Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bird Cam Reloaded!

Now to troubleshoot everything with my camera all over again. This time, I got the fancy mounting arm and have it attached to a shepherd's hook pole. Is it correctly pointed at the feeder? Soon, we'll find out. How's the focal distance (i.e. are the first pics going to be a little blurry)? Is a squirrel going to jump on it this time and knock it off center? Only time will tell. Is the wi-fi card in range? If not, I might try to move the feeder tomorrow when temps get up into the 40's, hoping that will thaw the ground a little. In the meantime, can I get photos to my iPad from outside? Are there a ton of old photos on the card that might back up new uploads for awhile? So many questions to hopefully be answered in the next few days. I have so far seen no evidence that anything has found my little feeder, but that's what the camera is good for.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Spawn Run

Happy Groundhog Day! Though the groundhog predicted more winter, there's a little new life in our house.
day 4
Despite my worries about the cold exposure, it looks like the spawn are healthy! The mycelium is starting to spread through the bag.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February WI Rarities

This is probably commonsense advice for seasoned birders, but it's good to keep an eye on rare bird alerts (RBA) from neighboring states, both if you're looking for a weekend trip and to know what might show up in your state. There are several forums, such as social media groups, e-mail lists or websites. On social media, search groups for "RBA" and you might find one for your state of interest. Otherwise, some states have separate e-mail lists for the RBA, or subject lines that indicate a rarity (e.g. "ALERT"). Every state seems to have a different M.O., so eventually you're likely to find which service gets you the best and fastest information.

Continuing from last month's post, there has been lots of luck just across the border for Canal Park (Duluth, MN). As of last week, black-legged kittiwake was still being spotted over the wide-open Lake Superior. Thus, it's likely they're here for the winter, and will hopefully make another appearance in a scope view (or closer)!

Another gull to keep an eye out for on our lakefront is mew gull. Interestingly, mew gull was almost annual in the state 1986-2008, but hasn't been found since. Some of my friends remember the mew gull that showed up every fall/winter along Lake Michigan for a decade (1998-2008)! Maybe, eventually, one will return and stick around.

A birder friend pointed out that last year's American 3-toed woodpecker frazzled more birders than it dazzled, which is quite true :) With no reports yet this winter in the upper Midwest, this is looking to be an unlikely find this year.

As mentioned in last month's post, some bird feeders have won the "rarity lottery" this year. What will be the next feeder bird to show up? Maybe tomorrow's snowstorm will bring some birders a little luck. Feeder birds that have been spotted this month in Wisconsin's history:
  • sage thrasher
  • curve-billed thrasher
  • green-tailed towhee
  • black-throated sparrow
  • lark bunting
  • black-headed grosbeak
  • Scott's oriole
  • Eurasian tree sparrow

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch Chase: FAIL

Today, we went and looked for the gray-crowned rosy-finch that has been frequenting a feeder in Greenwood, WI. There was a large crowd of people there (and we wondered if this was part of the reason the bird didn't show) but the homeowners suggested the bird wasn't very scared of people. The other factor was the temperature. The homeowners reported that the bird only seemed to come in reliably when it was very cold, and said they would keep us posted if it returned. This led me to dig into its life history, which I normally do in prep for any rare bird I want to see. I was busy this week, though, so am just now getting to the BNA account for the species.

Free resources on e.g. feeding birds get better and better all the time. From the Project Feeder Watch site, I see that rosy-finches like Nyjer and sunflower seed, which is at least somewhat less preferable for house sparrows. They'll also eat from tube feeders and hoppers.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Mushrooms!

Today, I filled up some time in the "off season" by starting my oyster mushroom kit. My spawn were delivered late, so I wasn't there to intercept them. I hope they didn't die in the cold mailbox! We'll see if/how they grow. I love that this gives me some way to connect with nature indoors, though, when everything else outside can seem bleak. It will be nice to eventually have some new life in the basement, and I look forward to learning more about mushrooms by seeing their life cycle up close.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Adventures in GDAL

Going over the edge to learn more about remote sensing, I'm getting further into GDAL, albeit step by step. For now, I'm checking out LANDSAT VCF for my research. I was shocked to find that the care was taken to project scenes into their UTM zones. Thus, I needed to make sure everything is in the same projection first, so naturally I'm choosing the one that matches my BBS data. I put all of my images that I downloaded into a folder, and made a list of the base file names (addressed in a previous blog, comprised of path and row).

As with anything, there are a few ways to do this, but I'm going to try to provide the fastest processing methods. When it comes to imagery, that gets to be important!
 #!/bin/bash  
 for img in `ls -1 *.tif | cut -d . -f1`; do   
      gdalwarp -t_srs nad83 $img.tif $img-projected.tif  
 done  
Oddly, this reprojection changes the NoData value to 0. Then, I put the projected files into their own folder. I tried gdal_merge.py like so beginning with a list of all the projected files...
 ls -1 *.tif > tiff_list.txt  
 gdal_merge.py -n 0 -v -o mosaic.tif --optfile tiff_list.txt  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Open-Source GIS Ideas

I like the idea of an open-source GIS competitor that can go toe-to-toe with Arc. Honestly, the best ideas and solutions will probably come from those most ingrained in the open source GIS world, i.e. my colleagues overseas who don't have campus licenses for big, expensive programs like ArcGIS. Many people have already done great work, but great solutions seem to be scattered over a number of different programs and initiatives.

Today, I was thinking back over what I found most confusing when I started using Arc. Here are a few things I remember...
  • what is a "shapefile"?
  • what is a layer, and why am I adding them to the map?
  • why am I saving the map, and what does that mean?
  • why do the shapefiles save separately?
  • why do the shapefiles save changes when I don't ask them to?
Growing up Windows, I wanted to "open" everything. Some of these things now have a place. For example, I'm fine with knowing my collection of layers as a map, with each layer being its own separate and reusable thing. Still, I really don't like permanently altering what I know as the "shapefiles" unless I mean to do so. I think there's no excuse for a GIS program not making and working off of a copy.