.......and Reflections

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"the middle of nowhere" is where truth is often different than perception. My house, a case in point

I live in Lakewood, Ohio. It's an older suberb of Cleveland. Nothing wrong with that except it is not, by any stretch, a preferred nature lovers choice of residence. Downtown Cleveland is a 15 minute commute. I live in a double, in rows upon rows of other doubles and similarly spaced single family homes probably established in the 1940's or there about.

My house faces a busy suburban street and Interstate 90 is about a block south of my house. Freeway traffic is easily heard and my house is occasionally in the flight path for landing jets at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The Airport isn't that close but I can still hear jets roaring on take-off, when atmospheric conditions are favorable.

My lot is 45 ft.x 183 ft. deep. The houses on both sides of mine are 15 ft. from my house. It takes me 12 minutes to cut my lawn. About 50% of the property is house, garage and driveway and the rest is yard mostly in the back and fenced in. In short, if I lived in a wonderful place surrounded by nature, where I live now would not be a place I would choose to go birding.

It is easy to portray 15533 Delaware Avenue as "nowhere". In natural history terms it is as described, pretty much "nowhere".

But wait. There's more.

My house is 2 miles from the south shore of Lake Erie and about seven tenths of a mile east of the Rocky River that flows south to north and empties into Lake Erie. This river corridor is protected by the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation. I have a large ornamental Flowering Dogwood tree and a large Mulberry tree in the back as well as some shrubs, small trees and a White Pine that provide cover. The front has a tree lawn Maple and a cultivar Locust tree. One quadrent of the back yard is a complex of bird feeding stations; surprise, surprise!

I keep a yard list. I have lived many places, suburban and rural, and I always keep track of birds and wildlife where I live. I have kept a "yard" birdlist in this yard since April 2008. It is without contention, the biggest bird list of any place I have ever lived. The place is nothing to "write home about". But the more importantly it is in a very special place.....location, location location.

It turns out that my house is strategically located in a major spring and fall migration location, close to Lake Erie and the Rocky River. The Lake Erie shoreline and the Rocky River are migration corridors for virtually all migrating birds in this region. Bird migration in Northern Ohio is phenominal and Lakewood has a rich and contiuing ornithological legacy.

Here are some examples of the 104 species on my yard bird list:

10 species of raptors, including Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon
16 species of Warblers
5 species of Swallows
9 species of Sparrows
5 species of Finches and allies

Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Black-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Brown Thrasher, Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Common Loon, Great Blue and Green Herons, Great Crested Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird and other birds are among the unexpected from this yard. The list is growing as I dedicate more time during migration events to focus just on what goes through my yard, utilizes the feeders and fly-by on their epic spring and fall migrations.

The reason I am posting this story is that I walked outside with my morning coffee and heard a Wilson's Warbler in the Locust tree. Then I saw a Magnolia Warbler and then a Wilson's Warbler and a Red-eyed Vireo, all in the same tree. As I watched I saw and heard two Green Herons flying through. The list of species so far this morning is 28. Not too bad for a "nowhere" kind of place.

The truth about "the middle of nowhere" is often very different from perception. There are wonderful discoveries to be made in many of the last places one would expect. "Nowhere" and the middle of it, is in some ways, a state of mind as much as a place. My Grand Daughter Ella finds the middle of nowhere in a sand box. "Nowhere" can be in your yard, your neighborhood, in a city park, Yellowstone National Park or the Beartooth Widerness. Exploring the "middle of nowhere" can be very serendipitous and often very rewarding.

Go explore some "nowhere".

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