Monday 15 January 2007


I just got back from a wonderful afternoon lunch break at the Arb.
The birding was not particularly different from what it was when I went there the 20 or so times before (as I said, wonderful) but a flock of 7 Eastern Bluebirds up close or 19 American Tree Sparrows were real treats.
Something was different though, and that was the landscape. The weather has been crazy here lately and as one of the results of last night's follies everything in and around Ann Arbor today was - and in fact still is - covered in ice and icicles, the magic of icy rain.
Yes I know, icy rain is pure horror for those who have to live in the outdoors permanently, like wild birds, and I do feel worried about them, but the trees and the forest and tall grass prairies are just wonderful when they are covered in ice and have a Northern Cardinal perched on them somewhere. I have to admit that things were not perfect because the sun wasn't out, the sky was of a monotonous but bright grey, almost white and blending with the landscape below it. But the atmosphere was just beyond description, so I'll stop and post some pictures soon.
How without a digital camera?
Well, I did take my ordinary old and trusty analog camera with me (for the youngsters: this is something where the light falls onto gelatin and some silver stuff that's pasted to a stiff plastic foil and then you have to send light through this to produce pictures on paper) and as soon as the film is used up I'll have it developed and the images digitalized for the blog.

But what inspired me to today's blog entry was not directly what happened outside but what happened inside once I was back at my apartment:
I was cold and wet (there was a constant slight drizzle of sleet or rain), my hands and feet were stiff and when I looked outside my apartment window I noticed it had started to snow and the wind had picked up.

[Now that I mention it: I now know why we still don't have a decent snow cover in Ann Arbor. Snow fall here is always associated with high winds and I have never seen snow actually fall, I only saw it rushing past in a horizontal line. So we do get lots of snow here but it just doesn't hit the ground, it gets blown all the way down south until it finally turns into rain and troubles the 'pecker searchers in Florida.]

Anyway, I got distracted there. I was cold and so on and now here's what I simply had to do to recover:

some Après-Birding.

Never heard of it and clueless how to do it in a decent yet proper way?
I thought so, so here is the remedy:

This is what you need:
- a few cinnamon sticks (don't worry, Sharon, not the furry one)
- roughly half a litre of water
- a cup of milk
- a teaspoon of honey (or a bit more)
- a teaspoon of instant coffee
- half a teaspoon of cocoa powder
- an armchair
- a window with a view towards a tower that's got some Peregrines on it.

Cooking directions:
- Place cinnamon sticks in pot with water and boil/simmer for a good hour or so (this can be done in advance and the concentrate kept in the fridge for a few days).
- Heat milk.
- Put honey, instant coffee and cocoa powder in cup.
- Add a shot of the cinnamon-concentrate according to taste.
- Add hot milk.

Serving Suggestion:
- Return from a bird trip through a magnificent winter landscape having seen a flock of 7 Eastern Bluebirds and 19 American Tree Sparrows.
- Feel cold and stiff and in need to warm up.
- Move an armchair or anything comfortable to sit in with a thick blanket in front of a window.
- Get your binoculars and the birder's winter drink as described above and have a seat.
- Look out of your window onto the snow and storm and feel happy to be inside.
- Watch a Peregrine Falcon watching the city life from its perch on top of a downtown Bell Tower.
- Enjoy life, it's great to be a birder.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a perfect morning Jochen - you Europeans really know how to live!

Jochen said...

It was nearly perfect but there still was no flock of snow geese flying overhead while I looked out of the window. See, always room to improve even with a birder's winter drink at hand!