Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grief, Compassion, Fright, Confusion, & a bit of Silliness...

Events that happened over the weekend in Charlotte have created a somber mood at the office. Two Charlotte-Meckenberg police officers responded to a domestic on Saturday evening and were shot and killed on an apartment complex parking lot. The suspect, a twenty-five year old male with an assault record, has been taken into custody and so far the investigation finds no relation to the call on which the officers responded. Two young officers with families died over the weekend and the community mourns. One of them has a baby on the way. This is a story too commonly heard around the nation. Working in a law enforcement atmosphere, I am seeing men and women outwardly grieve for their counterparts. They are strong individuals with heavy hearts and show more compassion than the general public will ever see. Here is a poem that was passed through e-mail today, written by an officer in Delaware County, PA. It’s not Henry David Thoreau material, but comes from the heart of a law enforcer.

I fight not for glory or fame,
For they are momentary,
I fight for those who can’t.
I fight for the oppressed and the down trodden.
And if I should lose my life for these just causes, then I have no regrets,
For I serve to protect the innocent.
It matters not where or when,
For evil knows no boundaries.
Be it fire, flood, or the threat of tyranny,
I will not flee.
Justice is my weapon.
Faith is my shield.
Hope is my armor.
Cry not at my passing,
For it was my Honor to fight for you.
Shed not tears of sorrow,
But tears of joy,
For now,
I stand with God.

Ptlm. Mark Marchesi #2528
Parkside Police Dept. (Delaware Co, PA)


Fire ants (click to enlarge). Until I moved to NC, I never knew of the danger one might encounter with them. Last fall, our college conducted a fire drill and herded our group to an area with 8-10 inch tall mounds of volcano type ant hills – the homes of ants that will tear you up. We pranced around those hills of doom and I wondered what would happen if we would have mistakenly stepped on one. This is what might happen. Lately, I’ve been taking walks around campus with safety in mind! The untreated, open areas I gingerly pass through are now loaded with these horrendous hills of doom. At first, I was considering poking my finger in the hill but luckily gained my senses and tossed a stone on one of them to see how angry fire ants can be. They were HOT!

Parking lots are always filled with new finds and I'm still slowing down and stopping. Through my drivers’ side window, I saw a few of these congregating. Sparrows drive me crazy with identifications. The best guess I have is a juvenile Song Sparrow but what do I know? I spent twenty minutes with my field guide and I GIVE UP. The next time you fill your gas tank, be sure to have your camera with you! I always see something new and different.

Millie and Johnnie showing their bluebird bellies.

There is an undercurrent of strange behavior going on at my feeders and it’s freaking me out. During the past week or two, I’ve seen new birds at the feeders including grackles bathing in the pond, red-winged blackbirds devouring the BOSS, one house sparrow last week that I haven’t seen since, and the above large squawker, only once. I don’t know what happens during the day and I wonder why I haven’t seen goldfinches or titmice at the feeders lately and a few others I can count on. This large black bird visited my neighbors' yard and I rushed outside to get a shot two doors away from me. My reaction was to call in the dog army and I sent them out in an urgent mission before I took this photo, of course. It flew out but returned in less than five minutes.

"Squawk!!! Look what I have and I didn't need you! Nanny Nanny Boo Boo!” A Fish Crow and amphibian. Creep. Yea, I know they have to eat, but...

Are you tired of Mourning Doves? Join my club. Sick and tired, but this one was ready for a dive into the pond and watched me photo its lovely self.

There is something nice I saw today, though. I’ve seen nervous ground feeders and wonder what the brown bird could be. Not a wren…

Female Towhee. How cute! I saw a male once in January but she’s a lifer at my feeders!

To my birding mentors: Tell me if I’m wrong about these IDs. I'm getting quite used to my own mistakes. I can take it…

Ruth talked about her young nephew who is a bright naturalist. I’d like to mention Trixie’s daughter, Zoey, who I think is elementary age and has created her own birding blog. Check out her sketches, especially the “Jumpin’ Junco”


KGMom said...

Mary--can't help on the bird id-ing. Even though you are tired of mourning doves, the specificity of the feathers in your photo is astonishing, and quite beautiful.

Ruth said...

I have never seen a Towhee. I think Mourning Doves are elegant and beautiful. They are just so common. I visited Zoey's new blog. It's great!

LauraHinNJ said...

That looks like a small boulder you threw at those fire ants!


I'm sure it wasn't and am glad you didn't go poking your fingers in there instead.

Your bird ID's all look good to me, but (you expected the but, didn't you?) - the only way I know of to find a fish crow is by their voice. I think they look the same as american crows? Maybe a it smaller?

Whatever. Where did it find the frog? Glad it wasn't one of your koi!

I think I heard that about the policemen on the news over the weekend. I wouldn't expect a cop to be inspired to poetry, but know how a loss of one is a loss for all of them.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Hi Mary,

Science Chimp logging in to ID your parking lot birds as female house sparrows. You'll need to learn to hate them if you're checking bluebird boxes, as they often kill bluebirds and throw out their eggs. Nasty little boogers.

I never tire of modo's. Your photo is exquisite. Remember: Just because something's common (and eats you out of house and home) doesn't mean it's not lovely and desireable. Keep snapping. You're getting some exemplary bird pictures, and observations. Your mocha brown female eastern towhee is delicious.

Love the crow with the frog! Like Laura, I'd hesitate to ID it unless I heard it say UH-uh, which is what fish crows say, as opposed to CAWW! Ask it this:
Are you a common crow?
UH-uh! (An easy way to remember the fish crow's call--it sounds exactly as if it's saying NO in a lazy way.

dmmgmfm said...

I love your photos as always, Mary. You really have a knack for bewd pictures. Thank you for brightening my day!

Annie in Austin said...

