Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
I'm not sure why I abandoned this blog. It's not that I stopped writing blog posts. If you take a look at my other blog, http://tripscribbler.blogspot.com, you'll see that I never stopped blogging. But this one has such a long history. I've decided to reinstate it. And since I'm rededicating myself to my bird photography pursuits, it seems like a perfect time to do it. l'll start posting my bird checklists here, my trip reviews, and so forth.
Let the Grand Re-Opening commence!
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Alaska looms closer and closer. Not literally, since I'm still safe on the ground here in Florida, but the day approaches. Tomorrow morning I leave for Anchorage, and hopefully by tomorrow night I will be attempting to photograph the Aurora Borealis. I'm not packed yet, but I have already checked into my flights and paid the ridiculous baggage fee.
Twenty five dollars!? That makes me mad. Argggghh.
Well, baggage fees aside, I'm nervous. My stomach is jumpy and I feel like I am having heart palpitations. I'm not. Actually I'm sitting here in the doctors office, waiting. My blood pressure is 115/65 and my pulse is 72. So I'm just fine. It's all in my head.
Most issues are just a figment of my imagination, except for that rotten sinusitis I had two weeks ago. I thought certainly that was going to ruin my vacation. Who wants to be in Alaska with a stuffy nose? And the constant, droning headache that never ceased! Terrible. I'm much better now.
So, on to animal-ly subjects...I have some goals. First, I am hoping to get 40+ new birds added to my life list. Will it happen? We'll see.
Second, I want to see some moose up close and personal. I've seen them in Maine when I was young, but they were skittish... Not the gregarious and blithe creatures I imagine their Alaskan cousins to be.
Third: Dall Sheep. Cute white sheep roaming around mountaintops.
Fourth, some whales. Any whales will do. I'm not particular about my mammalian brethren in the sea.
And then, I would really like to get some nice, wide landscape photos. I've never been much of a landscape expert, but I blame that on Florida's flat, boring topography. A mountain here in Florida is when you're 75 feet above sea-level.
So tonight I pack. I pack every camera I own.
Friday, April 26, 2013
I know that this is an animal photography blog, but I had to mention my experience at the Jacksonville Symphony this evening. I'd been waiting all season for this particular performance because it featured Dvorak's "From the New World" symphony, a favorite of mine. I'd never heard the entire symphony as a whole, only the most familiar parts of it.
It's rather curious the thoughts that passed through my mind as I listened. For the most part, I heard the direct predecessor of Aaron Copland and John Williams. Maybe I'm incorrect, but I have a hard time believing that Copland and Williams were not greatly influenced by this piece. They had to be.
Beyond that, I saw so many images...I saw Lewis, Clark, and Sacajewa braving the rapids. I saw pioneers in covered wagons. I saw the desperate American men at the Alamo. I saw women working in factories. There was great tension and intense hope. There was hard work and small yet meaningful rewards. And sometimes I saw Dvorak's home in Bohemia. I saw my mother as she arrived in the United States for the first time, a fearful yet hopeful 17 year old girl.
It was a wonderful experience. Every American should hear this piece. Besides, if you've ever watched a Bugs Bunny cartoon or seen a John Wayne film you'll probably recognize the music.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Only 3 weeks left until my shorebird trip. For the past month I've been studying shorebirds of the Seward Peninsula. I have a "bird of the day". Today's bird, for example, is the Hudsonian Godwit.
I've never seen a Godwit of any kind.
I need to get my act together and get things as organized as possible before my departure. I'm going to make a file folder full of maps and my itinerary. Although I have my itinerary on my calendar on the phone, I'm afraid that the phone battery may die at the most inopportune moment.
I was afraid that when I scheduled all of my bird trips for the festival that I had overdone it by packing too many activities in a day. But now, looking at my itinerary, it seems that I'll be alright. I was smart enough to allow some time to get from place to place, and I also allowed time for side trips on my own. There's a pancake breakfast on the Saturday of the festival, and I certainly don't want to miss that!
It's going to be strange to be so far away from home. Even Costa Rica is much closer to home than Alaska. Someone in my local birding group said that I may never want to come back from Alaska. I wonder if he was right. I grew up in a pretty cold, wet and gloomy place. I don't know if I'm going to want to repeat the experience. Who knows? Maybe this is where I will want to spend the rest of my life.
Or maybe it will just be a vacation spot. That's good enough for me right now.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
I think I have finally determined, after so many years of toying with this birding hobby of mine, that I will take it up a notch. In order to do that, a serious birder really should have one important tool:
|A Florida Scrub Jay, leaping. Merritt Island NWR, Jan 2013|
Oh, yeah, I'm now in the ranks of the serious bird nerds. I joined the American Birding Association as well. And I booked a trip for a shorebird festival in sunny Alaska. You can find me in Kachemak Bay in early May. Hopefully, I won't be hurling as I try to steady myself on one of the 3 boat trips I signed up for. Unfortunately, I know that I have a tendency toward seasickness. But at least I can go armed with this knowledge, and maybe I can take some preventative measures. Do those nau-sea bracelets really work? How many hours before the boat trip do I need to take my dramamine? Is there a prescription the doc can give me?
I have lots of research to do, and not just nausea-related research. Most nights I spend some time reviewing the list of 80+ bird species I may see while in Homer, Alaska. So far, I think I will be able to spot a Marbled Godwit, a Hudsonian Godwit and a Fork-tailed Storm Petrel without having to refer to a book. Only 77 more species to commit to memory.
Just in reviewing this post, I am noticing a more upbeat attitude than in most of my previous submissions. I think that planning this trip to Alaska has done wonders for my mental state. I did it because my doctor told me to. Well, she didn't actually say,'Go to Alaska.' She did, however, tell me that in order to circumvent those rough periods of time (months I know will be difficult like May, the month Chris passed away, or November/December holidays) I should plan trips or vacations or something that will keep me focused. So far, it has kept me very single-minded and not nearly as depressed. May will be rough, I'm sure. There's no avoiding it. May 19 will mark two years since Chris left. But I think I'm finally getting to a more stable point.
And I have certainly already started planning the next bird trip. Arizona in November! I'm working through all of the 'A' states, I suppose. Look out, Alabama and Arkansas!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Not sure yet. I am still stuck in one and haven't wriggled my way out yet.
But truly, I am trying to feel better and in order to do that I resort to 4 activities. Let's start at 4 and work our way up...
Number 4 gets me in a calmer mood in a strange way. When I am stressed or anxious, I go to the rifle range and shoot one of my 3 favorite rifles. When I am handling weapons I think of nothing but the task at hand. I am paying complete attention to every move I make, to how I hold my weapon, how I breathe, and how I behave on the range, especially when I am not alone. I must say that shooting paper targets is an exceptionally relaxing, almost zen type of activity.
At number 3 is "Playing my piano". I can usually lose myself for a solid hour and a half practicing the piano. I recently bought a brand-spanking new piano just for that purpose: practice. And I have logged many hours on it. Whether or not I have really improved is a matter for debate. But I don't really care. I believe that I'm improving, and it's something I have always wanted to do. So, even if I do sound like a monkey pecking at the keys, I just don't care. It's fun, it's distracting, and I finally feel that I deserve to have this piano and to spend as long as I want playing it.
At number 2 is a not so great hobby. It has the potential to be destructive if I don't monitor my behavior closely. But there is almost nothing as distracting, which is all that I'm looking for. It's shopping. Not grocery shopping or car shopping. Just perusing the aisles at Stein Mart, Tuesday Morning, TJ Max, JoAnns Fabrics, PetSmart, and Best Buy can make me feel so much better. I think it's because the act of shopping is a real blinder, a wall that I can put in front of what's making me miserable. When you're looking for the perfect hat, how can you possibly be worried or depressed? Unfortunately, I find that when bad things happen ( like my 20 year old cat dying 3 weeks ago), I go nuts. I dropped $400 bucks that weekend. I don't remember what I bought. When my 16 year old Basset Hound passes on, I fear I am going to make a big dent in my savings account.
|Paige, female Bald Eagle Ambassador. I met|
her at a recent Duval Audubon Society meeting
Someday, I hope that these activities will not be just a distraction. I hope that I will do them because of the pure enjoyment I get from them. But for now, they serve a meaningful purpose. I'm thankful that I can resort to these things as opposed to drinking, smoking, gossiping, etc.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
My number for today was 7, and I have a total of 84 on my Big Week List. Here's a rundown of today's birds:
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
I didn't need a telephoto lens for this encounter. I think I saw the real-life version of Peter Griffin from The Family Guy, naked. Not a pleasant sight.
Despite being blinded briefly today, I did manage to seen some birds. Here's the rundown:
Common Ground Dove
Black-bellied Whistling Duck