliar and yet I know it is merely a swirly chipped vision I see in my head. Outside a stone house at dusk, looking down the hillside at a copse of trees, wood smoke trailing from the chimney to the violet sky above, a pungent scent to breathe in, to savor. Gravel crunches underfoot, a lantern swinging from a hand slants yellow light across the path, scrape of the gate latch, a figure strides into darkness, never to return.

Canadian art house films don’t help, the lush scenery a starring role in itself, stealing the limelight, all humans fade to flat. I care less about what they are doing to each other, probing each other with words and organs, wrecking lives, all-too-familiar narrative arcs, but what about the waves forming across the lake, lapping onto the stony shore, the way that mountain looms like a haunted face over us all. These things matter. They outlast flesh.

I like words that start with ‘wood’. A woodnote is a song or call of a woodland bird. A wood nymph is a nymph of the forest. I would imagine a wood troll is a troll of the forest, or perhaps an orchard. A wood pussy is informal for a skunk. Wood sugar is xylose.

There is a bird (actually two of them) called a wryneck. These Old World species can twist their necks into unusual contortions. Perhaps they also demonstrate a dry sense of humor when relaxing amongst their bird friends and colleagues. I’d like to fancy myself a wryneck, but an old cycling accident prevents it.

In Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf uses the phrase ‘vagulous phosphorescence’ to describe an old lady. Vagulous is a word that Woolf apparently made up (see p. 7 of this article), meaning ‘fanciful formation’. There is also a verb form, vagulate, meaning ‘to wander in a vague manner; to waver’.

In the woods today there were more birders than birds. The bird to birder ratio was not in my favor (and yet as I now review other reports online from that location today I see that two rarities were found, both of which would have been life birds for me…sigh). Even the typically less-traveled trails held women with feeder blobs secured to their midsections, guffawing young ones with canine friends, a full orchestra of humanity tuning up for the day’s symphony. And why not. The humidity broken, temperatures dipping to livable levels, cotton puffball clouds clotted a blue painted sky. Why not all converge in one spot.

I rose above it, literally, and found a Brown Thrasher. And an American Redstart. I need less input, more output. Rather, more filtered, structured input. Less information to influence, to make one waver. The vagaries of the vagulator, vacillating with vociferous vim and vigor.

In the port-a-john there was a violent-looking spider. It was perched calmly in the corner at seat level. This raises questions in my mind. Are spiders vindictive? Was that spider thinking I know you all hate me and think I’m horrifying so I will lurk here in this portable toilet until you sit down and then I will jump into your naked lap, possibly onto your private bits, scaring the living shit out of you and causing you to never use a portable toilet again? Was it thinking that? Or was it just thinking, damn, this sucks. I am stuck in this portable toilet. How am I gonna get out. Or was it thinking, I’m a spider, I’m a spider, I’m a spider. Or the abbreviated: spider, spider, spider. Or not thinking, just being its spider self, in the portable toilet, unaware of any special significance attached to its location or even its existence.

When you start researching things on the Internet you tend to see the exact phrasing used in Wikipedia articles repeated over and over, in blog posts, news articles, and ‘answer’ sites (which presumably exist for people who know how to get online and ask questions but don’t understand how to use a search engine). Take for example, the vapors (or vapours, if your people prefer the ‘u’), which is described in these exact terms in Wikipedia, as well as a million other places: “Vapors were considered to be the female equivalent to melancholy found in men.” So, really the movie I watched last night should have been called Vapours, not Melancholia. And who assigns gender to a planet, anyway. Of course the Earth is a she isn’t she and we have been legitimately raping her for years haven’t we. Maybe she will magically expel us all soon. Better get in your magic tepee, teepee, or tipi.

These are the days, the days we are living.

