Archive for the 'Books & Events' Category

Aug 17 2015

Reminder: Let’s Walk in Schenley Park, August 23

Published by under Books & Events

Yellow Touch-me-not. wilting, 16 August 2015 (photo by Kate St. John)Just a reminder that I’m leading a bird and nature walk on Sunday August 23, 8:30am in Schenley Park.

Meet at Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center where Panther Hollow Road meets Schenley Drive.  (No confusion this time.  We’ll meet at the regular place.)

Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.

Click here for more information and updates if the walk is canceled for bad weather.

I’m sure we’ll see signs of drought … like this wilting jewelweed, alas.

See you soon.

(photo by Kate St. John)

2 responses so far

Jul 20 2015

Reminder: Let’s walk in Schenley Park, July 26

Published by under Books & Events

American goldfinch on thistle (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)Just a reminder that I’m leading a bird and nature walk on Sunday July 26, 8:30am in Schenley Park.

Meet at Bartlett Shelter on Bartlett Street near Panther Hollow Road.
Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.

Click here for more information and updates if the walk is canceled for bad weather.

We’re sure to see American goldfinches among the thistles.

See you soon.

(photo of American goldfinch among the thistles by Marcy Cunkelman)

2 responses so far

Jun 29 2015

Walks in Schenley Park: Yesterday + July through October

Participants in Sunday's walk in Schenley Park (photo by Kate St.John)

Group photo: Sunday’s walk in Schenley Park (photo by Kate St. John)

Despite the cold, gray, and drizzle 12 people came out to walk in Schenley Park yesterday morning.

Our best birds were a Baltimore oriole with a fledgling, northern rough-winged swallows, a scarlet tanager, gray catbirds and a rose-breasted grosbeak.

We also observed that deer tried to eat the Black Cohosh flowers and rejected them (they smell bad), Bottlebrush Buckeye is in full bloom near Panther Hollow Lake, and a rose-breasted grosbeak jumped up to eat Pale Touch-me-not seeds.

Yesterday’s walk was the last one on the schedule but many of you asked for more so I’m pleased to announce 4 more monthly walks — late July through late October — that will take us up to winter.  (Most are the last Sunday of the month, but not in August.)

  • Sunday, July 26:  Meet at Bartlett Shelter. Let’s look at the park from a different angle and see what’s blooming in the meadow.
  • Sunday, August 23:  Meet at the Schenley Park Visitors Center.  What’s changed at the lake since June? Late summer flowers and a hint of fall.
  • Sunday September 27:  Meet at Bartlett Shelter.  It’s Great Race Day so we’ll avoid road closures and spend time at the quiet end of the park.
  • Sunday, October 25: Meet at the Schenley Park Visitors Center for the last walk before winter sets in.  Will the crows be back yet?

As always, the walks are 8:30am to 10:30am.  Dress for the weather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring binoculars if you have them.

Click here for more information and updates if a walk is canceled for bad weather.

See you then!

 

(photo by Kate St. John)

3 responses so far

Jun 25 2015

Two Events: June 25th, 28th

Published by under Books & Events

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)
Thursday June 25 (today), noon to 2:00pm, Schenley Plaza tent:  2015 Pitt Peregrine Season Wrap Up.  If it’s not thundering, I’ll be at the Schenley Plaza tent, noon to 2:00pm to chat about peregrines and maybe see Dorothy & E2 fly by.   (In case you missed it, their fledgling “Silver” went to ground again yesterday afternoon and is on his way to rehab. Click here for the news.)

Epilogue, watercolor on Cowley's veiny calfskin vellum by Wendy Brockman, 2014, 27 × 23", © 2014 Wendy   Brockman, All rights reserved.  Courtesy Hunt Library.

Epilogue, watercolor on Cowley’s veiny calfskin vellum by Wendy Brockman, 2014, 27 × 23″, © 2014 Wendy Brockman, All rights reserved. Courtesy Hunt Library.

Sunday, June 28,  1:00pm to 4:00pm, CMU’s Hunt Library, 5th floor:   Annual Open House showcases Elements, an exhibit inspired by birds’ nests.  At 1:30–2:30 p.m Patrick McShea from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will present “Nest structures of North American birds and the materials used in their creation.” The event is free and open to the public.  Read a review of the exhibit here. Click here for Hunt Library information.  (p.s. Pat’s talks are always interesting. Don’t miss it.)

