Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Digging canals

The Washington neighborhood of Georgetown is a colonial outpost on the slopes of the Piedmont, near the intersection of Rock Creek and the Potomac River. Rock Creek flows from the uplands of Montgomery County and all the way through the District before meeting up with the Potomac near Watergate. Along the way, it passes the magnolia-choked hills of Georgetown. Here, catbirds and mockingbirds find sanctuary from the metropolis. Just a couple blocks south of busy M Street is the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal, a narrow waterway, right, that parallels the Potomac. There was once a plan for the C&O to link the Potomac and Ohio watersheds, but the railroad beat the canal to it in the 1850s. The canal's old-fashioned locks still work, and tour boats ply the waters.

Down south

By now, you've most likely heard about the bizarre twist in the already bizarre story of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. He wasn't on the Appalachian Trail but in South America, where he has a ladyfriend. So forget about the idea that he's just an outdoors-y type hoping to get away from it all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wild governor

News came across yesterday that the governor of South Carolina had disappeared for several days. His wife didn't know where he went or his staff. Where was he? Hiking the Appalachian Trail naturally. He finally checked in today. He said he left to "write something." And some of us manage to write in offices!

Really though, who's to question the need to run off to the AT? Or to write something in the woods? Way to go, Gov. Sanford.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Burn on

Summer is finally here and temps are in the 80s, though our astronomical spring will go down as the wettest in history.

Thanks to the correspondents for keeping me up on the latest nature news. The New York Times printed a story about the rebirth of the Cuyahoga River, which flows from the uplands east of Cleveland and makes a large arc before emptying into Lake Erie downtown. To quote a favorite sportscaster of mine, how do you put out a fire on a river? With wood?

The Detroit Free Press posted an article more than a week ago about the return of Kirtland's warblers to the northern part of Lower Michigan. The rare birds have jumped in numbers tenfold in about 20 years.

Last, some Chicagoans are pushing for the conversion of an old railroad right-of-way into a park that would stretch westward from about 1800 North near the North Branch of the river. New York did something similar just recently in the Meatpacking District.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Urban wildlife

We've reported on Chicago's coyotes and even mountain lions in the past, but NPR broadcast a story that provides more detail on coyotes in particular. I've seen a couple coyotes in Chicago and in recent years the "prairie wolves" have made waves when one walked into a sandwich shop in the Loop. An Ohio State professor reports that a whopping 2,000 coyotes live in Chicago. They help control the canada goose population and can cover a range of 50 square miles in just one evening.

Hello larid

A flock of ring-billed gulls has become a regular presence in the outfield at Cleveland Indians' games at Progressive Field. It's been a little strange, but it wasn't a big deal until a gull factored into the Tribe's win on Thursday. A base hit to center deflected off a gull and past the Royals' center fielder. The hit came with a runner on second in a tie game and scored the winning run in the ninth. The Indians are now looking at ways to chase off the larids. Here in Chicago, we used border collies for a while at some of the beaches. It didn't last. Maybe the Indians call in the mysterious Starling Whisperer of Decatur.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Squirrel return

A fox squirrel terrorized the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox tonight in Comerica Park, stopping action a few times. The brazen sciurid charged across the outfield and along the warning track at one point. It then eluded a group of hapless groundskeepers. For a time, it was resting on top of the outfield fence. It lounged like some do in our maples here with limbs splayed and body flush with branch. According to this account, the squirrel eventually was captured in Boston's dugout.

Vicious cycle

Thanks to one of the correspondents for this link to a blog post from a Giro d'Italia rider. Wow, 6,450 calories in one day. I felt really tired just reading this. The Giro went to Russian rider Denis Menchov.