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July 3, 2010 [LINK / comment]
That's what I call a comeback!!
It's been a long time since Washington Nationals fans had so much to cheer about, and today's big come-from-behind win against the Mets may mark a critical psychological turning point toward better days ahead. The game didn't start off well at all, however, as Stephen Strasburg was lucky to escape the first inning with only one run given up to the Mets. When he almost hit Jeff Francouer's head, you had to wonder if he was about to crack under the pressure. Fortunately, he settled down and only gave up one more run through five innings, after which he was relieved. Once again, he received no run support at all from his team mates, but the Nats later managed to tie it 2-2. The Mets then staged a three-run rally in the eighth inning, and relief pitcher Tyler Clippard was on the verge of another discouraging loss. The Nats scored once in the bottom of the eighth, as Adam Kennedy got his first RBI since May 30. In the ninth inning, Cristian Guzman drew a walk, Nyjer Morgan grounded out, Willie Harris singled, and Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk to load the bases. Not a very good day for the Mets' closer, Francisco Rodriguez! Up to the plate stepped mighty Adam Dunn, who hit a long fly ball to deep center field, just missing Angel Pagan's glove and bouncing off the top of the fence back into play. One more inch and it would have been a game-winning walk-off grand slam, but he at least tied the game by driving in two runs. Clutch performance! Cristian Guzman apparently thought the ball had been caught and went back to tag up on third base, and Willie Harris had to put on the brakes to avoid running over him. The two sprinted home in tandem, and Harris had to slide to beat the throw, then clapping his hands in jubilation. The next batter, Josh Willingham, was intentionally walked, and then Pudge Rodriguez came up to bat. He reached for a ball that was low and outside, poking it into short right field for a single that allowed Ryan Zimmerman to cross the plate for the winning run. The team mobbed Pudge, and everybody joined in the celebration because everybody had contributed something to the big win. The game was broadcast nationally by FOX Sports, and the Nationals got great publicity. Because it is the Fourth of July weekend and Stephen Strasburg was pitching, the stadium was nearly filled, with attendance of 39,214. See MLB.com.
And so, the Nats not only came back in this specific game, they have come back to their old high-spirited selves again. And not a moment too soon! The only thing wrong with this memorable tale from the ballpark was that Stephen Strasburg had a relative "off" day, getting only five strikeouts. After six major league starts, he has a 2-2 record with two no-decisions. In 36 2/3 innings, he has struck out 53 batters, walked only ten, and has an ERA of 2.45. Not bad at all!
Supreme Court & baseball
As the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan proceed, the issue of baseball pops up once again. Kagan, who was born and raised in the Big Apple, is a Mets fan, whereas the newest of the current justices and fellow New Yorker Sonia Sotomayor is Yankees fan. As a Federal judge, Sotomayor played a key role in ending the infamous 1994-1995 baseball strike; see May 2009. Last month the New York Times listed the baseball affiliations of the Supreme Court. Justice Samuel Alito is a Phillies fan, and last year he contributed an essay to The Baseball Research Journal. Justice John Paul Stevens is a Cubs fan, and believe it or not he was at Wrigley Field for Game 3 of the 1932 World Series when Babe Ruth (apparently) pointed his finger at where he was about to hit a home run. Justice Stephen Breyer is a Red Sox fan.
July 3, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Kagan handles Senate hearings
By now, the ritual by which the U.S. Senate scrutinizes nominees to the Supreme Court is so well scripted in advance that there is hardly ever any real drama. Everyone knows (or should know) who Elena Kagan is and what she represents -- liberal activism -- and she gave to her Republican adversaries the best they could hope for: an affirmation of judicial restraint and the virtue of modesty. Few if any people would expect her to apply those principles in the way that those who place primary emphasis on them would, but that's not the point. They made her pay lip service tribute to old-fashioned constitutional republicanism, allowing future GOP candidates and office-holders to quote her to advance their arguments. In sum, she held up very well under the grilling.
