Saturday, September 27, 2008

Enough With the Bad News Already


With all the bad news, destruction, power-loss and traffic congestion, I could not stomach subjecting my fellow Baytonians (and my own sanity) to one more bad and horrifying story line, so taking your pardon, I'm writing about nothing relating to misery this week.

We deserve a break from this reality in all its ugliness, so without further ado, here goes.

Sitting on my patio the day after the big disturbance, I saw what I thought was an exotic and mysterious bird, heretofore undiscovered in these parts. It was definitely a hummingbird, just not one of the varieties native to our area. It was white with flecks of brown in it. Researching hummers on the Internet, I realized I was indeed seeing a rare bird.

It was an uncommon leucistic hummingbird on our patio September 12. This was the day Hurricane Ike came and went. The poor critter was fluffed up, wet and very tired. It rested in our crape myrtle for about 20 minutes. I wrote the staff from Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History as instructed on the web page to let them know of the sighting. Information on this fascinating bird is found here:

Their immediate and delighted response made me realize what an event this was. It's not every day a bird watcher sees something new and according to my dad out Dayton way, they are also getting a plethora of exotic sightings. My Dad tells me the common cattle egret first came to this country from Africa on a hurricane and seeing he is rarely misinformed, I took it as gospel. He said all European Starlings in America came from the release of ninety-nine birds in Central Park, New York City in 1890. One hundred were brought over, but one died. He knows his bird facts alright.

A few days passed and low and behold, a yellow and green flash of feathers zipped close by my head and I saw a parakeet land in my bald cypress tree. I thought for a second it was a local pet on the loose, but there is a good chance it was blown in from Florida, where they are commonly in the wild. Once again I tuned in the Internet and sure enough, they are becoming more common in urban areas all across the US. I'm seeing a budgie every day, so it may be more than one.

Imagine my surprise when I walked within a couple of feet of a ring-necked turtle dove two days ago. According to my handy Audubon Handbook of Eastern birds, this beauty is found from South Florida to Alabama, so this one floated in on the wind most likely. I have a large bird feeder on the pipeline behind the casa and I'm seeing this dove or maybe another each day. See a detail here:

Yesterday, I drove my fuel-efficient hooptie down to the Discount Tire shop on North Garth road to get the tires rotated and balanced. Since it was a beautiful day in the low 70's and I had a forty-five minute wait, I decided to pass time by walking down Garth road to the Mall and back instead of sitting on corpulent duff in the lobby. Of course I had my trusty camera with me and doing my best to ignore the still-plentiful debris from the storm; I sauntered along the shoulder, busy people in busy cars whizzed by and I, on a mission to enjoy myself, captured a photograph of a Great Egret in the retention pond on the south side of Tractor Supply. It was a beauty and totally absorbed in its mission to capture a tasty snack, totally ignored me as well. Fine, as I just wanted to capture its image.

My bride and I felt a burning desire to garden, so we meandered over to Lowe's to see what the nursery truck brought. We came away with nine Double Knock Out Rosa 'Radtko' rose bushes with bright red blooms! I can't wait to see all this color around our patio. That infamous and devastating storm all but stripped our landscape and we are eager to get it back in shape. We are also taking this opportunity to redo and reshape our garden to something different, so it's not all that bad after all. Here is their website if you would like to investigate this great flowering bush:

Let's give it a week folks and see what Baytown looks like then. Hopefully more of us will get our mojo back to normal.

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