I listen to a wide variety of music, but I really prefer music that has a live, unrehearsed feel to it. I like a band or performer who puts a lot of emotion into what they're doing. A lot of music is over produced for the purpose of selling more records. Good music doesn't need a lot of production. That's what I like about traditional bluegrass. It doesn't sound overly produced. The performances stand on their own. Bluegrass also conveys to me an image of a simpler life. Man's attempt to continually fix the world has made life more complicated than it needs to be.
After a couple of missed turns I found my way into Stanley Park. There seems to be different sectors of this park. I started out in an area that had several Crab apple Trees with fruit still intact. I spent about 45 minutes there watching birds feeding on crab apples in the tree and on the ground. I first noticed American Goldfinches eating small dark fruit from one of the trees. I thought this to be odd because I'm pretty sure that they are primarily seed eaters. I wonder if they were extracting the seeds from inside the fruit the way that Pine Grosbeaks do? Then there were the robins, including the two seen in the top photo. They were stuffing their faces at a pretty good rate. I noticed that they paid no mind to the goldfinches but when some Cedar Waxwings showed up they really ganged up on them. They chased the waxwings off in a very noisy show of force. I did capture a video of a Cedar Waxwing eating crab apples, but due to the rain and lighting, it was very grainy . There were some Brown Cowbirds, European Starlings, and Common Grackles feeding in the grass across the way. Of course, there were many other birds in the area but I like to focusing on birds that were the most significant to me. The ponds in Stanley Park didn't produce any surprises for me. There were Mallards, domestic geese, and Canada Geese.
My next stop was Batterson Pond. I pulled off in an area that offered access to the pond along a stretch of grassy area. There were about 14 Hooded Mergansers there, but outside of Mallards, I have a hard time sneaking up on waterfowl. When I moved towards them, they moved away from me. We were like two repelling magnets. I tried sneaking up behind a tree but they knew it! Anyway, here's a photo(above) of two that I saw there. Maybe I should paint the hood of my sweatshirt to look like a male Hooded Merganser next time. I also some Ring-necked Ducks, a Belted Kingfisher, and a few gulls here but not much else.
I'm going to talk about the European Starling a little bit. Most of you know that starlings are not native to North America. One hundred birds were released in New York City's Central Park in the 1890's. They were released by a group of people that wanted to bring all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's works to America. Since then, their population has grown to an estimated 200 million birds. Many people hate these birds with a passion. They are known to aggressively compete with other native species of birds for nesting cavities. Although, from what I have read thus far, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only species whose population decrease has been proven to be directly linked to starlings. They form large flocks that can make quite a mess and can wipe out your backyard suet cakes in no time. They are also a problem for farmers who grow fruit crops because they consume a lot of fruit. There is another side to the story though. Some of their habits are considered beneficial in that they eat insects including clover weevils, cutworms, ants, wasps and several types of beetles.
I'm not trying to convince anyone to be an admirer of the starling. I'm just pointing out that as with anything else there is more than one side to the story. If there is good reason for having to control their population, then so be it. I will say this though; the starling didn't ask to be introduced here, so what sense does it make to be angry at them for being here? They may not be a native species but they have certainly done a good job of surviving. Isn't trying to survive what a species is supposed to do? It doesn't seem that they're going away anytime soon. I'll bet that if they're near extinction in 50 years there will be people that desperately try to bring them back. We have a habit of killing things off then trying to bring them back. Although starlings aren't one of my favorites birds, they can be very interesting to watch.
So with that, I will leave you with a video of 3 starlings taking a bath in a puddle on a rainy day.