Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Egret Send-Off Party

Have you started designing your costumes?
We caused much laughter yesterday at a Michael's hobby store, trying black and yellow conical objects over our noses as beak substitutes. One employee asked if I was a teacher. What a question!
Last Thursday, we went to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to invite the crew there to the party. After securing a promise that there would be plenty of drink to allay embarassment, they began to imagine their costumes, looked at each other, and burst out laughing. Our friend Bill now suggests a costume competition. So there may prizes involved....
Several of you asked what you might bring with you. Deserts, salads, or beers should be good. We've been having so much fun tasting wines in Texas wineries that we might make this a Texan affair when it comes to wine.
The egrets in the "rookery" at the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center are looking well. Kathy thinks that, except for about three who are still convalescing, they will all manage this Fall migration. She is gearing up to refurbish their current space as a permanent heron and egret exhibit, with waterfall, etc.
The attachments are photos of the last stragglers around dusk the Friday before last. They were on the slope by the faculty parking lot, grooming and waiting. Too bad we did not have a long lens handy.
I look forward to seeing you all next Thursday evening.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Goodbye! Season Officially Over!

I happily declare the 2006 heron-and-egret season to be officially over!
All in all, we directly saved the lives of about 150 young birds by diligently rescuing the weak individuals and delivering them to the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. We probably indirectly saved twice as many by making available a continuous supply of clean water from late July until this week. No need to dwell on the sad parts. We've all known our heartbreaks this Summer. Better to consider how much of this we can prevent next year, with our Society watching the birds as soon as they set their pretty toes into the rookery.
I would like to invite everyone to a celebratory garden party on Thursday October 5, from 6:00 to about 10:00 p.m. A friend who throws gorgeous parties all the time and has got party throwing down to a science has offered to help organize the party.   So this should be goooood.
Please RSVP whether or not you will come to the party. If you are bringing a guest, just let me know so we can plan for enough food and drink to satisfy and loosen up everyone.
One catch: this will be a bird-theme costume party (Chalo's suggestion). Nothing fancy needed: maybe tights the color of your favorite egret or heron's legs, or perhaps a Mardi Gras mask with a colorful feather sticking out of it. The site below, for example, gives simple instructions on how to make such a mask.
If you prefer to dress as a bird from beak to toes, that would be fabulous. If you simply cannot bring yourself to wear silly clothes, come the party anyway. A finer group of folks to share an evening would be hard to find.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cleaning Up

Since the weather has turned cool and wet, Chalo took the liberty of collecting the troughs yesterday evening, cleaning them with bleach, and storing them. We are happy to keep the bird paraphernalia (troughs, buckets, picker uppers, fencing materials, etc.) there until a more permanent place can be found for them.
Kelly wrote to report that she sighted one egret yesterday at around 9:30 a.m. across from building Y, on the periwinkle-covered slope by the parking lot.  We came up empty after touring the rookery perimeter at 10 a.m., 4:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. yesterday and at noon today, but it is easy to miss one bird. 
Please keep your eyes peeled for an eccentric, "wading," white-feathered individual.
We'll wait for at least two days without a sighting before declaring egret season formally over.

Monday, September 18, 2006

No Egrets this morning

No egrets this morning!

Last Friday around dusk, we saw four individuals in the periwinkle-covered slope by the parking lot across from building Y.

We actually managed to photograph them. Turns out I was mistaken about just three remaining. There is another one who occasionally joins the tighter group of three. All were shuffling about and tilting their heads horizontally from time to time, as though waiting for a travel party to come along. Finally, they flew over the basketball court and away. For all we know, that was goodbye for this year.

I have noticed throughout the season that the largest drops in bird numbers come with the occasional rains. Perhaps cool and wet weather is ideal for travel if one is a bird. In any case, we'll patrol the rookery perimeter again around dusk today and would be grateful if any of you would to the same for the next two days or so. If we sight no more egrets, a celebration is in order.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Last Three Egrets

Time to say goodbye to our feathered neighbors for the year and pat ourselves on the back a little for helping them through this horrid summer.
Just before dusk yesterday (at around 7:30 p.m.), I counted seven cattle egrets around the Memorial Garden. Today at about the same time there were just three, just outside building Y, looking relaxed, alert, healthy, clean, and air worthy.
If you can make time to stroll around the rookery before the weekend, you might catch them to wish them a safe trip. They tend to graze about in the morning and evenings.
I will wait until the last individual leaves before calling for a celebration.
By the way, Brazil was full of egrets: gracing the backs of $5 bills, walking with cows on the farms, and wading in shallow lakes. Amazing what one sees when one is prepared for it!