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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

World Bird Wednesday L

Devil's Night

   In keeping with the season, even if I'm a day late and a dollar short, I'd like to share some Halloween spirit. I have been watching horror movies one after another for the last couple of weeks, alone up here in the North woods. That, along with my firehouse days in Detroit, have spawned plenty of horror filled moments to macabre to relate.
   Our shared mortality is the great unspoken. We can except death and dying as a function of nature, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but when we feel the cold breath of the Reaper no one is immune from the nerve jangling fear of the ultimate darkness. We take it personal.

   Devils Night comes each year to Detroit, the night before Halloween. It is a freakishly violent tradition where shadowy arsonist declare total warfare on the dilapidated neighborhoods of my Rustbelt hometown. It is pure evil. Every "fire buff "(the hanger ons, paparazzi and groupies) that can manage the travel expense are here in mass, waiting for the the torch to be lit, to drink of our blood. Our admirers want to feel the hurt and dance on our early graves. Like mindless zombies they crowd around the firehouses waiting for the doors to open and the trucks to barrel out. The curious pray for havoc and when the real devils acquiesce to their wishes the chaotic celebration begins.
   The fire storm is something to see, that I will admit. The smoke column lifting from a 90 year old wood frame structure is a mixture of twirling embers and superheated smoke riding the wind upward like the jet-stream behind a cackling, broom wielding witch.

Some folk claim to be able to see things in the flames as they envelope these old homes and businesses. I see it sometimes myself. Spirits, or ghosts maybe, separated and cast off from their haunts like an inept dentist might rip out a sore tooth. I can plainly see a face in this fire picture from a few nights ago. A dispirited entity?  The more I stare the clearer the face of a witch becomes, I can even make out the hat now! This picture is straight out of the camera and probably nothing more than an example of the human brain seeking to apply meaning to the random patterns of an elemental and frankly frightening force of nature. There is a desire to make sense of it, to control it, to make light of its terrifying potential and dark cruelty. But when the hair stands up on the back of your neck, it's hard not to believe your gut when it's telling you some malevolent force is at work.

   There is a field at Shiawassee Reserve that is given over to sunflowers. Acres and acres of them. As it has gone to seed massive flocks of Red-winged blackbirds have collected there. The swirling noise of the winged hoards is oppressive. Naturally visions of Hitchcock's "Birds" come to mind, so effective was his slow boiling paranoia it resonates all these years later. It is unsettling to be there alone and so vulnerable, I can't take it very long.
   Perhaps it would be a good idea to take a little break from all this ghoulishness and watch The Marx Brother's Duck Soup tonight!

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.


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  1. You found great images to celebrate the Halloween. The torching of the buildings, I wasn't sure if it was planned by the city to rid them of unwanted buildings or a random act of violence. If buildings are to burn it would seem a good idea to have it be a controlled event.

  2. Springman, once again you take us along for the ride with your words and images. The Devil's Night would be a very scary thing to face - as a resident, neighbor, and firefighter.

    Your header photo is SO impressive! Just gorgeous!!!

    As always, thank you for hosting WBW and gifting us with your pix and prose... And, yeah, lay off the horror flix for a bit!

  3. interesting stuff, Springman! I dunno how i feel about the fires - flames tend to freak me out a bit. Great pictures. Love the red-winged flock - nice! And awesome spider web!

  4. Very interesting (and dark) post... The photo of the huge flock of red-winged blackbirds is awesome!! Great Halloween images...

  5. how wonderful with that field filled with Red-winged blackbirds. The red parts really makes a difference here. :)

  6. The vulture shot has Halloween written all over it! I like it! The blackbirds look like something out of Hitchcock's "The Birds"!

  7. Springman, another great post! Out here on the west coast, most places I worked had Hell Night too! It was by far worse than Halloween. One place, they used to set up a roadblock of logs, tires and whatnot and set it on fire. This was across the road that led into town! But I doubt I can come close to what happens in Motown.
    Your header is exquisit! As is the Red Wings. What a thrill to see that many birds in one place!
    Cheers to you!

  8. Wow, it gives me the shivers. The worst we did on "mischief night" was to tie garbage cans to car bumpers and watch when they pulled out of parking spaces. Not nice at all, but pretty tame next to what you face in Detroit.

