Migration: Watch it Live on Radar

Doppler radar image originally posted by Badbirdz--Reloaded.com. Click image for animation.

What does spring migration look like? Until now I could only imagine it. I’ve often wondered where I could find up-to-date tracking information on bird migrations. Building a strategic network of bird alerts to subscribe to and read each day would be one method, of course. Recently though, I discovered not one but two birding blogs that present Doppler radar tracking of migrating flocks: Badbirdz–Reloaded, based in Florida, and Woodcreeper, which covers New Jersey. Their posts from the last few days — Feeling the Zugunruhe! [migration restlessness] and Migrants Just Making it into New Jersey offer animated Doppler radar images of birds on the move. Fascinating!

According to Badbirdz–Reloaded, both sites were inspired by Noel Wamer, a birder from Northeast Florida with a passion for tracking bird migrations using radar. Noel was apparently quite a personality, as a Woodcreeper tribute post to him from March 2007 attests.

If Noel taught these bloggers how to use radar to track birds then he has done a great service to everyone. Both sites extend that knowledge with pages for explaining how this is done. Badbirdz–Reloaded.com has a Birds and Radar Primer with several important links, including a New Jersey Audubon article How NEXRAD Sees the Atmosphere. Woodcreeper.com provides a Radar & Migration FAQ with a link to Radar Ornithology: Introduction  of the Clemson University Radar Ornithology Lab.

Although it seems to be a firmly established field, radar ornithology represents a whole new aspect of birding for me. It is exciting to discover a brand new aspect of hobby that you’ve been enjoying for some time. There is so much to read and learn. I better hurry though. The birds are coming and now I can see them.

Link Review and Purge

Whew, that was tedious. I went through all of my blog roll links and purged the defunct or substantially changed ones. Some had moved to new addresses. Those I updated. All links should be current again.

I don’t doubt that Rivertyde has also been deleted from blog rolls of former readers. Long stretches of inactivity don’t justify keeping a link active, and Rivertyde has indeed been inactive.

It is not dead, however, and I’m giving thought to reviving it in some form or other, but deciding what types of posts to publish is not a small thing for me. I’ll probably retain a rather science-friendly content, since that is what interests me, and I’ll probably stay away from too much personal journaling, since that is probably not what interests other people. Besides, it seems that blogs have diminished in popularity with the rise of micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Buzz. Even I must admit that Twitter distracted me from this blog for a while, until I moved on to the more expansive and multimedia-friendly Buzz. Facebook has never appealed to me, although I do have an account so I can eavesdrop on family and friends.

All the while that I was not writing in this blog I was also not reading other blogs. So what has changed? Honestly, I don’t know and perhaps nothing at all has changed. Intending to pick up Rivertyde again is not the same as doing it. We’ll see if that really happens. If you have been checking back with me here — Thanks! I’ll see if I can give you something to make it worth your while to do so.

Birthday at Roatan and Belize’s Barrier Reef

Three years ago I learned of a Caribbean island called Roatan by following news about hurricane Felix. That was 2007 and the entry was called: Discovery by Hurricane. That brief post is one of the most visited on this blog, probably because of folks searching for Roatan as a cruise destination. Well, I’ll be actually visiting Roatan myself in a couple of weeks. My partner is taking me on a Caribbean cruise for my birthday this month.

I’ve never been on a cruise before, but I know that I love being on boats and the open water. The cruise is with Norwegian Cruise Lines and runs from Miami to Isla Roatan, Belize City, Coasta Maya, Mexico, and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. In addition to the cruise he booked two snorkeling excurisions one in Belize and one in the Bahamas.

It’s hard to say what I’m looking forward to the most — being out in the Caribbean on a ship or snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef. As I mentioned in my 2007 blog entry, that reef is the world’s second largest. Since I snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef once, this will be an excellent experience to add to that.

