Sunday, December 28, 2008

Meet 9 point

There's a hot stud that's been hanging out by my place. He likes to come around in the afternoon and check on the fallen bird seed. He has four points on one antler and five points on the other. You can see the one bizarro antler point that points straight down. Today he was hanging out with a much smaller buck and they ran off together. I guess it's back to male bonding time after the rut.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day!

It's snowing! We are under a winter storm warning with a potential of 4 to 8 inches of snow. I'm guessing we'll be on the lower end of that. The flakes started nice and fat and now they are barely noticeable. I'm hoping that doesn't mean sleet and rain are on their way. Boo to that.

I'm fortunate to have the ability to work from home. Almost everyone in my company can do that. I mean the technology is there, so why not use it. So why is that some people still insist on coming in. Must be that annoying martyr syndrome again. There are still some people that are technologically challenged but let's get with the program. It's not that hard to log on to the server from your home computer.

In preparation for the snow, I went to check on one of my secret and "illegal" bird feeders stashed in the bushes. It was gone. No doubt stolen by raccoons. I went around the nearby woods edge to see if I could spot it on the ground and noticed an almost identical bird feeder hanging (with food) in a tree along woods edge. I knew it was not mine. So someone else has a dirty little secret like me. I also hung up my other bird feeders on the deck and the birds have been going crazy for it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some thoughts

I haven't had any eventful field work or weekend outings lately. As you can see, winter is here a bit early and it's snowing as I type. So here's some thoughts and things going on.

I survived the company's holiday party and the accompanying bad news speech. Somehow I was at the table with the president and other major higher ups. Also present were two admin staff who were trying to start some major gossip about two married co-workers (not married to each other). At least that's who I think they were talking about since they wouldn't completely spill the beans. I'll keep my skeptical eye on that situation, but right now I'm a non-believer.

No raises and decreased bonuses again this year. Fantastic! Today I was just told that they won't be supplying tissues to us anymore. What next? Bring your own toilet paper? Work has been slow to come through the door but I'm always looking for ways to organize, market, or improve the office. I've been trying to keep busy. Aside from the lack of tissues, another thing that really irks me is that sick people still come into work. I'm not sure if they want to be sainted for their valiant effort. But seriously, you will only spread your disease to others and it's not like we are busy. So stay home and get better!

In non-work news, I've been battling somewhat of a medical mystery. I've spent way too much time and money at doctors and pharmacy and getting poked and prodded this month. What I have learned is that everyone should do their own research. Don't totally rely on doctors, because your ailment may not be their #1 speciality. They don't explore alternative or most up-to-date treatments. Plus these days, any sort of test is farmed out to a annoying. You can't even get a stinking x-ray at a doctor's office anymore. The internets are a fantastic place and I'm keeping my fingers crossed with my self-diagnosis and treatment. So far the kartek diagnosis and treatment has been the most successful. In theory, I'll hear the results of my tests tomorrow. If I was wagering, I'd say that the tests would all come back normal and provide no new information. Then I'd be back to square one...just poorer and more frazzled.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Slow times

Work's been slow. I'm sure a lot of people are saying that. So the few times I can escape the mundane slow moving office, it's a treat. Here's some forgotten pics I took on my day two at the big farm estate. It sure was cold that morning as I crunched through the ice in my car and on foot. The rain had stopped in the middle of the night and froze on all the plants making it appear like winter. For some reason, the dried goldenrod mesmorized me. I guess it was extra white and in the best dried shape before it slowly decomposes over winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Groundhog day

The state is out verifying the wetland boundary we delineated eons ago at that big farm estate. Since a lot of time has passed, a bunch of our wetland flags are missing. They either got clobbered when the farmer mowed the fields or removed by others. I have a short list of suspects who might have removed the flags since I could see a large truck had ridden along the wetland boundary and now all the flags are missing. Coincidence, I think not.

