Science and Sarcasm
30 April 2006
Most Beautiful Bird Meme

Nuthatch at Bootstrap Analysis tagged me with this Most Beautiful Bird Meme started by John at DC Birding Blog. I'm mandated to post a list of the 10 birds I consider to be the most beautiful, whether I've actually seen them or not. I have the option to limit the list to the ABA area (continental United States and Canada) or use a geographic area of my choosing - I chose continental US and Canada. Birds I've actually seen are marked with an asterisk; the others I'm judging from guidebook pictures, hearsay, my imagination etc. I've tagged 3 more bloggers to perpetuate the memedom.

Citified Galliforms, April 2006Here's my list:

  1. Wild Turkey*
  2. Eastern Bluebird*
  3. Mountain Bluebird*
  4. Scarlet Tanager*
  5. Snowy Owl
  6. Tree Swallow*
  7. Elegant Trogon
  8. Barn Owl*
  9. Anna's Hummingbird
  10. Northern Pintail*

First, let me say this is a difficult task. And, if you asked me tomorrow, I'd probably list a slightly different roster of 10 birds. I also feel a bit sheepish judging the relative 'beauty' of birds or any other creatures. A lot of birds, fish and animals strike me as beautiful, even the common and ordinary. I see Clare has similar thoughts. How can I not list the Baltimore Oriole? Golden Eagle? Rose-breasted Grosbeak? Common Tern? Ruby-throated Hummingbird? American Kestrel? I've seen all of them with my own eyes and they knock my socks off. Assembling this list caused me to consider what 'beautiful' actually means in this context. Beautiful plumage, elegant flight, powerful aerial maneuvers contribute for sure. But also context I suppose - landscape where a bird lives, the situation when I first sighted a bird, childhood connotiations. All these things determine the smile/wow factor for me. That said, I feel like my list needs some explanation. It's not all that 'exotic' a list of birds and I've listed very few that I haven't already seen.

I'm a big fan of the Wild Turkey. I think there are few birds more beautiful than this large beast. They're easily underappreciated if only viewed from a long distance - from a car speeding along the highway for example. From this vantage, they look like dark, featureless lumps in a field. A closer look will reveal the multitude of plumage colors and patterns that, from a more distant view, look drab. The picture of two urban turkeys above was taken by my sister in downtown Hartford, CT earlier this month. Click for a larger view. See what I mean about their colors? I've expounded on this theme before...

The brilliant plumages of the Eastern and Mountain bluebirds and the Scarlet Tanagers require me to list them. Their colors capture your attention no matter how peripheral the glance. I removed the Western Tanager from this list of 10, but it'd probably make another list tomorrow, as would a killdeer. I once held a little juvenile killdeer in my hands and I've never seen anything more incredible. Those fuzzy, high-contrast necklaces were gorgeous.

I've never seen a Snowy Owl though they're infrequent regulars around these parts. I hope to view one eventually, they're stunningly photogenic. I've listed the Tree Swallow; they're another rather ordinary bird. Their surprising tolerance of humans affords good close-up views in my yard so perhaps I'm biased. I like their handsome, high-contrast, iridescent tuxedo suits and their bright vibrant voices.

I've never seen an Elegant Trogon on my travels to the southwestern US, though I imagine their large size and striking colors must be beautiful to stumble upon while birding. The Barn Owl and Northern Pintail are also striking birds - very handsome plumage. In fact, their plumages are so handsome that it's hard to comprehend it as the result of natural adaptations. It's more like something Gucci or a Las Vegas costume designer would invent. I actually got my best, closest view of a Barn Owl on a snowy day in the UK.

I imagine Anna's hummingbird must be gorgeous to see up close. I've seen a few western hummers and our eastern Ruby-Throated, but the glorious purple head feathers of a male Anna's must be remarkable.

I tag Bev at Burning Silo, Pamela at Thomasburg Walks, and Cindy at Woodsong.

