Wednesday, March 26, 2008

AAW Sphere Project

This is my contribution to the AAW sphere exhibit. All photos are by Jerry Anthony.

The title of the piece is a quote from Lao Tzu:

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

I think this quote encompasses the idea I had to make my sphere resemble an imaginary propagule of some sort.

Redwood burl, 4.5 inches diameter

Detail picture.

The entire project, post lathe, was carved using my NSK-Z500. What a gem of a tool!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Glacier Ridge Meadowlarks

The last day of spring break was Easter Sunday. We took Emma for a walk and did some casual birding. It was cold and windy and very late in the day, but I wanted to test some different camera settings to see if I could get a better focus at long distance.

By avoiding the convenient presets and setting my AF to one specific dot, I was able to improve the focus quite a bit - especially on things that aren't moving. I also changed the ISO from 100 to 400 for the low light conditions.

We saw and heard about 10 Eastern Meadowlarks toward the end of our walk. They were hard to spot unless they were facing us, but this fellow gave us quite a show.

He was quite a long ways away, but I was able to get a focused picture. The meadowlarks perch on a little tussock of grass and sing a beautiful melody.

You can see how hard it would be to find this against the grass unless he's facing you.

There were a lot of red-winged blackbirds singing around the park, also.

Their epaulettes are very bright right now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Birding at Hoover Reservoir

Spring break is ending today, and I enjoyed taking some time off from my office. I spent the week recovering from a very busy winter quarter, and I enjoyed doing activities other than teaching, grading, and lecture prep. The weather hasn't been particularly nice, but at least I had some time at home. On Friday afternoon, after Steve got off work, the weather looked a bit nicer, and so Steve, Meghan and I hopped in the car to go up to Hoover Reservoir to check out the birds. Someone had been reporting a red-throated loon, and that was enough of an excuse to get out and see what was on the lake. We didn't see the red-throated, but I did score a new life bird from spotting a pair of common loons by the dam. They were too far away to photograph, but we had a beautiful view of them in our scope.

There were a lot of gulls at the reservoir - Bonaparte's, as shown here and in the next couple of pics, and ring-billed.

We saw a lot of horned grebes, red-breasted mergansers, hooded mergansers, coots, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaups, pied-billed grebes, and canada geese, plus a few bufflehead ducks near the dam.

This horned grebe was grappling with a fish that looked way too big for it to swallow, but it did eventually get it down.

The fish looked to be larger than the grebe's mouth and throat.

It made me wonder how often these birds eat fish of this size, and how often do they eat? It seems as is this fish would provide enough food for a day, but I don't think that's the way it works.

Meghan wasn't interested in birds, but she did enjoy the scenery. She took a lot of photos with her digital camera.

We've had a lot of rain and snow recently, and big floods in southern and western Ohio. I don't recall seeing this much water over the spillway in the past several years.

After our stop at the dam, we drove up to Oxbow Road - another favorite birding spot for seeing waterfowl. At this location we saw a flock of 100+ red-breasted mergansers. They were kind of far off in the water, so my pics aren't very good, but you can see the field marks pretty well.

I enjoyed watching them take off for flight. They run across the water before getting enough momentum to fly.

There was a lot of courtship going on out there on the water, also.

Here was the second life bird on my list from this trip: Greater Scaup. I think I've probably seen these before, but I always error on the side of caution and call them lesser scaup. However, the field marks here are pretty clear - much more rounded head as compared to the lesser scaup, very white sides, and robust bill. Lesser Scaup have more of a peak on their crowns, and their sides are more grayish white than bright white.

The other interesting sighting of the day was the huge numbers of turkey vultures. One of the kettles of vultures we saw had several dozen birds circling. This pic shows only a subset of the turkey vultures in this kettle. They're in their migration right now, but it was pretty amazing to see so many at once. There had been a report of black vultures mixed in with the turkey vultures, but we didn't spot any of the black ones.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Birding at Whetstone park

The weather warmed up a bit on Sunday and so Steve and I took Emma on a walk at Whetstone. We stopped at the bird feeder to see if there was any action going on, and there were a lot of birds taking advantage of the nicer weather. I also tried out my new camera and lens - a Canon Rebel XTi and 300 mm zoom with IS.

Northern Cardinal

A pair of them.

Carolina Chickadee

White-breasted nuthatch

Chickadees putting on a display

This time of year they have plenty to say.

Red-belly woodpecker

Hmmmmm - the beavers are coming up from the river to munch on some trees.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

EEOB Birding on March 2, 2008

The fourth EEOB birding trip occurred on a weekend when the weather was in the 60's, and a week before the Blizzard of 2008. We went to The Wilds, and it was a glorious day for birding - blue skies, lovely temperature, lots of mud and melting snow, animals galore, and a wonderful selection of birds.

Our first stop yielded a nice herd of American Bison, silhouetted against the blue sky.

We also spotted our first raptors of the day - Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, Rough-legged Hawks, and American Kestrels were abundant throughout the day. We also spotted Short-eared Owls late in the afternoon.

Our first stop yielded Horned Larks as well - a life bird for me (as was the Rough-legged Hawk).

I've always been the driver when horned larks have been spotted in previous field trips, so I was really happy to be able to stop and get a good look at this couple.

We stopped at a nice overlook and had a wonderful show of rough-legged hawks. You could also see a variety of ungulates across the valley.

The raptors put on quite a show.

The spotting scopes were put to good use, and you can get a feel for the large turnout we had for the day - a four car caravan.

The Eastern Blue Birds are showing great color this time of year. We saw a pair along the fence line.

One of the deer species at the reserve.

Killdeers were all over the place, too.

We spotted owls at our last stop of the day.

A souvenir from the day - my van looked like it had traveled on very muddy roads. The rains washed it away the next day, so no worries on getting it off.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blizzard 2008!

Last weekend we had temps in the 60's and sunshine for a birding trip to The Wilds (I'll post on that tomorrow). This morning we woke up to a foot of snow and more coming for a total of about 20 inches. We were having a blizzard!

I would have preferred that this would have come earlier in the season. I'm ready for spring now, but NO! We have to have a huge snow storm in March.

I enjoy the snow, but I'm not too happy about the roof at the moment. I thought all the leaks had been solved, but we're still having problems. Arrrrrgh! I don't want to call those roofers again - what a hassle this has been.

Steve was a trooper all day - clearing our driveway and two of our neighbor's driveways as well.

Yep - that's a fair bit of snow for this time of year.

Steve filled the bird feeders, too. The birds were very happy about that as were the squirrels.

We had a flock of about 60 red-winged blackbirds in our yard at one time today.

White-throated sparrow.

Same sparrow with a robin.

The robin was eating seed from the feeder as well as suet. Wasn't expecting it to be eating seed, but with the snow I guess it was extra hungry today.

Emma loves snow! You can see a lot of pics from today on her blog. She's a snow dog!