Rain Barrel is now dead.
Long live New Jack Almanac!
On Sunday I took part in the Essex Country Field Naturalists
Spring Excursion at the Ojibway Park and Nature Centre
. I’m not a naturalist, but after spending a Sunday afternoon, normally fitfully spent indoors, walking and listening to a sea of chorus frogs singing well, I’m seriously considering becoming one.
I did used to go birding occasionally with my mother and so I know a little bit about bird watching. I’m not a birder yet, but I’m comfortable with birders and most of the people on the walk were of that ilk. We spotted a pair of redheaded woodpeckers, a pair of red-tailed hawks, some bluebirds and some sparrows – which I still can’t get myself excited about, even if the fox-red sparrow is a “good bird”.
You hear this when birders talk among themselves. I spoke with my mother on the phone later on that evening to reported on the birds that I had seen. “Bluebirds! And a red-headed woodpecker!“ Mom exclaimed, “Oh those are good birds”. I’m still not experienced enough to know which bird sightings are worth bragging about – my secret definition of what constitutes a “good bird”.
After I reported on what I had seen that day, my mom gave her report: she had recently seen a pilated woodpecker in Canatara Park. There had never been a known sighting of a pilated woodpecker in the park and my mom got the tip that the bird could be found there from a fellow birder who got word of its presence from an email bird-alert list. My mom and her friend met in the park and searched for two hours until a third birder they had met there had found the woodpecker and then found them to tell them where it was lurking.
You would know that that a pilated woodpecker is a “good bird” – it’s a woodpecker the size of a crow. I saw one myself in when I was living in Peterborough. Its size was almost menacing.
I think to outsiders, bird watching sounds like walking in a park and watching whatever birds happen to cross your path. But the sad strange appeal of birding is that the scarcity of wildlife and natural areas has made nature-watching oddly scalable. Some naturalists know how many breeding pairs of certain birds live in their city or even their county. I remember listening to “The Nature Guy” on CBC Windsor Radio One and was both impressed and scared that he knew exactly how many bald eagle nests were in Essex County and how many had eagles in them.
There are lots of bird watchers in Canada. There was a piece I read somewhere sometime ago that suggested that the number of bird watchers was growing so high, that the author speculated that birders could become a political force for the environment if they could only recognize their own clout.
That’s another reason why I think I’m considering becoming a naturalist.
Friday night I was in the University of Windsor CAW Student Centre among a small group of audiophiles for this:
An evening of innovative radio works. In an informal concert setting, hear some of the finest radio productions being done today.
The concert will feature radio works by many composers and producers, with a special emphasis on contemporary documentary productions.
This public informal concert was the beginning of a weekend radio documentary workshop and was supposed to be held in a nearby concert setting except the adjacent auditorium was filled with singing and hand-clapping Christian revivalists and their loud joy drove us elsewhere. So we sat around a large boardroom table in an administrative meeting room and listened to some examples of documentary radio.
When I left for the evening, I noticed that someone had photocopied a list of things that the reader MUST DO. I didn't take this list with me (although now I wish I did) but I do recall several of its instructions:
- become vegetarian
- be comfortable with your body and do not fear nudism
- spend time with nature... real nature, not just a park
I do not know who wrote this but I would like to tell her this: if you want to create change perhaps you may find it more effective to employ a means other than a shopping list. Perhaps you could try to create art instead.
Art can change you. Such is A Change in Farming.