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February 2006
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April 2006

Birdwatching Sunday

We decided to head down to Lakewood to see whether we could spot the Screech owl. Kevin had read that he had been spotted. We saw him last year - check out blog post and photo here.
We parked our car, and were very excited to see a pair of birders at the spot. I tiptoed forward and Kevin raced to get the telescope. I arrived at the pair of birders, but no - no screech owl in evidence. We were so lucky to spot him last year, and get that photo.
After we had inspected every inch of his tree, Kevin put the telescope back into the car and we decided to walk around anyway. The birders we met were trying to find a greater horned owl nest. We decided to have an amble and see what we could see. There were a number of pairs of mallards in the stream. The males keeping a close guard on the females. There were also pairs of gadwells (I am quite fond of gadwells.) and a pair of blue winged teals.

I spotted the familiar shape of a cormorant flying overhead. Then we decided to go and check out the ducks at the small lake near Belmar. There were quite a few Canadian geese present, and stacks of shovellers. I saw a number of Hooded Mergansers diving for food. It was so windy and chilly we just couldn't hang out too long. On the way back to the car I spotted a Belted Kingfisher.

We did not see any sign of the friendly little wood duck who we had spotted last season. (He loved Kevin, and ended chasing him around - Kevin's lens was too long - he kept moving further away, and the wood duck kept following him.)
Check out the wood duck post here.

Please visit Rich Stevens' Bird Trips for some wonderful bird watching information. Thanks to Rich Stevens we got to see the Screech Owl last year, and the Burrowing Owls.

I am always impressed on what generous people fellow birders are.

Games as Literature

I have been doing some surfing. I go to the Carnival List page, and pick a carnival. Try out Carnival of Games, and this interesting piece on the potential of gaming to be more than some cool explosion or effect - to be more than just a movie; gaming as literature.
In this post literature has 2 elements: an artistic medium, and a medium that emotes. Gaming has the potential for both.
I think that there is no doubt with the improvements in technology and the interactions with game and player that gaming will become an artistic medium. Whether that will be "literature" all depends on your definition of literature. Do you mean simply a written artistic medium? Is any artistic medium literature? Surely an artistic medium will be simply art. Gaming could and probably has developed into art, a highly interactive art form, creating emotions from those involved with it. Great (and not so great) literature can do that - it can be artistic, and it can be emotive. Great moviemaking is like that too - great art, and inspiring strong emotions in the watchers.

Saturday Lazy Birdwatching

Ah yes, Spring! Today we had glorious weather. The kind of weather that you just have to get outside. Kevin and I began our lazy birdwatching with a short drive to the St. Vrains State Park where we wanted to buy state park passes. There were loads of people there - fishing, barbeque-ing, and hanging out. We didn't expect to see many birds as there was so much activity. Last year we had a really good sightings of a bald eagle. We saw mostly goosies (yes I know the plural for goose is geese, but these are Canadian geese - there is just something goosy about them.)
Then we drove to Barr Lake for a nice walk. I love the visitors center and the bird feeding station - I always get some good ideas for my garden. I am thinking of ordering plants that are hummingbird & butterfly friendly. Then Kevin and I went for a short walk, slowly watching for birds. There were a number of ducks - gadwells, mallards, a redhead duck, and a coot. We watched a Northern Harrier ride the wind in a dizzying display. I do like the way they soar over the golden fields.
Again lots of goosies, and a sleepy greater horned owl was disturbed from its hiding place. It perched in the sun and blinked sleepily at us.
Kevin had read that a burrowing owl had been seen at the colony nesting site for the first time this season. So off we drove to see whether we could spot it. We didn't. We did see a number of bunnies, and some very fat looking prairie dogs. We listened to the music of the meadowlarks and watched great metal birds land at Denver International Airport.

The Mighty Julius

I come from a family who names cars. One of my earliest memories is of an ancient old tank like the Mercedes that my gran drove and she called her "Henrietta." Henrietta even had a song... "Come on Henrietta, Henrietta, Henrietta, Come on Henrietta, Henrietta, Henrietta". Okay, so it is a bit repetitive but as a child I loved it.
My father had a gorgeous cream 1950's vintage Mercedes sports car that he called "Blondie."
And I have had a "Beetlejuice" (a red Volkswagen Beetle), Sylvester (a red Toyota Conquest) and my present one, Lizzie (a green something or other.)

Needless to say the tradition has continued in our current household, which brings me to Julius, Kevin's Toyota Tercel run around that has been to more places than any other car I know. Julius has driven through snowstorms, on winding rutted roads. He has been a shelter, a place to camp, and a constant companion. (Cue: Violins.)

We have collected some photos of Julius in various situations.
Juliuscar6_img_3961 Here is Julius storm chasing.


And Julius doing some serious off roading...


Julius under some three feet of snow. (March 2003 Snow storm.)


Julius at the camp site at Monument Valley, Navajo Nation.


Julius on the road.


Julius winter driving.

Spring Fever

Always around about this time, I get a yearning for Spring. Over the weekend I noticed my bulbs starting to come up, the crocuses being the first to bloom. Then the snow hit. Gorgeous slushy spring snow. It made the commute interesting, but I know that spring is not far away. I can feel it in my bones.


Bird Watching and Photography Ethics

Still snowing/ raining and I am still surfing. I have been reading some old Carnival of the Vanities links and finding some really really good writing, and good interesting posts. I found this interesting article at a blog called Dances with Moths. The post examines the ethics of bird baiting in order to get great photographs. The central question is (I think) what is the role we play as watchers and photographers? Are we passive watchers or do we elect a more active role. Throwing out bait, whether to an owl, or a tiger is essentially crossing an invisible line. The watcher is no longer a passive and patient observer, watching and recording a natural world unfold. We are manipulating the world around us. So, if we take a photograph (and I am sure it would be a spectacular photograph) of a baited animal and we don't disclose what we have done, we are in turn manipulating an unsuspecting audience. No one likes to be taken for a fool. We like to believe that what we are presented with happened naturally. To find out after the fact that a certain photograph has been essentially "faked" is to understand that we have been manipulated, and taken for a fool.
The other question is do we think that every single "faked" situation should be disclosed? Do we really want to know whether a certain documentary is all natural or that in fact there was an element of "cheating" involved? A part of me wonders whether such disclosure is really worth it? I wonder what proportion of nature photography and film making is all natural, and what proportion is set up with lights and mirrors? Do we rely on the individual ethics of photographers and film makers, not to "cheat" but to do things the long and hard way?
As an audience, I know that I do not want to be manipulated; that I want to believe that what I am seeing is a combination of photographer skill, and patience to capture a true and natural moment.

Hawks in NYC

It is snowing/ raining in Denver today. Spring snow - you know the kind- wet and sloppy. I have been doing some surfing and found the Bonfire of the Vanities and a very cool blog by grrlscientist. Check it out here. I browsed through her blog and found a really cool link to a pair of red tailed hawks who have nested again in NYC. Check out that story here.