  9. Wow, what a great shot of the blackbirds!

  10. Greetings to you from my country, where Halloween is still very strange. They try - mostly shopkeepers - to bring it here but not with very good success :)

    Your post is again interesting and so well created, thank you!

  11. Devils Night sounds well named and not something I hope catches on over here.
    Halloween and Trick or Treat is for the little kids(under 10)in the UK. They dress up as witches and their parents take them around the neighbourhood knocking on doors for treats (sweets(candy). There are no tricks and the kids always look bewildered.
    We have only really caught the Halloween bug over last 10 years or so... November the Fifth is Bonfire Night... Guy Fawkes and all that.
    Sorry for such a long comment..

  12. I guess Devil's Night is like what we use to call Moving Night. It was the evening before Halloween and usually kids were always being caught doing something bad. But, I do not remember fires, it was more like egg throwing, toilet paper on bushes and lawns and soap on car windows. Great photos and post.

  13. Devil's Night cetainly sound somewhat scary all round - you have a great blog and some wonderful photos - enjoyed my visit here immensely

  14. You describe a disturbing part of suburbia and the humans that inhabit it! I really like the Blackbirds better!!

  15. oh what a night it really was ...Devil's Night! (a song was in my head :)) Great photos; another very interesting post.

  16. Listen, if you see any suspicious looking people out there in the woods with a chainsaw... RUN !

    Duck soup indeed... is that why the ducks in this week's header photo are looking like they can't get out of there fast enough ?

    The ducks, the blackbirds, the vulture, all phenomenal... burn baby burn... with your camera.

  17. Talk about a fitting post for Halloween Springman. Great photos but cannot believe the goings on during your Hell Night's.

  18. I prefer to pretend Halloween isn't happening . . . but I did truly enjoy your photography as usual. Took a look at your header and was blown away!

  19. Intense post, Springman. I cannot imagine dealing with what you do on a daily basis -- and especially on an occasion like Devil's Night. Really interesting picture of the flames, there is most certainly a face visible there.

    As for the birds, love that shot of the RWBBs in flight, and the mallards in the banner too!

  20. i am always a day late and a dollar short!! i still have awesome halloween pictures that i haven't shared!!

    your photo's today are nothing short of amazing. i always look forward to joining in here!!

    i adore the header....i could only get that "by accident"!!!

  21. oooohhhhh, i don't get any work done, the hubs is the boss ;)

  22. Springman, What a chilling post in spite of the fiery witch. Yep...I see her.
    Very cool shots of the Mallards in flight. The spider web is classic Halloween. Love the Red-wings and the haunting Vulture. have successfully spooked me.:)

  23. Another great post Dave! Hell night sounds like a fire fighter's nightmare for sure. I love the photos, the Red-winged Blackbirds are always beautiful caught in flight like that with their red epaulets showing. I can't believe that no one so far has mentioned that awesome shot of the Ravens!

  24. I have just spent three and a half wonderful hours touring World Bird blogs. I decided I'd better refresh my page and boom all these lovely comments popped up. How delightful!
    Thank you for tolerating my Halloween antics, it's good to shake off some of the depressing nature of my "real(weird)life" occasionally. A good scare doesn't hurt. That's why we have roller coasters.
    A word about the header photograph. Total accident. I wasn't even supposed to be in the field but was helping a friend fix his stove and I drove through a wetland on the way home from there. I saw the mallards on a pond and when they didn't take to the air right off the bat I rolled down the window and picked up the camera. BOOM! A shot gun blast rang out scaring the hell out of me and the ducks. Lucky for me the Dslr was already set up for a fast shutter speed and I got off four shots before the ducks high tailed it out of there. I didn't stick around either with guns going off like that. This was late Haloween afternoon and I needed to get home to write my WBW post anyway. The ducks in flight turned out well, thank you autofocus, and I thought it profited by being a little larger in size so a header it was.
    Thank you Mr.Owen for getting the Duck soup reference as a bookend to the header photo. Your paying attention!
    It's time to catch some z's. See you on the 'morrow.