mosquitoes = o quiet moss

It’s possible I saw more mosquitoes than birds during my birding expedition. I probably now have West Nile Virus. They are going to spray stuff from airplanes to kill the mosquitoes where I was looking at birds. Really. I wouldn’t lie about that. Think about not ever going to work again. Just think about it. For one. heart. beat. Fuck. I saw a dead slug on the sidewalk. I can’t take it. Why is it so easy to dislike people without even knowing their faces or their names. And yet. a squashed slug. crushes me. Farley walked right past a cat. Didn’t even see it. I think the cat was mocking him. There were a lot of vultures at Soldiers Delight. Hanging out on the cancer towers. Airing their wings and such before kettling up. It’s a vulture’s world out there. So many dead things to feast on. Because life is too much of everything. And so things are always dying and being replaced. And if you’re a vulture…well, I don’t feel the need to explain any further. There are too many people. And there are too many things. Too many people things and too many thing-people. The other night I dreamed I was living in an outdoor camp in a forest. I was part of a team. Our job was to watch over the forest, to help people traveling through it and to keep poachers out. We slept outside in little beds and watched informational films that helped us do our jobs better. How is this relevant? Let me put on my Jungian hat and pontificate. I guess maybe I want to help people instead of rot at a desk all day? Maybe not a job, per se, but something. Why not. Jung said many of his patients were successful middle-aged people who suddenly realized their lives were empty and meaningless. Hooray. Nothing changes throughout modern history, does it. It. just. gets. worse. But what does ‘successful’ mean in this context. I suspect it means the opposite of what I consider success. I am not interested in ‘social standing’. I am not interested in ‘moving up the ladder’. Of course that kind of success is going to make your life feel empty and meaningless. Of course it is. I hate your filthy money and everything. it. stands. for. I just want my time. That is all. Why is it so difficult. It seems like it belongs to me. But actually right now it largely belongs to a mammoth financial institution by way of a prominent American university by way of the United States Government by way of taxes paid by my friends and neighbors and complete strangers. So, in a way their time belongs to me, but not really because I give it to a big faceless bank, which means the people ‘moving up the ladder’ own it all. And their lives are empty and meaningless because of it. If they just stopped the process by which they are taking our time, I think we’d all be better off.

Where’s my cave. I have some paintings to make. They tell a very different story.

And yet…at work the ghost of Edouard Levé was haunting my mailbox. So there is that.

anagrams = an arm gas

There is a Grand Prix auto race going on in front of my work today. Cars that reach speeds of 175 mph are driving on the city streets. That’s a good idea isn’t it, isn’t it. They sound like giant alien mosquitoes, whining at high pitch. Where is my giant fly swatter. Oversized things are always funny. You should know this. Any object that is much bigger than its normal size is innately humorous. This is some sort of natural law, I believe. I’ve seen forks that are like five feet long and I immediately fell on the floor seized by paroxysms of laughter. There is no denying this. Think about those giant foam cowboy hats. They are not funny because they’re foam; they’re funny because they’re huge. Let’s just agree to agree on this and I won’t say anything more about it.

As you’re pondering very large things that are usually smaller, here are a few anagrams:

EVERYTHING IS IN EVERYTHING = THE TINY GREEN IVY HIVE GRINS

AMERICAN HANDBOOK = A MOAN CHOKED BRAIN

ELF GENDER = FERN LEDGE

Today is Thursday and I just ate some pretzel sticks. This means it is the last day of work for me. Hooray. I feel the shackles loosen. Soon I will hulk out and roam unshackled for four five whole days [just made an executive decision to also take Tuesday off]. I thought about taking today off, too, so I could go birding because it’s been awhile since I’ve visited my bird friends. But I decided to come in and make anagrams instead. Plus the creeper carpet is creeping my way and I have a few last minute preparations to make. I am sure I will see my bird friends this weekend instead. Or Tuesday.

This afternoon I plan to drink yerba mate again and do some things. After that who knows. I might write a short play. As F.K. would say, don’t touch my chains.

revoke my car privileges and drop me in a field somewhere, please

Rarely do I feel compelled to deconstruct my entire day in the space of a blog post, but today was um…special, shall we say? It started out normal enough. Armed with an unexpected day off, I crossed county lines with field glasses in hand to search for field birds. I had good intel on locations for breeding birds, and made haste for them. With windows rolled down, I heard the telltale robotic jingle-jangle of a Bobolink and navigated over to the shoulder. Out of the car in a flash, I first thought I’d been fooled by a nearby mockingbird attempting to hog the spotlight as usual, but then the bobolink himself flew overhead, tinkling and jingling to his heart’s content. He flew across the road and landed in a field, affording me adequate looks to get the day started off on the best foot. Nemesis bird comes home to roost! I moved on. I drove the country roads for about an hour and a half and found the birds to be generally cooperative. I saw and heard all my target birds for this trip. Meadowlarks were plentiful and I got a couple of stellar looks at them. Horned Larks were not as plentiful but I did spot a couple from a distance, and heard them elsewhere. I found a singing male Dickcissel perched on the exact section of power line where I found one last year…could it have been the same bird? In addition to these birds, I was also treated to great looks at several American Kestrels.

As I began to wind down my time, I returned once again to the site of the initial bobolink sighting to see if I could cop another look. As I navigated the car onto the opposite shoulder this time, the right front end suddenly sunk into a hidden ditch. When I got out of the car, I saw that the back left wheel was about 3 feet off the ground! As I assessed the seriousness of the situation, a man in a box truck drove up and offered assistance. We tried moving the car with him sitting in the hatch for balance (he was sorta stocky), but that didn’t work so he offered to seek out a farmer down the road with a chain, or failing that to call the sheriff’s office. While waiting around, I watched a bobolink groom himself while perched on a power line. Unfortunately my concern about the car impeded my joy at witnessing this scene. About 20 minutes later I was about to give up on Box Truck Man and call a tow truck when simultaneously the sheriff showed up and two country dudes in a big pick-up passed by and offered to pull me out. Within minutes they’d hooked a chain to the frame and pulled the car out. Country folks rule! I thanked them all profusely and decided to head back to the city after so much excitement.

