Sunday, March 12, 2017

Birding: Just Another Pecking Order

This Eastern Screech-Owl is a celebrity in Newburyport.
I've started birding and I'm having a blast.  I love hiking and snowshoeing.  I love taking pictures.  I love being on the hunt.  I love doing the reading and studying and figuring out habitat and migration.  And since November, I've been looking for reasons to avoid my Facebook and Twitter feeds, if only to preserve my sanity.

I call it trading Tweets for tweets.

My introduction to birding has been through my backyard feeder, Henry at Wildbirds Unlimited, Carol and the great people at Audubon, The Big Year, H is for Hawk, my new Sibley and Peterson, my e-bird alerts, and a bunch of group excursions looking for owls and eagles and hawks (oh my).

And I'm still a complete rookie--which is good for the soul.  My life list has 38 birds.  They even place me in the front seat of the van when I head off with a group of experienced birders so I "don't miss anything."  When I was first to spot an eagle a few weeks ago, I heard one of the charming older ladies in my group whisper, "Beginner's luck."  So, I'm starting in right field--but at least I'm in the game.

And, as in every human endeavor, with birding, there is a pecking order.  Just like at the office, where there is a clear pecking order.  At the gym.  At the local diner.  At church.  My wife plays in bell choirs and, yes, even when nice people are swinging 3/8-inch thick solid Aluminum/Titanium alloy, polished tempered tone chimes, in unison to Bach, there is a pecking order.

Today's rare bird alert.  It's hard
not to want to drop everything
and go looking.
We are, after all, just apes.  In the case of birding, apes with Swarovskis and scopes and tripods and cameras.  But just apes.

Here's one recent example.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Yuval Harari's "Sapiens": I Think I Finally Get It

At the start of 2017 I checked the actuarial tables and determined, at 12 books per year, I had about 168 books left to read.  Give or take.  That's not a lot.  So I decided then and there that I would read only books that had the potential to change my mind, or change my life.

Yuval Harari's Sapiens is one of them, not only because it's as absorbing as a novel, but I now believe it explains nearly everything that has confused me about life and my fellow human beings since November 2016.

Here's a little of what I learned: