Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sound Recording Workshop

MacGillivray's Warbler. We visited a banding station one day to see some of the birds up close. If you click on the picture, you can hear a MacGillivray's Warbler singing--I made that recording at the workshop.

If you don't already have plans for June 7-14, one cool way to spend the week seeing spectacular California birds, including White-headed Woodpecker and Spotted Owl, is to take the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library's Sound Recording Workshop. I took this course in 2001 and can't say enough good things about it. The instructors are not just authoritative and talented recordists--they're genuinely nice people who are patient and accessible. I had fun every moment, even as I developed a whole new skill set. They cover every aspect of field recording--how to use your equipment (and you can use some of theirs, too--call ahead of time to work with them if you don't have any equipment to bring), how to deal with varying field conditions to compensate for wind and ambient sounds, how to focus your microphone properly, and then how to edit your sounds on your computer and how to analyze them. I have photos and some of the sounds I recorded at the workshop at my "Laura Goes to the Sound Recording Workshop"page. There are still a few openings for this year's workshop--it makes a fabulous and memorable vacation!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Saved by the Hunter

Here's a cool story about an American Avocet who was rescued thanks to a duck hunter and his dog. There are many rude and selfish hunters on this planet, as there are many rude and selfish birders; indeed, every group has rude and selfish members. But most people who spend their time in duck blinds every fall are there because they truly love wetlands. Hunters provide money to set aside wetlands by buying Duck Stamps, and they also provide much of the passion necessary to protect wild spaces.

I'm not a hunter, and never will be one. I get a queasy feeling at the thought of killing for sport, as I discussed in my essay, About Hunting. But as I also discussed in that essay, life is filled with contradictions.

If you want to do your part to protect our National Wildlife Refuges, please please PLEASE buy a Duck Stamp.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

American Woodcock!

Thursday, Mark Chao found an American Woodcock in Sapsucker Woods, and managed to keep it enough in view to ensure that a bunch of us got to see it. It was the coolest thing to watch it feeding--it bobbed up and down like a miniature ballerina hippopotamus practicing pliet and relevae over and over.