Entries tagged "birds"
For a slight change, I thought I would add a little correspondence from Bob Boxberger to the website. I enjoyed these perspectives and Bob was kind enough to allow me to share these exchanges with you – thanks Bob!
Hello Mr. Gooley:
Just finished your book "Natural Navigator" with pleasure and interest. In that book's Chapter 8 you describe navigation feats of migratory birds.
That prompts me to offer you a note for your bird navigation file derived from an experience of mine as a young soldier stationed at Cold Bay, Alaska at the…
Have you ever noticed how fat people tend to feel the cold less than skinny people?
Have you also noticed how it gets colder as your latitude increases?
Are you ready for a long sentence with too many uses of the word 'idea'?
One of the most interesting ideas about new ideas is that there is no such thing as a new idea, the idea being that a new idea is just two old ideas connected in a new way. You get the idea?
In 1847, the…
Nature's Radar, my academic paper on natural navigation observations during a small boat voyage in the North Atlantic has just been published by the Journal of Navigation.
A full colour PDF copy is available by clicking here
There is also a rough HTML version.
Journal of Navigation, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=8725663
We may never know the exact method that the earliest explorers used to find their way, but there is a friendly finger of suspicion that gets pointed regularly at the birds.
Some of the routes used by the pioneers of the Pacific match the migratory routes of the birds exactly.
The route used by the Maori fleet that sailed from Tahiti to New Zealand sometime in the fourteenth century and settled there is the same as that taken by the Long-tailed Cuckoo each September.
I like to think of these earliest navigators. I imagine them gazing…
On Friday I enjoyed a warming cup of hot chocolate with adventurer and ocean rower extraordinaire, Sarah Outen. We arranged to meet in Brighton and I had hoped to saunter between the boutiques and purveyors of rare tat, before pulling up a chair in a bohemian cafe near the sea. Instead I sprinted twenty yards from the train station, felt the cold heavy rain run down my neck and then ducked into a disappointingly ordinary peddler of hot drinks.
Fortunately I got a chance to escape all that by listening to Sarah's memories of rowing, alone, across…
'Courting bustards' is not an excellent new profanity, something that would sound good with rasping voice and sent in the general direction of a parking warden putting a ticket on your car, it is actually a reference to the romantic habits of the male great bustard bird.Researchers from the IE University School of Biology in Santa Cruz, Spain, have found that the male bustards align themselves with the sun when trying to attract a female. Their white feathers, the bustard's equivalent of an Armani suit/Ferrari/pair of Reeboks - delete as applicable, show up better when aligned to catch the sun's…
My book is on the printing presses - this is very exciting and an excuse for a quick plug in my blog!In the book I emphasise the importance of using our senses in natural navigation. I cover examples from the sound of birdsong to the smell of trampled fruit in London.I stumbled across a kindred spirit on the Internet this morning in Sachin Somanna, the author of this article about Gayathri Tiffin Room. It certainly smells from here like one of the joys of the Indian city of Mysore:"We do not need any directions to reach Gayathri Tiffin…
...with a little help from the sun.An interesting article on the BBC website today about the seasonal habits of Puffins.The most interesting thing other than learning more about the puffins' whereabouts was the method they used for understanding where the birds were at any one time. Using 'geolocator tags' that logged the time of sunrise, sunset the research team were able to deduce their location.'The loggers work by measuring light levels, recording when dawn and dusk occurs each day.With this data, researchers can calculate day length, when midday occurs, and the daily longitudinal and latitudinal co-ordinates for the individual…
A robin's trademark red breast has always struck me as one of nature's less enthusiastic attempts at camouflage. We went for a family walk in the woods yesterday and this particular robin was very friendly. Even so, when I tried to take a picture of him I sometimes lost him from view as he blended with the leaves.
Blue water sailors are aware that birds can be used in finding land, but walkers tend to overlook one of the simplest of navigational clues. The more friendly the birds, the closer you are to civilization. It's not…
On Sunday morning, when sailing off the south coast, visibility came down to a few hundred metres at times. The sun played some of its usual tricks in the fog and one that I don't think I've seen before. When looking down-sun it created a colourless rainbow-like arch with pure white underneath, it was very like sailing past the Millennium Dome, or whatever it's called these days. At one point there was one visible when looking towards the sun as well, it felt like sailing between two domes. Surreal.…
I was enjoying the view down a misty valley this morning when a flock of gulls went overhead. I took a quick photo and had low expectations of its quality. As you can see it is not going to win any awards, but the faint shape of an upside down Big Dipper did stare back at me when I downloaded the pictures. Signs, signs everywhere, but what do they all mean?