December 20th, 2017
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
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
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
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.
(Continued in next post.)