Hear­ing the hum­ming­birds

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

Ev­ery year, right around tax day, I get out the steplad­der and pull down a box off the top shelf in the garage. This year, be­cause of the warm April weather, I did that chore a lit­tle ear­lier and put up the hum­ming­bird feed­ers be­fore Easter in an­tic­i­pa­tion of those tiny winged vis­i­tors from afar.

All my wish­ing and hop­ing and early prepa­ra­tion didn’t seem to make a dif­fer­ence, though, be­cause the first hum­ming­bird of the sea­son didn’t make his ap­pear­ance un­til this past Satur­day.

I heard him on Fri­day af­ter­noon. It’s a unique sound you can’t con­fuse with the buzzing of a bee or drone of a plane en­gine over­head. I’d spent a lot of idle hours in the front yard wait­ing for the first sight­ing, giv­ing the im­pres­sion I was laz­ing about with the kids in the sun, but hav­ing much no­bler in­ten­tions ac­tu­ally.

It wasn’t un­til Satur­day morn­ing that I fi­nally caught sight of the lit­tle guy. There’s only one kind of hum­ming­bird in Mary­land and chances are nearly 100 per­cent that any hum­ming­bird you see is a ruby-throated. This bird was a dark, iri­des­cent green with a splen­did red patch right on his neck. I’ve only seen this one so far, but I’m sure as the week goes on I’ll be see­ing more of his kind.

Ac­cord­ing to some of the in­ter­ac­tive maps that pin­point the ex­act dates and lo­ca­tions of the first hum­ming­birds of the sea­son, there have been sight­ings across South­ern Mary­land since the be­gin­ning of April. My guess is those birds were just pass­ing through to more northerly sum­mer ranges.

I didn’t dare peek at the map un­til af­ter I’d seen my first hum­ming­bird with my own two eyes. While hav­ing in­for­ma­tion at our fin­ger­tips is of­ten help­ful, I like mak­ing my own ob­ser­va­tions and stay­ing in sync with na­ture by pay­ing at­ten­tion with my own senses. It’s just more en­joy­able that way some­times.

Last sum­mer, I had the rare chance to hold one of those tiny crea­tures in the palm of my hand. A fe­male ven­tured into our garage when the bay door was open and got cov­ered in sticky cob­webs as she tried to nav­i­gate her way back out. Her abil­ity to fly was about zero, and I just picked her right up off the floor.

I had never been that close to a hum­ming­bird, and it was a thrill to gently hold her and get an eye­ful. Once I had her in my hand, she was quite docile and I used a pair of tweez­ers to care­fully re­move the cob­webs. Af­ter giv­ing her a minute’s rest, I opened up my hand she flew off. We saw her a lit­tle while later at one of our feed­ers no worse for wear. I hope she makes it back again to our yard this sum­mer.

Bike rodeo com­ing Sun­day

There’s an en­tirely dif­fer­ent kind of rodeo tak­ing place in Lexington Park this com­ing week­end. The Ch­e­sa­peake Pub­lic Char­ter School’s Bike Rodeo will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 30 in the Great Mills High School

park­ing lot.

This year’s “Up­cy­cling Sta­tion” will fea­ture the friendly (or should I say en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly?) cou­ple Dawn and Chuck Fer­gu­son from Dover, Del., who make door­mats from re­cy­cled tires. They take post-con­sumer tires, pri­mar­ily from mo­tor­cy­cles, and trans­form them into durable, long-last­ing door­mats.

Weigh­ing on av­er­age 15 pounds, these door­mats are not go­ing to blow away or de­te­ri­o­rate in the el­e­ments. The Fer­gu­sons have had the same door­mat on their steps for over 35 years now and it’s still go­ing strong.

You can watch the Fer­gu­sons demon­strate how they make the door­mats and even help weave your own. Door­mats come in as­sorted sizes and no two are iden­ti­cal. If you like to live life in the fast lane, they’ll have a few spe­cial edi­tions made from drag-racing tires that have clocked over 150 mph at the track.

Each re­cy­cled door­mat keeps at least one dis­carded tire out of the ditch, wet­lands, field or land­fill. And I don’t need to re­mind you that old tires are mos­qui­tos’ fa­vorite breed­ing grounds. Some pro­ceeds of each sale go to CPCS.

Ev­ery­one is in­vited to this bike safety rodeo. All chil­dren must be ac­com­pa­nied by an adult and wear a bike hel­met. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Holly Cal­abro at hb­cal­abro@sm­cps.org.

Youth events up­com­ing

It’s spring derby sea­son. If you have young­sters at home, this is a great time of year to in­tro­duce them to fish­ing. It’s a life-long hobby that’s guar­an­teed to get them out­side, con­nect­ing with na­ture.

The Spring 2017 Fishin’ Bud­dies Derby will take place at Gil­bert Run State Park in Dentsville from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 6. The man­agers at the park have said the bluegill are al­ready show­ing up in the shal­lows, mak­ing worms fished un­der a bob­ber a great way for kids to catch their first fish.

An­glers will com­pete by teams, which must in­clude one adult 21 or older and one child be­tween the ages of 6 and 15. Bank an­glers will com­pete sep­a­rately from those who fish from boats. Tro­phies will be awarded in the two age di­vi­sions, and all teams are el­i­gi­ble for a plethora of door prizes that have been do­nated by lo­cal busi­nesses. And lunch will be pro­vided for all par­tic­i­pants.

The cost is $7 per team. Regis­tra­tion forms are due by May 3 and are avail­able at Gil­bert Run Park or the main of­fice of the Depart­ment of Recre­ation, Parks and Tourism in Port To­bacco. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 301-932-3470.

The an­nual Youth Fish­ing Rodeo at St. Mary’s River State Park is sched­uled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 13. St. Mary’s Lake is a great des­ti­na­tion for chil­dren to learn how to fish and they’ll have the op­por­tu­nity to catch all sorts of species from bluegill and bass to crap­pie and pick­erel.

The event is catch and re­lease and open to chil­dren 15 and younger. Nightcrawlers will be pro­vided, but par­tic­i­pants are wel­come to bring their own tackle and use baits or lures of their choice. Prizes will be awarded.

Mar yland State Salt­wa­ter As­so­ci­a­tion vol­un­teers will be on hand to as­sist. MSSA will also hold a cast­ing con­test and pro­vide hot dogs, chips and drinks to par­tic­i­pants af­ter the rodeo. Regis­tra­tion is re­quired. To reg­is­ter for this free event or for more in­for­ma­tion, call 301-8725688.

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