Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cloud Forest Ambitions

This brief dream involved birding with a long-time, non-birding, friend - Brian. We were in a tropical setting replete with beautiful towering canopy trees. It was sunny for the duration, but it may have just rained, as water was dripping all around. Wherever this place was, curiously, it had cement paved trails - how convenient.

Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea)
Image online here

Brian noticed something in the undergrowth, just off the path. I never saw the bird, but I quickly and eagerly announced that it might be a Giant Antpitta. He only saw the bird, briefly, and by the time we got into the underbrush for a better look it was gone. His description of what he saw did sound right for some kind of antpitta.  For the record, and to my dismay, I had binoculars in this one... *sigh*. Reminder: in the vast majority of my bird dreams I do not have binos and am able to examine birds as closely as I wish at will. No fuss no muss!

Cosmopolitan birders will have deduced by now that in order to see this bird in the wild, I would have to be on the western slopes of the mountains of northern Ecuador, most likely. There are additional small populations in similar cloud forest environs of extreme southern Colombia. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

"Window of Words" - A Poem by J. "Kyron" Hanson

From what horizon do

these dreambirds wing?
Thoughts of possibility
and hope they bring.
Their presence always breeds
cheer and wonder.
They need no star's glint for
blazing color.

Through maze of angst and drear
they sing and sing.
What do time's worries mean
to them? Nothing.
Their stories and travels
no page can hold.
Bringing light to darkness,
turning fear bold.

They defy mere legends,
bring Truth to lore.
Whether Finch or Raven
quoth - "Nevermore!"
Imagination turn'd
Phoenix in sleep;
It is they who reveal us
our Souls to keep.

All mysteries enshroud
their to and fro.
"Wing'd Blessings" - angels
deem apropos.

Print nor speech increase
their mien a whit.
Quiet reverie's best -
receive and sit.

Whether fortune or luck
which bring them here;
Whether 'tis chance or Fate -
we do not care.

Yea, a dreambird's feathers
heal trouble's blight.
I thank God for you, one
and all, each night.

Copyright 2009 - J. Kyron Hanson

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't Ya Hate It When This Happens?

I was birding in the riparian forest at Hornsby Bend (see previous post here). I was there to create a daylist for the GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count) - which actually did just take place this Feb. 13-16th.

Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
Image online here

Zounds! There were sounds in this dream! Yet another first for my entire dreambirding "career". I heard two or three different call notes from warblers high up in the Pecan trees. One call was clearly an Orange-crowned Warbler. Another remained unidentified, while the last turned out to be a male Black-throated Green Warbler.

Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens) - adult male
Image online here

Just then, Rob Fergus showed up - "The Birdchaser" himself!  He and I were active in the Austin birding community when he and his family lived here... but I digress. We chatted for a bit as we were always wont to do. We then walked back to our cars. Except, mine was not there any more!?!

Rob, being the generous guy he is, gave me a ride home; and stuck around for a while in case I needed further help. Thanks Rob! Almost immediately after arriving, I got a phone call on the landline. It was the couple who stole my car! They were in great spirits - even sounding amused. They very casually asked a $25,000 ransom for my car. This is exquisitely hilarious if you've seen my trusty little ruby-red '93 Geo Prizm - only 150k miles.

In the dream, I was not in good humor about any of this and I verbally unloaded on these miscreants. Sorry you had to witness that side of me Rob. Next thing I know my car is in the driveway. Whatever works sometimes, eh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Alex Jones Was There

Bull Creek - a typical creekside in a preserve; Austin, TX.   
Image online here

The setting was a preserve, encompassing a creek, in the Austin, TX area. This was easy to determine as there was a canopy of deciduous trees replete with dense understory. Throughout most of Austin, if you are out for a hike, Ashe-Juniper and Live Oak dominate the forests.  Very little grows under junipers.

Hiking in the much of the Hill Country, in and about Austin, TX looks a lot like this if you're not near running water.

What passed for footpaths were overgrown from the waist down. Dozens of birders peppered the area, all seemingly obsessed with what time it was. We were all primarily in search of female Black-throated Blue Warblers. Curious, because in Austin the species is only found in migration; and rare then. The mood was focused, and no-nonsense. This is probably no surprise as tend to I adopt this attitude during most bird outings.  A greater purpose for our being there, other than for the rarity, never surfaced.

The inimitable Alex Jones.

Curiously, Alex Jones was among those present. This is the first "famous" person to grace any of my bird dreams. Mr. Jones does live in Austin.  He's  best known for a very outspoken brand of political expression, often earning him a "conspiracy theorist" label. I have no earthly clue as to whether he's interested in birdwatching. Curious indeed.

The general discussion among folks was the fact that this species had recently been seen in various places in the Lower Rio Grande Valley - the greater McAllen and Brownsville areas. Given the looks of the vegetation, the time frame was Spring. That's odd, as the few records central Texas has of Black-throated Blue Warbler greatly favor Autumn.

Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) - male
Image online here

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) - male
Image online here

I found a new path through the undergrowth and forged ahead.  Eureka!...  I'd been transported behind the backyards of my neighbors where I grew up in western Mass. The quality and diversity of birds became rich. In just a few trees I spotted the following: a male Ringed Kingfisher, a male Yellow Warbler, "western" Palm Warbler and an adult Fork-tailed Flycatcher. I've made a note to take that trail again in future dreams.

"Western" Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum palmarum)
Image online here

Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) - adult
Image online here

It didn't take but a turn of the corner before I spotted the quarry:  a female Black-throated Blue Warbler!  She darted about in a small copse of short trees just twenty or so feet away. Immediately I went into my "hey-the-bird-we're-all-looking-for-is-over-here" dance. The group then magically appeared and joined the festivities.  Many people got satisfying looks, albeit brief ones.  Unfortunately, not everyone did. The dream ended with short scene where I to came back the next day to assist in the relocation for those who didn't get an opportunity to see it the first time.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens) - female
Image online here

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dream Influences #1 - Kava Kava, et. al.

"If one is having a more restful sleep, then it only makes sense that one will not only have more dreams, but would retain more dreams as well... We have also read many articles about plants such as Valerian Root, Calea Zacatechichi, Wild Lettuce, Sea Bean, and a few others have often been utilized for increasing the frequency and the recollection of dreams." - Makaira

This blogger puts forth a modicum of effort investigating (incl. posts regarding) the nature of dreams and dreaming - concomitant actually posting about bird dreams. I make a concerted effort to focus on sources which justifiy their reliability with data that is repeatable, and ideally even provable - to the degree that dream work can be either. Regarding the popular sentiment of the quotation above; I'll forego ad hominems, or straw men. The facts, as best I can sort them out, will hopefully put to rest this ignoratio elenchi.

A long time sufferer of some form of insomnia or another, I've availed myself of most all health food stores' shelves that deal with sleep aids. Valerian and Kava Kava among these. Nearly all left me either groggy the next morning, or just didn't work sufficiently. Caveat emptor, indeed.

Sleeping for well-restedness, and for "frequency and recollection of dreams" are two distinct things - profoundly I've learned. I have found Valerian to be good for neither, and Kava Kava to be adequate for only the former. Wild Lettuce is thrown into many natural sleep aid cocktails, but I don't have any experience with it by itself.

Entada rheedii/ei, Calea zacatechichi, Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort), Silene capensis (syn. undulata), Datura spp. and others fall into an entirely different category. They are classified as "dream inducers" (oneirogens) and also "happen" to be at least mildly hallucinogenic. *Sigh*... my waking mind is weird enough... thank you very much. Currently, I have no intentions of testing these guys out; especially those Datura which can put you in a coma - or worse.

I'll put together another post or two about my intentions and goals regarding the subject of external dream induction.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Birding Vietnam... The Easy Way? (not)

I imagine birding Vietnam would be one hell of an adventure, in real life. In this dream, my subconscious decided to pull out a lot of the stops. This will make sense soon, I assure...

I rent a bike near a dock, and pedal a short distance to a cafe. Intuition tells me I'm in Saigon/HCMC. It is hazy, mid-morning and already mercilessly sunny. I am stopping at the local hash house to inquire about a birding guide. A young woman there
(waitress?) understands me just well enough to explain to me, just well enough, how this is accomplished. Almost immediately I find a young man who claims to be up to the task. [NOTE: even by this point in the dream I have an "uneasy" feeling, like danger is imminent.] He informs me that before we go we must practice some martial arts. He wants to be sure I am able to defend myself - just in case. Oiy! Next is a brief scene, right out of "The Matrix", where I prove my mettle.

We head off on the bike again. Yes, one bike two people. I believe I'm standing up pedaling while he sits (how very magnanimous of my subconscious). Our first target is to be a preserve very close by (Reunification Palace garden?). After this it is on to some shorebirding (Cat Tien National Park?). Before we arrive at our first destination, I notice a middle-aged caucasian couple following us. Not only did they stick out for obvious reasons, but they also dressed like lawyers or executives. Veerrry subtle.

We soon leave the bike, continuing on foot. Thinking quickly, I buy some overripe, deep red, fruit at a sidewalk bazaar. I give several of these to what appears to be a homeless woman begging. In her jubilance at receiving such a windfall, she cries out. One of the fruits is squeezed hard enough to burst scarlet all down her front. Ignored before her paroxism, a growing number of people misread the scene and react as if she's been assaulted and hurt. The effect of this pandemonium is a sidewalk well blocked. My companion and I take this opportunity to promptly decamp en-masse.

After a few quick blocks we notice another bistro and enter. I know you saw this coming, but sure enough already there (but clearly not expecting US) is the spy couple. I immediately walk over to their booth and very publically greet them. Though my actions draw attention to all of us (especially them), my words only draw attention to the fact that I'm on to them. In their faces I read a strained mixture of frustration and unmistakable shock. Priceless!

End scene... and dream.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One Night Three Dreams

1) I was in northwestern WA state, at the coast - on a beach. It was either nighttime or predawn. Giant rocks loomed a hundred feet to either side, silhouetted by a star-filled sky. There was a light source (I never saw it); focused, strong, like a spot light coming from behind as I faced the water. It shone mainly on dirt-colored sand in a thirty or so foot swath. The water: calm, some ripples but no waves. A kayak (and paddle) appeared, I climbed in and began to move slowly out to sea. A few hundred feet out I made a starboard (right) turn, paralleling the beach. Cormorants and gulls flew by distantly; none close enough for specific ID. The prevalent emotion throughout this part was wariness, bordering on fear. [I am irrationally "uncomfortable" in open water anyway, and without light it becomes more pronounced.] I couldn't have gone far because the next thing I know I'm in a suburban neighborhood. I can see the water and shore through silhouetted trees (pines I think). I'm too distracted by concerns about whether or not I was trespassing, or would be perceived as such. Owls and passerines were in the trees, but I made no IDs. I then came to an opening in the trees. They perfectly framed the beach, stars, rocks and faintly moonlit water. In the distance large, dramatically beautiful, thunderstorm clouds were heading this way...

2) [If you are a birder and live in Austin, or have birded here, you are probably familiar with "Hornsby Bend Biolsolids Management Plant" - known colloquially as simply "Hornsby". Adding "Bend" is optional. As you drive in, to your right there is a fairly sprawling administration building among a grove of pecan trees. In this admin. building is Austin's "Center for Environmental Research" - the C.E.R. For a few years in the early noughts, this was a common hangout, for several birders, especially after a Hornsby property survey or hawkwatch. Thus is this dream's setting...]

I was hanging out in the C.E.R. at Ho
rnsby, talking with some folks/birders - dunno who. I didn't actually go birding in this dream, but a lot of birders were coming and going, both into the C.E.R and to the pond road circuit. So much fluttering usually means the birdin's good; whether it be spring migration, or some phenomenal rarity's been found and is easy to spot (something Hornsby's pretty famous for). What the helter-skelter was about here never played out...

3) [Note: one of the more difficult-to-remember of all my recent bird dreams. If you can figure why please share with the group. 

I was talking to a local, Austin, birder about my bird dreams. FWIW: this is the first time I've had a dream about dreambirding. I was also intermittantly journaling about said bird dreams - on loose leaf paper. In a moment of irony, I thought how I was missing an opportunity to bird while I was writing about something that happened when I normally wouldn't be birding. We've all been here right?... Anyone?...


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