Sunday, April 29, 2012


From an email sent by my pal Bruce up in Massachusetts:
An Irish priest was transferred to Texas ..
Father O'Malley rose from his bed one morning. It was a fine spring day in his new Texas mission parish. He walked to the window of his bedroom to get a deep breath of the beautiful day outside.
He then noticed there was a jackass lying dead in the middle of his front lawn. He promptly called the local police station......
The conversation went like this:
"Good morning. This is Sergeant Jones. How might I help you?"
"And the best of the day te yerself.. This is Father O'Malley at St. Ann 's Catholic Church. There's a jackass lying dead in me front lawn."
Sergeant Jones, considering himself to be quite a wit, replied with a smirk, "Well now Father, it was always my impression that you people took care of the last rites!"
There was dead silence on the line for a moment...........................................
Father O'Malley then replied: "Aye, 'tis certainly true; but we are also obliged to notify the next of kin."

New Look

I kinda like this new look.

I got several messages that Blogger was going to discontinue servicing the old template/style that I had been using come the end of May and that I might get locked out of my blog as a result. After the third or fourth notice, I finally decided to see what they had to offer.

There were quite a few new templates available to choose from but this one just seemed to fit somehow. (And since I'm pretty much just floating along here free of charge, well, you know the saying, "Beggars can't be choosers!" (Unless you're a liberal. Then you get to b*tch and moan about the quantity and quality of charity you receive.))

Once I made the switch, I discovered that the means and methods of adding stuff to the sidebar had changed and some of the little things I had over there had vanished. Things like the moon phases, weather, some of the categories of links, and my site meter way down there on the bottom. It took me a bit of a while to figure things out and I still can't relocate the moon phase thingy that I had, but I've got a new look with which I'm more than pleased.

Just a few more little tweeks and pokes to be made.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birding at Hills Creek State Park,
April 28, 2012

Our walk this morning seemed uneventful yet, when I tallied the total number of species seen, I found we had 32 sighted. There wasn't anything that was highly unusual or surprising but we did see several Common Loons and Double-crested Cormorants out on the lake along with two or three Osprey overhead.

A few of the Canada Geese were out and about with little families of goslings despite the cold and snow of last week. (The park area got about 6 inches of snow Sunday night into Monday.) Unfortunately, the Eastern Bluebirds appear to have had a set back. Not only have the adults disappeared for the time being, but the one box that had eggs--and which had hatched those eggs--contained the dead remains of the clutch.

We saw only one species of warblers--the Yellow-rumped Warblers also know as "Butter Butts," so we're still waiting on the influx of migrants.

Here's the report I posted to eBird:

Hills Creek SP, Tioga, US-PA
Apr 28, 2012 7:45 AM - 9:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments: Clear, calm, cool (30-45 degrees)
32 species

Canada Goose X
Wood Duck X
Mallard X
Common Loon X
Pied-billed Grebe X
Double-crested Cormorant X
Great Blue Heron X
Osprey X
Bald Eagle X
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker X
Northern Flicker X
Eastern Phoebe X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Tree Swallow X
Barn Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
White-breasted Nuthatch X
American Robin X
European Starling X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
Eastern Towhee X
Chipping Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
White-throated Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Pine Siskin X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Friday, April 27, 2012

Aerie Report, April 27, 2012

Super warm and sunny on Wednesday and Thursday has turned in to mostly sunny but pretty darn chilly. Nearly all the snow has melted with just the piles where we shoveled it off the deck remaining. I emptied the rain gauge this afternoon. It held a huge snow cap on the top after Sunday/Monday's storm. That may have blocked some of the rain that fell on Tuesday and some of that snow may have dripped over the edge, but despite that, there were 2.5 inches of water in the tube.

Tonight we may get temperatures in the upper 20s. The weather service has issued a freeze warning for the area. Figures. My lettuce and beets have just popped out of the soil. Our position on the slope may be enough to protect them as colder air will sink down into the valley leaving us with a slightly warmer temp.

