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Mar. 27th, 2010 | 10:29 am

I have decided not to blog on LJ anymore. There are a couple of reasons- the experience of using the site has been lacking the last few months and secondly, I am not sure I want to write such a topical blog anymore. It's 'A birdwatcher's diary', but I find I am moving away from just birding to other stuff. So it would be a good thing to move out of this space right now. I'd rather not commit to writing in this mode for a while. Goodbye LJ, we did good, but I gotta get away.

at rest

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Fire in the canyon

Mar. 25th, 2010 | 10:43 am

Nothing like the warmth of a campfire!

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Wheat Ridge birding

Mar. 14th, 2010 | 07:54 pm

I managed to get a ride with A. and went birding with the local bird club this morning. It had been sunny all week, and although I had checked the forecast for Sunday, I didn't anticipate how cold and windy it would be! I think we were also at a slightly higher elevation but I've realized how I need to learn about dressing up properly for the outdoors. Fingers froze again and somehow the wind seemed to get into my shoes too. Almost lost my scope's eyepiece in the process of trying to stay warm. No pictures obviously.

But the good parts- a nice view of Cooper's hawk through the scope, a singing Song Sparrow and many Red-winged Blackbirds. Among the ducks we saw Redheads and Buffleheads and a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Plenty of drumming from the Flickers - even near my apartment I can hear them in the trees. During the week, there were many birds about- nuthatches, robins and chickadees were very vocal.

Mountain weather- now I start to understand how very unpredictable it can be. Next week I am going for a canoe trip so I need to stay warm! Should go to REI and buy anything that has 'fleece' in its description!

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Odd things in the snow

Feb. 14th, 2010 | 12:08 pm

Valiant efforts are being made to get out in the snow. And I have pictures to show for it!

Firstly, a strange hoofprint outside my apartment. It might be a deer because they sometimes get lost in the town.

Then, a strange patch of green water plants, probably growing because of warm water.


And, finally - Lichen!! This is not really odd, but I froze my fingers taking the photo, so it deserves a spot.

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Jan. 18th, 2010 | 09:58 pm

I've not been birding, well not much anyway. One of the main reasons in Boulder was snow and below freezing temperatures, the second was lack of transportation. I think I'm slowly getting used to both in a reluctant sort of way. But I'm taking a lesser number of courses this time and the big burden of the M.Phil defense is now behind me. I hope I can get out a bit more this semester.

Read a couple of great books though, so I thought I'd blog about those. The first was "Loke Wan Tho's Birds", a coffee-table book sent to me for my birthday. It includes some of Loke Wan Tho's (LWT) black and white bird photographs and excerpts from his diary. I loved the bird photos, many of them taken during the field surveys with Salim Ali. He describes his first visit to the Rann of Kutch:

"Salim returns with exciting tale of trio to Flamingo breeding grounds. Start in darkness, guide going by the stars. Pure white salt of Rann below and starlight above indescribably beautiful. Cross miles and miles of shallow water and come to earthen mound-like nests of Flamingoes which were dark brown in colour and stand out like mountains in surrounding dazzling whiteness of Rann..."

He has several interesting tales about birding with Salim Ali and there's one photograph in the book that I really loved- probably taken by someone other than LWT? It shows LWT and SA walking purposefully down a long road leading down a slope. It's titled 'Walking the Mile' and it seems to capture the adventure, hardship and excitement that exploration entails. 
The second was Aldo Leopod's 'A Sand County Almanac', which I picked up at the visitor centre in Glacier NP (never got round to blogging about that trip!). The book is a classic and also has a couple of essays that describe in detail some of Leopold's ideas about conservation. For him, equally relevant are education and the ability to be perceptive about nature. But most importantly perhaps, the ability to be humble. Here, he talks about different kinds of outdoor recreation from hunting to birdwatching to isolation and a sense of community with the land.

"...the rudimentary grades of outdoor recreation consume their resource base; the higher grades, at least to a degree, create their own satisfactions with little or no attrition of land or life. It is the expansion of transport without a corresponding growth of perception that threatens us with qualitative bankruptcy of the recreational process. Recreational development is a job not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind."

There are many other insights in his essays, reflections of a scientist's mind and the experience of managing the wilderness areas in the U.S. In addition of course are the nature essays, which are hard to quote as there are so many things he describes pithily and tenderly. I'm happily re-reading this one.

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Cottonwood in Fall

Oct. 29th, 2009 | 11:37 am

A separate entry for the beautiful Cottonwood tree, which is fast becoming a big favourite with me. We saw a lot of these trees with leaves turned completely yellow because of the fall season.

cottonwood in fall

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Boulder to Grand Junction

Oct. 29th, 2009 | 11:06 am

I decided to stop sulking and get out -- and it did me a lot of good. I went with my room mate's host family to Grand Junction-about a 4 hour drive from Boulder last weekend. It was an interesting drive as we climbed 11,000 ft and then back down again. We effectively travelled through winter in the high passes to early fall in the foothills on the other side. That was fun.

Observing the changes in habitat was also interesting. The coniferous forests gave way to hills covered with sage brush(?) and then to almost arid rock. On the way was Glenwood Canyon cut through by the winding Colorado river. Also saw some of the old mining towns that had sprung up during the Colorado Gold Rush. Yes, the mountains had gold and silver and prospectors came from far away for the precious metals. Reminders that this was indeed the West of all the novels and movies.

We passed through Copper mountain and Vail, which are the top skiing destinations. Aspen is also not too far from here. Skiing looks scary because I don't think I like snow much. But it might be thrilling. People are very excited about winter here because of all the skiing opportunities. Mostly, I am just stunned by the sight of so much snow. Here are some pictures showing changes in landscape as we crossed different altitudes.

More picturesCollapse )

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