May 16, 2016
Western Grebes at Barr Lake State Park. Aren’t they pretty?
So I was one of over 14,000 birders who submitted checklists for eBird’s Global Big Day. Pretty cool, huh?
The day did not go as I originally planned. I have three really great birding spots within an hour’s drive of me, and I did a triangle between them, plus a stop at the Boulder County Fairgrounds to visit the ospreys. Which seems a little like cheating, but hey, they’re there. You can see them too via this bird cam.
First off, Saturday was seriously mucking cold for this time of year. Temperature never got much above 50 F. The day started out at 38 F, with a misting rain, at the Pawnee National Grasslands. I left when my hands were shaking too much for me to look through the binoculars. And that was with gloves! But I saw some great birds like a lazuli bunting, brown thrashers, a western tanager, and some cool warblers and vireos. I want to go back to this spot. When it’s sunny and warm.
Then I hit Barr Lake State Park. It stopped raining by then, so yay! And saw some more great stuff like orioles, warblers, western grebes, a nuthatch, spotted sandpipers, and so on. Then Ty called me from the airport — he was stuck on a 6 hour layover and did I want to come have lunch with him? It just so happens that Barr Lake is about 20 minutes away from the airport, so of course I went to have lunch with him.
I almost hit a jackrabbit on the way there. Like, not a little cottontail bunny like we usually see, but a honking big mutant-legged giant jackrabbit. Whew.
After hanging out with Ty it was getting pretty late. I headed over to Walden Ponds in Boulder and was rewarded with a snowy egret. That was nice.
I just barely hit my 50 species goal. But this is not an exact science — there were a couple of species I just couldn’t ID. Like flycatchers: hey, that’s a flycatcher-shaped thing that’s kind of grayish with yellow underneath! *checks ID book* *discovers that all flycatchers are grayish with yellow underneath* *curses* I also probably spotted a couple of things that I could have counted, that I’m pretty sure on, but didn’t get a good enough look at to be sure. Like those black-capped chickadees.
I also managed to go the whole day without seeing a plain old pigeon, which is just weird.
I also got tired. Part of this was the cold, part of this was the unexpected side trip to the airport. I got to a point where I just didn’t want to look through the binoculars anymore. I probably could have chased down those pigeons and chickadees and a couple of others besides. But by the end of the day I was cold and tired and wanted to go home.
And I only did about 12 hours. eBird’s pro team was also in Colorado, birded the whole 24 hours, and got 232 species. Wow. I need to hang out with those guys just to learn from them.
I think next time (I’ll probably do this again), I may focus on just one or two spots instead of trying to cover a quarter of the state. I may try to get the scope out and really search one area rather than trying to cover a lot of ground. Take frequent breaks. Eat more and drink more water. Get better about IDing things.
Wait for a sunny day. Heh.
May 12, 2016
A couple of links for you:
My Lightspeed review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is now live. Short version: I think it’s worth a look, especially if you like medieval-fantasy action type movies.
George has posted an excerpt from the next Wild Cards book, High Stakes, which is due out later this year. I’m not in this one, but you can bet I’m reading it. I hear he also posted a chapter from the next Ice and Fire book, but I know you all are really interested in Wild Cards, right?
Also, I’m planning on a thing this weekend. eBird’s Global Big Day. You might have heard of a birding Big Year because of the movie that came out a few years ago — hardcore birders try to log as many different species as they can in a year. (I finally saw the movie last week — the book is way better, and I’m thinking of writing a review of both soon.) A Big Year is huge, but a Big Day? I think I can do that. This Saturday. For Science!
In a twist, eBird’s pro team is targeting Colorado, and I think they’re aiming for something like 200+ species. Me? 50. I think I can log 50. Mainly because I’m not going from midnight to midnight, and I’m really not that good a birder. But I have a plan, and I’m super excited to try.
It also occurs to me that this is the birding version of NaNoWriMo, which is kind of hilarious.
(If you think the Big Day sounds awesome and want to support bird research and conservation, you might think of donating.)
May 4, 2016
I tried to figure out what to post today, then I looked at the calendar.
It’s Star Wars Day!
I’m not entirely sure when this became a thing, but I’m really glad that it’s a thing!