  25. First of all, the header photo is a fantastic shot. I did read in your comment how it came about - lucky you were prepared.
    I have heard about Devils' Night in Detroit and your photos bring it to life.
    The buzzard and spider web pics are wonderfully creepy but that flock of RWBs is unnerving - even though that is a bird I love to see.
    Stay safe, Springman and thanks again for hosting WBW!

  26. Eeek, what a ghoulish post! You really are trying to scare your own pants off. What really scares me are the fires. Tinder-try old houses go up in veritable firestorms and present a huge danger as they fall in upon themselves. Horrid to think you have to expose yourself to all those risks for the edification of a hoard of gawkers.

    Those red-winged blackbirds, massed like that, can really give one the heby-jeebies but the crows I find quite endearing.

    Just you keep safe with all those arsonists about.

  27. I love your header photo! So many beautiful (mallard?) ducks caught in action.

  28. Hi there - really interesting post.
    (Did you really mean "Pavarotti" - or have you been cursed by the auto-correct!)

    The Red winged Blackbirds are splendid. They make an appearance in the first few pages of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and since I've read that book I've always wanted to see them.

    Cheers - and have a safe week.

    Stewart M - Australia

  29. Terrific images, indeed! I do love the spiderweb and the fire is really scary!

  30. I had heard about Devil's Night before, I think it was an episode of Criminal Minds. It freaked me out, I hope that it will die out eventually.

    The spider web shot is my favourite, but they are all gorgeous. And the blackbirds are striking, flashing their colours like that.

  31. Pavarotti indeed! Paying Ready Attention is no loose description of your focus on detail. Still, the silliness of spell check occasionally cracks me up. Can't you see Luciano bringing forth his tenor with a spectacular fire burning in the background?
    But yes, you have saved me from further embarrassment, I did mean paparazzi. That's what a public school education and a night of debauchery will do for your mind! At least I got the first letter right.
    Thank you Stewart!

  32. Great pics as always. I finally got a pic our 'our' piliated, a relative newcomer to my neck of the woods. There was a pair here two days in row, and now it's time for me to get back out there and look some more!

    Thanks for the beautiful work here.

  33. Brilliant header - I have to agree with everyone!
    I love the red-winged blackbirds - I too was reminded of Hitchcock's "The Birds"!!
    Great spiders web!

  34. Awesome post for Halloween, but I'm so glad I don't have to see that burning! I have done photography in the past for the local fire dept. when they burned homes and barns no longer wanted on the tax records, and it still bothers me somewhat.Not knowing if a happy family once lived in these homes.
    The Yankees are doling out the big bucks again, and who knows who will end up in pinstripes or not.
    Have a good rest of the week.

  35. Excellent post and photos to match....Im sure you dread the fires...there is an arson on the loose here he burns our old barns and homes all of which Ive enjoyed for years so sad to see them go just to give One person a moments thrill seeking...
    The redwing shot is amazing!!

  36. Springman, your mind certainly went to some dark places! Wow! Has it left you sitting in the corner babbling, "I do believe in ghost, I do believe in ghosts?" ( I hope you take this in the fun "spirit" it is intended!) Still, if what you say happens, really happens, that must be terrifying! How did this burning tradition ever get started?

    The pictures are all very good. I missed out on posting what I wanted to due to time constraints and family health problems but I am already gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. it turns out my Roseate Tern is actually a Common one. Oh well. I have posted an update with explanation on my blog if you are interested.

    I must say I enjoy your writing and your photos are excellent as always. Love the mallards in the header photo too! Hope you didn't get too warn down by all that pre-Halloween evil.

  37. Wow what a post! Totaly in the spirit on hell night. Too many movies can do this to you

    Wonderful images of the Blackbirds and as others have said its a super header image

    Sorry I missed WBW this week


  38. Wow!! A lot of great shots this week! I love that spiderweb!!! The redwings fill me with longing, though - it;s the first year I have lived here they have not gathered in the marsh, preparing to migrate, and I miss them! The noise at dusk is incredible - everyone squabbling about whose reed this is, and catching up on the day's adventures! And I love your header, with the ducks coming in for a landing!!! I wish I had a camera that could capture that sight!!

  39. That is true horror that tradition. It's hard to believe -- you don't really need to watch a hightmare movie -- during this week you aare living it! Thanks for seeing and sharing the beauty of your area and for hosting. (For when I get back to having time to post.)