Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sight & Sound - The Dykeman Wetlands in Spring

The Dykeman Wetlands Park is greening up nicely. And Middle Spring Creek is babbling away; the file below is the sound of her babbling:

And as you can see, the park and the neighboring nature trail are greening up nicely as well. And full of birds, to which the following sound file attests. Featured in this file is a Tufted Titmouse, but a Northern Flicker and several Goldfinches also stand out in the mix.

It got cooler after the weekend, more seasonable March temperatures, but starting tomorrow we'll be back into the 60s. Spring is definitely in the air.

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sounds of Spring

The gazebo park across the street in full Spring regalia

Yesterday I downloaded another sound recording app for my smart phone, and this one works like a charm! A little tweaking in Sound Studio (a Mac program for minor editing tasks) - fade in and out, cutting to eliminate the worst of the wind noise, etc. - was all it took to get these ready to post here for your listening pleasure. The playlist below has four files, the first three being birdsong and the fourth being Spring Peepers in the swamp just singing away. The first file feature a Song Sparrow in the foreground, the second features first a Red-bellied Woodpecker and then two Red-winged Blackbirds calling back and forth, while the third features a Goldfinch blathering on and on (although it just might be two of them conversing). And in the background of all four files is the never-ending backdrop of Cardinals and Robins and Sparrows, etc. (although there were also a lot of Fish Crows yelling yesterday as well) all singing away. It's really quite noisy out there!

Feeder update: The visitors to my feeder station have increased. There seem to be several families of House Sparrows and House Finches as well as a male and female pair of Cardinals, numerous Dark-eyed Juncos, and a bunch of Mourning Doves usually feeding on the ground under the feeders (although I caught one actually up in the flat feeder the other day). I saw a Tufted Titmouse visiting the other day, and there also seems to be a male and female pair of Downy Woodpeckers making regular visits to the suet feeder; the male seems to be people shy and darts off if I get too close to the window, buy the female generally ignores my presence.

Yup, Spring is definitely here!

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two Birthdays

Yes indeed, TWO birthdays. For all these years I've been celebrating J.S. Bach's birthday here at Roy's World, but this year it dawned on me that it's also Modest Mussorgsky's (Pictures at an Exhibition and Night on Bald Mountain, among others). He was firmly in the Russian Romantic school and was considered a major inspiration for later generations of Russian composers, including Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev.

Interestingly enough, Walt Disney Studios used works by both Bach and Mussorgsky in the 1940 animation tour-de-force Fantasia. The movie starts off with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philedelphia Orchestra in his own orchestration of Bach's most famous organ piece - the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565.

And Fantasia ends with Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, although Disney and Stokowski decided to segue into Schubert's Ave Maria to create a stylistic contrast at the end. In any event, here it is. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Papa Johann and Modest!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vernal Equinox

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of astronomical Spring, when the sun crosses the equator and begins the seasonal warming of the northern hemisphere (and the cooling of the southern hemisphere, making today their Autumnal Equinox). [Note: The meteorological start of Spring is around March 1, when the weather usually starts to move out of Winter patterns.] In many cultures this is celebrated as a holiday, and for many it's the New Year's Day of their calendar (you can get a pretty full rundown of the various holidays here and here).

Here in central PA it's warm but cloudy and wet (fog and drizzle rather than outright rain) and it made for some interesting photographic conditions to illustrate the coming of Spring. So I went and walked around this morning on my way to the grocery store for the week's shopping.

And what better music for the first day of Spring than George Harrison singing "Here Comes the Sun"? Enjoy!

Photos © 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Early Spring

Things are popping around here. We've had two weeks of temps in the upper 60s and lower 70s, which is more like May than March. And those were preceded by weather that was, if not quite so warm, still above the seasonal average. So things are blooming early, there are more birds out singing, and critters not usually seen for another month are out and about.

I was wandering in the Dykeman Wetlands Park this morning, and the air was loud with birdsong - Cardinals, Robins, Carolina Wrens, Song Sparrows, those Eastern Phoebes again, a couple of Tufted Titmice, a Flicker, and a couple of Red-bellied Woodpeckers. And this week something new - my first American Goldfinches of the season; I heard that trademark wheezy, finchy chirping and looked around to see two males (still in Winter plumage, though). Lots of work with the binoculars today, but they were too far away for the camera. As for getting a sound recording of all the music... Well, let's just say that that's really not working out. Sorry!