Star Wars stuff in my life right now: comic books. I read #1 of Poe Dameron, which takes place right before The Force Awakens, and it’s okay. Sort of like Rogue Squadron lite. But the real surprise was the C-3PO comic, which I would not have picked up except it’s by James Robinson and Tony Harris. My beloved Starman Robinson and Harris! Well played, Marvel, well played! It’s the story of how C-3PO got that red arm and it’s kind of adorable. Not deep, just a one-off, one-issue adventure. Nice, you know? I’ve also been informed that I would probably really like the Chewbacca comic so that’s next on the list.
I got to thinking about the prequels again. (I know, I know, I’m supposed to stop that.) I’m wondering if Star Wars stories are inherently about underdogs triumphing over impossible odds. Like, if those stories and that tone are an inherent part of the Star Wars universe. But the prequels — that’s the story of the fall of the establishment. The characters aren’t underdogs, they’re authority figures. It’s the classic Greek-style tragedy of pride and hubris and a fatal flaw undermining the whole culture.
Is that kind of story inherently in opposition to the feel of the Star Wars universe? I’m not sure. But I’m not entirely sure the prequels are aware that they’re Greek tragedy, and so are kind of doomed. Ironically enough.
Back later, I have comics to read.
May 2, 2016
I got the new Eddie Bauer catalog and opened it up and there’s a picture of Ryan Reynolds planting a tree. I guess they’re launching a forestry charity and he’s their spokes-celebrity.
But I just kept staring at that picture. Ryan Reynolds, very seriously planting a tree.
It was unexpectedly, weirdly, kinda hot. Like, I can’t stop looking at it. Like, what is happening, is this like pinups for outdoorsy girls or something? Did they know that when they were doing the photo shoot? It’s just like totally normal Ryan Reynolds. Not even dressed sexy. He’s in a freaking parka. Planting a tree.
April 22, 2016
It’s like something in the universe decided Planet Earth had too much glam, and 2016 is the year the ledger got balanced.
FYI: In the Kitty universe, it’s totally, totally canon that Prince and the Revolution are Fae. Prince just went back Underhill. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
April 20, 2016
Short post today — I spent the morning taking a friend to meet the folk at Ildanach Studio to learn about metal casting. Fun time, watching everybody geek out about historical metalworking, experimental archeology, and restoration.
I’m also thinking of dropping the blogging to twice a week instead of three times a week. Been having just a bit of trouble keeping up with it the last month or so and that might take some of the pressure off.
Movie reviews will continue — I already have tickets to CA: Civil War. Hmmm……
April 18, 2016
I gotta get this off my chest:
So The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl have all made passing references to Opal City now. This is a DC universe thing. Each hero has their own city, right? Batman is Gotham, Superman is Metropolis, Arrow is Starling City, Flash is Central City (which is nothing like Central City, Colorado, alas), and so on.
Opal City is home to Starman.
The only superhero comic I ever followed with any sort of devotion, that I actually own the first 60 or so issues of, was the 1990’s run of Starman by James Robinson and Tony Harris. I picked up the comic because the art was beautiful — art nouveau and art deco inspired, streamlined and colorful. Basically, completely different than the hyper-steroidal messy/gritty Leifeld-style art in every other comic at the time. And the story was great: Jack Knight is the younger son of Ted Knight, who in the Golden Age was Starman. Ted is an old man now, and he really wants Jack to take up the cosmic staff and become the next Starman. (Me, interested in families of superheroes and the generational issues involved? Who knew!) Jack runs an antique store/junk shop. He doesn’t really want to be a superhero. Until he does.
At this point, after this many references to Opal City on the TV shows, I am desperate for more allusions to the Robinson Starman run. Like, I am agonized for them. I mean, we don’t actually have to go to Opal City (though that would be awesome). I don’t necessarily need Starman himself (Jack or Ted) to make an appearance (though that would be AMAZING). But I want something. A character stops by an antique store run by a punk-looking guy named Jack. Star Labs consults a gray-haired physicist named Ted Knight. A mere glimpse of the cosmic staff in someone’s stash, in a box with a return address of Opal City. I want my own personal Starman easter egg, with a big sign saying HERE YOU GO, CARRIE, ENJOY.
(Apparently, Robinson has a great deal of control over what gets done with Jack Knight/Starman, which means I’ll probably never get that easter egg. But I live in hope.)