Readers’ wildlife photos

July 13, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today we have a batch of themed bird photos (birds singing) sent in by ace photographer Colin Franks. Colin also gives us a health update because it’s been a year since he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease. His notes and IDs are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Colin’s photography page is here, his Facebook page is here, and his Instagram page is here.


“Four Calling Birds” (well, 15 actually).

Update:It was one year ago today that at a bomb was delivered into my life; a diagnosis of ALS.  I cannot believe it’s been a year already, time flies when you’re having. . .oh wait a minute.The 4-6 weeks after that day were an awful, emotional rollercoaster.  No anger, no denial, just shock and sadness.  Much to my surprise, I naturally came out of that valley of despair to a level of acceptance.  I think that happens with most people with such devastating news.  It is what it is, and I have to make the best of it with whatever time I have left.  That news however set into motion many huge changes for my wife and I, including selling our much beloved (but not wheelchair friendly) house on a very birdy 1/3 acre; a property that we worked hard on for 18 years.  It also forced me to shut down my business of 28 years. That moment, on Friday, December 31st at 4:30 pm was a very emotional moment for me.  The silence was loud.We did manage to find a nice condo/townhouse, but the months-long task of shutting everything down, some work on the new place, and the move itself put me into a level of exhaustion that I’ve never experienced before.  I was completely out of gas.  I’ve since learned that fatigue is part of ALS, and it doesn’t take much now to put me in the gutter again, so I’ve had to adjust from being an “Energizer Bunny” to, well, not so much.There are some who experience a rapid decline with ALS, and die after a year, while 2-5 years is typical.  I am very thankful and fortunate to be experiencing a slow rate of decline.  Yes, my balance and walking is worse – I’ve had a number of falls, which is very difficult for me, a person who used to have the balance and agility of a cat, but I am otherwise doing reasonably well.  My left hand is starting to feel a little less dexterous, but only slight.  The neurologists are telling me that it’s looking like I have a rare form of ALS known as PLS, but unfortunately it takes about four years of regular monitoring of a patient to determine a case of PLS, and also, unfortunately, PLS can sometimes just morph into ALS, so only time will tell.I am taking numerous supplements, and it is Theracurmin (a condensed, therapeutic form of Curcumin) and Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) which may be playing a role in slowing down the progression.  Historically, there have been about 48 cases worldwide of ALS reversals, and six of those were with the use of Theracurmin, so that gives some hope.  The MCP has been the most surprising thing:  Part of the ALS journey is muscle fasciculations (muscle twitching), and that started for me last Fall.  I started taking the MCP at that time, and my muscle twitching quickly dropped by about 98%.  I tested this correlation a couple months ago by stopping taking it.  In a few days the twitching returned, so I started taking it again, and they went away.  It may very well be that the MCP is doing nothing more than reducing/eliminating the muscle twitching, but it may also be slowing the progression of this insidious motor neuron disease.  It’s impossible to know, but MCP can do no harm, and is actually very good for the gut microbiome, which is paramount in one’s overall health and immune system.Not knowing what one’s rate of decline is going to be is one of the worst parts of this disease.  Will I be in a wheelchair in a year, or will I still be walking in 10 years, or will they discover a cure in the next few years?Anyway, I am very thankful that I am still able to get out locally with the camera, as that brings me much joy.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa):

Great Blue Heron (A. Herodias):

Barrow’s Goldeneye (B. islandica):

 Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna):

Pacific Wren (T. pacificus):

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys):

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas):

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis):

Red-winged Blackbird (A. phoeniceus):

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus):

Barred Owl (Strix varia):

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos):

Common Raven (Corvus corax):

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus):

Lazuli Bunting (P. amoena):

21 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I was thinking of Mr. Franks the other day (though I forgot the name)! Great to see new stuff! Cheers! Exclamation points!

  2. Stunningly beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing them.

    Mt niece’s mother-in-law was just diagnosed with ALS. I will pass along your comments about MCP and Thercumin. Thanks for sharing that as well.

  3. Beautiful, beautiful photos. I love how all the other birds look as if they are shouting, while the Common Yellowthroat looks almost as if he’s politely saying, “Excuse me…” to get someone’s attention.

    It’s an interesting question about the effects of the MCP…since ALS and related disorders may be partly autoimmune, its plausible that substances that affect the way the immune system interacts with specific molecules (which could indeed be mediated partly by the gut microbiome) and the way proteins and so on aggregate could have an effect on the disorder. It would be nice if more big, well-designed studies could be done on such things, but there’s no one looking to make billions by marketing modified citrus pectin (since it can’t exactly be patented), so it’s hard to get really SERIOUS money put into studying it. Ditto for curcumin.

    Still, it sounds like your attitude and your approach are good, and you have loved ones who are there to support you…which is no doubt because you thoroughly deserve it. You certainly share much beauty with the world, and that’s a valuable thing, indeed.

  4. Thanks for the magnificent photos and the personal update, Colin. I love all your photos, especially that Lazuli Bunting! You sound like you have a great attitude and fortitude. I admire your courage. Sending you and your wife a big virtual hug.

  5. Your photos are spectacular, as usual. I wish you well and hope for a very slow progression until medications are found to combat this disease.

  6. These photos are, yes, magnificent, and thank you so much for sharing them. I fervently hope you will continue to do so for many years to come. Both your photography and your attitude to life are admirable.

  7. Incredible photos. Thank you for bringing such delight in your photos.
    Wishing you the best and hopefully a slow progression.

  8. Thanks for filling us in on your ALS rollercoaster experience. Of course, I hope your condition creeps along very slowly.

    Thanks for these “calling” birds. Beautiful and sharp…you animate the beauty of even the most common birds. I admire your skill.

  9. Lovely photos, Collin. Are these all taken in the last year? If so, you are still doing more and better work than most other photographers. Congratulations on your attitude and your continuing work.

    I hope you have the pleasant surprise of becoming Survivor Number 49.

    1. Thanks Lou. 90% of them were in the last year; I was going for a theme here, so had to dig into older images for a few.

  10. Terrific photos, Colin, I especially like the merganser. My sympathies for your harsh diagnosis, and I admire you for adapting to it as best you can. I suppose there’s always a slim chance that recent advances in gene therapy might help you, and so many others.

  11. Thank you Colin. Beautiful (stunning) photos, as always. And so glad to hear you are doing better than expected. (WRT walking and balance: My balance is hugely worse than when I was a young man. And my knees are also much worse. So now I often use a hiking pole (telescoping ski pole, basically) for hiking. It makes a huge difference.

    Best of luck to you. Thanks for the photos!

  12. Wonderful photos, Colin – thanks so much for sharing. The varied eyes are beautiful. And I love that you can ‘see’ the song of the Red-winged blackbird.

    I echo other readers’ sentiments – the way you write about your experience is so very moving. Wishing you the best.

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