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It’s time for more reviews of Nature books I’ve read. The theme of the first post is Birds and the theme of this post is Hiking. Hiking/walking in nature can involve all of the senses, from inhaling sweet blossoms of Linden trees to nibbling on a minty wintergreen leaf to hearing the bugling sounds of sandhill cranes to seeing a feisty squirrel chasing off an intruder to feeling the well-worn stones at a lake’s edge.
I invite you to add a comment listing your favorite Nature books!
1 – Thousand-Miler: Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail – by Melanie Radzicki McManus
From the Introduction: “In thirty-six thrilling days, Melanie Radzicki McManus hiked 1,100 miles around Wisconsin, landing her in the elite group of Ice Age Trail thru-hikers known as the Thousand-Milers.” This book was more fulfilling as the pages advanced. The sidebar chapters or portions of chapters on the history of the Trail or other’s experiences regarding the Trail made it more satisfying.
2 – Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. The Impossible Task. The Incredible Journey – by Ed Stafford
This is a gripping adventure story of a feat no one had accomplished to-date, walking the entire length of the River Amazon. It is chock-full of challenges.
3 – Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail – by Ben Montgomery
After raising 11 children in a marriage with an abusive husband, 67-year old Grandma Gatewood walked the Appalachian Trail and then went on to do even more walking. Wow.
4 – No Picnic on Mount Kenya: A Daring Escape, A Perilous Climb – by Felice Benuzzi
This is a unique true story of three POWs who climb Mount Kenya and then return to the POW camp. It is adventurous, heart-warming and has bits of dry humor. Plus there are poetic-like passages such as this one: “Always, and more especially on mountains, have I watched daybreak with deep awe. It is an age-old miracle which repeats itself again and again, every day the same and every day different. It is the hour of Genesis.”
5 – Walking on the Land – by Farley Mowat
I enjoy this author’s storytelling abilities. Here, he walks the Arctic and describes the Inuit people of the Hudson Bay area and their struggles and hardships.
6 – Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship – by Tom Ryan
The author and his dog Atticus M. Finch set out to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter. This book taught me about love and healing.
“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” ~Henry David Thoreau
The theme of the next book blog post will be Water.
Until next time,
The crocus are blooming! These have such lovely hues of purple, don’t you agree?
I like to read. And I document the books I read on Goodreads.com. (I also get great ideas for future reads from friends there.) I went to the website the other day, thinking I’d list my favorite Nature books in a blog post. I started compiling them.
Whoa…..too many for one post! So, here’s the first post, and all the books are about birds (or a bird).
Note that many, if not all of these are non-fiction, my preferred reading material, because I think the truth is many times stranger and more interesting than fiction!
To obtain any of these books, utilize the library or purchase at Alibris.com, Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, or the author’s website.
1 – Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay – by Julie Zickefoose
This is a terrific account by a talented writer/artist/naturalist who raised a young, starving blue jay one summer until release into the wild. I learned that not all blue jays look alike and that they are incredibly smart!
2 – What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World – by Jon Young
From the Summary: “Birds are the sentries—and our key to understanding the world beyond our front door.” This book made me understand many things about birds and other creatures, even though I’ve been a birdwatcher for years. The author explains the use of a “sit-spot”, a place in nature you go regularly to sit in silence and watch animal behavior.
3 – Mozart’s Starling – by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
This book alternates between the author raising a baby European starling and Mozart’s life. Did you know that Mozart had a pet European starling that may have influenced his composing?
4 – The Gift of Birds: True Encounters with Avian Spirits – by Larry Habegger
This is a collection of 28 essays that describe how birds have affected different people, mainly in a spiritual manner.
5 – Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl – by Stacey O’Brien
A woman raises a barn owl that has no hope of surviving in the wild. The process is fascinating and exhausting. The telepathic human/animal connection is briefly introduced, which intrigued me.
6 – Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World – by Noah Strycker
In 2015, the author devoted a mostly sleepless year to observing and counting as many birds in the world as possible. He surpassed his goal of 5,000 to reach 6,042 species. Birdwatchers should delight in this diary-style account.
Left to right: Tufted titmouse, Northern cardinal, Downy woodpecker
7 – The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds – by Julie Zickefoose
Excellent! Each story is thoughtful, well-written, and full of interesting facts and insights into the life of birds. There are a number of accounts of raising baby birds. The author’s illustrations are beautiful as well. This book would be a lovely gift for a bird-lover.
8 – One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives – by Bernd Heinrich
Most of this book is engaging however there are some areas I thought were less-so. The author interrupts multiple birds going about their lives; e.g. peering into nests while the adult is sitting on eggs, going through nests to count eggs, etc. I understand this is likely how scientific research on birds is done, however it seemed invasive to me.
9 – The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human – by Noah Strycker
If you are delighted by birds, this book is for you. It explains why Turkey vultures are attracted to fresh road kill, how European starlings flock, and more.
So there you have it. The next post about nature books will involve hiking/walking.
It’s Spring and warming up! Yesterday morning I found a tick attached to me, ugh! I took a walk with a friend the day before, next to the railroad tracks.
Ah yes, back to the land of beach sunsets:
And Great Kiskadees are everywhere as usual, making their kis-ka-dee calls at dawn and again in the late afternoon. I was able to photograph the yellow crown patch of one, below. I looked it up and learned they eat quite a variety of food – fruit, flying insects, spiders, fish, snakes, mice, and even your pet’s dog food!
Canna lilies are found on the roadside and in gardens:
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – not the best picture due to the low light, but one appeared a few times. They do not take well to trespassing in their territory and may attack other birds such as Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Mourning Doves, and Western Kingbirds.
A Blue Morpho Butterfly larvae wandered onto our back porch one day. I took several photographs of the colorful little thing – reddish/brown body, lime-green hairs on the body, and aquamarine blue head and longer hairs at both ends of the body.
After emerging from a chrysalis, the butterfly looks like this, a common sight in parts of Costa Rica:
In the evenings we’d sit at the table on the back porch, enjoying a Costa Rican rum drink, listening to music, and talking into the night. A few candles lit the space. The geckos gathered on the outside walls of the house, lurking in the corners up high, tsk-tsking occasionally. And one or two 4-inch long Praying Mantis would silently crawl into view; it was fascinating but creepy because if you got close enough, its beady eyes followed your movements.
I’m not sure what plant this is at the front of a restaurant but I want one!
While grocery shopping in Jaco, we noticed another wall mural:
From the Artify Jaco website is this explanation of the painted scene:
The mural, named “Legado” or “Legacy” incorporates Boruca indigenous art from Costa Rica in a thought provoking scene of a boy wearing a jaguar mask being blessed by the hand of the Universe. The masks depicted in the mural are made by the Boruca tribe, hand carved usually out of Balsa or Cedar wood and all uniquely hand painted. Use of the masks dates back to when the Spanish Conquistadors first came to Costa Rica to conquer the land. The Boruca Indians we able to ward them off for a period of time by wearing masks and jungle foliage and surprising their enemies in their home territory. This style of Boruca masks are still worn in the Boruca village for “The Festival of the Devils” which happens every year around New Years.
When flying home, I snapped this photograph of what I think is Grand Bahama island:
If you’re interested in Wisconsin birding 2019 year in review, here’s a link. It includes dozens of incredible close-up photographs.
Until next time,