The Banded Goose Challenge

Last week, Bill Kempey mentioned that a Canada Goose with a band on its left leg was among all the geese (and two Mute Swans) hanging out at the Warden's Watch.

When I saw that the geese were still around yesterday, I attempted to photograph the  leg band.

With Sally Techson's help, I found the aforementioed goose and managed to photograph the band from two angles (no easy task).

I then went to the home page of the USGS' Bird Bnading Laboratory, which has a fairly straightforward process to enter the information.

Long story short: the Canada Goose had a butt-end band, and my photos apparently had only eight of the nine digits needed for an I.D.

Photographing all nine would have required getting unobstructed photos from at least three angles, which leads me to believe that these banded geese are often I.D.'d-- if they are I.D.'d at all -- after they're dead.

I took an educated guess at the missing number (telling the lab of my guess) and submitted the info. We'll see if I get a reply.

(I will post any information I receive.)

The larger question is, who really cares about the numbers on a butt-end band on a ubiquitous Canada Goose?

The answer, for me, is that I kind of stopped looking at these loud creatures with any interest long ago, and if I were able to learn how old one of them was, and where it was banded (probably as a young goose), I might think of them in a slightly new light.

Now, if anyone wants to try to photograph the first number on the band.... (Better hurry; I think they're hanging out at the Warden's Watch because they are molting, and it only last so long.)

(Thanks, Bill and Sally!)

_MG_8847 (1)



Half a Mystery Answered

On Monday, I offered a doubleheader from a recent Slabsides visit. (Click on pic for better views.)

Kurt Muenz's recent damselfly/dragonfly talk for Fyke rekindled my interest in these cool insects, and this damselfly looked cool, even if I only had a point-and-shoot with me.  Ditto the flora above.

No luck on the damselfly I.D, but Slabsides naturalist Joe Bridges pointed out the clump of colorful flora and said it was Squawroot.

Deedee Burnside, however, I.D.'d it as Broomape. What was going on???

The answer, perhaps, is here.  (Thanks, Joe and Deedee.)


Reminder: No Work Detail Today

Just a reminder that there's no Celery Farm work detail today.

If you can volunteer mowing the Green Way path and the grass around the Butterfly Garden with our cordless electric mower or cut Phragmites overgrowth with our cordless electric trimmer, please email me at celeryfarm (at)

Mike Buckley and Gaby Schmitt are pitching in with these duties this weekend. (Thanks, Mike and Gaby!)

A Barred Owl on High Mountain

In case you missed it, Marc Chelemer filed the following Jersey Birds report about High Mountain, one of my favorite places. (Thanks, Marc!)

After I finish teaching on Tuesdays, I usually have an hour or so to go birding, and Halifax Road in Mahwah has been my go-to spot. 

Looking for something different today, I saw on Google Maps that High Mountain Park, adjacent to William Paterson U., is only about 10 minutes from my teaching location.

I started up the Red Trail around 6:00 and strolled a round trip distance of about 1.75 miles in the hour that I had.  It's a nice woodland, and most of the birds were "heard only" because of the foliage. 

At one point, I tried and tried to see a softly chirping Hairy Woodpecker, but after several minutes, I could not get a bead on it (I now think it was actually IN its nest hole, which was visible). 

So I clapped my hands once in the hopes that it would investigate the sound.  The woodpecker continued its churring sound unabated, but not far in the distance, what should answer but a Barred Owl.

I gave a couple of poor imitations, and heard the owl call again, somewhat closer. 

By great luck, I scanned the distant trees through a "window" in the leaves and there was the bird, looking quite intently at me, just as I looked intently at it. 

Who knows what goes through an owl's thoughts when it sees something as unnatural as a human with strange coloration on its form and binoculars pointed right at it. 

This owl studied me patiently and thoroughly, never changing its gaze or moving its head, for a full five minutes.  After a time, it lost interest and looked away.  I moved on as well.

Only twenty species for the hour, as the leaves hide the movement of any small birds, and almost everything had gone quiet by this time of day.  But a daylight encounter with a Barred Owl made the time and the experience special. 

I'll be back at this verdant spot early in the morning in the near future to listen to the dawn chorus.

No Work Detail on Saturday

We've decided to cancel the work detail on Saturday (June 13). Thanks to some Allendale eight-graders, the Black Rail Trail has been wood-chipped, and it's a little late to pull garlic mustard.

We are now looking for volunteers to trim the phrags and mow the Green Way path and the area around the Butterfly Garden with the battery-powered trimmer and mower.

Let me know if you can pitch in. We are good for this week but could use help in two weeks and throughout the summer.

Next work detail will likely be in the fall.

Monday Morning Mystery 061118

DSCN1695    DSCN1708

This doubleheader is from my recent Slabsides visit. (Click on pix for better views.)

Kurt Muenz's recent damselfly/dragonfly talk for Fyke rekindled my interest in these cool insects, and this damselfly looked cool, even if I only had a point-and-shoot with me.  Ditto the flora on the right.

Any I.D. ideas would be appreciated. (I do know what the plant on the right is, thanks to Slabsides' Joe Bridges, and it's pretty cool.)