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Some places I've been

May 24, 2015

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You can drive California State Route 33 from north of Los Angeles to somewhere just south of San Francisco and it runs like a shadow of the much larger and direct Interstate 5.

I try to avoid Interstates where I can and stumbled across SR 33 a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for a route from Tehachapi in Kern County down to the coast at Santa Barbara where I would attend the 38th annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting.

The options presented by Google Maps took me on a couple of variations of a direct route through Bakersfield and down through the outlying suburbs of Los Angeles and along the coast road. I was in no great hurry and my California roadmap showed a much less direct but far more interesting-looking zig-zag route through Kern and Ventura counties that kept me off the orange coloured threads of the Interstates and onto the yellow and white State and County roads. And a large part of that run would take me through the Los Padres National Forest and across the San Rafael mountain range that hugs the coast north of Los Angeles.

Bingo. That’ll do me.

Continue reading “Roadside memorials of southern California II: the deadly curves of Route 33”

Photography

May 23, 2015

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As I’ve noted in previous posts, I’ve spent the past few weeks in southern California, taking a break from work and attending the 38th Society of Ethnobiology meeting at the University of California campus at Santa Barbara on the coast north of Los Angeles. I like the south-west of the US and had no problem with the prospect of spending a few weeks driving around the backroads and thought that this years I’d explore the eastern Sierra Nevada country around the Owens Valley north-east of Los Angeles prior to meeting.

I’ve always had a keen eye for a good roadside memorial so when my way back from Bishop in the north of the valley I came across this tribute to Father J. J. Crowley along Route 14 near to Red Rock Canyon I pulled in to take a few shots.

Continue reading “Roadside memorials of southern California: Father J. J. Crowley, the ‘desert padre’”

Animals

May 23, 2015

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Snake of the Week: Great Basin Gopher Snake

Alerted to danger, the snake coils up, vibrates its tail and hisses a warning. The Gopher snake can also spread and flatten its head, thereby resembling a rattler even more. An unsure predator mistakes this behavior and the somewhat triangular head of the Gopher snake for a rattlesnake and backs off from its pursuit."

I came across this Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) on a stretch of old Highway 395 just south of Big Pine a few weeks ago while I was spending some time motoring around the eastern Sierra Nevada in inland California before travelling down to Santa Barbara for the 38th Society of Ethnobiology meeting (see my report here).

Continue reading “Snake of the Week: Great Basin Gopher Snake”

Birds and people

May 12, 2015

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Last week I spent a few days at the University of California Santa Barbara campus for the 38th annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting.

I and a bunch of other presented during a session at the meeting dedicated to the ethnobiological sub-discipline of ethnoorithology, which is concerned with the study of the multi-faceted relationships between humans and birds. The session was co-ordinated by Nicole Sault.

It was a great session that hopefully will lead to the publication of a collected set of papers developed from the presentations. In the meantime, below I present the abstracts from the ethnoornithology session, titled “What Do Birds Tell Us? How Ethno-ornithology Opens Doors to Understanding Relationships with Others.

Continue reading “The Many Faces of Ethnoornithology at the 38th Society of Ethnobiology meeting”

Animals

May 13, 2014

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Two years ago this month I was at Montpelier in southern France for the 12th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (distinct from the Society of Ethnobiology, the subject of my previous post).

Going through some files from around that time I noted that I’d failed to post the abstracts from the Ethnoornithology session at that meeting.

It was a great session with a wide ranging set of papers from across the ethnoornithological globe of research. The theme of the session, which I was lucky enough to co-chair with the wonderful Fleur Ng’weno from Kenya, was “Birds and People – research from 4 continents.

Enjoy!

Continue reading “Ethnoornithology at Montpelier – Birds and People: Research From Four continents – CISE 2012”

I’m at Cherokee in North Carolina for the 37th annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting and, as I’ve done on a few occasions before, I’ll be chairing a session dedicated to current developments and research on the subject of ethnoornithology – the study of the relationships between human cultures and birds.

