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West Virginia Backroads

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

There's someting to be said for being out all day for three days, just looking and watching. The things you see! I guess I'll get the not-so-pretty things out of the way first. Our group of 20 or so birders was probably the most interesting thing that had happened on a certain gravel back road for some time. We got an escort of kids, each armed with a different weapon, and a pack of dogs. Some looked healthy. Some didn't. Katdoc and I had a hard time with that, a real hard time. Demodectic mange. Awful. Katdoc said that all dogs are born with the mites that cause this horrible affliction, just like we all have mites in our eyelashes and and eyebrows. But some dogs with compromised immune systems succumb to the infestation. Still, there was a dignity and a certain beauty about this miserable dog the boys were calling Jake. I like this photo, heartbreaking as it is.
On the same road, sleepy duskywings were waking up in the unaccustomed sun.Not far away, a blue-winged warbler probed inside the blossoms of a buckeye tree, looking for insects. The scale of the leaves and this inflorescence seems positively tropical. I always love making pictures that tell something of how a bird feeds and lives. This killdeer is at home in riprap, sitting her eggs.You just have to love tree swallows. This little gal has made her home in a decorative house, over a matching mailbox, barely three feet off the ground. So close to habitation, she may just dodge the snakes. I said a little prayer for her and her eggs. You can't put a baffle on every nestbox, Zick.
I'll leave you with another quintessentially West Virginian image--an eastern kingbird, teed up on a gravestone, with lots of silk flowers as a backdrop. Birds lend such grace to any scene. The flycatchers make up in flair what they lack in bright colors. Our first kingbird--a female--arrived today. I hope she starts tugging at the basket of nesting material I put out for her!


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