Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Art Show

I have my first art show! A local mobile art gallery called ArtSpot has four of my photos hanging right now. They are in a local sandwich shop (hey, you take what you can get in a small town). Right now I am displaying my work with a few other artists. Each of us in the introductory show will have our own show at a later date. I put mine off until I get back from Antarctica in case I get some good photos then. Here is a photo of my work on the wall. (click on the photo to enlarge it).

More Southeast Arizona photos

This morning we went out and did field training on conducting point counts. Whew. I think there was one species I heard on the point counts this morning that I am familiar with and that was a Mourning Dove. The others are all pretty much brand new and I am struggling to sort them all out. It was a bit overcast this morning and it started to rain towards the end our work but at least it wasn't a downpour like the other morning. Here are a few more photos from the last few days.
Black-throated Sparrow

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Zebra-tailed Lizard
Lesser Goldfinch
Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog
Female Black-chinned Hummingbird at Agave flowers.
Painted Redstart family group.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Escaping the Heat- in Arizona!

Sierra Vista, AZ - I had to go to Arizona, where it is going to be at least 20 degrees cooler than Montana this week, to escape the scorching temperatures at home. I am attending a Bureau of Land Management bird monitoring workshop as an instructor in training and hopefully I can continue to do this in the coming years as an instructor. I came down a couple of days early to visit my good friend Tom and meet his partner Maria in Tucson. I haven't seen Tom for many years and it was really nice to visit with him and Maria. Tom and I first met more than a few years ago while doing bird surveys in the Hill Country of Texas where we spent most of 3 months birding every single day and getting paid for most of it. What a job!

We also did a bit of birding on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (well, probably more accurately called being Southeast Arizona naturalists because between the three of them I think they had every plant, flower and butterfly covered too!) . I arrived Friday afternoon and Tom took me to an area called the Sweetwater Wetlands. As you might imagine from the name, it is Tucson's version of a usual birding hotspot - the wastewater treatment area. Despite the mid-afternoon start we managed to see quite a few birds including a brief but diagnostic look at a Gilded Flicker, which was a life bird for me (not sure how I missed that one before other than they were still lumped with all the other flickers under the Northern Flicker moniker twenty one years ago when I last birded Arizona well). Saturday we visited the Madera Canyon area with Tom and Maria's friend Jerry and had a great day in between the torrential monsoonal downpours in the morning and again in the afternoon. The highlight was a Flame-colored Tanager singing loudly. We also ran into a large mixed flock of Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, Bridled Titmice, a Black-throated Gray Warbler, Ash-throated Flycatchers, and a Summer Tanager (seems like there were a few more species in that area that I can't recall right now) moving along the road below the area where the tanager was singing. In all, we saw four species of tanagers that day- Western, Hepatic, Summer, and Flame-colored. Sunday we headed to the Sierra Vista area. Along the way we stopped to listened to Cassin's, Grasshopper and Botteri's Sparrows singing in one spot with a Scaled Quail calling in the background. Later we visited Beatty's B&B in Miller Canyon to see the hummingbirds there. It was great. We were able to sit at the feeders and watch I-don't-know-how-many individuals of 9 species of hummingbirds feeding just feet away from us. Two species of note were the male White-eared Hummingbird and a number of Magnificent Hummingbirds, the most memorable species from my previous trip to Arizona. A short stop in Ramsey Canyon provided brief but diagnostic views of a Berylline Hummingbird. Maria, Jerry, and Tom needed to head back to Tucson so they dropped me off at my hotel for the rest of the day.

Here are a few photos from the trip so far. I will post some more soon.

Flame-colored Tanager

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

Botteri's Sparrow

Band-tailed Pigeon
Bishop's Cap Cactus flower
Lesser Goldfinch (in Tom and Maria's backyard)
Agave flower and guests.
Devils Claw
Hepatic Tanager

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eight random facts

Well it finally happened. I have been tagged with the 8 random facts meme by David at Search and Serendipity.
Here are the rules:
-Players write a post with eight random facts/habits about themselves
- At the end of that post, they “tag” eight bloggers to write similar posts, including the rules. (I am not sure if I can find eight bloggers who haven't already been tagged but I will see what I can do)
- The players then leave a comment to tell the “tag-gees” about the meme.

Here it goes:

1. In addition to working as I wildlife biologist, I have also been employed as a clothing model, bread maker, bird specimen collector, and bartender.

2. Despite our Antarctic connections, I did not meet my wife Laura in Antarctica. I met her at a pig roast at a former one-room school in the Laramie Range east of Rock River, Wyoming.

3. I have been bitten, stabbed, or beaten by most every animal I have studied. I have a scar on my arm from a Golden Eagle bite that didn't break the skin and obtained a hole in my inner thigh from the halux of a Bald Eagle I was removing from a trap (thankfully it was winter and I was wearing a few layers of clothes or it could have been much worse). Penguins have beaten my hands and legs and bitten my hands. A Black-footed Ferret once moved much faster than I could imagine to latch on to my arm.

4. The best birthday present I ever received was my son Benton, who was born 3 days before my birthday.

5. The only ocean I have gone swimming in is the Antarctic Ocean (not the geothermally heated water at Deception Island, but off the pier at Palmer Station in June, just before it froze for the winter).

6. My son Crean is named after my favorite Antarctic explorer, Thomas Crean. Tom Crean was a tough, durable Irishman who told dirty jokes and was the keeper of puppies during the Shackleton expedition (to list a couple of his lesser attributes). If you would like to learn more about him check out this book. This picture of Tom Crean haunts me.

7. I wanted to be a wildlife artist when I was in high school. I still draw (although not much lately) and would love to start doing bronze sculptures one of these days.

8. I find field sketches often more interesting that finished paintings. One of my favorite pieces of art I own is a field sketch of an Arctic Tern by Thomas Quinn that Laura and I received as a wedding present from Steve and Libby Bodio.

Here are my tagged blog accquaintences:

Nina at Arctic Auks

Jeff and Jen at The Stroozwangers

Szabolcs at Wildlife Art and Illustration

Axel at Birding Mongolia

Laurel at ColdPhoto (when she can get internet connection in Siberia)

Cindy at Woodsong (if she is feeling up for it. I hope so).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Arctic Auks

I have added a new blog link on my blog roll called Arctic Auks. It is an account of ongoing research on Spitsbergen Island on Little Auks (or Dovekies) by my very good friend Nina Karnovski and her student crew from Pomona College in California. Check it out here.

added 7-9-07 - On July 2nd, Nina relayed one of the worst "I almost missed my connection because.." stories I have heard in a long time . In case you don't want to chase down the link here is the text from her blog:
"After departing from LAX early on Saturday morning we arrived in Newark airport just in the nick of time to catch the next flight. We were delayed in LAX because 2 passengers in the first class section wouldn’t get off their cell phones! We had to return to the gate and have the police come on board and take them off. Then we had to wait while their bags were taken out of the hold."
I can't imagine a call that important - maybe that's why I still have no cell phone.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Penguin Interlude

I figured it was time to touch on the "Ice" portion of the Prairie Ice blog since the temperatures this weekend will climb above the century mark making me wish for cooler weather and Antarctic climes. On top of that, my reasons for thinking of travels south have recently included lining up my next visit, a couple of penguin talks, and how could I not mention the giant penguin fossils discovered in Peru. It looks like once again this year I will be spending a couple of weeks working for Oceanites, conducting inventories of Antarctic life on the Antarctic Peninsula. This time I am going in November and will see the beginning of the penguin breeding season with clean birds on nests (which I think are much easier to count) compared to the relative chaos and mess of chicks and a seasons worth of processed krill. I am also leading a short Lindblad Expeditions trip into Torres Del Paine National Park prior to the Antarctic cruise. I am really excited about this trip as it has been many years since I was south for the austral spring and I have never been able to bird in Chile in November since all of my trips previously began in October. I am looking forward to seeing the differences in the seabirds in the Drake Passage as well as in Chile from my more recent trips in December and January.

Now that my busy field season has nearly come to the end of the rush, I hope to get back to more posts here.