I’ve been studying a field guide for Belize since I learned we would be going. If my photos turn out well I’ll post them to my Flickr account where I have currently pictures from our Jan. 2009 trip to Ecuador.

I’m also looking forward to birding while in the Caribbean. From the map of our route it looks like we will be passing near the Cuban coast on the way out from Miami and back. There might be some good pelagic birding opportunities and I’m considering taking our birding scope and tripod to see shearwaters, petrels, tropic- and frigatebirds, etc.

This trip is an excellent present and a great, although belated, follow-up to that blog post from 2007.

Link Updates

RiverTyde has been on unofficial hiatus for a while, but I have updated my WordPress account for another year and don’t anticipate shuttering the blog. Sorry for the drought.

Today I found a very interesting blog that I want to follow so I’ve added it, Via Negativa,  to my blogroll. In addition, I have corrected the broken link to Zac Sunderland, the young man sailing alone around the globe. I have a lot of catching up to do with his adventures. I apologize that that link was broken for so long. Under the Gay Links category Large Tony has said goodbye to his blog but has left it up as an archive. I’ll leave that link up for some time yet but will eventually take it off the blogroll.

This has been a wild week here in Philadelphia with the Phillies winning the World Series, the enormous street celebrations (with a small but destructive element), and the gigantic turn out for the parade yesterday. I don’t have photos of that but I’m sure there are plenty to be had out on the web anyway. Next week might be another wild one with the election. Just as millions of people turned out in Philadelphia to participate in the life of the city and its sports team, I hope everyone reading this blog turns out to vote on Tuesday. I’ll not tell anyone how to vote because I find it hard to believe that anyone likely to do so could be truly undecided at this point — but by all means, VOTE.

16 Year-old Sailor on His Way Around the World

Photo by John Shillabeer, Taken on October 19th, 2006. (Wikimedia)

When I was in 8th or 9th grade I read about Robin Lee Graham, a teenager who sailed around the world alone on his sail boat Dove. It was an inspirational story. Since I was a mountain boy who had never been on a sail boat, I as not inspired to sail away from home, but the strength of character to face danger and loneliness for the sake of a dream was something I could and did learn from.

Now another young man of 16 has launched himself onto the oceans in an endeavor to circumnavigate the globe and follow in Robin Graham’s wake. Zac Sunderland hopes to complete the trip before turning 18, a feat that would make him the youngest person to sail around the world. I’ve linked to his blog and intend to follow the tale of his adventure. Even at 48 I can still be inspired by courage and determination. Best of luck and weather to Zac!

Australian Natural History Blog

I’ve just discovered an really well done natural history blog from Australia. Margaret Morgan of Sydney blogs at My Growing Passion where she writes about plants, animals, and ecology. She even uses proper biological taxonomy! That’s important because we could not pronounce the native names since most of us don’t ‘speak Australian’ (just kidding). She has some good pictures to go with her posts and I’m actually very happy to have discovered her blog. I came across the link to her blog from a StumbleUpon encounter with Imorgan, from Ireland and Switzerland– I really love StumbleUpon for so many reasons like this.

Hey! Wait a minute – both of these women are sort of named Morgan! Folks, I honestly did not make that up. Check out the links yourself.

Blogger Highlights Book Sculptures

Brian Dettmer Book SculptureToday I discovered the eclectic blog: Centripetal Notion by Justin Ruckman, a graphic designer from Charlotte, NC. Justin describes his blog as “miscellaneous badassery”. He lays out an awesome mix of art and science posts that I find especially appealing. Some of his top tags are: Art/Design, Humor, Music, Performance, Photography, Science, Technology, Universe, Video, World.

