Category Archives: Nature

The World Series of Birding 2016, an earnest request for your help

AvalonBeach

Three weeks from yesterday, Saturday May 14th, is the annual outdoor escapade and fundraiser known as The World Series of Birding. I’ve signed up with the Cape May Bird Observatory Century Run team as I have many times in the past. It’s the only fundraiser I participate in. Along with lots of other teams we will attempt to spot as many bird species as possible on that day. The top teams will go from midnight to midnight, and cover the entire state of New Jersey. Our Century Run team’s goals are a little more relaxed: we go from 5 AM to about 9 PM and stay within Cape May County. It’s still an exhausting marathon to test one’s determination and stamina, but usually a lot of fun, too. Each participant pledges a minimum of $1 per species seen, which one can supplement with pledges from friends and family. And that, gentle readers, is where you can participate!

As in the past, I’m encouraging you to make a pledge for my WSB big day, to help me raise funds for the Cape May Bird Observatory, part of New Jersey Audubon, and their valuable mission of conservation, education and research. You can pledge any amount, but the usual method is to pledge per species seen. Last year our total was 119 species, not our best effort due to foggy weather. A more typical total is 130 species. If we tally 130 species, a pledge of 50 cents per would result in a monetary gift of $65. A pledge of $1 per species would mean a gift of $130. As a bonus, I’m offering any of my Signed Prints as incentives: for a pledge of 50 cents per species, the print of your choice, for $1 per species, any two! Higher pledges are welcome and will garner more prints in the same ratio. Pledges lower than 50 cents will get you a signed comic or two that I lettered, my choice, if you would like that. Pledges of any amount down to 10 cents per species are welcome, or if you’d rather make a flat rate donation, that’s fine, too. All pledges will support education about and preservation of New Jersey wildlife and natural resources, as well as garner my enduring gratitude!

Here’s a LINK to my blog about last year’s WSB Century Run, if you’d care to read it. And if you’d like to pledge, click the CONTACT ME link here or in the right column of this page and let me know by email. I’ll be collecting pledges until May 13th. Our team will be out there tallying on the 14th, rain or shine, hoping for good weather and lots of migrating birds. Who knows, maybe this year we’ll hit the ever elusive goal of 150 species. That would be fabulous!

Snake and Turtle

BlackRatSnake1

While out for a walk this morning I came upon a 4-foot Black Rat Snake stretched out on the trail. It was very rippled, as if flexing muscles, but did not move when I got close for the first picture. Was it dead? Asleep?

BlackRatSnake2

I nudged its tail, and it quickly coiled into defensive position. Not dead. Should have left it alone! I’ve never seen a snake do that rippled look before.

Later, searching online, I found this explanation: one unusual characteristic of the Black Rat Snake is that when it senses danger, it freezes and takes on a rippled posture. The first photo clearly shows that posture, it must have thought I was some sort of threat to it. Like most big and scary animals, they’re usually more afraid of you than you are of it!

EasternBoxTurtle

I also saw my first Eastern Box Turtle of the year. One creature that has no fear of snakes. If threatened, it closes up, of course.

Zion National Park

RedCanyonImages © Todd Klein

Friday, Oct. 16th we drove from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park, about two hours. On the way we stopped for a few photos in Red Canyon, above, which is on the road out of Bryce. It was cloudy, so the colors were not as vivid as when we’d passed it earlier. The entrance to Zion from the east is an amazing drive, through a long tunnel into an upper side canyon, then down a long series of switchbacks to the canyon floor. I was driving, so wasn’t able to get any pictures. Continue reading

Bryce Canyon, Day One

SeniorPassPhotos © Todd Klein

Wednesday, Oct. 14th, we drove from Jacob Lake to Ruby’s Inn just outside the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we’d stay for two nights, an easy drive of about two and a half hours. Ruby’s Inn is a whole city unto itself, you could stay for weeks, and we liked it fine there. After a quick lunch, we drove into the park, and a very kind Park Service person at the gate suggested I get a Senior Pass for $10 rather than pay the usual $30 entry fee. Senior Passes are for U.S. citizens who are 62 years old or older, and grant free access to all National Parks and Lands for life. What a great deal! This offer was on the entry sign at Grand Canyon National Park too, but we never looked at it. So, we saved $20 here, $30 at Zion, our next stop, and any parks we visit in the future are free. Ellen is not yet 62, but as long as I am, she gets in with me. Terrific! Continue reading