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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

World Bird Wednesday XXXIII

                                             Now That's a Mouthful

  

   It's Fish fly season in Michigan! This flying insect that breeds at the bottom of our coastal lakes and rivers, the very thing you see Lady Red Winged blackbird gorging on, is an Old Testament style pestilence that comes forth from the deep in numbers incalculable. They adorn every window, side walk and lamp post within five miles of the water with their slippery, squirming bodies. For fun you can stealthily place a fat one on your friends ear. The fish fly will wait patiently until your victim feels the slight yet annoying probing of the bugs rear antennas. You will get a good laugh when your loved one shakes their head frantically and slaps at their ear. It's a harmless practical joke as the little guys do not sting or bite, this being their only but important virtue.
   The life of a fish fly is compressed into a single day. Hatch-sex-and fly until you die pretty much sums up it's frivolous existance. Common afterlife advice recommends heading for the white light if you should see such a thing on your way out. Presumably it leads to greener pastures. Apparently fish fly culture suggests a similar rule. As the sun sets on their big day the flies rapturously fly off in the direction of any bright light and swirl about until they drop dead in stinking piles by the millions. Whoops, wrong white light!
   Here's a artsy fartsy picture that almost makes the fish fly pestilence look pleasant and looking at it dispassionately I suppose our local curse is an avian windfall.





I was hanging out in Detroit at the end of last week doing the firefighting thing. Ours is a 24 hour shift that ends at 7:30 AM. It was a good time for my son Joshua and I to take a drive over to Belle Isle, enjoy the sights from the middle of the river, and shake off our long night of putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. Soon after crossing the MacArthur bridge that spans the mainland to the island we spotted a Great Blue heron looking to spear breakfast at the North end of the pond facing Scott fountain, a magnificent white marble monument bequeathed to Detroit by it's most scurrilous playboy prankster at his death in 1910. After a frivolous life spent chasing wild women, gambling, ceaselessly suing his many adversaries, and playing vindictive practical jokes with money inherited from his father, James Scott had few friends among the living. His enemies were legion. As the hard drinking socialites health failed he conceived a brilliant plan to foil his stuffy detractors one last time. Played from beyond the grave, even as he made for the white light, Scott's lawyers laid down his final trump card.
    
With no relative to contest his last wishes James left the good people of Detroit with an interesting moral dilemma. Scott willed half a million dollars to the city specifically for the erection of a grand fountain on the crown jewel of Detroit's river front, Belle Isle, with this stipulation; that a heroic life size statue of himself also be commissioned and positioned there to watch over the fountain and further pester his still living adversaries. A towering Washington Monument style Doric column had been proposed for the same prime spot now coveted by James Scott by certain well heeled citizens but those efforts had failed to find traction financially. That the self serving Scott, lounging now in the Great Beyond, might out maneuver them caused a fury of contempt. The pulpits, politicians, and halls of commerce rang with a single voice,"This contemptible man, whose life valued no more than a fish fly for the common good that it achieved, should not be honored in this folly of cosmic self-promotion. Let the money rot like fish flies in July!"


                                                                                          Letting Them Gag On Their Indignation
                                                                             15 years after his death Scott's cynical point was made. As the funds increased in value the temptation could not be resisted any longer and the fountain, with a contented looking bronze sculpture of James Scott looking on, was commissioned and built. The Cass Gilbert designed fountain is impossibly beautifully. The 510 foot circumference of the lower basin cradles dozens of fanciful characters carved from impeccable white marble spewing jets of water. At night, when the fish flies are out of season, it is illuminated magnificently and can render one speechless with wonder. 
   100 years after Mr. Scott's demise this improbable monument envisioned by the vile practical joker, whose last act was to expose the frailty of his fellow citizens righteous indignation when faced with a fat stack of dirty money, still says a mouthful.


Now it's time for World Bird Wednesday!

This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.
You are invited to link your blog with other bird photographers in a weekly celebration of these most diverse and intriguing of Earth's residents.

CLICK THIS PICTURE!

#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry. It contains a link for your readers to share in WBW. Or you can copy this link on to your blog page to share W.B.W. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/

#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with Linky.

#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!


The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compadres!

The thumbnails below are links to our contributors blogs. Click on them and view their beautiful posts.
Come on it's your turn!

32 comments:

  1. A great post... Your images of the Heron are stunning the fish fly is similar (if not the same) as our mayfly in the UK.
    James Scott... what a brilliant tale you have to admire the man.

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  2. your images always are amazingly beautiful, and then you astound me with your wordsmithing as well. you are a treasure...

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  3. Suzanne ColletteJuly 5, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Oh the summers spent running barefoot around that beautiful Scott's fountain....Happy WBW

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  4. Oh my goodness but I do love your work ! That redwing sure is a GLUTTON though, no one told her that gluttony is a sin ? Beautiful breakfast for the heron...

    A blog friend (who I had the pleasure of meeting last Fall in Pennsylvania) was in Detroit recently, and has posted some pix of his visit here, you may know some of these places ?

    http://tombphotography.tumblr.com/

    I have to admit, I had to read the sentence above that starts : "Scott willed half a million dollars to the city specifically for the erection..." a couple of times before I got it straight, I kept stalling on "half a million dollars for the erection"... (sorry, I'm an idiot sometimes... :-)

    Keep up the great work !

