The latest challenge is up at Jen'sNunavut Nonsense blog. A photo contest, a tribute to the last little bit of this season's night. There are several excellent photos to chose from, and vote for your favourite.
Once again, the generous and prodigous bloggers over at 10,000 Birds, Mike, Charlie and Corey are giving away copies of a book. The book is The Life of The Skies: Birding at the End of Nature by Jonathon Rosen, recently reviewed at 10,000 Birds by Mike. They're giving away five (count 'em) copies of the book and the rules are pretty simple for the first two copies. One is to spread the word about the giveaways, such as I'm doing now, linking back to the 10,000 Birds site, the second is to submit a 500 X 250 pixel photo or drawing of a bird in flight.
This morning, while I was getting breakfast ready, a client noticed the House Hare was out front, and he has a lady friend with him (or she has a gentleman caller). They were right close feeding on Arctic Willow and then came right up to the house, where one gave the other a little nuzzle before heading off.
As a bonus here are a couple of other predominately black and white photos for you.
First the grocery list, Bevson bought the following items, which came to a total of $47.00, some of the items have individual prices and they are noted.
1 Rotisserie chicken, Package of Turkey dogs Bag of Salad 4 apples 5 lb bag of potatoes - 99 cents carton of grape tomatoes carton of eggs quart of goats milk 6 cans of cat food box of cat food in pouches, carton of ice cream
Of course, many of these items simply aren't available, and I'll try and show some alternatives. Also it being Good Friday I can't run down to the store and check prices. All of these prices come from recent grocery slips.
1 Rotisserie chicken - we don't have, and the last time I looked there wasn't a whole frozen chicken at the store. So a box of breaded frozen fried chicken (five pieces) runs $16.49
Package of Turkey dogs - also unavailable, run of the mill mystery meat hotdogs are $3.99
Bag of Salad - $5.49
4 apples - For snacking we usually get a 3 lb bag of macs which run $9.99, but when I buy individual apples it is Granny Smiths for pie. I usually buy 7 apples, which run in the neighbourhood of $10.00, so four would be approximately $5.70
5 lb bag of pototoes - $8.29
Carton of grape tomatoes - We do get cherry tomatoes from time to time $5 something. Two smallish tomatoes bought yesterday (295 grams) $2.71
eggs 18 for $6.25, so a dozen are around $4.00
goats milk - Okay that'll never happen. 2 litres of 2% is $4.15. We get 2 litres of Soyamilk for $8.99
Cat food I have no idea so I'll just leave it out.
Carton of Ice cream 1 litre is $12.99
So the total, without the Cat Food is $66.10. I'm actually surprised that it is only 40% higher. Well I guess a little more without the Cat stuff factored in. Mom, if you're reading this, please send food.
Update: As the store was open today I got to check the price of cat food. A tin of cat food is $2.85, so six would be $17.10. A box of cat food with 12 "packets" is $10.49. Thus a revised total for bevson's shopping list up here would be $93.69, or 99% higher.
One of my favourite... I almost said Nunavut bloggers but I won't qualify it. One of my favourite bloggers is Townie Bastard. He has an engaging writing style and, heck, I come from a small town on the prairies, who doesn't want to read about curling.
While not strickly a meme, I'm going to treat his recent post on concerts as one.
1) What is the first rock concert you ever went to?
Actually I have a rather nebulous answer (go figure) because on one hand I'm not sure, and two I have one that, while not strictly the first, it is the one I consider to be the first, partially because I didn't go with the rest of my family.
The first rock concert I went to was either Roy Orbison or The Stampeders (I can hear my brother shouting his approval right now, or maybe he doesn't want people to know that he was once The Stampeders greatest fan). Both were in Yorkton Saskatchewan, hotbed of the rock world. I really enjoyed them but man I wish I realized back then the genius that was Roy Orbison. I'm pretty amazed that I get to say I actually saw him perform. What a voice!
