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Tuesday, 24 November 2020

A Woodpecker, a Nuthatch and a Couple of Books

     The spread of COVID-19 has been quite rampant of late, and restrictions on gatherings are becoming ever more severe. We have abandoned our Tuesday rambles involving eight participants, when despite our best intentions we failed to maintain proper social distancing, and of late Miriam and I have birded together, or I have gone off on my own if she is busy with other things.
     Once outside it is not at all difficult to respect the protocols established by the Government of Ontario, and in many instances we are in areas where we are the only people.
     The birds, of course, have no such concerns, and this female Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) cared little that I was in danger of breaching the distance guidelines.


     I was amazed that if I moved slowly and paused briefly after a couple of steps, it showed little nervousness.


     I was fortunate to be able to capture this shot of the bird showing its nictitating membrane, that opaque extra eyelid that provides protection when the wood chips are flying as the bird excavates on a tree.


     My coat pocket contained a little bird seed left over from a recent outing where people were keen to feed confiding chickadees and nuthatches, and this White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) was delighted that I was willing to share.


     It is perhaps vaguely oxymoronic to speak of benefits or advantages of COVID confinement, but it has driven me to devote more hours of the week to study, something which is pure recreation for me. I have refreshed my knowledge of certain topics and immersed myself in whole new pathways to learning.
     I freely confess to being addicted to natural history books and I am rarely happier than when I can add new titles to my library. Miriam is fortunately fully sympathetic with this passion, and in fact routinely scours the shelves of thrift stores for bargains on books she knows would appeal to me. From time to time, she has found some real gems.
     Everyone is familiar with that well known store Toys R Us, well perhaps Books R Me is not an inappropriate appellation!
     Here are my two most recent acquisitions. Firstly, Beetles - The Natural History and Diversity of Coleoptera by Stephen A, Marshall, a highly respected Canadian entomologist, recently retired from the University of Guelph.


 
   This is a mammoth tome of 784 pages, beautifully illustrated throughout, packed with facts. 
     Some of you are perhaps wondering why a volume on beetles for a dedicated (obsessive?) bird lover? It is really quite simple. Once one is engaged by one aspect of natural history everything else follows along. Beetles are an enormously difficult taxon and I am quite sure that I will barely scratch the surface in getting to know them. Usually I am delighted if I can narrow down the identification of a beetle to the family, and if I can nail the genus I am ecstatic.
     I suppose that my curiosity was initially piqued by wondering which species constituted prey for birds, and I know that I have always been both fascinated and amazed, bewildered even, by the sheer diversity of Coleoptera.
     You may rest assured that I will derive countless hours of pleasure from mining the information in this book. I will never become an expert but I will expand my knowledge to a great degree.
     My second addition is Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins by Ronald Orenstein, a renowned Canadian zoologist and wildlife conservationist.
     

      This too is a very substantial volume of 448 pages, also crammed with information and coloured photographs of all the species found throughout the world.
     Who among us is not captivated by these ancient creatures, already extant when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth? Their popularity in the pet trade is witness to this, but for the sake of the continued existence of some species in the wild, it would be better if this practice could be stopped immediately.
     Many happy hours lie ahead in the company of these two volumes. And come to think of it, Miriam is at the thrift store right now. Who knows what she might bring home?

Beetles, The Natural History and Diversity of Coleoptera, Stephen A. Marshall, Firefly Books (2018)

Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins, A Natural History, Ronald Orenstein, Firefly Books (2012)
     
      


       


73 comments:

  1. Enjoy the two books1
    Hopefully, you'll tell us later about some exciting facts on beetles and turtles.

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  2. I just love that red-bellied woodpecker.

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    1. It is a very handsome bird, considered by many our most beautiful woodpecker.

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  3. That sequence of red bellied woodpecker shots is wonderful.

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  4. What a joy to have Miriam understand your natural history enthusiasm. I hope she finds many more books for you to peruse :)

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    1. She came home empty-handed yesterday, but there is always the next time!

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  5. The woodpecker looks like a queen.

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  6. Echoing Joanne on that sequence. Brilliant.
    A big hooray for books. Learning, comfort, escape - often in the same volume. A work colleague had a stroke and lost the ability to read and write (and the capacity to relearn those skills). I shuddered learning about that vicious disability and still do.
    I hope that you and Miriam can continue to stay safe.