Anyhow, here are some shots from the day - the greening of the woods, Daffodils along the Nature Trail, and a Painted Turtle sunning on one of the Muskrat lodges in the swamp. Enjoy!

[Note to John Hayes - Sorry, John! Opera lost out to the call of Nature. And then tomorrow is the Vernal Equinox, and Wednesday is Bach's birthday. But someday soon I'll do a post on my favorite opera arias.]

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leftovers from Yesterday

Today is my errands day before I go back to work tomorrow, so I didn't go on any photo safaris. But there were two shots from yesterday that didn't fit in the photo essay easily, so I played with them to create b&w shots.

This first one is a typical Central PA farmhouse, stone with a metal roof. They've been building these here for a couple of centuries now, and the only change in the style is that tin roof. The columns on the porch are a modern innovation, too; in the 18th and early 19th centuries they were probably plain old shaved tree trunks.

This barn was on a farm that looked a little too good to be true; everything was a little too clean and whitewashed, with a noted lack of animals (and animal smell). Since it abuts on the Shippensburg University campus, I can't help but wonder if it's some sort of property of theirs. In any case, the barn was certainly photogenic.

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Following Burd Run

Today is unseasonably warm and very sunny; seeing as it's also one of my days off I decided to go for a hike. I decided to follow a section of Burd Run, the other main flowing body of water here, from the stream-bed restoration area (sponsored by Shippensburg University) to a point near where it empties into Middle Spring Creek. The restoration project is at the corner of Britton and Fogelsanger Roads, and after wandering in the project grounds I walked up Fogelsanger Road to where it ends on Newburg Rd./Earl St.

The official name of the project is the Burd Run Stream Channel Riparian Zone and Wetlands Restoration Project. I went there in January and didn't find it particularly scenic, and it still isn't up to much. Interesting yes, but not scenic. Maybe when things start blooming it'll get better. In any case, some of the stretches of stream were at least a little photogenic.

At the northern end of the project grounds the stream goes under the old railroad tracks (now the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail) and enters the Shippensburg University campus:

I walked up Fogelsanger Road, which parallels Burd Run and passes through farming country. One of the farms along the road had this interesting stone barn with three cupolas, and the barn itself contained three very curious cows who seemed to consider me and object of great interest.

Just on the other side of this farm Burd Run passes under the road and runs through one more farm before it empties into Middle Spring Creek. The cows on this farm seem to enjoy the water!

At this point I arrived at Newburg Road, which goes back into Shippensburg where it becomes Earl St. My stomach was letting me know it was time for lunch, so I headed for home. It was a good walk.

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Is In the Air

I went walking through the Dykeman Wetlands Park this morning, and it surely was lively! The birds were certainly about and singing, although they were out of camera range. I heard plenty of Song Sparrows, Cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Robins. I heard (and saw) an Eastern Phoebe who would fly to the next tree as soon as I got too close. I heard several Red-bellied Woodpeckers and at least one Northern Flicker. Oh yeah, and one Carolina Wren (all the rest are hanging out where I work, in the garden center of the local Lowe's. Seriously!).

But the main drama of the morning was a very noisy juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, who was yelling away and creating a fuss amongst the local Crows. I saw it fly back and forth over the swamp several times, trying to get away from the Crows, but I never had a chance to get a good shot, even in flight. The hawk was making such a ruckus (Red-shouldereds are notorious for being particularly obnoxious with their yelling) that it woke up a Great Horned Owl, who hooted in protest several times - the owlish version of "Hey, pipe down! Can't a fella get a decent day's sleep?"

The only photos I got that passed muster were these of the emerging Spring wildflowers. The banks of the southernmost duck pond were carpeted in Corn Speedwell (top) and Chickweed (bottom).

After I got home, I went looking in the Android app market and found a sound recorder app for my smartphone, so the next time I go over to the wetlands I'll be able to bring you a sample of the symphony going on over there.

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

More Visitors

Some more visitors to the feeding station - a male and female pair of House Finches from this morning and a male Northern Cardinal (I think this is the same one making repeat visits) from this afternoon.

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, March 05, 2012

At the Feeder Station

Birds are finally visiting my feeder station on a regular basis. Today in about a half-hour window I found a male House Sparrow, two Dark-eyed Juncos, and a male Northern Cardinal. Here they are.

© 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Floating Along

Whenever I see waterfowl - ducks, geese, swans, etc. - floating along on the water, I always hear Strauss's An der schönen blauen Donau playing in my head. So here it is.

Photo © 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger