Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Moon & Venus

A New Year's Eve special - Crescent Moon and Venus shining brightly below it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

PFW - Week 8: First Hawk Sighting

There were plenty of Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned Hawks stalking the feeders at the house, but today was the first time I saw one here at the apartment. I saw a bird about the size of a large pigeon buzzing through the trees and recognized the striping on its breast and realized that it was a short-shinned hawk, confirmed by the straight tail (as opposed to a cooper's with a curved tail and generally larger.)

Lucy wanted to help me keep a record of bird sightings, but without opposable thumbs she was having a hard time handling the pencil.

Total count for the weekend:

  • Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
  • Mourning Dove 1
  • Downy Woodpecker 1
  • Carolina Chickadee 2
  • American Robin 1
  • Song Sparrow 1
  • White-throated Sparrow 2
  • Dark-eyed Junco 1
  • Northern Cardinal 2
  • House Finch 7 (0 with eye disease)
  • House Sparrow 9

My family is onto my love of birds and here is one of my Christmas gifts. Of course, it's also a Cardinal ..... as in the University of Louisville Cardinals, my favorite college sports team.

Happy New Year & best wishes for 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to ALL

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season, spends time with family and loved ones, reflects upon good fortunes. May we all be blessed with rare birds, but never neglect the birds that are always with us.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

PFW - Week 7: Cold, Windy & Finchy

Woke up this morning to 3*F temperatures this morning at 8:00, and windy to boot. Notice the thistle sock blowing sideways along with the feeder.

The weekend brought the normal house finches (10) plus a few house sparrows, a Northern Cardinal, and the last-minute Downy Woodpecker.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Late Night Birdwatching

I stepped out on the balcony to hear what sounded like more than one owl hooting it up. I thought they were in front of me in the trees, but looked up to see two figures flying through the air from behind. They landed on an antenna attached to the office building across the way. Put my bins on them and there were definitely two owls! They were out there for a while doing the mating ritual. The male is wooing the female, lifting his tail while hooting. She coquettishly turns away.

Too bad I can't get a good picture in the dark to ID them. But what a treat to see this in the middle of an urban area.

Last check, he's still there, but looks like she flew off.  Must have discovered his dark side.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

PFW - Week 6: Windy & Almost No Birds

It was so windy this weekend my feeder station with large metal base actually toppled over and feeders went flying everywhere. I wonder if that would explain the lack of birds. My count was a meager 6 House Finches. That's it. Even away from the feeder area there were only a few Cedar Waxwings, a Robin and one Chickadee.

The Downy Woodpecker has been excavating a hole in a small dead tree just below my unit the past month. Unfortunately, the winds took out the top half of the tree, probably further weakened by the excavation. Too bad. I was looking forward to seeing baby woodpeckers next Spring :(

Sunday, December 7, 2008

PFW - Week 5: More of the same

Just the typical birds for this weekend's PFW count. Yesterday's temps were somewhat moderate for this time of year, but extremely windy conditions which probably kept some of the birds away. Today it was much colder, 15 degrees at 7:00 a.m., and not much warmer throughout the day, but at least the winds were much calmer. The bird count was:

  • Downy Woodpecker 1
  • American Robin 2
  • Cedar Waxwing 8
  • Song Sparrow 1
  • Northern Cardinal 2
  • House Finch 8 (0 with eye disease)
  • House Sparrow 4
No bird pictures, but I have to post the latest of Lucy.

Early this morning as the sun was rising, I noticed the clouds reflecting in the office building windows across from me. I liked the way they were distorted and took a few photographs.

Have a great week!