Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lucy Wayles

Has anyone ever read the "Lucy Wayles" mystery books by Lydia Adamson? The titles include Beware the Butcher Bird, Beware the Tufted Duck, and Beware the Laughing Gull.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bird-themed Baby Gifts

Yesterday was Beth's baby shower. I was sure we'd be overrun with bird-themed baby gifts, but we were not. We only got a few. Some were Charley Harper-related things we registered for (more in a future post) and we also got a few outfits with cute birds on them. Beth's best friend gave us a crap load of hand-me-down clothing from her son, who will turn 1 in Sept. Within the bags and bags of clothes were these slippers.

Monday, July 06, 2009

It's my lucky day!

On top of what's already been an awesome year, I was ecstatic to hear that I won a guided birding trip to Puerto Rico through Wildside Nature Tours!!! The trip will likely be in January and you can bet there will be lots of posts and photos to come. Many thanks to the crew at 10,000 Birds and Wildside Nature Tours for having the contest.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Birding Board Games Pt. 2

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my posts on birding board games. I only have two (right now) and this is the second - also picked up on eBay. It's The Birding Game with Roger Tory Peterson. Again, I haven't actually played this one. It's brand new despite the beat-up box.

The game centers around the theme of a "big day" - trying to see as many species as you can and earn as much money for conservation as possible in a single day. The game includes 4 sets of "habitat" cards (Woodlands, Freshwater, Saltwater Marsh, and Open Country) and cards for equipment, sponsorship, "habitat entry", and "birder's luck." "Birder's luck" is like the Monopoly "Chance" card of this game. The box also includes a trimmed-down version of the Peterson Guide with just plates. More on the use of that and the cards in a moment.

You move around the board using your little owl head pieces. What? No little Scotty dog or boot?

As you move around the board, you collect the equipment, sponsorship, "habitat entry", and "birder's luck." When you land on a habitat card and you have the appropriate "habitat entry" card, another player reads you the card. The card directs you to identify a bird on a specific plate in the field guide. If you identify the bird correctly, you can add that bird to your checklist. If you answer correctly, you then have the chance to answer a bonus question, but only if you have the right equipment card. The bonus question is a trivia question about that species. If you get the question right, you earn bonus dollars. The questions are divided into 4 difficulty levels depending on your expertise as a birder - from beginner to hardcore lister. You must choose a difficulty level at the beginning of the game.

Your winnings are recorded on a scoresheet. The game ends when the first player fills in the list of species on the scoresheet.

The next bird fest I'm at, I'll be sure to bring these games along with me if it's within driving distance. Maybe we need a "Birds & Beers & Games" type event here in NJ!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"Wildman" Steve Brill

Last night, Beth and I attended a program on edible wild plants by "Wildman" Steve Brill at the gorgeous Franklin Township Library. The Wildman is a dynamic fellow who has been foraging for wild edible plants in the NY-NJ-CT area for more than 25 years. He's an educator who visits schools, garden clubs, and other organizations. He also hosts many field trips throughout the area. The "Wildman" is (in)famous for being arrested in 1986 in Central Park for eating a dandelion leaf - a very funny story.

Steve's program is an overview of the benefits of foraging, information on ecology, and the historic and current human uses of the plants and fungi in the northeast. My best way to describe him is, as I said to Beth is, "He's quite the character." His presentation is full of puns and witicisms, which was great for me since we have a similar sense of humor. He's also great with kids and an engaging storyteller. I was happy to see kids there and Steve involved them by having them help hand out samples.

The program included a lot of examples of plants and mushrooms that Steve had picked that day. We were able to taste many of the samples too. These included Lamb's-quarters, Black Birch, Ramps (delicious!), Pineapple Weed, and our favorite - Poor Man's Pepper. The mushrooms were very interesting including a bolete that turns blue when you break it open. As is apparently important when it comes to foraging, the Wildman stressed the importance of knowing what you're eating and the toxic effects of eating the wrong thing. As he said when referring to one toxic plant, and I'm paraphrasing here, "You get the most horrible diarrhea, vomiting, and pains. This continues until you die. Then the symptoms go away."

We had a great time at the presentation and also purchased two of Steve's books. Unfortunately, he was sold out of his vegetarian cook book, but we'll definitely be getting that one soon. If you live in the tri-state area, try to get out to one of the Wildman's lectures or better yet, one of his field trips.