Thursday, November 27, 2014

More about Mergansers

Argh! If there's a way to edit an existing blogger post or add a photo to a comment, I don't know what it is and it's late and I need to be asleep. So, Alex, this post is all for you. We thought the merganser was a non-breeding male based on its white secondaries (speculum?) and less rounded head and shaggier crest. Here are a pair of larger, more cropped shots:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Boise Report

Here's looking at you, kid

A trip to Boise last weekend resulted in a pile of photos, a pile of books, and one (1) new bird on the life list: a sweet little merlin.* Both Scott and I were relieved, I believe, when it failed to catch the songbird it briefly chased while we watched. Oh, I know raptors have to eat too but I don't have to witness the kill and I'd be happiest if they contented themselves with tasty starlings. Of which we saw very few in Boise. In addition to the merlin, we saw a fine downy woodpecker, a number of birds wintering over water, some finches, a kingfisher or two, and a number of geese, seemingly wintering near water. Considering how short the visit was, it was some pretty decent bird action.

As hinted in the first line, we also spent some time (and cash) at Boise's excellent Trip Taylor Bookseller. Scott found a Ruskin (Modern Painters) with nice heavy paper and color reproductions (so nice for increasing the heft of our luggage) while I picked up a few books that had, one way or another, come up in discussion earlier in the visit. I also bought a Gorky I'd never heard of before (Foma Gordeyev), largely because it had excellent cover art.

It was a fine visit, with pleasant friends, plentiful cocktails, excellent food, delightful walks, and some opportunity for lobbing snowballs. But it's also nice to be home with Gradka.

*Alas, the merlin report turned out to be inaccurate. It was, it seems, a sharpshinned hawk. In Boise River plumage.

Honestly, would anyone believe this bird was naturally occuring?

Just a mess of goose / duck prints in the snow

Grimple watches while Scott demonstrates how to make the Boise Arnaud.

Non-breeding plumage common merganser and Lady Mallard companion

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hasty lunchtime photo post from the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival


Rainbow view from my balcony at the Banff Centre

What I've learned is a common redpoll

That common redpoll again, side view

Vending machines at the Banff Centre offer chips, chocolate, lip balm, toothbrushes, and Tylenol. I wish they had cheese.

The obligatory view from the window shot

Jeremy Collins working on an illustration, above and the fniished work, below (on a speeded-up video)