drunken delights and big news

Yesterday I wrote about the ongoing migration of the American Robin, now occurring in waves here in South Carolina.  Today I heard an interesting and amusing little tidbit about the migration that made me laugh — and determine to keep my feeder full to the brim.

The birds going north now are eating the last berries that remain on the bushes and shrubs from last year’s production, and those berries have been through a long, harsh winter, repeatedly freezing and thawing, and over time… fermenting!  Yes, that’s right, the food for many berry-munching birds now migrating north is actually a little bit on the alcoholic side.

Apparently if you’re watching closely this time of year, you can view the results in erratic flight patterns, and if you know what you’re looking for, you might notice other tipsy bird behaviors that betray their inebriated state.  Seeds from feeders are not only a nice supplement to their diet, but may help to sober up our avian friends on their long journey north.  And it is a long journey, as I know from experience, having once undertaken the 21-hour road trip from just south of Atlanta to Montreal.

Of course, I do wonder if the different berries in different locales all have interesting bouquets and the hallmarks of distinct vintages, rather like human wines, which reminds me of a post I did about bee nectar vintages way back during the first week of this blog’s existence, and still one of my favorite posts.

I managed to take a very tipsy-looking bokeh photograph of the last berry on this gorgeous Beautyberry at the Botanical Gardens this week.  This winter marks my first introduction to the Beautyberry, and I found their long, slender stems coated in bright purple* berries so riveting in the winter landscape and such a draw for hungry birds, especially friendly Northern Mockingbirds, that I’m determined to put one in my own backyard — if I ever have a backyard, and if it is in the right climate.

(*That “purple”  is more of a range or family of colors that changes with exposure and aging of the berries, including, but not limited to, magenta, lavender, mauve, periwinkle, blush pink, and bordeaux.)

And for those of you who have no idea what a bokeh photograph is (I didn’t know the term until a few months ago), this is the best and simplest explanation I’ve found, from The Photographic GlossaryBokeh describes the rendition of out-of-focus points of light.  Differing amounts of spherical aberration alter how lenses render out-of-focus points of light, and thus their bokeh.  The word “bokeh” comes from the Japanese word “boke” (pronounced bo-keh) which literally means fuzziness or dizziness.”

I’ve always loved bokeh photos, but that’s probably because when I remove my glasses or contact lenses, this is the way the world looks via my natural eyesight.  I find it particularly enchanting on bright, sunny days, when all the world might as well be made of millions of glistening points of light, all flashing their colors at once.  It is a wonderful meditation exercise to stare in this way at a vast landscape or stand beneath a forest canopy looking up at the sky.

But that’s enough about that.  Let’s move on to my big news!

Just like the robins, y’all can also begin migrating on over to the new site.  I’ve been busy building it, and I think it is more or less ready.  That is, the structure is in place, and I can now add or delete or change things as I see fit without unduly disturbing the posting area.

(At least, I hope so.  This self-hosted website lark has turned out to be quite radically outside my comfort zone, and since F. was busy with his own research, I’ve had to read up on php.ini files and memory allocation and learn about exporting blog archives and installing plugins all by my little lonesome.  Web designers, you now have my unmitigated respect.)

The question over the last ten days had really become, when will I be ready to jump off into the new site?  F. was urging me to do so on my blogaversary, but I resisted the suggestion, sure that I needed to tweak quite a few things first.  But I soon realized all the tweaking could probably be done once everyone had joined me at the new location, and that I was wasting time trying to double-post every day to keep the archives in sync.

I was ready to announce the leap on Sunday… when Blotanical went down.  It was a frustrating moment, but also very educational.  A few times while I’ve been working on the new site, I’ve screwed up the functioning pretty badly.  That was mostly in the beginning, and I haven’t done so in over a month.  Still, similar screw-ups might occur.  There are no guarantees.

“What if right after we switched over I found myself in a similar situation as Stuart at Blotanical, and unable to tell my readers what was going on?” was the thought running through my mind.  And I don’t do Twitter, as I think we’ve established, so I’d be in even worse straits.

I don’t have any desire to disappear off people’s radar entirely, so I’ve decided after watching the waves of robins passing through yesterday that the best way is to copy nature.

I’ll post in both places for at least a week, and longer if I see the need, and we can all go over bit by bit, in small flocks and waves.  That way, if there are any issues at the new site, I still have a way to communicate with everyone at this site, and those people who are occasional readers will be notified over the coming days that the time is coming when I will no longer post here.

Plus, this gradual migration will allow everybody the luxury of plenty of time to change their links and subscriptions at their own pace.  And I do hope you will change your links and subscriptions.  It is my fond belief that you’re all visiting for the writing and the photographs, and maybe for the relationship, too.  None of that is going to change.

For those of you who requested that I keep the large photo format, I have to tell you that it was impossible for me to get what I wanted from a blog theme and still keep the photographs so huge and central to the layout.  However, at the new site, if you click on the smaller photos, you will be treated to a full-screen version of the original picture.

I also discovered that keeping the photos rather smaller has made that website quicker to load than this one, which is always a bonus in my busy blog-reading schedule.  It’s also much easier to read, from my perspective, which is something else I prefer in the blogs I frequent.  But I might have given up a little bit of the bright and colorful flare of this theme design to get it that way.

