Hearing the hummingbirds
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.