eregyrn: (Greenman)
As promised, I selected just 24 photos to represent the year, and hit every month except for April and September, I think. Click any to embiggen at Flickr.

Let's see if I can get one of those new-fangled LJ Collapse things to work...
I think I got it... oh it's just the old LJ Cut... )
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - cold)
It's a year in review!

Do you know how long it's been since I posted? Wow. I also see that I failed to post last year, which would be bad, in that I usually forget what I did for New Years from year to year.  Except I can remember that last year I went t [livejournal.com profile] my_tallest's party so I could meet his then-new boyfriend, and that was fun!

This year I did NOT party, because I got really hideously sick from food-poisoning the night before, and continued feeling icky all yesterday.  So I sat at home and cautiously ate bland things, caught up on Tumblr after a week away, and just barely remembered to turn on the TV in time to see the ball drop.  *FWEEEEE*!!!  (that's a virtual party-favor thing that you blow into and it unrolls... what the hell ARE those called?)

It also feels like I didn't DO a whole hell of a lot this past year.  I really have to think back to figure out where the year went.

The best part of the year has to have been the saw-whet owl banding, I think.  I moved up from recording volunteer to actually extracting owls from nets and then doing the banding and measurements, which took me from doing it once a week to 4 or 5 nights a week.  So that really killed off October and November.  And yet, it's still pretty rewarding.

Hmm.  I should go back through my photos and see if I can post a "one photo a month" meme or something.  Maybe for tomorrow.

I also feel like I did very little art, which is kind of distressing.  Or at least it feels that way.  I think I did about 20 pieces, if I'm being generous in the counting... and oh yeah, a 6-page graphic story, which probably accounts for the other lack of production.  It took me 9 months to do that, and it hanging over me was probably part of the reason for other lack of production.  (5-6 weeks to do, if I counted up the actual time spent.)

If you're interested, you can see it here; it was a prize for someone in an ElfQuest fan group I'm in; it's not canonical, and is perhaps a bit "inside baseball" in terms of the story, but there it is.

I guess the other thing that killed me this year was that the first part of the year was still spent doing entries for the ElfQuest Fan Art calendar; normally that would have been completed long before New Years, but the nature of the project (producing pages for 3 weekly calendars) made it bleed into 2012, and I did about 5 pin-up montages of canon ElfQuest characters for it:

http://fav.me/d54aqal
http://fav.me/d4kpwrc
http://fav.me/d54apft
http://fav.me/d54aom8
http://fav.me/d54aoyn

I also did an entry for the EQFA 2013 calendar, which they ended up selecting for April; again, canonical (the theme was "every picture tells a story", to do a 1-page comic that would convey any kind of story we wanted), and it can be seen here.

And that's about it!  Off to contemplate what I feel safe eating for dinner...

Outdoorsy

Jun. 18th, 2012 11:38 am
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Spring)
Thanks to all for the birthday wishes yesterday. :) We actually had gorgeous weather here, so I took the opportunity to do something I've been meaning to do for a while, which was get out kayaking again. It surprises me to realize that I probably hadn't been out for 2 years, and as soon as I got back out on the water, I remembered how much I just plain enjoy it. The river is lovely and the feel of kayaking is lovely.

This time, I was excited to get out on a stretch of the Charles River that I'd never been on before. Charles River Canoe & Kayak has several rental spots, all of which I've been to, but I didn't know they'd opened up a new one upriver at Nahanton Park in Newton, on a 12 mile stretch of the river unbroken by any dams!

In a sense, this was my downfall; so was going by myself. Because whenever I go out to do things by myself, I always wind up being over-ambitious. Previously, I think I have not done paddles much longer than about 6 miles round trip. This time, I took advantage of a little canal that cut across a big loop of the river -- at the end of which, I had to actually get out and walk through a waterfall over rocks (in flip-flops, because I'm dumb), dragging the kayak under a bridge to get back to the river and go back the long way, downstream. In my head, this made sense, because paddling downstream is always easier, and I'd noticed on the way out that the wind ought to be mostly at my back on the return. But I sort of didn't do the math in my head to estimate how long a trip that would really be. When kayaking, I tend to manage about 3-3.5 miles per hour. I paddled 2 miles to get to the half-mile short-cut. That brought me back to the river 8 miles upstream, which I then had to paddle all the way back to the rental site. And while I was indeed going with the current on the way back, the current isn't so strong that it carries you at any speed. So, yeah. That was about 3 and a half hours' worth of constant paddling, more than I'd ever done before, and the river was twisty enough that I still had stretches where I had to paddle against the wind.