The Washington Post summarized the final phase of questioning, and the standard issues of abortion rights, gun rights, and gays in the military. In contrast to Sonia Sotomayor, who was extremely cautious and circumspect during her hearings last year, Kagan was relatively easy-going and somewhat more open. During the 17 hours of hearings, she avoided controversial pitfalls fairly well, but she had to face harsh criticism for some of her past actions. She defended her decision as Dean of the Harvard Law School to deny military recruiters access to the university's career center on the grounds that the military did not abide by Harvard's non-discrimination policy. She also acknowledged her "progressive" political beliefs, but insisted that they would not affect her judicial rulings. (Count me as skeptical on that one.)
On May 12 I raised the question of whether the Supreme Court is becoming too uniform even as it becomes more diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender. More specifically, most recent justices are part of the "Eastern Establishment," and as an example of that, Elena Kagan is a Mets fan, whereas Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a Yankees fan. See my baseball blog post.
Supreme Court on gun rights
This past week, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that for the first time extends explicit coverage of the Second Amendment to state and local governments. It reaffirms and strengthens the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling, and essentially neutralizes the ban on handguns enacted by Chicago and other major U.S. cities. It never ceases to amaze me that many people still resist the idea that ownership of firearms is a basic constitutional right. That doesn't mean that the right is not qualified in some way, as just about any right is, of course. It simply means that the right is an essential, unalterable underpinning of what keeps our society united in respecting the rule of law and the autonomy of free individuals. See the Washington Post.
The constitutional principle at issue here is "incorporation" of the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment, which explicitly guaranteed equal protection under the law for all U.S. citizens, including former slaves. Before 1868, there was a very strong presumption of state sovereignty, and prohibitions and rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights were held to apply exclusively to the United States (Federal) government, not necessarily to the states. During the late 19th and the 20th Centuries, the first ten amendments to the Constitution were reinterpreted in such a way that states had to abide by them. The only amendment which was not "incorporated" was the Second. Now it is. And yes, this will be on the final exam.
While I was in Washington a couple weeks ago, I took this photo while I was driving past the Supreme Court building, which is appropriate for this blog post:
The Supreme Court building. Roll your mouse over this image to see a close-up of the sculptures. From supremecourt.gov:
Sixteen marble columns at the main west entrance support the pediment. On the architrave above is incised "Equal Justice Under Law" Capping the entrance is a sculptured group by Robert Aitken, representing Liberty Enthroned guarded by Order and Authority. On either side are groups of three figures depicting Council and Research which Aitken modeled after several prominent individuals concerned with the law or the creation of the Supreme Court Building. At the left are Chief Justice Taft as a youth, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and the architect Cass Gilbert. Seated on the right are Chief Justice Hughes, the sculptor Aitken, and Chief Justice Marshall as a young man.
R.I.P. Sen. Robert Byrd
Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd passed away earlier this week, and flags all across West Virginia were at half mast as an expression of mourning for him. President Obama and many other dignities attended the memorial service for him in Charleston on Friday. (Coincidentally, I happened to be in West Virginia while the service was taking place.) In West Virginia, where just about every other highway, bridge, or public building is named after Robert Byrd, people are in mourning. For many of them, all that matters is that he "brought home the bacon" to the Mountain State, but there is also a recognition that Byrd represented a genteel and thoughtful statesmanship that has passed by the wayside. For local press coverage of Byrd's life and the memorial services in his honor, see the Charleston Gazette. It mentions the fact that Byrd joined the Ku Klux Klan in 1942, but left it ten years later, saying that it was a "major mistake." Indeed. Byrd was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1953, and six years later won election to become a U.S. Senator.
In the Washington Post, David Broder paid tribute to Byrd's public service, and to his persistent emphasis on striking a balance between extreme tendencies in politics. From his studies of the ancient Roman Republic, Byrd became convinced that
in any republic, the role of the Senate is an essential counterbalance to the more populist instincts of the House and the inherent imperiousness of presidents.
Even though Byrd was often derided as the "king of pork," Broder wrote that he "really did evoke what made the Senate great."
Personally, I was offended by Sen. Byrd's bitter denunciation of the U.S. liberation of Iraq in 2003, calling it imperialistic. I know he had good reasons for his position on Iraq policy, but his harsh and inflammatory words undermined U.S. will and prestige at a critical moment. Nevertheless, Byrd's love of the U.S. Constitution, and his devotion to the cause of limiting government power, are worthy of high praise. Not many people in the Democratic Party see things that way any more, which is a terrible shame. Some people wonder whether Byrd was related to the Byrd dynasty of Virginia, in particular former governor and senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. and former senator Harry F. Byrd Jr. Interestingly, Byrd was adopted as a child by his aunt and uncle, and his name was changed from Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. after his mother died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Byrd endured many hardships while he was growing up, and he is a classic example of how adversity helps to mold strong character and leadership qualities.
