Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Varied Thrush. Snowy Owls. TX Cockfights. Rare Birds. Herding Birds. Apollo. Lockerbie.

For "Winged Wednesday":

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush by Ashok Khosla

"The Varied Thrush is shy and elusive on its breeding grounds in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest, where its haunting song is heard more than the bird itself is seen. It feeds on ground-dwelling arthropods, insects, fruits, and berries. In winter, it can also be seen in parks and gardens, where it sometimes associates with American Robins.

Data from Breeding Bird Surveys and Christmas Bird Counts show that Varied Thrush numbers have significantly decreased over the last 40 years, possibly as a result of loss of the mature or old-growth forests on which it depends.  Its nests are predated by squirrels and Gray and Steller’s Jays. In winter, when Varied Thrushes move downslope and into more rural and residential areas, window collisions, severe winter weather, and feral cats can be significant mortality factors.

The Varied Thrush may benefit from Critical Habitat set aside in mature forest for the endangered Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet."

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Listen to a two-minute broadcast on this bird!    Support ABC conservation efforts for this and other birds of the Pacific Northwest!


It's Not Easy Being White -- and an Owl

"It's not easy being green.  It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things"- Kermit the Frog

Kermit thought life was tough because no one notices you if you're green. On the other side of the coin, imagine what it must be like these days if you are a Snowy Owl. There’s a major irruption of Snowy Owls happening across the continent. The eBird map below shows just those that have been reported until the end of November, and there’s no reason to expect that this “snow storm” is going to abate any time soon. They’ve been trickling in to haunts along waterfronts, farm fields, airports, hilltops, urban rooftops and just about anywhere that reminds them at least a little bit of home. They’re even showing up in forested areas. The big trees of the Pacific Northwest must seem very strange to these tundra dwellers.

Snowyowlmap Image provided by eBird ( and created December 4, 2011.

Big white owls don’t go unnoticed. Even people who don’t know what they are have to stop to take a look. Other birds notice them too, and their mobbing behaviour is what often attracts passersby. Well, that and the mobs of humans with cameras, binoculars, and scopes.

It’s always exciting for birders when an irruption happens. Birds that we don’t usually get to see may finally be close to home. And a big white owl—WOW! Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the opportunity to get up close and personal to one of these beauties?

Snowy Owl in North Saanich, BC. Photo by Doug Hansen

And there’s the dilemma. The Snowies are here this year because they have to be. They’ve run out of food on their usual wintering grounds. While that’s often a result of a poor year for their primary food source, lemmings, apparently the lemming population was very strong during the owl breeding season this year. That led to a productive summer for the owls, and now the lemming supply is rapidly being depleted. It’s likely that many of the Snowies we’re seeing in southern Canada and the northern US are young birds and not very adept hunters. Some are truly desperate to find their next meal and many of them are not going to survive the winter.

Birders, photographers, and others want to have a look at the owls when they are in their neighborhoods. Despite the challenges the birds are having, I think we may have an opportunity cloaked in white feathers in our midst. The Snowies can provide a means for us to get others excited about birding and also introduce birding ethics at the same time. We can share our binoculars and our scopes so that people can get a good look without stressing the owls. We can talk to people about why the owls are here and how important it is to protect their habitat and respect their need for space. We can politely encourage photographers and birders to keep their distance. We can try to make it a little easier to be a large white owl in a strange land.

So if you are lucky enough to have them in your area, hurry up! Get out there and share a Snowy Owl!" By Ann Nightingale


The HSUS Assists Galveston Law Enforcement in Raid of Alleged Cockfighting Breeding Facility

"This raid marks first use of new Texas law to prosecute those who breed roosters with intent to fight them"

Law Extends Its Reach in Bid

"Lt. Joel Caldwell, commander of the Animal Services Unit in the Galveston Police Department, with a confiscated fighting cock."

"The Humane Society of the United States supplied key information that led to the raid of an alleged cockfighting breeding facility in Santa Fe, Texas by a multi-agency effort on the part of the Galveston Police Department, University of Texas Police Department, Galveston County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Fe Police Department, Galveston County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office and RAIDER Officers from Harris County Precinct 6. Local law enforcement, acting on information from an undercover investigation by The HSUS, found cockfighting paraphernalia on the scene as well as a cockfighting pit.

