Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

chasing things away

This morning the weather turned cool and a bit hazy. I rolled through Lot C at Breckinridge Park to see what I could see. An eastern bluebird perched on a sign. A city parks truck pulled up behind me on the little park road before I could get a good picture.

I pulled into the parking lot to let the truck get past me. Then I headed back onto the little park road. This road runs a little square around an open soccer field. It is lightly trafficked, being inside the park.It is nearly perfect for "car birding". Birds, it seems are less frightened of passing cars than of passing pedestrians. Cars, after all, pass by all the time, but people are often up to no good.

As I rounded the third corner, I hit metaphoric paydirt. A couple of American kestrels on two little posts. Here's the male, a little smaller,with blue wings:

male american kestrel 2 25 2014 breckinridge

Here's the female, a little larger with more brown on the wings:

american kestrel, breckinridge park, richardson, texas

I drove up slowly, snapping pictures at each distance, until the kestrels gently lofted and went away.

I got entranced in my work, which was enlivened by an interesting announcement.The next thing I knew it was noon. I went to Parking Lot A in Breckrindge Park, which adjoins a wooded area.
I saw tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadees, and a red-bellied woodpecker. I had a sandwich and baked chips for lunch.

I worked until six p.m. Then I drove to the Heard Natural Science Center. The Audubon Society had its monthly meeting. I was early,and it was fun to watch the slide show of local birds.I could identify most ofthem. I have learned a little in the last couple of years. First, the good guy who often leads bird walks gave a program on the anatomy of birds,their primary and secondary and covert feathers. Then he talked about birds that nest on the ground.

The business meeting had the election of directors. As usual,it was more a matter of affirming volunteers than an electoral contest. Someone gave a talk about seeking funds for a butterfly garden at Hagerman National Wildlife Reserve. People talked about their rare sightings--some unlikely gulls for our region and a falcon more usual elsewhere.

The main speaker was a state employee who deals with DFW urban wildlife issues. He gave a long talk about dealing with heron rookerys in urban areas. This topic interests me, because our local news media runs panic stories about "herons!" with outraged neighbors upset about their presence. Herons are and should be federally-protected, and deserve a little compassion.

I gained a little empathy for those who deal with herons in their neighborhood. I understand their concerns a bit better. I was pleased to hear that once the herons lay their eggs, they must be left alone. This was my understanding of federal law.

Still, I was not happy about the speech,despite the fact that the speaker seemed like a pragmatic, good guy. Humans create newly-perfect rookerys, by growing thick neighborhood trees with a heavy canopy, ideal for nesting. Then humans are surprised when herons want to nest in this heron habitat they created. The solution was simple--just make the trees a bit more sparse, whereupon the herons will move to a better wooded canopy.

Still, the speaker had a mildly dismissive tone about the birds. In particular, the cattle egret came in for disrespect. The cattle egret is a new immigrant but it is a natural immigrant. It did not get released here from afar--it flew here from afar. I like cattle egrets. Their only "crimes" are that they eat grasshoppers and other critters, and they nest in trees. I consider these non-crimes.

My own view is that one price one pays for growing giant trees with a thick suburban canopy is that herons will nest. A simple solution is not to grow a thick canopy of trees. I believe that small suburban yards do better in our area with smaller trees, or at least spaces between the trees. I think it's better to count on people to make smart choices, and not to blame the birds.

I thought the talk was good, though,and thought-provoking. The speaker is not at all a bad guy. It's an interesting issue.

I drove home, picking up a sandwich on the way. My wife was watching the new show "Mindgames". I joined her to watch the second half of the show. It was good.

TV political commercials keep running to the extreme right. Primary season is no fun.

It is raining and chilly tonight. Hallelujah.

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