Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fake Birdjam update!


Well--the fake Birdjam project is on hold for now while I try to get to the bustling metropolis of State College to buy an audio CD (as opposed to a data CD) to record the AAC tracks onto. WTF, you're asking? Here's the blow-by-blow:

1. I downloaded the Birdjam maker software, courtesy of my pal Jay Davis at Birdjam. I installed everything according to the instructions, and it went off without a hitch.

2. I reloaded my Stokes Eastern Birds CDs into iTunes. I have a PC at work, but at home I have an old iMac (who knows which model--it was someone's FREE! hand-me-down).

3. I then ran the conversion of the song files through the Birdjam maker program. It was really easy--you just click a button and voila, the program goes through and does the work of separating double tracks (i.e. American Bittern/Least Bittern) and taking Lang Elliot's voice at the beginning of each track ("Warbling Vireo") out. It converts the files to AAC format in order to accomplish this editing.

4. Because my phone does not play AAC files (when I loaded the tracks onto the phone, the phone didn't recognize the edits that were made because it's not an iPhone. So I need to convert the AACs back into mp3 files. I googled "convert AAC to mp3" and got a nice little geeky site that explained the easiest way to make this conversion is to copy the AAC files onto an audio (not a data) CD.

5. Once I do that (I haven't gone into town because school is over, so I have no reason to waste the gas to go there yet. I need to add more errands to the trip so I can justify it -- we're on a very tight gas budget at the Marsh House, and for good reason!) -- once I get the audio CD, I'll copy the AAC tracks (which are edited and which contain all the Birdjam information like a transcription of the bird song, the Latin name for the bird, etc.) onto it. Then I'll convert those files on the CD back to mp3s with iTunes. (for a good explanation of this, see that geeky site linked above).

So that's where I am. But for the high price of gas, I would have my fake Birdjam! Curse you, oil companies! Curse you, gasoline-powered (albeit economical) car! Curse you, oh culture (and self) so dependent on oil!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mystery bird sounds

I've been trying to get these posted for a while but have had technical difficulties. Please put your birdy ears on and help if you can. Thanks!


I've heard three birds/sounds lately which I cannot identify. Here is the first one, heard yesterday by Penns Creek. The bird was rather plain, with light/white front and gray back and wings--I didn't see any distinguishing field marks, due to the bad light and quick view. Here's the call:


video


Wait a second.... Is that a veery? It is, isn't it?


Okay--the other two. First, a recording of the chock sound I heard a few weeks ago at the Coburn rail trail:



video


Second, another mystery sound, recorded that same day by the creek at the Coburn rail trail:


video

Lifers! But not birds

This weekend, I didn't see any life birds, but I did see two lifers of the reptilian/amphibian kind:

First, this snake was lying on our front walk (and scared the beejeesus out me). I thought he was sunning himself, but it turned out he was dead:
I'm guessing he was run over and was just able to make it down our steps from street-level before he gave up the ghost (do snakes have ghosts to give up?). Poor little guy. I looked him up online, as I'd never seen a snake like this before; he's an Eastern Milk Snake. Life herp!

Gretchen and I went for a very long walk yesterday and made a stop at the marsh, where I saw my first-ever snapping turtle:
His shell is about ten inches long--huge! He didn't poke his head up or anything, which was too bad--I kinda wanted to see him SNAP! (Not my fingers, though--a stick or something!)

Gretchen got a few lifers herself, including cedar waxwing, yellow warbler (which are now EVERYWHERE around the area), and muskrat.

Finally, I also found this feather in the water. Could this be a bittern feather, maybe? Can anyone help me out?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Polar bears still not safe

No sooner do we celebrate the listing of the polar as threatened than the idiots strike back.

Why is it that governmental bodies--from city councils on up to the Dictator of the United States--always talk about how important "development" and "progress" are? Are they really representing a majority of We The People's wishes when they waste our money on bridges to nowhere, for instance?
Look at what development and progress have brought to our lives: where we once lived in close union with the land, in some sense of harmony with nature, we have now paved and blacktopped our way over much of that land. We've cut down entire forests, plowed down hills, blown off mountaintops, melted glaciers, raised our planet's temperature, and uglified what was once the most beautiful place we could ever hope to live.
We've stressed ourselves into heart attacks, ulcers, mental breakdowns, and early deaths. We live in a world that's so fast-paced, we hardly have time to even see the roses, much less smell them. We've worked ourselves to death for material objects, often failing to see the value of just being--being in nature, being among the birds and other wildlife that share our planet.