The fire ant bites are like hideous little craters the next day - Philo and I have had a few encounters since we came here.

Mary, you will hate this part, and it is very creepy but I think I should warn you. One of the awful things that Fire Ants do is to swarm baby birds in nests. They go for the feet, and can cripple or kill the young birds.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Susan Gets Native said...

Well, Julie beat me to the ID, but hey...she's Julie freakin' Zickefoose, so she's allowed.

Fire ants. We've got them in the backyard. I desperately want to pour ant killer down into the mound, but we are anti-poison here at Susan Gets Native. I have read that they can even swim, so lakes and rivers aren't a deterrent. Maybe I can set them on fire?
I think they killed my bluebird babies last year. When I removed the bodies, I got bite quite a few times by little orange-red ants.
Then I discovered their lair. Damn it.

Have I started a trend with the word "bewds"?

Unknown said...

Hey Mary . . . I just took a Mourning Dove pic this weekend! I love them! I love their sound too. They are in my neighborhood but stay near the golfcourse and don't come to visit my feeders.

Fire ants. Bad. Stay away. SOOOO glad your arm didn't end up looking like the one in the picture on the link you posted. And, I must say, I got quite a chuckle out of their admonishment to not send live fire ants through the mail! Yikes! I'm imaging the secretary in their office who is charged with opening the mail! Not good! :)

Mary said...

Donna, mourning doves are very photogenic and eager to please.

Ruth, I've only seen a Towhee twice - a male once back in January and the female yesterday.

Laura, I don't remember hearing a voice from the crow as I had to be quick on the trigger to get both shots. I know the American Crow sound, though. This crow was larger.

Greetings, Science Chimp. Susan and Liza have educated me about the house sparrows. Drats. I find scum on parking lots. It's in my brain now - Uh-uh or CAW! Thanks!

Laurie, I hope you days are getting brighter out there!

Annie, we didn't have fire ants farther north, or if we did, I never felt threatened. I'll keep an eye on nests and what surrounds them!

Susan, yes, you used it once ("Mommy, look at all the pretty bewds!" in a post and it took off! If I had fire ants in my hard I'd bring in the engine company since Chloe can't keep her nose out of anything, proven one day when hornets stung the hell out of her.

Liza, that website made me scratch my head, too! Who would mail fire ants?

Jayne said...

We heard about those police officers on our news here... so very tragic. Prayers ascend for their families.

Mary, I am also soooo bad at sparrow ID! It frustrates me to no end.

Beautiful Towhee! I've not seen one in some time.

My mom stepped in a fireant hill once... really ugly results, let me tell you. Her poor feet took forever to heal. Vicious little critters!

Cuppa said...

Quite the collection of thoughts today. Thanks for each one.
Your post adds a bright touch to this rain drenched day here in my little corner of the world.

NatureWoman said...

I had to stop by to see what's going on in Mary's world because I miss your humor! Glad I did! I feel so bad for the police officers and their families. You're right, I hear that happen here too often, way too often. Over the most idiotic things that people do. Ohh, fire ants, I saw them in AZ and figured they were bad news.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Mary, is so sad what's happens with the two young officers.It's really a tragedy.

About the ants, I like the link to Fire Ants. What a fiery sting those Fire Ants do!

Love the bird's photos as always!
I think it's very, very difficult photograph birds, because they don't still. You did a good work here!

Thanks for your visit to my blog. The Dam is very close to my house and from my deck I can see all this beauty!

Mary said...

Cuppa, we're in for a sub-freezing Easter Weekend :o/

Pam, Glad to hear from you. I have been wondering how your Dad is doing!

Mary said...

Sonia, you are very lucky to see such a view!

Cathy said...

The tragedy with the young law officers makes me so angry. The poem was a powerful voice. We must be grateful to the men and women willing to commit their very lives to the protection of their fellow citizens. I have a friend whose son is in law enforcement. I know she worries every day.

Oh! Fire ants! I was birding and not watching my feet in Florida. I stepped over a cement parking lot curb and felt a soft 'phuuufh'
as my sneaker disappeared into a large ant mound. I didn't even glance down - I knew instantly what I'd done and jerked my foot out of there in a split second. A few seconds later the imprint of my shoe was FILLED with fire ants. I took a picture. I need to scan that and share it.

dguzman said...

Hi Mary--and anyone else unfortunate enough to have fire ants--I've heard the completely organic way to kill them is to take a shovelful from one mound and put it on the other mound, and vice versa. They will kill each other quickly! Now I never tried this, but many Texans swear by it.

I'm still dying to see a towhee--lucky you! Great photos as always!

Anonymous said...


First off I want to thank you for posting poem on your blog in April 2007 “Grief, Compassion, Fright, Confusion, & a bit of Silliness...” Being a Police Officer, the poem does explain the motivation and drive of an Officer to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for man-kind. However; I can not take credit for writing the poem. From what I understand it was written by Jon F. Hooper, and titled “I AM A WARRIOR”. So, he should get the credit. Thanks again for posting this poem.

Mary said...

Dear Mark,

Thank you for the correction. I work at a community college in Huntersville, NC in Public Safety. During the past two years, I have come to know police officers personally as we are involved in BLET and in-service and mandated training. I can't give enough praise to law enforcement personnel. You might enjoy my post entitled Police Academy - Not a Comedy


Blessings to you.


Rev. Peter Anton said...

Yes, I am tired of mourning doves. They are overpopulated in my area and most of them are not the kind I grew up with. You know, the ones with the classic and truly mournful song. These ones have are more insistent and aggressive. Are they a separate breed? Or is it a regional difference? (I know that wrens take on whatever local dialect is spoken in their area.) At any rate, they have lost my love and I would love to mourn their departure forever!

Otherwise a bird lover...