But truly I consider Bachman-Turner Overdrive at the Winnipeg Arena in 1975 my first rock concert. Final year in High School and I got to stay in Winnipeg by myself and miss the first day of school. Plus it had one of those memories that last all your life, the girl in the bus depot.
2) What is the best rock concert you've seen?
Townie actually cheated and named several, but really needs to pin it down to one. Which is hard because many of the concerts were "best" in their own special way. Take the BTO concert above for instance. I've been to a lot of great concerts, not for a long long while, but I've been to a lot of them. I think the last concert I was at was Dire Straits, and that was, wow, at least twelve years ago. Many of the best "concerts" I was at, technically weren't concerts. Those magical nights in a bar listening to bands that should have been destined for greatness, but were heading to obscurity. So how do you pick the best concert from the likes of The Who, The Doobie Brothers, Dire Straits, Jethro Tull, Pat Benetar, SuperTramp, Meat Loaf, Pat Methany (not rock I realize but god what a concert), Muddy Waters (the Blues count, they gave birth to Rock), Chris De Burgh, etc.
For sheer entertainment value Meat Loaf was hard to beat, plus as a bonus he stood outside the venue before the show talking to fans. Supertramp and Jethro Tull were amazing both musically and visually. Pat Methany in an outdoor venue at the Montreal Jazz Festival was magic, pure magic. But the best? Pretty hard to nail down. Forced to choose I'd have to say... ...
George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers. Pantages Theatre in Winnipeg, sometime in early 80s. Everything a concert should be about, music, energy and fun. They're back in Winnipeg on May 23rd.
"One only has to consider the life force packed tight into that puff of feathers to lay the mind wide open to the mysteries - the order of things, the why and the beginning. As we contemplate that sanderling, there by the shining sea, one question leads inevitably to another, and all questions come full circle to the questioner, paused momentarily in his own journey under the sun and sky." - Peter Matthiessen, The Wind Birds
It is the Vernal Equinox today, one of the two days of the year when, briefly, we have the same photo period as the rest of the world. But for the next six months here in the High Arctic we'll have more sun than everyone south of us, pretty much the all of the world. The lengthening days mean our birds will soon return, more days will be spent outside, less time will be spent reading other's words about the Wild.
This I and the Bird is a celebration of other's words (and images) of the world's birds, primarily through the posts of the amazingly diverse I and the Bird blogging community, but also through some equally celebrated authors, bonvivants and others of note. So pause a moment, and consider this life, these birds, and this briefest of moments on our journey under the sun and sky.
"Sitting down on a block of granite, it was delightful to watch the various insects and birds as they flew past." - Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle
It is always delightful to visit with Duncan of Ben Cruachan Blog, and today he journeys eastward to search for the birds and insects in his patch of Australia in Eastward Ho.
"No Poem, no painting, no work of man's hand or brain is as marvelous a thing as the least of the species of living beings that inhabit the earth. Each one... is a miracle as far beyond our comprehension as the stars. We cannot make them, we cannot understand how they were made. To destroy one... to wipe out a whole species... for all eternity, is to do so colossal a thing that the mind falters at the thought." - Herbert Ravenel Sass, On the Wings Of a Bird
"It is an old story with a new interest. The birds have lived, and we have lived to meet again the old scenes. They bring us once more to the assurance of the unfailing return of spring, and the never-ending joy and fecundity of life." - John Burroughs, The Familiar Bird
Roger, the host of Words & Pictures, has noted that the breeding season is well underway and gives us a wonderful photo of a Mute Swan chasing off a rival, Full steam ahead!
"Four ducks on a pond, A grass-bank beyond, A blue sky of spring, White clouds on the wing, What a little thing To remember for years - To remember with tears" - William Allingham, Four Ducks on a Pond.
"The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified head, fills citified ears - as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk-happy." - Frank Lloyd Wright, The Living City.
