Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spent the day in many 'homes'

First things first, since I just came from outdoors, where I was most of today! I do not recall if it was here that I mentioned edible jewelweed seeds. But this evening whilst looking over the few jewelweed plants in the yard, I noticed little seed pods. "Interesting," I thought. I touched one, as I do almost any plantthing I find, and surprise! Seeds flying in all directions, and the pod curling up in my hand! This is a new experience for me, and one that left me amused. I found another ripe pod, and popped it inside my hand, collecting a few seeds. They are very small, not much of a snack. I ate 3, slowly crushing them in my teeth. Walnut-flavor! There it was. I have missed it for years. I ate no more at the time, as I do with any plantthing I eat for the first time, in case I may be allergic. It didn't matter anyway, I had an absolute blast popping the rest of the pods I found, hoping that the birds find some of them, and the rest can grow at some point.

I could not fathom spending the entire day inside the 'box.' Home is out there, not in here in the protective walls hiding one from the elements. I've been considering more and more downsizing my belongings, having a large yard sale or ebaying possessions, as the idea of materialism and a 'house' has become rather queer in my mind. So outdoors I went! A White-breasted Nuthatch greeted me in the driveway.

My first stop was the Warren County Bikeway. I usually visit it from Ash Drive, but I really missed the Country Club Road entrance and headed there instead. I am glad I did, as I soon came across Sue of! She was out for a morning walk as well, and had already spotted some grosbeaks down the trail. We chatted a bit, and then off I went in the extreme heat and sun (I now have a slight sunburn). I had trouble keeping my eyes off of all the wildflowers, the bikeway is absolutely in bloom currently - my favorites today were the goldenrod, joe-pye weed, boneset, a few sightings of groundnut and some bittersweet nightshade and false solomon seal, and the place is loaded with jewelweed (have a taste). I also enjoyed the evergreen stand. There were cherry and apple trees as well! I also caught sight of a chipmunk, a grey squirrel, and a red squirrel. Here be birds:

- Gray Catbird (17)
- American Goldfinch (27 - I swear this is not an overcount)
- Black-capped Chickadee (13)
- Blue Jay (3)
- Northern Cardinal (5 unseen, 2 female, 1 male - such a beautiful bird, both in plumage and song)
- American Crow (1)
- Cedar Waxwing (9)
- House Wren (1 - only heard the dry rattle)
- Downy Woodpecker (1 - right in front of me finding food on a trunk)
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak (2 - apparently one female and a juv, the juv following her around begging, and her feeding it - doesn't it seem late in the year though?)
- Scarlet Tanager (1 - yellow with gun-metal grey wings - female or first-year male?)
- American Robin (2)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (1)

I was not done there! I headed up to the Meadowbrook Road meadow, another place I have not visited in quite some time. Fall migration obviously has taken place here, the bobolinks and meadowlarks are gone, as are most of the red-winged blackbirds - no breeding males here now. Again, an amazing wildflower spot! I felt a little intimidated here. There are butter-and-eggs, and plenty of other plants I have seen in almost all spots, but there are multiple species of thistle, what looked to be some sort of blue-violet vetch, two types of goldenrod, and partially hidden surprises of a white flower shaped as a morning glory - these are new to me. I felt a tinge of sadness at how quiet this location now is - fall is soon to set in.

- Mourning Dove (2 - not in the field, but on the road nearby)
- American Goldfinch (4 unseen, 5 pretty males)
- Ring-billed Gull (1 - also not in field, but flying overhead)
- American Crow (1 - off in the distance, probably at ACC)
- Song Sparrow (2! Both calling)
- Turkey Vulture (1 lazily floating overhead)
- Red-winged Blackbird (8 - either juveniles, or females - many chek calls while hiding in the cattail reeds)
- Savannah Sparrow (1 - sat on the wild parsnip that has gone to seed, only a few feet away, allowing me to study it in detail. I took copious field notes, as sparrows are easier to differentiate if you get to know them very well. Please see this post: to see a photo of exactly what I saw, as Sue has seen it too!)

I was still not done! I recalled Adirondack Community College having a 'fitness trail.' I surprisingly have never visited it before. I found out it really wasn't much of a birding spot, but it did have plenty of wildflowers, and what I believe to be a sort of mint. I crushed some leaves between my fingers and there certainly was a minty scent. This was also the first place all year where I could easily identify poison ivy. I rarely look for it as I'm not allergic. I'm not kidding. I still struggle to ID it's many forms, which is unfortunate as I find some of them to be very pretty. I have found out that I actually had directly rubbed my fingers on some of it last week, looking it over, trying to figure out what it was. That's how "not allergic" I am. I had no reaction. Fine for me, but for the benefit of my nature buddies, I shall re-learn how to identify it, as transferring delicious berries with those oils on my hands could be dangerous to them!

- American Goldfinch (8 unseen, 1 juvenile male, 1 breeding male)
- Black-capped Chickadee (2 came right up to me, where I could have reached out to touch them! There were 10 more)
- American Crow (1)
- Northern Cardinal (1 - calling from a distance, sounded like it was right on campus)
- American Robin (1)

The heat finally got to me and I was hungry, so my walks for the day were done, and I was satisfied.

However, I did bird a bit more. For dinner I had Burger King, from the Queensbury location (by Aviation Mall). I cannot recall when this lot did not have gulls, I remember feeding french fries to them when I was a teenager. I had a good laugh all through dinner, watching them fight over spots on top of the lighting fixtures and the sign that read "New Angry Chicken." It was hilarious seeing one gull to a light.
- Ring-billed Gull (15, in various ages and plumages)
- American Crow (2)

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