Tomorrow's a birding day at Hills Creek State Park. If the winds today hadn't been out of the north-northwest, I would have expected to see more warblers and migrants. Last week, Gary reported that the migratory water fowl have pretty much moved on. The Grebes and Loons have departed for waters further north.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Patience, Grasshopper

funny cat pictures - Sick of waiting
see more

Four freekin' months before Joe and I go fishin' in northern Quebec. Soooooo long!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Aerie Bear, pt. 2 on Tuesday

The bear returned later in the evening. When I stepped out on the deck at just after 10 PM it was heading for the steps. With no seed in the telephone pole bird feeder, it was hoping to score some snacks off the deck feeders (which I had already put inside after the earlier encounter). I talked to the bear and the bear acted all shy and bashful---but also insistent. If not allowed on the deck, then it was going to investigate under the deck.

I got the camera and started shooting. From less than 10 feet away.

"Okay. You caught me." 

"You sure I can't come up there and check for myself?" 

"Well, maybe there's some seed under the deck that the squirrels, chipmunks and birds missed." 

The long, pointed snout, ears that seem overly large and on the side of the head, and a size about the same as a large St. Bernard tell me this bear is only about two years old.  In the six years we've been here, we've had much bigger visitors and even a Mommy with three cubs. If this one keeps coming by, I may have to teach it a lesson on human avoidance. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Bear Came Back

Our little bear friend returned this evening before sunset. Just as another brief snow flurry hit.

First stop was at the source of yesterday's snacks. 

The flash from the camera caused the bear to leap up into the trees. 

The bear moved off, then froze as if spooked before bolting up the hill.


Went to cast my primary ballot this morning while I was down the hill. The town rec center/meeting hall/voting hall is just across Route 6. I was the 29th voter at 10 AM (polls opened at 7 AM) and the only one there when I arrived so I was out numbered by poll workers 6 or 7 to 1. It wasn't until after I left that I realized that no one asked to see any ID as the law now requires. That's not a big deal under the circumstances. In a small town like ours most folks know one another and in a group of 6 or 7 poll workers, hell, there's bound to be at least one who knows who the heck you are!

The first time Terry and I went to vote after we moved in, we had our driver's licenses and registration cards in hand when, before we had said anything, one of the woman at the table announced, "These are the Fabers who just moved in on Connelly Mountain Road." She was the township secretary and had seen (but not spoken to) Terry at the Post Office. The post mistress had told her all about us.

Small town America! Ain't it grand?


On a totally different front, Tim Hutton beat out Jody Stahancyk in Portland's faux Mayoral Madness contest. Jody's attempt to get Mr. Hutton disqualified on non-residency issues failed. She lost the election due to the rather rabid fans of Mr. Hutton.
Timothy Hutton 57.31% (5,391 votes)
Jody Stahancyk 42.69% (4,015 votes)

Thanks to those of you who took the time to cast your vote(s) for Jody over the course of this most unusual Mayoral Madness event.

Aerie Aftermath

I drove down the hill today to pick up the mail. I wasn't able to get it on Saturday because our post office is only open two hours on Saturdays (9 to 11 AM) and I was at the Earth Day event. And I wasn't able to get it on Monday because I was busy trying to clear the driveway of snow and, when that was finished I just said, "Frelk it!"

Before I left home, however, I had to remove the snow that hadn't yet slid off the top of the Tundra. With the temperature above the freezing mark (barely) the snow was heavier and wetter than when it had fallen but the slight melting on the surface made it slick as a well greased pig. A little push or pull with the brush was all it took to get the avalanche started. Luckily, it's a long handled brush or my boots would have been buried and my feet soaked--again.

The road had been plowed and there was lots of bare dirt/cinders showing. The area just below our place was only one lane wide and you could see how the snow plow had had difficulty moving the easily packed and heavy snow. Huge balls of the stuff had been pushed to the side and it looked like a troop of easily distracted children had given up on building an army of snowmen when the first tier had gotten too large to push any more.