July 5, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Wild, wonderful West Virginia
Jacqueline and I made a long-overdue return trip to Pocahantas County, West Virginia last week, and it really was "wild and wonderful," as the Mountain State's slogan goes. The main objective was taking a ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad, which we had just missed the last time we were there a decade or so ago. This time we timed our trip just perfectly in terms of the weather, which was clear and very mild. (Today the temperatures are in the upper 90s. ) We took the full 11-mile ride to the top of Bald Knob, elevation 4,824 feet, though the train actually stops at a point about 150 feet below the summit. Along the way we made two switchbacks, where the train pauses and then goes the reverse direction on the other leg of a "Y" intersection. On steep slopes, it's the only practical way to build train tracks. There was a rest stop at the old logging camp of Whittaker, after which we resumed the uphill climb. We passed the abandoned town of Spruce, WV, named for the red spruce forests that used to blanket the entire highland region -- until the buzz saws did their work, that is. It's remarkable passing from one ecological zone to another in such a short time span, as though we had gone 500 miles north into Canada. We learned that the piston-driven, coal-fired Shay steam locomotive was designed especially for use on steep mountain grades; this one was built in 1923. It certainly spewed forth a lot of smoke and ash. After stopping to fill up the water tank, we continued on to the destination near the peak. The view toward the north, east, and south was superb, and the conditions for taking photographs could not have been better for this time of year. See for yourself at the newly-updated Summer 2010 photo gallery.
Cass Scenic Railroad train, and the General Store in back.
After the train ride, we toured the museums next door, and learned all about the history of the logging industry in the West Virginia highlands. The Cass train shut down commercial operations in 1960, because it was no longer profitable. They didn't say so explicitly, but I assume that means they had cut down nearly all the old growth red spruce trees, and there weren't enough trees left to make the train trip worthwhile.
The next day we went to the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area (see pocahontascountywv.com), and spent a couple leisurely hours strolling around and observing the unique habitat. Because of its high altitude, moist conditions, and flat terrain, it is the southernmost area in which cranberries and other northern bog plants naturally occur. We saw a variety of wildflowers, including orchids and Rhododendrons. To prevent the sensitive plants from being disturbed, they built a half-mile-long boardwalk, with strict rules against anyone straying from it.
Cranberry Glades, with Black Mountain in the background, to the northeast.
In the afternoon, we drove along the Highland Scenic Highway, which is a lot like the Blue Ridge Parkway, in that there are no towns and no commercial truck traffic. It follows the crest of Black Mountain, descends abruptly into the Williams River valley, and then climbs again. We stopped at several overlooks, one of which features a boardwalk through a wooded area that was burned out in a forest fire several decades ago. Red spruce and Mountain ash trees are the dominant forms of vegetation, along with Rhododendrons. At the end of the boardwalk was a fine view of the impressive-looking Big Spruce Knob, which is actually lower in elevation than Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. The latter is surrounded by higher land, however, which is why it doesn't stand out quite as much. Anyway, we then drove past the Snowshoe ski resort, went through the town of Cass again, and stopped at the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory just long enough to take a photo of the huge radar dish, which we had also seen from the summit of Bald Knob. Then we headed home, arriving in time for me to play a game in the local church softball league. After all that exertion, it took me all weekend to recover my energy!
I recently bought a field guide to butterfies, enabling me to identify some species that I had photographed previously but wasn't sure about. Take a look at the new photo gallery page for Butterfies.
Roll mouse over this montage to see a Red Admiral butterfly, which we spotted at an overlook on the Highland Scenic Highway in West Virginia.
July 6, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Baseball 2010: mid-season review
Now that the 2010 season is half over, it's a good time to stop and look at some of the trends and surprising things.
