Thursday, April 28, 2005

ENV: Not-Really-a-Cat-Friday

There is only one possible critter that could grace this page today! After decades, the rediscovery of perhaps the world's most sought after bird! Holy Smokes! Links to come later.


Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis


Monday, April 25, 2005

COM: Natives and Hollywood

Investments in the industry from The New York Times

ENV: Whale meets dust

Another day on the beach from CNN

ENV: Monarch Transformation

Mary Ramsower watched a Monarch change today from caterpillar to chrysalis in a matter of minutes. She took photos along the way. It's a stunning sequence.

Monarch molting

Sunday, April 24, 2005

ENV: Kerr and Real Counties, 24 April 2005

Reported to TexBirds, TexOdes and TX-Butterfly
Pictures of some things will be posted temporarily at: http://seven-bulls-boy.tripod.com/id123.htm and later posted on my fauna websites

I went scouting today for a trip this weekend in Kerr and Real Counties. Here are some results of about four hours in the field. Weather was very cool, not rising above 70 until late in the afternoon when it hit about 83. It was very windy all day, and thus not much flying, birds, odes or leps. We are experiencing storms tonight. Neatest thing today were hordes of Spizella sparrows on the Real Co. roadsides. I stopped a couple of times and made out some Clay-colored and Chipping, but was in search of a lot of things so i didn’t stop often. There may have been other stuff involved. It was just a constant flushing of birds off the shoulder for about 40 miles on FM 336 and FM337.

24 April 2005
TX: Kerr County, including Rio Vista, South Fork of the Guadalupe River, South Fork Marsh, Lynxhaven Crossing, TX39 West, West Kerr County, Ingram, Hunt

6 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Eastern Tiger/Two-tailed Swallowtail
2 Lyside Sulphur
1 Sleepy Orange
1 Painted Lady
2 Red Admiral
1 Red-spotted Purple
2 Gulf Fritillary
2 California Sister
1 Question Mark
2 Gulf Fritillary
1 duskywing sp.
6 Common/White Checkered-Skipper
1 Julia’s Skipper

26 American Rubyspot,
Hetaerina americana
2 Smoky Rubyspot,
Hetaerina titia
2 Blue-ringed Dancer,
Argia sedula
2 Kiowa Dancer,
Argia immunda
1 Argia sp.
1 Double-striped Bluet, Enallagma basidens
1 Familiar Bluet,
Enallagma civile
6 Arroyo Bluet, Enallagma praevarum
2 Citrine Forktail, Ischnura hastata
1 Desert Firetail,
Telebasis salva
2 Pronghorn Clubtail, Gomphus graslinellus
1 large gomphid sp.
1 possible Cruiser sp.
6 Dot-winged/Stripe-winged Baskettail,
Epitheca petechialis/costalis
2 Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia
6 Eastern Common Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis
1 Black Saddlebags, Tramea lacerata

Physa sp.
Planorbella (Helisoma) anceps anceps
Planorbella (Helisoma) trivolvis
Elimia comalensis comalensis


1 Great Blue Heron
1 Green Heron
8 Turkey Vulture
1 Egyptian Goose
[+ chicken]
1 American Kestrel (m plus a f DOR, same site)
4 Mourning Dove
1 Chuck-Will’s-Widow
3 Comon Poorwill
3 Green Kingfisher
4 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 Ash-throated Flycatcher
1 Vermilion Flycatcher
2 Eastern Phoebe
2 White-eyed Vireo
2 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Golden-cheeked Warbler
2 Lark Sparrow

[1 Red Kangaroo]
[1 Mountain Coatimundi]
[+ dog]
[11 Axis Deer]
[8 Pere David’s Deer]
[2 Fallow Deer]
[1 Dybowski Sika Deer]
300 White-tailed Deer
[2 Wapiti]
[7 Eland] (new county mammal for me; photos)
[2 Red Lechwe]
[4 Blackbuck]
[2 Scimitar-horned Oryx]
[1 Dama Gazelle]
[+ goat: Boer, Spanish]
[+ cattle: Black Angus, Black Baldy, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Longhorn]
[+ horse: Quarterhorse, Miniature, Paint]

Tillandsia recurvata

TX: Real County, US83 between Leakey and Garven Store, TX41, FM336, FM337, West Fork Frio River, East Fork Frio River, Little Dry Frio River

1 Smoky Rubyspot,
Hetaerina titia
4 Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda
1 Argia sp.

1 Black Swallowtail
1 Dainty Sulphur

1 orange long-horned beetle

Helicina orbiculata
Polygyra texasiana texasiana
Planorbella (Helisoma) anceps anceps
Planorbella (Helisoma) trivolvis
Gyraulus parvus
Rabdotus dealbatus dealbatus
Physa
sp.

6 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

1 Broad-headed Skink

10 Turkey Vulture
2 Black Vulture
1 Wild Turkey
1 White-winged Dove
4 Mourning Dove
1 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
20 Cave Swallow
1 Common Raven
1 Canyon Wren
1 Bewick’s Wren
1 Carolina Wren
1 Golden-cheeked Warbler
2 Summer Tanager
60 Lark Sparrow
16 Clay-colored Sparrow
30 Chipping Sparrow
3000 Spizella sp.
8 Brown-headed Cowbird
[20 House Sparrow]

1 Porcupine (DOR)
[+ goat: Boer]
[+ sheep: Medium Wool]
[8 Feral Hog]
81 White-tailed Deer
[12 Axis Deer]
[1 Formosan Sika Deer]
[+ cattle: Hereford, Charolais]

Tillandsia recurvata

Blooming in Real or Kerr Counties:Escarpment Black Cherry, Eupatorium odoratum, Bluebonnets, Oenothera speciosa, Scarlet Penstemon, Salvia farinacea, Muskthistle, Small Thistle, Texas Thistle, Gaillardia suavis, Blue-eyed Grass

EON: Trailer's out!

Well, one of the movies i was in last year is in post-production and a pretty sharp-looking trailer has been released. Hope the movie's as good (and that i didn't get left on some dark cutting room floor).

Pick your poison here: Everything Or Nothing

The actors i worked with were Natasha Melnick and Travis Ammons.

Natasha is best known for her work on Freaks and Geeks and in Orange County, and has a band One Last Run. Travis directs as well as acts and is the frontman for the band Drexl.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

COM: Diviners Deja Vu

I was stumbling around the net looking at ongoing productions and checked out a play The Diviners, which i've recently done. Lo and behold (to borrow a cliche) their webpage features a synopsis of the play i wrote!

It's at: The Diviners

Put on by Students of the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts

Quietly Lusting for Water and Salvation

In a tiny Indiana town named Zion, mired in the depression, that which gives life takes it away. Buddy Layman is the town idiot, but a charming one. What's left of Buddy after his mother saved him from drowning is an innocent but boundlessly curious mind, and a compelling gift for sensing water coupled with an intense fear of it. The rest of the town meanders through the mundane chores of getting by day to day - conversations about bicycle tires take half a day, you can't eat at the cafe until you've said your prayers, and youngsters learn to dance at the otherworldly hands of those who've seen the world via US Army boot camp. And of course, they bemoan what they lack - rain for crops, enough future brides and grooms for all, and a preacher for their weekly salvation. So when the back-sliding preacher C.C. Showers, looking for a way out of his salvation, stumbles into town looking for an anonymous job, the locals immediately pin on him the badge of savior. What comes next turns everything upside down, as C.C. makes a connection with idiot boy Buddy in a way no one else has and finds more in his heart than the family would have you believe is there. Seeking to cure his constant itch, and its reminder of the fate of Buddy's mother, C.C. rids Buddy of his hydrophobia. In this rarely-performed allegorical play, that which gives life takes it away in the same astounding final instant and leaves us pondering the worth of salvation of any stripe.


The Cast:
Roy Parker
Katie Caruso
Chris Applegate
Jordan David
Kathryn Childress
Samantha Cox
Jameire Davis
Steven Kresena
Bess Cozby
Brock Griffith
Andrew Hill

REV: Our friends in Wimberley

Helyn Messenger, who has won Best Actress at two of our recent OAP meets, and whom i personally congratulated both times (hint, hint) has a netjournal with lots of commentary. Seems she found this blog a while back, and judging by the trail she left, the folks at Wimberley have been keeping an eye out over here.

In addition to the posts below on my summary of Regionals, there is quite a bit of commentary on her journal here:

[Removed at the request of her friends]

There is a lot of good commentary on there, and some things we could learn from. They have an exceptional program for a reason. Give it a visit, but please overlook their provinciality and hometown pride and see the pride they have in their work and program and directors and theatre. As Ben not so subtly mentioned, it takes work, lots of it. And leave them some nice notes, and congratulations, and best wishes for state. They're a class act and we should aspire to the same.

Helyn, break a leg!