A click on my super randomizing StumbleUpon button led me to Centripetal Notion and a posted video of Clara Rockmore playing the theremin. She is an accomplished musician with this unbelievable ‘touchless’ instrument. From there a little poking around on Justin’s blog turned up a post called Book Autopsies about Brian Dettmer’s sculptures. Brian himself commented on Justin’s post (which I include, in part, here because Brian gives gallery websites where his work is featured):

Hello Everyone. I am Brian Dettmer, the artist that did this work. First of all, thank you for your interest and great response to my artwork. […] I appreciate all the questions and interest but I will not have time to answer them because there are way too many blogs about my work now. For more info about my work you can go to the websites these images were originally lifted from:

There is no doubt that I will keep an eye out for more work/news of Brian Dettmer and will also frequently check in at Centripetal Notion for other great things that Justin might toss up.

The Internet Works in Mysterious Ways

3rd Grade Cub Scout DenThe lease is up and you need a new place. You pack up some of your stuff and say good-bye to what you must leave behind. Google has taken snapshots of your stuff for you, just in case you want to reminisce about it later. (Google is so thoughtful, isn’t he?)

The quaint little log cabin you were in was costing you a small fortune in firewood and candles and you have decided to move into subsidized housing. One of the many wonders of the internet is that ‘subsidized housing’ is more like a condo. The amenities are generous and new and someone else will mow the lawn and look after pest control. And, wonder of wonders, it is FREE!

Of course, when you live in a condo there are certain restrictions. It may be beautiful to look at, but eventually you will want to do things. Maybe you want to change the draperies, or remove them completely. Sorry, the drapes are regulation. They have to stay, but how can you really complain — you’re not paying for them. They are really pretty nice drapes anyway.

Hold on – that container garden on your balcony – well, sorry, the home owner’s association does not allow that. You have, however, noticed that other people have container gardens on their balconies. That is when it begins to dawn on you that the home owner’s association can be bought off.

Nice as your new, free condo maybe, you have to take it as is ….unless you pay. You think about it for a day or two then consider that the few modifications you want to make won’t really cost very much at all. The money goes to the up-keep of the building, and it is a very nice building after all. So, you dish out a little to the HOA and they let you change your drapes. Just a bit more and you have your container garden.

Things are getting cozy but you reflect that your former address was kind of neat. The new one is a bit long and awkward. Ahh….if I only had my old address back. In the real world that is an impossibility. You live where you live and when you move you live somewhere else. The internet, though, is a magical world, and your home owner’s association knows the ins-and-outs of it. If you give them just a tiny bit more they’ll let you live in their condo and let you have your old address back!

Therefore, as amazing as it may be, I now have my old address back. Rivertyde resides at Rivertyde.com once again. Unfortunately, I had to leave my database behind, but cousin Google has snapshots of it in his cache, if like me you might want to occasionally look back.

Philadelphia on the Delaware


Originally uploaded by Michlt
Welcome to Rivertyde “2.0”. After 2 years at Rivertyde.com this blog has moved to Rivertyde.wordpress.com. This photo is a view of Philadelphia from across the Delaware River. It was taken from the ferry while crossing to Camden, NJ and is a shot of my adopted city.

I’ve been in Philadelphia for almost 20 years, and am very fond of this city. I appreciate how great the it is while also recognizing that it could be better.

I grew up in Western NC — a very different landscape from the urban one I now live in. I still have a deep love of the Southern Appalachians. You’ll see photos from both the city and the mountains here.

If you are not familiar with the first incarnation of Rivertyde then you’ll find that the posts here exhibit the full range of my eclectic interests. Some will highlight Philadelphia others will focus on rural settings or outtings which remind me of the landscape where I grew up. Many posts will be accompanied by pictures from the photo sharing site Flickr and will often link to my own pics but also those of others stored on that site.

I’m a bookseller and a German Literature major from the University of Pennsylvania; however, my first undergraduate degree was in Forestry from NC State so my posts will alternate between literature/humanities and the natural sciences. I never could decide what engaged me the most.

Some of my early posts at this new location may be ‘reprints’ of entries posted at Rivertyde’s previous location. For those who have read my blog before I apologize for the redundancy. I’m going to build a thin bridge of continuity but will promise not to dwell on the first incarnation of Rivertyde.