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Preview: Tick Magnet

Tick Magnet

The tattered field notes of an urban rustic

Updated: 2014-10-03T03:57:57.409-04:00





Shame on You, Grackle!


A grackle was in my backyard this morning. He arrived in a ginormous hemi SUV blaring hip hop music, quickly festooned himself with $27,000 worth of photographic equipment and repeatedly flushed a Snowy Owl until it died by the toolshed. Then, he robbed six songbird nests and directed some Cowbirds to the ones he couldn't get to. He whipped out a ten-pound bag of mixed Garlic Mustard and Japanese Honeysuckle seed and dumped it all over the neighborhood, keyed my car, sprayed DEET on my scope and binoculars, tore off my catalytic converter, and put food out for the feral cats.

He raised his middle primary to me as he fired up his Hummer, belched fledgling feathers, and roared home to sleep it off. Of course, I tracked him to his flop and rousted him. In the nest, under his carefully folded Klan robes, swastika armband collection and New York Yankees memorabilia, were grisly souvenirs crafted from the remains of the Lindbergh Baby, Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart.

This report generated by eBird.

Captain and Mrs. Miroshnikov


Ivan Dmitryevich Miroshnikov was a captain -- maybe in the Red Army, maybe in Poland, and maybe during the Great Patriotic War. Tamara Arsenievna Miroshnikov was fond of hats.

Nikitenko behind them died on Halloween, 1973.




Heaven, Hell or...



Abandon All Hope





There was a sharp-shinned hawk at the corners of Atlantic and Fredricksburg Aves. in Ventnor this afternoon. It was on the second of three brick steps going up to the front porch of a house. We did a quick U-turn to assure ourselves that we weren't seeing things and, sure enough, there it was. It had jumped up to the porch railing and was scoping out sparrows in the arbor vite. It didn't like us looking at it and it took off and flew across Atlantic Ave. toward the bay and landed in some sycamore trees. This is only the third time I've ever seen a sharpie on Absecon Island and I didn't want to spook it so we just left.




I Never Said This Blog Didn't Have Its Faults



An orchard transected by the San Andreas Fault. The fault is the diagonal line where the rows of trees are misaligned. The rows were straight when the tract was planted, but the shift of the Pacific and North American plates has thrown them out of kilter. Neato.

Something New To Keep Your Eye Out for at the Feeder


(image) hould you happen to live in equatorial Africa.

Smithsonian scientists published their discovery of a new bird species in Gabon in August. I just got the teletype.

Behold, the Olive-backed Forest Robin:

Olive-backed Forest Robin

Researchers first noted this dense-thicket creeper in the field in 2001, but only recently did closer lab examination and DNA work distinguish the bird from known Forest Robins -- or the known Forest Robin, as the taxonomy of the genus Stipthrornis is in some dispute.

Hartlieb named the nominate of the genus in 1855, and so things stood until 1996, when specimens of the the Sangha Forest Robin (pictured below) were collected in the Central African Republic's Dzanga-Sangha rain forest in the Congo Basin. These led to DNA work that suggested a division of the traditionally monotypical genus into a total of four species: S. erythrothorax, (Western), S. gabonensis (Gabon), S. sanghornis (Sangha), and S. xanthogaster (Eastern).

Sangha Forest Robin

The Stipthrornis genus of Forest Robins are part of the Old World flycatcher family of Muscicapidae or Chats, though they were once placed in the thrush family Turdidae, where you find our own American Robin and the rest of our true thrushes, the Veery, Hermit, Wood, Swainson's &c.

Anyway, whoever you are, Welcome, new guy.

Why Conservationists Should Be AGW Skeptics


Too many (i.e. all) birders I know are avid "warmenists."

I'm of the opinion this is a poorly thought out avenue of advocacy. It blindly endorses a political notion born of "findings" by an embarrassingly amateurish cadre within a nascent scientific discipline with little consideration (much less apprehension) of the positive effects of global warming itself, and the detrimental impact Anti-Global Warming focus has on more specific and readily addressed environmental and conservationist issues.

Say the average American gives $5.00 to "environmental" causes per year. Times 200 million adults, that's a cool billion. For one billion dollars, I could buy every private parcel of real estate in seven or eight rural Michigan counties, plant it with Jack Pine, and save the Kirtland's Warbler forever. For half of that, I could supply the entire watermen fleets of Jersey and Delaware with quality bait bags, reduce their horseshoe crab requirements by 70% and save the North American subspecies of the Red Knot forever. For one quarter of that, I could bird-proof 50,000 tall buildings in migratory pathways. For one tenth of that, I could outbid a developer on sixty-five beachfront acres of saltmarsh and sandbar and maybe save the Piping Plover for a while. For one 100th of that, I could offset the entire year's legal and operating expenses of a grassroots organization fighting to save a historic property from demolition and development that would threaten a prized and vulnerable preserve next door.

Well, somewhere between that 65 acres and the measly million is what's left after donations to global warming causes are factored out.

I certainly hope that these errant dollars actually have a positive impact on the 92 per cent of all species "threatened" by global warming in the online taxonomic resources. These same resources inform me that the American Roadrunner is threatened by sprawl, without comprehending that the warming that "threatens" the Cerulean Warbler will expand the Roadrunner's habitat by a factor of a billion (assuming you rely on Albert Gore for your science).

I don't like contradictions. I won't justify them, and I certainly won't accept them as scientific.

Fuck carbon, fuck TV ads from gigundo corporations with "green" graphics, fuck lighbulbs, ethanol and brainwashing kindergarten kids about footprints. I'll take the Warbler.

Bird Portraits in Color Plate 17



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 16



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 15



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 14



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 13



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 12



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 11



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 10



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 9



My nephew, Jack, is watching me post these paintings.

Bird Portraits in Color Plate 8



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 7



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 6



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 5



Bird Portraits in Color Plate 4