[removed]

Here's the state lineup from one of their journals:

Wimberley- The Beggars Opera
Iowa Park- The Boys Next Door
Van- The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Mt. Vernon- Kentucky Cycle: Fire In The Hole
Little Elm- Song of Bernadette
Aransas Pass- The Miss Firecracker Contest
Hempstead- The Learned Ladies
Barber's Hill- Peer Gynt

COM: Choice Political Comment of the Day

Via Susan Sander:

Dogs in Germany assist in "free speech"effort

Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flag portraits of US President George W. Bush into piles of dog poo in public parks. Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of shit that have been claimed during that time." The incidents were originally believed to be some sort of protest against the US-led invasion of Iraq, but, when they continued, they were thought to be a protest against President George W. Bush's campaign for re-election. They're still going on, however, and the police say they are completely baffled as to who is to blame. "We have sent out extra patrols to try to catch whoever is doing this in the act," said police spokesman Reiner Kuechler. "But frankly," he continued, "we don't know what we'd do if we caught them red-handed." Legal experts say there is no law against using feces as a flag-stand and the Federal Constitution is vague on the issue.

Friday, April 22, 2005

ENV: Not-Really-a-Cat-Friday

Just dashing off a quick picture of one of the most strikingly colored, and not very often seen, cetaceans -- Hector's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori. It is considered the world's rarest dolphin by some, and is endemic to the waters of New Zealand. It is rather odd for a cetacean to be considered an endemic as boundaries are hard to define, but records bear this out.

My favorite cetacean is the Vaquita, Phocoena sinus, the world's rarest cetacean of any kind. Oddly, even though i've worked with a half-dozen captive cetacean species in bioacoustics studies, the Vaquita is the only cetacean i've seen in the wild besides the Bottle-nosed Dolphin, a contender for the world's most common cetacean. The Vaquita can also be considered an endemic -- to the Gulf of California.

Hector's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori
Photos by Kirsty Russell (top) and Tom Walmsley (bottom)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

ITM: Thespians at Regionals in Kingsville

Well, it was the end of the road for Ingram and The Crucible yesterday in Kingsville. The shame of it all was that they did a great job, and once again i felt like they blew everyone away. If Wimberley, with their outstanding show wins state i think the Ingram kids can beam with the knowledge that they beat the state champs several times on their way to the top.

(Note to the Wimberley folks who visit this blog, sorry for the provinciality here -- i really liked your show, just thought ours was better -- best of luck at state!)

The judge was apparently looking for something different this time. My biggest concern is that the other show that moved on to state was the one i'd judged to be the worst of the six i saw. Aransas Pass' The Miss Firecracker Contest just seemed jumbled and non-sequiturish and was not smooth in many ways. It also suffered i thought from a lackadaisical set and uninspired use of the space. Having said that, i think they were some nice performances in it -- especially the young man who played Mac Sam. But it's not a piece that will win at state.

Wimberley gave a flat performance i thought compared to their usually antic show. But when you have a good show, well it can shine even when the cast is down. I'd been thinking all along that Jonah Priour's only competition for Best Actor at each level was Will Harrison as Peachums. Will finally won the award here. Helyn Messinger as Mrs. Peachums was the Best Actress. I'd also give kudos to three other actors at Wimberley who i think shine in a cast of excellent actors -- Julia Trinidad, Andrew Patoski and Harry Tork. And i hope they win state.

For Ingram, Cadi Hawkins won her second Honorable Mention All-Star Cast award. Jonah, unbelievably won Honorable Mention -- that award makes absolutely no sense at all to me. Jonah was the best actor on the stage. Aaron Hutto certainly was stiff competition for Jonah, and was awarded with All-Star Cast. Congrats to the award winners.

Finally i want to thank everyone involved in the show for having a superb season, for having broken a big barrier for Ingram's program, and for having performed well enough to win state, even if the chance has escaped.

To Holly Riedel, Roy Burney and Marie Cearley for their excellent direction, herding, support, and loving of that bunch of great kids.

To Gary and Carol Priour, Freddie and Chaille Hawkins, and Chad Varner for doing all the behind the scenes extra things that can make the difference.

To Kevin Chipman, Garrett Brown and Dustin Ficker for handling the lights and sound so well.

To Wes Isenhower for being what the directors will tell you was the "perfect" stage manager -- and he was. And to his superb assistant Lauren Hensley.

To Amanda Wortham, Summer White, Chris Wilson, Ryan King, Chris Ford, Hilary Bunker, Mari Aleman and Shana Baldwin for being the alternates ready to step in (and doing so from time to time).

And to that wonderful cast -- Jonah Priour, Lillian Beaudoin, Meggie Nidever, Aaron Hutto, Patrick Wade, John Ferguson, Whiteny Wilson, Cadi Hawkins, Suzanne Attridge, Jeff Widener, Gary Givens, Allyson Widener, Mindy Cox, Mikaela Lewis, and Anthony Goodman -- what a fantastic piece of art you created.

Good luck in the future to all the graduates, and see ya next year to everyone else.

P.s. Be sure to check out Gary Givens' blog for his view.

ENV: Kleberg County 21 April 2005

While i was down in Kingsville for One-Act Play Regionals, i managed to spend a couple of hours at Kleberg Park looking for bugs. Here's the results:

21 April 2005
TX: Kleberg County, Kingsville, Dick Kleberg Park
2 White Globesnail, Helicina orbiculata
+ Ambersnail sp., Succinea sp.
+ White Cactus Snail, Rabdotus dealbatus dealbatus
+ Ballmoss Toothsnail, Polygyra texasiana tillandsiae
1 Moore’s Toothsnail,
Polygyra mooreana
4 Berlandier’s Banded-Snail, Praticolella berlandieriana berlandieriana

1 gray robberfly

+ Red Harvester Ant

1 Orange Bluet, Enallagma signatum
6 Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
6 Double-striped Bluet, Enallagma basidens
30 Rambur’s Forktail,
Ischnura ramburii
1 Dancer sp., Argia sp.
6 Eastern Amberwing,
Perithemis tenera
3 Eastern Common Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis

30 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Dainty Sulphur
2 Lyside Sulphur
2 Southern Dogface
2 Great Southern White
1 cf. Rounded Metalmark
6 Ceraunus Blue
8 Reakirt’s Blue
1 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak
2 Definite Patch
1 Graphic (Vesta) Crescent
1 Queen

2 Great Egret
1 Green Heron
2 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
6 Northern Shoveler
12 Blue-winged Teal
2 Black-necked Stilt
1 Greater Yellowlegs
10 Long-billed Dowitcher
1 Killdeer
16 Laughing Gull
20 Mourning Dove
2 Common Nighthawk
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
3 Great Kiskadee
50 Cliff Swallow
3 Northern Mockingbird
3 Lark Sparrow
1 Bullock’s Oriole
30 Great-tailed Grackle
4 Bronzed Cowbird

3 Fox Squirrel
4 Spotted Ground-Squirrel

Road Critters
Atascosa County
20 Cattle Egret
4 Red-tailed Hawk
6 Crested Caracara
4 Mourning Dove
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
12 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
34 Barn Swallow
920 Cliff Swallow
60 Cave Swallow
2 Great-tailed Grackle

1 Opossum
32 White-tailed Deer
[+cattle: Black Angus]


Live Oak County
30 Cattle Egret
2 Harris’s Hawk
2 Crested Caracara
10 Mourning Dove
[2 Rock Pigeon]
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
4 Barn Swallow
80 Cliff Swallow
30 Cave Swallow
2 Red-winged Blackbird
2 Great-tailed Grackle
2 Common Grackle

[+cattle: Hereford, Charolais]
[+horse: Quarterhorse]


San Patricio County
6 Cattle Egret
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Killdeer
160 Mourning Dove
4 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
4 Cliff Swallow
200 Cave Swallow
4 Northern Mockingbird
1 European Starling
1 Loggerhead Shrike
4 Northern Cardinal
40 Great-tailed Grackle
80 Red-winged Blackbird
3 Brown-headed Cowbird
4 meadowlark sp.

[+cattle: Hereford, Black Baldy, Brindle Range, White Brahman]


Nueces County
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Laughing Gull
100 Mourning Dove
1 White-winged Dove
1 Inca Dove
1 Barn Owl
50 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
1 Barn Swallow
300 Cliff Swallow
5 Loggerhead Shrike
12 Northern Mockingbird
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Lesser Goldfinch
4 Red-winged Blackbird
40 Great-tailed Grackle
[1 House Sparrow]

1 Raccoon


Kleberg County
4 Turkey Vulture
4 Laughing Gull
2 White-winged Dove
20 Mourning Dove
2 Rock Pigeon
2 Lesser Nighthawk
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
4 Northern Mockingbird
2 Red-winged Blackbird
20 Great-tailed Grackle


Jim Wells County
1 Eastern Screech-Owl


Duval County
1 Pauraque

2 Coyote


McMullen County
30 White-tailed Deer
[dog]


Frio County
1 Great Horned Owl

20 White-tailed Deer


Medina County
25 White-tailed Deer


Bandera County
15 White-tailed Deer
[10 Fallow Deer]


Kerr County
1 Opossum
30 White-tailed Deer

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

REV: National Poetry Month -- Sam Skeist

Kathleen Hudson and i skipped down to San Antonio to the Puro Slam at Sam's Burger Joint with getting-not-so-young-amymore Sam Skeist for a night of words and fun.

Sam's in from Wuhan, China, where he teaches English.

I'll tell the story some other time perhaps, but for now i want everyone with an interest to enjoy Sam's words. He is a talent, period.

