Archive for May 21st, 2009

21
May
09

Swallows and Deer

I read about a recent study that tested the memory of Mockingbirds.  Researchers wanted to know if Mockingbirds remember anything, so they developed a test which involved Mockingbird nests, the birds and humans.  Basically human subjects acted either in a threatening way toward the nest or a non-threatening way.  I only read a news article about the study so I can’t define what threatening or non-threatening means.  The results showed that humans who had acted in a threatening way to the Mockingbird’s nests, when they later returned to the nesting area, the Mockingbirds would attack them or try to drive them off.  Humans who had acted in a non-threatening way would be allowed to pass without being harassed by the Mockingbirds.  It seemed as though the birds remembered who had threatened them and who hadn’t.

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Last weekend, while hiking, I saw this Swallow poking its head out of its birdhouse.  The park can get overrun by flies and mosquitoes so the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has added several birdhouses and bat-houses in order to try and control the insect population naturally.  I took a couple pictures of the birdhouse and tried to be as respectful of the bird as possible, but I still wanted the shot because I thought it would make a nice picture.

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This week when I returned to the park, this Swallow posted himself on a post that I had to pass in order to get to the hiking trail.  I’m going to post the actual shots I took of this bird without cropping them to zoom in on the bird as I moved closer to take these shots.

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I moved about five feet closer to the bird and am now about fifteen to twenty feet away.

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When I moved two steps closer, he moved from the post to the gate.  So I took a couple more steps to get within six feet of the bird.

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I don’t know if this bird is the same bird from the birdhouse as last week, but by moving slowly closer and not acting in a threatening way, this bird let me walk right up on him, the same way the deer will tolerate me when I photograph them.

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Unfortunately, it is getting nearly impossible to see deer with all the foliage developing.

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And if I do see a deer, focusing becomes another problem.

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21
May
09

Broad-winged Hawk

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Like the elusive Red Fox that I finally got one picture of, I’ve been seeing a pair of Broad-winged Hawks.

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I have several really bad shots of them in flight, but did manage to get a couple shots of this one perched.

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Intolerant of humans, like most raptors, this one responded to his mate’s call and flew off its perch as I approached.

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21
May
09

On This Day, May 21: Lucky Lindy

May 21, 1927

Lindbergh lands in Paris

American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh lands at Le Bourget Field in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight and the first ever nonstop flight between New York to Paris. His single-engine monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, had lifted off from Roosevelt Field in New York 33 1/2 hours before.

Lindbergh convinced the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce to sponsor the flight, and a budget of $15,000 was set. The Ryan Airlines Corporation of San Diego volunteered to build a single-engine aircraft to his specifications. Extra fuel tanks were added, and the wing span was increased to 46 feet to accommodate the additional weight. The main fuel tank was placed in front of the cockpit because it would be safest there in the event of a crash. This meant Lindbergh would have no forward vision, so a periscope was added. To reduce weight, everything that was not utterly essential was left out. There would be no radio, gas gauge, night-flying lights, navigation equipment, or parachute. Lindbergh would sit in a light seat made of wicker. Unlike other aviators attempting the flight, Lindbergh would be alone, with no navigator or co-pilot.

The aircraft was christened The Spirit of St. Louis, and on May 12, 1927, Lindbergh flew it from San Diego to New York, setting a new record for the fastest transcontinental flight. Bad weather delayed Lindbergh’s transatlantic attempt for a week. On the night of May 19, nerves and a newspaperman’s noisy poker game kept him up all night. Early the next morning, though he hadn’t slept, the skies were clear and he rushed to Roosevelt Field on Long Island. Six men had died attempting the long and dangerous flight he was about to take.

At 7:52 a.m. EST on May 20, The Spirit of St. Louis lifted off from Roosevelt Field, so loaded with fuel that it barely cleared the telephone wires at the end of the runway. Lindbergh traveled northeast up the coast. After only four hours, he felt tired and flew within 10 feet of the water to keep his mind clear. As night fell, the aircraft left the coast of Newfoundland and set off across the Atlantic. At about 2 a.m. on May 21, Lindbergh passed the halfway mark, and an hour later dawn came. Soon after, The Spirit of St. Louis entered a fog, and Lindbergh struggled to stay awake, holding his eyelids open with his fingers and hallucinating that ghosts were passing through the cockpit.

After 24 hours in the air, he felt a little more awake and spotted fishing boats in the water. At about 11 a.m. (3 p.m. local time), he saw the coast of Ireland. Despite using only rudimentary navigation, he was two hours ahead of schedule and only three miles off course. He flew past England and by 3 p.m. EST was flying over France. It was 8 p.m. in France, and night was falling.

At the Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris, tens of thousands of Saturday night revelers had gathered to await Lindbergh’s arrival. At 10:24 a.m. local time, his gray and white monoplane slipped out of the darkness and made a perfect landing in the air field. The crowd surged on The Spirit of St. Louis, and Lindbergh, weary from his 33 1/2-hour, 3,600-mile journey, was cheered and lifted above their heads. He hadn’t slept for 55 hours. Two French aviators saved Lindbergh from the boisterous crowd, whisking him away in an automobile. He was an immediate international celebrity.

“Lindbergh lands in Paris,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6904 [accessed May 21, 2009]




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