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29 April 2006
Mystery feather #2

Several of these small, wispy feathers were found on the ground beneath a stand of mature tall, 'power company' pine trees in a nearby forest. They're about 3" long and are very light and fine, like marabou. I'd guess they're breast feathers of a duck of some sort. Perhaps a wood duck or another tree-nesting duck? I've never seen a wood duck up close so I have no idea how likely that is.

Any guesses?

I definitely hope they don't belong to a protected species....

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27 April 2006

Nestbox bluebirds 4/26/2006

These little nestlings hatched about 3 days ago I think. I hope this cold snap doesn't depress the bug population enough to make putting dinner on the table difficult for Mom and Pop...

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24 April 2006
A marriage of steelhead fishing and bluegrass music...

I've fantasized about this combination of obsessions, but I guess I wasn't the only one.

The four young guys making up this bluegrass band, called "Chasin' Steel" are steelhead fanatics from Marquette, in the UP. I don't know about their fishing techniques, but they're pretty good at bluegrass. They've got a couple of mandolin players, and banjo, guitar, bass and dulcimer skills between them.

It looks like I missed my chance to see them at the Ingham County fair. I'll have to order a CD...

via Moldy Chum

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23 April 2006
'Secret Creek' fishing report [22 April 2006]

Swampy Secret Creek landscapeThe fishing deities were smiling on me.

In honor of Earth Day (and the weekend) we headed out bright and early Saturday morning for our favorite, most-local stream for a half-day of steelhead fishing. Our last visit a week ago, yielded a couple of hookups for B and none for me even though the small creek was relatively loaded with steelies. Today, we saw many fewer fish, but I had significantly more luck. We recently decided to enhance our steelie fishing probabilities by using spawn as bait, instead of flies. Fishing with spawn is a travesty for the fly fishing purist, but we've grown tired of our slim steelhead success and can easily justify this approach if you want to argue about it.

We found very few cars parked at any of the access points on Secret Creek. I'm not sure where all the steelhead anglers were. It is opening weekend for the spring turkey season, but I can't imagine that's where all the fishermen were. I'm not going to complain about having less river traffic to contend with; this was a welcomed surprise. Though we could have fished at any access, we chose to return to the low, swampy, boggy stretch that we've been fishing for the past couple of weekends. The water is now quite a bit lower than when we last visited; the fish would be more easily spooked.

We parked and slipped into our breathable waders and boots. The cloudy weather and potentially rainy forecast encouraged us to think positively about our chances of fishing success - and also about possibly getting rained on. B rigged up a spinning rod for spawn fishing and I borrowed her sweet 9'6" 7-weight fly rod for fishing spawn chuck-and-duck style. As we walked across the bridge, we noticed about a gatrillion little 8" fish schooled and milling around beneath the overpass. They must be recent graduates from the hatchery and were probably planted this past week. The little fish were feeding regularly on surface bugs. Ready for action, we jumped over the guard rail and picked our way downstream through the brush and brambles.

B headed downstream in front of me while I drifted spawn through a couple of nice pools that we often neglect. I stirred no interest but did note that these pools are worth a cast or two more regularly. I made my way downstream to the first big bend where I watched and temtpted several big steelies last weekend. Today, in the low, clear water, I could clearly see the bottom but saw no fish at all. I drifted the bend a few times, but didn't spend much time here. B, just downstream, had managed to catch a couple of trout. Together, we headed downstream fishing each good-looking spot we encountered. I caught a couple of chubs, but we still had not seen any steelhead at all. We sincerely hoped that the run was not completely over yet.

Secret Creek steelies gettin' it onWe hiked past a long stretch of stream that, though very good-looking water, we hardly ever fish. There are so many downed logs and overhanging bushes, it's just too difficult to address with a fly rod. If we ever did manage to hook one in this water, we'd most certainly never land it without snagging line on any number of obstacles. As we hiked past, we noticed one particularly clean area of gravel - a steelhead redd. There were about 10 big steelhead cruising over and around the redd. They weren't especially offended by our presence so I snapped a photo. Cool. The fish hadn't all left the river yet. We left these fish on gravel alone and continued on downstream to hopefully find others.