"We are happy to be enforcing the new cockfighting law,” said Lt. Joel Caldwell with the Galveston Police Department. “Let anyone involved in this crime be on notice, Galveston will not be a refuge for this abhorrent form of animal cruelty.”

The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Anyone with information about animal fighting criminals is asked to call 877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787). Tipsters' identities will be protected."   December 15, 2011

Pictures and more at:


The short version was also posted last Saturday under "News":

Rare Bird Alert: December 9, 2011

"Winter's grip tightens on much of the continent this week, as the colder weather that has, up to now, largely stayed north of the Canadian border, pushed down into much of the central part of North America eastward.  In the Mid-Atlantic states, a recent front brought the second big snow storm of the year. Snowy Owls continue to irrupt in impressive numbers all across the Canada/United States border as far south as, for another week, Kansas, keeping birders in the southern states looking anxiously northward for that most definitive winter bird.

One first state record this week, a remarkable report of a Pink-footed Goose (ABA Code 4) at a sewage plant in Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, in the eastern third of the state.  It's not only the first state record, but the first for the center of the continent. UPDATE: The bird in question is now being reported as a juvenile "blue" Snow Goose, and not a Pink-footed Goose.

RFBL - CaliforniaSome incredible birds in California this week highlighted by the 2nd state record (and the 2nd record for the Lower 48) of Red-flanked Bluetail (4), found by a team of researchers on San Clemente Island, Los Angeles County. Sadly, the bird is on private property and inaccessible to the public. (photo by Justyn Stahl, used with permission)

More accessible, however, is a Falcated Duck (4) found just yesterday in Colusa County, the fourth record for the state.

Non ABA level rarities in California include two  Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Riverside County and 2 Neotropic Cormorants in Imperial County.

In Oregon, a Tropical Kingbird was discovered in Lincoln County, and a Mountain Plover in Benton County.

In addition to several Snowy Owls, a Gyrfalcon was found in Asotin County, Washington.  An Emperor Goose was reported in Grays Harbor County.

In British Columbia, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is present in Victoria.

A Rufous-capped Warbler (3) in Florida Canyon, Pima County, highlights birding in Arizona this week.  Elsewhere in the state, two Rufous-backed Robins (3) are being seen in Anthem, Maricopa County, and Madera Canyon, Cochise County.  Also a Long-tailed Jaeger, Arizona's 13th, in Mohave County.

Notable birds reported from Colorado this week include a Great Black-backed Gull in Pueblo County and a probable Gyrfalcon in Weld County.

Big news in Texas this week as the Brown Jays (3) have returned to SaliƱeno in Starr County.  Also present in the state is a Purple Sandpiper in Galveston County and a Hammond's Flycatcher on South Padre Island, Cameron County.

Tyrant flycatchers continue to make up a significant portion of the notable vagrants in the east, and a Say's Phoebe in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, along with a Vermilion Flycatcher in New Orleans, represent the lastest for Louisiana.

Birders in Oklahoma have a Long-tailed Duck near Tulsa.

Another Long-tailed Duck was discovered at Beaver Lake, Benton County, Arkansas, along with a Brewer's Sparrow in Fayetteville, Washington County.

Missouri hosts a pair of Say's Phoebes this week, one at Stockton Lake in Polk County and the second in Chariton County.  They're the state's 8th and 9th respectively.

In Kentucky, a Little Gull (3) has been present at Reelfoot Lake, Lake County.

The latest incident of Townsend's Solitaire, one of the season's most common vagrants, is in Clarke County, Iowa.

A King Eider, Wisconsin's second of the fall, was taken by hunter in Door County.

A pair of western vagrants showed up in central Canada this week as both a Varied Thrush near Richer and a Townsend's Solitiaire at Bourkevale Park are notable for Manitoba.

A Slaty-backed Gull (4) has been skirting the international boundary between Ontario and New York at Niagara of late.

