Saturday, July 5, 2014

We Are FĂȘted!

We received a lovely message today (below). We are always happy to lend our likeness to a good cause, and do hope that the gala will be a great success.  Please support our friends at the West Feliciana Animal Humane Society, if you are so inclined.

Recently while searching through vintage shops for merchandise to use for our animal shelter fundraiser, I found Peteena all dressed up in black velvet and white fur stole, just in time for our "Wags and Whiskers Gala" to benefit West Feliciana Animal Humane Society in St. Francisville, Lousiana! How fortunate that she was waiting for us to lend her celebtrity to the fundraiser event to benefit our 2 year old shelter which desperately needs space and building improvements for the health and well being of the many animals that seek refuge here. We shower the animals with love and frendship, but need support for supplies and medical treatment and expansion of the overflowing facility. The event date is July 25, 2014. Our contact # 225-635-5801 and we are on Facebook. Look us up!
Thank you Peteena!

The Volunteer Staff
West Feliciana Animal Humane Society

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fun But Organized

Just returned from 8 days in Singapore, where we went for a wedding (a beautiful affair, congratulations and best wishes to Wilson and Siew Ping!).  Photos of our trip are on my flickr site:

"Fun but organized" was a phrase I read in the text accompanying an exhibit at the Singapore Flyer (World's Largest Giant Observational Wheel, FYI) and it seems like an apt description for the country as a whole.  We had a great time seeing friends, doing touristy things (National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, the aforementioned Flyer, the Marina Bay Sands (big mistake), lots of restaurants and shopping), and birding.

Oh, the birding! We booked a private birding guide (the amazing Kim Seng: for two hot, somewhat grueling, incredibly productive days in Singapore and Malaysia.   List of birds right here Please note that Brian and I would never claim to have ID'd each of these birds ourselves, but we did actually see each of them and relied on Kim Seng's identifications. Also please note that these are not complete lists for each location, as I've only listed the first sighting of each bird - we saw many species in multiple places.

October 8, 2013, Central Catchment Area near MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore:
Collared Scops Owl (H)
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Thick-billed Pigeon
Tiger Shrike
Red-crowned Barbet
Olive-winged Bulbul
Striped Tit Babbler
Magpie Robin
Brown-throated Sunbird
Asian Glossy Starling
Long-tailed Parakeet
Raquet-tailed Drongo
Stork-billed Kingfisher
Brahminy Kite
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Pacific Swallow
Arctic Warbler
Hill Myna

Butik Batok Park, Singapore 10/8/13:
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
Dollar Bird
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Crimson Sunbird
Duck-necked Tailorbird
White-crested Laughingthrush
Common Golden-backed Woodpecker
Laced Woodpecker
Banded Woodpecker
Lineated Barbet
Glossy Swiftlet
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Changeable Hawk-Eagle
White-throated Kingfisher
Straw-headed Bulbul
Common Myna
Java Myna

Sungei Buloh Wetland Preserve, Singapore 10/8/13:
Long-tailed Shrike
Grey Heron
Common Sandpiper
White-bellied Sea Eagle
Emerald Dove
Black-naped Oriole
Copper-throated Sunbird
Collared Kingfisher

Kranji Marsh, Singapore 10/8/13:
Red-breasted Parakeet
Zebra Dove
Rose-winged Parakeet
Ruddy-breasted Crake (H)
Pied Triller
Black Koel

Panti Forest Preserve, Malaysia 10/9/13:
Little Green Pigeon
Buff-vented Bulbul
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter
Red-rumped Swallow
Rufous Woodpecker
Black-headed Bulbul
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker
Raffles' Malkoha
Black-naped Monarch
Tree Swift
Barn Swallow
Black Magpie
Yellow-vented Tailorbird
Hairy-backed Bulbul
Red-eyed Bulbul
Crested Serpent Eagle
Asian Fairy Bluebird

Pasir Ris Park, Singapore 10/9/13:
While Bellied Waterhen
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Red Junglefowl
Golden-fronted Gerygone
Citron-crested Cockatiel (exotic)
Little Egret
Long-tailed Shrike
White-bellied Sea Eagle

Lorone-Holus Wetlands, Singapore 10/9/13:
Whiskered Tern
White-winged Tern
Purple Heron
Scaly Brown Muna
Baya Weaver
Pacific Golden Plover

Other critters encountered:
Plantain Squirrel
Three striped ground squirrel
Long-tailed macaque
Leaf monkey
Water Monitor
Clouded Monitor
Flying Lemur
Giant Mudskipper
Gibbon (H)
Changeable Lizard
Flying Lizard

(H = heard, not seen.)

Monday, March 18, 2013


Five Reasons to Love Boise!

1. They don't just have a Library, they have a Library!

2. Birds everywhere! California Quail in the backyard next to our inn! Wood Ducks in a city park (below)! Prairie Falcons nearby at Snake River Canyon! Peregrine Falcons in downtown Boise! With a nest cam! 

3.  The aforementioned Snake River Canyon! Very beautiful!

4.  The Idaho Central Credit Union has a big ol' party van and sends it out on Friday night with a DJ and street dancer! 

5.  Huge rocks!  Deposited by glacial melt!

 And here's a bonus reason to love Boise! The Northwest Lineman College in nearby Meridian!  I kid you not! Hard to tell from the photo, but there is a whole complex of different types of poles, towers, and power lines here! How else do you think they learn how to be linemen?!

Boise, Baby!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

We started the new year off right with a spectacular day of birding at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (mainly at the Sacramento Unit, but with a stop at Colusa) with our friends Kevin and Susan.  Yes, we dragged out butts out of bed at 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Day in order to be there before dawn, but it was worth it.  We saw a gorgeous sunrise and many thousands of birds on a beautifully sunny, clear and cold day, and even managed breakfast at the Black Bear Diner in Willows. Here's our list for the day (all seen at the Sacramento Unit unless otherwise noted, many were seen at both locations): 

Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron (at Colusa)
Black-crowned Night Heron (at Colusa)
Turkey Vulture
Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
American Wigeon
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-necked Pheasant
Black-necked Stilt
Long-Billed Curlew
Great Horned Owl (at Colusa)
Northern Flicker (at Colusa)
Black Phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub Jay (heard only, at Colusa)
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow (at Colusa)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Pipit (at Colusa)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
Song Sparrow (at Colusa)
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark (at Colusa)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Good Dog, Bad Dog

 Was doing my office volunteer thing at Berkeley Animal Care Services yesterday, but kept getting distracted. First Neffi wanted a treat....
 ...then Parker wanted a treat....
...then Mona wanted a treat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

No Cruise?

I took our dry cleaning in about three weeks ago, and when the woman who runs the store asked me when I wanted it I said we were going on vacation and wouldn't be back for a couple of weeks.  She asked me where we were going and I said Alaska.  She looked excited and asked me if we were going on a cruise.  I said no, and her face just fell, she said, "No cruise?"  Like how could you go to Alaska without getting on a cruise ship?

Well, folks, it can be done.  Brian and I packed a lot into ten days in Alaska, and we had a great time.  We flew into Fairbanks, spent three days there, then got on the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage.  We got off at Denali and spent two nights there, taking a 13-hour round-trip bus ride deep into the park.  Then we got back on the train for three days in the Anchorage area, including the one-and-only 26 Glacier Cruise. So we did take a cruise, after all. 

Here's a selection of pics from our trip:

Downtown Fairbanks. Don't ask me why that particular building is looking for love. Downtown Fairbanks isn't all that, so I would think they all would be.

Vending machines in Alaska have yogurt pretzels, and two kinds of jerky!

We visited the Botanical Gardens on the UA Fairbanks campus... 

... and the Museum of Alaska, where we had a bite in the cafe with hungry bird sculptures begging over our heads. 

Good birding near the Fairbanks Airport, including here at the Float Plane Area. This photo was taken after 9PM, still plenty of light as sunset wouldn't be until after 11.

Chena Lakes Recreation Area, the last sunny day we saw for a while.  We saw Red-throated Loon here, and...

 ... had our biggest non-mediated (as in, not on a bus) large animal wildlife encounter.  We heard something in the water while we were hiking, and very quietly worked out way down to the stream, where we saw a moose was foraging.  When she saw us she moved away, and we got eaten live by mosquitoes, but it was totally worth it. 

This was our second-closest non-mediated large animal encounter: bear scat (in blueberry season).

On the hiking trail in birch forest bear the Chena River. 

After some sunny weather in Fairbanks, we had nothing but clouds and rain in Denali.Still an amazing place, though.

On the 13-hour bus trip to the end of Denali Park Road and back. I think the kid's name was J.J., she was extremely popular.

