Journal archives for March 2013

March 09, 2013

The Camberwell Beauty

I like the English names for this insect, so more appropriate than 'Mourning Cloak'. When seen there--sadly not often, only when they are blown across the channel--they are usually known as Camberwell Beauties.

There are lots of them flying along our creeks now. I saw 8 or 10 in a mile riding a bike along the eastern end of our creek trail; and managed a picture today while walking our dog. These placid creatures are relatively easy to photograph. They are notorious for sticking around when you drop by; even having a tendency to land on you from time to time. When I was a child in Los Angeles they might be seen around the Anderson's swimming pool; our consensus was that they preferred to lite on the heads of tow headed girls when there was a choice. Someone told me that this homo-tropic behavior was an example of the salt-seeking instinct that causes many butterflies to 'puddle' on damp mud; but that wouldn't explain a predilection for blond hair...assuming our childish observations were accurate. My mother agreed, and said it was because little girls must have seemed so much like flowers to the friendly butterflies.

My favorite behavior is their persistence over the cold months, and ability to fly on any warmish december or january afternoon. This is a decidedly cheerful phenomenon for any citizen out in that milky sunshine; hardly what you expect among the desiccated and frosty remains of the summer growth. Of course, the other English name for N. antiopa is the 'Grand Surprise'.

Posted on March 09, 2013 02:15 by icosahedron icosahedron | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 28, 2013

A Lindblad tour

I took one of the Lindblad/Nat'l Geographic tours with my partner this month; cruising on one of their old boats from La Paz to Bahia Magdalena. While these are pricy, they are surely of very high value.

In these waters they use a pair of 1950's craft built in our small Northwestern yards for cruises in the columbia river and the passage up to Alaska. At 150' length with 3 passenger decks they convey 60 passengers and just a few less crew; so your experience is intimate without any sense of crowding. Along with other crew, they've 6 naturalist/photographers; always including a strong contingent of local people. At any stop, they use a number of local guides, pilots and helpers; and quite a bit of our food comes from local sources. Passengers are of every age, all motivated to see the natural wonders. No one was disappointed. In a week we were able to see Dolphins in shoals, uncounted birds,
Blue, Humpback and Grey whales; we swam at a Sealion Colony with mothers and frisky pups; trekked on several unspoilt Gulf Islands; Kayaked, Snorkled and toured everywhere on their fleet of Zodiak Rafts. Definite value for money.

On our tour we were graced by the presence of Swen Lindblad. A boyish 70, he's continued and greatly enlarged his father's idea of ecotours using specially dedicated boats to bring as many people as possible into close contact with what persists of our wild planet. One can be cynical about this sort of enterprise--I suppose I personally would have been--but these reactions can't last long in the face of the man's considerable charm. You can see he enjoys long relationships with the various crew and professionals; in fact he spent a large part of the time babysitting some of his own grandchildren and a gaggle of other kids brought along for what might have been a tedious week with the grownups.

Part of our entertainment, at his personal appeal, was to from groups and discuss various threats to the ocean ecosystems and possible or even plausible remedies. This matters are, to any thinking person, a dolorous subtext to the wonderful experiences of the trip. It was gratifying to see, first of all, how alert and engaged the tour clients were. First of all, nearly everyone was pleased for the opportunity to organize talking and a subsequent large meeting. Many guests were deeply involved in one or another conservation or mitigation project at home. Not a soul was ignorant of the very serious state of the natural world, and I heard a surprising amount of practical wisdom. As much as it lifts the heart to float among baby Grey Whales, it was more gratifying to see this evidence that citizens were paying sophisticated attention.

Posted on March 28, 2013 14:29 by icosahedron icosahedron | 0 comments | Leave a comment