Thursday, September 20, 2007

I recently added yet another bird book to our collection. One would think I have enough and the Slater field guide lives in the car and is our more-or-less life list as well. It's a bit tattered and torn and has gotten wet a few times, but until now I considered it the best and most useful in the field. Some of the others like Pizzey and the Reader's Digest guide are a bit on the heavy side. But when I saw the new compact edition of Michael Morcombe's guide I was seriously swayed. Each section of related birds is introduced with a page showing all the birds in the section with thumbnail illustrations. Then the pages devoted to the birds, instead of cramming 8 or more species on one page with a single static pose, are shown in multiple illustrations, often including a flight illustration (since one often only seems them as they fly away). There is a solid paragraph about each bird, a map showing its distribution and identifying when where are two subspecies that have slight variations. For example, opening the book at random, I have two facing pages covering 4 species of hawk, each with multiple illustrations, showing in flight from above and below and even in flight profile, with a description of how the hawk flies. The other thing I like is the indication of how common it is and whether it is sedentary or roaming, where it likes to hunt from and what it hunts. Maps and a description of its call. I long for the interactive day when they can insert a little chip or disc that you can press on and hear the call rather than trying to match what you heard to a person's description of it. At any rate, I bought it and with the help of another birder, figured out that we have acquired a pallid cuckoo in the neighbourhood which is not a new bird for me but I haven't seen it here, well I haven't seen it here at all just heard it. One of those annoying middling grey birds that are hard to see but easy to hear.

In trying to catch up with knitting book reviews I show you HandKnit Style from Tricoter. I bought it used and I see there is a second edition out. The designs are unusual and quite what I would call high fashion with surprising design elements like ruffles at the edge of a sleeve or alternating stripes of an ordinary yarn and a multicoloured ribbon yarn. The layout is pretty nifty too. Spiral bound so you can open it flat and the pattern folds out from the page facing the photograph the the item. My only quibble is that many of the patterns are written for small sizes only and I am not a 36 and probably never will be. Of course all the yarns are high end expensive but we know how to work around that, don't we? It sets the mind going in new directions I wouldn't have though of before and now I'm thinking of more things like stripes of BLF in the merino baby cardigan I'm knitting.

Two book reviews, phew! I am finally about 2/3 of the way through Harry Potter having given myself permission to indulge while my body recovers from garden work and my heart mends from the latest round in the settling of the Bear's estate. I am promised a call from an estate lawyer this afternoon, so must now go out in the rain to do grocery shopping. I'm glad I didn't tempt fate further by doing laundry!

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