Tuesday, March 26, 2013

osprey; red-breasted merganser, and more at Lake Kittamaqundi

Saturday, March 23.

(Fresh catch in its talons.)

 Male red-breasted merganser on Lake Kittamaqundi today. Some have been reported at Wilde Lake, too.

Howard County Bird Club's osprey page

My photo of an American coot at Lake Kittamaqundi last Saturday made it into the club's gallery.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gehry's lake buildings; some lake wildlife

Architect Frank Gehry's other building on the lake front sports a freshly painted roof as people enjoy last Sunday's warm weather.

Meanwhile, repairs and remodeling continue at the administrative, soon-to-be grocery store building further along Lake Kittamaqundi.

Female hooded mergansers enjoy a ladies' night out on the lake yesterday. Together with a couple of males, this small group apparently spent the whole winter here rather than flying further south.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Scaup, Buffleheads, Snipe and Bald Eagles

I spent this morning with the Howard County Bird Club on the Waterfowl Search organized by a member. We toured the lakes around Columbia and the county in hopes of spotting something other than the usual mallards and Canada geese. There were plenty of mergansers around, and Lakes Elkhorn and Centennial yielded scaup, ringnecked ducks, buffleheads, killdeer and an odd mallard hybrid. A rare Wilson's snipe, a kind of sandpiper, has been spotted by one of the club members on the mud around the islands at the western end of Centennial, but it eluded us today.

We also investigated Lake Kittamaqundi, and my photo at the top of this post shows my view towards the north end with bird club members in frame.

A final stop at Brighton Dam on the Triadelphia Reservoir presented a show of bald eagles, young and mature -- but powerful binoculars and scopes were needed to really appreciate them.

An annual event at the Reservoir which usually can be witnessed earlier in the winter is the feeding frenzy of thousands of common mergansers with bald eagles dive-bombing them. Are the eagles preying on the mergansers themselves or swiping the fish caught by them?

The Bird Club's monthly meeting at the Robinson Nature Center is coming up this Thursday....http://howardbirds.org/


My snapshot of a song sparrow at Lake Elkhorn. Not waterfowl, perhaps, but we were taking note of anything that showed up.

Monday, March 4, 2013


I moved into Columbia Town Center in 1998. Previously, I had lived in Laurel and Severna Park in neighboring counties and realized that I was constantly heading to Columbia to walk around the lakes, shop at the mall, go to Candlelight Concerts and dine at various restaurants. With all its own special problems, Town Center still seems to be the right choice for me. I'm happy living somewhere where I can leave the car put for a day, if I want to take a break from driving and just walk to neighborhood amenities (provided it's at a time when I know it will still be light when I walk back home). I take advantage of the various festivals on the Lakefront and enjoy the July 4th fireworks which I can see from my present house without walking over to the lake and hunting for a viewing spot. (My last cat, however, hated those fireworks and hid under the bed while they were booming. My present cat so far doesn't seem to mind them and loved watching the extra crowd of people on the street that night last summer.)

So we have this issue of noise coming from concerts at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I've learned to watch out for the traffic when I know a concert is coming up, and until recently the noise itself -- the booming of bass from the amplified music as it can be heard from a distance -- didn't seem to be much of a problem to me. I've lived in two different condominiums in Town Center -- the first on Banneker Drive, actually closer to the Pavilion. I don't recall ever hearing the noise when I was there and was more concerned about noise from the service station across the street. (I faced the fire station, too, but the condominium had an arrangement with the station which worked very well. We only heard them once they were out on the street and driving away.)

In 2004, I moved to a townhouse-type condominium on Vantage Point Road. This is further away from the Pavilion, at the other end of Lake Kittamaqundi. I admit that I can't remember much about concert noise in my first few years at this location, but last summer things changed. There were a few weekend days when I could hear the pounding from inside my house. I thought something was going on at the Lakefront, though normally I can't hear the Lakefront events from my place. Investigating, I'd walk over to the lake to see what was going on and was amazed to find that nothing was happening there and the noise was coming from the Pavilion much further away. At the time, I was more amazed than annoyed. However, if this is going to be the norm for noise from the Pavilion or if it's going to get worse, we have to set a limit to it. I might be one of the luckier residents: I can find a room in my house where the noise is not so noticeable, and I have new, double-glazed, heavy-framed replacement windows for better sound insulation. (They work only up to a point, though.)

To the argument that home buyers and renters in Town Center should have known better before they moved in: You're addressing that to how many hundreds or thousands of residents affected by the noise? There are so many other variables to consider when choosing a home, and, honestly, I was not aware of any noise issues with the Pavilion when I bought my first place in 1998. And if we're going to continue to use that argument against the residents here, then why not ask developers and the county why they promoted or permitted residential development close to the Pavilion in the first place?

Nobody is asking for a stop to the concerts -- just a limit to the noise. Why does it have to be as loud as I heard it last summer? How is it affecting people actually attending the concerts?

Finally, residents on my street also have to deal with amplified music from parties at Oakland Manor. That's our community center which gets rented out for events, too. I might have known about the Pavilion noise by the time I moved in 2004, but I had no idea about noise from Oakland. An anecdote which might illustrate the need for limiting this noise: I was out of town when it happened last year, but apparently one night the party hosts at an Oakland event kept cranking up the noise of the music to higher levels not heard here before. It turned out that there was a concert at the Pavilion that same evening, and the Oakland partiers had to keep turning up the volume so they could hear their music over the Pavilion's.

I have expressed some of these thoughts in e-mail to county and state elected officials who are considering the ban on concert noise limitations.


///The last time I posted on this issue, I drew a few comments from readers. I'll gladly post comments from both sides of the argument. Please be aware that I moderate to keep out spammers and unnecessary uncivil language. Comments might take time to appear after you enter them, because I have a 9 to 5 job. Due to technical problems, I might not be able to join in the comments myself, unless I get to my other computer, so please don't feel slighted if I don't respond personally to a comment. Thanks.///