 Apparently, this is called a braided river and it's a whole glacier thing.

 We saw lots of Grizzly Bears, also Moose, Caribou, and Dall Sheep (plus Willow Ptarmigan, a lifer for us).

The wildlife photographing was very competitive on the bus. Fortunately, the wildlife was very cooperative. We saw all the Big Five of Denali (Moose, Caribou, Bears, Dall Sheep, Wolf) except the wolf.  By the end of the day, when people were still screaming "BEAR!!!" every time somebody saw one, the bus driver was totally fed up and saying, "Just what you guys need, another bear."

  Another cloudy day, shooting out the window of the train from Denali to Anchorage.

 We finally saw Mt. McKinley - from the train window.  Apparently, only 30% of visitors to the park actually see Mt. McKinley (AKA Denali).  Since we weren't in the park when we saw it, I don't know if we're in the 30%, or the 70%.

Potter's Marsh is a very birdy spot south of Anchorage. We picked up a lifer here when we saw four Wilson's Snipe foraging among the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  Spent a long time looking at a really large, dark bird that we thought might have been a Golden Eagle until we realized it was two Ravens kind of bunched up together.

 Climbing on the rocks at Turnagain Arm, another cloudy Alaska day.

 Hiking on the Coastal Trail in Anchorage, looking towards downtown.

We loved our hotel, the Anchorage Grand Hotel. Right downtown, big room, friendly staff, and fresh-baked cookies every afternoon!

Two of the 26 glaciers on the 26 Glacier Cruise, with sea otters in the foreground. This is in Prince William Sound.

This is Surprise Glacier, and the lumps in the water in front of the Glacier are sea lions. We also saw Humpbacked Whales, porpoises, and lots of birds.

Netting ice from glaciers, which they then put in drinks and on display. 

A huge nesting colony of Black legged Kittiwakes is the last stop on the 26 Glacier tour, there must have been thousands of birds there.

Glacier close-up, shot through my binoculars.

In the car, on the road to Whittier and the fabulous 26 Glacier Cruise (yes, we're out of order now, but Blogger makes it a real pain to move photos around once you get them in).

Approaching the tunnel to Whittier, 2.5 miles straight through a mountain - the second longest highway tunnel and the longest combined auto/rail tunnel in North America, or something like that.

Inside the tunnel, which was pretty awesome.

Parting shot from the boat, what a great trip!

And, for anyone who's interested, here are the life birds we picked up in Alaska:

Red-necked Grebe
Red-throated Loon
Wilson's Snipe
Pelagic Cormorant
Northwestern Crow
Willow Ptarmigan
Black-legged Kittiwake
Glaucous-winged Gull
Mew Gull
Orange-crowned Warbler
Alder Flycatcher*
Pine Siskin*
Gray-cheeked Thrush*

(*-these last ones we may have seen before, but did not ID well enough to record.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chi-Town is the Stupidest City Nickname Ever

Someone here in Berkeley actually asked me how my trip to "Chi-Town" was. I held my tongue (I actually do that, sometimes, contrary to popular belief). Nearly 20 years in Chicago and I never once heard a Chicagoan call it "Chi-Town." The word "Chicago" just rolls off the tongue so nicely, why does the city need a nickname? The California Quail says "Chicago" in its call, for pity's sake (when birders try to communicate what a bird sounds like they will pick a word or phrase with the same cadence, and the California Quail is often said to be saying Chi-CAW-Go, Chi-CAW-Go).

Favorite photos from my most recent trip to the Windy City (now there's a nickname!):

Late night snow fall on Saturday night - perfect! It came after all my work days were done, just enough to be beautiful and not enough to make everything a hassle.

Inside the Audio Arts & Acoustics Department at Columbia College Chicago. The building used to be a bank, and the acoustics in the bank vault are so awesome that they kept it intact (after ensuring that the door cannot close, of course!).

Beard Papa's now in Chicago! Freshly made cream puffs, and they are every bit as awesome as they sound.

Seriously, Jewel, who calls a doughnut a "Yeast Ring?" No wonder you are in so much trouble. Well, there's also the new Trader Joe's across the street, that's probably not helping, either.

Had a very tasty breakfast at Yolk, on 10th and Michigan.

Would you pay $6 to park your bike for the day in downtown Chicago? Neither would anyone else, apparently.

Most ridiculous thing I saw during my recent visit, the new Roosevelt University building, which towers over the old Roosevelt University building in a most unattractive way.