30 May 2012

Rapid Shots

I really enjoy photography, but getting great shots can be an addictive and difficult pursuit. It is especially hard when the subjects are as fast as hummingbirds.

However, the challenge of taking cool photos is probably a big part of what makes photography so enticing. To improve, a photographer must learn new tricks, and as those tactics are mastered, the development is right there to see.

For ways to make your hummingbird shots better, consider these tips from the National Wildlife Federation.

28 May 2012

Native Landscapes

Using native plants to landscape a yard brings many positive results. Native plants usually require fewer resources and less watering because they are adapted to the environment. They also attract birds and other species.

Sound Native Plants, a company I have blogged about before, has recently expanded its Web site to include information about creating landscapes that use native species instead of non-native ones.

The landscaping section of the site is still in its early stages, but it provides information about what native species can serve as alternatives to the non-natives and what species grow best in shade or sun.

26 May 2012

A Bug Life

One topic that has come up a number of times on this blog is the importance and value of getting outside. In fact, a recent entry talked about preparing summer outdoor activities for children.

Still, one thing about the outdoors many people dread is having to deal with what we typically call "bugs," especially the ones that bite and/or sting. To help with this concern, the National Wildlife Federation is providing some tips for interacting with bees, wasps, mosquitoes, and ticks.

The information is great for making outdoor experiences safer and for appreciating the role insects and other crawly things play. With this knowledge, we might be able to build a more positive relationship with these species and enjoy our nature outings a little more.

24 May 2012

Photo Positive

For those interested in adding a little something to their nature photographs, check out these tips from the National Wildlife Federation.

I found the ideas about getting "out of the middle" and taking control of the white balance very informative. They give me some things to try.

The tips come from photographer Rob Sheppard. To get some additional ideas, visit his Web site, Nature and Photography.

22 May 2012

That's the Idea

I really get excited by ideas, especially ideas that open new possibilities and improve our relationship with the environment.

That's why I perked up when I saw this article from TreeHugger. It shows how an old, 420-square-foot apartment can be renovated to maximize space and minimize environmental impact. These kinds of ideas introduce new (and, in some cases, old) ways of living that focus on what is truly needed. Also, for me, they spark additional ideas.

Not many things are quite as energizing as when people move away from talking about what can't be done and start discussing what is possible.

18 May 2012

Listen Up

In my last entry, I blogged that today is Endangered Species Day and said our ability to help stop extinction depends on changing how we interact with the environment.

With that in mind, I wanted to share this Alan Rabinowitz interview, which was done by TreeHugger. Rabinowitz is a zoologist who specializes in the study of wild cats, especially the big cats. He also heads Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization.

The interview is wonderful. Rabinowitz is clearly very smart, and his ideas have helped revolutionize conservation and how we think about the human-nature relationship. As you'll find out, he is also a great communicator, explaining environmental issues in clear and interesting ways. That makes the interview very instructive for both members of the general public and individuals who seek to communicate environmental messages.

If you're interested, Rabinowitz also has a book called Jaguar, which I read a few years ago and would highly recommend. It's an example of great storytelling about an environmental subject.

16 May 2012

Species Get Their Day

May 18 is Endangered Species Day, an attempt to draw attention to plants and animals faced with a very real possibility of extinction.

Extinction is an issue that brings our relationship with the environment right before our eyes. Protecting species means our view of the interaction we have with the natural world needs to go beyond attempts at saving animals and plants to the point that we look at the planetary impacts of our daily activities.

Endangered Species Day is an important reminder about both the rights of species to survive and how we see ourselves within a larger world. For more information about the day, including where to attend an event, click here. For some additional ideas about what to do to mark the occasion, visit this page from the National Wildlife Federation.

The picture for this post is of an Iberian lynx, a striking but highly endangered cat that is now found in the wild only in Spain.

15 May 2012

Doing Your Homework for Summer

As parents know, school will soon be out for the summer, leaving children with a lot more free time. However, the challenge of keeping kids busy during June, July, and August is a great opportunity for connecting them with the environment.

It's good to get a head start with your nature-related summer plans. That way, you won't be blindsided when the last day of school rolls around. Also, you'll probably end up enjoying the nature time a lot more if you're prepared.

The following resources might help you begin to lay out your bringing-kid-to-nature strategies. First, check out these tips from Go Explore Nature. The thoughtful ideas come from a mom who has been through this before. Second, look into this reading list from the National Wildlife Federation. Along with providing a reading activity, the books focus on nature, encouraging kids to get outside and connect with the environment.

10 May 2012

The Spring Classic

Major League Baseball's World Series is nicknamed the Fall Classic. Well, the Spring Classic might just be the World Series of Birding.

Since 1984, bird-watching teams having been showing up in New Jersey each spring to identify as many bird species as they can in 24 hours and raise funds for bird organizations.

This year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has two teams, each competing in a different category. The Redheads will be made up of some of the lab's students while the Anti-Petrels will compete in the carbon-neutral category, in which participants can move location only by bicycling or walking.

For more information about the World Series of Birding, click here. To get an update on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's teams, go to this entry from Round Robin, the lab's blog.

This one's for all the marbled godwits (shorebird). Let's play ball.

08 May 2012

Gardening on the Wild Side

May is Garden for Wildlife Month, and according to Beautiful Wildlife Garden, "It starts with native plants."

The Web site describes the interconnectedness and the far-reaching impacts of our gardening choices. For some additional tips on how to garden for wildlife, check out this page from the National Wildlife Federation.