Here and there, branches littered the road where the heavy snow had caused them to snap or where, bent under the snow's weight, they had been broken off by the top of the dump truck used to plow and cinder the road. In other spots, whip slender aspens bent over the road blocking part of the lane and causing me to swerve around the outstretched limbs. I saw only one or two very large limbs/trees downed and their breaks exposed older partially rotted joints that gave way. (From our deck, I can see a few thin trees and/or limbs in the woods that I will have to cut in to smaller pieces.) A small old barn on the corner that had been listing about 15 degrees out of plumb was reduced to a pile of boards by the crushing weight of the snow.

As I neared Route 6, however, the snow depth decreased dramatically. The 10-12 inches at the Aerie became a mere 2-3 inches with lots of bare grass exposed beneath the trees. It was really quite a contrast. Elevation as well as location really do make a difference. The little blob that hung around all day yesterday did not extend that far to the northwest so as to reach the post office but it certainly produced snow here, some 1400 feet higher.

Anyway, there's a good deal of melting going on today as the temperature is in the upper 30s and even hit 40 degrees when the sun peeked through the clouds. The driveway--except where the snow slid off the Tundra and Jeep--is nearly down to earth and stone. Nearly all the clumps of snow on the pine boughs have either melted off or been blown off by the light breezes. It will take a couple of days for the snow on the lawn to melt completely but the grass and, most certainly, the dandelions will survive.


I mentioned on Facebook that we had a black bear come visiting last night. The bear looked to be a two year-old  with a pointed snout and, judging by its size when it stood leaning on the telephone pole, weighing between 150 and 175 pounds. It sat under the bird feeder I have hanging from the telephone pole in the yard and carefully removed every sunflower seed it contained. I watched it for a half an hour and didn't have the heart to chase it away as this was possibly the easiest food it could find with a foot of snow underfoot. And it repaid my generosity by not tearing the feeder down or even knocking the snow off its roof. It did investigate the deck but didn't come beyond the top step before heading back the way it had come--right under Terry's window and against the side of the house where the snow was less deep.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Snow At The Aerie

It's April 23rd at the Aerie and a late snow storm dumped 10-12 inches of heavy, wet, white on the ground. Snow is good. Snow is fine. But once April 15th has passed, snow falls of this magnitude should be over. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge 'em.)

Look down the deck at 7 AM today. 

A Pine Siskin seeks sustenance.

A view to the west. 

 The onions are buried, the pool is closed and the redbud is shivering.

 The Jeep Liberty has been jailed.

 The Tundra feels right at home.

 By late afternoon, much of the driveway got turned into slush and mud by the tractor.

 And the view to the west revealed the hills and windmills were still there.

As twilight approaches, the snow is supposed to taper off but it's going the other way. The hills and windmills are once again shrouded and out of sight. The trees are being weighted down once more. The snow is falling as hard as it did all day. Luckily it hasn't begun to stick again to the cleared surfaces but as the temperature falls below the freezing mark, it will.

The high today was just 35 degrees. We are supposed to see the 40s tomorrow and 50 on Wednesday. Some rain showers during the day and snow showers at night are possible on Tuesday but only "partly cloudy" is in the Wednesday forecast. Thursday it will be warmer (high 50s) and rainy. This snow will not last long, but it has already been a nuisance.

April Snow

The snow fell all night and continues as I type. We've got close to a foot of heavy wet stuff on the ground. Many of the trees are coated and bent under the weight. Terry managed to get home from New Jersey around 8 PM when there was just a light dusting starting to stick to the dirt road and driveway. She said there was nothing but rain at the lower elevations.

We did lose power during the night. Sometime around 3:30 AM  Terry woke up and saw the clock was still on but at 5 AM it wasn't. Power came back at 6:30 AM. (It's great to live in a dairy farming area! Cows have to be milked and milk kept cold so power repairs are a priority.) The temperature in the house never got below 60 degrees thanks to the fire I had going last night and the lack of wind outside. Outside temperature is just around 29 degrees, too, which helps.  And the snow on the roof acts as even more insulation.

I'll have to get the tractor out and clear the driveway in a bit but as long as it's still snowing I can wait a while. The snow thrower won't do me much good with the kind of snow we've got. Too heavy and wet for it to be tossed very far and, once moved, it would just pack even more tightly.

