Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week Thirty-Five - 17 to Go

Where’s the humor? The love triangle, the donut shops, the funeral parlors, and now the "evil Eye" do not provide the comic relief one once got from Evanovich/Plum books. Agree that this series is still very easy reading. Plus this edition in the hardcover edition contains two smokin' hot stickers inside. Let's hope Janet gets her mojo back with eighteen

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

"Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" is a popular choice of regional theaters. This evening Joan and I attended the highly entertaining Merry-Go-Round Playhouse production.

Reading the play booklet we saw that the late Thommie Walsh choreographed the original Chicago production, which ran for 4½-years.

Although I started my schooling in the public school system by attending kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School. My next 16 school years were spent in Catholic schools. Not until I went to graduate school did I reenter a public school. Thus, this show provided a poignant trip down memory lane for me as I recalled the halls of St. Alphonsus and Mt. Carmel in the 1950s and early 60s. As I reflect back you have to wonder why we accepted every taboo or warning the nuns and priests presented to us.

The play's dance numbers while few are well choreographed, and Ed Sayles' direction makes one suspect that Ed had been there and done that. The play's variety kept one's attention and you did not have to live through the era to make a connection with the characters.

While devoid of memorable tunes the show dominated our conversation as Joan and I drove off to get our Parker's take-out.

Previous production this summer:
Anything Goes
Cooking with the Calamari Sisters: Mangia Italiano!
42nd Street

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week Thirty-Four - 18 to Go

The prolific Patterson channels Perils of Pauline with a Hitchcock female in a John Grisham adventure. Fans of James Patterson will read this novel in one sitting.

Nina Bloom/Jeanine proves more resourceful and less helpless than Pauline as she moves through a plot that has more turns than the steep, twisty slopes Pike's Peak.

Wonder if Charles Baylor and Nina Bloom’s relationship will spark a sequel from Patterson and Ledwidge.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Charlie Major Nature Trail - Revisited 8/18/11

After completing some business in Skaneateles decided to revisit the Charlie Major Nature Trail. It has been almost three years since my last formal visit.

At 3 PM pulled the car into the parking area on Crow Hill Road near the corner of Railroad Street and Skaneateles Creek, and parked under the wooden "Charlie Major Nature Trail" sign pictured above.

This trail will provide you with  a 45-minute hike. The trail runs from Old Crow Road right behind O'Neil Lane in Mottville to the east side of Mill Road just north of Old Seneca Turnpike.

The Charlie Major Nature Trail is featured in Rich & Sue Freeman's guide book, Take Your Bike! Family Rides in the Finger Lakes Region.

This land was donated to Town of Skaneateles by Jack and Irene Bryant who were both murdered while hiking in North Carolina. Jack was Skaneateles town attorney for 26 years. 
Bryant's Plaque
Before heading southeast on the trail my attention was drawn towards Skaneateles Creek. There emerging from the water were a mother and her daughter.
Skaneateles Creek
As I started down the trail a chickadee greeted me. At the first bridge I encountered a young woman who was using the bridge rails to do stretching exercises. Just south of the bridge I observed 2 blue jays. A mother and her son passed me as they biked north.
1st Bridge

On the other side of the second bridge in the pathway was a robin. A little further on there were 2 cardinals amongst what appeared to be black berry bushes.
2nd Bridge
Several trails seem to lead off to people's back yards. One side trail took me to the spill way at the Lakeside Paper Mill.
The Spill Way
Before coming to the third bridge I saw a man and his German Shepherd walk on it. They saw me and turned and went back to the southern trail entrance. The entrance is only a few feet from this bridge.
3rd Bridge
I turned around and headed back to the car. I met a man and Jake, his Dalmatian. We had a short conversation in which he told me that Spring was a better time for bird watching on the trail.

As I was finishing my walk I passed another fellow who was using a walking stick.

Before getting into the car I use the steps to get down near the creek and photographed the Mottville Bridge.
Mottville Bridge Plaque
Mottville Bridge

The Charlie Major Trail once again provided a quick but interesting afternoon walking experience.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Birding - Montezuma Audubon Center 8/17/11

Montezuma Audubon Center

Today the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) scheduled a birding tour. Photographer-naturalist Dave Spier was the leader for the event.

At 8AM Dave formed the group into a circle and introductions were made. There were 7 participants, a couple from Ontario NY, a couple from near Butler NY, a Mom and her son from Cortland, another woman and myself.

After getting into the van Dave drove first by Malone Unit #1 and then stopped at Muckrace. Here were several Yellowlegs and Canada Geese.

Boarding the van we proceeded to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR). On the way south on Rt. 89 we observed the Osprey nesting in the tower adjacent to the Barge Canal bridge.


During a quick turn around at Tschache Pool Dave pointed out how the area was drained and once the rains come the area will once again be good for birding.

Tschache Pool

The van pulled into the entrance drive at MNWR and Dave parked next to the water. 

Dave spotted an American Bittern but it quickly disappeared in the cattails. Nevertheless the abundance of Yellowlegs both Greater and Lesser entertained us.


Milkweed near the water's edge

The group assembled on the NMWR observation deck. Dave set up the scope. Chuck Gibson, a NMWR volunteer, was also setting up his scope for the day.

NMWR Observation Deck

There were four ducks far out across the water. Dave could not at first ID them, but once they took to flight Dave noted that they were Blue Wing Teal.

Blue Wing Teal (far out there)

Sunflower at NMWR Center walkway
(notice bee coming in)

Heading back to the MAC we drove into the NMWR Hunter Registration Center, there was a Cedar Waxwing in a pine tree.

Hunter Registration Center - looking East

Cedar Waxwing

After a consensus that we were willing to stop at May's Point Observation Deck Dave took us to the boardwalk entrance. Glad we did. Although the light was not favorable there were several opportunities to get photos of Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Swans and a two ducks we could not ID.

