Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: The Extreme Life of the Sea

The Extreme Life of the Sea is a book that spins tale after tale of the secretive world of the ocean.  The Prologue opens with a story that reads like a scene from a movie with a whale battling a Giant Squid, in a fight for each other's life.  Each chapter tackles the fastest, the strangest, and the most bizarre.  It reads like a thriller but each story rooted in hard science.  If you have a lover of the sea at home, this would make an excellent gift.  The father/son team of Stephen R. Palumbi and Anthony R. Palumbi have crated a glorious book but you don't have to take my word for it, watch the video below to see the book come alive.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cemetery Birding

I've been hearing about these hybrid Snow Goose/Canada Goose or Snow Goose/Cackling Goose hybrids but I haven't seen one until now.  We were in Denver near Lutheran Hospital and needed to kill a bit of time so we drove through the cemetery.  In the mix of white-cheeked geese was a manky looking goose.  It was a by my estimates a Snow Goose/Cackling Goose.  There were both Canada and Cacklings in the nearby vicinity that offered great comparison and the Snow Goose seemed closer in size to the Cacklings.

Also in the graveyard were many Black-billed Magpie Jays and American Robins.  Also mixed in were European Starlings and a friendly Northern Flicker.

Cemeteries are a great place to birdwatch.  With the use of a car, you are given an excellent bird blind and photos are easily captured.  You can easily walk around and use the roads as paths.  I really enjoy cemetery birding and find the places to be filled with wildlife and a feeling of reverence.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cripple Creek & Victor

On our recent vacation near Divide, CO we took a day trip to the nearby mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor.  In the late 1800's, this area experienced a mining boom and towns were lined with gold.  It's interesting to see a piece of history, still surviving but somehow a shell of its former self.  Look at the view above of Cripple Creek below and the 13,000ers in the background.

Everywhere you turn there are old relicts of the mining days.  A shaft here, a old piece of machinery there.  I know that mining was definitely destructive but it was so much prettier back in the day.  Compare the above mine shaft to the present day mining operation seen between Cripple Creek and Victor, photographed below.

One photo paints a photo of what life must have been like, with opportunities but also hard labor.  The current mining operation just seems so stark and sad.  The hillsides devoid of all vegetation and lined with roads and plows.  I just couldn't find any beauty there and was glad when we left the road to come into the cute town of Victor. 

Cripple Creek is now a gambling town lined with casinos.  In contrast  Victor is a small mountain town with a few open shops and interesting artifacts of better times.  We went into a broom shop where we watched them hand-make brooms with a 100 year old machine.  It was a work of love and craft.  The lady behind the counter had been making brooms for 30 years and it shows in the work.  The Victor Trading Co. is a must stop if you're in the area and have a love for letterpress, cookie cutters, or homemade brooms.

We perhaps never would have visited this area if my mom hadn't been in town.  Thanks to her we could be tourists in our own backyard.  It just reminds me that I need to keep exploring and enjoying the Colorado mountain life.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Squirrel Poem


Boldly raiding


Highly climbing

And descending


And forgetting.

-Felice Holman

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Ten Thousand Birds

Ten Thousand Birds by Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny, and Bob Montgomerie is a massive volume of information on ornithology.  I especially like how the emphasis of the book was on the actual stories of ornithologists and their discoveries.  As someone that is trained in the sciences, I often wonder why science is always striving to disconnect from the human-related experience.  This book is a marriage of two of my favorite things: birds and storytelling.  Not to say the book lacks in facts because it seriously does cover a plethora of scientific knowledge.  But where it really shines it in the personal and it's evident in the small bios that are seen throughout the text.

My partner's reaction to seeing the book: "I want more pictures."
My reaction: "Wow, this is a heavy book but look at all the information and stories!"

A beautiful book, but seriously you may need to do a few workouts to hold it.  Want a sneak peek at what's inside:

This review copy was provided by Princeton University Press.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mountain Deer

Deer are often easily photographed and each one seems to have its own story behind those gentle eyes.  The last deer in this series especially grabbed my attention.  How did it get that injury?  Would it make it through the winter?  It was the most eager to eat from the feeders and didn't move when approached.  It seemed to be pleading for help and I was happy that the deer came in and grazed the loose feed on the ground.  I hope it makes it this winter and heals up without infection.  It seemed to be doing okay other than the obvious but I certainly wanted to know more.  If only the animals could talk, I would listen for days.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Great Backyard Bird Count 2014

Long overdue post but that's what happens when you're in graduate school, homework comes first.  I did want to share some photos from the recent Great Backyard Bird Count.  My family and I went up to the mountains for some cabin time and my very first bird of the weekend was seen from the front porch - Steller's Jay!

You can see from the ruffled feathers that it was a bit windy.

The best part wasn't the beautiful blue birds but the plethora of Pygmy Nuthatches.  I have never seen as many, counted 11 in total at the feeder at one time!

There were also Mountain Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpeckers, American Crows, and Clark's Nutcrackers.

I usually don't think of woodpeckers as being huge but this Hairy just looked ginormous to me in comparison to those little Pygmy Nuthatches.  I'll try to get a video up of the little devils attacking the feeder.

How was your GBBC weekend?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine Comics

One of my favorite comics out in the inter tubes is Bird and Moon.  On this day of valentine cheer, I hope you send your love to a great artist over on their Facebook page.  Happy Valentine's Day my fellow adventurers and bird fanatics.