So I happened to come across this article about a local duck phenomenon and made it a point to find my way there today, in my traveling from one end of the county to another to see clients. For many years this was THE place to go locally for huge numbers of Scaup, but in the last couple of years, not so much. I'd drive by, over the Oceanic Bridge hopeful, but nothing the last few years.
I found them there today, but completely panicked when they all took off at once from the water...
There are finer, more carefully focused and composed photos from a chance encounter with a group of Ruddies the other day... but this is my favorite because the details give away so much about this little duck... the bluish bill, the outstretched neck and jaunty tilt of the tail.
They're usually easy to find in the neighborhood ponds and almost always bring a smile.
My go-to book for historical bird names has a very long list for the Ruddy Duck; many of which are hysterical...
Besides the avant-garde fashion sense (look at that blue jacket!) he's also, clearly, very brave. I imagine him to be risking life and limb to photograph Harlequins out at the end of the Barnegat jetty, don't you?
Have I mentioned that he's just published a book? And a book about birds, no less!
My momentary infatuation is directed towards Richard Crossley and his Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds. I'm planning to spend this Valentine's evening curled up with it by candlelight, maybe with a glass of wine.
Like with all tender new love, all I can say is, "Wow!"
It really is a cool guide; his approach is unconventional and that's exactly what excites me most about it. I've not ever been one to rely on a field guide. I collect them, yes. But use them? Hardly.
This is a book I want to spend time with and get to know better. I think Richard Crossley can make me a better birder.
*Please note that, while Princeton University Press has kindly provided me with a free copy of The Crossley ID Guide to review, this is not my proper review. I promise to do that once I'm over the puppy-dog stage of love and can see things more clearly.
**Please also note that I have no personal relationship with Mr. Crossley, nor do I desire such. There was a brief interaction at the Cape May Hawkwatch this fall involving the ID of a sparrow, however. I am happy to report that Mr. Crossley did not laugh me off the platform at that encounter.
(Imagine the pressure of having THE RICHARD CROSSLEY toss a roadkill sparrow your way and demand that you ID it, in hand, before he'll even make eye contact with you.)
This is the photo I took at the beginning of our visit - a simple bread baked in a clay pot, a mason jar of ice water and the late winter sun streaming across the table where we gathered for lunch.
Every moment in the sun is a gift these days and I think we all might've stayed in that sun-drenched spot and happily chatted the afternoon away. We - myself, Julie Zickefoose, Heather from Wayne PA (who many of us know from her sweet comments on our blogs) and Heather's friend Linda met for lunch and a visit to the Wyeth collections at the Brandywine River Museum.
Julie is in town to speak at Longwood Gardens. Heather was our local guide and she picked the perfect spot for lunch - sun soaked and fragrant with the scent of growing things... a place to nourish winter-weary bodies and hearten a growing friendship.
I'm not very far into the book, yet, but expected from reading her blog that I would enjoy it. My impression, just 80-some pages in, is that she writes well and passionately about her falcon. Already she's spoken to one of the questions I raised in that earlier blog post, on training her falcon to fly to a lure:
"The falcon and I look at each other, both startled. Then he bows his head slightly over the bird in his feet, snaps the neck and looks back up. He allows me to meet his gaze, seeing deep into his falcon's eyes and I understand that I could keep this predator on a line forever, but he will never be my pet. Over that shared look our relationship changes just a bit, because suddenly, we both grasp an obvious truth. I am looking into the eyes of a wild peregrine. It's so soon, only ten days, but it's time to let him fly free."
Yes, it is dangerous to be bound to something that can break your heart.
She's lost her bird once already to the sky and reclaimed him, changed, after only five hours on his own. I'm looking forward to learning how their relationship continues to develop.
Some things I've been pondering lately, courtesy of my clients:
How can you afford two flat-screen tv's, but not a kitchen table?
Isn't the appointment letter I sent you, a month in advance, that says I'll be there between 9am and 3pm on such-and-such a day enough notice so that you might at least be out of bed and dressed when I show up at your house... at say, noon?
And without some unidentified male hiding from me under the bed?
I hate when they do that to me!
Should I really have to explain to you why it's inappropriate to urinate in public?
Did you imagine, when you said your son was, "away with his dad" that I understood they were both housed in the same correctional facility? Geesh!! You made it sound like they were on vacation together, rather than both locked up on drug and weapons charges.
Did you think I wouldn't figure out that you're sleeping with your landlord in lieu of paying rent? Really?