I left B fishing a deep, dark run that we consider to be probably the best pool on this hike. The stream narrows through a man-made abutment that once carried a small private bridge over the stream. The bridge is long gone, but the concrete now forces the stream to narrow, speed up and empty into a deep, fast run where big fish like to hide. We've hooked several steelhead in this pool in past seasons. B waded in to fish here and I continued downstream, across the river and on to another bend where B hooked a fish last weekend. On my way, I passed a couple more redds, one still had a couple of fish over it.

I began drifting a deep, dark run around a bend from the inside bank. On the outside of the bend, several small trees hang over, or are submerged in the water creating a slow-moving pool that is essentially unfishable - there are too many logs and snags to drift or swing flies and, even if a fish was hooked, it'd be impossible to land them. I was limited to drifting the swifter water between me and the logjam. I drifted my spawn through a couple of times, adjusting the depth to just occasionally touch the bottom features. After about 6 drifts, my indicator went under and I lifted. Woohoo! A steelhead! A big one! The fish, I'll call him "Houdini" gave a few head shakes, flashed his entire silvery-pink side-view at me and headed for the bottom. I pulled against his maneuver, and - POOF! - he magically left me pulling on a log at the bottom of the pool. He was gone in 3 seconds and I was hooked completely around a log, or something heavy, in the bottom of the pool. I had previously been unaware of the bottom-dwelling log or stone or whatever it was. I hadn't ever snagged it while simply drifting through. Dang. I had to break off my entire leader to free my line. While I tied on a new leader, swivel, indicator, tippet and hook, a couple of steelies splashed and breached the surface a few times. I fixed my leader, put on another spawnbag and chucked it back in. Not 10 drifts later, the indicator went down again. I lifted and felt the heavy head shakes of another steelie. Woohoo! This time, I put a lot more pressure on the fish, hoping to keep him out of the mystery snag at the bottom of the pool. He tried to head for the slow water under the overhanging branches, then down to the bottom. I only got a partial flash of his side, he seemed not quite as big as the first one. Then SNAP!, the hook broke off and the line came recoiling at me. He was gone too. Wow! What a rush! Two steelie hookups in one day after none for months. I tied on another hook and reloaded with spawn while I noticed that the steelies were now splashing around way back under the overhanging brush. I'd probably spooked them away from the main run with all this fish-fighting, so I decided to rest the pool, and myself, for awhile. I reclined on the bank and waited for a sign.

I enjoyed the sunshine whenever the clouds allowed it to reach me, and listened to the birds in the woods. I heard woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches. I heard a 'fake bird' too, somebody was calling turkeys, but the artificial sound was noticeable. While I was reclining on the bank, B came wading downstream. I called to her and she hopped up on the bank to avoid disturbing the fish in 'my pool.' She reported that she had hooked a dark steelie back at the missing bridge hole, but had lost him after a short, exciting battle. She hooked him on the far bank, he swam straight at her faster than she could reel in line, and leapt up and out of the water just a few feet in front of her. His crazed maneuvers freed him and she was left amazed, heart pounding. B went on past me to fish downstream a ways. I waited until I noticed saw a steelie or two venture out into the shallower water, then I drifted my line through the deep run a few more times. Nobody cared, so I reeled up and, when B returned, we headed back upstream.

We fished a few holes on the way back up, catching nothing more than a couple of chubs. We watched the gang of 8-10 steelies hanging out at the redd again. Some were dark, some were more silvery, they ranged in size from big 10-pounders to smaller 20-inchers. There were a couple of guys fishing for the little steelhead plants back at the bridge when we returned. We felt pretty satisfied with what may have been our last steelhead outing of the season. Though we didn't land any steelies, we were happy with a couple of hookups.