New Brunswick's 3rd record of Swainson's Hawk was well-photographed in Albert County.

Massachusetts hosts another Western Kingbird this week, this time at Manomet, Plymouth County.

Keeping in the Tyrannid these, an Ash-throated Flycatcher was reported on private property in Newport, Rhode Island.

An apparent Thayer's Gull was discovered in the flocks of gulls attending the landfill in Windsor, Connecticut.

Great birds in southern New Jersey include a stunning adult male Painted Bunting visiting a feeder in Cape May, and a Bell's Vireo, also in Cape May County.

Georgia's second Vermilion Flycatcher in as many weeks was discovered this week at Altamaha, Tattnall County.

A Calliope Hummingbird was banded at a feeder in Mobile County, Alabama, making a total of four vagrant hummingbird species (Calliope, Allen's, Broad-billed, and Rufous) in the area over the last two weeks.

Several good birds are reported from Florida this week, including a Lapland Longspur in Wakulla County, a Bell's Vireo at Key Largo, Monroe County, and a Green-tailed Towhee in Alachua County."  by Nate Swick. From:


Innovations in Reintroductions


"In the bleary half light of a crisp, early November morning at Wisconsin’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, a low ground fog blankets a large field, its tendrils probing between the trunks of the trees around the field’s border. In the middle of the field, barely visible through the mist, a lone spectral figure stands beside what looks like an oversized hang glider precariously perched on top of a bright yellow bobsled. With a swift motion, the figure pulls on a chord hanging below the contraption’s wing, and immediately, the air is filled with the sound of a loud, high-pitched engine. Climbing into the machine, the figure is suddenly moving, and within 200 feet is airborne.

As the delicate little craft gradually climbs, it becomes apparent
that it is not alone; it is followed by the silhouettes of first one, then two, then five, and eventually eleven large, graceful birds—Whooping Cranes. The birds tuck into formation alongside the plane’s wingtip, and together, this unlikely flock heads south.
The figure in the ultralight is Joe Duff, and the birds are part of a remarkable ongoing effort to restore populations of the Whooping Crane. With only one small group of these endangered birds left, this innovative technique was developed to reintroduce a self-sustaining flock of migrating cranes to parts of their former range.

The idea sounds fantastical: train birds to follow an ultralight
plane, and teach them to migrate just as their natural parents would in the wild. In this scenario, the plane leads the birds to a place where the species has been lost due to prior human intervention, helping to restore the former population. Like many scientific endeavors, this now highly successful technique has taken many years of trial and error to perfect—twenty years, in fact. The idea began with Canadian pilot and sculptor Bill Lishman, who trained a flock of Canada Geese to fly around his home near Toronto. Why? Because people told him it couldn’t be done, for one thing, but also because he thought there might be value in the technique. He was right. Progressing to Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes, and finally, the Whoopers, Lishman, Duff, and others, including Dr. Bill Sladen and ABC’s Gavin Shire, refined the method, and eventually won the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Now in its tenth year, the project has migrated more than 40 cranes from Necedah to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. The birds have developed into a wild population, migrating on their own, and have begun breeding with each other to produce a second generation of Whooping Cranes; one oblivious to its ultralight heritage.
This project is just one of countless numbers that owe their
success to innovative reintroduction techniques that have been developed by conservationists over the years. Without those creative pioneers, birds from the Whooping Crane to the Eastern Bluebird would not be the success stories they
are today."


On This Day:

Apollo 8 departs for moon's orbit, Dec 21, 1968:

"Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr., and William Anders aboard.

On Christmas Eve, the astronauts entered into orbit around the moon, the first manned spacecraft ever to do so. During Apollo 8's 10 lunar orbits, television images were sent back home, and spectacular photos were taken of Earth and the moon from the spacecraft. In addition to being the first human beings to view firsthand their home world in its entirety, the three astronauts were also the first to see the dark side of the moon.

On Christmas morning, Apollo 8 left its lunar orbit and began its journey back to Earth, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean on December 27. On July 20 of the next year, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, became the first men to walk on the moon."