The small birds are going nuts outside. The feeders are being mobbed by Pine Siskins, Goldfinches, Purple Finches and Chickadees as well as others.Although the ports are difficult to reach because of the snow they are doing alright. At least they haven't got to compete with the squirrels who are sleeping in this morning.

TV reports that there's only 2-3 inches of snow in Elmira but up to a foot in Ithaca, NY. West of here, over toward Erie, PA and up to Buffalo, NY there's more than a foot. I'll try to get some pictures of the snow before and after I clear the drive.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

He Did It Again!

My brother-in-law is an avid and skilled bowler who participates in several leagues.

Yesterday his daughter posted news on Facebook that he had once more rolled a perfect game; a 300 game. I asked how many that made and was told, "He's not sure. It's either 4 or 5."

Either way, that's one heck of an accomplishment and worthy a tip of the hat. Way to go Al!

[I once bowled fairly regularly and in a league but never attained the level of consistency that Al has. My best average was around 185 and my best game was 279--that's all strikes but one. I had a 9 and a spare in the eight frame.]

Aerie Report, April 22, 2012

Friday morning Terry and I herded the kittehs into their travel cases and hustled them down to the veterinary clinic on Route 6 to get their annual check-ups and their rabies shots. As usual, we had closed all the doors heading to any and all extra rooms and the basement so as to limit their escape routes. Even so, it's amazing how slinky and fast they can be when they sense something is afoot. Took us ten minutes to corral the little buggers.

As expected, Chester gained some weight. He is now officially over 20 pounds of pussy cat. His sister is slightly less as she topped the scales at a smidge over 17 pounds. (Next to her BIG brother, she doesn't look that big at all.) Julie, the grand dame of the group at nearly 11 years of age, lost a couple of tenths of a pound and is around 9 pounds. That wasn't much of a surprise as I had noticed lately that, despite finishing up everyone's moist food every day, Julie was more skin-and-bone-ish than the other two. That is, when she cuddles up to you and you start scratching her, you can actually feed her shoulder blades, ribs and spine. With the other two all you get is fur and fat. (Chester would make a good raccoon. He could probably turn 180 degrees inside his skin if he needed to.)

All three are fine otherwise. Chester purred the entire time the vet was checking him out and even while she gave him his shots. He then sat at her feet as Shadow went through the same routine. (She didn't purr and only hissed once when the second needle went in.) Julie tolerated the exam and the shots and willingly went back in her carry case on her own before turning to me and swatting at my hand as I fastened the door.

The trip was eventful in the usual way as none of them love being in the car and are not afraid to vocalize their displeasure. Chester and Shadow add to their protest in ways that would make the Occupy crowd proud; i.e. they foam at the mouth, and piss and poop in their cages. Good thing it's only a six mile trip to the vet's.


Shortly after we returned back at the Aerie, Terry took off for New Jersey to attend a baby shower and a stitching class while staying at her Mom's house and I was left alone with the beasts. Lucky for me, the shots they got make them lethargic. Besides Julie's occasional demand for some cuddle time, I've been left alone.


Saturday there was an Earth Day event at Mill Cove Environmental Area over in Tioga. I was there as a representative of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. I had some blue bird houses and Audubon hats for sale as well as free printed information on places to bird and bird checklists. I set up my digiscoping equipment (a small digital camera attached to a spotting scope) and had my usual telephoto camera as well as binoculars and bird books. I also had information about the eel project.

The weather didn't cooperate as much as it could have. After several weeks of virtually no rain, the damn stuff showed up around 10 AM with a fast hitting torrential downpour and reappeared sporadically during the day. Coupled with what seemed like a swift temperature drop, folks were shivering by mid afternoon. (I checked the trucks thermometer and the temp did drop, but only about 10 degrees to 50 degrees. It just felt like more.) Attendance was knocked down by the out of the way location and the weather--mostly the weather--but it wasn't bad for a first time event. (Previous years it was held at Mansfield University and that really limited the kinds of activities that could be held.)


Saturday I snuck out to the Mainesburg Methodist Church for dinner. It was the guys turn to do the cooking and they served up some baked fish, ham, sweet potatoes, beets and creamed corn as well as some great deserts. It was well worth the money and, despite having to go alone, I ran into several folks I know from around town and elsewhere.