Probably every single change in the blog format will be like that:  something gained, balanced by something lost.  And any new detail one of you loves, I can be sure one of you is going to hate.  The comments when I asked for feedback illustrated this rather nicely, although certain general principles were repeated often enough that I could use the information when constructing.

Nonetheless, I am exited for you all to see it.

Are you still here?

I feel like Ferris Bueller at the end of the movie, chivvying the audience out of their warm seats.  It’s heartwarming that you’re still here, reading until the last sentence, but really I would love it if you’d take a quick look over there.  Please, go on and check it out!

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18 Responses to “drunken delights and big news”

  1. It is funny when birds have had too much to drink. It’s not uncommon around here to find Cedar Waxwings staggering about, crashing into things. When I worked as a wildlife rehabilitator, the public would often bring in some of the poor drunkards wondering if they’d been poisoned. Fortunately, an afternoon or so ‘drying out’ in a dark quiet corner would soon see them sober enough to be re-released. I’ve always wondered though if birds suffer from hang-overs the way we do!

    • CV, you made me giggle. I immediately imagined the bird with the hangover and a woodpecker on the trunk of his home tree, and him scolding the woodpecker for all that hammering so early in the morning. 😉

      I must admit, I’ve never seen a bird that I could begin to classify as drunk or poisoned. Maybe the birds around me are teetotalers?

  2. I’ve had large flocks of robins around my feeders ever since the snow started falling, and they’re actually eating the bird seed…hulled sunflower nuts, as well as suet. No berries here (other than holly and rose hips) but I’ll keep my eye opened for ‘tipsy’ behaviors;-)

  3. this is a just lovely and inviting photo. i can’t stop looking at it. : )
    also, this is kind of funny sounding but, this morning there was this bird singing like, in the backyard. now it’s cold here, but warm today, for winter, around 40 degrees. i look out back and it appears to be a robin. wow, i think your words, may validate, that im not crazy all together. sigh.
    xoxo

    • I found it strangely riveting, too, Christina. But then, like I said, I’m into bokeh. Glad to know it wasn’t *just* my taste.

      Oh, how good that you have a robin already there! He must be an early commuter. 😉

  4. A great photo Meredith and oh what exciting news. Have only just found you here so off to have a peek at your new home 🙂

    • Poor Anna, just finding me here and already I’m jostling you with the move. 😉 Don’t worry, tho. I never plan on doing this again — ever! (In real life, I can be rather averse to major change.)

  5. I hope the tipsy birds don’t end up messing up their flight paths 😀 I’ve often wondered about the Lorikeets here after they’ve been feasting on over-ripe plums! They are pretty rowdy to begin with, but it does seem to get worse.
    Just visited your lovely new site and updated my link, so I guess this is goodbye to Victory Garden Redux from me. It has been a lovely way to ‘meet’ you and your garden Meredith!

    • LOL, Heidi. I’m so jealous of you to see Lorikeets and Cockatoos in the wild. Your comment about black cockatoos made me realize I’ve never seen one; it sounds terribly exotic.
      Thank you for updating your link so promptly, Heidi! You’re an early commuter like Christina’s robin in Michigan, I guess. 😉

  6. I’ll be updating my link, so bye Victory Garden Redux and hello The Enchanted Earth. I love that fuzzy photo with the Zen like effect in the header. 🙂

  7. lol at the drunken birds. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to your Victory Garden Redux, but don’t feel so bad now that I’ve been to The Enchanted Garden 🙂

    • I’m sad to say good-bye to it, too, Talon. I do wonder whether the other site’s less Zen layout will inspire a different writing voice — but I’m hoping not. Glad you enjoyed your first peek at the new digs. 🙂

  8. The Australian Rainbow Lorikeets get drunk from the berries on Umbrella Trees and, unfortunately, due to their drunken behaviour can end up hurt from flying about irratically. What a beautiful photo!

    I will be away to check out your new blog now….how exciting!

  9. You should have no problem growing Callicarpa, Meredith, wherever you land permanently. It grows up here in Nova Scotia in many gardens, although it’s a bit dodgy in my garden because of the winter winds and snow loads.
    I’m looking forward to your new site, and yes, what an inconvenient time for Blotanical to have gone down. It’s still only half-working, unfortunately, and I being a creature of some habits, have fallen way behind in my blog reading partly because of this, partly because of workload.

    • I’m glad to hear that, jodi. I really like it (didn’t know it’s Latin name yet, so I’m glad you supplied it).

      I am totally a creature of habit, and I’m afraid it will take me some time to recover from this upset in pattern. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to log in to Blotanical once since the migration finished, and it appeared that I had dumped about a dozen favorited blogs, dropped a level of experience (back down way below the 5000 mark, boo hoo), and that my latest blog entry here wasn’t displaying properly. I also had an error message show up when I tried to perform my very first routine pick. 😦

      I have no idea if that is the current state of things, as when I went out of town I couldn’t log in, and when I return three days later, I cannot even see the site. I’m almost resigned to it now… besides, it’s giving me more time in the garden right as spring picks up. 😉

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