The people of Alaska lived for generations without "development." So did the animals.

It's only a few greedy humans, who view the world as a commodity rather than a gift from the universe, who think "development" is more important than life.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BIGBY weekend birding update

Well, it's nice to know Clawsie's been holding down the blogging fort. I'm surprised she was awake long enough to type that post! I finally remembered my camera, so here is my weekend update -- with a BIGBY milestone!

I took a two-hour walk in the fog Sunday morning and though visibility was quite poor, I was able to notch enough birds on the walk to up my BIGBY list total to 80! Most are yardbirds, but I've been trying to take walks to get a little exercise.

The weather is definitely not cooperating; it's in the 40s today, so I will be keeping my new little tomato and green pepper plants indoors a little longer. I also bought some broccoli on a lark; I hope it turns out well. I think it should do well in this cooler weather now and later on the early fall. It's my first time to grow my own broccoli and I'm totally pumped! I hear the biggest problem with broccoli is WORMS, so I'll have to be diligent. Maybe I can crush up some eggshells and put a ring around each plant. Will those worms be deterred like slugs are?

Of course, any worms I find will make the birds happy!

Here are some pictures to show you how thick the fog was; here, on Rt 45 near the house, visibility is about 50 feet:
I left the house a little before 6 a.m., and if anything the fog worsened the longer I was out; here, on Shook Hollow Rd, we got down to about 30 feet of visibility:
I was hoping to see an indigo bunting on Shook Hollow--I've been lucky on that road with brown thrashers and indigo buntings--but I'm still bunting-less for the year. I did hear several ruby-crowned kinglets staunchly defending their territory as I walked by, and I was also treated to a near-collision between my head and a brown thrasher crossing the road. I wish I had photos of them, but it was hard enough to see and ID the birds as it was. The camera was almost useless in the opaqueness of the mist and the poor light under the canopy of trees that covers the road just before the open fields shown above.

I also saw some examples of the fungus among us:
Check out the size of those mushrooms! (note the dollar for perspective! I learned it on Forensic Files.) If only these were portabellas! Do portabellas grow here? Wild?

This old stump had lots of things growing on it and in it:
It's so wet here that mushrooms and moss grow EVERYWHERE. Nothing like the low-rain territory I'm from in Texas.

After Shook Hollow, I decided to check out the marsh, though the fog was still thick. I discovered that my marsh now has an official name!
That's the marsh owners' dog Max, who loved to play around in the mud. (Note: he is NOT the dog who fowled a Canada goose nest a couple of years ago; oh the horror!) Mary Kay, who owns the marsh and Cooke Tavern (a B&B) with her husband Greg, told me Max passed away last year, but he lived a long and happy life, and now he's immortalized in this sign and on the marsh. They have a bunch of signs all around the marsh now, including one that talks about the invasive purple loosestrife. Let's hope they can change that sign (and kill all the loosestrife) soon.

Here's a shot from my backyard--somewhere in that mist lies a marsh...
There's my little bare garden on the left, waiting for life to sprout.

It was pretty quiet back there, with only a few red-winged blackbirds to keep me company. Here's a female perched on the stupid loosestrife:
Check out my brushpile! One of our lilac trees dropped a big limb/trunk, so I broke it up and added it to my pile. The sparrows love it:

Note how green everything is. We've had almost non-stop rain this year, and today the temps are in the low 50s. Those seeds I planted in the garden are probably freezing their little coats off.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And now a word from our kitty

Hi folks -- Clawsie here. Just wanted to let you know that The One Who Feeds Me has all sorts of posts written up about her weekend birding and such, but she forgot her camera at home and thus has no photos to liven up the presentation.

She's like that sometimes; you know, forgetful. Like when she forgets that she needs to wake up at about 4 a.m. every morning and put some food in my bowl. She claims that feeding time is really 7 a.m., but come on, people. I gotta have food.

