Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Julie Waters’ Bird Photography Site

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

I came across a link to Julie’s Magic Light Show, and wanted to share. If you like CONE Sutro Forest, you’ll probably like her site. Enjoy!

Update: Of particular interest to recent birdcamming, check out this page on her site: Downy or Hairy?

The Case of the Missing Sock Feeder

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

I’d been meaning to mention this, and paging back through the last weeks’ worth of images reminded me of it.

We’ve lost the sock feeder.

It disappeared sometime around noon, or shortly thereafter, on Saturday, June 2. The last shot we have that shows it still there was this one, taken by tedr at 11:58 a.m.:

Image 13861

Sometime between that shot and this one, taken by kiddo at 1:28 p.m., it disappeared:

Image 13870

Suspicion, as usual, falls immediately on Roscoe. Earlier that morning he was seen making use of the sock to reach the sunflower seeds; check out this shot taken at 8:31 by woodsong:

Image 13826

And this acrobatic maneuver at 9:31, captured by glenlivet18:

Image 13832

True, Roscoe isn’t actually touching the sock in that shot, but he clearly was spending a lot of time climbing on and around it on the morning in question.

A few months ago I had one of these sock feeders fall off the corner of my house where I’d hung it; my investigation in that case showed that the problem was the knot, which had basically untied itself under the weight and jostling of an endless progression of Lesser Goldfinches and House Finches. The CONE SF sock feeder hasn’t had the same level of finch attention, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a single active squirrel could do as much to tug a knot loose as any number of finches.

Focusing on the knot, we have a close-up from the day the sock vanished, taken by niskiel at 8:13 a.m.:

Image 13824

Unfortunately, it’s somewhat out of focus, making it hard to see much about the state of the knot. Interestingly, though, the following shot taken a couple of weeks earlier by berkteach, at 6:18 p.m. on May 15, shows what looks to me like an extra bit of “tail”, a little extra loose line above the knot, that was no longer there on the day the sock disappeared:

Image 9845

Here’s a zoomed-in comparison, magnified 5X, of that May 15 image by berkteach, and the one from the day the sock disappeared where Roscoe had his guilty paw on the sock. The two shots are roughly comparable in terms of the camera’s orientation and zoom, though one should bear in mind that the lighting is different, given the different time of day when the two shots were taken:

It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with the knot in those two photos, but it looks to me like the second one shows less “tail” than the first. Could it be that with the help of Roscoe’s tugging it finally gave way?

If that’s true, then it seems possible that the sock has spent the last week lying on the ground at the base of the pole, down at ground level under Craig’s bottlebrush. That is, unless a certain nefarious rodent, having tugged it free of its moorings, has since made off with it.

Craig apparently has been in New York this past week (see this item from blogger Donna Bogatin, for example: Craigslist’s Craig Newmark: ‘My life is a sitcom’), which could explain why the sock hasn’t been restored. Hopefully someone can take a look around for it soon, though. As you all know, I have a real soft spot for it. 🙂

Birds at MY feeder

Friday, June 8th, 2007

One of the reasons I love the Sutro Birdcam is because a lot of the birds that go to the feeders are ones I never get to see (since I live on the East Coast). Western Scrub Jay, Steller’s Jay, Pygmy Nuthatch, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Allen’s Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, Hooded Oriole, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Lesser Goldfinch are ones that I never get to see. But with the cam, I feel like I know them as well as the birds at my feeders.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my photos of the birds that come to my feeders. I’m not going to tell you what they are – isn’t part of the fun of bird watching trying to identify birds?






Blue Jay


red bellied


A View from Ground Level

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

One of the things I find interesting about the CONE SF system is that I spend all this time looking at Craig’s backyard from a very specific point of view. If I could see that location from a different angle, would I be surprised?

I got the opportunity to test that, because on Monday Craig posted a photograph taken at ground level to his personal blog. Here’s the photo:

I was admiring the plant (a Pride of Madeira), when I noticed something in the upper lefthand corner: Hey, is that the T-bar?

Yup. Here’s a magnified view of that part of the image:

Pretty cool, eh? It’s hard to tell with the cloud in the background, but I can’t see the sock feeder. If it’s not there, it would mean the photo was taken some time prior to 10:50 a.m. last Friday.

Note that you can see the top of that Pride of Madeira from the birdcam; here’s a photo I took of it this morning:

Image 9874

And here’s a photo of the bottlebrush that also figures prominently in Craig’s picture:

Image 9873

I have a theory about that bottlebrush. In my neck of the woods, the Selasphorus hummingbirds really love those bushes. Even before I got those shots the other day of the Selasphorus hummer dipping itself in the birdbath, I suspected the bottlebrush was a good place to look for them; now I’m sure of it. So if you notice someone repeatedly guiding the camera to peak through the railing at that bush, it’s probably me, and that’s what I’m doing: looking for an Allen’s Hummingbird.

