Dec 2008 Prairie Falcon Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society

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Manhattan’s Annual Christmas Bird Count Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 Contact Dave Rintoul 785-5326615 or email him at drintoul@ksu. edu Manhattan Christmas Bird Count Potluck - Senior Center on 4th & Leavenworth. Begins at 6:00 pm. Everyone is invited to bring a dish to share. Free will donation is also an option Contact Carla Bishop at 539-5129 or cbishop@ksu. edu, if you have questions or wish to help in the setting up of the supper. Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society, P Box 1932, Manhattan, KS
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  prairie falcon Northern Flint Hills Audubon SocietyNewsletter    N  o  r  t   h  e  r  n   F   l   i  n  t   H   i   l   l  s   A  u   d  u   b  o  n   S  o  c   i  e  t  y ,   P .   O .   B  o  x   1   9   3   2 ,   M  a  n   h  a  t  t  a  n ,   K   S   6   6   5   0   5  -   1   9   3   2    P  r   i  n  t  e   d   b  y   C   l  a   f   l   i  n   B  o  o   k  s   &   C  o  p   i  e  s   M  a  n   h  a  t  t  a  n ,   K   S Inside pg. 2 - A Fine Gift at the Doordru clarkepg. 3 - Skylight pluspete cohenpg. 4 - Great Plains Nature Centerpg. 5-6 - BirdSeed Order Formpg. 7 - Take Note Upcoming Events: Dec. 4 -Board Meeting 6 p.m.(Tom & MJ Morgan Home)Dec. 6 - Birdseed PICKUP UFM, 9-12nDec. 13 - Monthly Birding with Dave RintoulMeet Sojourner Truth Park 8 a.m. Dec. 20 - Manhattan Christmas Bird CensusDec. 22 - Olsburg Christmas Bird Census Jan. 6 - Eagle Days, Tuttle Creek Lake Jan. 6 - Birdseed ORDER DEADLINE Jan. 17 - Birdseed PICKUP UFM, 9-12n  Vol. 37, No. 4 ~ December 2008 Manhattan Christmas BirdCount Potluck - Senior Centeron 4th & Leavenworth.Begins at 6:00 pm. Everyone is invited to bring a dish to share. Free will do-nation is also an option Contact Carla Bishop at 539-5129 or cbishop@ksu.edu, if you have questions or wish to help in the setting up of the supper. Manhattan’s Annual Christmas Bird CountSaturday, Dec. 20, 2008Contact DaveRintoul 785-532-6615 or email himat drintoul@ksu.edu  p.  Dec. 008 Prairie Falcon Newsletter    The sh twisted feebly, its slimy, steel-colored skin coated with ne gravel and sand, appearing to be weary of this place. Our deck was an odd spot to nd a dying sh; you’d as -sociate a scene like this more with the deck of a boat,far out to sea. But Ulta, our three-legged cat (whom  we refer to as our “marshmallow” because he is uffy, soft and fat), had turned from (inept) bird stalking  into a sher cat: he outstretched one tentative paw and tapped the sh lightly, his eyes xed on his prizecatch. Not wanting the sh to die (on our doorstep), Mike retrieved the cat and brought him inside wherehe sat, looking out longingly. We have a “catch and release” philosophy atour house, so I wetted a paper towel, slid past the cat, and picked up the now-quiet sh to return it to the creek just north of our house, hoping, as I paddedquickly along, that it would revive. There was plenty of water in the creek this year, due to unusually wet conditions, but we had never seen a sh this big in it. It may have come from an upstream pond, or swumupstream from some deeper reaches along the creek  on a neighbor’s land. The sh was a good size, about seven inches,rmly muscled and sleek, like a torpedo, with an under-slung mouth and smooth skin. If it had scales, they were minute and unrecognizable. An iridescentblue spot glowed at the base of its tail. It exhibitedthe neness ratio beautifully: this is when the length A Fine Gift at the Door Dru Clarke of the sh divided by its diameter lies somewhere below  or above 4.5, the perfect equivalent of streamlined, high- efciency swimming. Bluen tuna, sailsh, marlin, and mackerel have it, as do orcas and other dolphin species:they are the speedsters of the aquatic realm. Here was afreshwater ace, and I hoped it would swim again.When I place it in the cold water, it pumped itsgills furiously and tried to swim upstream, but weakened from its ordeal, it oated to a leaf pack and stayed there.Clad only in my pajamas, I ed to the house, not know  -ing if it would recover.Inside, I looked at Ulta and shook my head. Thecompanion cat is capable of providing warmth and sol- ace: when tired, depressed, in pain, ill, or merely reec - tive, a person responds to the cat’s presence. (When Iherniated a disc in my back and couldn’t sleep in a bed, I tried to get some rest in a recliner. Every night I was there, Matum, Ulta’s athletic brother, would nd my lapand warm my painful left side.) We know that oxytocin (a pleasure-producing hormone) levels rise when onestrokes a cat. But, if one admires, enjoys, and yes, loves birds, the cat’s appeal diminishes. So, maybe it is good when they turn to shing – or, maybe not. Does it de -pend on what they catch?I went back to the creek after I had put on some  warm clothes, and the sh had disappeared. I believe that it did survive and that once again it would show off its prowess in swimming. Fineness is a good concept, I think, especially when you nd it in a gift at the door.   © 2008 Dru Clarke   Dec. 008 Prairie Falcon Newsletter p.  Skylight plus Pete Cohen Now comes December, sadly not welcomed by  those who resonate with the blues singers who “hate to see that evening sun go down” or nd that “nights are long, oh so long, on the prairie” (without someone tolove). But those of us who can revel in celestial dark- ness have the year’s greatest feast, the longest nights, the chances to partake at the more normally convenient hours, provided we can nd those areas where the feastis available. Areas becoming increasing rare. “Tis dearness only that give everything its value,”  Thomas Paine observed in The American Crisis, by way of rousing the American colonists to rebellion. He wasreferring to FREEDOM (his capitals) but his observa -tion can apply broadly. I think of the lady, a residentof Kansas City, who recently, upon hearing that I live inthe rural Flint Hills, sighed wistfully, “You get to see theMilky Way.” In fact, I do every cloudless night. It’s not really  rare, yet like freedom I think it, with the essential dark- ness that hosts it, has a certain basic value that doesn’t diminish with repetition, but which can be enhanced by being repeatedly obscured by glarish or blank brightness. This may be mere personal attitude, but then, whencethe attitude? I read variously credentialed reports of how darkness affects certain chemical responses in hu- mans, as well as other organisms. Dark skies are, there -fore, I would say a mind-altering substance that has thusfar escaped widespread regulation because all of our “ar- ticial” lighting thus far generally cuts off our responses before we have a chance to feel them.So I wonder what if the effect of darkness were to gradually to become stronger because of all the increasing interim deprivation – the way a germ or drug can hit hardest those who have had the least experience  with it. Supposing at some tipping point people werethus to become so unprepared for the jolts of night they encounter by happenstance that they thus become im-pelled to begin shooting-up on darkness? Sneaking out Here’s to the stars that sparkle so bright,Here’s to the dark that’s around them.We admire each sparkBut were it not for the dark No one would ever have found them. to where the shadows fall for another x of  it. Outside of reducing the strain on our energy supplies, I wonder what other effects might occur.I can recall when beyond Broadway a neon sign was an oddity – usually a small isolated glow modestly spelling out the name of a town’s diner. It  was once thought, and more recently, that 1 and 2%bank interest was a thing of the past. So dim, too,may become fashionable again. Meanwhile, December gets started with  Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon forming a trio of dark-ness-enhanced brilliance in the SW after sunset. Fullat its nearest distance for the year, this time it willglow without restraint on the 12th then outshine mostof the Geminid meteor shower on the 13th. Regulus, at the bottom of Leo the Lion’s backward question mark, will pierce the darkness near the Moon on the16th while Saturn dances ever earlier in the wee hoursto be the bright spot near the Moon before midnighton the 17th. The more prominent Jupiter and theelusive Mercury will have a kind a Mutt and Jeff lightshow in the SW twilight glow the 28th and 29th, with Venus and the Moon having a unhidden affair the30th and 31st, and again bright Sirius will cross the central meridian near midnight to mark our calendar’s new year.  The avian Summer Triangle of the Lyre Bird’s Vega, Cygnus the Swan’s Deneb, and Aquila theEagle’s Altair will contrast with the northwestern eve - nings’ darkness as the last two slide down the Milky   Way (with Vega a little northward out of the stream), while a rather lonely Fomalhaut, of the SouthernFish, will wink away low in the southwest. The wintersolstice will occur at 6a04 on the 21st. and the Moonhaving been full on the 12th (at 10a37) will be new the27th at 6a22. © 2008 Peter Zachary Cohen   p.  Dec. 008 Prairie Falcon Newsletter Great Plains Nature Center Dir. Bob Gress If you missed last month’s program, featuring Bob Gress - you really missed a great program. His slide show was beautiful andhis talk informative and entertaining.He also had “free” posters, and booklets (see below) that arepublished for the Great Plains Nature Center. Go online to htt://www.gpnc.org and you will nd all sorts of information- including directions. So the next time you are thinking about a day trip or going to Wichita - stop by. The Koch Habitat Hallis a must see.  THANK YOU Bob for the wonderful program.
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