So I always remind her of this fact by walking up beside her on the bed and staring at her until she wakes up. Sometimes, though, I guess she's really sleeping hard or something, so then I make this weird smacking/breathing noise with my mouth. Drives her and Mommy up the freakin' wall!

If that doesn't work, I bite her, ever so gently, on her hands.

If that doesn't work, I go for the hair.

She calls me evil, but I don't care. You and I both know what's important: getting the food in the bowl.

The rest is just about the other kitties, including that weird one with no ears.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Updates!

One of my worst habits is not making visible and documented follow-up on things, ideas, projects, etc. Instead, I tend to just DO things and then move on without really updating anyone on the status of said things. Needless to say, this trait annoys managers I've worked for....

So I thought I'd give you a few updates to close out and/or give you the status of ongoing Delia birdy stuff:
1. The fake birdjam project: So far, I've been able to get a sora to respond to my phone's playback of sora calls. I haven't had time to go out on the marsh and see if I can draw one out of cover, though; perhaps this weekend, or some evening when it's pouring rain this week.

2. The ping-pong egg: Status: still no ping-pong table, dammit. (This one's for you, Susan and Laura!)

Still looks the same, huh?



3. Digiscoping: nothing to report. I tried an adapter I bought through Cabela's; the adapter worked for the scope, but my current camera (the Kodak Z712-IS) was too big for the platform. I don't think it's a good digiscoping camera. So I tried going back to my old broken Nikon (lens error) and futzing with it, but I was still unable to fix it. If I'm going to digiscope, I'm going to need a smaller point-and-shoot. I may get one at some point, some cheapie one. But it's not a priority.

4. Marriage to The Kat: going swimmingly, thanks!

That's all the old business I can think of.

Really, this whole post was just an excuse to get in a picture of the ping-pong egg.

Monday, May 12, 2008

happy mother's day, mom, and thanks for having me!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Warbler correction -- and question

My birding friend from work, Hillel, just told me that the photo I'd labelled as yellow warbler was actually more likely a prairie warbler:
(Stupid branch! -ed.) I hardly even looked at the bird when I saw it, to be honest -- I just glanced at the yellow with the streaks and thought, "yellow warbler." But the yellow warbler's streaks are more russet, not black, and Hillel also says there's a "greenish color of the upper wing and shoulder" on what can be seen of my photographed bird that make it a prairie warbler -- which just happens to be a lifebird for me! Yippee!

Boy--was I ever mistaken on the yellow warbler ID. Here's a pic from another site:

My gosh, he's totally different! What a dummy I am! This is so awesome, though -- that makes my BIGBY list 54 birds, and my total lifelist inches up to 172! Getting closer to 200; that will be a real milestone for me. My 2008 yearlist is now somewhere around 80 (I need to update, I think). What a happy mistake!

OH WAIT--I can count this prairie warbler, right? Because I mean, I knew it was a warbler, and I got a photo --- can I count him? Help!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My listserv's so cool

By virtue of living in Pennsylvania and being enrolled on the PA Birds listserv, I get to read entries and comments almost every day from cool people like Scott Wiedensaul and Rob Fergus.

What cool and/or famous people are on your local listserv?

A belated thank you for a star

This post is long overdue; it took me a while to get it just right. Apologies for its belatedness. (is that a word?)

In celebration of my recent commitment ceremony with Kat, my good bloggy friend FranIAm was kind enough to give us the gift of a lifetime: a star!

I had always heard about these "name your own star" things and thought it would be cool; Fran must've read my mind or my memory and known how much we both would enjoy this gift.

Our star deed came from the Millennium Chronicle, a company that has a really beautiful logo:
Our star is located in the constellation Aquila--the Eagle--so appropriate for a birder! Its number is 105544 Aquila, and its new name is DeliaKaterina. For you big telescope owners, here are the coordinates: right ascension 20h 00m 54.91s, declination +11 degrees, 43'30.7". It's a Type A3 star, magnitude 8.7; its distance from our planet is unknown -- a fact which blows my mind a little. Man, the universe is a big place.

