Wednesday, October 2, 2013

White-breasted Thrasher. 7,500 Songbirds Killed. Monarch Butterfly Migration. BirdNote: What's a Surfbird? Battle of Gonzales. Watkins Glen.


For "Winged Wednesday":

White-breasted Thrasher

White-breasted Thrasher by Mikka Pyhala

"The White-breasted Thrasher—more closely related to the Gray Catbird than any thrasher species—is a rare bird, found only on St. Lucia and Martinique. On St. Lucia, it is known by the local name Gorge Blanc, which refers to the bird’s white throat. This inquisitive, talkative species often droops or twitches its wings when excited or curious.

The birds typically forage on the ground, tossing leaves aside as they hunt for invertebrates, small frogs, and lizards. Breeding seems to coincide with the start of the rainy season. This thrasher sometimes breeds cooperatively, and approximately one-third of nests have “helpers,” which are male or female offspring from previous years. Chicks leave the nest before they are completely independent, and continue to be fed on the ground by adults. Unfortunately, the chicks are noisy and often fall victim to the many introduced predators on the island, which include cats, rats, and Indian mongooses.

The main threat to this species is habitat loss—specifically tourism development. On St. Lucia, installation of a major resort has already resulted in large swaths of forest clearing. The White-breasted Thrasher could be driven to extinction on the island if developers fail to consider the bird’s conservation needs.

To learn more, read “The Art of Waiting,” an ABC blog post by Villanova University student Kate Freeman. Kate studied White-breasted Thrasher breeding biology on St. Lucia, with support from ABC, as part of her graduate studies."

Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!  Range Map by ABC


7,500 songbirds killed at Canaport gas plant in Saint John

"Migrating birds, some possible endangered species, flew into gas flare.
It appears the migrating birds flew into the gas flare at Canaport LNG between Friday night and Saturday morning.

The birds were drawn to the flame like moths, an extremely unusual event, according to Don McAlpine, the head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum.

Red-eyed vireo

A large number of red-eyed vireos were among the estimated 7,500 migrating songbirds killed by the flare. (Courtesy of the Migration Research Foundation)

"They would circle in around that and of course with a large flame like that and high temperatures, they wouldn't need to get terribly close to become singed or burned."

The weather conditions were foggy and overcast at the time, which may have contributed to the incident."  More at:



"Each year, millions of Monarch butterflies migrate south each fall to spend their winters in the warmer climates of Mexico. Remarkably, these magnificent creatures manage to return to the same grove each year through a complex navigating system. 

By monitoring the position of the sun, and compensating for its location in the sky using their internal timekeeping mechanism, these remarkable butterflies are able to find their way home each year, even when it's cloudy.

Click the video to learn more about the magnificent Monarch butterfly."


Another video about the:

Monarch butterfly migration



Upcoming Shows

BirdNote: What's a Surfbird? Find out!

Pine Siskin  SUNDAY Responsible Birdfeeding by Ellen Blackstone   LISTEN NOW

300 East Randolph, Chicago MONDAY A Building Manager Shows the Way Featuring Geoff Credi, facilities manager in downtown Chicago   LISTEN NOW

Killdeer TUESDAY Sentinel Birds by Dennis Paulson  LISTEN NOW ►

Herring Gull WEDNESDAY The Little Red Spot On a Gull's Bill by Bob Sundstrom  LISTEN NOW

Surfbird THURSDAY Surfin' Bird Meets Surfbird by Bob Sundstrom  LISTEN NOW

Tony Angell's  OverWater Kingfisher  FRIDAY Reflections on Nature Featuring Tony Angell, sculptor and author  LISTEN NOW ►

Cedar Waxwing SATURDAY Landscaping for Wildlife I Featuring Russell Link, wildlife biologist with the Washington Dep't Of Fish and Wildlife  LISTEN NOW


On This Day:

First shots of the Texas Revolution fired in the Battle of Gonzales, Oct 2, 1835:

"On this day in 1835, the growing tensions between Mexico and Texas erupt into violence when Mexican soldiers attempt to disarm the people of Gonzales, sparking the Texan war for independence.

Texas--or Tejas as the Mexicans called it--had technically been a part of the Spanish empire since the 17th century. However, even as late as the 1820s, there were only about 3,000 Spanish-Mexican settlers in Texas, and Mexico City's hold on the territory was tenuous at best. After winning its own independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico welcomed large numbers of Anglo-American immigrants into Texas in the hopes they would become loyal Mexican citizens and keep the territory from falling into the hands of the United States. During the next decade men like Stephen Austin brought more than 25,000 people to Texas, most of them Americans. But while these emigrants legally became Mexican citizens, they continued to speak English, formed their own schools, and had closer trading ties to the United States than to Mexico.