Fleece quotient: 0!, longsleeves only
Lost flies: 0, we fished flies-free (don't tell the purists)
Wildlife sightings: woodpeckers, nuthatches, kingfisher,
Steelhead score: 0/3, Yesssss!
Air temperature: almost 65 oF
Water temperature: not measured
Injury report: monofilament cuts from breaking off, spawn goo everywhere, first nettles-sting of the season
Did I get to use a spey rod?: Nope.
Enjoyment grade for the day: A

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19 April 2006
Search me...

Some recent search strings that led surfers to S&S:

  1. effects of sarcasm on children
  2. fly fish animal
  3. how to kill sandhill cranes
  4. what does mourning dove mean?
  5. talking fish cartoon
  6. harry vetch
  7. black girls with big naturals
  8. difference: mature new potatoes
  9. benefits of sarcasm
  10. flickr asian lady
  11. trout bum dairy
  12. trout bum diary
  13. trout bum dairies
  14. michigan secret fishing
  15. patagonia wader review
  16. brokeback anglers
  17. red firefly bird
  18. pictures of angler fish organs
  19. marshy and cheese scientist

I do not recall addressing some of these subjects here. Big naturals? Asian ladies? Let alone harming sandhill cranes. I did misspell hairy vetch in a lame attempt to be humorous, but I'm amazed at how many folks believe 'harry vetch' is the proper spelling. A cool season annual legume named after the famous Dr. Haroldd Vetch of Denmark*....


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16 April 2006
'Secret Creek' fishing report [15 April 2006]

Secret Creek steelhead fishing - broken-off steelhead bendAfter getting skunked on the White earlier in the week, we were looking forward to a weekend steelhead fishing trip to cure our fish-deficiency ills. B picked up some spawn to help improve our chances. We headed out early and, before 9:00 AM, were hiking downstream on our favorite, most local steelhead stream - 'Secret Creek.' There were already several cars parked at each of the first few access points we drove past. But there were no cars parked at the low swampy, brambly access we've learned well over the past few years.

We fought our way through the low, wetland brambles, vines and brush and crossed the small stream to the first good steelhead holding spot - a wide deep bend just upstream from some good spawning gravel. I parked myself here for awhile while B headed downstream 50 yards to another dark, deeper hole. Before I could cast even once, a large dark form splashed out of the water. They're here! I drifted spawn through this section for a good 30 minutes while steelhead breached the surface above and below me several times. None of them seemed to notice my spawn however. B caught a little trout right away in her spot then moved on downstream. I saw a couple more steelhead in the shallow gravel stretch and finally gave up on this bend though it was clear that it held several big fish.

Resting in the sunshineWe hiked through the swampy landscape and fished several more deeper darker stretches, criss-crossing the stream. Along the way, we saw several steelhead - on gravel, splashing clear of the surface, and darting away from the bank and our menacing terrestrial figures. We hiked and fished our way quite a bit further downstream than we've been yet this spring. B caught a couple more trout; I had stimulated nothing more than a couple of small trout nibbles. B had also hooked and lost a nice steelhead after fighting it for a minute or two. It broke her off in some downed wood. I was feeling a bit frustrated, so I rested in the sunshine on the bank for awhile. Two little downy woodpeckers and a group of 3 flickers entertained me with minor disagreements. When B returned, she reported hooking and losing two more steelhead, a mature adult and a skipper. A skipper is a smaller, immature steelhead returned to the stream after only 2 years in the big lake. They're usually 12 to 18 inches long and 2 to 5 pounds in size. Fully mature adult steelhead return to the stream after spending 3-4+ years in Lake Michigan and generally range in size from 8 to 12 pounds.