"No sadder song salutes you than the clear Wild laughter of the loon" - Celia Thaxter, Seaward
Greg Laden's blog, strangely entitled Greg Laden's Blog, is home to his tales of some of his encounters with loons, but sadly segues into a report on Mercury toxicity in Common Loons. Yes, The Loonacy Must Stop.
"There were three Ravens sat on a tree, They were as black as they might be. The one of them said to his make, 'Where shall we our breakfast take?'" - Unattributed Ballad, The Three Ravens
"The Raven is big, black, and beautiful. Its highly glossed plumage shows iridescent greens, blues, and purples, shining like a black dewdrop in the light. And it dives and rolls like a black thunderbolt out of the sky or speeds along with liquid, gliding strokes. The Raven is the paragon of the air, and more." - Bernd Heinrich, Ravens in Winter.
"Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling Glowed with the light of love, as the skies and waters around her. Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers, Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water, Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music, That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen. Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale OF Acadie
Liza Lee Miller of Its Just Me (the blog formerly known as the Egret's Nest) tells us a delightful tale of being tricked, and no doubt mocked, by one of her favourite birds: Mimus polyglottos
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
"At once a voice rose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom."- Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush
Owlman, he of the Owl Box, tells us of the freezing temperatures during a recent outing, and of the very co-operative, very photogenic, very un-hermitlike thrush in Sneaking up on a frozen Thrush.
"I believe that there is a kind of poetry, even a kind of truth, in simple fact... Language makes a mighty loose net with which to go fishing for simple facts, when facts are infinite. If a man knew enough he could write a whole book about the juniper tree." - Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season In the Wilderness
I make no secret of the fact that I think nuthatch, of bootstrap analysis (my blogmom) is the best science/nature blogger among us. She was my inspiration to start blogging, and hasn't been active enough for my tastes lately. I happy that she is sharing with us her looking for bo'wings.
"Nothing is wasted, nothing is in vain The seas roll over but the rocks remain" - A.P. Herbert, Tough at the Top (operetta)
Beverly, the eyes and mind hidden Behind the Bins, tells us just what bird watchers will endure as she searches (and finds) pelagics while suffering from a bout of Mal de Mer.
"I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven." - Emily Dickinson, The Single Hound
"Secrets lurk on all sides. There is news in every bush. What no man ever saw before may the next moment be revealed to you. What a new interest the woods have! How you long to explore every nook and corner of them!" - John Burroughs, Wake-Robin
Rurality delights in showing us the secrets of her woods in Alabama. Here her photos reveal the Cause and Effect that starts with an Otter fishing in their pond.
"The bird seeks the tree, not the tree the bird." - Mexican proverb.
"Joys come from simple and natural things, mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water. Even rain and wind and stormy clouds bring joy, just as knowing animals and flowers and where they live. Such things are where you find them, and belong to the aware and the alive. They require little scientific knowledge, but bring in their train an ecological perspective, and a way of looking at the world." - Sigurd F. Olson. Open Horizons
"I meant to do my work today - But a brown bird sang in the appletree, And a butterfly flitted across the field, And all the leaves were calling me." - Richard Le Gallienne, The Lonely Dancer
The Ridger, who is at home in The Greenbelt, has Cedar Waxwings in the trees outside her work place, birds that she hadn't noticed before.
"The world acquired a new interest when birds appeared for the presence of birds at any time is magical in effect. They are magicians that transform that transform every scene; make of every desert a garden of delights." - Charles C. Abbott, Days Out of Doors
"My way is to seize an image that moment it has formed in my mind, to trap it as a bird and to pin it at once to canvas. Afterward I start to tame it, to master it. I bring it under control and I develop it."- Joan Miro
Susannah is the Wanderin' Weeta, who hails from Canada's West Coast. Even though they are constantly moving and wary she finally got a photo by Pinning down a Junco (don't worry, figuratively).