In spite of limited salary base, the Tampa Bay Rays held on to first place in the AL East until a week or so ago. They are just amazing. Carl Crawford is having another great year, earning a starting outfield position in the All-Star Game, and Evan Longoria is doing fine as well. The Yankees finally took first place, but the Red Sox are also hot on their heels, in spite of an injury-depleted roster, and it looks like it's going to be one hell of a three-way dogfight for the rest of the year. In the American League Central Division, the Twins have slumped recently, while the Tigers have held steady in their pursuit of the division title, while the White Sox have surged into contention as well. In the AL West, the Rangers have surged into first place, thanks to the hard-hitting Josh Hamilton and new member Vladimir Guerrero, while the Oakland A's have faltered. The "LAnaheim" Angels are in second place, and may regret having let go of Vlad.
In the National League there are pleasant surprises in all three divisions this year: The Atlanta Braves had a great month, taking first place in the NL East, hoping to give their long-time manager Bobby Cox (note spelling!) a happy send-off in his final year. Oddly, however, their veteran slugger Chipper Jones is not doing that well, and he has hinted that this may be his last year as well. I hope not. In the NL Central Division, the Cincinnati Reds are off to their best season in over a decade. One key factor is that they have won all nine of their most recent extra-inning games, the first of which was in June 2009. The last team with such a long streak was the Braves in 1999-2000. And in the Western Division, the San Diego Padres have the lead, with the Dodgers not far behind.
As for the Washington Nationals (that page has been updated), they started off the year in great shape, and were five games over .500 as of May 13, but then stalled. They won only eight games in June, the first month month below .300 since the horrible 5-16 record of April 2009. After 81 games (half of the 162 games in a full season), their cumulative record was 35 wins and 46 losses, for a 0.432 percentage, which is at least a lot better than the midpoint of last year (25-56). They can still recover and finish the season over .500, but their dreams of contending for a wild card spot are fading away very quickly. On the plus side, average home attendance surged to 28,340, the highest since August 2008. That was purely a reflection of the sensational Stephen Strasburg, however, and it remains to be seen whether the team can sustain that level of fan enthusiasm for the rest of this hot, hot summer...
Will Nats get traded?
Ordinarily, when a team does poorly, it means that some tinkering with the roster is called for. Not this time, if you ask me. The players themselves are doing fine, and are enthusiastic, by and large. All the hype over Stephen Strasburg probably raised uncertainties in the minds of some players, and there may be some jealousy involved. There seems to be an indefinable absence of some X factor, and all it will take is the right sequence of things going right to get the team back to its winning ways. When the Washington Nationals were in "rebuilding mode," they usually traded some of their best players, like Livan Hernandez or Ryan Church. With the deadline less than 30 days away, the two obvious candidates for getting traded are sluggers Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, both of whom have said very clearly that they want to stay in Washington. Those two guys plus Ryan Zimmerman have proven themselves to be a reliable power-hitting middle of the lineup, and messing with that would be devastating to the team's chances for getting back to winning on a consistent basis. I strongly agree with Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell: "The Nats would be nuts to trade Dunn or Willingham."
On the other hand, Bill Ladson at MLB.com thinks that Dunn is lacking on defense, and should be considered for a trade. But then he says they should keep Ian Desmond at shortstop even though he leads the league in errors while his batting is OK, but nothing special. That doesn't compute.
Capps is an All-Star?
I'm pretty sure that Stephen Strasburg does not have enough experience to be in this year's All-Star Game, but he is probably better qualified than the Nationals; reliever Matt Capps, who did make the All-Star roster. For the first two months of this season, Capps was leading the major leagues in saves, but since then he seems to have fallen apart, giving up multiple hits and/or runs in most of his relief appearances. See MLB.com. I'm sorry to say it, but based on Capps' recent performance, if NL manager Charlie Manuel has him pitch in a closing situation, the American League is almost sure to win once again. Every team gets at least one player, and frankly I just don't see any Nationals players who are playing at that high level. Guzman, Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham, and Pudge Rodriguez are all doing well, but none of them are performing at All-Star levels right now. I voted for Zimmerman in the final ballot, but he'll need a miracle to make the All-Stars this year.
