Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Light Summer Post

Another poor helpless creature being needlessly exploited by my selfish need for attention.

I haven't been posting much as of late for a couple of reasons: first, my pathologically bad luck at finding cool birds as of late has left me precious little to write about, and second, I've started another blog on my other obsession, FOOD!

Because birding—even pathetic, unsuccessful birding—makes me hungry.

Anyhow, I was fortunate that several of my posts got "promoted" onto the edited side of, the online magazine hosting my other blog site. So I got LOTS of hits and comments and good stuff right off, which is a good thing.

Sort of.

Well, yesterday, the kindly editors at Salon agreed to cross-post a fluffy little piece I wrote about, of all things, spaghetti. And within hours there was a (relative) crap-storm of comments accusing me of sexism, xenophobia, imperialism, and just plain old irresponsible ignorance.

Holy crap. This was about SPAGHETTI. It wasn't as though I was writing about abortion or the differences between Long and Short-billed Dowitchers or the continued existence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers or anything else worth really fighting about. I regularly write more snarky and potentially inflammatory stuff here and the only comments I usually get are "Nice photos!"

This is because birders are sane. And polite. And accustomed to staying quiet around deranged creatures.

All this has left me a bit shell-shocked. Now I'm kind of scared to post anything, anywhere, without being virtually yelled at. So I've decided to simultaneously write and flame myself. So you don't have to.

Saturday at Morningside Nature Center

June is the quietest—and thus the worst—time of year for north-central Florida birders: the spring migrants are long gone (How dare you refer to them as 'migrants', as if they don't belong! Who gave you the right to judge which birds do or don't belong in your community!) and the year-round residents are mostly hunkered down quietly in their nests.

This, of course, is no excuse not to look for birds. On Saturday, Glenn and I went to Morningside Nature Center to see what we could find. Among other things, we wanted to look for the locally rare Brown-headed Nuthatches that favor the wooded areas there (Just because SOME Brown-headed Nuthatches in Gainesville like to nest in pine flatwoods that doesn't mean ALL of them do! All I see here is peddling in tired stereotypes.) we'd seen a nesting pair there a few months ago and hoped they (and their now-fledged chicks) would still be around.

We didn't see any Nuthatches, but we did see several Red-headed Woodpeckers, one flying continually in and out of its nest hole in a snag not far from the parking lot. We heard, but didn't see, a number of Summer Tanagers, all singing quite loudly. I was pleased to learn recently that they nest here, and will be around all summer. (Did it ever occur to you that Summer Tanagers don't exist for your pleasure? They're hard at work raising families and all you can do is look at them?)

Normally, I like to start my forays at Morningside by the reconstructed 19th century farmstead, whose trees and plantings attract numerous songbirds. But today, the area seemed crowded with visitors being lectured to about traditional Cracker architecture ("Cracker" is a blatantly racist term! I've e-mailed the moderators and told them to remove this post!) by docents in period dress. So instead, we explored the area just around the picnic tables.

Our best bird of the day was a fairly new one for both me and Glenn--and we saw several of them! Just as we arrived and got out of our car, I heard unfamiliar buzzy honks!! high overhead. Flying high above us, at mind-boggling speed, were a pair of Common Nighthawks! (Uh. It wasn't night and those sure as hell aren't hawks. Don't you proofread your crap before posting it??)

They lingered in the area, swooping and diving overhead the whole time we were there. I'd only ever seen them very briefly, around sunset, when they were pointed out to me by more knowledgeable birders.

We also saw an Eastern Bluebird, a Great-crested Flycatcher, several Pine Warblers, and lots of Eastern Towhees, singing and hopping around low in the bushes. Then it started to rain, and we headed home to await another day of birding.

(Well, you still suck.)