But it was great, even if my arms are kind of limp noodles today.

I don't have any pictures of any of that, because I don't tend to try to mess around with electronics in a kayak, since it's all so wet. Instead, have some pictures from a few weeks ago, when Diane and Katie and I took a day-trip up to the White Mountains in NH. I was the instigator of this plan, because it has seemed for a while now, to me, that it is ridiculous that I have lived up here for over 20 years and never been up there, and never driven up Mt. Washington.

IMG_2163

Many more pictures below the cut, half of cool animals and half of scenic mountain vistas: this way... )

Conclusion: the White Mountains are really pretty. And I want to see more waterfalls.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Autumn)
That I would create a saw-whet owl pendant, that is. Because I've looked and looked, but couldn't really find one that I liked that captured the cuteness of their little faces. I am not saying that this does it perfectly either (it may be a mistake to post this with this icon, thus providing the obvious side by side comparison), but it's not a bad first attempt.

Both of these should be clickable through to larger versions of the pictures, if you are so inclined.


Saw-whet Owl Pendant by ~Eregyrn on deviantART

Link to detail pics below the cut... )

Saw-whet owl pendant made of Sculpey, painted with acrylic and sealed with Sculpey Glaze.

Dimensions are just over 2.5" x 1.75".

I did this in about 5 hours worth of sculpting (includes failed attempts that were squashed out and restarted), and about 2 hours worth of painting. There are already a bunch of things I will try to do differently on my next attempt (one of the wings is too thin for my liking; I want to do the eyes differently to make them easier to paint). But all in all I'm pretty satisfied with this little girl.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Autumn)
Of course, it is often owl-time around here these days, so what I mean specifically is, it's saw-whet owl-banding time!

IMG_1568

More under the cut! )

Tonight is "friends and family night", so I'm going back. We are just hoping like hell any owls show up. There was a 4th owl last night who flapped her way out of the net before we could get to her, so we're hoping she sticks around and gets in the net again tonight.
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
Yes, yes, still behind. Have some owl pictures from June!

IMG_0955

More owls behind the cut... )

Next time: the USS Constitution (I promise!), and a trip to the Jersey shore. (Not THAT Jersey Shore. I swear.)
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
So now we reach the weekend of May 28th, which marks the last weekend spent stalking the great horned owlets. We arrived at Mt. Auburn and, to our great shock, found that the site of the nesting tree was empty. Really empty -- it lacked the police tape that had been strung around to keep people away from the tree, and it lacked the crowd of people with binoculars and cameras that had been gathered there each of the other times we'd gone. And the tree itself of course was empty of owls or owlets.

It's not fun to realize that they are probably still in the area, but good luck figuring out WHICH tree they're in. My recollection is fuzzy at this point, but I think what we did was walk back up to the information desk at the cemetery entrance, to see if anyone had earlier spotted them and noted it; and I think they DID tell us that the owls were still in the Dell area, so after a detour to try to find a screech owl that had been reported (we didn't find it), we made our way back to the Dell, and eventually spotted the owls by, essentially, looking for other groups of people scanning the tree-tops and hoping one of them could point the way. Which I think is what happened.

We discovered one of the owlets in one of the trees that the adult was pictured in the week before:

IMG_0818

More behind the cut... )

And that's it! I haven't managed to get back there since, to check up on them. As I said above, though, if the development of great horned owls is anything like the development of redtailed hawks, then I don't think the owlets will have flown off yet. They ought to still be in the stage of learning to hunt, and being fed by the parents. But as they get older and get more of their adult plumage, they are likely to fly farther and farther afield... and there are a LOT of trees in Mt. Auburn.

