The trip home from Florida was an adventure in slowdowns, first on I-75 in Florida, on I -95 in Georgia, and on I -81 in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Karen was driving each time. One slowdown was for an accident nearly 30 miles ahead. This was the only accident we encountered during our trip down and back. With all that traffic, you would think we would have seen more, but it was not so.
Driving down our driveway at Eight Acre Wood with the daphne bushes blooming on both sides was a nice way to end our three-day trip. The trees were so green further south all the way through Virginia with lots of redbud trees in bloom. The trees were less green as we traveled into the “non-green world” to the north of that. We saw lots of snow damage to the trees all the way through Pennsylvania and New York from the wet snow.
When we stayed at a hotel in Woodstock, Virginia, the manager said that area was also covered with wet snow from that storm. Since the time of that snowstorm, here and to the south, there has been much severe weather from Texas into the Northeast where hot weather and cold weather clashed. High winds, some tornadoes, and much rain in the thunderstorm areas has caused flooding, power outages, and homes lost or damaged.
To the west of these storms forest fires have ravaged the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Nebraska. In New Mexico there are 20 active fires burning. The Calf Canyon and Hermit Peak fires
have merged into one, burning 56,478 acres and the flames are only 12-percent contained as of this morning (April 26).
Fires are also burning in New Mexico and Nebraska where one person has died because of a fire in the southwestern part of Nebraska. Retired Fire Chief John P. Trumble, 66, was driving as a spotter when smoke and dust blocked his visibility, causing his vehicle to leave the highway. He was overwhelmed by fire and smoke. His body was found around 3 a.m. Saturday (April 23), a Sheriff’s Office release said.
To wrap up our vacation on Sanibel Island, Florida the weather cooperated, and it got hot up into the 90s a couple of days with hardly a breeze blowing off the ocean at the beach. Those were water days, and Karen and I floated around a lot before coming out and sitting in the sun for a short spell. The birding got better the last couple of days, and we even saw little birds (mostly warblers) coming off the ocean right over our heads as we floated in the ocean.
They made it one more time across the big pond to the safety of land. A place to rest and eat their fill of caterpillars, spiders, and berries ripe in the trees. All you had to do is find one of those trees and you would see most every bird that flew onto the island. Some were singing, and others were just giving a chirp as they foraged for food. I went up to the lighthouse area each morning as different species arrived daily.
Many birders had the same idea, as they heard on their cell phones what birds had arrived and where to find them. That last morning there was a young lady from California who had never been east before so nearly every bird she saw was a life bird for her (a species that a birder has seen and identified in the wild for the very first time in their life). We saw several different warblers (all new to her.) Then she found a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, which was new for most birders on the island. It wasn’t a Mangrove Cuckoo, but she had several other places she was checking out in the next couple of days. She may have found one, as they were around in more numbers this year than I remember, especially in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge right along the drive.
Each morning before 8 a.m., I checked out the night blooming cereus plants to see how many flowers had come out during the nighttime. I think there was only a couple of mornings where there wasn’t one blooming. Since I’ve planted several plants in the last few years there are more to check on. One that I just started last year had one bloom and several more buds that were going to come out after I left. I spread out 14 more plants while on the island this year. All you have to do is cut off a leaf and stick it in a new palm tree along the bike route.
A new plant that I found in a neighboring yard near our unit was a star cactus. This year I found it in bloom, and it is such a big, beautiful flower from such a small plant.
I forgot to report on the missing older lady that had walked away from her unit in the middle of the night in just her nightclothes. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s. She was found (unharmed) around 4 p.m. that afternoon, and no other details were given.
The Crown Point Bird Banding Station [in the Lake Champlain region] will be operating from May 7 -21. It is open to the public this year from 5 a.m. until dark each day. This is the 47th year the station has been in operation. Interested parties should follow the signs from the main parking lot, as we are located in the field behind the fort at the Crown Point Historic Site.
The crossbills and siskins should be out and about with their young ones, but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: Night-blooming cereus plant. Photo by Gary Lee.