Journal archives for May 2019

May 11, 2019

11 May/19

Interesting day. This morning (0700), while walking the dog, I heard some odd sounding Canada Geese. After a bit, I saw them fly over, and they were whiter, longer, and slower than Canada Geese. From listening to calls, and from my overall perception, they may have been Tundra Swans. I don't know if this is early or late for them. There were maybe 20 birds in all - I did not have my camera with me (of course). Later, when I took the dog down to the Red, I walked through what seemed like a snowstorm of birds. I managed to get a couple of shots, and it looks like a mixed group (I had assumed it was a flock of only one species). They did not sit still for long, and between watching them and the dog (he eats sticks and whatever he can find) I only managed a couple of shots. These are some I'm sure of.

Posted on May 11, 2019 20:18 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Garth Bracken

It would be almost a crime to post a memoir of Bucher without Bracken. As far as I know, Garth Bracken worked almost exclusively with Gord Bucher. Perhaps it was because they came from Bellville together. They made an odd pair. Garth Bracken was a rather jovial man, who really did not seem to give a shit about anything - although he certainly did. I don't know much about their relationship, but it was an odd one. Bucher was studious while Bracken seemed to be lackadaisical.

I liked Bracken, but had the sense he was a bitter man. He made lots of jokes, but it was clear he hated being in Winnipeg. Our most common tree, Manitoba maple, was a 'weed' to him. He was a Toronto fan, whether it be football or hockey. He talked about Bellville and Ontario a lot.

He could also do some odd things - the both of them decided to do some work on rutabaga flies. When some of the plot did not germinate, he got us to dig up seedlings and replant them, hauling water from the nearest source. Not that this bothered me, but I did think it was a variable that could mess things up and may not be mentioned. Later, when the rutabagas had matured, he took some of them home so he could 'throw them at cats' that came around his bird feeder. I have no idea if he did that or not, but knowing him as I did, I suspect that is what they were for!

Posted on May 11, 2019 20:35 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 13, 2019

Gord Ayre

Gordon Ayre was the researcher I spent the most time with. He was another transfer from Belleville. He had done his Master's on ants (I believe in Germany), and I believe ants were his first insect love. He didn't talk much about it thougth - he was sparse with his words, and did not offer up too much information. He was a smallish man (5'6?) with brownish skin and had a trimmed beard but no mustache. He always brought a cheese sandwich to work and ate it in the middle of the morning.

He did not seem bitter as some of the researchers did, nor overly enthusiastic. However, his work was methodical, and I liked working for him, and I liked him. We did a lot of work with pheromones, which is where I gained some of my skill in identifying moths. His results seemed to cause some consternation with the folks who developed the pheromones. One of he papers showed that the catch of a specific moth was not a predictor of the next season's crop of cutworms. He had a hard time getting that paper published, as the pheromone folks kept shooting it down. Again, he didn't seem too perturbed, but merely submitted it to other journals until it was accepted. I was not kept informed of such dealings, but picked up the context from the few conversations we had.

Gord had a large fish tank in his office - 3mX1m?. Inside were two (I believe) large Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) . I seem to recall a few large blackish fish that fed on the sides or the bottom. Every now and then he would drain the tank (almost an all day process). He also did woodworking at home, although I can's say I saw any of it.

Most of the work was left to me and Robert Semple, an ex military man who had retired young and re-upped with Ag Can. His hair was curly grey, and he had the habit of taking his glasses off to look closely at specimens. I thought it was odd, but I do the same thing myself now!
His obituary can be found here -, pp152-53

Posted on May 13, 2019 16:51 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment