May 9, 2008

Website of the Week

Since it is Friday it is time for our occasional weekly feature, Website of the Week, wherein I share with you a link to a website that I have found useful, informative or interesting. I am interested in and curious about many different things, so you can never tell what might turn up here.

I have mentioned before how I like to use the Internet to travel vicariously across the globe. This week’s website is not just one website, but rather a series of different ones with the same theme. These are the Daily Photo blogs from various cities around the world. A very well known one is Paris Daily Photo. This is a great way to discover images from places other than your own, allowing you to be an armchair traveller. There are almost 200 of these photo blogs available on the internet from many diverse places. You can find a list of them from this post on Avignon In Photos. Bon Voyage!

Here also are a couple of photographs that might appear on my own Daily Photo blog, if I had one.


The science of anything may be taught or acquired by study; the art of it comes by practice or inspiration. The art of seeing things is not something that may be conveyed in rules and precepts; it is a matter vital in the eye and ear, yea, in the mind and soul, of which these are the organs.

- John Burroughs

A few posts back I wrote about the spring blush. Well, it has happened here over the last few days. Now the fresh, lime green of springtime colour is beginning to appear everywhere. Today’s photograph is as close as I can come to that in between moment from blush to green. For years I was oblivious to the spring blush. Each year I would look for the first signs of green, not even seeing the delicate hues of red. It takes practice and inspiration to become a good naturalist, or a good photographer for that matter. I become better at both the more I work at it. The more I study nature the more I am inspired. Ultimately, I would suppose, my goal is to become one with the natural world around me. To be more sensitive to the subtle changes in the forest from season to season. To see things more clearly.

May 7, 2008



I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

- William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

We are in to days of 20° temperatures now and the spring flower bulbs are coming on strong. Tulips and hyacinth and daffodils everywhere. And male robins staking out their territories with their springtime song.

Did you ever think about what you remember from school, and maybe more importantly, what you don't remember? I find it interesting to contemplate what has stuck in my mind all these years later. I had to memorize the poem 'Daffodils' for Mr. Ciolfi's english class in seventh grade. I still have a particular fondness for it some forty-five years later.

May 2, 2008


Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz,
I wonder where the birdies is.

The little birds is on the wing,
Ain’t that absurd,
The little wing is on the bird!

- childhood poem

There is so much springtime activity going on, particularly with the birds, that I am completely agog. I am having a very hard time keeping up with all of the excitement. The biggest news in the province of New Brunswick at the moment is the fact that the Saint John River is reaching flood stage in our capital city, Fredericton, and down river from there in smaller farming communities. We had a lot of snow this past winter and the spring runoff has driven the river to near record flood levels, creating the worst flooding since 1973.

Hundreds of homes have been evacuated and hundreds more have at least flooded basements. Over forty streets in the capital are closed because they are under water. At the moment probably even the farmers are having a hard time seeing the bright side of things. There is at least one, though. Along the river there is land that floods almost every year that is used as farm land. Referred to locally as the ‘interval’, this land is preferred for growing crops because the annual flooding enriches the soil.

At the moment for me a big preoccupation is the birds. For the last few days my feeders have been overrun by two different large flocks of birds, one group getting ready to leave here, and the other group just arriving from down south. The former, Common Redpolls, and the latter, Chipping Sparrows are eating as much seed as I will put out. They are emptying a feeder in a day that would normally be filled once a week. The Common Redpolls are fattening up for their migration and the Chipping Sparrows are starved from theirs.

The usual collection of Black-capped Chickadees, Purple Finches, American Goldfinches, Downy Woodpeckers and Blue Jays are coming to visit every day. The male Purple Finches and American Goldfinches have just about finished moulting and are in their bright springtime plumage. There are Common Grackles about and this morning I saw Canada Geese on the wing. So far, as near as I can tell, there is no activity at the Bald Eagle’s nest although I did see a Bald Eagle cruising the marsh the other day. The warblers are beginning to arrive and soon springtime birding will be in its high season.

A real treat for me each year is the first sighting of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). One came to visit my backyard the other day. This is a rather large member of the woodpecker family with very distinctive markings. John Burroughs referred to this bird as the ‘high hole’, which I presume has to do with where they make their nest. Usually I spot the flickers in Victoria Park which is next door to our house and features a bandshell, flower gardens, fountain, the city's cenotaph and some very nice trees.

This is also high season for what I refer to as the ‘small flower bulbs’. Today’s flower photograph is of Glory Of The Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae) which is one of the early blooming spring bulbs. Daffodils and tulips are also beginning to bloom and soon there will be a riot of colour everywhere. So spring will soon be in full swing. The woodland flowers will begin to bloom in the next few weeks. I can hardly stand the excitement!