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January 31, 2011

Amaryllis Stop-Frame Video and Other Stuff

For you frequent readers of this blog, you've noticed that I haven't been around much lately. This is a function of our new updated blog software. Anyone who's ever used a computer knows the frustration of updates and automatic updates and we have suffered right there along with you. Hopefully we've got everything working. Time will tell... But I just didn't want you to think that I had fallen off the edge of the earth. Expect a spate of posts to make up for lost time.

So here is a video we made in the down-time of on Amaryllis blossoming. To be honest the blossom wasn't that great and ditto for the entire vid... But at least it's something.

Part of the problem was that the plant kept growing, and as a result I kept having to shift the tripod around to keep up with it. Add to that challenge the issues of changing light, changing camera settings, a final sudden growth spurt and moldy blossoms, and we do not have perfection. Such is life... I did however learn a lot. (In particular, I learned that I'm even less talented with moving imagry than I am with still...)

Let's see, what else is new? It looks like we're in for another large storm. Obviously, we hope you're prepared...

And then there are the small birds... They've been particularly active... Lately we've noticed the chickadees, titmice, downy woodpeckers... I think we even had juncoes... In general the wee ones have been very hyper, particularly in the morning and afternoon. We seem to have this kind of hightened traffic just before a storm. Oh goody...

Well, I'd better stop now and see if I can actually publish this post... Ah yes... Upgrades... And you thought you were the only one to get bitten.

See you by those persistent feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 29, 2011

Turkeys Galore!

Hi all,

Well, what with the problems we've been having with our blog host, I'm not sure this will actually be posted, but what the heck, let's give it the old college try!

Regular readers know about our local flock of turkeys, and how they like to rule the roost. I'll give you a hint: our turkeys aren't the only ones who want to take over however. Yesterday, I happened upon this video of a turkey a few towns over which attacked a mail truck! According to the Cape Cod Times:

"As the truck puttered along, the turkey came up alongside the vehicle's starboard and launched into a series of side jumps, banging up against the truck with a thump and clatter that could be heard 100 feet away..."

Even the mailman was rather alarmed, as would you be if a large wild bird began flinging itself at the side of your vehicle!

We might suggest that the Post Office do a bit of revising to their unofficial motto:

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor meleagris gallopavo stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Running for cover by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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January 27, 2011

Problems with Blog Software

We apologize for the delays... The blog software has been updated, and refuses to play well with others. We're continuing to work on this issue... CCA
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January 21, 2011

Amaryllis Project

Hi,

Well, here we go... I'm taking on yet one more stupid project that I don't rate - I'm going to try to create a stop-motion video of an Amaryllis coming to bloom. (FWIW, CCA's definition of "stop-motion video" is the collection and splicing together of individual, still photographs of slowly-changing behavior for the purpose of creating a sort of continuous, real-time, high-speed movie of said changes. Think "Gumby" and claymation.) Anywho, here's the poor flora subject:

early shot resized_IMG_2001.JPG

Already, I've vastly under-guesstimated the growth rate of these elegant stinkin' weeds, and have been forced to move the camera at least twice - a serious 'no-no' in the stop-motion community. So sue me. Also, I've changed my mind concerning the frequency of the still shots. What started out as timed four hour photographs has morphed into a mantra of, "Whenever I dang well get around to it..." (Why is it that I get the feeling that Ray Harryhausen isn't exactly trembling in his boots right now?) The end result will probably be that of an on-again/off-again apparent growth pattern... Don't take it too seriously. At least it will be pretty.

See you by those impatient feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 19, 2011

Streaming Cam and Looming Post Number 700

Hi,

First... Thought you might enjoy the following screen shot...

resized_new streaming cam.jpg

Yup... That's from our new, free, streaming Web cam. In case you don't remember, the last one - a small analog unit - fell victim to a local computer problem. (As I've mentioned umpteen times, CapeCodAlan's computers are not on the eBirdseed.com network. No matter what happens to me, all orders on eBirdseed.com are completely secure.) Anywho, the image above is typical for our new rig. Can't wait until Spring and we get the chance to get up close and personal with hummingbirds. Still can't decide whether or not to build/buy an external housing; time may well be a deciding factor.