"There is ever a lurking suspicion that the beginning of things is in some way associated with water, and one may notice that in his private walks he is led by a curious attraction to fetch all the springs and ponds in his route, as if by them was the place for wonders and miracles to happen." - John Burroughs, Wake-Robin
"There is a peculiar virtue in the music of elusive birds... What one remembers is the invisible Hermit Thrush pouring silver cords from impenetrable shadows; the soaring crane trumpet from behind a cloud; the prairie chicken booming from the mists of nowhere; the quail's Ave Maria in the hush of dawn." - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
John Carlson and I have both birded the dumps of Ushuaia Argentina, literally the dumps, which is how he found the House and I found his blog Prairie Ice. He can normally be found on the prairies of Montana, but is temporarily Trading Places for the Sonoran Desert.
"...that ghostly, haunting, wailing "oh-h-h, oh-h-h-h, ooh-ooh." Like a woman crying hopelessly, endlessly. Like a baby bear who has lost his mother. Like the faint far-off foghorn of a ship at sea. Like the mournful sigh of a wind in a pine tree." - Theodora C. Stanwell-Fletcher, Driftwood Valley
The Drinking Bird, the blog of N8 from NC, is a fine blog and the best way to keep up with N8's NC BY. In Loony Tunes he tells us of one of his last efforts to find winter birds which include two species of loons.
"The flamingoes are the most delicately coloured of all the African birds, pink and red like a flying twig of an oleander bush." - Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
Its not Africa, but Tai Haku lives, works and plays in a tropical paradise (so we don't have to) and blogs in Earth, Wind & Water. He shares with us some lovely photos of delicately coloured Flamingoes turning Pink Pirouettes.
Nights of watching, when every fallen leaf is a sentinel and every moonbeam a spy, will let us into some secrets about the ponds and fields that the sun, old and all-seeing as he is, will never know." - Dallas Lore Sharp, A Watcher In The Woods
I first found John's delightful DC Birding Blog a long while ago (so long ago it was still in DC). Now that he's in New Jersey he's been off in Franklin Township finding a life Short-eared Owl, after sunset in Franklin Shorties.
"I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after. - Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird
"Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over the country? Great books are not in everybody's reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither the time nor means to get more. Let every bookworm, when... he discovers a sentence, a story, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Julie, the author of Pines Above Snow, is another blogger who likes to celebrate the passions of books and natural history. She shares with us her discoveries contained within Audubon magazine in Audubon Arrivals.
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common... To the wise, therefore, a fact is true poetry, and the most beautiful of fables." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, The essay Prospect
The last of my nominated posts comes from Nina's wonderful Nature Remains. She ended up Running Late as a Hairy Woodpecker had struck her window.
Which brings us almost to the end of The Quotable I and the Bird, leaving only my post from The House and other Arctic musings which finds me pining for more feathered colour in my world, a Splash of Blue. The quote? It is embedded in the post, e.e. cummings reading crazy jay blue)
"I like deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." - Douglas Adams
Many of the blogs you read today in this issue of I and The Bird belong to the Nature Blog Network. You'll find many more great nature blogs there, and if you blog natural history and haven't already joined the Nature Blog Network you should.
Last night Hilary showed me a magic trick. It took me a few moments before I realized what she was doing, but here's the thing, she actually did a pretty good job of it.
As part of my qualifications for geekdom I am a magician. Or was, I haven't kept my hand in it for several years now and magic is something that needs constant attention to do well. I enjoy doing magic and perhaps I should find some time and start building a base again. I have a penchant for close up magic, as opposed to stage illusions and that ilk. I like magic that happens with ordinary objects, that happens up close, right in front of you. To me magic seems more real when someone makes a coin appear out of nothing rather than producing a cabinet and sawing someone in half. So my magical heroes are not the David Copperfields and Doug Hennings, but people like Michael Ammar, Doc Eason, John Bannon and Paul Harris.