This year’s meeting will be the first joint conference between the Society of Ethnobiology (SoE) and the Society for Economic Botany (SEB) in Cherokee, North Carolina, from May 11-14, 2014.

The theme for the upcoming conference will be “The Energy of People, Places, and Life.” It will be a fully blended conference that builds on the energy sparked by each membership.

This is the 37th annual conference of the SoE and the 55th annual conference of the SEB.

Cherokee is the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and is adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in western North Carolina.

Here are the abstracts for the papers to be presented during the session, which will run on Wednesday 14th May from 2pm.

Continue reading “Ethnoornithology at Cherokee, North Carolina”

Animals

Jun 22, 2013

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Last month I travelled to Denton in north Texas to attend the annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting and present a paper on my recent early research into the (possible) role that birds may play in propagation of fire in the Australian landscape. While there I met up with a colleague from Manchaca, Texas who has recently forwarded to me a response she received from another colleague to whom she’d passed some information about my presentation and inviting his comment.

In due course he responded.

Continue reading “Burning down the house. When rats & snakes take their revenge.”

Aboriginal & Islander Art

Apr 13, 2013

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I’ve written on the subject of Birds & Fire – and their cultural connections – at The Northern Myth here.

I’m excited to announce a call for observations from anyone interested in the behaviour of birds around fire and have today issued the following Media Release calling for comments and observations.

I’ve had a great response to this topic in the past and look forward to your further contributions or suggestions.

I’ll be presenting a paper at the upcoming 36th annual meeting of the Society of Ethnobiology – see more here.

Continue reading “Birds, Fire and Culture – a new research project”

Animals

Mar 31, 2013

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You can see Part One of my conversation with Amadeo Rea at the Denver Botanic Gardens in Colorado in April last year here.

Amadeo Rea is a taxonomic ornithologist and ethnobiologist whose work is focused on the greater Southwest of the USA. His life’s work deals with the taxonomy and distribution of birds, avian paleontology, and zooarchaeology. His 1983 work, Once a River: Bird Life and Habitat Changes on the Middle Gila, documents avifaunal changes in River Pima country.

Bob Gosford: Tell me about how birds and other animals bring people power through the agency of the Namkam.

Amadeo Rea: Yes, namkam is an important Piman concept. A namkam is a meeter – someone who meets some power animal, a spirit helper some other cultures would call it. I don’t know what the Australian Aboriginal people call it. Its an animal or sometimes a plant (Peyote in particular) that will come to that person in daydreams or real dreams and bring that person spiritual power in the form of songs, dreams, perhaps running skills (racing was very big with the desert people) or gaming or war skills.
But principally the power involved diagnosing illnesses and usually involved songs. So your dream-helper might give you, the namkam, a series of songs that you could use to heal some particular kind of sickness. If Coyote came to you in a dream, you might receive songs to heal Coyote sickness. The shaman diagnoses you “Oh, you have Coyote sickness and you have to find someone who knows the Coyote songs.

Continue reading “Amadeo Rea: on namkams, coyote sickness and perceptions of reality in the greater southwest”

Animals

Feb 1, 2013

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I sat down for a yarn with Amadeo Rea at the Denver Botanic Gardens in Colorado in April last year during the 35th Society of Ethnobiology meeting.

Amadeo is a taxonomic ornithologist and ethnobiologist whose work is focused on the greater Southwest of the USA. His life’s work deals with the taxonomy and distribution of birds, avian paleontology, and zooarchaeology. His 1983 work, Once a River: Bird Life and Habitat Changes on the Middle Gila, documents avifaunal changes in River Pima country.

His work in ethnobiology includes three books on the O’odham, a Southwest Uto-Aztecan language group: At the Desert’s Green Edge: An Ethnobotany of the Gila River Pima, (1997) and Folk Mammalogy of the Northern Pimans (1998).

One of my favourite ethnoornithological works, Amadeo’s Wings in the Desert: A Folk Ornithology of Northern Pimans was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2007.

Continue reading “Fifty years in the desert – the ethnobiological life of Amadeo Rea”