Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Gentleman Birder, an Introduction.


Semipalmated Plover





Even as a child I was fascinated by birds with the myriad of species, the range of colors, the different features and the vast array or behaviors. For exact reasons that neither of us can remember talking about my wife and I formally got into birding just after the first of the year. One day, one very cold day, we simply decided to go out to our local bird sanctuary and see what we could see. It was love at first sighting and we have been quite passionate about it ever since.

Because of my preference for wearing neckwear, tweed blazers and other sartorial finery while out in the field (especially in cooler weather) a couple of fellow birders mentioned that I always looked like a proper gentleman whenever I went out birding. This idea worked for me and so my alter ego the Gentleman Birder was born.

One of my favourite things while birding is to get pictures of the birds that cross my path. In no way would I refer to myself as a photographer but I have gotten lucky with a few shots (luck meaning that one or two shots turned out from the couple hundred taken during each outing). I've posted many of these shots on my Instagram account ( @brjudge, please feel free to follow me ) and use the hashtag #gentlemanbirder, but also wanted to share some of them with all of you. Hope you enjoy looking at these shots as much as I've enjoyed taking them.

Green Heron
This is definitely one of my favourite shots...period. For some reason that I cannot quite fathom Green Heron images turn out for me a lot of the time.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Cute isn't he?

Chestnut-sided Warbler
I love capturing images where the bird is a bit hidden.

Hairy Woodpecker
American Goldfinch
Killdeer




















                        Got lucky enough to catch this fuzzy little fledgling on his run back to the nest. 

Short-billed Dowitcher (left), Willets (right)
While I love all types of birds shorebirds are probably my favourite. This Dowitcher hopped around on one leg for so long I though he must have lost the other, he even flew a couple of times and landed on just the one. Needless to say I was quite relieved when he brought the other leg down.

American Coot
Huge fan of this species, how could you not love those blue feet and that white bill with the red spot between the eyes. Coots are often mistaken for a species of duck but in fact they actually belong to their own distinct order. In fact they are closer to certain species of Crane than to ducks.

Golden-winged Warbler
So this isn't the clearest picture but I am quite proud of it. The Golden-winged Warbler is quite a rare bird for Illinois. The one thing I can say is that he never stopped moving..not once.

Herring Gulls
A birds gotta eat doesn't he?

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Can't quite put my finger on it but there is something I just love about this shot.

Least Sandpiper
While one is adorable a whole group of these little shorebirds is almost too cute.

Canadian Geese
Unlike a lot of birders I love Canadian Geese, there is something so majestic about them.

Canadian Goose
This is another of my favourite shots. I like to call it "Long Live the King."

Spotted Sandpiper
This is one of my favourite birds...this one specifically....I call him Agustas.

Magnolia Warbler
Another one of those great "almost hidden" shots.

Winter Wren
These are so fun to watch but can be hard to find, they blend in to underbrush (where they spend most of their time) way too well and they are quite small (a bit smaller than a golf ball).

American Bittern
American Bittern, shakin it like he just don't care
This was another big find for me, I waited for almost four hours for him to come out of a tall grass field to feed.

Downy Woodpecker
Sometimes a lack of details can be a good thing.

Ring-billed Gulls
A man was throwing food up into the air and the gulls were diving down to catch it...who wouldn't want to take a picture of that?

Ruddy Turnstone
What wonderful coloring, don't you think?

Piping Plover (top), Sanderling (bottom)
The Piping Plover was another big find for me as they rarely show up in Chicago.

Cedar Waxwings
Aren't they just the sweetest little things?

Black-crowned Night-Heron
This is one of Kristina's absolute favourite birds.

Green Heron...with lunch
This shot turned out way way better than I thought it would.

Wood Duck
Love Wood Ducks, all those great colours and patterns and they make a squeaking sounds, whats not to like? 

Caspien Terns
A little father and son binding time. (Dad is on the right)

Ross's Goose
Not the best picture granted but this was my very first really big find. Birders came from all over the area to see this guy as there has only been a handful ever sighted in Illinois.

Common Yellowthroat
This is a stickup..nobody moves, nobody gets hurt!!

Great Blue Heron
How absolutely stunning this bird is.

Great Blue Heron
And just as stunning in flight.

