Friday, March 13, 2015
For what is thought of as the day of bad luck, this Friday the 13th was fantastic. I am posting this on the 14th, but it all happened on the 13th. As today is a "special day", let me start there...
|Note the drip from the bill -- pay attention later|
|Our instructor, Candy, gives additional information|
This one was my favorite of the series. Maybe because I know more waterbirds than others, or maybe as B says, we know more basic knowledge about birds having taken the previous two classes. At any rate, I learned a TON!
Waterbirds are either DABBLERS (think ducks upside down with feet in the air foraging below the surface) or DIVERS (Cormorants, Surf Scoter). The Divers' legs are further back on the body than those on the Dabblers. This enables them to swim under water for feeding, and they take off flying from the water as they can get up the speed needed. However, they are not able to walk very well, nor can they take of flying from land. If they get beached (a storm or something) they will likely die there.
All birds have a filter system just where the bill meets the face. In land birds, this system is inoperable (evolution I suppose), but in water birds it is very necessary for their drinking water. They drink the salt water around them, it goes into their blood, then the salt gets filtered out at the site of the filter, and the salt expels from the notstril and drips out from the tip of the bill (see photo).
The most common duck, and the one we are most familiar with is the Mallard. The male, as usual, is the most colorful and has the green head. The birds molt (lose their feathers) during breeding season, and the male mallard loses all its colorful feathers so that you cannot tell the male from the female. Then they re-feather in a few weeks back to their colorful selves.
"Sea Gull" is a misnomer. They are simply "Gulls". I was glad to learn this as I truly like knowing the real scoop on things -- such as, many people incorrectly call those long necked geese "Canadian" Geese. They are "Canada" Geese. I digress. Gulls are everywhere -- not just at the sea. They are inland at the midwest as well as on the coasts. There are 16 species of Gulls here in our area. The most common Gull -- the one we see everywhere -- is the Glaucous-winged Gull. Glaucous means "grey". In our class we also learned about the Mews Gull and the Heermann's Gull.
I learned more little tidbits, but this will do for the post!
After our class, my friend B and I drove to meet up with another friend, D of the Pi fame above, for a bike ride. It was a grand day for a ride -- warm but not too warm, not much wind that we often have on this trail, and wonderful company ;'-). Our halfway point brought us to Peet's Tea & Coffee where we took our break. My highlight here was to get a free tea! I bought a tin of tea and when I ordered my cup to drink, it was free because of my tin purchase. An unexpected treat. We sat at the outdoor table -- where the Pi conversation got started -- and enjoyed our drinks and snacks. D had brought us each an orange, so now I had free tea and a free snack! Who says the 13th is an unlucky day!
I have included a photo of this "sculpture" in a previous post, but I now have connected some dots about it. We pass this piece of art when we ride this trail and I had not known what it was made of until my railroad buff friend, John D informed me they are "rail tie plates" (I think that is the name). Tie plates keep the rails in place, but I could not quite visualize what that means. Now -- I know.
|A closer look at the plates|
|The plates at work|
I have learned so much today, my brain is over full!!
THEN I got home for a surprise. Susan had asked me to stay away unitl at least 4:00.
|Private chef dinner|
|Four courses with bubbly served by candlelight|
|Halibut main course|
Susan had been trying to set this up since the summer -- kind of an anniversay celebration (23 years I think), but the chef had problems being available. So today was the day. Susan had purchased the "event" at the Casting for Recovery fund raiser auction. A nice surprise that I totallly appreciate. Four courses (crab cakes, salad, entree and dessert!!) is a lot more than we normally have for dinner. But we did it proud and left clean plates.
Thank you honey.
Who is it that started that rumor about Friday the 13th being unlucky??!!