So I'm back out there to find the old flags and replace them with shiny new ones and assist the surveyors in re-establishing the flags I can't find. Rain was predicted for most of the day so I was surprised when I got the game on phone call early this morning. Sure enough it rained intermittently all morning and the surveyors hunkered down in their truck because their equipment can't get wet. I got to head out there first since the surveyors first had to find some stake in the ground and wait for the rain to let up. Boring. A herd of deer ran across the field and the red tailed hawks were startled to see a human about. It's always nice to be the only person in a spot surrounded by wildlife.
I slapped on full rain gear and went on a mission to find the old flags and replace them with new ones. That took most of the day and the rain mostly stopped around noon. Good thing, because my maps were getting soaked and falling apart.
The half dirt/half gravel road quickly began to flood and the more dirt areas became mud pits. It was the most off roading I got to do with the RAV-4. Overall, the new tires worked well. It was more controlled chaos than uncontrolled madness. I did drive into a too deep muddy rut slightly off the road and had to back out. After that muddy ride, I decided to hoof it in the muddy spots. I really don't know how I'm going to get all that mud off my car. It's inside the door jambs too.
After the rain stopped, there still were a lot of clouds. It's that heavenly sky time with sunbeams poking through. Iin the far distance, one sun beam made it to the ground and was moving with the wind. It looks like an alien spaceship was shining a beam of light to earth in search of it's next abduction victim.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A rainy vaca

I just got back from another relaxaton in Vermont. It much needed as usual. Unfortunately, it pretty much rained the entire time. There were a few hours of non rain here and there but we only saw the sun once for about 5 minutes. That severely limited any sort of outdoor activities. There were more obstacles for horseback riding so I dragged my riding boots up again for no reason. Another snafu was we had no heat the first night. It was a cold night as well. When we pulled up at 1 am, there was already frost everywhere. It was not a good night for sleeping. I woke up early and started a fire in the wood burning stove and a few hours later the heat guy came and fixed it in a snap.
In the few moments of non-rain, we hiked up to the waterfalls and enjoyed the pleasant outdoors. I snapped these few shots there.

In the distance, you can see the mountain is covered in clouds and mist.
The dogs spent most of their time relaxing or playing. Two dog toys were sacrificed this weekend. They all sat down and curled up like this. It was too cute not to take a shot of the dog triangle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Yellow Room

Surfers have the green room. Well I've decided that I get a yellow room. It's when the sugar maple yellow fall foliage is in full yellow glory. There are parts of the woods where it's almost all sugar maple and everything is just blazing yellow. The forest floor is yellow and the leaves are glowing yellow with the sun peeking through. Pictures don't do any justice of course.

At the same site of the yellow room, there was a nice gurgling stream.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Just some pics from my latest visit to Natirar. If I was a jogger, it would a great place to jog.
I took a zillion pics underneath this bridge and none of them came out focused. I guess the camera couldn't handle the angles of the bridge so that it just would give up.

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's nice to see after all these nor'easters and windstorms that there still are some leaves on the trees. The bf and I swung by Hacklebarney and area to get some apple cider (for me!!!) and to check out the trails. We went straight for the small waterfalls so he could take some fancy pics of the waterfalls. I played photo assistant and took a couple shots on my point and shoot as well. The waiting around proved to be good people watching as well.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lakota Wolf Walk

Following our attempt to get to Raccoon Ridge, a diner run, and refueling, we headed to the Lakota Wolf Walk. The parking area was packed and we decided to walk to the Wolf Walk rather than being driven in the bus. In theory, it wasn't that far and was through the woods. We huffed and puffed our way up the hill. Mind you we just came from a long hike, so our legs and lungs were already burning. But we made it and the wolves were seen lounging about or occasionally running along the double chain link fence. There were four enclosures for each of the wolf packs/types. They had ample woods, a small pond and a water trough. The wolves knew that it was time for doggie treats and they headed to the fence. They were rewarded for their appearance with a doggie treat and a pet through the fence by the tour guide. I still can't pick my favorite wolf let along my favorite wolf pack. We then got to try to make the wolves howl. Of course, it didn't work. But our tour guide called forward his howliest wolf (a puppy) and then howled to the wolves. Howlie started right in and soon enough it became a case of the crying baby syndrome. More wolves chimed in (the other half of the wolves couldn't even be bothered to even sit up and continued with their naps) and just when you thought there were done another wolf started in and the whole cycle began again. It was very cool! Each wolf knows its name. I could've stayed there all day just watching them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to take focused pictures through a chain link fence. The camera focuses on the fence and the wolves get blurred out.

