Holy crap, the calendar now has “September” at the top. That means I am officially in Halloween jitters and more concerning, the monthly post counter reset. Luckily, it is dog show weekend which means we are on the road – translated – extra cycles to get out ahead of this month’s contributions. Today’s colorful featured feathered friend comes to you thanks to a self-induced dose of absolute panic.
While on our Expedition Part Tres we stopped up in Door County to see what they had to offer on the birding front. I’ll kill the suspense right here – nada. In their defense it was mostly raining while we were there (imagine that). Time to shift into plan ‘B’ err… make that plan ‘T’, full on ‘T’ourist mode. Linda takes control of the daily agenda and next thing I know I’m standing at the base of the Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor, WI sporting a wristband announcing to the world “My wife is trying to KILL me”. I ask you, why would a “loving” wife take her height averse husband to a giant column in the sky and then challenge his mancard to convince him to climb up a narrow staircase to a tiny little balcony bordered with a flimsy railing?? Yes, you in the back row..”To push you off?”. Correcto-mundo.
Hit the jump to find out what got “Turned”.
Not to mention I had The Beast with me so one-handed Bri had a GI Joe Kung Fu grip on the trim around the outside wall of that deathtrap. Unfortunately, this was not the absolute panic episode I was referring to earlier. Nope, it wasn’t until I finished scraping all the skin off my kneecaps crawling down the metal grates they used for steps that the “real” panic set in. After catching my breadth and making a call to CANCEL my life insurance (waaaayyy too much motivation ha), I headed over to the shore to see if there were any birds. All of a sudden about a hundred Cormorants decided to fly by skimming just over the waveline. Snap hmm, snap hu, snap what, snap WTH, snap WTF! The Beast would not auto-focus.
Quickly went through my troubleshooting list. Glass on tight, camera focus mode on auto, exposure not off the charts, rear focus override activated, battery has enough charge, video mode off.. all looked good. Per Linda’s description, Bri lost his shit. In a Hail Mary shot I removed The Beast, cleaned the bayonet and tried again. No luck. Trembling, I decided to swap glass with Linda – if it worked, infinite sadness, if it didn’t then well, less sadness. Linda’s glass auto-focused. Next logical step, The Beast on Linda’s camera – please work, please work, please work… NO WORKY – AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
I bet you are desperately figuring out why this prompted the Ruddy Turnstones you have been looking at. Hang in there a bit, got you covered. There are very few material items I cherish more than The Beast. Maybe a perfectly broken in set of trail shoes or my 3D printers might come in a very very distance 2nd or 3rd. I think I just got an evil glare from my lovely (but devious) wife… oh,right clearly my ring is my most cherished item (probably should stay out of the lighthouses for a while).
For the rest of the day I was totally bummed. My baby was broken and there was plenty of trip left (and a visit to the International Crane Foundation the very next day). That night I went through my checklist again, scoured the Internet for possible solutions and pretty much turned into grumpy Bri when all those failed. Late that night something clicked – maybe there was a focus switch on the glass. I was pretty sure there wasn’t as I couldn’t recall ever seeing one – at least through the Lenscoat covering openings. Started pulling all the sections of the covering off and then there it was – a small A/M button that was completely covered. It had been “turned” off. Apparently as my life was passing before my eyes on the top of the lighthouse, the lever got tripped. MAJOR RELIEF – and a new item on the troubleshooting list.
Talk about a long lead in. Let’s get to the heart of the post shall we. You are currently looking at a Ruddy Turn”the glass A/M Button”stone (link here), that were found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in May, 2.5 B.P. (2.5 years Before Pandemic). Normally I would have been surprised to see this bird in the middle of the Midwest. Cornell lists their wintering grounds as a narrow band around the coastal US and Central America and their breeding grounds are up to 6,500 miles away in upper Canada/Greenland and over to Western Europe/Southern Asia.
Not entirely sure if this group of Turnstones was heading to its breeding grounds or on their way back to their summer haunts when the Emiquon migration magnet kicked in. They were hanging around with another set of birds that you would not expect there, the Black-Necked Stilts (link here and here). At least the Turnstones have this place on their flyover – the Stilts are not even listed anywhere near Illinois (yet, like the Turnstones, I photograph them every year here).
The Stilts likely appreciated the extra eyes looking out for any dangers and assuredly the smaller Ruddies benefited from the higher perspective. Whatever was going on to the right held their interests far more than The Beast pointed directly at them.
Should probably get to the interesting facts, especially after making you sit through the long lead in. These Turnstones are very nimble on the wet rocks of their shoreline habitats. Per Cornell’s website, they have enhanced footing with tiny spines on the bottom of their feet and sharp curved claws for gripping. You can see those tiny claws in the first two shots at the start of the post. Maybe ASICS can adapt that into their trail shoes to help us trail runners with the water crossings.
To close this post out, their young gets the award for the toughest first 3 weeks. During this time, they have to learn to fly before being abandoned by their parents and then have to leave on their own for their first migration thousands of miles away – no snowflakes in that species!
will be seeing you again very soon, until then, be careful if your significant other offers to take you up in a lighthouse.