I needed to pick Em El up and shuttle her downtown for a meeting but I had some extra time so I stopped to check on the birds at another favorite location. There I found expected Prairie Warbler and Hooded Warbler, although couldn’t get a visual on the latter. Many singing Field Sparrows, a perched Turkey Vulture (usually they’re circling endlessly overhead at this spot), a singing White-eyed Vireo, and other usual suspects rounded out the mix.

Once downtown I killed more time (die, time, die!) by finishing Darkness Visible and continuing with Paris Spleen, drinking espresso, and getting yelled at by a probably schizophrenic man. Somehow I think Baudelaire would’ve appreciated the scene. Unbeknownst to me, while all of this fun was taking place Em El’s car was being towed because I failed to read the red highlighted part of the parking meter that said No Parking Between 4-6 PM Mon-Fri. Yes, this is common knowledge to those who frequently drive and park in the city. However, I’m like a deer in the headlights when I get downtown behind the wheel of a car (really bad simile in this context, I know). I don’t know the rules, man! I’m a cyclist, for god’s sake. I haven’t owned a car since 1997 or something (if you’re curious, it was a Plymouth Valiant that sat in my driveway for a few years after I used it to move to Virginia [it looked like this, except crappier because it only cost $400]). Anyway, I guess the cycling gods were raining down holy fire and brimstone on me today for driving too much lately. Maybe I deserved it, but damn, those cycling gods are harsh. Of course, no thanks to The City of Baltimore, either, always taking and never giving!

As we waited in line to pay the obscene $272 required to get the car back, I attempted to lighten the mood by telling Em El that at least we can chalk this up as another quintessential Baltimore experience (along with other special things, such as becoming the victim of a crime and receiving wildly innacurate water bills). After all, you haven’t really lived in Baltimore until you’ve waited 45 minutes in the tiny concrete bunker under the interstate overpass with all the other suckers preyed upon that day by the blood-sucking savages commonly known as tow-truck drivers.

As if all this wasn’t enough, immediately after Farley ate his dinner tonight he barfed it all up in various places around the house along with all the water he’d drank in the previous 30 minutes. By that time, I was about ready to hurl myself off the deck in search of sweet unconsciouness.

To sum up, my joy tonight is all tangled with misery and weariness.

spotlight on bobolinks!

© 2010 Andrea Westmoreland

Male Bobolink in breeding plumage, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, Volusia County, Florida.

Image Courtesy of Andrea Westmoreland, licensed under Creative Commons

Somewhere in a field just north and west of here a bobolink sings. If I quiet my mind enough I can almost hear it, even though I’ve so far only heard recordings. Sometimes called rice bird, butter bird, skunk blackbird, or meadow-wink, the male bobolink sings a jubilant song that has frequently been likened to the robotic voice of R2D2 in the Star Wars films. Unique in many ways, the bobolink is one of only a few species that goes through a complete molt of its feathers twice each year. The male bobolink in its breeding plumage is a most striking bird! Yet through molting for the winter it comes to resemble the much drabber female.

Twice each year, bobolinks undertake one of the longest migrations of any songbird. They winter in central South America and spend their breeding season in the northern United States and parts of southern Canada. Originally a prairie-dwelling species of the Midwestern U.S., bobolinks adapted to breeding on agricultural land and were thus able to expand their summer range. Once killed by the thousands by rice farmers in the southeast U.S., these birds are now considered to be beneficial to American farmers due to their primarily insect-based diet during the breeding season. However, loss of farmland and changes in agricultural practices over the years have led to a steep decline in bobolink nesting habitat. Meanwhile, on their wintering grounds, a shift toward rice production has made the bobolink an enemy of South American farmers. Regrettably they are not protected there by law as they have been in the United States since the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. In the past bobolinks were also served as food in restaurants, and continue to be a delicacy in Jamaica, where they earned their “butter bird” nickname, a reference to the heavy fat content of the birds when they arrive there on stopovers during their long migration.

The bobolink has long been a nemesis bird of mine, along with a few other field-dwelling species. As one who rarely travels far to watch birds, I am restricted to what habitat is nearby. Unfortunately, appropriate field habitat is not plentiful in my usual birding grounds. Searching for field birds also typically involves a lot of driving around and pulling off on narrow road shoulders in an effort to catch glimpses of species that seem to thrive on playing hide-and-seek in the shelter of their grassy living quarters. This is not my preferred method of birding. That said, there have been recent reports of bobolinks northwest of here, and I may set out this weekend once again to find this elusive and intriguing bird.

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