This is Michael Ammar performing 'The ambitious card'
I could go off on a discourse on how I enjoy the philosophy of magic, the psychology of magic, or how, when you know the mechanics of magic, the wow factor mostly disappears. Don't ask how its done, knowing will spoil it for you. But I won't do that, this is about my daughter's magic and a different wow factor.
So I was sitting on the couch when Hilary came up to me and showed me a coin in her hand, remember this is a two year old, which she then covered with a face cloth, then she pulled way the face cloth and the coin was gone. Oh yes, she didn't forget the magic word, Abracadabra, which in her version sounds more like "Dabadabadabadabadabadabadaba".
I had no idea what she had just done.
So she showed me again. Dabadabadabadaba, coin was in her hand, now its not. Suddenly I realized that she is showing me a magic illusion. Now its a pretty simple trick, cover the coin with a cloth, grab the coin through the cloth with your other hand, pull cloth away along with coin and voila, magic. But the wow, for me, is I have no idea 1) where she would have picked up the idea (and known enough to utter a magical phrase) and 2) How a two year old would get the concept of illusion to make something disappear (and realize it is worth showing someone).
I have done a bit of magic for the kids lately, mostly just squeezing a coin to make it disappear and pulling it out of their ears, or striking a penny in an open hand with a pen and having it disappear, but nothing involving coins and handerchiefs. Still, she must have picked it up somewhere. Cartoons?
So now I'm feeling a little magical flame rekindled, (Oh god, where will the time come from) all because of magical little girl who knows how to puzzle her father.
Two days before "Spring" it is freaky cold in the High Arctic. It is -39C today, with a stiff wind. A very stiff wind. Driving around running errands today I noticed two things about the Ravens in town. Every Raven I saw was doing one of two things. They were either hunkered down in the lee of buildings, sitting on oil tank stands close to a wall, or below the peak of a roof, avoiding the cold.
Alternatively they were playing in the wind. I saw several that were hovering motionless in the wind, letting the wind hold them in place, until tiring of the view they would peel away sweep down and then back up into the sky to start hovering once again.
It is hard to imagine a more admirably suited bird to life in the High Arctic.
Just a quick reminder that deadline for submissions to the best carnival of birds or birding, I and The Bird, is tomorrow. Send your posts to me at Clareleah AT qiniq DOT com by supper time tomorrow for inclusion.
If you're one of my regular readers (Hi mom!) and blog, consider sending in a (wild) bird related post, be it pictures, reminisces, an account of your latest birding trip or walk around your property. The carnival will be out, right here, on Thursday - the Vernal Equinox.
One of my current clients is a biologist, whose work includes the Rankin Inlet Peregrine Project,
which has seen some 900 Peregrine Falcons banded since 1981 in one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind. He was the first non-inuit client of ours to know that Kiggavik is inuktitut for Gyrfalcon, and our conversation quickly turned to birds and the birds of the High Arctic in general to the falcons of Arctic Bay in particular.
Although it is probably a week or two early for the Gyrfalcons to have returned to their nest we decided we would head out to the nearest aerie and see what we could find.
The St. George Society Cliffs lie just around the corner from Arctic Bay on Adam's Sound, and they are very impressive 200 metre vertical red stone cliffs.
It is hard to convey just how massive they are, two football fields high, but it is easy to feel tiny next to them.
We stopped near the nest and looked out over the bright white silence of Adam's Sound,
and then waited and glassed the cliffs in hopes that the Gyrfalcons had already arrived.
They hadn't of course but that did not lessen the day, Ravens soared and played 600 feet above us along the tops of the cliffs, tiny black birds wheeling and soaring along the face.
Not wanting to carry a lot of stuff I grabbed my camera but only took the telephoto zoom, anticipating taking pictures of the Gyrfalcons a hundred feet up.
So the only views I can share don't show the scale of the cliffs, only tightly cropped views of their face, and this photo of the cliffs at the start where they are much lower.