Later Saturday night the sky opened up in earnest and we got some very heavy rainfall as well a further drop in the temperatures. It stopped raining somewhere around 3 AM but the temperatures haven't done any rising. As a result, I spent some time restocking the firewood in the garage and putting some of it to use in the fireplace. Currently it's foggy as heck out there and I can hear some sleet rattling against the windows. The weather service has a winter storm watch for northern and western PA. This warning will extend through the night and much of tomorrow. "Significant" snow accumulation is possible in the Laurel Highlands which start around the Pine Creek Gorge area and head west from there. (Points in the Allegheny National Forest to just east of Buffalo, NY could see a foot of snow.) If we are lucky, it will stay just to our west and we'll get nothing but rain. But if the darn thing shifts a tiny bit to the east, we could certainly be looking a several inches of snow. And with many trees just starting to spread their leaves, that could prove disastrous. Terry is heading home this evening and should beat the worst of it, but she better be careful on the higher elevations between Williamsport and here on Route 15.


That's about it from the Aerie.

Oh, one more thing: Don't forget Portland's Mayoral Madness and vote for Jody!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Little Jazz for a Saturday Evening.

Feeling like a road trip. Route 66--or what's left of it--would be just fine. In the meantime, this will have to do.

This version is pretty hip, too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mayoral Madness

Oh my, Tim Hutton has pulled ahead of Jody in the Mayoral Madness Finals.

 Seems the production crew of Leverage has been spreading street money and calling it "hiring extras!" We know what it is, however, good old fashioned vote buying! Jody doesn't go that route! She's as ethical as can be and a real straight shooter. Her word is her bond.

So don't get taken in by the smooth talking, flim-flam artist, Timothy Hutton! Vote Jody!

And remember: You can vote once a day every day through Monday at 8 PM (PDT) when the polls close.

Well, what are you waiting for? GO! VOTE!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Imagine That!

Exxon will be drilling in the Arctic Ocean after all--with the Russians.
Exxon, Rosneft unveil $500 bln offshore venture
MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. oil major ExxonMobil and Russia's Rosneft unveiled an offshore exploration partnership on Wednesday that could invest upward of $500 billion in developing Russia's vast energy reserves in the Arctic and Black Sea.
Imagine that. The worlds largest oil company, unable to drill in the offshore waters of the US of A, finds somewhere where it CAN drill for oil and continue to make a profit. Since when is Russia more inclined to capitalism than the US of A?

Now imagine how many how many Americans would have been employed by such a venture if Exxon had been permitted to drill in the waters off the coast of the US of A.

 Imagine how much income tax those high paying jobs would have produced. Imagine the royalties paid to the treasury from the oil extracted.


(I wonder if Sarah Palin Tina Fey will be able to see any of the oil rigs from the coast of Alaska?)

(h/t to Don Surber)


Click to read: 13 Politically Incorrect Gun Rules for Conservatives


From Hot Air: Democrats (Not) At Work Says it all:
"For a party that demands that voters put them in charge, they seem utterly unwilling to do the job once they have it. Voters should keep this in mind in November, up and down the ballot."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mayoral Madness, Portland, OR

It's the Finals in Willamette Week's Mayoral Madness. It's actor Timothy Hutton vs. Jody Stahancyk, a divorce lawyer and my daughter-in-Law's boss. Go here to vote for Jody and go back every day to vote again until it's over.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday's Bird Walk at Hills Creek SP
April 14, 2012