Here is the position of the constellation Aquila in the night sky (h/t to this site) :

That's Scorpio to the far right, and Pegasus to the left, of Aquila. Our star is just to the left of the brightest star in Aquila, Altair--that one on the left, at the crook there. Here's an easier-to-conceptualize view:

Wow, right? This is an illustration from Bayer's Uranometria (written in 1603!). According to this site, "Aquila flys (sic) across the Milky Way (which runs across the picture from upper left to lower right), the bright star Altair in its neck. The celestial Eagle is shown carrying Antinous, a figure from ancient Roman times, a constellation that is no longer recognized." Our little star would be at the leading edge of his upper wing, right near his scapulars (I think that's what it would be called). BTW, it would suck to be Antinous.

All kinds of interesting documentation came with the star deed, including a map with a circle around the actual speck that is our star. It's awe-inspiring to look up at night sky; as a kid, I dreamed of being an astronaut and an astronomer, travelling the stars and seeing the beautiful things in our universe--the Horsehead Nebula, the Crab Nebula, our own little galaxy. Now when I look at the sky, I will look at the Eagle and think of our little star out there, winking at me, in the remote blackness of space.

Thank you, Fran, for lighting a little candle in my imagination.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Live-blogging a life-changing event!

My beautiful cellphone--the little one with the earphones next to it

Something very exciting is happening as I type this post. I'm live-blogging this seminal event in my birding life so I can share with you the thrill and the anticipation of what should make me a better birder in the field! Details, you ask? Here they are:

At this very second, I am loading bird songs from the Stokes Eastern birds CDs onto my new Sony Ericcson Walkman 580i cellphone... with the idea that... I will be able to use my phone like a BirdJam!

The third CD's tracks are almost finished copying to my phone's memory chip. I just got the phone a few weeks ago, but I didn't get the extra memory chip until last night, so you can experience right along with me the latest in my long series of hare-brained schemes!

Okay--I've just unplugged the phone from my computer. I will now attempt to access the bird songs through the Walkman player option on the phone.... I pressed the little W button, and here's the menu... Oh wait! I need to put on my little earphone things, so everyone in the cubeys around me remains unaware of this little non-work-related activity....

OH MY GOD I'm listening to the American Bittern!!!!

Okay--I need to calm down! Someone will notice that I look awake and realize I'm NOT doing my work!

Admittedly, there are some drawbacks -- Lang Elliott's voice being the big one. I don't have the BirdJam software which is supposed to remove his voice and organize the tracks and stuff like that. But OMG! I can just start playing the call with the volume on low, then increase it for the actual call! (P.S.--I love Lang Elliott.)

So here's the plan:

1. On break (10:50 a.m. Eastern time), I will take the phone outside with me and Niki (and our coffee), and I'll see just how loud I can play the calls on speaker phone.

2. After work, I'll stand near the back fence at the Marsh House and play the sora call and attempt to get a response from the real birds, who have been calling almost non-stop lately.

3. A bunch of soras will come out, pose for photos, sign a few autographs, and then go on about their sora business!

Oh I'm soooooooo excited I can barely sit still!

MOMENT OF SOBRIETY: If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, you're probably aware that I tend to come up with some VERY ambitious plans and I'm often (quite often) disappointed.

Remember the homemade spotting scope that yielded images that resembled something you'd see on a bad acid trip?

Remember the many attempts at digiscoping with my little Meade Condor scope?

Remember the homemade digiscoping adapter that broke my Nikon CP4800 camera? Let's all bow our heads in a moment of silence for said Nikon camera. Sigh.

But this time it's different! This time, it might actually all work out! I'll come back and update you after my break. Then we'll know whether this crazy little plan has any chance of succeeding.

UPDATE!-Delia 1, Cruel Fate 0! I played the song of a chipping sparrow outside on our walking trail, and who should fly up and sing in response but a chipping sparrow?? IT WORKS! Update later tonight or perhaps tomorrow on how the home birds respond. I can't believe it--it's really working!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Big Birding Day Part 2

Sunday yielded so many birds and photos that I had to divide it into two posts. Here is part 2 of my big birding day. Unfortunately, I didn't have Gretchen along -- she would've loved seeing all these birds.
Sadly, I noticed that the dead loosestrife is now giving way to brand-new loosestrife. I think now would be a good time to go out there with some garbage bags and pull up little loosestrife plants. I would need hip waders, though.
These shoots are each about 4 or 5 inches tall (above the waterline). I don't know whether the biological controls that the marsh owners told me about are working. Doesn't look like it--yet.