Gamecocks win 2010 CWS
Congratulations to the University of South Carolina "Gamecock" baseball team for winning the 2010 NCAA Championship, beating UCLA by a score of 2-1 in 11 innings at the College World Series in Omaha. Another team from South Carolina, the Clemson Tigers, also made it to Omaha this year.
Many thanks to David Steinle for sponsoring the Kansas City Municipal Stadium page. You can do so as well, by following the simple steps on PayPal. Just send me a separate e-mail message to let me know which stadium you want to sponsor.
Don't forget Vince
Thanks to Bill Kalenborn for pointing out that not only did Joe Dimaggio (lifetime batting average .325, from 1936 to 1951) and younger brother Dom Dimaggio (.296, 1940-1953) play in Seals Stadium, so did older brother Vince Dimaggio (.249, 1937-1946). Bill once saw a Giants-Cubs game there.
On the road again
I'll be away from home for the rest of this month, so blogging updates, etc. will be less frequent until August. Please hold off on e-mail messages until then. Thank you! With any luck, I'll get to see a new stadium or two in the upper midwest...
July 6, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Summer doldrums for canaries
Like many other bird species, canaries go through a "molting" phase during the mid-summer months, as they shed worn-out feathers and wait for new ones to grow back. They scratch and shake themselves quite often, and they spend a lot of time in the sun, which seems to soothe them. You can tell that Luciano and Lucy just aren't comfortable lately, and they seem to get more irritated with each other as well. We find two or three old feathers every night when we clean their cage, and sometimes more. We provide them with special dietary supplements for canaries during their molting phase, and try to avoid upsetting them unduly. Luciano stopped singing entirely about three weeks ago, and he probably won't start again until mid-August, at least.
Even though they are more subdued and often rather nervous while molting, our canaries remain trusting in us. Lucy is more wary, probably because she remembers the months last year when we had to give her medicine every day, in an attempt to cure her persistent cough. Her breathing has improved in the last few months, but she has lost so many facial feathers that she looks rather homely, like a baby bird. She also has hygiene problems related to her poor respiratory capacity, and needs help in bathing occasionally. I hope those conditions are not permanent. Lucy does not like to be handled, and whenever we pick her up to give her a bath, Luciano flies around us and calls in an alarmed tone, as if he is trying to rescue her. They still have not mated, because Lucy is just not healthy enough to build a nest or lay eggs, but they are sometimes affectionate toward one another. As for Luciano himself, he is the same friendly guy as always, as you can see in this photo which Jacqueline took just yesterday:
Lucy watches from a safe distance as the daring Luciano nibbles on flowers in an odd place.
July 6, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Independence Day this year made me think about the mixed legacy of Thomas Jefferson on our political system and culture. While in Our Nation's Capital two weeks ago, I took the time to pay a visit to the Jefferson Memorial. The north side of the shrine erected in honor of our third president is presently under construction, because the sea wall facing the Tidal Basin is gradually sinking. Well, the whole area used to be a fetid swamp, so that's not too surprising, I guess.
Anyway, as I entered the main chamber and contemplated the statue of Jefferson, I was struck in particular by this quotation engraved on the interior wall:
Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.
Jefferson is often regarded as something of a "saint" among secular-minded Americans, so those words deserve careful reflection. He is considered a "Deist" who believed that God created the Universe, but does not intervene with miracles, etc. Just because he was a religious nonconformist does not mean that he was a non-believer.
Statue of Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Memorial. In back is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.
It is interesting that Jefferson's name is often invoked by both parties: Democrats stress his devotion to democratic participation, and to popular education, philosophy, and science. Republicans, meanwhile, stress Jefferson's suspicion of concentrated power and insistence on constitutional restraints on power. Jefferson was not a slavish apostle of rigid, permanent laws, however, and his comments to the effect that occasional rebellions are healthy are potentially problematic. Jefferson was not one of the framers of the Constitution, and indeed he led the Anti-Federalist Party, which was usually called the "Republican Party" back then. It is often referred to as the "Democratic-Republican Party" in history textbooks, but it evolved into the Democratic Party during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Jefferson probably could not have imagined the changed circumstances in American under which a popular majority often favors stronger government and less freedom. He would be totally mortified by this erosion of our democratic civic culture, no doubt.
