Monday, February 4, 2019

Joy Drive 5MR: Staying Alive in a Dead Week

It's a numbers game. Or at least, it's a game involving numbers. In the 5MR challenge, they're not all great finds, great shots, or even great looks, but championships are won with grit...or money. Grit will have to do.

Being one of few warblers to winter in the eastern U.S., it is fair to say PAWAs  have grit.

The doors of January are closed and with them the first month of the 5MR challenge. After seeing totals from across the country and comparing my own findings with those of Wayne county proper, I feel totally adequately satisfactory. Not as exultant as an Eagle, but neither as brooding as a Red-shoulder who has no cover and no frogs.

The last week of January was a good/lucky one for the Joy Drive 5MR. A trip to the dump yielded incidental roadside Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a female Purple Finch was waiting at the feeders upon arrival home. There were no cool Gulls at the dump though, just the angry attendant known as the Dump Grump. He works there because the baler lets him crush things.

  Photos courtesy of iPhone 6 through two panes of glass , f-stop 30, ISO 10,000, bird was baited and called at from inside the house.

The funny thing is, the weather and overall birding of the past week has been pretty poor. The weather vacillated between very cold and windy, or warm and rainy. It wasn't a polar vortex like in the midwest, but not ideal for bird ogling, and species totals were low. 
For high octane birding competition, it had the makings of a dead week, but giving up on higher totals and instead focussing on specific areas, for specific species, kept the Vultures at bay.

P.S. Does anyone else feel like the large volume of roadkill and large volume of TUVUs should make for plentiful sightings of Vulture-on-carcass-carnage? I find it to be surprisingly rare. 

The glaring weakness of my 5MR is the waterfowl and shorebird potential, or lack thereof. I'm very good at worrying, and my inability to turn up good shorebird habitat this far already has me dreading summer migration. As for fowl, there are several reservoirs in the area but they are hard to access and do not seem to sustain much by way of waterfowl populations other than Ring-billed Gulls and Cormorants. Nonetheless, persistent peeking and borderline-trespassing has turned up a little duck variety.


Plus some Mute Swans, which count for nothing. Nobody has told this to them apparently, as they still behave in the manner of royalty.

Three days ago we had high temps in the teens, but today it hit 74 degrees. Nutso, but typical for this area I am told. You'd be tempted to think it spring time, especially with the Groundhog's prognosticating, but more than likely it will freeze over again, and many of the amphibians and insects mobilizing now will die.
Life is fleeting; life is faint. For final consideration, a Chickadee's butthole: