Sunday, May 27, 2007

More birding and other stuff, too

Seems like I'm busier by the minute and I really need to find some time to do some woodturning. I did manage to do some work on my latest project this weekend, and I'll have time tomorrow to do a lot of the detail work on this piece. I've not posted any pics of it as of yet, but will have something, I hope, by next weekend to share here on the blog.

I spent a lot of my time this past week practicing on my fiddle so that I would be prepared to record two fiddle tracks this weekend for the Aisling CD project. All that practice certainly helped me to record acceptable tracks. I'm definitely the second fiddler in our band (Stuart's the star fiddler in our band), but I can fill in some depth on some of the tune tracks. We're laying down a scratch track on one of the vocals in this picture. My goal for my fiddle playing was to record tracks that wouldn't embarrass me to listen to for the long haul. I think I succeeded there, but I'm sure I'll enjoy listening to my hammer dulcimer work much more than the fiddle tracks or the vocals. At any rate, the project is moving along toward completion. You can see more pics of our studio time on the Aisling blog.

I spent some time this morning on an Audubon field trip lead by Rob Thorn. We walked around Whittier Peninsula and Greenlawn Cemetery. The migration season is definitely past prime time, but we saw some neat birds today. This one is an Eastern Wood Peewee. We also saw and heard a Willow Flycatcher, which is related to this species.

Whittier Peninisula has been designated as an important bird area and the city is developing a park that highlights this birding hotspot. This is the sign marking the spot where the Audubon Center will be in the near future. That's Steve poking his nose out from behind the sign.

We saw a lot Cedar Waxwings today. I like their elegant appearance.

We sure saw a lot of catbirds today, too.

There are a lot of butterflies and moths out and about this time of year, also.

Here's a mourning dove sitting on her nest.

Greenlawn cemetery wasn't all that great for birding today, but we did see a Swainson's and a Wood thrush. We also heard a Gray-cheeked thrush.

I'll be back here tomorrow morning for a band photo shoot. The cover art for our CD project features an old cemetery in Ireland. We're doing a band portrait at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Columbus Audubon fieldtrip to Glacier Ridge Metro Park

The Columbus Audubon Society sponsors a series of field trips led by excellent birders. Tom Shely, from Wild Birds Unlimited led an evening excursion at Glacier Ridge Metro Park yesterday. Steve and I went along. The highlight was hearing the Sora song in the marsh.

Here's Tom pointing out a Baltimore Oriole up in a huge Burr Oak tree.

There was a bit of commotion up in the tree as a female oriole was chasing off an intruder.

We didn't spot a nest, but we assumed that's what all the commotion was about. This is a lovely old oak that is a remnant of days gone by before urbanization and human intrusion into this prairie habitat.

We saw or heard 27 species in the two hours we were out - that's without covering much territory. Red-winged blackbirds dominate this part of the metro park.

Tree swallows are everywhere, also. This is a male. It's too bad the angle of the sun isn't showing all of its beautiful irridescence.

This is the female at the opening of one of the purple martin's nests. No purple martins, here, though.

Monday, May 21, 2007

If it's Monday evening, it must be time for birding.

Steve and I have been going birding on Monday evenings for the past several weeks. Migration season is starting to wind down a bit, but it's still fun to go look for birds. We went to Kiwanis Park along the Scioto River in Dublin, Ohio this evening from 6 to 8 pm. We spotted 27 species of birds in that time, including two new ones for our lists - a Philadelphia Vireo and a Least Flycatcher.

One of the memorable moments this evening was the scene we observed of a blue jay attacking a Cooper's Hawk. We also enjoyed observing a Great Crested Flycatcher in action. The only warbler seen this evening was a Wilson's. A Baltimore Oriole added some more color and we saw a lot of different woodpeckers.

Kiwanis Park is a riverside wetland area. Most of the park is accessed via a boardwalk.

This is one of the wetland areas you can see from the boardwalk.

I loved the lighting on the green foliage in this area. I took this series of photos just as the sun was setting.

I should have paid more attention to all of the plants here. It seemed like the dominant was skunk cabbage.

Here's a Great Crested Flycatcher.

I was able to capture this image as it took off from a branch.

One of many song sparrows out this evening.

A huge umbelliforous plant. I'll have to look up its name sometime.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mother's Day birding fun.

So, it's a week after Mother's Day, but this is my first opportunity to upload my pictures from last Sunday. Steve and I did an early morning field trip to Prairie Oaks Metro Park with the Columbus Audobon Society. Rob Thorn led our small group around the trails to do some excellent birding - lots of warblers and other interesting birds. I added 11 birds to my life list from this field trip.

Baltimore Orioles sure put on a good show for us all morning. Everywhere we went we saw and heard a lot of this beautiful birds.

Darby Creek is truly a treasure right here in Ohio. It is one of the cleanest streams in North America and is a hotspot for freshwater mussle diversity.

The creek is lined with Sycamore trees, which are perfect for Pileated Woodpecker nesting cavities. That's what everyone is looking at from across the stream.

Here's one of the many different warbler species seen in the woods of Prairie Oaks Metro Park - a Bay-breasted warbler.

Here's another good view of it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bird banding at OSU

I tagged along on the EEOB's Ornithology class field trip last Wednesday. They met at the wood lot on the Waterman Farm, which is just a few blocks from where I live.

The class usually encounters these grad students who are studying bird migration and have an active banding program going on at the wood lot.

Here's a newly banded Swainson's Thrush. Notice the buffy spectacles? That's an excellent field mark for identifying this thrush.

We went with Steve, one of the grad students, to the mist net to see if anything else had been caught in the 15 minutes or so since the net had last been checked.

Sure enough, there was a bird caught and ready to be banded.

Unfortunately, it had also tangled up its tongue in the net so Steve had to carefully untangle the thread from around the bird's tongue.

This is a Gray-cheeked thrush and it took a bit of careful work to untangle it from the net.

Sometimes a twig is needed to pry open the mandibles, but this bird was a bit more cooperative.

Patience, patience, and lots of skill here.

There - got it. Another bit of work to ease the mandibles open again to rearrange things and the bird is back to how it's supposed to be.

This is a very nice view of a Gray-cheeked Thrush. No buffy spectacles, barely an eye ring, and no rufous coloring on any part of the bird = Gray-cheeked rather than some other kind of thrush.

Birds around Columbus (May 6 - 12)

The Cliff Swallows are back at the Lane Avenue bridge over the Olentangy. I've also seen Barn Swallows and Northern Roughwing Swallows along this stretch of river.

There's a lot of furious activity at the nests. Sometimes you see what looks like a traffic jam in flight as the scramble to the nests intensifies.

Steve and I saw a female Hooded Merganser at the OSU wetlands billabong. The Great Egrets have also returned to the wetland.

Wood ducks are in abundance all along the Olentangy.

I always enjoy seeing the ducklings. They seem to run across the top of the water as they keep up with their mom.

This mother Wood duck had twelve ducklings in tow.

Speaking of babies, here are two of the gazillions of Canada Goose goslings seen all over Columbus this week.

I've noticed that the geese ususally start with about a dozen goslings and then end up with just a couple or so at the end of the nesting season. I wonder what eats the babies - raccoons, coyotes, someone's pet dog?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Birds around Columbus (Apr 30 - May 5)

One of a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks flying over OSU west campus.

Barn Swallow perching on a wire at the OSU wetlands park.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Highbanks Metro Park. We've had grosbeaks to our feeder at home, too - a first for our yard bird list.

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

A Gray Catbird at Highbanks Metro Park.

Mike Hosaluk visits the Central Ohio Woodturners

Michael Hosaluk visited the Central Ohio Woodturners May 4 - 6, doing two one-day hands-on classes and an all-day demonstration at Wood Werks on Saturday, May 5th. Mike is from Saskatchewan, Canada and puts his heart and soul into his work. I think you'll see his sense of humor throughout this posting.

We had an excellent turnout for Mike's demo at Wood Werks in Gahanna. The demonstration started with production items such as a spin top and sphere.

John Herrell helped me out with photos for the first hour because I had to go out and fetch some slide carousels for Mike's slide show.

Here's Mike getting his top ready to spin.

Mike used these spin tops as a bread-and-butter kind of item at craft shows. It's amazing how much income something like this can generate.

Mike next demonstrated how to turn a sphere without using any templates or tricks. The idea here is to develop you eye and coordination. You need to be able to see the shape and the flowing curve of the ball. It's much harder to do than he makes it look, that's for sure.

The sphere leads directly into this interesting project - a ladle turned from one piece of wood. You can see the starting material here.

The sphere-end is shaped first and then the handle is turned.

To hollow out the bowl of the ladle, Mike made a jam chuck out of green wood. He turned the inside shape and then put a slot into the form. The ball of the ladle is pressed into the jam chuck and the handle adjusted so that the axis is perpendicular to the bed of the lathe.

Here's that jam chuck.

You have to be very careful of that handle flying around. A couple of the turners who took Mike's class caught their arms with the handle of the ladle. Ouch! Blood can be a surface enhancement, of course, but one that is better avoided.

The lathe speed is turned down for this step. Hollowing the ladle is the same as turning a small bowl, but you have to watch out for that handle that's spinning around.

One of the techniques that Mike showed us in the hands-on classess was how to steam-bend wood using a microwave. He does that to the handle of the ladle. The wood has to be soaked or wetted by wrapping it in a wet cloth. Then the piece is microwaved and placed into a clamped form.

A much simpler project is a spatula or a spurtle. Mike started with another cut-out shape and turned the handle.

The flattened part is shaped on the edges.

After the turning is finished, the shaping of the spatula is done on a sanding wheel. The sanding wheel is a circle of MDF with a 12 inch adhesive-backed sandpaper. Ron Damon had made up several of these MDF discs for the club and offered them for sale for $5 each.

Here's the finished spatula and a turning blank for the same.

Did I mention that Mike has a great sense of humor? He had the club laughing throughout the day. Here's Jim Burrowes having a good laugh at something Mike said.

Here are some of the things Mike brought to show us. I think you'll see some of the interesting personality quirks that Mike puts into his work from some of these items.

He said the baby rattles are scary by design. ("Kids might as well get used to the idea that we live in a scary place. . .")

Many of the shapes Mike uses in his art are from turned, disassembled and reassembled parts.

Each of the designs have some significance to Mike, and each one tells a story.

Here's a ladle that was a collaboration between Mike Hosaluk and Jacques Vesery.

The handle part of that same ladle.

Mike also brought tools and handles to sell to the club.

Next project was a baby rattle (or, more likely, an adult rattle). This starts with a hollow form.

One end is shaped.

More levity. Jim sure enjoyed Mike's sense of humor. Craig Wright is in the middle, next to Jim.

To start the hollowing process, a half-inch hole is drilled.

Mike had a drill bit that has a #2 morse taper and that was placed directly into the tailstock.

The drill hole provides a reference from which to hollow.

Here are Mike's hollowing tools.

I don't know what Mike was explaining here, but it was another humorous moment.

After the hollowing is complete, Mike took the form to the bandsaw and removed the middle section.

That makes it possible to have an oval shape for the rattle.

The edges are trued on the sanding wheel prior to the glue-up.

The handle is done next and then a hole is drilled into the rattle part to accept the tenon of the handle.

Mike does all of his sharpening free hand.

The next-to-last-project was a bowl. Mike turned a flat ring on the outside of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl had a ring that would be cut away to form feet. The technique that was important to note was the continuation of the profile inside that ring. Mike used a tool that showed the profile so that he could match the upper and lower curves.

The placement of the feet are marked and then the excess wood is cut away with a hand saw.

You can see the technique there on the screen.

Notches were also cut into the flattened ring left on the outside of the bowl.

The wood between the notches was cut away, partly on the bandsaw, and then the rest using carving chisels.

Here's the roughout of the bowl.

Mike did some clean-up with a reciprocating carving chisel.

The rough edges are burned off.

Mike put Craig to work on finishing the scorching process.

Given how messy this job was, it was probably good to subcontract it to a club member.

The final project of the day was one of Mike's signature boxes.

This starts out as a long, cylindrical box.

Tenons for the chuck are turned on both ends and then the cylinder is parted and separated in the middle. Mike parted down to about half and inch and then sawed through the rest.

The female end of the box is hollowed first. A drill hole is made using the half inch bit.

The hole is started by turning the wheel of the tailstock.

That doesn't go very fast, so Mike put some muscle into it and just pushed the drill into the box.

The hole needs to be a half inch in diameter to allow room for the hook tool to do its job.

This is end grain hollowing, so a hook tool is perfect for the job.

This is the hook tool that is marketed with the Michael Hosaluk label. It fits into the end of one of Mike's tool holders.

After the top is turned, it's time to do the bottom. This one has a tenon to match the diameter of the top. The tenon is close to the diameter of the matching top, but not yet fitted. The hollowing is done and then the fitting is done.

After the two box halves are hollowed, the box is put together and the join is turned without having any pressure from the tailstock. Once that detail is done, the outside shape is turned as a long oblong.

That shape on the bench is where this project is headed.

Mike cuts the whole thing apart using various angles.

Just be sure your fingers are out of the way.

You end up with a series of rings cut at various angles.

All of the edges are trued on the sanding wheel.

The glue-up involves end grain to end grain. You have to seal the end grain by using a 50:50 dilution of wood glue to water. This is brushed onto the endgrain to seal it before the actual glue-up is done.

Mike usually does all the texturing of the inside as each ring is added.

While the sizing was drying, Mike finished off the rattle handle by adding concentric circles of paint.

Back to the glue-up.

The last part of the demo was an excellent slide show. Mike showed us where his inspiration comes from and it involves nature, his family, and cultural heritage.

Mike joined Steve and me in the evening for a walk at High Banks Metro park where we did a bit of birding. Then we had a nice dinner.

I took the hands-on class that was offered on Sunday. I really enjoyed the challenge of doing the ladle project. I found out, though, that I don't do spheres very well. I need those little tricks that I've learned from other turners.

Oh well - something to work on when I have some time.

We had seven students in the Sunday class.

It was a good crowd, though, and we had a good time together.

Thanks, Mike - I really enjoyed the weekend.