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  5. Hello everyone and welcome to WBWXXXIII!
    Thank you for your kind participation with this humble meme and your support week after week for the hard working bloggers we enjoy so much here. The comment sections on our contributors blogs are filled with your kind thoughts. I am amazed each week at the insights and fantastic images that are laid out before us on a global scale. It is good to belong! ;-)WBW

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  6. Owen,
    Thank you for the link. Yes, I know these places. Your friends photography is crazy good. I can really see it! The Easttown Ballroom particularly, a rock and roll cathedral, was my main haunt in the late sixties and I helped to fight the fire that brought it down 40 years later. I guess that's knowing a place.
    On to your second point. When I was a kid I had an Erector Set! You know the toy that sort of took Lincoln Logs to the next level. To tell you the truth I kind of got stuck on that sentence too. I know it was rather unwieldy. But this I do know, after your gone, not even half a million will buy that kind of erection! Not when a competent team of city fathers couldn't get their Doric column...constructed.
    Freud explained me perfectly!

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  7. Great post sir!
    I love that first shot. Like Andrew says, those fish fly are known as Mayfly here. They cram a lifetime into 24 hours.
    And that Scott bloke; what a guy! lol

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  8. So many wonders, the red-winged blackbird with it's mouth full, that wonderfully impressionistic shot of the fish fly, the deliciously mean look of the heron with his catch . . . all shots beyond compare. Add to that, a moral tale of greed and it all adds up to a great post.

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  9. Springman, I love your prose! Great story and great shots.
    I grew up in Manitoba, where they are "Blessed" with Fishflies too! When going swimming, we used to have to do the breast stroke in order to push all the dead ones out of the way, so one didn't end up with a mouthful!
    You know, there's just nothing good you can say about them! That's a great shot of them nonetheless!

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  10. All bird shots are stunning but I'm in awe at the bug image. How did you do it? It's fantastic!

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  11. Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  12. JM,
    The bug shot is straight out of the camera, just a happy accident. I was shooting at the plate glass window the Fish flies were attached to with the reflected trees bokehed out in the back ground. Why are there are multiple reflections of the insects? Your guess is as good as mine! Thank you Sir!

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  13. I love the shot of the flys! Wow, that is so cool. Who would have ever that that a GBH with a mouthful would play second fiddle to a bunch of flys?! Great shots!

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  14. A very interesting post. The first photo with the bird with its mouth stuffed full is fantastic.

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  15. Wonderful images. The first image really is a mouthful! I have been wondering what those little bugs were lately; I've been seeing them all over the place.

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  16. Your photos is so wonderful! I really liked the first, the second and...everyone! Beautiful!

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  17. It looks like baby Red-winged Blackbirds are getting fish flies for dinner! They look like the creatures we call May flies, but we don't have them in such massive quantities. They always fly into the house though, and lead our cats on a merry chase. All your photos are fantastic and I love the story behind the fountain.

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  18. Another super post Dave with great images. Hats off to James Scott .. just proves that money eventually talks.

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  19. Terrific post, Springman! Great writing and beautiful photos. You make me envious, but I loved it.

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  20. Springman, your photos are just amazing. Love all the capture of the birds with their catch. A great post and photos!

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  21. auch, that´s a lot of insects. And the blackbird really has her mouth full. :)

    Your hots are excellent as always, which make me envious as usual. :) Thanks for having this meme.

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  22. Every area has its nemesis--here we have that blasted Cicada..the thing is intolerable for me...I cover my ears and run inside...lol
    Looks like Mr Scott ruthless tho he was has given the community a generous gift.
    LOVE THE photos of the heron with Fish and the little RWBB with a mouth full, even a bird gets greedy~~

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  23. Amazing pictures. But I must tell you that your writing never ceases to amaze and educate me. Fascinating about the fishflies (we have lovebugs in Florida -- they lead the same kind of fast and wild life. I loved how you tied them in to the story about your local "hero" by quoting "he wasn't worth a fishfly!" .... what a guy he wasn't! I hope the birds enjoy sitting on his head and leaving souvenirs!

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  24. Absolutely fantastic! I LOVE your work!
    B.

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  25. This is such an entertaining post! Excellent pictures, as always.

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  26. Hi there - first a joke: Two mayflies talking - "How on Earth am I going to get life insurance when they find out I'm a Mayfly?"

    Now to give it to my inner geek - I have two suggestions for the multiple reflections questions: 1. The window is double glazed (I think this is not likely) 2. The glass is think and you get a set of reflections from both surface of the glass - ie the outside layer and the inside of the inside part (if you see what I mean) - so two surfaces, two sets of reflections.

    Of course, there is the horrible possibility that I am talking nonsense!

    Great set of pictures as well as a brain teaser - what more could I ask for?

    Cheers Stewart M.

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  27. Lovely photos, I know its already been said but your fish flies are very like our mayflies! That fish is quite a mouthful for the heron!

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  28. Brilliant :) Very nice mouthfulls! I know it's not easy to get such a shot of the heron!

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  29. Another fabulous post Dave! The photos are all great but I'd have too say the Red-winged Blackbird is simply incredible. Nice capture!

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  30. Your photography just gets better & better,love the story too.That bug picture is awesome!It`s truly amazing what the camera captures at times,we don`t know till we unload them,phyllis

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  31. Wonderful work. The details in your images are stunning. A very beautiful set of pictures. Bravo!

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  32. Awesome captures Dave! I love the closeup of the GBH with the fish in its mouth. Great post!

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