Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Turkey Day

I was apart from my family this Thanksgiving, as they celebrated in the typical somber traditional New England Thanksgiving fashion: they went to a French restaurant on Martha's Vineyard.

My mother called me on Thursday, and mentioned that my brother, who has a true and profound gift for hunting/capturing wildlife (let me be clear - he has never "hunted" a day in his life with a real gun or killed anything. But he can track and catch almost anything. At age 8, he caught a wild rabbit in a net, which if you know how fast rabbits run, is very impressive) was out looking for turkey to photograph.

I've always known there are wild turkeys in Martha's Vineyard, but they always seem up just pop up when you're not looking for them, especially in Felix's Neck, the Audubon reserve there. I doubted Jamie would have any luck if he went out specifically looking for turkeys.

But I can't doubt Jamie Notopoulos's skill. And blind luck, I suppose - he found turkeys blocking traffic by crossing the road in a busy intersection.

My uncle has a song he'd sing every Thanksgiving that goes "Oh, the turkey ran away... before Thanksgiving Day... GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!!!"

According to another bird watching blogger, there has been a turkey camping out at Battery Park City last week. A DC Birding Blog - "Turkey at the Battery"

Lucky turkeys on Turkey Day. photo by Jamie Notopoulos

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Downy Woodpecker Sighting

I still think it always feels like a special day on your birthday. Yesterday was Eric's birthday, and it was unseasonably warm. We were eating lunch outside in Madison Square Park, and I noticed a bird in one of the trees which was pecking at the branch. I haven't seen anything other than a house sparrow or pigeon in that park, even in summer, but this was definitely a tiny female downy woodpecker.

I also saw some small perching bird that had a forked tail, definitely not a field sparrow, but it was getting dark and I was unable to make out any other details than the silhouette.

Sadly, I didn't see this website until today, or else Eric would've been getting some choice extinct mammal models. Xmas, anyone?

Birthday Surprise:

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm just trying to impress Micky Hervitz

I made my first Wikipedia edit this week. My contribution (in bold) is the second from last paragraph, about Konrad Gesner.

"A Jenny Haniver is a ray or a skate which have been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen unlike anything else.

One suggestion for the term was "jeune de Antwerp" (the French call Antwerp, Anvers), that is "young girl of Antwerp." British sailors "cockneyed" this description into the personal name "Jenny Hanvers."

For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp docks and carved these "mermaids" out of dried cuttlefish. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks.

Jenny Hanivers have been created to look like devils, angels and dragons. Some writers have suggested the sea monk may have been a Jenny Haniver.

The earliest known picture of a Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium vol. IV in 1558. Gesner and warned these were merely disfigured rays, and should not be believed to be minature dragons or monsters, which was a popular misconception at the time. It is possible that Jenny Hanivers were the source of some tales of dragons during the Middle Ages, and they affirmed people's belief in dragons.

Haniver is Monster in My Pocket #22."

Wikipedia - "Jenny Haniver"

I am really curious about who mentioned the "Monster in My Pocket" toy series. BTW, there's a super extensive Wikipedia about those toys. That's the problem with Wikipedia - only the things that total nerds care about have really extensive pages. Like some dumb toy monsters.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Reunion Petrel

I've been looking into some information on shearwaters and petrels on the internet. I've never seen either of these kinds of birds; I think they tend to stay farther out to sea, so they are harder to spot.

I'm getting a little stuck on finding out information about one species, the reunion petrel. I can't actually seem to find out if it's extinct or just endangered. I found one site that listed several species of endangered petrels, and it listed the reunion petrel as having only 3 specimens left. Suspiciously, it listed several other species as having less than 10 existing birds. Then I found it listed on some lists of extinct birds.

Further research is required on this. I think I am getting some bad information from dubious sources.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Kouprey News

I've been pretty interested in the story of whether or not the kouprey - an elusive Cambodian wild ox - has been determined to be a true species, or just a hybrid of other ox species. The Journal of Zoology just put out an article about the recent findings, which are still inconclusive. It's looking like it's leaning to the fact that they're just hybrids, which is an embarrassment for the Cambodians, who have named the kouprey their national animal. As if things aren't hard enough over there.

National Geographic News - Cambodia's National Animal Never Existed, Scientists Say

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A New Life Bird for Katie

I forgot to mention that last week I went on a pleasant birdwatching stroll in the Stoneham Fells. I kind of got lost and then scared that I would get murdered out in the woods, but then I just re-traced my steps back to the entrance to the hiking path. The weirdest part when I saw about 9 dogs off the leash being walked by a girl about my age. I just couldn't figure out how she could've gotten all those dogs into a car, or even how she could walk them on a leash on the street all at once. The other creepy thing I saw was that when I was walking across the nearly empty parking lot, a guy in a parked S.U.V. climbed from his backseat to his front seat when he saw me coming. WHAT WAS HE DOING IN HIS BACKSEAT??? I was pretty sure he was going to follow me into the woods and kill me.

Again, I saw some birds I couldn't positively i.d. I got really hungry and wanted to go home, and plus I was still scared about getting murdered where no one could hear me scream.

The birds I did see (all of them first-time identifications for me) were:

Hermit Thrush

White Breastead Nuthatch