Sky Meadows double loop

On my way out to visit Charlie, I took a fairly easy double-loop hike in Sky Meadows State Park. I didn’t push very hard on the climb, taking the shortcut across on the Gap Run Trail, which proved to be very good for singing Wood Thrush. Acadian Flycatchers, a pair of Scarlet Tanagers, and several Indigo Buntings also were heard and seen.

The mostly sunny, sweaty summer day was also pretty good for butterflies, in particular a Zebra Swallowtail or two hanging out around its larval host plant, Common Pawpaw.

not quite sureI followed the Snowden loop (I think this trail is new to me): some gentle climbing as the loop reaches the southern edge of the park property. This trail was much less busy than the ridge trails. At the second stream crossing (not much more than a trickle), I pulled out my camera to photograph an interesting orange and black guy (he didn’t stick around), but I did get a snap of what I’m pretty sure is a Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton).

Best bird of the day was a Brown Thrasher checking out a ripening patch of (alas, abundant) Wineberry.

All told, about 3 miles in 3:00.

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At the park: 92

Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser trend chart



From my summary report to the team:

As for predation by the snakes, I wouldn’t move any of the boxes just on the evidence of this season. Last year it was boxes #1 and #3 where we had a problem; this year it was #7 and #62.

no TyphaLocal conditions around box #69 have changed. Past years, it was overrun with Typha sp. by mid-May. This year, it remained clear of veg.

As for nest structures for Mallard and American Black Duck, let us know where you’ve placed them and we will try to work them into our monitoring routine. My references show that the nesting season for these birds extends later into the summer, so we would have the opportunity to extend our work season.

A pattern that I’ve noticed over the years is that the fledge-to-eggs ratio for Hooded Merganser is usually higher than that for Wood Duck. A couple of hypotheses:

(1) Since the mergs start laying eggs a little earlier than the woodies, perhaps they out-compete them and occupy the more favorable boxes for that year. (We don’t see that one species is particularly faithful to a box, and indeed since we see a few mixed clutches, a box may be considered favorable by both species.)

(2) We are more likely to see “dump” and “drop” nests for the woodies: boxes with 20+ eggs. And with these jumbo clutch sizes, it’s more difficult to incubate all the eggs sufficiently.

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Couldn’t hurt

culpritO Gray Catbird, who have been tapping at your reflection in my window glass, maybe if I post your picture on the internet you’ll be embarrassed and cut it out.

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Busted²

Filip Bondy’s piece about using video to apply an equalizing scale to home runs, irrespective of peculiar ballpark topography, warrants a dubious achievement award for a lede that promises something the story doesn’t deliver:

Spoiler alert: If you wish to continue enjoying gargantuan home runs in the future with unspoiled pleasure, free of all polynomial equations, read no further. If you persist, however, then there is much math to consider.

Continue on, dear reader, but you will find nary an exponent—indeed, not even any arithmetic.

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Peculiar muzak: 4

Portishead, “Sour Times,” in the Unique thrift store in Merrifield.

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Half dome

peekabooThe view from the National Gallery East Building’s roof terrace. The art downside is not so bad either, although Leta and I miss the two Sol LeWitt wall drawings that used to be there.

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HIR

Emily Townley brings considerable skill to the role of Paige, the long-suffering mother of a dysfunctional family in this preachy satire with themes of gender fluidity and the fight between chaos and control. She delivers a rainbow of colors in her line readings; of particular note is Paige’s signature phrase, “It’s fantastic,” when reality is anything but. Alas, the events that unfold constitute little more than a revenge fantasy.

Misha Kachman’s first act set is a treat, dressed in glitter, googly eyes, feather boas, and TP sculptures, and a smiley-face throw pillow. It’s as if a tornado blew through a Michael’s.

  • HIR, by Taylor Mac, directed by Shana Cooper, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington
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In his field

Kriston Capps profiles D.C. artist Kenneth Young, one of the Washington Color School painters (Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Alma Thomas, and others). He explores an unintended happy consequence:

… the collapse of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, … for better or worse, brought Young and many other Washington painters to greater prominence. The 2014 court-ordered agreement that dissolved the historic Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design—handing the collection over to the National Gallery and the college to George Washington University—divested hundreds of paintings by D.C. artists (and thousands of other artworks) to the nation’s official art treasury. When the East Building reopened in September, the new installation of the permanent collection included 43 artworks on view from the Corcoran’s holdings.

