Barefootin’ Into Summer

This Aardman Animation of Robert Parker’s classic song
is filled with delightful visual puns ~ can you find them?

Dry sand, asphalt, concrete, and teak decks are baking in our current August-like temperatures, making one of summer’s greatest pleasures — barefootin’ — a sometimes painful proposition.

But at the water’s edge, barefootin’ birds have taken Robert Parker’s soulful advice; they may not have shoes to kick off, but they’re on their feet, dancing into summer despite the heat. Scroll through the photos while listening to the song, and tell me they’re not!

Kildeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)

 

Comments always are welcome.

A Big Bird, Helping Endangered Birds

During a visit to the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge last fall, I was surprised to see a small plane passing repeatedly over areas of the prairie. Its color — yellow — is one I usually associate with crop dusters, but I couldn’t imagine dusting refuge prairies with herbicides. Mosquito-spraying was my next guess, but there was no one around to ask, so I went on my way.

Early yesterday morning, I happened to be in the neighborhood, and took time for a quick drive around the auto loop. While I was busy stalking a Crested Caracara on the road, a low hum in the distance made me look up. It was the same yellow airplane, and a quick change of camera settings allowed me to catch an image of it.

I had been headed out of the refuge at the time, but curiosity demanded that I turn around, go back to the refuge headquarters, and look for an answer. The visitor center has been closed for months, but eventually a ranger spotted me nosing around the outbuildings, and came to see what I was up to. Her explanation of the work being done by the plane was both fascinating and wonderful.

The plane wasn’t spraying; it was dropping fire ant bait. [NOTE: after talking with a refuge employee this morning, I learned that the product being used is called Extinguish Plus, and it’s commercially available.] Fire ants are immensely annoying to humans, but they’re lethal to hatchlings. The young woman explained that, since the bait-dropping project began, the number of other insects on the prairie has increased, and so has the number of ground-dwelling birds. I didn’t see any of the prairie chickens during my visit, but an exceptionally large covey of quail crossed in front of me on Sunday: a visible token of the project’s success.

 

Comments always are welcome.