Onward...

Hey, this is post number 685... Before you know it, we'll have 700 entries (and over 1,000 library photographs, 30,000+ cam visitations, 800+ comments, etc...) So what do we do to celebrate? Let's see... I'm pretty sure that eBirdseed.com has already got the "Lobsters-and-Bunny-Babes-for-CCA-Alaskan-Cruise" covered, so that's off the table... I don't know... How about a contest? A new, and very different contest... Something that you'll not only feel comfortable entering, but also feel comfortable winning...

Time to ponder... Ideas? Bueller?

See you by the feeders,

Me...


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January 10, 2011

Sanctuary

resized_Bird house in snow_IMG_1904.JPG

Note: Sorry for the delay. The blog hosting service we use had "issues" that required remedy. Anyway, this post is roughly a week old. Onward...

"Sanctuary" - it's a warm word isn't it? For the last couple of days, I, like many, have been in a sad, sad funk over the tragedy in Arizona. Obviously, this isn't the first time we've been through these sorts of things: I remember when JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Reagan were shot. All were bad times.

Anyway, in the midst of my funk, I happened to glance out at our birdhouse (right) and saw a downy woodpecker slip into the domicile. No doubt it was simply looking for a roost to escape the winter weather. (I tried to get a picture, but the creature wasn't wasting any time.) And for just a brief few moments, there was a bit of respite, a break from the senselessness. I find that backyard birdwatching is such a subtle pastime - not all-consuming, but there when you need it... Life goes on...

Speaking of life going on... Looks like we may have another storm heading our way. (Look out Cape Cod!) We're looking at Tuesday night through Wednesday night. 'Tis the season (to be miserable.) As always, we hope you are prepared...

Better get this posted...

See you by those feeders!

CapeCodAlan


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January 8, 2011

Not a Day for the Birds

I'm sorry, but I'm just not up for writing about birds right now. As you no doubt know, today Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head. While doctors are cautiously optimistic that she will survive, others were not so lucky - of the 18 shot, 6 are dead.

What's happening to us? Since between 1950 and 2007, the homicide rate in the U.S. jumped 28%, and since 1900 and 2007, the rate increased almost 400%. Make no mistake about it... This is not a function of a more able and available news media reporting the same sad things... This is a function of a radically shifting culture. It seems as if we can't turn on the TV without seeing yet another horror consisting of a shooting, home invasion, or parental nightmare.

If you're expecting great wisdom from this blog, you're about to be sadly disappointed. We all know the causes - constant exposure to glorified electronic hyper-violence, breakdown of the family, trashing of traditional values, blah, blah, blah... Maybe the person who murdered six today had a brain tumor... I don't know. But I do know this... Something has gone terribly wrong in our society and in the world today. It's as if technology (be it a Glock, fertilizer, chemicles, or jumbo jets) has, for far too many, appealed not to our best characteristics but instead to our darkest ids. I really have no idea...

Thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy...

CapeCodAlan

P.S. You know what? I do have an idea... The one thing the whack jobs of Columbine and Tucson, 9/11 and the Tokyo subway attacks want is to turn our lives inside out... Not here... Hope you enjoy the following...

resized__MG_1101.JPG

Just because vile behavior mortifies decent souls doesn't mean it changes them...

See you by the feeders,


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January 6, 2011

Follow Up on "Dead Red-Wings", Hutch Mishaps

Hi,

Last time I noted that birds (and fish and crabs) are dropping dead at alarming rates... Here's a likely explanation from National Geographic:

But the in-air bird deaths aren't due to some apocalyptic plague or insidious experiment--they happen all the time, scientists say. The recent buzz, it seems, was mainly hatched by media hype.

At any given time there are "at least ten billion birds in North America ... and there could be as much as 20 billion--and almost half die each year due to natural causes," said ornithologist Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society in Washington, D.C.