In 1835, the president of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, overthrew the constitution and appointed himself dictator. Recognizing that the "American" Texans were likely to use his rise to power as an excuse to secede, Santa Anna ordered the Mexican military to begin disarming the Texans whenever possible. This proved more difficult than expected, and on October 2, 1835, Mexican soldiers attempting to take a small cannon from the village of Gonzales encountered stiff resistance from a hastily assembled militia of Texans. After a brief fight, the Mexicans retreated and the Texans kept their cannon.

The determined Texans would continue to battle Santa Ana and his army for another year and a half before winning their independence and establishing the Republic of Texas."



Checkered flag waves at first postwar U.S. road race in Watkins Glen, New York, Oct 2, 1948:

"On this day in 1948, the first American road race since World War II takes place in Watkins Glen, a tiny town near the Finger Lakes in New York. In 1961, the Watkins Glen event was added to the Formula One Grand Prix schedule and for the next 20 years it was a destination for the world's best drivers. Compared to Monte Carlo and other sophisticated stops on the Formula One circuit, Watkins Glen was scarcely even on the map (Sports Illustrated poked fun at its "courage and cornpone, sophistication with straw in its teeth"), but the race was named the best Grand Prix of the season more than once.

Road racing--that is, racing sleek sports cars on real roads instead of custom-built tracks--had fizzled out in the United States during World War II, but was revived in Watkins Glen by an enterprising young law student named Cameron Argetsinger. Argetsinger was a fan of European road racing in particular and fast driving in general and he was convinced that the village's twisting, scenic lanes and byways would be perfect for a Grand-Prix–style event. (He was motivated by more than civic boosterism, however: as he once explained to a reporter, "I had an MG-TC and didn't have a place to race it.")  Argetsinger spent months planning the race--he plotted its course by arranging and rearranging magazines on his living room floor--and finally settled on a 6.6-mile, mostly paved route around the town's perimeter.

Before the race could happen, Argetsinger needed to get permission from nine different state agencies and the New York Central railroad, which agreed to suspend train service through Watkins Glen for the afternoon so that the drivers could cross the tracks safely. (As a result, some people refer to October 2 as "the day the trains stopped.")  Twenty-three cars participated in that first race; Argetsinger and his MG finished ninth.

By the end of the decade, the event was drawing 100,000 spectators each year and in 1956, after a couple of race-day accidents on the public roads, the town built a brand-new course especially for its Grand Prix. In 1961, the Watkins Glen race became the only American stop on the Formula One tour ("A biscuit," one reporter wrote, "reincarnated as a brioche").

In 1981, citing financial difficulties, Formula One dropped the race from its schedule. Since then, there have been U.S. Grand Prix races in cities from coast to coast--in Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix and Indianapolis--but none as successful or celebrated as the ones at Watkins Glen."



Ray had to take Shay into town so he couldn't help me get the van back to Pete's mechanic shop.  So I called and cancelled the appointment.  Jim, the mechanic down the street, is going to check the fuel pump and all that first.

That gave me the morning to get the e-machine set up with what I need, and take care of some emails. I had been putting that off, as previously some pages took so long to load.  This is a lot faster than any other computer that I have ever had, and the Malwarebytes and AVG that the computer guy put on it keep blocking undesirable worms and germs, so that keeps it fast.

In the afternoon, I heard that awful thump, such as when vehicles collide.  I went to my back window, and saw that three vehicles had been in a collision on the corner. The driver of the BMW was treated in an ambulance and then let go.   There is a 45 mph speed limit on that road behind me, but some of the fancy folk from the ritzy subdivisions farther west, seem to think that they are too good for that, and speed along it. This intersection is just below the top of a hill, so you can't see who is coming from the west. You have to slow down to turn south into the subdivision, and hope that you will see the roof of a car coming up the other side of the hill, before it is too late.   If they are speeding, you can hardly see them before they get to the intersection. That's what had happened here.  The BMW was speeding, and the old boy in a black pick-up was trying to turn, and got whomped.  That in turn threw him into an SUV. Fortunately there were no serious casualties, even though there were several women, two with babies, and four men. 

It is a narrow two-lane country road, with no paved edges.  When turning into the subdivision, I am always worried that I will get rear-ended by someone else traveling east if I have to stop when I see someone coming from the west.  The county said that they would put in a turn-lane years ago, but it hasn't happened yet. There were 3 cop cars, two big blue fire trucks, the little blue fire pick-up truck, and two ambulances, so it took a while for the entrance to the subdivision to be sorted out yesterday.


Dizzy-Dick said...

Yes, that is a dangerous intersedtion. Glad no one was seriously injured. It is amazing how many "emergency" vehicles show up at a fender bender.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Hi DD,

You and Ruth have turned at that intersection when you came here.

I think they send all those vehicles, just in case they are needed, but you know those big fire trucks don't get very many mpg.

I can see sending the police cars, and ambulances, but why three fire trucks?

Happy Tails and Trails, Penny