Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Future To Believe In Part 1

With school now in session and most birds seen in the state, there isn't much to chase anymore.  But the challenges are still there. How?  Well, as birders of our own kingdoms, we are the watchers who protect and understand our area's birds well. 

Red-breasted Nuthatch
I have wonderful friends who loaned me their cabin up on Mt. Lemmon so that I could do my yearly western warbler migration count.  It allows us to relax in the cooler temps and do our point checks. 

I put up their bird feeders and instantly heard the wonderful sounds of a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  It's a special nuthatch in that it isn't as common as the Pygmy Nuthatch or White-breasted Nuthatch.  But just 28 miles away from my home, they are present in small numbers. 

Mountain Chickadee
So while we ate dinner and took a break from our hikes, we watched these birds come to the feeders.  It was a perfect way to relax and bird. 

Pygmy Nuthatch
But the purpose of my trek to Mt. Lemmon was to scout for a spot that could be easily reached by a birding friend (and mentor) visiting from Wisconsin.  He needs to find the Hermit Warbler.  It's one of the last warblers on his "needs" list.  

Hermit Warbler
The best part about ebird is that you have personal data that stays with you forever.  Ultimately, that data makes us stronger birders and helps us when it comes time to predicting when birds will pass through our areas.  So I was thankful to have that data at my fingertips.

I sent him my checklists from the previous years and he arranged for a flight during this time period.  And so I returned to my "hotspots" where I count birds and found plenty of Hermit Warblers for him. In one spot, I had 10 of them!

I was happy and glad that they were easy to reach.  Sometimes, you have to hike miles to find certain birds, but in this case, it's an easy walk.  When someone visits from a "flat" area, the elevation can be a challenge.  This is especially true for older birders.  We'll take it slow and enjoy the views.  I promised his wife I'd return him back alive:)

I'll write more about my friend Bernie when he comes to visit, but he is a very special guy.  He may or may not know how much of an impact he has made on my life.  I was a kid while he fought, protected and educated me(and many many others) about the environment.  Today, his legacy is well known by many at a place called the Woodland Dunes

I am crossing my fingers that the Hermit Warblers play nice for us on the weekend he comes to visit.  He has taught me so many things in this life.  And while he may not know me well, we know him.  He's the guy who took us on the trails during the day and night looking for owls and deer.  

Bernie trains us all in the ways of banding.  Here we learn how to band and release Northern Saw-Whet Owls
There are 3 environmental people who have had a major impact on my hometown .  Dr. Sontag, Park Ranger Winnie and Bernie.  They are the reason why people stop and fall in love with Two Rivers and Manitowoc today.  Dr. Chuck Sontag is the watcher of the Manitowoc Impoundment and one of the founders of Woodland Dunes.  Winnie was the cantankerous and passionate Park Ranger who educated many of us along the miles of Two Rivers lakeshore. Later I would work with her at Point Beach State Forest as a young adult.  She is gone now, but her legacy remains.  And somewhere in the forest, you can find a bench or boardwalk with her name on it.  And then there's Bernie. These people have dedicated their lives to the education and protection of important areas. They gave us something to treasure whether we knew it or not at that time. Today, these places are major attractions for many visiting and local people. 

So, I'm hoping I can summon the bird gods to give us at least ONE Hermit Warbler during his visit:) Cross your fingers! A special thank you to David and Dean for the cabin and bird feeders during this wonderfully cool weekend. Until next time..... 


  1. That is so neat... Sounds like you have the perfect situation for Bernie to see the Hermit Warbler.... I'm sure those sweet little birds will cooperate and that Bernie will get to see LOTS of the warblers ---along with many other birds.... You are so special to him also I'm sure.


  2. I hope the Hermit Warblers turns up on cue

  3. Hello Chris!:) Those Nuthatches are adorable, lovely captures of both the Red-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatch. Bernie seems like a great guy, and I hope that when you and Bernie stay in the cabin (which by the way is in a fabulous location) and set out to find the yellow headed beauty, Bernie will find it first!:)) Take it easy Chris, and enjoy this very special friendship.

  4. Amazing birds you have photographed. What a wonderful place to visit! Have a lovely Wednesday.

  5. Such a joy to share your passions, learn from a mentor, and become one. Keep up the good work Chris.

    1. Thanks Gaelyn for all you do. If your job is anything like teaching(which I'm sure it is), you're not always rewarded for all the work you do. But I just remember one thing. For every one of those 10 kids, there's one who is really listening and may be the one who sparks change down the road.

  6. Such a great opportunity to see all the lovely feathery friends! Your photos are so fun to see.

  7. Looks a relaxing place to spend a weekend :) There are so many unsung heroes in the natural world getting on with saving species and habitats.

  8. Awww love the little Pygmy Nuthatch.. and, I haven't been blogging most of the summer, so am enjoying reading backwards through your posts....


Thanks for stopping by!