 

(photo of Schenley Plaza tent by Kate St. John. image of Epilogue © 2014 Wendy Brockman, courtesy Hunt Library)

3 responses so far

Jun 23 2015

Reminder: Let’s walk in Schenley Park, June 28

Published by under Books & Events

Single Bottlebrush Buckeye flower spire - 3/4 bloom (photo by Kate St. John)

Just a reminder that I’m leading a bird and nature walk on Sunday June 28, 8:30am in Schenley Park. Meet at Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center where Panther Hollow Road meets Schenley Drive.

Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.

Click here for more information and updates if the walk is canceled for bad weather.

I know we’ll find bottlebrush buckeye blooming.

See you soon.

 

(photo of bottlebrush buckeye by Kate St. John)

2 responses so far

Jun 21 2015

Midsummer Day and Night

Traditional Midsummer Night Festival bonfire in Lappeenranta, Finland (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Traditional Midsummer Night Festival bonfire in Lappeenranta, Finland (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Today the sun will reach its northernmost point, the northern solstice, at 12:38pm.

In northern Europe this is Midsummer Day, celebrated the night before with enormous bonfire festivals, especially in Scandinavia, Latvia and Estonia.

Midsummer folklore includes old stories that spirits and witches roam the night so bonfires were set to keep them away.  Shakespeare embellished on the folklore in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  His fairies cast spells on each other; Titania fell in love with Bottom.

Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom, by Edwin Lanseer (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Titania and Bottom, by Edwin Lanseer (image from Wikimedia Commons)

 

If you celebrate the evening outdoors, be careful not to fall in love with an ass. 😉

 

(Midsummer festival fire in Lapeenranta, Finland and Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom by Edwin Lanseer, both from Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the images to see the originals)

7 responses so far

Jun 12 2015

Downtown Fledge Watch Begins Tomorrow, June 13

Published by under Books & Events

Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watchers, 2010 (photo by Sharon Leadbitter)

Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watchers, 2010 (photo by Sharon Leadbitter)

Dateline June 12, 2015:

As you can see from my earlier post we missed the first fledgling but there are still two who haven’t flown.

Downtown Fledge Watch starts tomorrow at Fifth and Grant, perfectly positioned for incoming fledglings.

Click here for ALL the details.

Additional considerations:

Weather:  We won’t be out there in thunderstorms.  Volunteer Training will be held rain or shine (Sat. 6/13 10:00am & Mon 6/15 noon).  If it is raining we will move to Macy’s Annex roof/overhang on Fifth Ave at Cherry Way after we meet at Mellon Square.

Saturday:   Volunteer Training at 10:00am at Mellon Square (see above note on weather).  Otherwise, business as usual at Fifth and Grant.

Sunday:  Parking, etc.  On street parking is free but be careful where you put your car if you’d like to leave around noon.  The Pride Parade starts at noon at Grant & the Boulevard of the Allies, marches up Grant to Fifth Avenue and turns left down Fifth Avenue, then right on Liberty Avenue and ends at the grandstand at Liberty & Sixth Avenues.

I’ll post fledgling status as I get the chance.

Never a dull moment.

 

(photo of Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch, 29 May 2010 by Sharon Leadbitter)

One response so far

Jun 08 2015

Downtown Peregrines’ Fledge Watch, June 13-20

Dori guards while a nestling explores, 5 June 2015 (photo by Matthew Digiacomo)

Mother peregrine, Dori, guards while a nestling explores, Friday June 5, 2015 (photo by Matthew Digiacomo)

In less than a week three peregrine nestlings will make their first flight in Downtown Pittsburgh.  Because their nest is low they might need our help.

In the first 24 hours of flight, fledgling peregrines lack the wing strength to take off from the ground.  If they land on the street they just stand there and may be hit by vehicles.

Last Friday’s photo shows they were speckled with white down and brown feathers.

Downtown Pittsburgh peregrine nestlings, 5 June 2015 (photo by Matthew Digiacomo)

Downtown Pittsburgh peregrine nestlings, Friday June 5, 2015 (photo by Matthew Digiacomo)

By the time they fly they will be all brown with dark cheek stripes like the bird circled in red (and like this bird yesterday at Neville Island).