All afternoon, I could hear soras doing their whiny little calls almost non-stop so I worked up a passable imitation (by whistling) to try to perhaps coax the soras from their hiding places.

First, I checked out the boardwalk and spooked a green heron, who flew to the viewing platform at the end of the boardwalk. I snuck up, crawling army-style along the boards, knowing that Mary and Susan would do the same thing:
Gotcha! Thank goodness no one was around to see or photograph my "stealth." So after the mama (?) heron flew, two smaller birds flew as well – babies! But not so baby that they couldn’t fly away; I tried my best to get a shot of at least one of them. Here's the best shot I got:
No, no, really -- click for larger and look near the middle of the frame, just at the top of the grass--it's there!

So I guess the green herons have been here for a while, judging from the size of these young. Cool! Now I just had to find and photograph a sora and see if the American bitterns were back yet.

I kept doing my imitation whistle to which soras often responded, but I never drew one out of cover. Still, at one point I spooked another bird and realized it was an American bittern! Finally! I never did hear the pumperlunk sound, but I watched him in my binocs as he flew to the opposite end of the marsh. I tried to chase him down but of course he flew again when I got close. No pictures, though--I was just trying to follow him with my eyes and make sure it was the bittern.
I did get some other pictures, however:
These Canadas were quite perturbed by my presence almost from the moment I stepped onto the marshland:
Farther down the path beside Long Pond, I spotted two green herons in a tree. I think they were adults. This is as close as I could get, and I'm shooting into the setting sun:

This little yin and yang formation was a lucky shot--I think these are wood ducks (can't remember):
The tree swallows were doing their acrobatics all over the place; this guy sat still only long enough for a quick snapshot:

I also got some great photos in the backyard, as the feeders and trees around the yard were alive with songbirds. This photo of a yellow warbler would've been awesome were it not for that stupid branch!

I had time for one shot before he flew, and the dumb branch blocked him. Sigh.

Then as if to mock me, a branch obscured this American goldfinch's face as well!
Curse you, little tree!

Mr. Cardinal, wondering what I'm doing:
We still have white-crowned sparrows, though I imagine these guys will be leaving pretty soon.
The white-throateds are already gone.
The lilacs are blooming!
I'll finish up with these pictures of some wild daffodil-like flowers we have growing near the back fence -- are these just some other "breed" of daffodil?
Tonight, my work birding friend Hillel is coming out to the marsh, so I'll have a chance to try my little sora whistling technique and see if I can attract a little attention.

My marsh/yard list for Sunday:
American Bittern
Green heron
Sora
Yellow Warbler
Baltimore Oriole
Wood Duck
Osprey
Ovenbird
Red-winged blackbird
Tree Swallow
Barn swallow
Chipping Sparrow
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (several—shouldn't they be gone?)
Northern Cardinal
Gray Catbird
Black-capped Chickadee
American Crow
Mourning Dove
American Goldfinch
Canada Goose
Common Grackle
Blue Jay
Killdeer
Mallard
American Robin
European Starling
Chimney Swift
Tufted Titmouse
Downy Woodpecker
Carolina Wren

Monday, May 05, 2008

Big Birding Day!

I accomplished most of my weekend goals except for going to the native plant sale at Rhonymeade. Kat was having her TAs over on Saturday for a big grading party, and so I had to make guacamole and stuff for them. It's been so cold that I couldn't plant anything anyway, so I'll just go get my veggies and stuff from this Amish greenhouse near the Marsh House.

Still--what a great weekend! The weather was great, with only some clouds here and there and a few showers at night. But the days were really great, and I got a lot done. The freshly mowed lawn:

It wasn't too bad--the sun was in and out of the clouds and a cool breeze was blowing the whole day, and I didn't get attacked by any snakes or bears or tigers lurking in the tall weeds and nigh-impenetrable dandelions. The lawn was a little damp, but I got it done and I got some good exercise.

The greatest part of the weekend, however, was the birding. My pal Gretchen and I got up at the crack of dawn (5:40am) on Sunday and made it out to my new favorite birding place, the Coburn Rail Tunnel/Trail. We arrived a little after 6am under heavy cloud cover, and we were immediately treated to a demonstration by two cerulean warblers flitting around a treetop and then flying off in close formation. No pics of these guys, as the entire thing lasted only just long enough to get the binocs on them and ID. Still--what a great little bird!

