Blooming Bikes and Birds

Mature American Bald Eagle

Mature American Bald Eagle

Today’s high was 68 ˚F, which is not too bad considering that on Thursday morning it was only 7 ˚F. That was the morning of the infamous ‘crinkly butt’ incident, but there was no such marital discord today. We launched early, at least for us and drove up to the Riverlands, which was hosting its final winter-birds open house of the season. You never know what you will see when you go there. Today’s haul was one of the better ones, here is our unofficial tally:

  • Greater White Fronted goose – 100s
  • Canada goose – ~100
  • American pelican – ~25
  • Trumpeter swan – ~20
  • American Bald eagle – 6

There were numerous other species sighted, both waterfowl and little birds. This is the first time that I’ve seen so many White Fronted geese at the Riverlands. In fact, I’ve only seen one other one there and that was five years ago. Here is a link to a picture that I took then. It was sitting rather forlornly in the Missouri side parking lot of the Mel Price lock and dam. The swans were greatly diminished since our last visit to the Riverlands, they may have been out foraging or already migrated, but on the other hand the pelicans have begun to arrive again, a sure harbinger of spring. As we were headed home, Anne remarked, “When I was first moving to Saint Louis, I never expected that I would see lots of Bald eagles here.”

We weren’t done yet though, not by half. You don’t squander weather like this in February. After a quick-lunch, we launched again, but this time on our bikes. We headed towards Forest Park, but it was mobbed. Everybody who owned a bicycle in Saint Louis was there riding it and if they didn’t own a bike, they were still there. After slogging our way through the park, we decided to leave it behind. We headed over to Tower Grove Park, which mysteriously wasn’t near  as crowded. After a turn around that park, we stopped off at the botanical gardens, which is holding its annual orchid show, another great photo-op. I was concerned that the stink of two sweaty cyclist would ruin the scent of these beautiful flowers and that we would be asked to leave. My fear was groundless though. Maybe we didn’t work as hard as we thought that we had. It has been a long time since we were on the bicycles.

Rare Birds

I saw two rare birds this week.  I call them rare, because they are rarely seen here in Saint Louis.  Pictured below is first the Greater White Fronted Goose and second the Mute Swan.  I spotted both species at the Riverlands Conservation Area.  The Greater White Fronted Goose was sitting in the middle of a parking lot, near the Mel Price Lock and Dam.  It didn’t seem fazed at all as I drove right up to it.  Later when several vehicles arrived at the parking lot, all at the same time, it did get up and walk around for a bit, but eventually sat back down again, in the middle of the parking lot. 

I didn’t spot the Mute Swan until I was back home and was looking at the pictures that I had taken.  There are literally hundreds and hundreds of Trumpeter Swans at the Riverlands these day and it was in a photograph of a flock of Trumpeter Swans that I spied the lone Mute Swan.  It has distinctive and unique orange bill.  Its name is a bit misleading, because it is anything but mute.  While the Mute Swan is rarely seen around Saint Louis, it is more commonly found on the east coast and around Chicago and Detroit.

Anne and I went to go see the play, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Thirty-Nine Steps.  The play is a mix of Hitchcock’s masterwork with a dash of Monty Python.  You end up with a concoction that is a wonderful fast-paced whodunit.  This Tony Award-winning treat is packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 zany characters (played by a ridiculously small, but talented cast of  four), an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance! 

In The Thirty-Nine Steps, a man with a boring life meets a woman with a thick accent who says she’s a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered.  Soon, a mysterious organization called “The Thirty-Nine Steps” is hot on the man’s trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale!  A riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft, The Thirty-Nine Steps amounted to an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure!

During intermission, in the lobby of the theater, there was a poster that spoke of Alfred Hitchcock and his body of work in film and TV.  The poster included a number of rather humorous Hitchcock quotes.  I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites below:

  • Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.
  • Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.
  • Some of our most exquisite murders have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like the kitchen table.
  • Television has brought back murder into the home – where it belongs. 
  • The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.
  • When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?, ‘ I say, ‘Your salary.’