I earlier celebrated Naomi Shihab Nye for National Poetry Month. As the month draws to a close, it's time to celebrate Sam.

Some of his work has been posted on my other blog, and i'll be posting more in the next few days, so come back and visit a few times. Some of his older material is also posted at his website and in my ezine, The Black Widow & The Brown Recluse.

Poems posted on my blog vignettes&vendettas

Sam's Website

The Black Widow & The Brown Recluse

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

COM: Pope Benedict XVI

Not my choice, but who am i?

Surely folks did not expect the church to be a leader in progressive politics. Surely we have gotten used to the church being 20-30 years behind society. So there's nothing new in this election.

I think it was partly reward for years in service to John Paul II, with an eye toward electing another in just a few years. I expect no changes, good or bad.

In any case, it's done.

Here's some readings:

Andrew Sullivan (though i won't use the permalinks because there are so many -- this will go to page one, scrol down to where the discussion has ended up and go backwards).

Burnt Orange Report

COM: Pet Peeve #891

Okay, it's making up words because you don't know the correct one.

It's one thing to do it in a student paper, but lately these things are everywhere. Where's an editor who knows English? What's worse is how these words worm their way into the language when their use becomes common, as some of my examples already have. I'm certainly not against new words, or for a dynamic language, but let's add words that ADD something to the language, not ones that simply reflect ignorance of a word that properly does the job.

Here's the recent culprits:

Orientated (used in an online article in a professional journal!). This has acutally been around a long, long time, but it still grates every time i hear it.

From Englishplus.com

Sometimes people in their speech will form an imagined verb from orientation and
say orientate. There is no such word as orientate. The correct word is the verb orient.


But if you Google "orientate" and use the definition link you get:
The verb orientate has one meaning: Meaning #1: determine one's position with reference to another point. Synonym: orient

Aargh! Can you beat Google? I don't know, but use "orient" anyway -- it's the correct word.

Number two this week is Gifted as a verb. As in "He gifted her with a diamond ring."

While this actually does have a nuanced meaning different that the proper "He gave her a diamond ring," it has a pompous and insincere ring to it when the purpose is the opposite.

Apparently, both the Oxford and Webster's Dictionaries allow this usage, although it is usually in reference to a bequeathment. In any case, as I've pointed out before, the usage, at least in American English, is affected and has the sound to me of insincerity opposite to its intent. Use "gave" - it works.

The third was in a wire service story, and was in a direct quote. While an editor might choose to leave a quoted word alone, the speaker was a mathematician. The word was Tabularize.

Again, maybe i'm just an old fuddy-duddy, but when the word "tabulate" does the job why complicate things.

Lastly, and the most grating of all the fingernails-on-chalkboard words of the week is one i've never heard before, again from a wire service story -- Conversate. Like all the others, it's easy to see how this is derived, but please, you converse in a conversation, not conversate. Or maybe you just talk. Lord help us someone would learn to communicate!

And just in case i blew it, and someone wants to quibble, the difference between "its" and "it's" is a Pet Peeve of mine, but mainly because i constantly get them backwards and have to double check every single one. I think my problem is that the addition of apostrophe-s makes everything else possessive except in this one case. So it's always biting me from behind.

Monday, April 18, 2005

ENV: A note about Parulas

Posted to the TexBirds listserv

i wrote several folks offline about this situation, preferring to keep it there, but since it has boiled up on TexBirds i think it best to try some explanation here.

this is part of an ongoing research project so some of what's going on i’m keeping out of the public eye for proprietary reasons. however, i can basically explain what i’ve found and what isn't known. hopefully i will be publishing some of this in the next couple of years.

there are a number of records of Tropical Parulas from the Edwards Plateau dating back 30 years, as others have pointed out. in recent decades a number have been found at the Devil's River SNA as well.

as long ago as the 1970s, i began questioning reports of Northern Parulas on the Edwards Plateau based on heard-only records. the short explanation for this is that i thought i had detected a preference of nesting substrate of Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish Moss) for Northern Parulas and Tillandsia recurvata and Tillandsia baileyi (Ballmoss) for Tropical Parulas. Since Spanish Moss is scarce on the western plateau i surmised that perhaps Tropical Parulas were being passed over and identified as Northerns based on voice only.

i moved to the Edwards Plateau in the mid-1980s and began seeking some of the numerous reported breeding pops of Northern Parulas. i found them only in the eastern part near New Braunfels. i did find populations of Parulas to the west which i could not identify.

then, in 1999 i was scouting a portion of the Devil's River above the SNA and encountered singing parulas. not only did i find Tropicals, but also a number of intermediates. Erik Breden and i returned in 2000 and photographed and recorded several of these birds. we revisited this site several times over the next few years for the same purpose. based on my previous premise, i began examining records, and scouting locations, and looking at birds in more depth. i travelled the length of the state looking at populations. a couple of Erik’s photos of both Northern and Tropicals from these travels can be seen on his page at:

Otterside Photography

from this work i created an index of "Northerness" and "Tropicalness" and began identifying birds based on this scale.

now, let me digress briefly. these are "phenotypic" characters. that means they are artifical characters that humans have sorted out as defning our idea of what Northern and Tropical Parulas "are". These characters may or may not be genetically accurate for determining which is which. that’s to say, perhaps we have picked characters that don’t really fit what the birds themselves are genetically made up of. (for similar confusions you might try checking out the archives of TexBirds, AZ/NM Birds and ID Frontiers for discussions on Pacific-Slope Flycatchers and Cassin’s Vireos).

what that means in a practical birding sense is that: A) rogue eye crescents (to pick an oft-cited example) may be genetically linked to "Northernness" and thus be an absolute indicator that an otherwise good-looking Tropical has Northern genes and is the result of hybridization (or introgression of subspecific isolates) somewhere along the line; or B) it may simply be within the range of variability of pure Tropicals, and thus a bird which otherwise looks Tropical probably is; or C) there are not two species involved but one, and they gradually change from one geographic area to another (clinal variation), and we're looking at quite a few Texas birds as being in this changing regime. the same thing could be said of any other of the characters that we ascribe to being either "Northern" or "Tropical."

the index i constructed used (originally) six characters that could be judged on a phenotypic basis as being either "Northern" or "Tropical". i eventually eliminated a character because it was almost impossible to determine on specimens. so, using five characters i "scored” hundreds of photos, field observations, and specimens of Parulas from the southeast US around to northern South America.

i'll show you some of the results in a minute.

this will not be factually determined until DNA work is complete. i am cooperating with LSU in doing that work, which has not yet gotten off the ground, but i hope does soon.

here's some interesting twists for those who are unaware:

Dr. Ralph Moldenhauer, formerly of Sam Houston State U. had a special interest in Parulas and published that Texas "Tropical" Parulas had songs more similar to "Western" Northern Parulas than "Western" Northern Parulas did to "Eastern" Northern Parulas. [this portion edited after posting to reflect a misconception].


those who have birded southern Mexico can attest that the voice of Tropical Parulas from Southern Mexico have a warbled, melodic song, significantly unlike our "Tropical" Parulas. i have been collecting songs of Tropical Parulas that are showing up as vagrants in Arizona and California, and at least one of those has this melodic-type song.

the key, from a birding standpoint is this. if you want to assure yourself of having seen a Tropical Parula (at least based on the current definition) you should take pains to observe one well, assuring yourself that all the fieldmarks are present is the key. even in summer, just hearing a Parula is no guarantee that it's a Tropical. and at this time of year, Northerns are passing through.

now go to: Parula Project Maps


these maps are the inital construct from my project. i have additional data that has not yet been incorporated, but no data that changes any of the information here.

basically what you’re seeing is that each circle represents a mean, an average, of all the specimens scored from a particular location. a solid white circle would represent a “pure” Tropical Parula in a phenotypic sense. a solid black circle would represent a “pure” Northern. the “pie slices” are indicative of the percentage of the phenotype of each species in that population (note that this is not a genetic percentage – which a) we can’t determine without DNA studies, and for which we have no understanding of whether or not one character may have a stronger phenotypic expression than another – it’s just a measure of the outward characters we see in a population). you can see that far afield of the expected populations many birds may be showing characters that we have defined from the other species. so that in the Tennessee you can find birds with “Tropical” characters and in Venezuela you can find birds with “Northern” characters.

triangles represent either populations of which i know but haven’t yet visited; or populations that can be heard from a distance but cannot be approached close enough to determine. in some cases these have been determined by good observers to be either Tropical or Northern in character, but have not been scored for mapping purposes. FYI, the Travis and Bastrop County county birds are Northern types (Brush Freeman and photos by John Ingram), the Bandera and Edwards County birds are unknown (tg and Kelly Bryan), the Val Verde County birds are both (tg, Mark Lockwood, Kelly Bryan, John Karges), and all the remainder are Tropical types.

you will note that between the South Texas Plain and the East Texas Woodlands there is a basic changeover in “more” Tropical-looking birds and “more” Northern-looking birds; and a similar demarcation between western Edwards Plateau and East Texas Woodland birds.