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  7. Loved the 4th photos, the eyelids are amazing, and it's giving a certain look to me.
    Take care.

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  8. Wonderful photos today, David, especially that beautiful woodpecker. Glad you are still able to go birding, even if your 'community' cannot go with you just now. And I'm sure your books keep you well occupied at home....I wonder what Miriam will bring back from the thrift-shop? Those shops are places I always enjoy looking through, and rarely come out empty handed. Have a wonderful day, take care, and thanks for being a friend! Hugs, Valerie

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  9. Très jolis ces petits oiseaux.
    Ici les règles changement à partir de samedi, on peut se déplacer à 20Km pendant 3H maximum.
    J'ai beaucoup les livres sur les animaux, j'en avais trouvé d'occasions sur les insectes avec de belles photos.
    Bonne journée

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  10. The woodpecker is my favorite!
    Nice books!
    Wishing you all the best!

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  11. Hello,

    Love the Woodpecker photos! The books look interesting, being addicted to natural history is a good thing. The thrift stores are great places to find books. Take care, enjoy your day!

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    1. Maybe one day I will blog about a couple of the truly amazing buys I have had at thrift stores and auctions.

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  12. Beautiful birds and interesting books. Turtles are fascinating indeed.
    There are few things better than books (about nature) and walks (in nature).
    Stay safe!

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    1. When you make a visit we will walk together, Sara!

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  13. The Red Bellied Woodpecker is so beautiful, and great photos of it. I read a lot of books too these days. The Covid spreads very much around here, and I'm most of the time at home. Stay safe, David!

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  14. It is a glorious time for bird watchers. It's wonderful having hobbies.
    I'm wondering if there is a Best Before date for some books? I know when I was doing my M.Ed., were were counselled not to use research older than 5 years. Do you know what I mean?

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    1. I had not heard of such a requirement, but I just checked a couple of papers submitted by an undergraduate student who sent them them to me, and she has several references older than five years.

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    2. I guess we keep learning more about critters, rather than correcting misinformation. Lots and lots of information!

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  15. Hi David - how sad, but necessary ... somehow 'it' needs to be kept in check. Love the 'Books R Me' nickname ... very appropriate. There's a book being read (summarised and read) on the Beeb - about Fungi - 'Entangled Life' by Melvin Sheldrake ... wonderful ... on my TBGettoRead list.

    Have you read The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant ... about a particular tree on Haida Gwaii ... mystery, history, and psychology ... I left mine behind, but have now just bought another ... as there's bits of it I want to use when I write about trees.

    Like you - lots of books to be read ... but enjoy your walks around such as you sensibly can ... take care - Hilary

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    1. I have not read "The Golden Spruce", Hilary. I will have to urge Miriam to add it to the thrift store search list!

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  16. Buenas tardes amigo David, ese pájaro Carpintero me encanta es muy atractivo y tiene un bello plumaje. Desconocía por completo, el curioso objetivo de ese parpado, quedó muy bien explicado como siempre, por ese buen hacer tuyo querido profesor.
    Un fuerte abrazo amigo y compadre y cuidaros mucho del maldito COVID19.

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  17. Oh how I’d love to live where turtles live too. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island are turtle free sadly.

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  18. That’s a kind of woodpecker we do not know here. A truly beautiful bird!

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  19. Hi David,
    This virus is spoiling everything, your outings are extra special for us as well as your followers, your Red Bellied Woodpecker is a real beauty, super image catching the extra eyelid down, a much more striking bird than our Woodpecker. Excellent book especially on Beetles. we unfortunately have very few Turtles, Tortoises or Terrapins at Rutland Water
    You both stay safe and well,
    John

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  20. Beautiful species! If you want to see more photos of birds, I share you my blog
    https://avesdecordobayargentina.blogspot.com

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  21. I'm sorry to hear that Covid-19 is on the rise once more in your neck of the woods, David, and that it has curtailed your Tuesday walks, but pleased to hear that you are still getting out and about. Those shots of the Red-bellied Woodpecker are gorgeous - what a delightful bird! Please don't get too immersed in your books to the extent that getting out into nature starts to lose some some priority.

