I am very fortunate in that I receive many photographs, topic ideas and other nature material from many of you, whether you live in our area or happen to be traveling to other parts of the country. When I started to write this column after taking over for Allen Benton, I wondered how Allen came up with so many topics over the years. I have now found out that in many cases, it was you, the readers, who really make this article.
I have received some interesting photos from an old friend, Leonard Catalano, who resides in Dunkirk but spends a good deal of his spare time, along with his family, in Florida. Leonard recently mailed me some interesting photos from that state. Looking at them - and then looking out the window to notice that I cannot even see the neighbor's house across the street due to the heavy snow that is falling - made me feel somewhat frustrated.
I thought it would be a good catharsis, given the circumstances, to discuss the photos Len sent to me, and to comment on those photos. In addition to Len, there are many other county residents who travel to other areas of the country and contribute topic ideas and photographs. In addition to these residents, my article predecessor and college professor, Allen Benton, as well as another old college professor, the late Willard Stanley, provided me many pictures from around the world that I use today.
Photos by Leonard Catalano
Birds found in Florida this time of year include, clockwise from above: the Brown Pelican, Great Egret, Peafowl and Great Blue Heron.
I have been fortunate enough to travel to more than 45 of our states, including Hawaii, as well as take side trips to Mexico and the Arctic circle. But due to the school-related nature of my travel, nature photography was not as easily possible for me to do as it is today.
Included are several of the pictures that Len sent to me, starting with the Brown Pelican. This bird is one of two members of the Pelican family found in our country, the other being the White Pelican. Both birds have been recorded in Western New York, according to records maintained by the Buffalo Ornithological Society. There is one record of a White Pelican, which was found in Chautauqua County several years ago, as found in my database from the old Chautauqua County Bird Hotline I maintained several years ago.
The Chautauqua birds were discovered by Mike Rosing, our waterfowl bander, and Joe Gula on April 13, 2006. They stayed until April 15. Joe summoned his friend, Bob Peterson, who photographed the birds, a copy of which is attached to this article.
Historically, Pelicans are considered maritime birds, meaning they are primarily oceanic. As we have learned over the years, storm systems have forced many bird species to arrive in uncommon inland locations, creating an ornithological excitement for local residents. Historical records of Pelicans indicate that normally the White Pelican will frequent fresh water while the Brown Pelican is primarily an oceanic bird and permanent resident of Florida. Pelicans will fish for food as far as 50 miles from shore.
The White Pelican will also live in a salt-water habitat during the winter. This Pelican is a large bird with a wing expanse of between eight and nine feet.
Three other species of birds included in Len's mailing were the Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and exotic Peafowl. The Peafowl is a member of the pheasant family and not found in our area, unless we go to a zoo. The Great Blue Heron and Egret are no strangers to people living in Chautauqua County, as they are commonly observed in many of our waterways. In fact, the herons have been known to nest in colonies known as rookeries, of which there was a well known one in the town of Arkwright several years ago. Former OBSERVER Publisher H.K.Williams photographed me with one of my several article predecessors, R.H. Hesselbart, observing this rookery.
As I was completing this article, an e-mail message popped in from Kurt Warmbrodt, regarding an overhead eagle sighting on Jan. 16 in Dunkirk. Wow, a new concept for another article. Remember, photographs and article suggestions can be sent to me by U.S. mail at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, and have a safe and enjoyable winter season.