Thursday, March 30, 2006

ARRLWeb: RadiosOnline -- Ads

Put up my first ARRLWeb classified last night:
[29-Mar-2006] COLLINS 75S-1 #3069 FOR SALE: $250 plus shipping. Worked great when last used for several years pre-1980. Powered up once about 5 years ago, but not tested. Always stored indoors in smoke-free environments. Knobs/ feet/ power cord original. No known modifications. No crystals for top end of 10m. No manual. Needs a good cleaning. Sold as is. Sentimental value waning... needs a new life. Email N1AIA [at] ARRL [dot] NET.

First response within the hour.
End of an era.
Update: First "buyer" backs out (you did read the ad, didn't you?). Second buyer steps up, steps back. Third buyer makes an offer I can refuse. Fourth buyer whisks the deal along. Era ends. 4/15.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Milbert's Tortoiseshell in York County, Maine

Today — yes, during the last week of March — I saw my first butterfly of 2006 while walking up the trail from Laudholm Beach at the Wells Reserve. As I climbed the incline through a patch of woods, I spotted it flitting between cobbles on the wide path. I was able to approach it closely as it held its wings out in a patch of full sun.

It looked like no butterfly I had seen before. Its most striking feature was a rich orange U-shaped band forming a wingtip-to-wingtip semicircle against wings of deep velvet brown. On the leading edge of each forewing were four patches. The innermost two were squares of the same orange, the next was a similar hue but washed out, and the last was whitish. The outer two patches merged somewhat with the band.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Ottawa
By D. Gordon E. Robertson [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
It had a sturdy-looking brown body, alert antennae, and a glossiness that shone like armor. I figured it was just about 2 inches across, maybe slightly more. Its flights were brisk and brief; it skipped purposefully ahead of me, moving from rock to rock, as I attempted to pass.

After several yards, it landed trailside among grass and downed twigs and I went ahead to the farmhouse. No bookshelf references showed me what I was looking for, so I went to the web. Once, again, the USGS NPWRC Butterflies of North America site, or more specifically its Butterflies of Maine listing, was a terrific resource.

Scrolling down the list of names, it was easy to reject most, but I linked to a few to "ground" myself. I went to the Mourning Cloak account half expecting to find my animal there, but no: That was not it. I was looking for orange, not yellow, and a smaller insect. I've seen Mourning Cloaks and this didn't look like one.

But maybe it was a close relative. I went to Compton Tortoiseshell — not a chance. Then I went to Milbert's Tortoiseshell and found my match.

But the map shows no records for York County, confirmed, unconfirmed, or dubious.

I grabbed the camera and went back out, but of course the nymph was gone. That makes this an unconfirmed or, egad, a dubious report.

Great way to start spring, though!

Edit 2012-05-09: Removed links to NPWRC pages, which have migrated to here. Removed copyrighted image and added copyleft image.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Not intermediate, but cattle?

I've just found the Editors' Notebook from a 2004 issue of North American Birds, where Edward S. Brinkley writes:
We intend to revisit an older article on Intermediate Egret on Midway Atoll, Hawaii (N. A. B. 53: 441-443), which may pertain to an "Eastern Cattle-Egret" rather than an Intermediate Egret (have we piqued the reader's interest?).

As the author of the article in question, I am eager to see the clarification, which is apparently approaching a draft stage now. Ever since I was informed that the American Ornithologists' Union check-list committee passed over the "intermediate" egret report in its 45th supplement, I have hoped to read a well documented alternative view. I expect to be presumed mistaken and am comfortable with that. It's just hard to be wrong so publicly.

It happens, though; I am not alone. After recounting a handful of other questioned identifications recorded in NAB, Brinkley goes on to write:

It is remarkable, and very humbling to one's own grasp of bird identification, to receive opposing opinions from experts in their fields!

Saturday, March 04, 2006