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Catching Up

It's time--long past time, really--for a catch-up post, before Michael and I head to Virginia for Christmas vacation. (I'm going to be rambling a bit for the next five paragraphs, so click here if you prefer to skip straight to the photos.)

Like last year, I've ramped down my nature photography for the cold season. When I do manage to coax myself out into the Ottawa winter, my focus is on seeking beauty and enjoying it in the moment (rather than taking myself out of the moment to capture it), and getting enough exercise to stave off seasonal affective. However, I made two trips out to Mud Lake in early November in search of an ultra-rare Black-Throated Gray Warbler, and I brought the camera both times. I'll share those photos in this post and the next.

And the camera will be going with me to Virginia. I very much look forward to seeing the incredible array of wintering ducks at Dutch Gap, and maybe capturing them. Chesterfield had t-shirt weather today. I can only hope it will offer some of the same after our arrival! And I can only hope the trip works out and lasts long enough to catch Virginia at its best. I have been having major sensory processing issues, which more or less torched my last attempt at travel (Point Pelee in May.) I'm tired of not travelling due to these issues--as much as I love my home city, I'm tired of only seeing Ottawa birds.

I'm eBirding these days. (That's a link to my eBird profile, but note that you have to be registered on eBird to view it.) i.e. reporting the results of my birding outings (and sometimes feeder watches) to the huge public database run by Cornell. This is increasingly popular among birders, and increasingly being used by scientists for tracking the distribution of species around the globe.

Relatedly, I've been working on a program for recording bird sightings locally (i.e. on my own computer) and personally. It's sort of eaten my life, though in a good way. I've enjoyed the coding, and finally, now, am enjoying the fruits of it. The nucleus of the idea was my dissatisfaction with eBird's query abilities and its impersonal nature. Although I'm not going to stop eBirding, I wanted in addition something more like Birder's Diary, but that runs natively in Linux (my preferred platform.) I wanted to be able to easily ask, for instance, "where have I seen Scarlet Tanager in June and July?" And I wanted a platform for storing personal thoughts about my birding trips, not just dry scientific data.

I now have all these things in BirdDB! It's a Perl library with a terminal-based app running on top, and my next step will be a GUI app. I haven't decided yet whether I will ever release any of it for public use. I don't know how big of an intersection there is between the already small groups "serious birders for whom eBird isn't enough", and "linux geeks." I suspect not a big one. (Besides, there is actually already a birding program that runs on linux. It's in Java. The truth is I made BirdDB more because I really wanted an interesting programming project, than because there were no existing alternatives.)

So a Black-Throated Gray Warbler showed up in Ottawa, our second ever. It is a bird primarily of the American southwest, though its range does tip up into southernmost British Columbia. It should have flown to Mexico in fall, instead, somehow, it ended up here. It was first found on the second of November at Mud Lake, and ended up lingering there until mid-December, when winter came in with a vengeance.

The afternoon of the day it was first reported, a rainy afternoon, I went to Mud Lake and soaked myself and my optics to the bone looking for it. No dice. I settled for photographing common birds, and promised myself I would be back the next day to try again.

Note: Husband and I finally got a new 1920x1080 monitor, so that's the res I use for wallpapers now. Click through to the gallery for wallpaper links for the first and third of these.

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Cardinal

Black-Capped Chickadee

(Continued in next post.)

A Wet Morning On The TracksLife Bird #473


December 30th, 2017 at 11:51 am
Downy Woodpeckers are always cute.

I like the color combination in the Cardinal photo!