The non-stop chorus of bird songs when we first got there made it difficult to concentrate on just one species at a time, but I did my best. I think the key to birding this place is to get there super super early; we may try to get there by 5:30 next time, because even at 6am, the sun was already up.

We then crossed the bridge over the creek and were innundated by a group of about eight Baltimore and orchard orioles, all calling and flying around and having early-morning fun. All these birds were lifers for Gretchen, and there were so many of them that we were a little overwhelmed. It's been such a long time since last spring, and I've really missed seeing the spring birds!

Gretchen's quite the avid beginning birder, spotting and IDing a pair of blue-gray gnatcatchers with the Stokes field guide. She spotted and IDd a black-and-white warbler too. I was so proud of her; she's got as much birding zeal as I do, so we had a great time seeing all kinds of species. It's so much fun to go birding with her; every bird is new to her, and she just never gets tired of seeing and hearing them.

Here's a list of the birds we saw and heard during the three hours we were there:
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Northern Parula
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Osprey
Ovenbird
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Cardinal
Canada Goose
Mallard
European Starling
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
American Crow

And as promised, I remembered to get pictures!
Just one of the many Baltimore orioles we saw:


A blue-gray gnatcatcher--Gretchen's first ID using a field guide:
Another pic of the gnatcatcher:There were two of them, and they stayed in the tree looking for insects and food for at least five minutes--enough time for us to thoroughly fall in love with them and their cuteness. Gretchen digs the tiny little fat birds; she says she wants to grab them and put them in her pocket. I don't know how the gnatcatcher would feel about this, though.

A blurry pic of the black-and-white warbler, which we watched for about five minutes; he was down at eye level in a small tree near the bank of the creek:

I only wish my photos of the American redstart would've come out; he was beautiful! But all I got was a blur surrounded by tack-sharp-focus tree branches. Sigh.

After a bit of time on the rail trail getting warbler-neck, we decided to climb the hill into which the rail tunnel is dug; it's probably about a 250-foot climb, maybe more. Pretty steep, but it was fun--and we saw some really neat things along the way. This tree has obviously been the victim of hungry (and pecky) birds:

This tree looked to us almost like it was trying to push itself up out of the ground using its above-ground "arms" to free itself:
There were several trees like this, with roots all exposed like there just wasn't enough dirt to cover them up:
Maybe it was erosion from the rains?

There was a nice walking trail a little way up the hill:
But we decided to climb to the top and there we found another path along the crest of the hill. We saw a beautiful gray-green landscape of new growth:
The air was cool, and this gray-green color was soooo soothing so we stood there for a while and drunk it all in. Those crazy orioles were all around us the whole time.

Gretchen is way gutsier than I am, climbing this rocky outcrop at the top of the hill:
See her up there in the gray sweatshirt?

We also found some neat flowers on the hillside; perhaps some of you field botanists can help us out with IDs.


And here's a weird plant:
The way down:
Oy vey, my poor ankles! But it was fun, and a couple of Advil later I felt good as new.

We also found some cool bugs, including this millipede:
And just what is this shockingly green bug?

At about 9am, we left Coburn and drove down Long Road, which connects Penns Creek Rd to Millheim, hoping to see some brown thrashers as I have before. We didn't see any of them, but we did see a yellow warbler, more orioles, a Northern flicker, tree and barn swallows, a bluebird, and this hungry TuVu -- this one's for you, Lynne!
He was far away in a cow pasture, so the quality's not great but you can kinda see whatever it is he's eating. Neato. This was the first time I'd ever seen a TuVu eating.

We also discovered our mutual love for cows (photos by Gretchen):

We even stumbled upon the filming of a new musical, The Sound of Moosic, featuring this young actress as Maria, the role Julie Andrews made famous:

Perhaps I'll wait until it comes out on video. I'm really not a big fan of that big old nun singing "Climb Every Mountain."

In Millheim, we found this mallard family (great photos again by Gretchen):

Look at that intelligent little brown eye, scoping us out.

Tomorrow, I'll upload the photos from my Sunday evening marsh trip--during which I FINALLY saw green herons and an American bittern!