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11 October 2022

Book report

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, by Amitav Ghosh Marcia Bjornerud put me onto this one. An interesting book that explores the roots and results of our response to climate change. The author, an acclaimed Indian novelist, is particularly interested in the unwillingness of artists and novelists to grapple with climate change, citing this failure to engage as evidence of a great derangement in society: society’s awareness of …

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15 August 2022

Book report

Five books get the Callan mini-review treatment: two novels from Amor Towles, an account of life in prison under solitary confinement, a history of Virginia slavery during the War of 1812, and finally a family account of the discovery of the fossil Hesperornis, a toothed bird, and various associated tangents.

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2 February 2022

Abundance, by Karen Lloyd

Callan reviews a new book about endangered species and ecosystem recovery in various parts of Europe.

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1 January 2022

Yard list 2021

It hasn’t been a good year for much, but I did get a lot of birding in. Traditionally, on new year’s day, I post my “yard list” from the previous year: a list of all the bird species I’ve personally observed from my yard. At my new house, I now have a full calendar year of observations. You’ll recall I moved to Albemarle from Shenandoah halfway through the previous year, …

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1 January 2021

2020 Yard List(s!)

It’s my little new year’s tradition to present here my tally of bird species seen in my yard over the course of the year just concluded. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) 2017 (56 species) 2018 (60 species) 2019 (67 species) Things are different this year, not because of the pandemic, but because I moved over …

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1 January 2020

2019 Yard List

New year’s day! For this blog and me, the first day of the year is time for the annual recap of birds seen on my land in Fort Valley, Virginia. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) 2017 (56 species) 2018 (60 species) This year’s list (biggest year yet!), in chronological order of first sighting: Pileated woodpecker …

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25 April 2019

How We Got To Now, by Steven Johnson

I was very impressed with Steven Johnson’s The Invention of Air when I read it last summer. So recently, I decided to sample another of his books, this one a six-part microhistory about innovations that altered the course of human history. The six are: 1) cleanliness/hygiene (specifically in medicine and drinking water), 2) measurement of time, 3) glass (think lenses!), 4) understanding of light, 5) refrigeration, and 6) the recording …

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15 April 2019

The Feather Thief, by Kirk Wallace Johnson

In 2009, a thief broke into England’s Tring Museum and stole hundreds of curated bird skins. The thief was a talented American musician attending school in London. He broke apart specimens collected by Alfred Russel Wallace and Lionel Walter Rothschild and sold the feathers to men who tie salmon flies (originally for fishing, but now an art form in its own right). The story of this crime is well documented by an author who became obsessed with solving the case of the missing birds.

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1 March 2019

Friday fold: Gold Harbour, South Georgia

Near Antarctica, South Georgia Island is a good place to find glaciers and penguins. And, as it turns out: massive recumbent folds! Let’s take a look.

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1 January 2019

2018 Yard List

New year’s day is the time I tally up and report the bird species seen in my yard on the forested slope of Massanutten Mountain in Shenandoah County, Virginia. This is my seventh such annual list. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) 2017 (56 species) It’s been a good year. Two new “seen for the first …

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