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Filmmaker Visit

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We have been graced this past month by visits from some illustrious naturalists. First came Michael Male, who with his wife Judy Fieth creates absolutely amazing films about nature. We know them mostly from their work with birds (their eastern warbler video is soon to be followed by a western warbler DVD that is mouthwatering).

Here is Michael with a camper top of his own design and construction. It reminded me of the enormous snow plow blades you see on the front of locomotives in North Dakota. Imagine making your own camper. He confessed that it's very heavy and probably overbuilt, being made of marine plywood. Still. Anyone who can custom build a truck topper with a queen-sized bed and a pop-up top and tons of storage has my immediate respect. Just thinking of doing it in the first place gets major points with me.


Michael has spent the summer in North Dakota, filming ducks in the pothole region where they court, breed and raise young. He went out to North Dakota the same time we did, and he's only just come home! To do his filming, he made a huge floating blind with a shelf all around the inside. He wore waders that go up to his chest, climbed in the blind, and kind of walked it around the edges of the ponds as he made his groundbreaking films. It was a very cold, wet summer in North Dakota, and his was very cold, wet work. I thought he probably needed a couple of really nice meals and a comfy bed with some headroom, so we made that happen.

Watching some clips of wild ducks pottering around on the water, I felt like a louse on a duck's back; they are that close up and that sharp. They are just breathtaking. It's rare to see a film that takes you so completely into a creature's world. Michael has worked with David Attenborough and the BBC and National Geographic, so he's on a level most wildlife cinematographers hope to attain.

Mether, this would be a boring photo without me, Chet Baker, to spice it up. So here I am, on Michael's lap.

I wish I had something to show you. You can just make out the ducks on his laptop screen in this photo. They more than fill the frame. You could see their duck eyelashes. To see some of Michael and Judy's work, go to their website,

Michael had the most fun with ruddy ducks, and his series on bubbling male ruddies (they very rapidly duck their heads and beat their breasts with bright blue bills, making a fountain of bubbles in the process) just blew me away.

Chet Baker was his usual hospitable self, making sure Michael's blood pressure was nice and low for the ride home.



Will you give us all a heads up when Michael's films are available for public viewing? Ruddy ducks are one of the best things EVER. Almost as good as lapfilling hospitality Bostons.

What a nice treat to meet such a nature film "pioneer"! Nice insights on your post into his work. Thanks.


Chet Baker, Hospitality Boston. A meet title for the dog.

Chet Baker sure is a camera hog--but we LOVE him for it. Just love it.

I think I've fallen in love....

Thats true what a nice nature film would certainly await for more thanks a lot for sharing...

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Dear Richard/Jack,

You are welcome to comment here if you remove your ad link. I see you have hit my friend Mary's blog, too. It's tacky to use someone's blog to advertise. Please don't do it.

Lucky lucky you. I have both "Watching Sparrows" and Watching Warblers". They're terrific. Thanks for sharing this.

Sounds like that will be an excellent video. I bet Michael has some amazing stories to tell about his filming adventures too.

Thank you! Michael Male's web site is fantastic. Now I have another way to spend money:) ... and a wonderful new place to buy gifts for my birding family.

A daily dose of Julie is well worth the time and uplifts the day. You are appreciated greatly.

I love their work. Trust you to get the high-class houseguests.

It was great having Michael visit. He and Judy really put birding films at a new level with their "Watching" series: "Watching Warblers", "Watching Sparrows", Watching Waders." I LOVE those films.

Ducks are so engaging and funny. I bet that film is great.

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