I find it fascinating that ‘we’ have fossils of these birds that are approximately 2.5 million years old, considerably older than most other living bird species. Watching them move about is like being able to see through the thickness of time.
While at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, I spotted my first Evening Grosbeak. Unfortunately, her beak was a bit of a mess, but she was far too intent on eating to stop and get cleaned up for a photoshoot. Can anyone identify the fruit? Click on the photo to see a larger version.
I haven’t disappeared, but, since the early days of this year, I have dedicated almost all of my free time to learning French. I am also busy rereading the entire works of Albert Camus, one of my favourite authors, in English. My goal, this year, is to become proficient enough in French that I can begin to read all of Camus’ work in the original French next year.
Having said that, I have been out hiking/birdwatching a number of times and have already added 28 new species to my Wild Bird List this year.
Well, back to the books …
Part of me wants to do the right thing and eat only local foods. Another part of me wants to sit in the sun and eat strawberries trucked all the way up from California for lunch. Today, the sun and the berries won.
Apparently I’m not the only Canadian making poor choices.
This is a 1965 flyer from Pacific Chrysler Plymouth with a fishing knot and hook size chart on the second side. My paternal grandfather, who passed away in the early 1970s, kept it in his tackle box. It has been living in my own tackle box for decades now even though I can tie those knots in my sleep.
This is my second ‘official’ year as a birder of sorts. Actually, I’ve been casually watching birds for years but somehow never worked up the enthusiasm to bother identifying the various species I didn’t recognize. It was a lazy enjoyment without any sort of catalogue or accounting. All of this changed, however, after I chanced upon iBird, a smartphone app that makes identifying birds a fairly simple task. After successfully using the app to identify an American Dipper that was feeding along the shore of Rolley Lake as my wife and I walked by, I was hooked.
After I installed iBird on my phone, I created a list of all the birds I was certain I’d seen in the recent past by marking them as favourites in the app. This list was quite small as I didn’t want to record any species that I might have mistaken with another in the days when I wasn’t concerned with such details. For that reason, I left most of the various waterfowl, shore, and seabird species off of my list despite having seen a great number of them in the past. This was my initial list:
Gray Jay (Whiskey Jack)
Great Blue Heron
Then, I started keeping an eye out for new birds while out and about. I came across a few birds that I wasn’t able to identify, like the owl, I assume, that flew overhead and vanished among the trees before the synapses in my brain could even light up with owly thoughts. Despite my sluggish synapses, however, I identified and added the following twenty-nine slower moving species to the list:
Still, even with these new additions, it remains a fairly short list. That’s okay. I really don’t want to become an obsessed birder travelling all over the country in search of birds and bragging rights. In fact, I’ve recently discovered and am quite taken with the idea of green birding. These birders focus on the birds they can find within the self-powered reach of their own homes or workplaces. I’ll admit the notion wouldn’t be too much of a hardship on me as I am fortunate to live within walking distance of Burns Bog, but the idea would fit nicely into what I’m already trying to do in terms of weighing the environmental impact of all my actions and, consequently, pursuing only my deepest of interests.
I read Backcountry Bear Basics, by Dave Smith, last summer and definitely recommend it if you spend time in bear country.
I thought I was fairly bear aware, but this book certainly opened my eyes to a number of misconceptions I had about bear behaviour and how one should best handle an encounter with one.
Smith debunks many of the common myths about grizzlies and black bears and offers sound advice on how to best store food, choose a safe campsite, and avoid encounters with bears in the first place. There is also specific advice for various recreational pursuits.
Along the way, he explains how to distinguish between grizzly and black bears, but it’s not always easy to do. If you’d like to practice your bear identification skills, the state of Montana offers free online training and self-testing that’s pretty good. Click here to try it out.