The summers when I've been able to stalk the redtails around Harvard have always been vastly helped by two things: the fact that there are a lot of buildings to perch on, which the hawks do, and you can at least SEE them on buildings; and the fact that at least some of the hawk babies have that extremely loud begging cry, which you can triangulate on to find them. While we did get to hear one of the owlets give some kind of call, which might have been a begging cry... it wasn't nearly as loud, and I'm just not sure if they do it as much overall.

Still, I should drop back in over there within the next couple of weeks, and see if any other birders have spotted them and noted the location. Maybe I can find them a few more times before they really do leave.

And here's hoping the parents use the same nest side next year. :)
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
Meanwhile, when we last left the baby great horned owls in Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, it was the middle of May. We did go and search them out on the following two weekends. Below, a report from May 21st.

IMG_0692

More below the cut... )
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
First, thank-you to everybody who answered the name-change question. I decided to go with it, along with the suggestion to make a note in the LJ's sub-header line. And I suspect that I'll keep using the seasonal saw-whet owl pics that I've been using for a little while, which ought to provide a sense of visual continuity. Not to mention that you guys who pay any attention to what I post are probably used to the types of things I post nowadays. And that won't change, as this entry will show.

So! I am also incredibly behind on posting pictures. Several batches of photos and interesting events/news behind, in fact. So let's get cracking.

IMG_0536

Way more owls to see this way... )

Finally, because it's SPRING: a very vivid flowering dogwood near the cemetery entrance:

IMG_0653

NEXT!

- petting sharks!

- owl developments the following week (or, this past weekend).
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
So, I have a LOT of pics to share, spanning the last month or so. Pretty spring flowers! News on the Harvard hawks! Baaaaaby owls!

A tease:

IMG_0286 IMG_0404 IMG_0420

Follow the cut for more and bigger pictures... )
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - cold)
So, as I mentioned, I'm now volunteering doing wildlife care on Sat. mornings at a local Mass Audubon refuge. They have a facility with a bunch of education animals (that get taken out to schools and programs and stuff), and then they have some residents in the public area that people can see as they walk around. They aren't a rehab place. All of the animals they have (with the probable exception of the mice) are wild animals that have either been injured permanently so that they wouldn't survive in the wild, or else they're imprinted on humans and, same thing (or they'd be dangerous or a nuisance, because of the imprinting).

Mostly so far this consists of scraping up duck-crap and goose-crap, making their indoor enclosures nice and neat and clean for them to return to in the evening. I also got to do mice the other week. Eventually I'll get to do mammals (there are some woodchucks - so cute! - and some rabbits and an opossum). I don't know if/when I'll get to take food out to some of the education raptors. But it's curiously satisfying work.

The reward is that after all the cleaning stuff is done, we head across the road to deal with the public-view animals. There are some mammals (a couple of foxes, a rabbit, I think another woodchuck) in one facility, and then there are a bunch of flight-cages with various birds that, I gather, didn't take well to education-animal training. This part consists of going into the flight cages, refilling water, and scrubbing up "whitewash" and picking up pellets, and then leaving food for them -- which consists of a certain number of mice per bird.

So far, I've done the crow; and the cage with the one-winged turkey-vulture and pheasant (who rooms with the turkey vulture because it's not like the vulture is going to bother it; I was pleased because apparent the vulture is very old, and doesn't always take to everyone, but he didn't seem bothered by me and even spread out to do some sunning while I was in there); the broad-winged hawk; the two red-tailed hawks; the great horned owl; and the barred owls. (The only one I haven't done yet is the kestrel -- who is the most forward of them all, starting whistling as soon as she sees lunch coming, and she comes back to the door of the cage and clings to the mesh, begging to take her daily mouse out of your hand.)

I just wanted to share a few pics I took the other weekend of some of my new charges.