There was another bird walk this morning at Hills Creek State Park. An unusually large group was in attendance, too. In addition to the regular members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society, there was a guy who shows up every year on opening day of the fishing season (his buddies at their camp go fishing while he goes birding), a fellow from Pittsburgh area who was staying at the park's cabins, and a woman from the area who just happened to want to take a walk and learn about the park and birds. In total, we had 12 people. We didn't do badly with the birds, either. Even though a change in our usual path kept us away from the Blue Bird nesting grounds and put us into a rather dense pine/hemlock grove with few birds, and despite the warblers/summer birds still laying up to our south, we still came up with just over 30 species. Here's my list for the day: Hills Creek SP, Tioga, US-PA Apr 14, 2012 7:45 AM - 10:00 AM Protocol: Traveling 2.0 mile(s) Comments: Cool, crisp, clear morning with virtually no wind. 31 species Canada Goose X Wood Duck X Mallard X Ring-necked Duck X Bufflehead X Common Merganser X Common Loon X Pied-billed Grebe X Horned Grebe X Double-crested Cormorant X Great Blue Heron X Bald Eagle X Killdeer X Bonaparte's Gull X Yellow-bellied Sapsucker X Northern Flicker X Eastern Phoebe X Blue Jay X American Crow X Tree Swallow X Black-capped Chickadee X White-breasted Nuthatch X American Robin X European Starling X Yellow-rumped Warbler X Chipping Sparrow X Song Sparrow X Dark-eyed Junco X Northern Cardinal X Red-winged Blackbird X Common Grackle X This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Friday, April 13, 2012

Osprey--The Ultimate Fisher

One of the highlights of last Saturday's bird walk at Hills Creek State Park was watching an osprey make two dives into the lake and coming up (on the second one) with a small perch for it's dinner. The movies included in the clip below show ospreys doing much, much better. There are three distinct scenes. In the first, the bird takes advantage of a target rich environment and comes up with one fish for each talon--or so it seems. The second bird dives completely under the water as it goes after a bottom dwelling fluke or flounder. (Watch the bird shake itself while in flight--just like a dog--to rid itself of excess water.) The third bird captures what looks like a salmon or large trout--and almost finds it's too big to handle. Almost. Use the full screen option to get the best view.

Say What?

In an item in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dealing with the recent unforced error by Hilary Rosen, Democratic adviser, who made comments as to Ann ROmney having no ability to comment on anything economic since she had "actually never worked a day in her life," we have this gem:
President Obama told an Iowa television station that families are off limits in campaigns.

"I don't have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates," Obama said. "Those of us who are in the public life, we're fair game. Our families are civilians."

As Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit says: "Tell it to the people who covered Sarah Palin, some of whom have been invited to dinner with Obama."

To which I would add:
Of course, Obama would love to have family's off limits in the upcoming campaign. Pointing out just how many junkets and family vacations the First Lady and/or her daughters have indulged in on the taxpayers' dime is not the sort of thing someone trying to portray the "rich" as "evil" is likely to want.

And let us not even begin to delve into the poltiical speeches the First Lady has delivered on the stump or at expesive political fundraisers.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Time to Vote Some More.

The polls have opened (again) in Portland's Mayoral Madness of the Willamette Week.

My daughter-in-law's boss, Jody Stahancyk, has made it to the Final Four. She needs your vote(s) to move on to the Final. You can vote once each day through the closing of the polls on Monday at 8 PM (PDT).

So go here to vote Jody!

Aerie Report, April 12, 2012

Yesterday's weather was...interesting. The temperature ranged from 29 to 39 degrees and we had a steady breeze of about 15 mph coming out of the west-northwest that brought wave after wave of snow, sleet, and hail (pea-sized little ice pellets) all of which melted shortly after achieving landfall. Oh, and there was the occasional break in the clouds that permitted a view of blue sky and sunshine--though those were usually very, very brief.

I was glad I spent some time on Tuesday to put the lettuce and beet seeds in the ground. The moisture from what is sometimes called "onion snow" should cause them to germinate sooner rather than later. Especially since the temperatures under ever increasingly sunny skies are supposed to be 58 on Friday, 65 on Saturday and 75 on Sunday.

I felt yesterday's rawness warranted burning up the remaining wood stacked in the garage in an effort to take the chill out of the house and, perhaps, contributing to global warming. Turned a lot of lights on too. The old incandescents, though the curly bulbs do seem to produce some heat at the base.

Not much else going on at the moment. I'd blame the cats since their internal alarm system seems to have gone bonkers. I keep trying to remind them (particularly Shadow) that 5 AM is not an appropriate wake-up time. I'd much prefer 6:30 or 7, but that (not so) little black daughter of Satan just can't seem to grasp that. Her brother, Chester, steps in whenever Shadows voice begins to fail. Julie? She's the first down the stairs and to the feeding area when the door opens, but she lets the two larger, louder and bigger cats do the waking up. Eleven-year old Julie just supervises.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Vote Jody!