Comparison: red-tailed hawk & juvenile peregrine (photos by Katie Cunningham & Kim Steininger)

Comparing red-tailed hawk & immature peregrine. Click on this photo for more details

 

What you can do:  If you see a peregrine on the street, call the PA Game Commission (PGC) at 724-238-9523.  If you can safely do so, carefully corral and guard the bird until PGC arrives.

You can also volunteer for Fledge Watch June 13-20 during daylight hours in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue at Grant Street. (The Watch will end before June 20 if the last bird has flown for 24 hours.)

The #1 purpose of this Watch is to educate the public so lots of people know to call the Game Commission if they find a downed peregrine.  Yes, we’d love to believe trained volunteers would find every bird, but the reality in Downtown Pittsburgh is that peregrines in trouble are found by people who’ve never seen a peregrine.  People often tell building security guards about the birds so I’ve notified management/security at the nearby buildings.

The second purpose of the Watch is to station a few trained volunteers in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue and Grant Street to watch and wait just in case.  This area is made up of sidewalks and private property so we cannot congregate as we do at the annual Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch in Schenley Plaza.  Two to four people at a time is all we need.

You can participate by formally signing up for a shift or by informally checking the area as you pass through on your way to work.

Learn what to do:  Get training before you participate!  I’ll conduct two basic training sessions at Mellon Square on Saturday June 13 at 10:00am and Monday June 15 at noon.  You’ll recognize me by my hat and binoculars and bright fluorescent yellow backpack.

How to sign up:  To volunteer for a shift, click here to see open times on the Downtown Pittsburgh Peregrine Fledge Watch Calendar (click on an appointment to see its time span).  Then leave a comment on this article with your name, email address and the dates/times you’d like to volunteer.  I will see your message and add your shift to the calendar.

If you cannot commit to a date/time but will be Downtown to watch informally, leave a comment with name, email and the location where you’ll be watching.

Meanwhile, though the nest doesn’t have a webcam Matthew Digiacomo is documenting the nestlings’ progress in photographs on his Flickr site.  Click here or on this photo to see how beautiful they are.

Two peregrine nestlings, obviously different ages,Downtown Pittsburgh, 5 June 2015 (photo by Matthew Digiacomo)

Two of the three nestlings, Downtown Pittsburgh, 5 June 2015 (photo by Matthew Digiacomo)

I hope to meet you at Mellon Square.

 

(photo credits:
Downtown peregrine photos by Matthew Digiacomo.
Comparison photos of red-tailed hawk and peregrine by Katie Cunningham (hawk) and
Kim Steininger (peregrine))

See this link if you have questions about the weather.

24 responses so far

May 31 2015

This Morning’s Walk in Schenley Park

Participants in May 31 Walk in Schenley Park (photo by Kate St. John)

Participants in May 31 Walk in Schenley Park (photo by Kate St. John)

Great turnout this morning — 21 people, including myself — and the weather cooperated!

From our meeting place at the Visitors Center we could see E2 on the lightning rod at the Cathedral of Learning so we talked about peregrines and I answered questions before we walked to Panther Hollow Lake.

Best sightings included beautiful male rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles at their nests, a house wren at its nest in a street lamp, and northern rough-winged swallows taking flight-baths in the lake.  Two wood thrushes sang in the woods and common whitetail dragonflies chased at the lake edge.

Spend time outdoors in the weeks ahead.  In mid-June come to Peregrine Fledge Watches (to be announced) at Schenley Plaza, Downtown, Neville Island and the Westinghouse Bridge.  And on Sunday June 28 I’ll lead another walk in Schenley Park.

Check the schedule on my Events page for the latest updates.

 

 

(photo by Kate St. John)

One response so far

May 27 2015

Reminder: Let’s Walk in Schenley Park, May 31

Fleabane (photo by Kate St. John)

Just a reminder that I’m leading a bird and nature walk on Sunday May 31, 8:30am in Schenley Park. Meet at Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center where Panther Hollow Road meets Schenley Drive.

Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.

Click here for more information and for updates if the walk is canceled for bad weather.

I know we’ll find fleabane blooming.

See you soon.

(photo of fleabane by Kate St. John)

2 responses so far

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