the southern- and western-most “Northern” appearing birds occur in stands of Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish Moss) at Goliad State Park in Goliad County, and in Spanish Moss along the Guadalupe River at Hill Country State Natural Area on the Comal-Kendall County line. A population of Parulas in the westernmost known stand of Spanish Moss in western Bandera County has never been approachable close enough to observe. recordings are likewise indeterminate.

whether that invalidates the use of these characters for identification purposes or is indicative of hybridization/introgression is what we don’t know, and won’t know for some time.

some last notes, in response to previous posts:

it is clear now that the "normal" breeding ranges of Tropical and Northern Parulas are not thousands of miles apart. there is probably a continuous band of breeding Parulas along the Texas coastal plain, although there is certainly a sort of bottleneck there. Brush i think is right that the Sand Shield population is the largest. the Devil’s River population is rather dense but is limited to a narrow strip on the river, and for a short length of the river (at least as we know it now).

the ID Frontiers and Birdchat discussions are instructive. however, at that time there was little evidence of sympatric populations of birds that could be realistically described as “pure” Tropical and “pure” Northern. we have that now on the Devil’s River and associated drainages. the possibility/probability that the rogue eye-crescents are indicative of hybridization now legitimately presents itself. again, we won’t know for sure until DNA work is complete. and i might remind that such characters might be the result of multiple generations – thus the idea that a mixed nest is needed to prove such a situation is not true, although it would help.

i’m not sure the direction of an “ice age” comment but i suspect it may be in terms of incipient speciation in post-glaciation isolates. if so, it’s also possible that this speciation event is not complete, or that it is reversing due to the construction of hybrid habitats through the influence of man. that’s probably another long dissertation.

as Stevan Hawkins has pointed out, there’s probably a number of other populations that we’ll be finding/learning about as we gain more access to the coastal plain just south of San Antonio, the same as what we’ve learned in recent years about Green Jays and Audubon’s Orioles (see recent discussions on those). i suspect we’ll eventually fill in a lot of gaps for this bird. i don’t recall but possibly Martin Reid has found these at Halff Bros. R.?

and finally, once again i encourage people to make use of the archives when they are seeking info on TexBirds. it really is a goldmine of information. you can find it here:

TexBirds Archives


a large number of people over the years have contributed information or helped in the field on this, including: Erik Breden, Tim Brush, Kelly Bryan, Mark Lockwood, Chuck Sexton, Greg Lasley, Brush Freeman, Chris Sharpe, Barbara Bickel, John Maresh, Craig Farquhar, Dick Payne, Donna Dittmann, Steve Cardiff, Robb Brumfield, John Karges, John Arvin, Eric Carpenter, Stevan Hawkins, are who i remember right off, and i’m sure there are others, but i’m writing this from a location away from my notes.



tony g
hunt, tx, usa



Here are some previous requests i made to TexBirds and various other listservs and outlets.

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON NORTHERN AND TROPICAL PARULAS

I would like to strongly encourage taking time with identifying Parulas, especially outside of the east Texas/coastal Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) zone. Any bird that seems to be setting up territory in woodlands composed only of Ballmoss (Tillandsia recurvata with or without Tillandsia baileyi) should be suspect. I suspect that more than a few Parulas outside the valley/lower coast over the years may have been passed off as Northerns without critical examination. Please get a good look.

I would be interested in any and all Texas reports of these things: 1) Parulas of any stripe that seem to be setting up shop in stands of pure Ballmoss (T. recurvata); 2) Parulas of any stripe that are setting up territories west of the Balcones Fault, south of I-10, or west of the coastal Spanish Moss zone, and away from the lower valley; 3) any Parulas anywhere that seem to have anomalous plumage features (photos and/or recordings of odd birds would be most appreciated); or 4) Parulas that seem to be resident in areas devoid of any species of Tillandsia, including in areas where Usnea lichens seem to be the preferred nesting strata.

Any such information and photos would be useful in a large scale population project i am doing, and you are promised acknowledgment for any contributions.

Folks wishing to be engaged in data collection for the project may also contact me for more information.

I can be reached at

HurricaneTG@hotmail.com

thanks,
tony g
hunt, texas


NOTES ON IDENTIFYING TILLANDSIA and USNEA
I'm going to assume some familiarity with Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides), the long pendulous gray "moss" that hangs from trees, usually in wetter areas and usually associated with oaks. This plant is an epiphyte, a member of the Bromeliad family (sometimes referred to as the Pineapple family), gaining all its nutrients from the air and rain. It is not a parasite, in that it sinks no roots into the tree to "steal" nutrients. It can damage trees however, by becoming so thick as to shade out sunlight, and sometimes becomes so thick that when wet it becomes heavy and breaks off twigs and small limbs. Some consider it a scourge and a spray has been developed to kill it. It is an ideal nesting material for Parulas since it is already pendulous and becomes thick in portions. Parulas burrow into thick mats of it and nest in the pseudo-cavity.


It is found throughout the south and in much of east Texas, though it can be local. South of the Houston area (and a line drawn west along I-10) the occurrence of this plant roughly shrinks to a narrow band along the coast, becoming more and more uncommon and local, until it shrinks from view in the King Ranch area. It appears again in the valley at least as far inland as Bentsen State Park. It is also found in Mexico south into South America.

Ballmoss (Tillandsia recurvata) is a cousin plant with a very different growth pattern. Instead of long pendulous strands (which are leaves) it forms compact tufts of short twisted leaves, rarely exceeding 2 inches in diameter for each plant. They are also epiphytic but not parasitic, though they do firmly attach themselves to bark. Usually associated with oaks as well. They can form dense colonies on limbs and do the shading and weight thing as well. The plant itself has always seemed marginal at best as nesting strata for Parulas, but in the last couple of years we have been finding more and more birds in stands of this. I'm trying to delineate what using this odd habitat fixture may be doing to influence populations of Parulas.

Ballmoss is apparently spreading north through Texas, but is most often associated with riparian woodlands in south Texas and with the Edwards Plateau. But it also occurs in the Trans-Pecos in spots, and overlaps Spanish Moss along the coast and up into the Blackland Prairie and Live Oak belts. It can be found west into Arizona, east into Louisiana, and is also in Florida; and occurs south through Mexico.

Bailey Ballmoss (Tillandsia baileyi) is a rare, rather restricted, species of larger Tillandsia that looks very much like T. recurvata but grows to five inches in diameter, when groups of the plant clump together. It gets larger south into Mexico. It is the only U.S. epiphytic bromeliad not found in Florida besides the common ballmoss and Spanish Moss. Currently in Texas it is known from only three counties -- Kenedy, Cameron and Willacy -- but also possibly occurs in Brooks, Kleberg, and Hidalgo. It's significance is that until the last three years, the only known nesting Tropical Parulas in Texas that were not in Spanish Moss, were in mixed T. baileyi/recurvata and thus we assumed there might be some correlation between the birds and Bailey Ballmoss. We now know that may not be the case.

There are, by the way, about six hundred species of Bromeliads in the genus Tillandsia, and Parulas down through South America may be utilizing other species in the group, though Spanish Moss seems uniquely suited for their purposes, and no other species of Tillandsia has that pendulous structure.

Usnea Lichens are not at all related to the above plants. In fact they are not technically plants at all but mixed growths of a fungus and an algae. There are many mixes of closely related lichens in this group, but the ones of interest are those that grow on smaller limbs of trees (often oaks) and become long and pendulous, similar in nature to Spanish Moss. In fact, that is how Spanish Moss gets its specific epithet usneoides (Usnea-like).

In the northeast, where Spanish Moss is lost (from not being as coldhardy), Usnea becomes the preferred nesting strata for Parulas.

In Texas pendulous Usnea is not very common or prevalent, but it does occur -- we have documented it in our research in at least Trinity, Washington, Newton and Jasper Counties. But in these places there is also abundant Spanish Moss. Our questions here are twofold: are there areas in Texas where Usnea occurs, but not Spanish Moss, and is it then occupied by Parulas; and in places where both "plants" occur, do Parulas sometimes utilize Usnea anyway. There is some evidence from Texas’ premier Parula biologist, Ralph Moldenhauer, that they do. We have no idea how extensive the Texas range of these pendulous lichens may be.

Besides its pendulous nature, Usnea is fairly easy to identify. It is composed of "slivers" of forking matter radiating from plaques that often seem to grow right out of the bark of a tree. They really don't look plant-like at all when closely examined. The flattened "leaves" have no veins, are often pockmarked with what look like moon craters, may be fringed, and terminate in an array of oddball shapes, including little club shapes. The Tillandsia species' leaves are all consistent in shape and roughly in length -- the leaves curl, and have a grayish cast to them. When wet they are green. The Usnea "leaves" almost always have a seafoam green color to them, although they can range from dark green to gray to brown.



Two quick additional notes on the Parula topic.

Chris Benesh wrote and questioned my description of California records of Tropical Parula. He is exactly right. It was a lapsus on my part, related to my receiving recordings of extralimital Northern Parulas from California. Sorry about that.

Note that some genetic work has already been completed and the authors (Lovette and Bermingham) suggest that Tropicala and Northern Parulas are the same species. The full article can be accessed below.

