It was a good time at the Audubon Assembly in Bellville this weekend, and much fun to see some good friends and make new acquaintances. The hard part was having to choose between all the fantastic daytime speakers! The two keynotes were top-notch: Ted Eubanks from Fermata was a real inspiration and Dr. Lonnie Thompson gave an incredible program on retreating glacial ice, and quite frankly, it depresses the hell out of me. Thanks to this serious scientist, we have compelling data that should be a "dope slap" of reality to the last of the global warming unbelievers. If you don't believe Dr. Thompson- just ask the polar bears.
Today's field trip was brisk but beautiful. Greg Miller and Gary Cowell obligingly led our group on a pleasant and carbon free walk on the Richland County B & O Bike Trail a part of the Richland County Park District. Of the many birds seen, there were a few highlights that stand out in my mind. Two Pileated Woodpeckers, 2 Fox Sparrows, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were 2-pairs-and-a-spare worthy of a winning poker hand, while Cedar Waxwings and Eastern Bluebirds bounced delightfully from cherry to dogwood along the trail.
Pictured above, the overpass at route 71 is home to a small nesting colony of Cliff Swallows who have long since left for sunny climes, however their tubular homes were being vandalized by a shifty female Parasitic Weaver Finch AKA House Sparrow. This intruder has settled in for the winter, and if news gets around of this free-loader housing, the Cliff Swallows could be in for a very unhappy return in the spring. Another interesting, if sad fact of nature.