Previous month:
May 2007
Next month:
July 2007

June 2007

Twice in a blue moon


    If the sky is clear tonight, you'll have a good chance to see a blue moon. Or not.

      According to the now-accepted definition, blue moons occur whenever there are two full moons in the same month.

   The last full moon was June 1. Today is June 30, and the moon will be 99.7 full. Moonrise tonight is just after 9 p.m. Hence is is a blue moon.

   Except the definition got botched by an astronomy magazine more than 60 years ago.

  If you Google "definition of blue moon," you'll get a better definition.

  Or you can just head outside tonight and enjoy the moonlight and moon shadows.

   By the way, Sunday's night moon will be virtually full as well (99.4%).  Moonrise is around 9:50 p.m.

    Even though it apparently doesn't qualify as a full moon, it should be dandy as well, and a great way to start July.


Cardinal rules


    Between 6 and 6:30 a.m. this week, I have been getting a nifty show from the Cardinal family in the backyard.

   Just as Dad feeds the Mom during courtship, he also feeds the youngsters as they learn how to fly. 

    As far as I can tell, there are the Mom and Dad and two young in this little show, and the parents share feeding duties.

   The sequence below shows the male cardinal loading up on suet on various days, and feeding a loud and hungry Junior.





Mallards take a stroll



  As I headed to the Warden's Watch yesterday, temporarily dubbed Goose Point, a mother mallard and one duckling swam along the brook by the spillway...

    Climbed out of the water and up the embankment...  Mallard_3                                    

   Crossed the path in front of me maybe four feet away, apparently aware that those on the right have right of way.



    Then proceeded to walk down the path like they owned the place.



    Which, in a way, they do.



When I was at the Warden's Watch yesterday morning, I heard an incredibly loud bullfrog.

   Usually, when I try to locate the frog itself, I can't -- the guy is across the lake or hidden along the shore. 

   (Or it is at night, and I am in my bed, trying to get some sleep.)

   But yesterday's bullfrog was fairly easy to find: His enormous yellow air sac expanded and contracted so dramatically every time he belted out his familiar "jug-o-rum" call that I could see him with my naked eye.

    I did a little reading about Mr. Bullfrog, and he is quite a guy.

    It is said that his call can be heard for a quarter mile, that he can grow up to eight inches long, and that he can be aggressive in protecting his turf.

   His diet includes all sorts of bugs, and he is a prolific mosquito eater, although he has been known to eat a small bird on occasion.

   I would not believe the latter except that I saw it a bullfrog kill and try to eat an gosling  -- which my friend Jerry Barrack captured on film for the book that he and I did five years ago on the Celery Farm.

   As I was heading home, I saw another huge bullfrog jumping across the bridge at the spillway (the bridge just before the Warden's Watch peninsula).

  Was it a female, lured by that Isaac Hayes baritone? Or was it a turf war in the making? Or neither?

   If only I had had the time to stay.

   That's the problem with the Celery Farm. At some point, you have to leave.


Celery Farm baby boom


   I have not seen or heard from the Ace family, and the mama wood duck and her babies have disappeared into marshes. The baby robins have flown the nest as well.

  But that doesn't mean the Celery Farm baby boom is waning. (said Elmer Fudd).

  On Sunday in the natural area, I saw a wood duck mom and several offspring scampering along the edge of the lake across from the Warden's Watch.

   Later, at the Pirie Platform, I took the photo above.

   I know, it's pretty far away and the ducklings are more like dot-lings, but it wouldn't hurt to use your imagination once in a while.

   Those are six wood ducklings with their mom, and I have witnesses to prove it, including....

   Ardent birder Stephanie Seymour birded the Celery Farm big-time yesterday, and she confirmed the maternity-ward scenario.

   Among her sightings:

   * A male red-bellied woodpecker "bringing food to its squeaking, whiny young."

    * A song sparrow and a baby. Stephanie writes that she "heard a very faint call - 'eep' or 'seep,' but barely above a whispery voice. I located the tiny baby sparrow on a limb but couldn't tell what kind it was because it was just a little blob of a bird.   

  "Then the parent song sparrow came up with food for the little baby, and the baby flapped around and was very excited by imminent food."

   * A catbird feeding a kittenbird.

   * A female cardinal flying around with her young.

   * and (saving the best for last) a female wood duck with six little ones, and other with seven little ones, for a grand total of 13 ducklings.

   Great job!

   Please note: All tiny bird Binkies found on the trail should be left at the lost-and-found at the kiosk at the Franklin Turnpike entrance.