White Pelican

A week ago Saturday, Connie and I went up to Barr Lake State Park, a local birding hot spot. I thought you might enjoy this picture of a white pelican we saw there, one of the many who visit here in the summer. It seems every time I see them I am astonished anew at how big they are.

Passenger Pigeons Again…

Another little sample from my evolving proposal:
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After the Ice
… I will draw on contemporary scholarship from Pielou to Paul Martin to
paint a picture of the late glacial world – one with little place
for the passenger pigeon
as a major ecological actor. One keystone
will be Australian ecologist Tim Flannery’s (The Eternal
) hypothesis that the North American continent, by virtue
of its shape, weather, and geology, has never had a stable
environment, especially since the last glaciation.

Friends & Family, Music & Words, Past & Present

Everything seems to come around again. Last week, Tom Russell and his sideman Thad Beckmann played at Passim, a cellar room in Harvard square where I heard the likes of Ian Tyson as far back as 1966, when it was the legendary Club 47.

My sister Karen Graham, here with Tom, her husband George, and Tom’s wife Nadine, remembers my going there when she was a child, and the little printed ad sheets I used to keep under the glass of my desktop when I was still in high school.

Bronwen Fullington, a friend since ’68 or so,  saw the other pic and said “It hasn’t  changed a bit since then!” Looks like the same old tiny cellar…

Tom may be as good a writer of words as songs. Buy his book, with all the lyrics and tons of anecdote and history.


Courtesy of emeritus zoologist and Ice Age maven Valerius Geist:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

“The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse.”

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

(All from H. L. Mencken).

Gun Quiz & Tease

What is this? I do not mean ’95 Winchester; I will take it my readers know that– but what caliber? Hint: more were made in it than all the others combined. Where are they now?

I know its owner knows, so I will ask him not to give it away. No fair WIKI- ing the answer either!

Gratuitous Pigeon Photos

Handsome birds, “Lebanons”.  I saw their like in Turkey a few years ago. Anyone know where I can find a pair or two for less than $250? Stupid regs make all imported birds impossibly expensive for all but the rich, and cause hoarding and inbreeding depression in the tiny gene pools that exist in the US.  I’m no fan of closed studbook pedigrees– I cross out and back again, until I have the “good’ phenotype with a wider genetic palette…

From my friend Warren, who has some of my “granddogs”,  I am getting some young of one of my favorite breeds, the wild, rugged old show bird called the English carrier. It no longer carries messages– that job long ago taken over by its partial descendant, the racing homer, but is still a strong swift flier. It has too much character (is too odd/ ugly/ finicky) for modern tastes, but it was once known by the Scottish handle “King o’ the Doo’s” [doves]. Darwin bred ones that could win best in show today; there is a good illustration in his book on domestication, “Variations”. Some of mine should come from the excellent pair in the first photo.

Science Links

I could publish a whole blog on that subject (as could Walter Hingley, who sends me many good ones, more than I have time to use). But then I could run one on books, or wildlife art or bird ancetsors or the Pleistocene– and have NO time…

But some demand attention. I know, this short report from Science News looks like pure geekery, worse than my pigeon obsessions. Who cares about the “reassignment” of the jellyfish- like comb jellies? But look at the cladograms.

This may be the greatest rethinking of the family tree since “they'”separated Bacteria from Archaea. And yeah, that’s big.

My other note comes with an apology– three weeks or more ago, my Explorers Club associate Jut Wynne sent me this YouTube of his recent talk to science fiction writers comparing parasitoids to (the movie) Alien, and  taking his ideas to search for life on Mars and further. I finally read it this morning and wanted to race over to Flagstaff and badger him with questions…

Among other things, I need to ask him about Strepsipterans, strange insects with an even stranger sex life and cycle than his wasps… but that will be another post.