June, 2016

This winter and spring I was the JV Softball coach for Unionville High School.  Greg was the Varsity coach and Rachel was the Assistant Varsity coach.  For the months of March, April, and May, the commitment was about four hours each weekday, unless we had a game.  On game days, the commitment was usually more.   We won a decent amount of games and had a lot of fun.  The girls were all wonderful people and varied from good athletes to very good athletes.  Some will play in college.  In addition to the softball skills and physical conditioning, we spent a lot of time on the carryover aspects of playing a sport -- practicing to perform, mental discipline, individual performance within a team structure, focused concentration, and handling pressure.  It was a lot of fun, but took up so much time that I don't think we will do it next year.

Also in April, May, and June, Chris and I helped Rachel set up her post-graduate moves.  She will be working as a nurse on a psychiatric floor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  We also had a really nice visit from Mike and his fiance, Amanda.  They timed their visit from LA to overlap Rachel's graduation weekend, so we had a combined party to celebrate Mike and Amanda's engagement, Rachel's college graduation, and Kathryn's graduate school graduation.  The party was a very nice collection of friends, relatives, and neighbors.  We had a lot to be grateful for, including the love of these wonderful people who came to join our celebration.

I have been writing a lot over the winter and spring, which is ironic, considering how I have neglected this journal.  I finished a book with an actual plot that I originally called "Telekinetics Eat Free", but renamed to "She changed her mind..."  I made copies of it and hoped to get feedback from my family and friends, which didn't happen.  I intend to publish it anyway, I'm hoping later this year.  I started a new book, which is about me digging a hole in the backyard.  I think this one will be a pretty good read.  It's called "The Balderston Drive Conspiracy".  As on July 14, I'm about two-thirds finished with it. 

I missed the spring migration at the Delaware shore.  Reports were that there was a goodly number of migrating shorebirds in late May.  Everywhere, I saw lots of Tree Swallows, so those seem to have bounced back from a hard last few years.  Also we have been seeing more bats, which is awesome.  One evening, coming out of Jake's Bar in West Chester, we saw fifty to one hundred bats swooping above the street and eventually into a chimney across the street.  I did a number of walks with Beans along the Chester Valley Trail and several times saw the flock of about fifteen White-crowned Sparrows.  There were also very large numbers of Black Vultures in southeast PA, which could be a temporary invasion, but is more likely the result of their expanding range.  A few years ago, I saw lots of these at Conowingo Dam in northern Maryland, but did not see them around my area.  

I only did one walk at Exton Park this year so far.  That day, there were Yellow Warblers, Pine Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, three Snipes, and a Red-shouldered Hawk, plus the usual common songbirds.  

Chris and I took a birding trip to Bombay Hook where we saw a lot of water birds and a lot of Bald Eagles.  In one field we saw four adult eagles and six very recently fletched young eagles.  Here are two of them who have a fish.

 

 

 In late June, Chris and I spent a few mid-week days at Dewey Beach in Delaware.  Each morning we walked along the edge of the ocean, seeing glorious sunrises, finishing at Rehobeth Beach where we got breakfast.  We scoped out the Rehobeth Beach boardwalk and decided that would be a good place for an early morning birdwalk.  We were right.  We both spotted the unmistakeable blue of what we hoped was a Blue Grosbeak.  He flew before we got pictures, but we came back a half-hour later and saw him again.  We waited patiently for the light to be behind us to allow a decent picture.  In one pic, he looks thoughtful and glamorous.  In the other, he is singing loudly:

 

 

Blue Grosbeak, Rehobeth Beach Boardwalk, Delaware -- June, 2016

 

Back at home, a week or two into July, we started getting lots of Swallowtails on our Butterfly Bush.  One afternoon, we saw this beautiful specimen.  He's a little smaller than a Monarch.  It's a Great-spangled Fritillary.  Wikipedia says that his range on the east coast is as far north as North Carolina, so this guy is a long way from his buddies.  That also explains why we've never seen one before in Pennsylvania.