Sunday in the Park (Alone)

Belted Kingfisher

Today was a quieter day then yesterday. I went for a bicycle ride and Anne went out to breakfast. The park was quieter than yesterday, no eighty balloons, no 80,000 people. According to the paper, the wind had increased just after the balloons launched. They all decided to come down at the same time over about a five-mile stretch. The pair that we saw land were at the back of the pack. The bunny came down in a wooded area near the Litzinger Ecology Center, where Anne once worked and is still one of our favorite bike routes.

The picture with this post is of a Belted Kingfisher. It was roosting on one of the Purple Martin houses in the northeast corner of the park. The kingfisher represents a herald of the changing seasons. It is a winter bird, at least that’s when I see them, or more usually hear them. It has a rather distinctive call. I made the following recording of it last year.

The weather has turned cooler, as of late, another sign of the changing seasons. Unlike in the summer, we leave the windows open during the day and close them at night. I hope that this cooling trend continues, but I saw a winter forecast that sounded severe. On no, snow-mageddon II, the sequel is coming. Hey, maybe I’ll be able to go cross-country skiing this winter.

On my way home from the park, I cruised by My Daddy’s Cheesecake. Anne and Joanie were still enjoying coffee on the patio. With them at the table was Leah, one of Joanie’s UMSL chums. I guess that they had a lot to catch up on. Lea and her husband Mike own this My Daddy’s Cheesecake franchise. I swear, I know I shouldn’t, but I swear Joanie knows everybody who is anybody in town. I once went to the symphony with her and at intermission she pointed out Stan the Man to me in the lobby.

I’m back in the saddle again …

I’m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again

I got back in the saddle again on Saturday and rode 15 miles in the Park.  I haven’t bicycled since before Thanksgiving, almost four weeks.  First there was the trip to Michigan, then there was the cold weather and work, don’t forget about work.  I got plenty more excuses if you need to hear them.  No?  Anyway, when ever I get back on the bike after having been off of it for a while, it feels a little odd.  Yesterday was no different.

In addition to riding, I also took a few pictures.  I lucked out and was able to get close enough to the Belted Kingfisher to get a pretty good shot of it.  They are usually a very skittish bird and I have found that normally it is impossible to approach them.  On the other hand, with their penetrating rattle call, they are also pretty easy to track.  I actually recorded the following audio off of the iBird iPhone App.  It had better audio quality than the real thing.

Saturday was the first time that it made it above freezing in about a week.  I expected to see more cyclists than I did.  I barely made my sanity quotient of six other cyclists.  I can’t remember how I arrived at the number six as a sign of sanity, but fewer than six is a sign of mental instability and the fewer and fewer that I see indicate increasing levels of mental disorder, until I ‘ve become a crazed cyclist, a cycle-path.  Fortunately, Kaldis’ teammate, Dr. Mad. pushed my quota over the top as my number six rider.  Some may question the efficacy of relying upon a mad doctor to make ones sanity quotient.  Maybe I need to make an adjustment or better yet ask Bill to make it for me?

Belted Kingfisher & Broad-Winged Hawk

I biked in the Park this morning before work.  I got my usual fifteen miles.  I also got some more bird paparazzi pictures.  Importantly, at least to me, I got two new species, the Belted Kingfisher and the Broad-Winged Hawk.  Both individuals were adults.  The kingfisher was a male and the hawk was a light colored Broad-Winged Hawk of indeterminate sex.  I have been stalking the kingfishers since riding yesterday, when I saw at least four individuals.  They have been absent since spring.  Maybe they don’t like Saint Louis summers?  Today I saw only two.  They have a distinctive twittering call that they use at first sight of me.  I really think that they know I am stalking them.  The picture of the kingfisher is not as high quality I would have liked, mainly because the bird would not let me get very close.  One nice aspect of stalking the bird was that once it started twittering it did not stop, so you could follow it pretty easily.  I got one other halfway decent photograph of the bird in a tree.  After looking around again, I looked up into the same tree and saw the pictured hawk in the same spot.  Apparently, I’m not the only thing that a kingfisher should be afraid of.  Today’s header shows a Great Blue Heron.  On the way out of the Park, I saw Team Kaldi’s teammate Karie, biking to work.