Skunk CabbageI was feeling a little dejected. I switched back to flies and began drifting and swinging a small egg-sucking leech through the darker spots as I made my way back upstream. This little river was relatively loaded with steelies and I couldn't get one to notice my lovely spawn or streamer. Jeez. I did catch 2 king-sized chubs finally. They were brightly colored, horny-headed and spirited, but still not particularly satisfying to catch. I do feel a twinge of guilt about judging the relative values of natural creatures in this way. But so it is. Why is a trout more satisfying to catch than a chub? Because a trout is more discriminating and harder to catch? Because a trout is associated with cleaner, colder water? Bigger? Different ecosystems? Why is the catch-value of steelhead even greater than for trout? I don't know really and, in my present fish-slump, I don't care. I'd just really like to feel a steelie at the end of my line.

Maybe next weekend....

Fleece quotient: 0!, shortsleeves for awhile even
Lost flies: 3 or 4
Wildlife sightings: woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, marsh wren, black stoneflies, BWOs, northern flickers
Steelhead score: 0/3, but none for me
Air temperature: almost 70 oF
Water temperature: not measured
Injury report: mild depression
Did I get to use a spey rod?: Nope.
Enjoyment grade for the day: B-

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14 April 2006
White River fishing report [10 April 2006]

B drifts an egg on a beautiful, but fishless afternoonB and I hooked up with our friend Speytrout for a long-awaited fishing trip to the White River in Oceana County, MI this week. We'd planned this outing months ago to coincide with Speytrout's vacation schedule. We'd hoped to time the spring steelhead run just right and enjoy a day of arm- and smile-tiring steelhead fishing.

We headed out Monday morning on the long drive northwest and arrived to find a couple of driftboat trailers already parked at our access point. The day was bright and sunny and afternoon temperatures were predicted to hit almost 70 oF (21 oC) so we were expecting a comfortable day. The river flow was high, but receding - just the ticket for turning on steelhead - in theory anyway. The water was too high and fast to cross the river, but not impossible to wade. The depth and the tinge of color in the water would help fish feel safely hidden and secure.

Speytrout was already rigged up and waiting for us when we screeched into our parking spot. We jumped into our summer-weight waders, spooled up our long 7- and 8-weight rods and hiked upstream through the woods in search of good-looking spots. The path followed the stream and occasionally led us up along high banks where we could scan the stream below for signs of spawning activity. We saw some, but very few, excavated areas of gravel. We hiked as far as we could go without the luxury of crossing the river, waded in and began casting streamers on heavy sinktip lines toward deeper, darker seams and pools, working our way downstream.

I waded out to a small island, from which I could reach a nice looking seam along the far bank. I casted as close to the bank as possible to a soft little pocket where I thought I saw some fish rising or tailing - not sure which. I mistakenly bounced a cast off the sandy bank and was surprised to startle a pretty good sized, dark-colored snake right into the water. Whoopsie! I hadn't seen him until he dropped from his warm sunny perch. It was probably a blue racer [Coluber constrictor foxi]. He was significantly larger than a little garter snake. A few minutes later I noticed another smaller blue racer flinch in response to a splashy cast close to the bank. I'm glad I didn't scare him into the water too. I covered the whole pool and seam 3 or 4 times with several different streamers, then gave up and waded back to the bank. B and Speytrout had not had any luck yet either.

April pussywillowsBlack stoneflies were plentiful - falling onto the water from the trees in a gentle flurry. They were slightly distracting - they like to crawl up the body of a wading angler, much like they crawl up the bank foliage out of the water. Their crawly bodies tickle and cling, interrupting casting and concentration on fishing. There were infrequent, but regular, surface rises after them. I also noticed one branch of flowering pussy willow reaching out over the water at one point. The rest of the tree had not yet followed.

We took a break for lunch after a couple hours of absolutely nothing but casting and wading. We hiked the half-mile or so back to the car and were greeted by a small chorus of wood frogs that had started 'quacking' in a little marshy spot near the road. We casually dined on PB&J sandwhiches, cheese, summer sausage, hard-boiled eggs and sunshine. We chit chatted about all things fishing and caught up on a few other life details - it's been awhile since we've fished with Speytout and we had a bit to catch up on. After awhile, we headed back upstream to give the steelhead another chance.