Portland, Oregon is doing something different.

Okay, that's not news. They are always doing something different in Portland, Oregon. What is different is that they (and by "they" I mean the Willamette Week) are having a mock mayoral election. Because, you know, their current mayor hasn't been mocked enough. (The current mayor, Sam Adams, may have made a great beer when he was back in Boston, but the waters of the Willamette have messed up his thinking.)

They ran this election as though it were the NCAA basketball championship, brackets and all. They call it "Mayoral Madness". Things have progressed to the Elite Eight contestants.

I bring this up because my daughter-in-law's boss, Jody Stahancyk,is one of those contending for a place in the Final Four.

It's all in good fun and you can help. Go here and Vote Jody into the Final Four!

Birding At Hills Creek State Park

It was a chilly and windy morning out at Hills Creek State Park, but the usual culprits gathered at the park office at 0800 to see what we could see. Many of the species that had dropped into the lake last week have already left for northern waters. Only a few grebes and lots of Buffleheads remained. It was too early for many of the woodland species (only one Yellow-rumped Warbler was spotted) so things ended up pretty evenly divided between water birds and upland species. The highlights included seeing several nesting pairs of Blue Birds (four eggs in one box), a tiny Brown Creeper, and watching an Osprey dive into the lake twice. He was successful on the second attempt and carried off what looked like a small yellow perch.

My bird tally came to 26.

Hills Creek SP, Tioga, US-PA
Apr 7, 2012 8:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments: Cold and windy (30-35 degrees, 15+ mph out of the north) but sunny, cloudless morning.
26 species

Canada Goose X
Wood Duck X
Mallard X
Bufflehead X
Common Merganser X
Pied-billed Grebe X
Horned Grebe X
Great Blue Heron X
Osprey X
American Coot X
Belted Kingfisher X
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker X
Eastern Phoebe X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Tree Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
Brown Creeper X
Eastern Bluebird X
American Robin X
European Starling X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
Song Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Friday, April 06, 2012

Aerie Report, April 06, 2012

A somewhat productive day here at the Aerie.

I had plugged the battery charger into the ATV last evening in anticipation of getting the thing up and running today. The charger accomplished its task and told me the battery was at 100% this morning so I turned the fuel line to on, adjusted the choke, turned the key and pushed the start button. There was a feeble attempt to turn over but no vroom, vroom!

I drained some gas from the carburetor and saw no signs of water, so I pulled the seat off and opened up the air filter and sprayed in some starter fluid. Pushed the start button again and not even a cough to indicate the starter fluid was accepted.

O-kay. I pulled the spark plug and saw there was some moisture (gas) on the tip. The plug was only finger tight--which could have been a problem--but with the plug out but connected, I pushed the starter button again. No visible spark.

Soooo, off to the store I went. Auto Zone was able to provide me with what I needed including the proper sized socket wrench for the plug. (I also got a grease gun and grease but that's for a different project.)

Back home. A little squirt of starter fluid in the cylinder, the new plug in place and hooked up, choke out, key turned, starter button pushed and...VROOM! Success! It died a few seconds later but started up again right away.

I let it run with the choke out until it started to race and then pushed the choke in and let it run for another five minutes. Then I shut it off, crossed my fingers and pushed the start button again...VROOM! It started right up. I turned it off, put the air filter back together and the seat in place. Pushed the button again and...VROOM! It started right up again. I expect, as in past years, it will be just fine from now until put away for next winter.

Now all I have to do is get the air compressor out to inflate the soft left front tire and check the pressure in the others. Then I'll be ready to do more yard work and do some logging and hauling here and at the Bolt Hole.


I spent an hour filing some bills and clearing my desk. Not as much fun as working with the ATV, but also a little less stressful as these bills had already been paid.