So there you have some of my favourite shots, so far. There are a few more that I'll share next week. I am also pondering the idea of starting another blog called, oddly enough, The Gentleman Birder, where I can share my continuing adventures in birding.

Happy Birding,
Brion

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Morning Classics: Nautical Edition.


The 'Duke William', Homeward Bound off the Entrance to the River Thames by Thomas Luny
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or reads this blog that I love all things nautical, always have...always will. There has always been a soft spot in my heart for the music of the sea, from classical pieces inspired by it to pirate ballads and sea chanteys. This music can be quite inspiring, it can be funny or sad and it often tells fabulous stories.

My wife and I attended the Parade of Boats yesterday here in Chicago, an annual event the starts the, as of this year, 105th sailing of the Race To Mackinac. It is always wonderful seeing all the boats the will be racing just before they take to the starting line. Needless to say I have had a bit of nautical fever since, as such today's selection for Sunday Morning Classics is probably one of the most recognizable pieces of music inspired by the great blue depths.

The Sailor's Hornpipe (also known as The College Hornpipe and Jack's the Lad and used as part of many songs) is a traditional hornpipe melody that had an accompanying dance. The usual tune for this dance was first printed as the "College Hornpipe" in 1797 or 98 by J. Dale of London. It was found in manuscript collections before then - for instance the fine syncopated version in the William Vickers Manuscript, written on Tyneside, dated 1770. The dance imitates the life of a sailor and their duties aboard ship. Due to the small space that the dance required, and there being no need for a partner, the dance was popular on-board ship.

The tune has been used many times in popular culture. Groucho Marx does the traditional dance to the tune as part of the opening number in the film, Duck Soup (one of my favourite movies...big Marx Brothers fan), the tune was played in the Popeye cartoons as the first part of the opening credits theme, and among other places, the song appears in Disney's Alice in Wonderland.

Most notable of all is that The Sailor's Hornpipe is an official song of the British Royal Navy and the dance is taught as part of their training. The song has become a part of the British national image. The video I choose for the song is from The Proms (an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music held yearly primarily held at Royal Albert Hall in London), this song is always played on The Last Night of The Proms. The song is played and the audience stamp their feet to the rhythm and in the breaks try to mess up the soloists by honking horns and making loud noises...it looks like great fun. Well then, if your tired of reading all my ramblings here is The Sailor's Hornpipe as played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, please enjoy.


Best,
Brion

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Inspiration of Theater.

























As an interior designer I am constantly in search of new inspirations wherever they might be, even if I have to use night vision goggles and a pickaxe to find them. Inspiration can really be found everywhere in just about anything if you just open yourself up to it and sometimes it is so wonderful and obvious that you couldn't miss it if you tried. This is an example of the latter.

From time to time (alright, often) when I'm working on a project at my computer my attentions will wander and I'll find myself randomly searching the internet for interesting or unusual imagery (at this point I have more images stuffed in more folders than one might ever be able to properly organize). On a recent late night search I came across some wonderful images of theater costumes from the mid 18th century.

The engravings were done by Jean Baptiste Martin, a French costume designer. Few facts are known about him: he was the immediate successor of François Boucher at the Paris Opéra from July 1748 until 1757 or 1758... He designed costumes for opéras-ballets by Rameau and revivals of Lully and Charpentier. TheMercure reported, in July 1763, the appearance of Martin’s Collection de figures theatrales (20 colored engravings), ‘six years after he retired’. They portray Driade, Indienne, Incas, Hercule, Flore, Paysan, Paysanne, Suivante de Flore, Suivante de Zéphire, Zéphire, Africain, Apollon, Démon, Faune, Furie, Médée, Neptune, Paysan galant, Paysanne galante, and Thétis. 

While unable to find all 20 of these wonderful engravings (and sources of inspiration), I did manage to get the lions share of them. So without further ado...


Wonderful aren't they, each and every one. Which are your favourites? I would love to hear every one's thoughts.

Design Advice: Aside from just being a great source of inspiration these would these would look fabulous printed out on some quality paper stock and framed. All of them in rows on one wall would be very very nice. I mocked up my three favourite prints to show you how they could look framed.


Hope you are able to find some inspiration in these like I did. Once my next great find presents itself it will surely be shared with everyone.

Best,
Brion
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