We thoroughly covered several more really good-looking pools, runs and pockets without catching anything. Not even a little trout. It was hard to believe our lack of success - the water and conditions were so theoretically optimal. By mid-afternoon, three or four guide boats had passed us and they didn't report catching much either. Some of them were using spawn and had managed a trout or two, but no one had hooked a steelhead. We continued fishing until our arms and shoulders were no longer capable of heaving the heavy lines. The burn of tired muscles would have vanished in a nanosecond, however, if any of us had hooked a fish. As we hiked back toward the car along the high stream banks, we saw several pair of steelhead hovering over shallow gravel beds. They weren't there earlier in the day. Perhaps the run on the White is just getting started.

For those keeping score, B and I have now landed 0 steelhead since I started writing about it here....

Fleece quotient: 0.5-1 light
Lost flies: 5 or 6
Wildlife sightings: woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, black stoneflies, blue racers, wood frogs
Steelhead score: 0/0, no effin' action whatsoever
Air temperature: almost 70 oF
Water temperature: 48 oF
Injury report: flaming arm, shoulder and back muscles; damaged psyche
Did I get to use a spey rod?: Shoulda, but no.
Enjoyment grade for the day: B-

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13 April 2006
I and the Bird #21

I and the BirdMike's brother-in-law Seth is the mystery host of this week's IATB and he's done a really great job. He's managed to list some books that are relevant to each submitted bird-related post. Birds and books, together in one convenient location for our clicking and reading pleasure. Don't miss it!

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12 April 2006
Colin Powell comes clean

We knew that he knew he way back when he was arguing for war to the UN. Why did he wait until now to 'fess up?

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Marsh waterfowl-watching

Birding at the marshB and I took a drive a little way north to the Maple River State Game Area (map) on Sunday afternoon to do a little spring migratory birding and to allow Dylan, our little border collie, a bit of always-needed exercise. We managed about a 4-mile hike and some good birding. We arrived at about 3:00PM to find a single automobile in the parking area - I had expected it to be a more popular place on such a bright spring day. Spring and fall migrations are typically the busiest times for birdwatchers at this marsh. Since we were sharing the area only 2 other nature-lovers just ahead of us, we let Dylan enjoy his time off-leash. He stayed on the paths and didn't get too far ahead. He's been very good about general obedience even though his energy level is enviable. The hiking path back into the marsh follows a dike that borders a large pond with lots of reeds and cattails. Each area of open water we walked past held a goose or two and a couple of coots.

As we hiked along the narrow dikes, I raised my binoculars repeatedly to check out every perched and flying bird form. Almost every time, I discovered another male red-winged blackbird. The population appeared to be super-dense. How many blackbirds can squeeze into one hectare? 10? 50? I didn't see any females - they don't appear to have arrived yet. Perhaps during this pre-female time, the males can, or must, tolerate proximity to each other more.

Maple River MarshThe best birding is often enjoyed at the far end of the managed wetland, on one of the largest (about 1/4 square mile) artificially-flooded ponds. As we approached this pond however, we were initially disappointed to see no huge bands of ducks, geese or other water birds. We found a couple small, scattered and mixed groups of birds paddling around, but none of the large flocks we have learned to expect. We found a level spot to set up the spotting scope and started scanning for identifiable birds. We quickly found a few scaups, some coots, goldeneyes, buffleheads and a few cormorants among a smattering of Canada geese. While we enjoyed the sights, Dylan entertained himself by scouting up and down either side of the dike for mice, voles, snakes and anything else he could find. He occasionally leapt a big graceful antelope leap down the steep bank after some unsuspecting critter. He was careful to never land n the water, though it's not clear to me how he managed that. While we stood at the scope, a mature bald eagle flew low overhead to the east. He returned after a few minutes, heading back west, with some small 'meal-to-go' in his talons, but we couldn't identify his catch. Eagles often nest in the marsh, but I'm not sure where their nest might be if they have one this year. I'd guess it was to our west...