I did get some true fun time in as well. Last summer I had bought a new PSE compound bow but, when I wracked up my knee, I never even took it out of the case for the fall deer season. (I was just barely able to get out during the rifle season.) Today, I opened the case, adjusted the position of the sights a little (it shot 2" to the right at 15 yards when I bought it) and went out behind the house to shoot a half dozen arrows. It's set up at 60 lbs. but has a 80% let down once you've passed the break point. It was a bit tough to draw, but once I had it back I could have held it for five minutes.

The peep sight on the string is new for me. I'm used to anchoring my arrow's nock in the corner of my mouth and using just the sight pins on the bow. With the peep on the string, the anchor point is going to be different--and less important. Now it's more important to sight through the peep to the pin.

Shooting at 15 yards, four of my six arrows hit the three inch circle. The other two were just outside the mark. I was pleased, to say the least. Now I have to go out and shoot more and from further distances. More to get the routine down and muscles tuned up for the 60 lb. pull. Further to see just how far out I can be consistent in--and confident in--my accuracy. With my old bow I was confident out to about 30 yards. The new PSE is a bit faster and flatter shooting so maybe 40-45 yards will be my new range.


Tomorrow is our first official bird walk at Hills Creek State Park. The Tiadaghton Audubon Society leads walks at the park every Saturday in April and May. Last week's return of cold weather brought a fall out of water fowl to the lake. Hopefully some of the grebes, scaup, Bonaparte's gulls, mergansers, etc. will still be around. We haven't exactly been inundated with woodland birds. The warblers haven't yet come north and even the sparrows aren't yet here in abundance. The early morning (8 AM) temperature should be around 30 degrees. We shall see what we shall see.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

1-0 and 161 to play.

The Mets scored just one measly run today...but it was one more than the Braves! Santana pitched five good innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five. R. Ramierez got the win when the Mets scored in the bottom of the sixth. Frank Francisco got the save. Byrdak and Rausch had holds as the Mets pitchers limited the Braves to a total of four hits and three walks.

David Wright went 2-for-3 with a walk for the Mets and had the RBI.

The Mets have always had a remarkably good record on Opening Day--ever since 1962. It's the next 161 games they have trouble with.

[UPDATE: From CBSSPORTS.COM "Despite losing their first eight openers, the Mets improved to 33-18 on opening day -- the best in baseball." The Mets lost eight consecutive openers and since then they are 33-10. That's a 0.767 success ratio since 1970 and 0.647 over all. If they could maintain that 0.647 over the course of a 162 game season they would win 104-105 games. IF is a mighty big word for two letters.]

If Only...

I saw this on a couple of sites during the day: Low ratings could end cable deal for Gore's Current TV and it made me smile.

Now, if we could just get all the airport waiting areas, hotel lobbies, etc. to turn off CNN...

(I almost said doctors' offices but more and more of them are tuned to that health station that's pretty much guaranteed to make you feel even more ill after you've sat there for 15 minutes.)

Sh*t Birders Say


Monday, April 02, 2012

American Goldfinch

I also mentioned that the Goldfinches are becoming more and more yellow. here's a study in contrast to prove my point.

American Goldfinch on March 1st is still in it's Winter plumage.

American Goldfinch on April 2nd has nearly completed it's molt to its Summer colors.

Pine Siskins

I mentioned the other day that I was surprised to see Pine Siskins still coming to the feeders with Goldfinches and Purple Finches. Seems that is not so unusual for these birds which are normally only occasional (irruptive) visitors.

From Birds of North America (Subscription) I learn...

"Reproductive schedule and attachment to a particular breeding area appear to be less rigidly fixed in the Pine Siskin than in many other songbirds. In some cases, members of an irruptive population may linger on a favorable wintering ground long enough to breed."

Pine Siskin on April 2nd and still hanging around for the freebies.

So, if they like the neighborhood, they might stay around and do some reproducing.

I find the whole thing curious because even through the Christmas Bird Count this was one of the species everyone was asking about as in, "Have you seen any Pine Siskins?"

Sounds like a plan!

via email from a couple of buddies of mine:

My inconclusive travel plans for 2012

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my boss, work and politicians who affect my life.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, but I must’ve been sleeping while traveling through. It's an age thing.