Some references:

Two Song Populations of the Northern Parula by Ralph Moldenhauer

Discrimination Between Regional Song Populations in the Northern Parula by Daniel Regelski and Ralph Moldenhauer

Mitochondrial perspective on the phylogenetic relationships of the Parula Wood-warblers by Irby J. Lovette and Eldredge Bermingham

Moldenhauer, R. R., and D. J. Regelski. 1996. Northern Parula (Parula americana). In The birds of North America, No. 215 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D. C.: The American Ornithologists' Union.

D. J. Regelski, D. J. and R. R. Moldenhauer. 1997. Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi). In The birds of North America, No. 293 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D. C.: The American Ornithologists' Union.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

ENV: Gillespie, Llano Counties 17 April 2005

I was able to go on a day trip with Dan Hardy and a group of about a dozen great folks Sunday at Enchanted Rock State Park. Here's the results. (to be revised as folks send me corrections, updates and additions)

Some pictures are posted here: New Fauna & Flora Project pictures

17 April 2005

TX: Gillespie Co., Enchanted Rock State Park

wide variety of spiders (someone send me a list)

1 assassin bug sp.
+ red ladybird beetle sp.
1 eyed click-beetle sp.

+ yucca leaf beetle sp.

2 cf. tent caterpillar
100+ oak leaf roller caterpillar

1 Pipevine Swallowtail
2 Giant Swallowtail
5 swallowtail sp.
3 Falcate Orangetip
10 Orange Sulphur
12 Sleepy Orange
1 Southern Dogface
20 Dainty Sulphur
1 Checkered White
3 white/sulphur sp.
1 Great Purple Hairstreak
2 Dusky-blue Groundstreak
3 Reakirt’s Blue
4 Red Admiral (+1 cf. caterpillar)
35 California Sister
3 American Lady
12 Painted Lady
3 Variegated Fritillary
25 Common Buckeye
2 Little Wood Satyr
12 Red Satyr
2 Question Mark
2 Monarch
2 Queen
1 Viceroy
4 Common/White Checkered-Skipper
2 Nysa Roadside-Skipper
1 Orange Skipperling
6 Sachem
1 Eufala Skipper
10 skipper sp.
(Yucca Giant-Skipper, 3 empty eggs, remnant evidence)

1 Rambur’s Forktail, Ischnura ramburii
2 Violet Dancer, Argia
fumipennis violacea
1 Blue-ringed Dancer, Argia sedula
1 Pronghorn Clubtail, Gomphus graslinellus (photos, film)
6 clubtail sp.
3 Dot-winged/Stripe-winged Baskettail,
Epitheca petechialis/costalis
4 Variegated Meadowhawk,
Sympetrum corruptum
2 Eastern Common Pondhawk,
Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis

1 Mosquitofish

2 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
1 Rio Grande Leopard Frog

1 Six-lined Racerunner

1 lizard sp.

2 Great Blue Heron
[1 Common Blue Peafowl]
30 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Zone-tailed Hawk
3 Wild Turkey
1 Killdeer
2 Inca Dove
6 Mourning Dove
2 Chimney Swift
4 Black-chinned Hummingbird
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
3 Eastern Phoebe
8 Ash-throated Flycatcher
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
11 Bell’s Vireo
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Western Scrub-Jay
1 Common Raven
6 Barn Swallow
10 Cliff Swallow
4 Cave Swallow (nesting inside restroom through woodpecker hole)
2 Carolina Chickadee
15 Black-crested Titmouse
10 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
2 Northern Mockingbird
1 Cactus Wren
1 Rock Wren
4 Canyon Wren
12 Bewick’s Wren
[6 European Starling]
2 Orange-crowned Warbler
1 Black-and-white Warbler
15 Summer Tanager
1 Canyon Towhee
8 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
4 Chipping Sparrow
4 Field Sparrow
1 LARK BUNTING (male singing at headquarters building)
25 Lark Sparrow
25 Northern Cardinal
2 Blue Grosbeak
1 Painted Bunting
12 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 Orchard Oriole(male)
6 House Finch
1 Lesser Goldfinch

2 Fox Squirrel

plants (the botanists on the trip likely identified many more species than this

– i hope they’ll send me a list)

*=blooming

Rock Fern, Cheilanthes lindhemeri
large variety of ferns
Ashe Juniper, Juniperus ashei
Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum

lots of grasses (someone send me a list)
Ball Moss, Tillandsia recurvata
Granite Spiderwort, Tradescantia pedicellata*
Western Spiderwort,
Tradescantia occidentalis*
Wild Onion, Allium canadense v. canadense*
Plains-type Yucca, Yucca constricta complex
Sacahuista, Nolina texana*
Rain-lily, Cooperia pedunculata*
Greenbriar, Smilax sp.
Chickweed, Stellaria media*
Large Buttercup, Ranunculus macranthus*
Two-flower Anemone, Anemone edwardsiana*
Black Willow, Salix nigra v. nigra
Texas Black Hickory, Carya texana*
Post Oak sp., Quercus stellata complex*
Blackjack Oak, Quercus marilandica
Plateau Live Oak, Quercus fusiformis*
Texas Red Oak, Quercus buckleyi
Scalybark Oak, Quercus sinuata (durandii) v. breviloba
Cedar Elm,
Ulmus crassifolia
Flameleaf Sumac, Rhus lanceolata
Texas Persimmon,
Diospyros texana
Texas Sugarberry, Celtis laevigata
Agarita, Berberis trifoliolata
White Prickly-poppy, Argemone albiflora*
Scrambled Eggs, Corydalis curvisiliqua*
Rock Cress, Arabis petiolaris*
Peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum*
Yellow Stonecrop, Sedum nuttallianum
Blanco Crabapple, Pyrus ioensis v. texana*
Escarpment Black Cherry, Prunus serotina v. eximia
Pink Mimosa, Mimosa borealis*
Eve’s Necklace, Sophora affinis

Mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa
Texas Bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis*
Yellow Flax, Linum hudsonioides*
Bull Nettle, Cnidoscolus texanus*
Texas Buckeye, Aesculus argula*
Mexican Buckeye, Ungnadia speciosa
Winecup, Callirhoe involucrata v. involucrata*
Sida, Sida filicaulis*
Orange Prickly-pear, Opuntia macrorhiza*
Engelmann’s Prickly-pear, Opuntia engelmannii*
Tasajillo, Opuntia leptocaulis
Lace Cactus, Echinocereus reichnebachii*
Claret Cup Cactus, Echinocereus triglochidiatus*
Beggar’s Ticks, Torilis arvensis*
Antelope-Horns, Asclepias asperula*
Hierba de Zizotes, Asclepias oenotherioides
Dodder, Cuscuta sp.
Drummond Phlox, Phlox drummondii v. mcallisteri*
Texas Vervain, Verbena halei*
Beebrush, Aloysia gratissima*
Drummond’s Skullcap, Scutellaria drummondi*
Monkeyflower, Mimulus glabratus*
[Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus*]
Texas Paintrbush, Castilleja indivisa*
Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
Rusty Blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum*
Venus’ Looking-Glass, Triodanis perfoliata*
Sticky Granite-Daisty, Heterotheca stenophylla*
Dwarf White Aster, Chaetopappa bellidifolia*
Mexican Hat, Ratibida columnaris*
Indian Blanket, Gaillardia pulchella*
Pincushion Daisy, Gaillardia suavis*
Brown Bitterweed, Helenium badium*
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium*
Texas Groundsel, Senecio ampullaceous*
Malta Star-Thistle, Centaurea melitensis*
Musk Thistle, Carduus nutans*
Texas Thistle, Cirsium texanum*


TX: Kerr Co., Rio Vista

many moth sp.

1 Great Blue Heron
[2 Common Blue Peafowl]
2 Wild Turkey
1 Great Horned Owl
1 Eastern Screech-Owl
2 Chuck-Will’s-Widow
2 White-winged Dove
1 Mourning Dove
1 Ash-throated Flycatcher
2 Great Crested Flycatcher
4 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
2 Carolina Wren
1 Bewick’s Wren
1 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Carolina Chickadee

[3 Axis Deer]
10 White-tailed Deer

[captives: chickens, Golden Pheasant, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ringed Turtle-Dove, Red Kangaroo, Mountain Coatimundi, Spanish Goat, Miniature Horse]

TX: Kerr Co., Ingram, Kerrville, TX 16 to Gillespie Co. line

1 cormorant sp.
[1 Black Swan]
2 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
[3 Mallard]
1 Turkey Vulture
1 Chimney Swift
[1 Eurasian Collared-Dove]
2 White-winged Dove
2 Barn Swallow
2Northern Rough-winged Swallow
4 Carolina Chickadee
[4 European Starling]
1 Northern Mockingbird
3 Northern Cardinal
56 Great-tailed Grackle
[8 House Sparrow]

[+dog]
[+cat]
3 White-tailed Deer

TX: Gillespie Co., TX 16 from Kerr Co. line to Llano Co. line, Fredericksburg

10 Turkey Vulture
18 Black Vulture
[+ chickens]
1 American Kestrel
3 Mourning Dove
15 White-winged Dove
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
7 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
15 Cliff Swallow
1 Purple Martin
[17 European Starling]
1 American Robin
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Northern Cardinal
8 Great-tailed Grackle
[6 House Sparrow]

[+ goat: Boer]
[+ sheep: Suffolk, MediumWool, Barbados]
[+ cattle: Black Angus, Black Baldy, Hereford]
[+ horse: Shetland Pony]


TX: Llano Co., TX 16 and road to Enchanted Rock State Park

6 Turkey Vulture
1 Zone-tailed Hawk
2 Red-tailed Hawk
2 Mourning Dove
3 Scissor-tailed Flyctatcher
30 Cave Swallow
1 Common Raven
1 Bell’s Vireo
1 Bewick’s Wren
3 Northern Mockingbird
1 Black-crested Titmouse
2 Northern Cardinal
3 Brown-headed Cowird

[+ Cattle: Black Baldy, Hereford, Limousin, Santa Gertrudis]



Saturday, April 16, 2005

COM: Pet Peeve #642

This is one in which today i give some halfway kudos to The Associated Press for coming close to getting something right that mainstream media NEVER get right.

It has to do with the proper use of biological nomenclature. There's not a taxonomist in the world that can't tell you silly stories about media getting this wickedly wrong.

I worked for newspapers for a total of about 12 years and i could convince only one editor to let me do things properly. So, for a short time, The Kerrville Mountain Sun got things right -- in my articles or outside articles that i edited. Kudos to the then Sun, which shortly after i got there was sold to a couple of idiots who thought it was a cash cow and promptly milked it into oblivion. Now it's a sellout ad rag for the local daily, a disgusting waste.

But i digress. In today's story about some slime-mold beetles and the slimy pseudo-biologists who shamed the beetles with the names they placed on them, The AP (via CNN) came close to getting the scientific names rendered correctly.

Here's what they did right -- they capitalized the genus and lower-cased the specific epithet. They even added the authors' names, which is not a requirement for usage, but helps in synonymy.

Here's where they didn't quite get there: in context the name should always be italicized; and the authors' names are not part of the species' name though they claim so by using the IUCZN as an authority (which they are -- the authority, but . . .).

The problem is in the use of what's know as a stylebook. The various wire-services publish stylebooks to lend consistency to the periodically printed word. In the old days it was something of a battle as to whether your paper used the AP or the UPI stylebook.

In either case, no allowances were made for biological convention. No matter how hard i tried to explain, as a biologist myself, that there was no leeway for some paper editor to change the International Rules of Zoological Nomenclature, somehow they managed to anyway.

The italics thing is only the frosting on the cake, the tip of the iceberg. That i could live with (if begrudgingly), and is why i'm cutting AP some slack here. Eds always insisted on either A) capitalizing both the genus and specific epithet (heresy!), or B) lower-casing both (the inanity!). I was embarrassed no end.

These days, i still cringe when i see mistakes like this in the media. Today i was pleased to see The AP got this right, even if the nincompoop biologists provided their own sordid embarrassment.

I should note too that AP eds must've felt so out-of-sorts with having to print a scientific name correctly (after probably nixing some poor reporter's accurate use of italics) that they devoted an entire paragraph to explaining why the name was written as it was (which they goofed on in some part).

Editors, get it right. Accuracy is accuracy, even if you don't like the way it looks, even if it's not in your stylebook, and even if you're going to screw up everything else.

Here's the story.

ENV: Kerr County, 16 April 2005

West Kerr County, 16 April 2005 – for filming and photography purposes
Locations include: Rio Vista, Cherry Spring Ranch Crossing, Kerr WMA (east side)

Some pictures are posted at: Recent Fauna Project Pictures

[brackets] indicate introduced, feral, exotic, free-ranging, or captive animals

150 Comal Springsnail, Elimia comalensis comalensis (both forms)
3 Ash Gyro, Gyraulus parvus
6 White Globesnail, Helicina orbiculata

[100+ Honeybee]

1 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Red-spotted Purple
2 Red Admiral
3 Variegated Fritillary
3 Northern Cloudywing
1 Funereal Duskywing
1 Dun Skipper

2 Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
2 Smoky Rubyspot, Hetaerina titia
5 Aztec Dancer, Argia nahuana
3 Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda
1 cf. Dot-winged/Stripe-winged Baskettail, Epitheca costalis.petechicalis
11 Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia

200 Mosquitofish

5 Cliff Chirping Frog
13 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
1 Strecker’s Chorus Frog
1 Rio Grande Leopard Frog

[+ geese (Emden)]
12 Turkey Vulture
[3 Common Peafowl]
7 Wild Turkey
3 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Common Poorwill
2 Chuck-Will’s-Widow
1 Inca Dove
8 Mourning Dove
14 White-winged Dove
31 Black-chinned Hummingbird
4 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 poss. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Eastern Phoebe
4 Ash-throated Flycatcher
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
9 Barn Swallow
10 Purple Martin
1 Common Raven
2 Western Scrub-Jay
2 Black-capped Vireo
3 White-eyed Vireo
[40 European Starling]
1 Carolina Wren
3 Bewick’s Wren
11 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Carolina Chickadee
4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
2 Eastern Bluebird
1 Black-and-White Warbler
1 Yellow-throated Warbler
3 Summer Tanager
7 Northern Cardinal
1 Canyon Towhee
6 Field Sparrow
5 Lark Sparrow
1 Common Grackle
1 Great-tailed Grackle

[1 Nutria]
[1 Feral Cat]
[+ dogs]
1 Ringtail Cat
44 White-tailed Deer
[40 Axis Deer]
[12 Blackbuck]
[+ cattle (Texas Longhorn, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, Glebvieh)]
[+ goats (Spanish)]
[+ horses (Arabian, Quarterhorse, Miniature)]
[+ donkeys (Miniature)]

[+ captives (Red Kangaroo, Mountain Coatimundi, Ringed Turtle-Dove, Golden Pheasant, Mallard, Ring-necked Pheasant, Chickens)]

ENV: Two national taxonomy stories!

Yesterday we had the Golden Palace Monkey garbage. Of course, on that, the IUCZN has ruled on the scientific name, and it's basically fine except for the sleaze involved. However, the committee has no oversight over the common name, which i'm hoping the scientific and amateur communities reject outright in publication. The monkey can't be copyrighted, patented or trademarked -- at least not yet.

Unless, the scientific community kisses up to politicians the way today's story tells. If so, who knows what might happen.

In today's story two British (lousy excuse) biologists named three beetles for three of the US's top three morons in office. On the surface it's disgusting. I was hoping it was an inside joke based on the fact that the three critters were slime-mold beetles. It's a shame they weren't just slime-molds. Or based on the idea that the three bugs were evolutionary products of some primordial slime-mold eater. But it looks not . . .


"We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their
convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of
living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the
expedient or popular," he said.


Oh, the horror, the horror.

However, seeing that the bugs will now forever carry the epithets bushii, cheneyi and rumsfieldi, i feel a certain resignation and sadness washing across me.

You'd get it if some big company named a shoddy product after the three, but biologists!? Is there no shame anymore.

All i can say is that the once proud and honorable profession of systematics has taken a double hit in the last couple of days and must dig out of these dark, dark times.

Read the two crappy announcements here:

Slime-mold beetles named for US politicians fromCNN

Golden Palace Casino buys monkey name from MSNBC

Update, 15 June 2005: Here's two posts that further comment on the naming of the beetles . . .

From Pharyngula

From Seago and Seago

Friday, April 15, 2005

OBT: Sumner Dana

This just in from Sheridan Coffey:

This past Wednesday morning Sumner Dana, well known bird bander from San Antonio, passed away after a short battle with liver cancer. There will be a memorial service for him on Wednesday April 20th at the Hill Country Church, 8800 Broadway, Suite 225, San Antonio, TX, 78217 at 7:00PM.

Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio

Followed later by this from Jeannette Scott

This email is from a great soul and kind person who replied to my email. I thank this person for sharing their thoughts: "Sumner Dana was a person who, among many other things, worked tirelessly banding birds at Mitchell Lake. Anyone who worked with him knew the extent of his dedication and could feel his excitement when banding birds. He was an excellent teacher. I had the privilege of banding with him and learned a great deal from him. He will be sorely missed."


So, from me:

Sumner was one of those wise old hands when Kelly Bryan and i started banding in the early 70s, and soon thereafter we, plus another half-dozen interested folks formed the Texas Bird Banders Association. Sumner was always the "Mr. Helpful" of our group, seemingly wanting to make sure that everyone learned and got hands-on experience rather than worry about his own objectives. I know he's done the same in the San Antonio area the past few years, showing a lot of folks hand-held birds they might not ever see so close otherwise. He also made it possible for a lot of folks to enter the grossly-restricted and thus underbirded Mitchell Lakes. He was just into birding altruism and we're all richer for it.

So, i hope his spirit passes a few lifers on its way to wherever it might end up. Thanks for the knowledge Sumner.

tg

ENV: Octomom

Pacific Giant Octopus hatches a crop from CNN

REV: Veeeeeeewwy nice!

Okay i guess this cool thing started over at The Onion AV Club. You know them, don't you. Well, Crooked Timber picked it up and threw his own pics in the mix.