These are the words of Jefferson that ring the perimeter under the dome, partly visible in that photo:
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
I'm pretty sure Jefferson would have regarded with extreme disfavor the conformist, hyper-partisan bloggers in Virginia who often invoke his name in the cause of limited republican (small r) government. That goes especially for those who were big fans of "compassionate" (big government) conservatism during the administration of George W. Bush.
Congress rescues (?) Wall Street
Here we go again: the President declares that catastrophe is looming just around the corner unless we enact his proposals right away, and then he goes on a campaign swing cleverly stage-managed to make the skeptics look evil and greedy. This time, however, it appears that the emergency may be genuine and very serious in nature. The harder that President Obama pushes for financial "reform," however, the greater is the skepticism of economic experts, at least the non-partisan ones. Indeed, as the Washington Post reported in April, Obama has every intention of using the financial reform bill for the benefit of the Democratic Party in this fall's election campaign.
The Goldman Sachs debacle is often cited as evidence in favor of the President's reform proposals, but neither his administration nor his party are exactly innocent bystanders. The government announced it was going to sue Goldman Sachs for defrauding its clients. Interestingly, many former Goldman Sachs employees took jobs in the White House or Treasury Department; see the-classic-liberal.com. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats come off looking very good in the tragic sequence of events that has transpired over the past two years.
As for what should be done to clean up the mess, we can only hope that people have learned something from the panicked rescue bailouts of September 2008. As Stephen Pearlstein of the Washington Post makes clear, there are institutional factors behind the scenes that may foil any simplistic remedy. For anyone like me who believes in honest, open free market capitalism (as opposed to pure laissez-faire "law of the jungle"), it is obvious that banks and brokerage houses that were "too big to fail" should have been broken up by anti-trust remedies before they got that big. I just hope the Republicans can use what bargaining leverage they have to keep the intrusive, counterproductive regulations to a minimum, and to enhance the functioning of the markets. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that neither the President nor the members of his party have any real faith in free markets.
When the House recently voted to extend unemployment benefits, in a gesture of "compassion" for the working class, few among the majority party realized that what they were really doing was extending the duration of unemployment. It's a perfect example of the perverse consequences that often arise from misguided noble intentions. Read "Rethinking Jobless Benefits" by Michael D. Tanner at cato.org. Hopefully, the Republicans in the Senate will hold firm on principle, and manage to avoid being scorned as "uncompassionate."
July 6, 2010 [LINK / comment]
"Byrding" in West Virginia
It was by sheer coincidence that West Virginia's senior senator Robert Byrd passed away just as we were about to travel there (in part to go bird watching) last week. Alas, the "Silver-capped Orator" is no longer with us.
Nearly all the birds we saw in West Virginia were at one of two major places: Bald Knob (BK), elevation 4,824 feet, and Cranberry Glades (CG). We saw Juncos and Cedar waxwings at both locations. Birds listed with an exclamation mark are only found at high elevations or in northern latitudes, and do not nest in Virginia. At Cranberry Glades we heard Common Yellowthroats signing, but I never saw any.
- Dark-eyed Juncos ! - BK, CG
- Yellow-rumped Warbler ! (M) - BK
- Cedar waxwings - BK, CG
- Green Heron - GR
- Killdeers - GR
- Phoebes - GR
- Belted Kingfisher - GR
- Hooded Warbler - GR
- Blackburnian Warbler (M) - CG
- Magnolia Warblers ! (M) - CG
- Chestnut-sided Warbler (M) - CG
- Red-eyed Vireo - CG
- Blue-headed Vireos - CG
- Red-breasted Nuthatch ! - CG
- Cooper's Hawk - near CG
Bell's Lane, midsummer
On Bell's Lane yesterday morning, I finally saw some orioles -- several in fact, both male and female. I couldn't be sure which species the females were, though.
- Baltimore orioles (M, F?)
- Orchard orioles (M, F?)
- Willow flycatcher
- Indigo bunting (M)
- Brown thrasher
- Goldfinches (M, F)
Gulf of Mexico oil spill
For any bird watcher, the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are almost too painful to bear. I wish I could help out, somehow, but I just don't have enough training in handling wild birds to be of much use. Ed Clark of the nearby Wildlife Center of Virginia recently visited the shores of Louisiana and reported on what he saw there.