Macrocosmos

Have you ever wanted a glimpse into another world? Have you ever wondered how a bug spends his afternoon or how a flower really looks? If you answered yes to any of those questions Macro Photography might be for you.

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I was first drawn to Macro Photography when I watched the 1996 film, Microcosmos. Each scene was a work of art and offered a glimpse into the lives of various insects.  I decided that I wanted to up close and personal with nature too. But how do you begin?

Photo courtesy of Caty Hodgeland

Photo courtesy of Caty Hodgeland

Well it is much simpler than you might think. We live in a wonderful time for photography where you can find equipment relatively cheaply. The lens I use for Macro Photography can be found for as little as $30. And it is not a low quality lens either. The other route you can take is buying extension tubes. You can place the extension tubes on the back of your favorite lens and viola you have magnification. An extension tube Macro lens combo works the best, because a true macro lens show the subject at life size and the extension tubes will magnify it making it look bigger.

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Macro Photography requires a lot time and patience, but is quite rewarding.

Cherokee Rose: A Brief History of Conservation in Georgia (Part 1)

Introduction

Georgia has long been a major player in the eco-tourism market. With over 400 species of bird, over 30 species of frog, and over 50 species of butterfly recorded, it is not hard to see why. The state even contains mountain ranges, dense forests, and an ample coast.

This series attempts to explain to the reader a brief history of conservation in Georgia. What major steps were taken to solve problems, which worked , and which didn’t. It is my intention to endow future generations with this history, lest they repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. Georgia used to be fields intermixed with Longleaf Pine trees. Eastern Cougars stalked the mountains looking for what ever they could catch, Carolina Parakeets lived in little cavities in trees, and Passenger Pigeon flocks covered the state. But, over time, the Pines started to be hauled off to build houses, the Cougars started disappearing, and the Passenger Pigeon began to become a faint memory of yesterday’s lunch. People began to notice that some their favorite creatures were not only disappearing, but were gone altogether. This is where our story begins.

Part 1:

The Rise and Fall of the Atlanta Bird Club

The Atlanta Bird Club (ABC) was founded in 1926 with their stated purpose being “for the study, protection, and appreciation of birds”. They educated the public in a myriad of ways, such as leading monthly bird walks.

For ten years, the ABC was the single birding organization in Georgia providing a single place for money, research, and information. But, good things can’t last forever.

In 1936, Roger Tory Peterson spoke in front of the Atlanta Bird Club. As he spoke, I wonder if he knew that he would be changing the face of conservation in Georgia. His lecture stirred something inside of some the listeners. They were inspired by his scientific reasoning and analytic way of thinking. He was preaching helping birds through science.

The next day, 22 members that were affected by Peterson’s lecture sat down at a diner and created the Georgia Ornithological Society (GOS). It was an organization whose mission was “to encourage the scientific study of birds by gathering and disseminating information on Georgia bird life.”  An organization of science for scientists.

The ABC was no doubt shocked, but the split was amicable. The ABC went on without its more analytically minded counterparts, more or less, like it always did.  In 1968, the Atlanta Bird Club voted to become a chapter of the National Audubon Society. The Atlanta Bird Club was no more it was replaced by the Atlanta Audubon Society (AAS). Their current mission statement is “to protect Georgia’s birds and the habitats that sustain them through education, conservation and advocacy”. A fine ideal, but a significant change from the original mission.

The study of birds was for GOS, while the advocacy and education was for the newly minted AAS. Two different organizations working for different goals. Was it for the best?

How can you advocate and conserve without the proper scientific data? How can you disseminate information when there is no one to disseminate it to?  They are 2 halves to a whole. That can be witnessed even today, because they often partner with each other on projects. What GOS could do with the funding of AAS would be incredible, as would what AAS could do the data of GOS. They would serve their state better as one cohesive unit.

The Rain Crows

The Rain Crows are a band that makes folksy music about nature. It is includes notable birder alumni, Julie Zickefoose and Bill Thompson III. dreamflyingdream-cover-price I first heard the Rain Crows at the Hog Island Camp in Maine. They did a phenomenal live performance that has stuck with me ever since. It is the subject matter that I can relate to, and I think you will too. It also helps that the production quality is good!

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Here is the song that got me interested in the band:http://www.raincrows.com/listen/s/little_soldiers It’s about a subject matter that most of us naturalist types can relate to. Florida_Box_Turtle_Digon3_Unedited Support The Rain Crows here: http://www.raincrows.com/index/

Home Appreciation

I spend a lot of time at my house. I don’t always like it. I might complain about being bored, or even refer to it as a wasteland. The truth of the matter is, there is always beauty to find no matter where you go. To cure my ungratefulness, I try to go out everyday, try to find something beautiful on the property, and then capture it with my camera.  It is not always easy and the photos aren’t always great, but I appreciate the beauty of ordinary things more when I do this. I thought I would share some of the photos with you all.

How do appreciate your situations in life? 

New book: Competition Birding

I have written my first e-book about competitive birding. The description reads: Do you like observing birds? Want to learn more about birds? Consider participating in a “Big Day” birding competition and share information and match wits with birders of all ages and skill levels. From planning the route, to selecting a field guide, this book will walk you step by step through the process of learning how to survive a birding competition. Written by a 8 year veteran of state-wide competitions, this book will give you a taste of birding in the big time!”

I have worked really hard on this book to give the most information that I could, drawn from my experience. It may be written for a Kindle, but you can read it anywhere from the Kindle app.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UE8AMYM

Henslow’s Sparrow Banding

This past weekend I helped with Henslow’s Sparrow banding for the second time. It is a truly unique experience. Unlike the other banding I have helped with, this involved a lot of physical exertion. We drag a rope through a field, hoping the scare the birds out from their hiding places. Then, we set up a mist roughly where we want the bird to be. Next, we attempt to herd the bird into the net with the rope. Finally, we band it.

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You don’t get 60 bird days using this method, but it is worth it to see the little green sparrows. In fact, I made a video of our exploits. It is dedicated to all the men and women who do all the hard work to make science happen. I hope you enjoy it!

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For a few days there were flocks of robins in my yard foraging away. I filmed them eating, and I was going to put together a silly little compilation video. When I was editing, I experimented with some music and this what I got. It is a lot more somber than I originally intended, but I hope you get something out of it.

Hunt of the Robin