Reluctantly, we left the wolf area and headed over to hear the fox and bobcat talks. The foxes were cute. I don't know why I didn't take any pics. I did have a bad vantage point (thanks to our late arrival) and was disheartened from all the blurry wolf pics. So that's probably why. But one of the foxes was super enchanted with the tour guide. He wouldn't leave her side and just gazed at her for at least 20 minutes. The promise of occasional treats and dinner! We heard a bunch of cool fox stories. I won't retell so you guys will have to go there and hear them for yourselves. Then the foxes were put away so the bobcats could come out. They were super cute and apparently are ferocious. More funny bobcat stories ensue. The entertaining part was watching the tour guide try to avoid being bitten by Cache the male bobcat. Below is apparently an action shot of Cache coming close to attacking. Did you know that a bobcat can take down a deer? Yes. It's true and crazy!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Almost Raccoon Ridge

The bf and I started on a long outing to Raccoon Ridge and then onto the Lakota Wolf Walk in Warrentucky this past weekend. I was more excited to see the wolves (aka "woofs" per a comical guy from an Alaska reality show). I had been to Raccoon Ridge the year before. The walk is long (2.5 miles one way) along the Appalachian Trail, but I enjoy seeing the striped maples and the different colorful scenary. I am also always hoping to see bears. Plus I get a workout that's far more visually interesting then any dvd of mine. We made it to a nice vista which was about 2/3 the way to Racoon Ridge. Actually the last time I was there I saw more interesting birds at a closer distance at this vista then the actual Racoon Ridge. Raccoon Ridge itself is a great 360 degree vista of NJ and PA, but being in such a great spot means it's totally freezing with wicked winds. I think we had spent like 15 windswept minutes up there last time before retreating the warmth of the woods. Plus the hawks were so far it was difficult to determine if it even was a bird. So after deciding not to go all the way to Raccoon Ridge, we spotted an immature bald eagle at a close distance at this vista. It even came around a couple times (did we look that bad off????) so we could correctly identify it.

Here's the striped maple. I managed to harvest some seeds. Hopefully I can some to sprout this year.

Here's typical woods with a nice red lowbush blueberry understory.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Nor'easter in October

When I woke up late this morning, I knew it was going to be rainy. I check the weather frequently and had one last check while chowing down on breakfast. I knew I was in for a day of rain and that it would probably snow in the Catskills and Poconos. I can't recall a time it snowed in October except for an occasional flurry. It was raining cats and dogs until about 11 am. Then it switched over to snow. Cool beans I thought. Then it started sticking and it kept snowing and snowing. Sidewalks and roads turned to a slushy mess of signficance. Then the plow and salt trucks go by. I venture out to lunch. Ice scraper is in the car of course. I decide to pass on the scraping and use my wipers to push most of the snow away. Just walking to my car my feet are completely soaked. The umbrella is basically useless since it's horizontally blowing wet snow. My scarf blows off and a huge chunk of snow falls into my purse. I have a slushy ride to lunch and my tires are working gangbusters. On my way back into the office I decide to grab my ice scraper. It's in the trunk and since my trunk opens like a regular building door, a huge wad of slushy snow falls onto my privacy shield in the trunk. It basically covers it with about 3 inches. I attempt to brush most of it off while more snow falls or blows in. Sigh! I scramble back in and try to dry out the inside of my purse and my feet. I then hear through the grapevine that Interstate Route 80 is closed for 15 miles in both directions. More stories of various road closures ensue. What in tarnation is going on. Then my coworker gets a photo of the situation about 20 miles west of us. The picture looks like a blizzard had hit complete with plowed snow banks. I decide to leave early before the slush turns to ice. It took extra time even the roads were fine. But I am sure not ready for winter after today.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hazards of Autumn

It's that time of year where all the sticky and spiny seeds are out. I'm not as vigilent as I should be and often leave the field covered in seeds. As you can tell from my glove, my site visit to PA ended in a bumper crop. My glove wasn't the only victim. All elastic bands of my jacket and sleeves were covered as well. While sitting in traffic on the way back, I passed the time by removing the seeds from my jacket. These seeds were covered in minute spines which I didn't pay too much mind to until I got home. There I discovered numerous spines in my fingers. Most of them are still there since I wasn't able to remove. They were so small and hard. I just hope they will work themselves out over time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Deserted Village of Feltville

The bf and I once again set out to explore the wilds of NJ. This time is was to the Watchung Reservation, which I never really been too. I had an ex-bf who used to live in it and we'd always get stopped by the cops when I was dropping him back at his house. Union County was having some sort of weekend festival at various historic sites and had a larger event going on at the Deserted Village of Feltville. It wasn't as dramatic as I hoped. There was a small graveyard with a few gravestones from the Revolutionary War. This one was the one appealing. The rest of the Village was a smattering of run down homes and homes that people still live in. I can't even imagine having various hitchhikers and tourists wandering around my yard, which I'm sure happens all the time. The big highlight of the trip was getting freshly pressed apple cider and it was free. It tasted amazing and I would have drank all the samples if no one was looking. But I restrained myself. The question I was asking myself was whether a juicer would have the same results. Probably not since the ancient press is more natural.
Here's a house that's probably in my price range. It's a bit of a fixer upper, but who doesn't have a house where there's weeds growing in the porch. Pots are so overrated.
The dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows are back. I was overly excited to see them. Fall is officially here!
Here's a house somebody lives in. Hope they don't mind us snooping around their yard.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Junkyard minus the dog

My company got hired by a town to review an environmental report prepared by an engineer. It's an engineer we work occassionally with so we can't totally slam them in our review. But I will say that environmental reports should not be written by engineers who know nothing about wetlands, plants, wildlife, etc. It's a fine line that I will have to walk in my review. It's also a shame that the applicant (a major company that we all know) is not getting the best advice. It'll be a great project if the engineer can get it together. Really anything is an improvement from the auto junkyard it is now. It's surrounded by development and forested wetlands along a major river.

We had our site walk with the property owner, the engineer, and the township and we got there early. We went from nasty junkyard to forested wetlands in a few feet. It was surprisingly quiet and nice in the wetlands. The only downside was the auto parts strewn all across the landscape. We saw in the far distance this big hulking rusted structure. What was it? A giant tank, a trailer, a bus? I was right. It was an ancient bus.

So the big question is what will they do with these auto parts and vehicles in the wetlands and floodplain? To remove them will require heavy machinery and the removal of trees. It's painstaking to dismantle by hand and remove in small parts. There is massive amounts of parts out there. It could fill another junkyard!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wildcat Ridge - The Bat Cave

The second half of our Wildcat Ridge outing was spent at the bat cave. There's bars in front of the cave to keep people out. That's a good thing on multiple levels. Why do humans think they have a right to go everywhere? Some things should be left just for the animals.
The most striking thing about the cave was the cold draft just walking up to it. There was a nice rift adjacent to the cave. You could see a cold breeze coming from their too.

We decided to bum around the area until dusk to see if we could see the bats come out of the cave. September is supposed to be the prime month and we felt that we were close enough to September to give it a shot. Nevermind the unseasonable warmth. We weren't the only ones with that idea. The observation deck was full and we decided to climb the hill to get another vantage point above the cave entrance. We waited and waited and nothing. Then it got dark so we scrambled back down to the deck. We waited some more and then about 10 people complete with flashlights start approaching us. They were from a nature group and their leader was one of those annoying know it all types. Now if they had gotten their earlier (during daylight) they would have read the very informative sign that says you should stay away from the cave entrance to avoid disturbing the bats that are trying to fly out. Nope. This massive group heads right to the cave and decides to hang out. Everyone back at the deck starts grumbling about this and finally someone decides to put a stop to this. The group heads back and we decide to back off and reassess the situation. It's now almost an hour past sunset. We take off disheartened having seen more planes than bats in the sky.

I did some research and it looks the bats should already be hibernating in the cave. They will be back out in April and so will we.

The bars and surrounding rocks were covered in bat guano. This pic doesn't do justice at all.