Friday, January 30, 2015

Toripan comes to America

My Toripan collection. The only volume I don't own is #5. (#4 & #13 are just misplaced)
Toripan, as I mentioned elsewhere several years ago, is my favorite Japanese comic and the only one I actively collect. Whenever I visit New York I make a stop at Kinokuniya to see if they have the newest volume (and then buy up the available back issues of Morning, the magazine that serializes the comic, to stay current). [You can read the very first episode here.]
Gulls "steal" the author's food at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco

It is, in short, a comic about our everyday relationship with the natural world and alternates between 4-panel observational humor (about such things as constructing the best bird feeder or raising caterpillars indoors) and freer-form philosophical nature reveries. The author, "Torino Nanko," (charmingly translated as "What child of birds" by Amazon's auto-translator) is not an environmental activist but is repeatedly credited by correspondents (whose words are featured as a part of the weekly "Toripan" section in Morning) as opening their eyes to the world around them. A bit Thornton Burgess-y in that way. (Perhaps you can see why I'm so fond of this...)
"G' Mornin'," says the Pinyon Jay 

Recently the comic has featured periodic tour diaries of group trips (the author plus a few fellow female mangaka) and I was stunned to find that the most recent trip (which happened last fall and has been featured over the last three issues of Morning) was to the United States--to the West Coast (whose birdlife, admittedly, is largely as exotic to me as it was to them). While she never sees her target male Mountain Bluebird (a companion does, to humorous effect) she does get good looks at Anna's Hummingbirds, Acorn Woodpeckers, Steller's Jays, et al.  Perhaps next time she and her friends can make it to the East Coast...
Copyright 1953; 3rd printing 1968
Inspired by "Toripan" to dream again of West Coast birds, I dropped by Strand in NYC  and picked up an ancient used guide by Olin Pettingill (ornithological authority and acquaintance of Thornton Burgess) and began imagining a tour of my own. (I will, in all likelihood, make it to Colorado this spring). A special bonus: a previous owner had used it for pressing flowers. Check it out:
Any guesses as to identity?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A day without cars

Out the deck
The snow comically deep.
The car
Cars humorously buried.
The street
It was safe to stand in the middle of the street all day long.
And sled down the front yard.

[JAN 28 UPDATE: Spent the whole day catering to the needs of the car.]

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Icy day on the Charles River

Charles River from Willow Street, Dover MA
Temperature in the single digits. I did what anyone else would do. I went out looking for ducks on the river below the dam off of Mill Street in Dover.

Common Merganser (detail of above photo)
I've been driving down Mill Street regularly this winter but there hasn't been anything interesting until this morning. Several Common Mergansers were out sitting on the ice.

Black Ducks (detail of photo at top)
The big discovery, though, was a large flock of goldeneye. They flew off before I could get a photo or a good-enough look to tell if there was a Barrow's among them. Those are some super-wary birds, scared off by a slow-moving car....

Monday, January 5, 2015

A windy day at the Swamp Trail

Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
There is was a wind advisory today, so I did what most people would. I headed down to Ridge Hill to record the wind in the trees.
Coyote tracks on Chestnut Trail
I followed coyote tracks down to the Swamp Trail.
DR-40 on mossy rock
Arriving at the impassable part of the trail I hit record and placed my Tascam on a rock. Then I took a picture of it on the rock. Then I walked a short distance away. This is what the wind on a wind advisory day sounds like passing through the trees near the Swamp Trail muffled by a windscreen. Plus the sounds of me placing the Tascam on a rock, taking a picture of it, and walking a short distance away.
I stood and listened.

Looking at this. Then I walked over to the recorder, picked it up and pressed stop. You'll hear that too.