    We have charity book shops in these parts and the better ones are real treasure chests. Until Covid I used to visit one most weeks, often to buy and sometimes to give. Sadly, since Covid, I have felt it unsafe to visit - and I suspect that it is not open for business anyway.

    Stay safe in these difficult times - help might be around the (albeit, distant) corner.

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    1. Getting out and about is still the best thing of all, Richard, and I don't plan to stop any time soon!

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  22. lovely shots of the Red-bellied Woodpecker. From your description of her behavior she acted pretty much as the deer´s I sneak up to. Don´t think you visited that post.
    Interesting to see the extra eyelid. I have only seen it on the dipper before.
    Take care!

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  23. Thank you for commenting on my blog so I could come here and find you. Love this post. My wilderness is very full now of birds, deer, turtles, opossums, coyotes, etc. I believe they know they are safer now.

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  24. Sad to hear that the virus it getting its comeback in your side of the world David but I am happy that you still get to keep yourself active. That woodpecker is so beautiful! In the mountains here, me and my college palls went camping for a few days before we graduated and the sound of the woodpecker is something that amazed us because it echoes around the jungle even if we don't see it :)

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  25. Hi David.

    Super nice pictures of the Woodpecker.
    It's great that you have some other books every now and then to explore other aspects of nature.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  26. What a pretty woodpecker! And a cute blacksmith. I am looking out for the garden but has not yet arrived.
    On the cover of the book about beetles, there is my favorite runner from the forest! It's hard for him to take a picture.

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  27. Preciosas fotografías del carpintero. Tus libros me encantan, soy una aficionada con todo lo que tiene que ver con la naturaleza, plantas, aves, insectos de todas clases, etc. Un abrazo fuerte y cuidaros.

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  28. Hi David,
    Lovely images of the woodpecker and the nuthatch!
    Happy weekend ahead!
    And stay save
    Regards,
    Maria

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  29. Precioso y entretenido reportaje, me ha encanto. El Melanerpes carolinus es una maravilla, muy exótico para un español. Enhorabuena David, un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España. Salud!!!

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  30. This red-bellied woodpecker is so cute David.
    I'm glad you read more about natural science. I really like to watch scientific films on this topic. Your book sounds just as interesting to a birdwatcher like you.

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  31. ...your patience rewarded you!

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  32. Wonderful photographs of the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
    Enjoy your books ... I think you will!

    All the best Jan

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  33. David - I admire your thirst for knowledge, especially in such a challenging subject as beetles. And even more impressed with the person(s) who create these books in the first place! Lovely bird photos, as always. Enjoy the rest of your week.

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  34. I love your little Woodpecker, the most industrious of birds. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving day.
    Amalia
    xo

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  35. I think often it's a natural progession for 'birders' to enjoy other wildlife and want to learn more about it! What a great moment with the Woodpecker.

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  36. Glancing at the bookshelf, I understand the appetite for further understanding of our natural world. "Books-R-Me". Wonderful!

    I confess, I have a friend who is an entomologist whose specialty is beetles and I fear I abuse him with requests for help identification. Perhaps I'll obtain Mr. Marshall's book and give the guy a break.

    Beautiful woodpecker!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. I have several good friends who are entomologists, and I turn to them for help regularly. Unfortunately, none of them are beetle specialists.

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  37. As we navigate this recent surge it was lovely to see your post this morning. The books look good too!

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  38. Las has captado muy bien. Tiene un buen enfoque , que nos permite apreciar su belleza. Es una gran suerte que no levanten el vuelo al notar tu presencia.

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  39. This s a very nice bird. I love the so called "nictitating membrane". Never heard about that before.

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  40. I didn't realize that birds other than the water birds have the nictitating membrane. It certainly makes sense. I know what it's like to get a wood chip in the eye; I could use one of those membranes myself.