Not exactly the stuff of "The X Files", but still disturbing. You know, a part of me wonders if wildlife was like this before humans were around. Yeah, I know something like 99% of all species that ever existed on this planet are gone (Mr. Life, meet Mr. Darwin, existentialist), but it truly bugs me to see needless suffering and death... If it does turn out that something like fireworks did start the Arkansas panic, that would really be a shame... (On the other hand, I wonder if a shifting magnetic north pole had anything to do with this???)

Other stuff... We've finally got the hutch upstairs...

resized_IMG_1691.JPG

But the project didn't come without its more-than-fair-share of "ouchies". Each of the four major components (bottom and top carcases, drawers, and back) bear my initials in blood...

blood initials resized_IMG_1577.JPG

That really isn't so bad in that this was a large endeavor using a very hard wood (cherry) and lots of sharp tools. But the beast did have one last tantrum left in her. We were placing the 50 pound top when it noted my lack of leverage and felt the insidious urge of gravity... It dropped 40" (without the doors thankfully) taking out the bookshelf, phone, birdhouse, and yours truly. The noise was something spectacular really - sort of a sickening, chain-reaction roar. Here's my damage...

bruise resized_IMG_1778.JPG

The immediate aftermath found me et al scattered helter skelter. Mrs. CCA kept yelling, "Are you alright?!? Are you alright?!?", to which I kept saying, "'Bleep' me, how's the hutch?!?", "'Bleep' me, how's the hutch?!?". Thankfully, I tend to overbuild things (in the extreme), and the monolith is now fine, all secure, and ready for the finish team. (Read that, "The wife and my old cabinetmaker boss, Rick...") Another day in Paradise... All told, it was a great undertaking - I learned so much.

And what's next? Well, the next adventure will probably be this work skiff - a cakewalk compared to the brute above... Time will tell...

See you by those never-boring feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 4, 2011

Dead Red-Wings

Hi,

Well, this is what a red-wing looks like when it's alive...

400_ 08-11-07 red wing.JPG

As you're reading this, odds are that you already know of the significant "die off" of blackbirds in Arkansas... But that's not the entire story... Check out the following from AFP:

The second unexplained mass bird death within a week has been discovered in the southern United States, this time in the state of Louisiana, officials said Tuesday.

The latest incident affected some 500 birds which were discovered dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, said Olivia Watkins of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Watkins said an investigation was underway into the cause of the deaths, which occurred just a few days after thousands of birds were discovered dead in neighboring Arkansas.

"We sent samples to a lab in Missouri and are waiting to get some results," she said.

Nancy Ledbetter at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission said officials in that state were awaiting test results to find the cause of death of as many as 5,000 blackbirds in the small town of Beebe as well as deaths of 80,000 to 100,000 fish found floating in the Arkansas River about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.

That's not good. Regardless of whether each case is related to the others or not, that's still not good. While I don't believe in UFOs or other foolishness, I do believe in "nature talking"... I say that we keep a close eye on this one...

Antsy by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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January 3, 2011

Popcorn Wars: Crow vs. Seagulls

Deep sigh...

The following montage sort of says it all...

We took that originally as a series of photos, after putting out some popcorn on the crow tray. We expected to get some good shots of the crows, but instead, a small war broke out, which the seagulls won decisively, leaving one last crow scavenging for kernels on the ground after the fighting was over.

That's not to say that there isn't beauty there, because there is...

400_crow with popcorn_IMG_1821.JPG

and...

400_seagull crash landing_IMG_1823.JPG

In general, the birds both large and small have been very active in the past few days because the weather, after our deep-freeze of last week, has been unexpectedly warm. Still, we've got to do something about these ongoing battles between the crows and the avian Visigoths (a.k.a. seagulls) and the wild Mongol horde (alias the wild turkeys), or there will be no peace in our backyard!

As I said, "Deep sigh..."

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Note our new live streaming cam...


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