Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: Nature Principle by Richard Louv

My Reading list for the summer, has taken me to read Richard Louv's Nature Principle about the growing divide between humanity and nature.  We are of course, an intricate part of nature and the ecosystem and one can on and on about the wonders of the natural world.  Watching Gannets dive into the ocean, Swifts twist and turn as they catch bugs, and eagles soaring high in the air.

Louv does a good job of connecting how the natural world helps the lives of people and can help us feel more connected to each other and help us exist with a better and healthier environment.  Whether or not you want you want to question the correlation between human health and environmental health, that's up to you.  But the connection is there.  We are a part of nature whether or not our society values that connection or not.  A certainly valuing the connection would prove most beneficial.  After all, hasn't all the increases in social network/media technology shown that connectivity is a priceless commodity?  We are all searching for deeper connections, reaching out across the globe like ever before, perhaps, we ought to know what's around the block before what's around the world?

The most meaningful part of Louv's work is the part about how we have to imagine a better future for ourselves.  Indeed, this might be the most meaningful part of his message.  If we cannot imagine a better, healthier planet with better, happier, and healthier people living on it, then how can we work towards that goal?  Out Planet is amazing.  In the middle of the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, a new bird species was discovered (Link here!).  Reading Nature Principle and hearing Louv speak has been a great motivating spark for me to think about nature and our modern and future society.  Hopefully, we can start painting a better picture and living in a better future before we can't imagine anymore.

(C) Richard Louv and Algonquin Press in 2011, 2012

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Black Skimmers

The Black Skimmer.  What an interesting bird.  In many ways so similar to a shore bird, but also so very different.  The Black Skimmer is black, white, and has a long orange and black bill.  Much like every other shorebird, until you get a look at their bill.  They are a strange looking bird.  One that makes you think you are just imagining them, that their long bills and unique behavior are just figments of your imagination.  They are however, very real and very awesome birds.  Connecticut is their most northern limit but there are a few nesting records here in the state.

Seeing them reminded me of the power of the Unicorn Effect.  When I heard about their being sighted in a near by site.  Being out in nature, provides any number of opportunities to be lost in it.  To be feel connected to it and feel its presence.  The Black Skimmer reminds me that I can reconnect myself to exotic nature in my own backyard.  Richard Louv, in Nature Principle, writes that "Near is the new far" and the Black Skimmer reminds me of this fact and that I re-live this again and again when I go outside!

All About Birds: Black Skimmer Link

All Photos (C) Me

2013 Year List: 227
Black Skimmer (308 Total)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know

A New Book Review. I had the pleasure of seeing Sharon "Birdchick" Stiteler at the Connecticut Ornithological Association's Annual Meeting ( this past March.  While she spoke only briefly about her book, the publication date was forthcoming, she did talk about lessons and adventures she's had from birding.  Lessons and adventures as far and away as Kazakhstan and as nearby as her home-base of the Twin Cities Metro Area. Stiteler embodies an enthusiasm in her speech about birding and nature that is quite infectious.  It makes her an excellent speaker and ambassador for the birding and natural world.

Her latest effort is 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know.  This work is definitely well geared towards the seasoned veteran and the beginner.  Funny stories, anecdotes, and useful trivia (is there such a thing) make the heart of this book one that occupies a very useful space on my bookshelf.  It is one that I will definitely be using again and again as I try to figure out some birding mysteries and occurrences.   For the Novice Birder, this is a must read!  The different tips and pointers are essential to helping you figure birds out and where are the places to be!  I know I will be using the book as a guide to my future birding endeavors!

In the end, Stiteler has put together a nice read about the in's and out's of birding.  One that informs, makes you laugh, and pushes you to the next level of birding.  Enjoy the read!

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 11.59.34 PM

(C) Sharon "Birdchick" Stiteler and Perseus Book Group

The Next Book Review is the Nature Principle by Richard Louv

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wren on Alert

I found a Carolina Wren.  Wrens are among my favorite birds and this one was particularly active. Turns out he was defending his nest.  But his behavior was interesting to watch and observe.  Before I tell you why he was on alert, let me wax poetic on bird behavior.  I am constantly amazed by bird behavior.  This little bird, smaller than an robin, was causing a real cacophony of noise to alert and distract others.  Other birds flew in as well.  Willow Flycatchers, Grackles, Cardinals, and other wrens came to check out the noise.  This would have made it more difficult for a predator in the area to go unnoticed.  As you may have guessed, I was not the predator, but there was danger.

