Monthly Archives: March 2013

Monkey off my back

I have a love/hate relationship with March.


I have been staring at a screen like this just about every night since mid-October, and I’m going bug-eyed.  But now that fiscal year-end is approaching, all my contracts are due; once they’re submitted, I can take a deep breath and collapse into a big molten heap.

What exactly do I do? Well, the long version is that I transcribe digital songbird data collected in remote areas by recorders with microphones, for use in population monitoring studies by governments. The short version: I’m a desktop birder.

How does it work? I listen to the clips, and identify to species all birds singing or calling, along with abundance values, and enter the information into a spreadsheet. This data is then used to further our scientific knowledge of the natural world and our effects on it, aiding in management and conservation of wildlife and the environment. Pretty cool, eh? It’s a bit surreal, immersing yourself in the dawn songbird chorus when it’s a cold and dark winter’s night, but when you hear an owl hooting to it’s mate, or a mosquito buzzes by (but you know it won’t bite), or a wolf howls off in the distance, and the hermit thrushes are counter-singing in their ethereal flutey voices, I’d have to say I’m pretty lucky to have fallen into this line of work.

Soon the biologists will be off to collect more data, so for now I can take some time off, waiting until the next files will be shipped to me for another round of headphones and software and  enough birds to drive me crazy. Maybe until then, I can get outside and listen to some real live birds of the non-digital variety – imagine that!


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Our house has been besieged by illness. Nothing major, but enough that all we want is tv, chicken noodle soup, and a fire to keep us comforted.

A face appeared in the embers as the flames dwindled – hopefully the dragon that symbolizes this sickness will soon be gone.


Maybe it’s just me getting older, but it seems like I’m getting hit harder by cold and flu bugs. Or maybe the viruses are getting nastier? They sure do pack more of a whollop than they used to.  Anyone else noticing the same thing?

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It’s amazing what the birds know that we don’t. A few days ago they arrived en masse, and descended on the feeders and trees, calling and posturing, and feeding in a frenzy. Then they were gone – just before the cold snap hit. Headed north, ahead of the storm, slowly working their way to where they’ll set up territories for the breeding season.

Our neighbourhood is filled with Common Grackles, European Starlings, and Red-winged Blackbirds. The American Goldfinch males are changing into their resplendent yellow plumage, there’s a Carolina Wren singing in our maple, and the Cardinals are pairing up.

It’s happening – spring is near – just listen to the birds.


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Inspiration: Eddie Soloway

Unfocused forests, blurry water scenes, surreal sunsets.

I used to love seeing documentary nature shots, true to reality, showing the width and breadth and diversity of the natural world. But now I am so much more inspired by an abstract take on the world, where physicality is reduced to colour, shapes, lines and movement.

Eddie Soloway’s images are where I want my photography to be. ‘Nuf said.





Check out his work here:

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The sun begged us to head outside for a walk in the woods. Silly sun – you didn’t have to beg; but I am grateful nonetheless.


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Nature-inspired Etsy Love

Some recent lovely etsy discoveries:





Treat yourself to some handmade goodness!

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Spring sky

It happens every year.

One day I look up at the sky and notice the clouds. And I realize with a shock that I haven’t looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds for months.

It’s a winter thing – it’s either a clear blue sky, or completely gray and overcast. And then, suddenly, I notice the clouds – they have shape, dimension, and they are alive.

And I know that spring is almost here, really and truly.



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Music Mondays: Sin Fang

Sin Fang is called an ‘experimental folk-pop artist’, coming out of Iceland. However you classify his music, it comes down to one thing: I can’t get this song out of my head.

My kids are singing it under their breath, but have changed the words to ‘sneaking in the woods’….I’m trying to keep them pure as long as I can (wish me luck with that).

This one is great too:

Sin Fang is apparently part of Seabear, which you should also check out.

I heart new music. If ever you care to share some of your music loves with me, I’ll gladly lend an ear, with gratitude.

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The setting sun was a spider amidst a web of tangled branches, foreshadowing spring – which is just around the corner, right?!  RIGHT?!

That’s what I thought.


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It was a wild and wonderful storm, but a quick capture on the camera, freezing the snowflakes mid-fall, yields a deceptively tranquil winter scene.


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