Arriving back at the MAC all thanked Dave for a most pleasant adventure.

Before heading home I visited Martens Tract. Evidently the DEC has mowed a new trail from the observation corral to the west side of the water.

I used the trail as far back as the woods then turned around. There were 3 Turkey Vultures soaring over the woods. Also some interesting flora.

Turkey Vulture
Basket Gall




As I was leaving Martens Tract there were 3 Goldfinch bathing in a puddle in the entrance road.

It was 82 degrees.

On North Division Road just outside Auburn city limits saw this tractor in the Ruwet's farm field.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week Thirty-Three - 19 to Go


This is an excellent instructional manual. Coalson presents the basic principles of nature photography with first-rate examples.  Also chapter-ending assignments provide for immediate reinforcement. This book is too large to carry in the field but you will find yourself referring to it often.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

70th Annual Central New York Scottish Games

On this sunny Saturday hundreds gathered at Longbranch Park in Liverpool, NY for dancing, piping and drumming, athletic competitions, and feasting on meat pies and haggis. Many in attendance were wearing their kilts.

The smallest Scottish visitor was a 10-month-old Scottish terrier named Duffy, whose owner, Doug Havens of Brewerton, performed with the City of Syracuse Highland Pipe Band.

Among the more than 30 clan societies who set up shop for this day-long celebration was Clan Cameron.

Clan Cameron set up a special display featuring life-size cutouts of Prince William and his bride, Catherine “Kate” Middleton, who met as students at University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

The display included a number of Scottish wedding traditions, including Celtic wedding coins, a gift from the groom to his bride that is later passed to the first son, and the bell which couples ring on their wedding day and keep in the house to remind them of their vows. One placard read, “Should arguments arise, the bell is rung by either the husband or wife to call a truce”.

This display became a popular photo opportunity for many.
The opening ceremony starts the day off on the right foot. The clans parade onto the field.

And then salute the crowd as they are recognized by the master of ceremonies.

After the singing of the National Anthem those who have died since last year's games are cited and a lone piper plays.

Then massed bands make a grand entrance.

During the day talented dancers participate in the Highland Dance competition;

hungry Scots purchase meat pies;

some find time to partake of a snooze;

and non-Scots ask the proverbial question.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Birding - Montezuma Audubon Center 8/10/11

Today the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) scheduled a nature walk for Grandparents and their grandchildren. Photographer-naturalist Dave Spier was the leader for the event.

Left Auburn at 7:30 AM and headed to MAC for today’s schedule nature walk. Circling the dump were 3 Turkey Vultures.

As I drove down Savannah-Spring Lake Road a little after 8 AM a hawk flew across into the far woods. There were 2 Great Blue Herons in the water and 50+ swallows on the telephone wires.

A quick pit stop at Muckrace was futile.  It was flooded and barren of wildlife.

Drove into Martens Tract at 8:30 AM. From the observation rails saw 6 Great Blue Herons and several Tree Swallows. There were 8 ducks way back in the duck weed but I could not identify them.
Martens Tract

Entered Cancross Road at 8:50 AM. Driving to the Holland Island gate noticed Swamp Rose growing on the north side of the road and 6 Great Blue Herons. Four were in the channel on the south side of the road and two were flying overhead. On a dead limb hanging over the Seneca River was a Great Blue Heron. To the north on the island there was an osprey perched in the dead tree.  Two DEC workers came down the road and after opening the gate they went down the Holland Island road. Returning to the Savannah-Spring Lake Road spied 2 deer in the east channel on the south side of the dirt road and 4 Great Blue Heron in the west channel.
Swamp Rose - Mallow

Cancross Road - East Channel

Stepped into the Noga Blind at Colvin Marsh at 9:15 AM. Soaring above the marsh were a Red-tailed Hawk and an Osprey. Two Great Blue Herons, a Song Sparrow, and 3 Tree Swallows were also present.

In the driveway at Colvin Marsh was a Mourning Dove. On the wires were 39 swallows, most appeared to be Tree Swallows, but after conferring with Dave after the walk there may have been a few Bank Swallows in this group.

Arrived at the MAC at 9:45 AM. In the new parking lot construction area were 2 Killdeers. Dave had assembled the walk participants in the conference room where they were observing and photographing the birds at the feeders - Red-wing Blackbirds, Goldfinches, House Sparrows, and a Nuthatch. The group’s make-up was Aleia and her grandparents, Liam and his grandparents, and Julie, a MAC AmeriCorps worker.

Starting the walk at the front door, Dave pointed out the barn swallows nest over the entrance. Turning to the right Dave drew attention to the bat house on the south side of the building.
Bat House

Once in the field Dave proceeded to name the flora - Knapweed, Cattail, Arrowhead a.k.a. Duck Potato, Bulrush, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Queen Anne lace, Clover,  Lobelia.


Birdsfoot Trefoil

 Lobelia with Arrowhead

Just off the path towards the ponds Dave pointed out a basket gall. Then he split a gall to show the insect inside.

Aleia flushed out a toad. After several attempts to have the toad remain still Dave steered it onto his notebook.

Then the highlight of the day. A Red-tailed Hawk flew over our heads and with the aid of the bright sun made a splendid display.
Red-tailed Hawk

Over the north pond 4 Ospreys were fishing. Two ospreys made dramatic splashes and one appeared to have caught a fish. As the group approached the pond a Trumpeter Swan emerged from behind the cattails.
 Trumpeter Swan
Before departing the MAC caught a house sparrow feeding its young. Took the photo through a conference window pane.
House Sparrows

Before returning home went to Sauders Store for peaches and blueberries.