Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back From Fort Collins, Colorado

What a perfect Raptor Research Foundation conference, the best since Scotland last year and Missoula in 2008 (!) and hosted by our friends at the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program. Three days of scientific papers concluded with our Raptors In Education Symposium. New and old friends galore, a turnout of 250 attendees from around the globe, representing 15 countries and Nebraska (a comment by Rick Harness, co-host who is from that state.) More news on the way, and I had to post this shot of our favorite photographer Rob Palmer, who displayed his fine art along with Nick Dunlop, "hawking" their images for all of us. Rob and I had a duck hunt with his Peregrine Sunday morning before I headed out on the plane, duck in Rob's game bag.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Think I'll Try Oil Painting

With a tiny break in the action, I decided to finally bust out the oil paints that I've had tucked away for years and give it a try. After the plein air painters were here in August, I was truly inspired, and encouraged by friend and painter extaordinaire, Janet McGahan. She and husband Jerry showed me around their studios, with tips and ideas. So I stuck Sib on her perch in the living room and made my first oil painting. I'm using canola oil and cleaning brushes outside, suggestions from the McGahans. My other mentors are Julie Chapman and of course, Bill Ohrmann. I've started a Golden Eagle, but it's still in the "ugly"
stage, and we don't need Max perched in the living room for this one.
I'll be at the Raptor Research Foundation Conference in Fort Collins, so back in a week with lots of stories and photos!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shot 'O The Day

A big weekend of falconry and today a visit to the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge down the road with my pal Sharon Fuller and Dad Steve to get this shot of a Belted Kingfisher. What a bird! The females wear the pants in this family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Get Out Your Favorite Field Guide

This photo from yesterday and I kept thinking it looked familiar in some way. It was a young Red-tailed Hawk and I only wished it had been an adult and then it would be pretty close to the cover painting by David Sibley for his Field Guide to Birds. A must for everyone out there that loves avian life as much as we do. I have three copies, one in the office, one in the car, and one in the library. I made this in to new cards for Rockin' Rudy's in Missoula along with lots of photos, so check 'em out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Peregrine, This Time

Yesterday's flight of Sibley brought a young Peregrine from out of nowhere within minutes, up on a huge open hillside in the Sapphires. I got these shots of the interaction then realized I should be more concerned with my bird's safety. No problem as she just flew back to the Subaru and landed on the roof! This sport can be a bit unnerving at times.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Prairie Falcons are Persistent

I started flying Sibley the Peregrine last week, and so far in about half our trips to the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains we have been joined by Prairie Falcons. This shot was this morning after a little scrap between the two, equal in size but this fledgling Prairie was definitely in better shape. Sib was waiting on a fence post back at the car!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Farewell to a Friend

In a memorial filled with tears, humor, poetry and music, 400 plus friends and family of Byron Weber bid farewell to man who touched more lives than we will ever know. He tragically died of progressive lymphoma and was honored at the Florence Carlton School, where he taught from 1984 until his retirement this June. After the service, Sam Manno released 3000 ladybugs at an outdoor classroom named for Byron. We were friends for about twenty years, meeting through a mutual friend who introduced the "Bird Lady" to the "Bug Guy." He appeared every month on Montana Public Radio's Pea Green Boat children's' program, cigar boxes of pinned butterflies and jars of insects under one arm. He shared his zest and appreciation of the natural world with thousands of avid fans for over twenty years. We had been doing bird programs for his students, and the last time in his classroom I commented on his menagerie of insects in aquariums and jars, first and second graders in a big circle at our feet. Byron said, sure, but one of his favorite spiders had escaped, and took a few steps to stomp at something on the floor. I figured the kids would jump a foot, but apparently they had seen that routine before. Byron gave me a smile I'll never forget. He loved life, all life, and we all love him. He is very much missed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

6th Annual Sculpture Show

I have two pieces in the annual Sculpture Show at Caras Nursery in Missoula, including this Golden Retriever. Just kidding - it's the big Ring-necked Pheasant. The show runs through the month with an artists' reception and "Caras Bucks" this Saturday. Buy some plants and peruse the dozens of sculptures created by artists from the area. I am anxious to get back at the welding, which seems like a colder weather sport to me, and have started a giant Peregrine.