    A blogging friend who lives in Ecuador posted this today. I don't know whether you're acquainted with the man, or whether you'd heard the news, but I thought I'd share it:

    “The birding world lost a luminary on Sunday, November 22, when Edward S. (Ned) Brinkley died during a birding trip in southern Ecuador. Brinkley, 55, was two-thirds of the way through a month-long trip in the South American country, according to a Facebook post from Field Guides Birding Tours. He was on a trek to “seek one of the country’s most charismatic specialties, the Jocotoco Antpitta.” (Matt Mendenhall via tribute at Birdwatching Daily)

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    1. Thanks for this, Linda. ironically, I had just read, literally five minutes earlier, news of Ned Brinkley's death. Very sad. I have birded in Ecuador twice.

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  41. I have the fact that beetles are called coleoptera firmly embedded in my brain ever since the term was used to describe my favourite British pop group by a radio DJ being funny, years ago in Britain.

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  42. Hi David :) Your Turtle book looks interesting! And I really love the woodpecker photos. Thanks for your comment on my blog. Creepy perv has not been around the last 4 days, hopefully he got the message. And I do carry pepper spray wherever I go!

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  43. It’s unfortunate that your walks have been put on hold for now, but you are still able to get out for such wonderful bird shots. You and the woodpecker seem to be fast friends and always good to have extra birdseed in your pocket. Glad you are enjoying the books you enjoy most.

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  44. Beautiful post and such a cute Red-bellied Woodpecker!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Tomoko. It is always good to hear from you.

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  45. I did not know about that membrane protecting the woodpecker's eyes, but I'm glad they have these safety goggles.

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  46. Hi David,
    As long as you are sufficiently aware of possible risks it is not hard to have a great time in nature. Of course, it is a pity that you can't share your moments with others - apart from Miriam - but at the same time chances are growing that you have precious encounters like you had with the woodpecker.
    Enjoy your books and moments outdoors.
    Greetings, Kees

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  47. Hello, David
    Great book recommendations! Awesome captures of the Red-bellied Woodpeckers and the Nuthatch. A nice walk outside birdwatching is one of my favorite things. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a great new week! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

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  48. Hello David.
    How nice that during this time you know how to enjoy yourself with the books and photographing. Beautiful picture of the woodpecker.
    We do not visit either.
    We walk a lot and I also enjoy photographing and editing photos.
    Have a great week and stay healthy.
    Greetings Tinie

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  49. Hello David, that woodpecker is amazing and you were so lucky it was so much at ease. Sorry to read that you had to stop with the walks with more people because of Covid-19. But as you mentioned in response on my blog things will look brighter. The books you mention seem most interesting and I hope you will have some pleasent hours reading them.
    Stay safe and regards from Belgium,
    Roos

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  50. It's great to see these beautiful birds!
    Great photos !
    Greetings

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  51. PS - The trees were cut down.

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  52. I think David that COVID is set to rule our lives for a bit longer yet. I am just so grateful that we have a fairly large house and a good size garden. I cannot imagine what it must be like for people living in a flt with children!!!

    I love that woodpecker and you have some greet shots of it as well. I am also a lover of books, and something I really miss around us is secondhand bookshops. I used to so enjoy looking for nature books in the UK and to a certain degree while in Africa as well. The markets when we are allowed to have them - sometimes have second hand books, but generally all in french and seldom nature. Our neighbor has a field day as he is a collector of anything from WW1, he has a whole room full of books and items from that era. his own personal museum.

    Take care and stay safe. Enjoy the new week, Diane

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  53. Buen toma de la membrana del ojo. Precioso el carpintero.
    Buen domingo David. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

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  54. Es precioso que podamos ver esas buenas fotos del pájaro carpintero y que nos traigas lecturas recomendadas, nos ayuda a pasar estos momentos y a pensar en que pronto pase esta pandemia y podamos retomar nuestras vidas como antes.
    Muchos besos y abrazos.

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  55. I love woodpeckers, they are such beautiful birds. Magnificent photos.
    Take care and be well.

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  56. Wonderful pictures, especially of your young biologist-in-waiting.

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  57. I understand what you mean about some benefits of this pandemic. It has brought us closer, allowed more time for certain things we love. We grab onto what we can.

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  58. Beautiful photos of the carpenter. With regard to books, the same thing happens to me, I am also interested in other topics besides birds and among biology you will find insects and turtles as well. Anyway, if I add up all the almost a thousand that I have, those of nature do not reach half.

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