Sidebar: a timeline of the Washington Color School.

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Enroute: 14

new bloomA lovely “bloom” of one of our common yellow myxomycetes in the Ridge Heights meadow.

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Sugarloaf loop

Too long away from the park, I set aside today for an easy 5-mile loop using the AT, Sugarloaf Trail, Pole Bridge Link Trail, and Keyser Run Fire Road.

Top bird sighting for the walk was a couple of female American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla).

pinkThe Sugarloaf Trail has a big swath of Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) just coming into bloom. Less easy to ID to species were several patches of pinxter azalea—given the conflicting keys in the Flora of Virginia and Newcomb, I’m going to call this just Rhododendron sp.

tiny, tiny flowersI had more success keying out a saxifrage that was having a great time in the stream of Keyser Run, and this Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa), a plant that I’ve seen before, but perhaps never before in (tiny, tiny) flower.

crossinghanging onAlong the multiple streams of Piney River, I found one of my favorites, Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)—a little past its prime.

as close as I cared to beThis guy? I gave him his space.

Making the climb up Hogback Mountain, I found a very hungry Microtus vole, who hung around long enough for some views, but no good photographs.

I covered the 5-mile loop in a very leisurely 4:35. According to my notes, I made this same hike in February 2008 in 2:30. There’s less to see and hear in February; I took a long time waiting for those butterflies; and I carried a few more cookies up Hogback Mountain than I did nine years ago.

slightly wornBest invertebrate of the walk was Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), found in a small group on the AT near the parking lot. This individual, albeit a bit banged up, gave me a reasonable look.

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Hundslappadrifa

Icelanders strive to maintain their native language as an option for communication with computers, as well as something that its children can read and speak.

Most high schools are also waiting until senior year to read works by the writer Halldor Laxness, the 1955 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who is buried in a small cemetery near his farm in western Iceland.

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At the park: 91

A report from the 14th:

Greetings, duck boxers! The 14th saw hatching evidence in 5 more boxes, bringing the season total to 7 boxes with hatched eggs. Unfortunately, it appears that box #62 was predated, at least in part; Paul evicted a Black Rat Snake from the box.

In box #10, eggs were in the process of hatching; the female Wood Duck attempted to entice us away from the box with a broken wing distraction display.

the view from box #13With the holiday and such, the 4th of June makes more sense for our next work day. We will need to check only 6 remaining boxes, so the morning should go quickly. Among these are #10 and #13, which might possibly have a second clutch started.

Bird of the day was Acadian Flycatcher, heard quite distinctly in the woods on the way to the boardwalk.

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.d0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet

Pointless Theatre’s latest offering is an interesting blend of low- and high-tech stick puppetry and video projections. In a strange futurescape populated only by robots — yet powered by the life forces of Navi, the one remaining human — a small glitch in the system becomes transformative. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough plot or distinct characterization to carry the story. All of it is falls on the shoulders of Navi (ably performed by the nimble-tongued Navid Azeez).

  • .d0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet, Pointless Theatre, Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, Washington
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At the park: 90

From my last report to the nest box team:

Much activity in the boxes so far this year! We’ve had nests in 14 of the 16 boxes. Of these, box #2 has already hatched out (unfortunately, only 8 of 22 eggs hatched). Also, oddly and sadly, box #6 hatched just one Hooded Merganser egg while the 13-15 Wood Duck eggs did not hatch. Kat reported the sounds of pipping in box #1.

So we should have several more boxes hatched out for our next session, on 14 May. For 28 May, I think that we will just spot check known active nests. Depending on what we find then, we can make a call on when and what to do in June.

Bonus birds from last Sunday were Prothonotary Warbler (heard, and seen by some) and Red-eyed Vireo (heard, perhaps seen).

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Fun Home

Alison Bechdel’s unflinching memoir, translated into musical theater, has effectively managed the transition from chamber musical to a more conventional proscenium, big-theater setting. Nevertheless, it is the quieter song moments that are most effective: Abby Corrigan captures the joy of Medium Alison’s “Changing My Major” with her voice and without overselling the number physically; Alessandra Baldacchino’s reading of Small Alison’s “Ring of Keys” is confident and still fresh. The cast is well supported by the sound team, allowing characters to turn upstage when it’s natural to do do without losing audibility.

  • Fun Home, music by Jeanne Tesori, book & lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, directed by Sam Gold, National Theatre, Washington
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