Check 'em all out --

Bad Scenes in Great Movies

Great Scenes in Bad Movies

The Crooked Timber Couple

ENV: Oh crap!

Selling the names of newly discovered species has become de rigeur for raising money to protect the almost instantly endangered new taxa (why else did it take so long to "discover" them -- they're isolated and rare . . .). And it was a novel and fine twist . . . until it took on the albatross of product placement.

This is just too much for staid me. From MSNBC.

COM: Okay here's how i do this

I got an email from a friend today, a half-joking email, but one i took seriously. The question was asked: how in the world do you keep up with all those blogs (on my blogroll)? Well, of course i don't.

I'm kind of an addicted link collector for one. I use them as my own private favorites list in a way. When i want to find something i know where it is.

To get on my blogroll, this has to happen: a) you sparked my interest with something you wrote; b) you're a friend of mine; c) your politics match mine; d) you linked to me or cited me in your blog; or e) you paid me lots of money.

Ignoring the fact that (e) hasn't happened yet (in fact not even a little money); and ignoring the fact that i'm morally opposed to accepting cash for blogging; let's just say that most blogs on my roll actually have some combination of those things going for them.

So, no i don't track them all the time. I do try to get to each of them on some kind of regular basis, but i actually read about 6 to a dozen a day (on a goodly day).

So what i thought i'd do here is compile a kind of favorites list -- these are the blogs that i visit daily or nearly so. They are in two groups -- politics and everything else. They are my must reads. I hope my friends aren't offended, but you guys need to post more, i can catch up on most of your blogs by reading them once a week.

P.s., if you're thinking about checking these out, and you find out in the first couple that my politics don't lean your way, you might want to just skip the rest.

Go to the link in my blogroll to the left . . .


Well dang, never-dang-mind. That was a horrible exercise. Basically, if it's in my blogroll over there then it has something good going for it. I can't believe how many blogs i read regularly, and how many are so dang good! I'm embarrassed . . . that list i was making just got huge . . . so i am abandoning it.

Instead here is a sampling of pure eye and brain candy (with little politics, although plenty of culture wars). . . i hope this offers something a little different than your usual reading.


Orcinus
artsyscience
Overheard in New York
Pharyngula
afarensis
Family Scholars Blog
GreenCine Daily
Language Log
Majorly English
Rashomon
U.S. National Soccer Team Players blog

Okay, okay, enough, i gotta quit before i add everything again . . .

ENV: Kiss me

I've long held (and argued for in the most inhospitable enclaves) that babies, every dang one of them, are just flat ugly. We only put up with them because they're helpless. I also maintain that everyone (and i mean this in the superficial sense, not the old "inside" sense) has a period of at least a few years, sometime between baby and middle age, when they are absolutely and truly beautiful.




So then, Rising Hegemon, pouring it on on critter/catter Friday, puts up this picture of a baby Aye-Aye Lemur (which means it's a primate so your own comparisons may be legit depending on which side you butter your bible). It certainly proves the first point -- adult Aye-Ayes are purty durn u-g-l-y-you-ain't-got-no-alibi. But Holy Smokes, this little one, well, it's frightening. When its short time of beauty is coming i don't know, but i think it might well be very brief. Thanks to Atrios at Eschaton for the link!

ATH: If only . . .

Okay the stunt that caused this was stupid, and an example of the way things have become in athletic culture. As a longtime coach however, what i would have given for the punishment received . . . from MSNBC

ENV: More cetaceans in the news . . .

It's a Whopper. Well a halfer gives birth to a three-quarterser . . . from CNN

ENV: Not-really-a-Cat-Friday

I guess i need to explain myself to my friends who don't get this weekly thing of mine. There is a blog addiction where bloggers post weekly pictures of their cats on Fridays. Check out the Carnival of Cats and the Friday Ark posts at The Modulator.

I guess a LOT of bloggers have cats. Is that some commentary on the social regimes of bloggers?

Anyway, i don't have cats. I don't have A cat. I don't really want a cat. I like cats as long as they belong to other people.

I do like jaguarundis, ocelots, pumas (cougars, panthers, mountain lions or whatever you wanna call them), jaguars, bobcats and assorted wild felines (the ones listed are native to Texas, of course) -- and the huge collection of snow leopards at the San Antonio Zoo (i know, i know, but when is my fat self going to climb the Himalayas?).

Anyway, since i have no cats, i post some other not-really-a-cat as my cat on Fridays. The Modulator compiles the non-cats as well as the cats, so we get a nice link and some surfers coming to check it out.

My pictures have included wire-service Philippine Tarsier and Sumatran Orangutans (cause i like primates among other things), and our own homeplace Kinkajou and Red Kangaroo. I plan from now on to feature my critters or local wildlife (which i already post quite a few of) and hope that the cool stuff gets picked up.

So, this week's critter is one that is yet unidentified (i'll fix it when possible).

Travis Tidwell, a student from the University of Texas, was here yesterday to continue his work on the life history of Comanche Dancer (Argia barretti), a bright blue damselfly that lives on the river here. While he was netting for larva he pulled up a couple larvae of a Macromiid dragonfly. Well, that's a critter i've never yet seen in the county, so i took pictures for documentation.

The youngsters are now in the lab at UT awaiting specific determination by the venerable Odonatologist and larval identifier Dr. John Abbott, who will then inform me of their identity. Until then the best i can do is label this dude as a Cruiser in the genus Macromia.

And it's the biggest danged odonate larva i've seen. I also got some serious film of it for my documentary Ode to a River.







Cruiser species, Macromia sp.
Rio Vista, Kerr County, Texas, 14 April 2005


Some other critters from yesterday . . .





unidentified white moth sp.
backlit above, with flash below
Rio Vista, Kerr County, Texas, 14 April 2005


unidentified green moth sp.
backlit above, with flash below
Rio Vista, Kerr County, Texas, 14 April 2005



an oddly patterned Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda
Rio Vista, Kerr County, Texas, 14 April 2005





ENV: Kerr County, 14 April 2005

Posted to TexOdes, TexBirds and TX-Butterfly

Travis Tidwell, a University of Texas student (under John Abbott) visited here yesterday to continue work on the life history of Comanche Dancer, Argia barretti. Though we saw no adults, he gathered a number of larvae which may prove to be A. barretti. He also caught two large larvae of a Macromia sp. for which i’ll post a specific ID later. Here’s the list of stuff that was around during his visit, plus my early morning and later afternoon work.

Several of the Kiowa Dancers i found i considered to be oddly patterned (positive ID by Abbott). Pictures are posted, with pics also of the Macromia, are at my recent Kerr fauna page.

TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista Crossing on Cade Loop, 14 April 2005

50 Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda (photos)
2 Violet Dancer, Argia fumipennis violacea
40 Blue-ringed Dancer, Argia sedula
1 Powdered Dancer, Argia moesta
3 Aztec Dancer, Argia nahuana
1 Neotropical Bluet, Enallagma novaehispaniae
200 Smoky Rubyspot, Hetaerina titia
80 American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana
6 Springtime Darner, Basiaeschna janata (film)
2 Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Brechmorhoga mendax (film)
1 cf. Dot-winged Baskettail, Epitheca cf. petechialis
1 ad/2 lv Cruiser sp., Macromia sp. (photos, film)
1 Gomphid sp.

large emergence of small mayflies

1 white moth sp. (photos)
1 green moth sp. (photos)

2 Orange Sulphur
20 Lyside Sulphur
1 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Gray Hairstreak
1 American Lady
1 Painted Lady
1 Phaon Crescent
1 Variegated Fritillary
1 Queen

1 sucker sp.
10 Common Carp
2 Bluegill
1 Largemouth Bass
4 Guadalupe Bass
100 Mosquitofish
200 Black-tailed Shiner
100 Pugnose Minnow

20 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

12 Turkey Vulture
8 Black Vulture
1 Great Blue Heron
1 Zone-tailed Hawk
2 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Killdeer
1 Eastern Screech-Owl
1 Great Horned Owl
40 White-winged Dove
8 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Green Kingfisher
1 Eastern Phoebe
4 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
2 Great Crested Flycatcher
10 Purple Martin
1 American Robin
2 Carolina Chickadee
4 Black-crested Titmouse
2 Common Bushtit
2 Yellow-throated Warbler
1 Black-and-White Warbler
1 Summer Tanager
1 House Finch
20 Great-tailed Grackle
1 Red-winged Blackbird

1 Racoon
30 White-tailed Deer
80 Axis Deer

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

ENV: Cetaceans in the news

Still trying to save several Rough-toothed Dolphins from last month's Keys stranding (from CNN)

And a Beluga stray in the Delaware River has brought out the ogling masses (also from CNN)

MSC: Slow week

I've posted little this week and will continue at least through the weekend as i've a major project at work to finish (yearbook!). Filming is ongoing, and i've got a few trips lined up in the next few weeks (ah Spring!). So i'll try to keep some links coming, and a few pictures, and a little news, but otherwise things will be trickling in.

tg

ATH: That Tiger Woods win

Relive it here through Jaffe Juice in a mockup ad for Nike.

COM: On One-act Play

Just scouting around the UIL brackets and i noticed that two AAA schools going to area are Whitney and Hutto! Just a luck thing. Also advancing from A conference is Medina . . . see you at state.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

ENV: A favorite ode

One of my favorite odonates:

COM: Some things we miss

Some things i think the average American just completely misses . . .

Halliburton drops the ball from The New York Times

Marburg Virus in Angola from The New York Times

Stupid Health Idiots from CNN

Embarrasments to the Democratic Party from CNN

Monday, April 11, 2005

COM: Some vindication

Some vindication in the aftermath of mass arrests at the Republican National Convention.

ENV: Kerr County fauna, early April 2005

I made a trip to the Kerr WMA yesterday (actually just down the road from me) to do some filming. Was not really in search of specific critters. Most of my filming was at a small, half-dry pond, and a number of critters were coming to mud there. Not many odes. Birds and leps were decent. The list below is complete for Kerr WMA on the 10th. I’ve also appended some other few things from recent dates that may be of interest. Listed posted to TexBirds, TexButterflies and TexOdes listservs.

Pictures of recent area fauna are posted at: Recent Fauna Pictures



* * * *
Kerr Wildlife Management Area, Kerr County, 10 April 2005

1 Pipevine Swallowtail
6 Orange Sulphur
10 Lyside Sukphur
1 Southern Dogface
1 Eastern Tailed-Blue (new for me in Kerr County; photographed, filmed)
1 Reakirt’s Blue
3 Variegated Fritillary
5 Red Admiral
1 American Lady
1 Goatweed Leafwing
20 California Sister
3 Monarch
2 Red Satyr
1 Northern Cloudywing
1 Dun Skipper
1 Fiery Skipper
1 Orange Skipperling

10 Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
25 Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia
3 Eastern Common Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis


2 Ash Gyro, Gyraulus parvus

20 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
2 Strecker’s Chorus Frog
2 Rio Grande Leopard Frog

1 Great Blue Heron
4 Turkey Vulture
10 Black Vulture
20 Wild Turkey
10 White-winged Dove
30 Mourning Dove
2 Inca Dove
2 Black-chinned Hummingbird
2 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
6 Ash-throated Flycatcher
2 Eastern Phoebe
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
6 Purple Martin
30 Barn Swallow
4 Common Raven
2 Western Scrub-Jay
5 Black-crested Titmouse
1 White-eyed Vireo
11 Black-capped Vireo
6 Bewick’s Wren
10 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 American Robin
2 Northern Mockingbird
20 Cedar Waxwing
1 Yellow-throated Warbler
2 Summer Tanager
10 Northern Cardinal
1 Blue Grosbeak
1 Spotted Towhee
6 Rusfous-crowned Sparrow
2 Cassin’s Sparrow
15 Field Sparrow
1 Chipping Sparrow
3 Vesper Sparrow
16 Lark Sparrow

8 White-tailed Deer
1 Black-tailed Jackrabbit

* * * *
Ingram Dam Lake, Kerr County, 5 April 2005
3 Little Blue Heron

* * * *
Rio Vista, Kerr County, 5 April 2005
4 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
1 Checkered White
1 American Lady

1 American Rubyspot,
Hetaerina americana
1 cf. Dot-winged Baskettail, Epitheca costalis

* * * *
Rio Vista, Kerr County, 6 April 2005
1 Cecropia Moth
1 Walnut Moth

2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (1 yellow, 1 black)

1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 Yellow-throated Warbler

* * * *
Rio Vista, Kerr County, 7 April 2005
1 Sleepy Orange
1 Dainty Sulphur
2 Monarch

2 American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana
1 Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda

1 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
2 Yellow-throated Warbler
2 House Finches (of different voice than the locals; several years running i’ve had this occur in spring migration)

* * * *
Ingram Dam Lake, Kerr County, 7 April 2005
1 Dainty Sulphur
6 Bordered Patch
12 Pearl Crescent

2 cf. Dot-winged Baskettail, Epitheca costalis
2 Common Whitetail,
Plathemis lydia
1 Eastern Common Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis

1 Spotted Sandpiper

* * * *
Rio Vista, Kerr County, 8 April 2005
1 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Southern Dogface
1 Red Admiral
2 Monarch

15 American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana
1 Kiowa Dancer,
Argia immunda
1 Powdered Dancer, Argia moesta
1 gomphid sp.
2 cf. Dot-winged Baskettail, Epitheca costalis
1 Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Brechmorhoga mendax

1 Green Kingfisher
2 Great Crested Flycatcher
2 Yellow-throated Warbler
4 American Goldfinch

* * * *
Rio Vista, Kerr County, 9 April 2005
2 Downy Woodpecker
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 Yellow-throated Vireo

* * * *
Hunt, Kerr County, 10 April 2005
6 American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana
2 Comanche Dancer, Argia barretti (FOS)

200 Cliff Swallow

200 Axis Deer in open field under storm

* * * *
Ingram, Kerr County, 11 April 2005
1 Zone-tailed Hawk
1 Yellow-throated Warbler


* * * *


MSC: Back online

Well, first Blogger went kaput and i spent a very frustrating Thursday evening trying to get on. Then my cable went down and has just now been repaired.

I have lots of catching up to do as the day wears on.

The best news is that the Ingram Tom Moore High School thespians won again! They picked up an advancing play award at Area competition in Wimberley on Saturday and will next appear at Regionals in Kingsville on Thursday, April 21. That's one step away from competing for the state championship. Congrats. More later.

I'll probably backdate some things to get them where they should be.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

ENV: New Kerr County bug for me

Today at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area i was able to film and photograph an Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas), a species new for me for the county. There are previous records for Kerr County as represented on the USGS-NPWC website and on my own website The Fauna and Flora of Kerr County, Texas.

Here's a photo of the critter:

Saturday, April 09, 2005

ITM: Onward to Regionals

The thespianites from Ingram Tom Moore left the competition smoking like witch's brew in a cauldron on Saturday as they once again advanced a level with The Crucible. They will be competing next in Kingsville on Thursday, April 21 at regional competition, just one step away from state.

Wimberley is the other advancing crew with their production of The Beggar's Opera. Followers will note that these are the same two schools which advanced from District 27! And The Beggar's Opera, while good before, was improved this go-round. The directors quite obviously made some changes after the last judge commented on characterization, and those changes improved the flow and believability. They're going to be improved again at Regionals and remain the toughest competition for Ingram (and they have a fantastic theatre, with a foyer heavy with plaques and pictures from their long history of excellence).

While there was not (strangely in my opinion) a repeat of the Best Actor nod for Jonah Priour, four members of the ITM cast received honors, three of them for the first time this year. Jonah was named to the All-Star cast as was Aaron Hutto. John Ferguson and Meggie Nidever were named Honorable Mention.

The Best Actor award went to Shane Goins from Marion High School for his portrayal of Charles in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. Best Actress was awarded (most deservingly) to Helyn Messenger for her portrayal of Mrs. Peachum in Wimberley's The Beggar's Opera.

While the District 27 competition was stronger overall in my opinion, there were some nice moments on Saturday. Other competitors included Carrizo Springs' A Typically Typical Day in which a flag, a snake and a mop bucket stole the show; Devine's The Traveling Lady by Horton Foote (which, incidentally was a specialty of the judge), and which had a couple of outstanding performances by Dillon Burleson as Slim Murray and Haylee Wells as Georgette Thomas; Marion's Blithe Spirit, which in addition to Goins had fine performances by Lindsey Hattaway as Elvira, and Elizabeth Birkenfeld as Edith; and Lytle's A Company of Wayward Saints, which featured some fine actors, but an awkward cutting and blocking of the play (IMHO) -- kudos to Daniel Cate as Scapino, Monique Wimberly as Colombine, and Matt Ellison as Pantalone.

The Crucible was a smoking performance, topped only by the performance at District and last Thursday's hometown show. The adrenaline was high and everyone was pretty much dead on. If there was anything to grouse about, it was that occasionally there was too much adrenaline. That's a nice problem to have.

John Ferguson and Cadi Hawkins in particular had a magical moment in the scene where Reverend Hale confronts Mary Warren about the making of the poppit. Not once before in 30 or so rehearsals/performances i've seen have they so captured that moment.

Patrick Wade did an especially nice job as Reverend Parris -- he gets better every show. Gary Givens was his usual stout Judge Hathorne. He is easily the easiest to conjure up as someone of advanced age in this cast.

Whitney Wilson was Tituba-plus on Saturday. I don't believe there is another actor at ITM who could handle that role as well as she does.

I personally think it's a shame that Lillian Beaudoin doesn't get the recognition she should for her Abigail Williams. I honestly think she is deserving of a Best Actress award, but i'm afraid that her not being onstage throughout the show limits her chances. She has truly mastered the character.

Finally, i'd like to mention some of the actors who routinely turn in outstanding performances but about whom we rarely hear -- Mindy Cox, Allyson Widener, Suzanne Attridge, Mikaela Lewis, Jeff Widener, and Anthony Goodman all have had a great run.

Gary Givens, who is a member of the cast, has his own blog at www.gtgivens.com. From that i find out the following other regional competitors:

Needville -MacBeth
Aransas Pass -The Miss Firecracker Contest
La Feria -The Miracle Worker
Zapata -Medea