Help Is On the Way

Friday, May 11th, 2007

This just in from the gushing-fanboy department: I’ve been in contact lately with both Professor Ken Goldberg (leader of the CONE Sutro Forest project) and with Craig Newmark, and they both say they like the blog. Yay! Craig posted an item about it on his blog, and in another item he mentioned the Bald Eagle photo, and seemed to be okay with the humorous intent behind it. Prof Goldberg solicited my input on ways they might improve the system (which he’s probably regretting, since I proceeded to email him a novel-length treatment of the subject), and generally was very nice.

Most importantly, Craig mentioned in his email that Ken is actually on his way over to Craig’s as we speak, to replace the tall cylindrical feeder (they were out of sunflower seeds). Hopefully while he’s there he’ll also be able to replace the purloined suet and fill up the birdbath (which I noticed just now had a bunch of gray hairs in it. hmm…) Ah, the glamorous life of a professor.

Update: Yes! Fresh bath (lovingly washed out with a paper towel, to remove all those unsightly gray hairs):

Image 8591

A refilled suet feeder:

Image 8592

And best of all, joining the restocked cylinder o’ sunflower seeds, a sock feeder. Yeah! Bring on those goldfinches.

Image 8593

There was even a brief, embarrassed wave at the camera from Professor Ken, though I wasn’t fast enough on the “Take Snapshot” button to catch it.

Anyway you slice it, that’s some excellent full-service birdcam work. Let’s see the Santa Cruz Island eaglecam muster a full professor with a roll of paper towels to tidy up after the birds. I don’t think so.

CONE Sutro Forest rules!

The Case of the Missing Suet

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I didn’t get to spend much time looking at Sutro Forest pictures today (oops, yesterday), but I did notice the following.

7:19 a.m.:

Image 8149

7:20 a.m.:

Image 8150

7:34 a.m.:

Image 8152

8:16 a.m.:

Image 8161

Those last two are the two suet-feeder photos bracketing the time of the crime. Now, I realize the case against the suspect is circumstantial, but I’d really like to know what his alibi is for the 42 minutes in question. If you ask me, he had a sneaky look on his face at 7:34, like he was planning something.

Thanks to crack CSI Sutro Forest investigators noho_bird_club, asdourian, nosteps, and rnand001 for the images.

Wish List

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Things I’d like to have, or have happen:

A microphone. I realize there are probably any number of reasons why it wouldn’t be practical or wise, but it would be really cool to have the ability to stream audio from a high-quality microphone on Craig’s deck. Just a mic aimed at the forest; it wouldn’t have to be directional or move, or have the ability to record snippets for later cataloging and playback (though those things would make it even more awesome).

I have this sense that we’re probably missing half the bird species that are within range of the camera, just because we don’t know where to point it to see them. If they don’t come to the feeder (or, like the Robin, to the birdbath, or like the Anna’s, to the flowers), we just never see them. If we could hear what was going on out there in the trees, though, I bet we’d know a lot more than we do now. With forested/brushy habitat, if you can’t hear, you’re missing most of the action. Which we are.

A sock feeder. I’m bummed that I haven’t got a photo of the Lesser Goldfinch yet, and I think a sock feeder would really help draw them in.

A dripper on the birdbath. We’d get a lot more birds at the bath if there was a slow drip, drip, drip falling into it. A little flexible metal tubing and a low-volume recirculation system is all it would take.

A view of seeds on the ground. Again, I really wish I could see one of the Golden-crowned Sparrows or Song Sparrows that are (or at least were) hanging around there, and if they’re there, I bet they’re going to be a lot easier to see on the ground than up at a feeder. Can we get a few seeds scattered somewhere down low where we can see them? I bet there’s all kinds of action going on under the T-pole feeders, but since we can’t see it it doesn’t do us much good.

I keep scanning the road to the right of the feeders. I really want for there to be a California or Spotted Towhee in there, or (again) a sparrow. So far, though, the only bird I’ve ever seen down there is the Robin. A few seeds along the edge of the road would make a big difference.

A site report from an informant. See, here’s how I could get just about all of the above in one fell swoop. If someone who lives in the area knows where that road is, and if there’s public access to it, he or she could just casually stroll on down it, keeping their ears open and looking around, and scatter some wildbird mix along the path at the same time. Then he or she could come here and post about what they saw and heard.

It’s a simple dream, this dream I have. Sigh. One day, maybe.