Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Collective Mind

Many, if not most of us, are collectors.  Those of us who are fascinated with the natural world tend to collect in that direction.  When I was younger and not as environmentally wise as I am today (Oh, the wisdom brought with the years!) I used to collect seashells.  I lived in the South Pacific and had a huge garden of calcium carbonate designs to choose from that were a miraculous joy in artistic beauty.  I was wise in that quantity was not my goal, but expanding variety in my collection.  Today I still have a lovely collection of these marine homes, but do feel guilt that in some cases I created homelessness and death. (Perhaps a post on that someday.)

Later I collected turtles.  Not real turtles of course, but chotskies of turtles made from ceramic, wood, coconut shell, etc.  They have become memories of travels and stuff to dust!

Today with my aging eyesight and slow photographic skills I collect bird photos.  Finding a new bird, or seeing a familiar bird in a new and closer light, gives me the same thrill that I had years ago when finding an exotic patterned seashell tucked into a piece of coral rock.  Above and below are terrible photos of a the blue-gray gnatcatcher, but the best I could get.  And I am posting them because this is the very first time I have ever seen this bird!!  It is something new to add to my bird list.  So, if you are not a birder, this post will have little meaning for you.

This bird is not much larger than a hummingbird and maybe only looks a little larger because of that long tail.  The photos are horrible, because this bird sits still for only a mini-second or two before he is off exploring other branches for food.  I am pretty sure about my ID because it did have the unibrow that makes him look a little mad.  Their breeding habitat is the Western US and up to Ontario in Canada, but they have a huge range and they do migrate to and from the Caribbean and are moving into my area.  I could not find much information on this bird but a good link with better pictures is here.


slommler said...

What a gorgeous bird. Love the blue!!!

Linda said...

I collect tins and little natural fiber baskets with lids, wood ones too. Your shell collection is probably quite remarkable. I am sure worse tragedies have befallen the mollusks you left homeless. They are delicious for a reason. Their predators are grateful.

And for someone with aging vision, I think you nailed that one.... wow!!! Great focus, Tabor!!! The little birds that flit around are really sweet and they are very difficult to capture with a camera. I can't wait for my cataract surgery (May 19th) so I can start learning how to hone my skills in photography. I love birds too. Thank you for sharing. =D

Leah J. Utas said...


Lynilu said...

I've had many collections through the years, but I'm finding an urge to let go now. I keep a few special shells, stones, etc., but I know the larger collections will not be appreciated by my children when the days comes and they have to carry all that out of the house! So I've minimized, downsized, and kept the cream of the crop.

Those kids had better appreciate it!

Brian Miller said...

i think you did well in capturing him...there is much beauty in the natural world and collecting it in photos is a great way not to take much from them...

One Woman's Journey said...

Have never collected many things.
Like you in the past - turtles - do not know how that even happened.
When we discover a new bird it is exciting.
This one is beautiful. If it was in my garden I would probably think it was a bluebird. Need to sit still and really look to identify correctly.

Annie in Austin said...

Getting a photo of a tiny fast bird is so hard, but there is something compelling about the name Blue-gray gnatcatcher... good for you, Tabor!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Granny Annie said...

Why couldn't such a lovely bird get a more exotic name than "gnatcatcher"?

Dave King said...

We seem to have had parallel experiences, from empty shells to aging eyesight and slow photographic skills. (Better than the alternative, though, those last!) Lovely post.

Dave said...

That's a lovely little bird Tabor. I have never heard of it's name before though - Dave

Kikit said...

I rarely see blue birds Tabor. Most of the birds around me are brown or gray. Thanks for sharing to us info about gnatcatcher. It was quite interesting! :)

Kerry said...

Collecting photos is a wonderful endeavor. It's a great way to document your birding list. I like this little fellow you captured here, and I don't think I've ever seen one before, so thanks!

Hilary said...

Very cool. I so get your thrill in discovering this little beauty. I don't know what I'd do without my camera.. and the world waiting to be captured. You always do so well with that.

Pam said...

I thought you may like this poem Tabor. Perhaps yoou know of it, although unfortunately I don't know who wrote it.
We are the gatherers
The ones who pick up sticks and stones
And old wasps nests fallen by the
door of the barn
walnuts with holes that look like
eyes of owls
bits of shell not whole but lovely
in their brokeness.
We are the ones who bring home empty eggs of birds
And place them on a small glass shelf
To keep for what? How long?
It matters not. What matters
Is the gathering,
the pockets filled with remnants
of a day evaporated, the traces of
a certain memory,
a lingering smell,
a smile that came with the shell.

Kerri said...

I often wonder at the excitement of seeing a new bird :) It's quite a thrill, isn't it?
You did well to capture this tiny beauty.
At the moment we have a catbird that likes to spy on me from the Lilac bush and various places. It's as curious about me as I am of it. I have such fun with it.
While I was watching our one-legged cardinal yesterday an Oriole landed on the line by the feeders for a brief moment. I've been delighted to see more of them than usual this spring. They like suet!