People were being loud, throwing garbage and rocks about the site.  They were the danger.  Of course people have caused any number of problems for birds, global warming, habitat loss, and other things.  But these people were down right stupid.  Harassing animals shows a real disrespect for the rest of the natural world.  I am still pondering how can people, anyone, treat others in that way?  I have no good answer.  I take a little solace in that when I showed up, the said people left immediately.  When we do something simple as care for the world around us, we make a little better.  Then we can work on the next steps...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

OT: Nature and Wilderness

This is a bit off topic but I feel as though it is related.  There is a growing body of literature out there about the state of nature and wilderness in our modern world.  Although the word growing conjures images of new and exciting writing, I want to be clear that this is no new body of literature.  Thoreau and the other Transcendentalists often wrote about the state of nature and wilderness with the former being the standard bearer for the subject.  Thoreau, in Walden, wants to reconnect to nature, or at least a more pure idea of nature to try and better himself.  He was angry and disappointed at the avenues and trends he saw in his times.  War, technology, and separation from nature troubled Thoreau and he went into the woods for that reason.  He wanted to push people away from the complacency of the modern world and to find deeper connections.  Human connectivity to nature and each other drove his work.

Tim Bowling's work, The Lost Coast, offers an autobiography, or at least a partially autobiography, of his relationships with the Fraser River.  I say relationships because in part he connects the distant past, his family's past, and his own life, to the Fraser River and its changing environment.  Specifically, the life cycle and struggles of the Salmon of the Fraser River.  The life cycle of the river and the salmon have powered the lives of millions and Bowling saw the results of overfishing and the belief that humans can manage the environment better.  Bowling links the expansion of fishing to the expansion of our consumerist culture and increasing de-connectivity with nature to explore and share the pains and struggles of the Fraser River.

There is a loss of culture and nature that is evident in Bowling's Work.  The death and rebirth of the salmon is one of hope.  The Native Nations of BC saw the power of the Salmon as miraculous.  Their cycle of death and life is much like the mythical phoenix, except on an impressive scale.  In the end, it is the Salmon that can empower and ensure the future of the Fraser River.  Yet, disease and faults of the farmed Salmon can endanger this cycle.  Humans have impact lots of other parts of nature.  Yet the failures we have seen and will continue to see may not be a lack of understanding of the complex life of salmon, but rather, a failure to trust nature and our role as a part of nature.  We have a tremendous and significant role to play as part of nature and I hope to focus some of my summer reading on this theme and the idea of how I, as a birder, am part of this cycle and nature.

(c) Nightwood Editions and Tim Bowling

Link to the Publisher's Page - Click Here
Link to the Author's Page - Click Here

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Migration in Review

With Warbler Migration season wearing down, I think back to my early days of birding.  One of the things my birding mentor said to me was that there was no such thing as a migration season.  Sadly, work has such thing as busy seasons and I am wrapping up the school year. I've been stuck in the classroom and after school meetings which has affected my ability to go out and catch migration.  Dipping is definitely frustrating but not even getting the chance to dip is equally, if not more, frustrating.

As Migration winds down, its time to look for shorebirds and nesting birds.  I am looking forward to looking for nesting birds and exploring the environment.  In the meantime, its time to hunt out shorebirds, late migrants, and scope out spots with nests.  Birds are certain;y active. I've run into territorial Carolina Wrens, Killdeer dragging their wings, and bespectacled American Robins!  I'll also be going on a couple of Pelagics and doing some book reviews.  What are people reading out there?  I am trying to build a summer birding reading list.

While I go out and hunt down some photos, enjoy some bird photos!

 Terns and Turnstones
A Collection of Gulls in New Hampshire
 Olive-Sided Flycatcher
A Skulking Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Sunday, June 2, 2013

New Bins

I recently gave in to an urge of mine to own another set of binoculars.  A Pair that easier to carry around on light hikes, bike rides, or surprise birding opportunity.  Basically a pair that I could carry around with me that won't attract everyone's attention.  Basically, I wanted some bins that would help me keep my street cool while looking for birds.  Spoiler Alert: It hasn't worked.  I can't really blame the bins.  In fact, the bins have greatly enhanced my view of the natural world.

These bins have great clarity, vision, and field.  Despite their small size, they pack a great vision and field of scope.  It is also comforting to know that I can take my news bins anywhere because of the great vortex guarantee.  I have found myself sneaking my news bins on day trips, into botanical gardens, on field trips, and around town.  I can't say I always have them on me, that would be crazy, but I do always know where they are!

Vortex (C) 8x28 Diamondback Binoculars

Notable Birds seen with new Bins:
Wood Thrush
White-Winged Dove
Yellow Warbler
Olive Sided Flycatcher