Dec 21, 1988:

Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland

"Pan Am Flight 103 from London to  explodes in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, an hour after departure. A bomb that had been hidden inside an audio cassette player detonated inside the cargo area when the plane was at an altitude of 31,000 feet. All 259 passengers, including 35 Syracuse University students returning home for the holidays, were killed in the explosion. In addition, 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed in the shower of airplane parts that unexpectedly fell from the sky.

Authorities accused Islamic terrorists of having placed the bomb on the plane at the low-security airport in Malta, and it was transferred to Flight 103 in Frankfurt, Germany. They apparently believed that the attack was in retaliation for either the 1986 bombing attack on Libya , or a 1988 incident, in which the United States killed 290 passengers when it mistakenly shot down an Iran Air commercial flight over the Persian Gulf.

Sixteen days before the explosion over Lockerbie, a call was made to the U.S. embassy in Helsinki, Finland, warning that a bomb would be placed on a Pan Am flight out of Frankfurt. Though some claimed that travelers should have been alerted to this threat, U.S. officials later said that the connection between the call and the bomb was purely coincidental.

In the early 1990s, investigators identified Libyans Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah as suspects, but Libya refused to turn them over to be tried in the United States. But in 1999--in an effort to ease United Nations sanctions against Libya--President Moammar Gadhafi agreed to turn the suspects over to Scotland for trial in the Netherlands using Scottish law and prosecutors. In early 2001, al-Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, although he continues to profess his innocence and work to overturn his conviction. Fhimah was acquitted.

In accordance with United Nations and American demands, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing, though it did not express remorse. The U.N. and U.S. lifted most sanctions against Libya; the country then paid each victim's family approximately $8 million in compensation. In 2004, Libya's prime minister said that the deal was the "price for peace," implying that his country only accepted responsibility to get the sanctions lifted, angering the survivors' families. He also admitted that Libya had not really accepted guilt for the bombing.

Pan Am Airlines, which went bankrupt in 1991, received a $30 million settlement from the Libyan government in 2006."



Misty and I went down to get Jay, then she and Maddie had their walk-about together.  Jay hadn't heard a word from his ex-tenant, and the tenant's stuff was still on Jay's porch.  We had quite a hard blowing rain during the night, but the tarp had kept everything dry.

Jay and I attacked my computer area again.  The little table that we had put in the corner between the two desks which make an "L", was a bit too long.  I found a little shelf unit, and it worked better.  Jay cut some out of the back for the cords, and we put the new computer in it.  We hooked everything up to that computer first.  But my Ethernet cable has lost both it's little tabs, so it slipped out of the computer and the router.  Fortunately, I had picked another cable up at Angelica Thrift Shop for 25 cents. ( I buy stuff like that when I see it cheap)  Then we moved the big old computer to the right of the right side desk, and that made more room for my feet. Ah! At least that one works right!

Jay had something he wanted to copy, but I couldn't get the new printer (wireless with Fax) to stop saying "Out of Paper", so we plugged in the other new printer (non-wireless and no Fax) and used it.  But Jay had to hold the cord's connection together by hand.  Very bad design, that is why I am returning it.   But the new Faxing printer's cord is almost as bad, and I had to fasten it together with rubber bands and tape. 

Finally it copied, but I haven't set up the wireless or Fax yet.  A computer illiterate like me, can only do so much techie stuff in one day.


A couple of newer paintings 2019 said...

There's the old story about if you have duct tape you can fix it. Does that apply here? LOL

LakeConroePenny,TX said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thanks for your comment, Sandra.

I suppose if the tape doesn't work I will have to go to baling wire.
The other old stand-by, WD40 won't work here.
Happy Trails, Penny, TX

Dizzy-Dick said...

It seems everyone is having computer problems of one kind or another. Must be something in the air.

Michelle said...

So much to read LOL Since I'm at work its hard to read it all. When I get home I'll read it all. The video of the boiling I like that. I so believe in the VC I take quite a bit as my system can't take much when I have a job where I handle everybody's money during the day. I wash my hands millions of times but didn't know about the paper towel being the best way to dry. I will be doing that now. Thanks for such a useful post.