IMG_4513

More this way... )

Notably, I think I kind of started doing this at exactly the right time of year... so I'm interested to see what the experience is like [a] when it gets really, really cold (I actually recently bought a down coat partly for this reason), [b] when it's raining, and [c] next summer when it's hot and buggy. Fall is really the perfect time.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Autumn)
I had my second owl-banding volunteer night on Tuesday -- just a few pictures, because we were too BUSY to stop and take pics. We caught 54 owls -- 2 same-night recaptures, 2 same-season recaptures, 1 previous season recapture, and 49 new ones -- which is the second-biggest night they've had since starting banding in this location 6 years ago. The record is 62... but we only stopped banding on Tuesday because we ran out of bands. We had net-runs of 12 and 13 owls, and the last run had 9 owls, which suggests that if we hadn't run out of bands, we could have stayed open and perhaps broken that record. As it was, I got home at 1:45am.

First, though, a pic of a couple of owls from the demo night on 10/30:

IMG_4314

More this way... )

In addition to the owl-banding volunteering, last weekend I also started volunteering for wildlife care at the same Mass Audubon facility; I'm doing Saturday mornings. (Fortunately, it means getting up no earlier than for work. For someone like me, who is such a night person and hates getting up early, it's painful to lose a weekend sleeping-in day, but I'm giving it a try.)

It was interesting, and kind of fun and rewarding. Being new, I was started out on the duck and goose enclosures. (The ducks and geese are let outside in the morning and come back inside for overnight. Their inside pens have to be completely cleaned out.) This pretty much meant scraping up duck and geese poop; but I guess what's fortunate about that is that they're largely fed pellets, so as poop goes, it could be worse (and smellier). At least it's a very accomplished feeling when you finish and have a nice clean enclosure ready for them!

After that, I was part of the team that went over to Bird Hill, which is where they have several raptors (and a crow) in flight cages that the public can view. All of the animals are of the "can't be released" variety (injured, like a missing eye or wing; or imprinted on humans); it isn't a rehab place. They have a lot of animals and birds that are "education" animals (taken out to schools and stuff), and then some who are just to be viewed, which is what the Bird Hill ones are. I got to go into the flight cages -- with a great horned owl, a little broadwinged hawk, and the crow -- where I picked up any leftover mouse bits (mmm, entrails!), cleaned up visible random poop, and left fresh water and fresh mice (providing a bit of a challenge to parents walking by with small children). That was pretty neat, and not too onerous either.

I'm kind of glad that I'm starting in fall, though. I don't exactly look forward to days when it's raining (everybody has to be fed, no matter the weather), but it's really good that it's not hot or buggy right now.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Autumn)
On a more current note... some of you may remember (especially when you look at the icons I've most frequently been using lately) that I reported last year on attending a saw-whet owl banding demo, which completely bowled me over with how excessively cute saw-whet owls are. (And seriously, their pictures have nothing on the owls in person.)

This year, I found out how to volunteer with the owl-banding project. So last night, I had my first volunteering session.

IMG_4287

Can you resist that face? No, you cannot... )
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Peer)
Thank you to folks for the birthday wishes. :) I had a nice, quiet, flobby day.

I also got some long-overdue stuff done, such as uploading some pics for posting. Today, pics from an owl show back on June 6th, at the spring festival at the Ipswich Audubon reserve. The program was courtesy of Eyes on Owls, a couple who care for birds who can't be released back into the wild for various reasons, and who have trained them as educational owls.

The photo quality here is somewhat disappointing, as it was a grey, dark day, and the tent set up for the owl show was made out of yellow canvas -- thus, the strange quality of the light. The few clearer shots are because I was standing at the back edge, and Marcia, who handled the owls, would bring them around for people to get a closer look at, so I was able to get a few pics from quite close, and under more natural light.

IMG_2920

Click here for more... )

Tomorrow, update on hawks!
eregyrn: (Hawk)
So, the exciting thing I promised on Friday (for certain values of "exciting") was that on Friday evening, I attended a saw-whet owl banding demonstration at Drumlin Farm Audubon Sanctuary. I really didn't quite know what to expect from this, but it sounded kind of interesting. I ended up at the "family night" session, so it was me, some parents with kids, and the Young Birders group.

Well, let me tell you, it was totally cool.

IMG_1503

More insanely cute pictures and explanation below the cut... )

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