close up with the birds of Springtime
Tuesday, April 26 2011
The weather took a turn for the hot today, reaching up into the 80s Fahrenheit. I found myself walking around outside in my shorts, eating sheets of matzo. (For some reason I've been a fairly observant Jew this year in terms of the observance of Passover, though I'm not a Jew and think such arbitrary dietary restrictions are silly I suppose it's good to abstain from things now and then just so you don't take them for granted. As a carbohydrate junkie, leavened bread and other non-Pesach grain dishes are normally a huge part of my diet.)
The birds seemed to be particularly joyous at the coming of hot weather, perhaps because of all the suddenly airborne insects. I stalked a number of birds along the forest's edge carrying a telephoto-lens-equipped camera, snapping pictures when I could. But birds aren't patient models and are often only seen against the sky, which makes for terrible photographs. For John James Audubon (happy birthday!), the easiest solution to this problem was to kill the birds so they'd hold still and allow him to paint them. But it turned out that with a little patience of my own, I was able to get a few good pictures. The most remarkable of these was of a male Yellow-rumped Warbler, which, in nature, looks like nothing more than an insignificant rustling in the leaves. Close up, though, it is a marvelous creature indeed.
The male Yellow-rumped Warbler.
A male Yellow-rumped Warbler, face on.
A male Cardinal (near a female Cardinal's nest down on the Septic Field Knoll).
Rival male Cardinals (perhaps they have a freaky three-way with the female).
A White-throated Sparrow (against the sky).
This evening Gretchen and I watched the opening episode of another hunt-for-a-pop-star reality show called The Voice. Unlike American Idol, the contestants on The Voice are pre-vetted well before they get anywhere near the celebrity judges. And the judges do not initially get to see the contestants as they sing; their chairs are pointed the other way. But if a judge (or judges) find the singing compelling, he/she/they slap a button, which hydraulically turns the chair around to face the performer. If at least one judge does this, the performer joins a judge's team and we move on to the next round (whatever that is). Otherwise the performer is off the show. If more than one judge find the singer's performance compelling, the performer can pick which judge's team to join. The judges this season on The Voice are Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera (all of whom are famous, though I'm really only familiar with the last two). In his big hydraulic chair, Cee Lo looks like a fat little doll with human arms passing through it from a puppeteer hidden within the chair. Gretchen and I both found the show more compelling than American Idol. It seemed a bit more thoughtful somehow and the contestants seem to be of a higher caliber. Carson Daly, The Voice's master of ceremonies, definitely has more gravitas than Ryan Seacrest.
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