Frog Song

✍️ 🕑 wildlife photographyfrogsfield recordingsFrench Creek State Park


Spring time.

Flowers are starting to blossom (even though they're predicting snow next Thursday.)

Birds are starting to sing (even if I fail at getting good photographs of them.)

And, also, the frogs are getting busy with their mating season...

All around me, at pretty much all times, I can hear the spring peepers singing.

Listen to the spring peepers yourself!

Approach them, though, and they will scatter pretty much instantaneously.

Frogs are skittish, quick, and camouflaged well with their surroundings -- all qualities which make them difficult to photograph. Last year, I habitually circled a retention pond in an unfinished housing development, traipsing through weeds, and hearing the splashes of frogs around me as they jumped into the water. Never did I spot one pre-jump.

Never did I get a photograph.

Fortunately, the gods of wildlife photography smiled upon me, such that as I went for a hike in the Easternmost areas of French Creek State Park, I happened upon a puddle that was positively teeming with frog life. I stood there for quite a while, observing and photographing.

The Orphanage by Serhiy Zhadan (Book Review)

book reviewsDonbasUkranian LiteratureUkraine

The Orphanage is a 2017 novel by Serhiy Zhadan, recently published in English translation. It explores the experiences of civilians in wartime, specifically in the Donbass region of Ukraine. Pasha, a rather impotent teacher, journeys across enemy lines to retrieve his nephew from an orphanage/boarding school in an unnamed city that has already fallen. The city teems with military checkpoints, artillery fire, grifters, and civilians doing their best to survive and hold on to something in this environment.

Throughout his journey, Pasha meets other civilians, soldiers, and even a journalist. These encounters enable rich exploration of a variety of themes: language, identity, authority, education, nostalgia, and the indifference of war towards the neutrality of civilians. During these encounters, Pasha generally does his best to help others around him, even though this distracts him from his goals.

Who needs cold medicine in a city getting pounded by heavy artillery, a city that’s going to fall any day now? (18)

Eurovision 2021: First Impressions

• Series: Eurovision First Impressions • Tags: musicEurovisionEurovision 2021Europe

Eurovision 2020 was a massive disappointment.

It wasn't that the songs were bad, or that the artists weren't any good. It was that the entire contest was cancelled, and replaced by an abbreviated, bland but well-meaning tribute. Thanks, pandemic!

For 2021, apparently the show will take place no matter what. However, reusing any of 2020's songs is against the rules.

Tix is a fallen angel, trying to do good, but chained to his demons. Gotta love the literal interpretation here.
Tix is a fallen angel, trying to do good, but chained to his demons. Gotta love the literal interpretation here.

In this post, I listen to all 39 of these new songs for the first time, and write my impressions.

The First Robin of Spring

✍️ 🕑 photographybird photographyFrench Creek State Park

Here we are, about half way through March.

And, so I spotted a Robin on March 13th, the first one this year. Unusually, late according to my parents.


I was able to stand there for quite a while, aiming my narrow aperture super-telephoto zoom at it, hoping my hands were steady enough, my focus was locked enough, the light was good enough, and so on.

But also, I got to observe the robin going about his business, mostly ignoring me as I crept closer...