Sunday, February 6


I love New England in the Winter.

The crisp air brings birds out that we don't normally get in warmer months, and keeping the feeders well stocked helps as well.

Nothing I've photographed here took me far from my car-- some are from the driveway and some are from driving around in New Hampshire. Given that the temperatures around here have dropped into the negatives frequently in the last month, it's good not to be walking very far.

A quick note: these are all smaller versions of the image; clicking on them gets you to the full-sized version.

The picture above is of this bird:

When I got home Friday morning, it was in the tree near the feeders. I spotted it and kind of stalked it while it came out to eat. If you're familiar with it at all, you probably know exactly what it is. If not, it's a good bird ID exercise.

I've never managed to get a Hoary Redpoll at the feeders, but we occasionally get irruptions (bursts of movement into a region of birds not usually in that region) of common redpolls. There were two at our feeders a few weeks ago-- it was a dark and cloudy day and this is the best I did:

We get white-breasted nuthatches throughout the year, but I love photographing them in Winter:

This Barred owl was hanging out on a low branch in New Hampshire, not far from where I live:

And this Barred Owl is sitting outside my window as I type this:

Right now the snow is so high in our driveway that it's hard to get pictures of the birds on the ground, but fortunately I was able to get this Northern Cardinal:

And this finch, which comes with a quiz: is this a house finch or a purple finch? Show your work.

But the real treat from Friday was the local Agway in Walpole, NH. Someone there noticed a small flock of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings in the field out back and started putting seed down every day. So if you get there at the right time, you can get really close and they'll just fly in and eat, anywhere from 15'-30' away.

I've had pictures this nice of Horned Larks before:

But never one this crisp and clear of a Snow Bunting:

And capturing them in flight (mixture of horned larks and snow buntings) is a real treat:

I look for Butings and Larks all winter and couldn't find the flocks in their usual spots. Now I know why. They're all hanging out at the Agway.

Agway is also a good place to look for Mockingbirds. I suspect this one is a year-round resident:

And, of course, black-capped chickadees are ubiquitous:

These are from November. You probably know the species

And a few more older photos of various winter birds from the past few years:

Tuesday, February 1

A Benefit Show for the Greater Falls Warming Shelter

It's intensely easy for people to slip through the cracks when things get bad. This is one of the immense values of the Greater Falls Warming Shelter, an overnight shelter that helps the homeless survive through the cold and sometimes deadly, Vermont winters. As a result, I've organized a benefit show:


When: Saturday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m
Where: Immanuel Episcopal Church (the Stone Church) in Bellows Falls, VT
Contact: Greater Falls Warming Shelter ( / (802) 463-2567)
Julie Waters ( / 802.451.1947)

BELLOWS FALLS, VT. - A group of local musicians will be blending
their harmonies to benefit the new Greater Falls Warming Shelter.

The Greater Falls Warming Shelter is a valuable resoruce in Bellows
Falls. According to the Brattleboro Commons, "in its first year, the
center served 44 individuals for 371 bed nights during the 93 nights
it was open. More than 75 volunteers stayed overnight at the shelter
or provided some kind of support such as laundering, cleaning,
donating furniture, providing supplies or helping with the fundraising
concert. Monetary contributions to the shelter may be sent to the
shelter’s fiscal agent, Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA),
at 91 Buck Dr., Westminster, VT 05158.

Here's a sample of what Jesse and I play when we jam together:

The concert is the brainchild of Julie Waters, a local artist and
musician who believes that part of the mission of arts is to support
and give back to the community that allows it to thrive.

"So many artists deal with trying times and fall from the common
graces of society at various points on their paths. For some of us,
the craft or artistry is what separates us from going off the edge.
To me, it's the other side of the coin. We can't live as artists
without having a respect for those whose lives do not easily fall
into the box of a comfortable home and a warm place to live." she
said. She said the response from the other musicians was practically
instantaneous when she asked them to participate.

In addition to Waters, Jesse Peters and Ali Chambliss will be
headlining the show.

Julie Waters is a folk artist in the truest tradition, weaving
stories, motion and rhythm, creating lyrical poetry through the
strings of her guitar. With more than simply a creative approach to
music, her performances turn on a dime, first evoking ancient modal
melodies, and then suddenly sliding into a rock and roll beat that
morphs straight into the 21st century.

Jesse Peters blends all his formative experiences into a musical
approach that includes many different styles. He is flexible enough
to play instrumental dinner music one day and jazz-rock with his trio
the next. His writing style is similarly broad, with modern groove
numbers interspersed with more traditional finger-picked tunes and a
few rockers thrown in for good measure. Mixing it up like that keeps
it interesting for both him and his audience.

Ali Chambliss is one woman, with a guitar, an array of songs and a
tremendous voice. Her original songs are crafted from a well of
emotion deep and challenging as it is beautiful and poignant.

Suggested donation is $10.

The Greater Falls Warming Shelter opened November 22nd at 83
Westminster Street (behind Athens Pizza) to provide a temporary spot for
an overnight stay. It will remain open until April and is staffed seven
nights a week by volunteers who serve in two shifts from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
and 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. New volunteers are urged to contact the shelter at or leave a message at (802) 463-2567 to learn
about the shelter and the on-going training provided. Members of the
shelter steering committee will also be at the concert to provide
Facebook link for the concert

News about the shelter

Julie Waters Web Site

Downloadable/printable poster for the show

Video of the sort of music Jesse and I play when we jam together:

And here's a piece I expect to perform:

Monday, January 31

Does geography have a liberal bias?

We begin with Media Matters:

Wait for it...

Wait for it...


Now, far be it for me to critique the general public's knowledge of geography. When I was in high school, I had Europe memorized and now I can't remember what's where because a good chunk of it as changed. So if Fox News is incapable of remember where Egypt is, it's probably because of the recent changes in the area that have caused confusion.

We can all understand that, right?

Except that Egypt's existed for thousands and thousands of years.

I know Fox doesn't care for all that learnin' stuff that well, so I'm going to explain things from the "Egyptian History! For Kids! site.

First, they say:

Because it is surrounded by deserts like the Land of Oz, Egypt is pretty hard to invade. So a lot of the time Egypt was at peace. But not all the time....The Egyptians also sometimes fought off invasions from the Libyans to their west, or from the Nubians to their south (and sometimes they lost to these invaders too). Around 1700 BC, there was a big invasion of Hyksos from the north.

1700 BC... that's like... lots and lots of years ago. Probably even before I was born.

So a little more about Egypt:

As in the rest of Africa...

Dude. Egypt's in Africa?. When the &*%@ did that happen?

Of course, as you've now probably figured out, that is not, in fact, Egypt that's labeled as Egypt. Egypt would be that unlabeled part that's part of Africa, just to the left of (literally, not figuratively) Syria and Jordan. The part marked as Egypt?

That's just an obscure little country no one would know about called... Iraq.

For what it's worth-- I don't think this is part of some fiendish plot of some sort on the part of Fox to push some talking point or another. I think they've simply become so fact-averse that they don't bother checking. I'm guessing this was done by an Intern (or, possibly, Tom Delay in some prison furlough program) and no one paid enough attention to actually double-check anything. Which, I believe, illustrates the Fox News motto:

F*$! it, we'll do it live!