I was born in and grew up in southeastern Michigan. My dad, two sisters, and other family members still live there. So I was very excited to be able to combine a family visit to Michigan with Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit. I got to celebrate my dad's 91st birthday (twice) and also catch up with on-line friends that I haven't seen for while. I even got share a bit of the NN14 adventure with two of my sisters, who stayed with me for the first two nights.
I started the trip staying with my dad in my hometown of Adrian. My sisters and I helped him clean out and reorganize the house. It wasn't all drudgery - there were those two birthday parties, after all. Plus I was able to do a bit of birdwatching from his backyard, watching Chimney Swifts and Turkey Vultures careen overhead.
The search continues over the fold...
We also took walks to Trestle Park, just a couple of blocks from my dad's house. There, we were greeted by many of Michigan's most common birds, including much loved Northern Cardinals, American Robins (the state bird even though it should be Kirtland's Warbler), Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Phoebes, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a momma Mallard with her small clutch of chicks, and, among my favorites, Gray Catbirds.
We took a walk to Island Park where we got to see a family of Northern Flickers on a telephone pole - yellow-shafted as opposed to the red-shafted variety that are most common here in California. There were also lots of Brown-headed Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, House Wrens, a shy Belted Kingfisher pair, and even a Ground Hog grazing in one of the baseball fields.
On Wednesday, it was time to head to Detroit and the Cheers & Jeers dinner at Vicente's Cuban Cuisine. So many familiar faces from NN13 in San Jose as well as meet ups with Central Valley and San Francisco area Kossacks. Markos picked up the tab for the evening, including the yummy food and an open bar! Everyone had a splendid evening. It was a great way to start NN14.
The fun continued that night at the bar in the hotel lobby but there weren't any birds there...
Each day included a walk each way between the hotel and the NN14 venue at Cobo Center. The best route was along the water front. Being such an urban setting, the variety of birds was about what you'd expect - Ring-billed Gulls, more Robins, Rock Pigeons (at least one was sort of an unusual brick red color), and, somewhat surprising to me, lots of Barn Swallows.
There were many inspiring sessions and speeches at NN14. Several of the sessions about Detroit's emergency manager take over of schools and city finances (especially water shut downs, as I'm sure you are all aware) were downright frightening. Very much a cautionary tail for what can happen in any city.
Joe Biden was the first keynote speaker. I missed hearing Reverend Barber speak because of a family obligation. But I got to hear Elizabeth Warren speak - she's always an inspiration! And then Mark Ruffalo flew on stage just after Senator Warren speak to get everyone fired up for the march to protest the water shut offs that were taking place across the city - shut offs that were aimed at poor people. It was a wonderful and successful march (shut downs were suspended within a few days of the march and rally. I hope every NN going forward includes an action intended to help local citizens get something done.
Sunday morning, a few of us headed off to Belle Isle to see what we could see. We only had a short time because of other commitments (like catching a flight home) but we made the best of it. There was a Wood Duck with her crew of half grown chicks, a female Purple Martin on a wire, cute little chipmunks. Best of all, the company of fellow DKers!
If I ever find my missing card, I will be overjoyed to share some of the photos contained therein with all of you. If not, I'll be satisfied with the memories of the wonderful times I shared with family and friends on my summer vacation. I hope you will share your summer birding memories in the comments.
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7:43 AM PT: Attention all Dawn Choristers in the greater Sacramento area, the Central Valley, or even the Bay Area area - we are having a meet up with a special guest on Saturday, September 6. We'd love to see you there!. More info: http://www.dailykos.com/...