Saturday, April 04, 2015

Adventures in April

Smoke from GE Appliance Park Fire
Holy Cow! April 1 may be a day for jokes and fooling people, but in Louisville, April 3 is a day of disaster! April 3, 1974, was the big tornado that came through town, flattening everything in its path. April 3, 2015 was a day of severe thunderstorms, and about 12 solid hours of rain; from 6 - 7 inches, depending where you are in the county. Every time I dropped to sleep, the phone would ring with another flash flood warning. Cars got caught under viaducts, apartments flooded, and roads were washed away entirely. We got water in the basement again, even after spending a bundle to have it waterproofed after the last flood.  At least it wasn't as deep as last time, and our terrific son-in-law came over with two water vacs to help get it out as soon as possible. The area rugs are on the patio drying. During all this downpour, something happened to start a six alarm fire in one of the buildings at GE Appliance Park, one of the largest employers in the county. You could see the smoke plume from anywhere in town. Some said it looked like a tornado while others thought it resembled the smoke from a volcano. Fortunately, the employees were off for Good Friday, but they will close the plant for at least a week while they investigate.
Purple Martins
April 4, though, the sun came out and we headed to Bernheim Forest and Arboretum with our 3-year-old grandson for Pollywogs play time. Our grandson will grow up to be a naturalist, if he keeps going the way he's started! The Salt River covered the flea market grounds with muddy brown water. Surprisingly though, the small streams at Bernheim flowed clear and within their banks.
Flicker Male (left) and Female (right)
One spot near the Education Building traditionally hosts many Flickers in the spring. That's where we ate our picnic lunch today, and I had my camera close at hand for some photos. Of course, every time I followed the calls of one bird, I couldn't find it, and the calls started again from a tree 40 feet away. I finally found a large dead sycamore limb which supports at least 5 woodpecker holes, so that's probably why they are in this area every year.
Flickers - 2 females and 1 male
Finally, three birds who sat on a nice sunny branch where I could photograph them at leisure. Lots of hopping around and calling back and forth. Looks like courting behavior, I thought. Probably two males after one female. I checked the field guide to discover that the male Flicker has black sideburns (or malar stripes) in the Eastern part of the US, so my trio is actually two female and only one male. Curious! Do the females compete for a really great stud?
Flickers - Yellow Shafted
In the Eastern US we have the Yellow-shafted Flickers, and you see yellow under their wings and tails as they fly, while the Western area has the Red-shafted Flickers. At one time, they were considered separate species, but apparently they inter-breed where territories overlap, so they are now merged into one. Most woodpeckers are red, black and white only in coloration, while Flickers are more brown with only a white rump. Flickers are often found on the ground hunting for ants and beetles to eat.
Brown Thrasher
A Mockingbird --no, make that a Brown Thrasher, serenaded us from a tree top. They only repeat their mocking of other bird calls twice, instead of three or four times like Mockingbirds.
Fox Sparrow
A Fox Sparrow scratched in the dirt under the feeders by the Ed Building, while a Field Sparrow called from the Great Meadow.
Purple Martins at Nesting Gourds
The Purple Martins have returned, taking up residence in the gourd colonies put up by Bernheim for their use.
Canada Goose on Nest
The the Canada Goose pair is on the pond nearby as usual. Every year she builds her nest on a small island that supports the pedestrian bridge over the pond. You would expect her to look for a more private location, but it doesn't seem to bother her. As she sat, she moved around small pieces of grass and sticks to make her nest just right... This was a wonderful relief from all the alerts, warnings, and bad news of the last day. BUT, the weather forecast is for more rain next week. In fact, for 5 DAYS of rain!! Yikes, what is going to happen to our basement!

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