Satisfied we'd seen all birds there were to see from this vantage point, we packed up the scope and hiked all the way around this pool to its eastern side which borders another large, partially-flooded corn field. We had noticed lots of birds flying in the distance from our previous location, and thought we'd head back to take a look. Here, we set up the scope again and spotted more geese and lots of dabbling ducks paddling around among the flooded corn stubble. We spied shovelers, pintails, teals and few more geese. We also must've counted at least a dozen good-sized muskrats in the channels between pools. They are obviously enjoying a supportive environment here.

We eventually made our way back west around the eastern-most pools toward the car. The sun was beginning to set and the air started to feel slightly chillier. Looking into the setting sun makes for difficult birding, but we did manage to find a couple of wrens in among the shrubs and brush, some woodpeckers and a couple of noisy flocks of cowbirds. Here's a complete list of our findings...

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09 April 2006
Six is enough

Bluebird nest with 6 eggs, 4/9/2006

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05 April 2006
Haste makes waste

Bluebird nest with 2 eggs, 4/5/2006

The bluebirds [Sialia sialis] are at it already.

This nest is a lovely beak-woven arrangement of local, natural, uniformly proportioned grass blades attractively nestled inside a homemade, south-westerly facing nestbox constructed of untreated pine. The setting is an open, old field of mixed grasses and forbs bordered by conifers and wetlands.

Martha would be so very proud.

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04 April 2006
Scarlet letter 'S'

I think many in the information-collection-and-interpretation fields of government might agree with Dr. Kandel:

Noting that it's "a terrible time for science" in the U.S., Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel has compared the effects of government science policy to the Eisenhower-McCarthy era, when scientists were persecuted for their political beliefs.

Kandel's remarks came during an interview with Science & the City*, the webzine of the New York Academy of Sciences, about his new memoir, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind (Norton, March 2006).

"There's very little funding, there's political censorship about what one does and how one speaks about it," he said. "I think the scientific community is extremely concerned about the future of this country given the restrictions on science at the moment."

During the past year, folks at the CIA, NASA, and other agencies have publicly complained about being silenced and about being pressured to "fix the intelligence" around a predetermined policy to support the administration's greedy and underhanded goals. The value of science and other objective information-gathering endeavors is to learn truths about the world, or a little part of it. New, unbiased knowledge enables strategy development which leads to implementation of practices, programs and policies to allow our continued coexistence and progress on this planet. This is a simple linear process. If you skip the first step, the other processes will come to a screeching halt too.

I firmly believe that nature will bite you in the ass if you believe you can just lie, suppress, omit and get away with it. The lie-suppress-omit approach can appear to work in the short term, but in the long term - no. Global warming won't go away because we ignore it [new]. WMD won't appear if we throw a tantrum. And Iraq isn't better off just because we insist that it is.

Most of us learned these basic principles, or a few corollaries, as small children. Wealth, ignorance, or both in the case of Tush, does not exempt anyone from the forces of nature.

* Science & the City has also posted a podcast of their interview with Dr. Kandel.

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03 April 2006
It's that time of year....

National Geographic's Crane Cam

No, not tax day!

Don't forget to check out National Geographic's LIVE Sandhill Crane Cam (and related info and videos) before the spring migration is over...

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02 April 2006
Spring forward

5 things I learned/remembered this weekend:

  1. I had forgotten how loud our local spring peepers are
  2. Tree swallows and tree frogs are about again
  3. Community theatre is a good thing and should be enjoyed every once in awhile
  4. Some of my in-laws are very cool people
  5. Weekends don't have to include fishing to be fun and relaxing

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