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.

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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? 

Send Ethan to Africa

When I was 7 years old I saw an amazing film. A film that would change for the rest of my life. That film was, March of the Penguins. Ever since that moment, I wanted to be a wildlife filmmaker.

You all have seen me post videos here before so this should not be a real surprise to you, but what I have to say next might be.

In South Africa there is a facility that specializes in the making of wildlife documentaries. You immerse yourself in it for an entire month, learning everything for writing to editing. They supply meals, lodging and equipment.

My family can’t afford it with the myriad of expenses that have cropped up lately. If you could find it in your heart to donate a dollar to my campaign if you’ve ever liked something that I wrote. If I taught you something, made you smile, or made you laugh, a dollar is all I ask.

If you can’t please share the link with others who can!

Thank you!

gofund.me/ethanstriptoafrica

How to Win the Youth Birding Competition (Part 3)

This is the final part of a three part series on how to win to Georgia Youth Birding Competition. Elements of this series can be applied to having a successful big day anywhere, but it has been tailored for the state of Georgia.

Buy the book on competitive birding. 

Read Part 1.

Read Part 2.

Part 3:

Understanding Bird Identification

When the mind’s eye rests on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and comprehends them, and functions intelligently; but when it turns to the twilight world of change and decay, it can only form opinions, its vision is confused and its beliefs shifting, and it seems to lack intelligence. -From Plato’s Republic

It is dreary overcast day. Somehow you have been talked into going birding. You spy a bird with an erect posture, red belly, and a black back.   You quickly assume it is an American Robin.

american_robin_6You lift your binoculars to find:

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How could this be? How could a blue bird turn into the black one?  You have learned your first lesson in the fallibility of basic bird identification.

Knowing the parts of the bird is necessary to identifying it. Regardless of the circumstance you may find yourself in. It allows you to understand the whole. You see the big picture. Even if you can’t figure what is, it makes communicating what you saw a lot easier.

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Always use concrete field marks instead “cheats”. For example…

Savannah Sparrow

This is a Savannah Sparrow. It has no yellow on it whatsoever, but it is still a Savannah Sparrow. Its size and light streaking on the breast tell me so. People often use the yellow lorre as a cheat, to identify the bird, but in reality, all of them just don’t have it.

The Georgia Youth Birding Club

I recently gave a talk about bird banding for the Georgia Youth Birding Club. They were under the impression that I some experience with it.

CAW!

CAW!

Here in Georgia, we have been trying to have a Youth Birding Club for sometime, but for whatever reason it never came into fruition. The two of the big organizations, the Atlanta Audubon Society and the Georgia Ornithological Society, had programs that aimed towards youth (that will probably get articles at some point), but the biggest youth-oriented program was the Youth Birding Competition. Unsurprisingly, the club’s founder came out of that program.

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Evan Bernard, the club’s founder, is the only one in Georgia to successfully start up a widespread club that meets on a regular basis. The GYBC is all about making the best birding experience possible. Older members are encourage to mentor younger ones so that everyone learns and no one is left behind. There is also a strong bent towards citizen science. Members are encouraged to volunteer at various events and it is often a topic at the meetings. The club may be small at the moment, but we’re growing. If would like more information please visit: https://sites.google.com/site/georgiayoungbirdersclub/home