Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back in the saddle

I spent the entire day outside. Birdman and I were doing a plant survey at a giant site down in south Jersey. It's not really my area, so I'm not great at identifying plants down there. The guys had been there at least once before so I had the list of plants they already found. Most of the time I just noticed something "new" or "odd" and we identified the plant together. I added many common species to the list, which birdman kept saying were "gimmies." Well if they were such gimmies, they should have been on the list already! We did see a bunch of other cool things like this praying mantis above. We also found some rare plants like this yellow flowered one below.

Early on in the day, we chased via the car a doe and her fawn. It's not our fault that the fawn kept running along the road with the car. We stopped shortly after that and we were keying out a plant when I saw out of the corner of my eye a fawn running straight towards us. I whispered to birdman but the fawn kept coming towards us. It stared straight at us and made a bleet noise. I talked back to it letting it know that we were not its mommy. It persisted for a minute or two more and then ducked into the woods. Still thinking that we had potential to be mommy, it hung out in the treeline for like 5 minutes more staring at us. Not smart little one! All throughout the day whenever we saw a lone doe, I vocalized the doe's thoughts of "Where is my baby????" I'm sure birdman was totally annoyed after like the fifth doe we saw and I kept saying that.

Here's some caterpillars chowing down on some milkweed.
A small part of the day was radio tracking two rare snakes. They are still underground from the summer heat, but I got to brush up on my radio tracking skills. Y'know I hold the big radio antenna like on those nature shows and head in the direction of the strongest beeps. It's like a grown up game of hot and cold. It's not as fulfilling when the snakes are underground and you don't actually see your target.

The day ended with me finding this baby fence lizard. I managed to catch it and it was a perfect angel for the camera. I found it hard to release back onto the tree since it didn't want to leave my hand.

The big downer of the day was attempting to smush most likely baby deer ticks or chiggers off me at the end of the day. I guess it's all in a days work down in south Jersey.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I had my first all day field outing in what feels like a month. First stop was urban NJ checking on some landscaped habitat plantings. I had been told the plantings were much smaller in area and the species didn't match the plan. That indeed was the case. Plus out of 20 areas, only 15 were actually constructed. I had to mark down what species were planted and what were missing. To add to the confusion, some exotic species not in the kartek database were planted. Thankfully the landscapers were kind enough to leave behind some tags to help in the identification. I did have one mystery plant that had been eaten so much it was like a banzai tree.

Also, if I had a dollar for ever goose dropping I saw, I'd be a billionaire. To "scare" the geese, they installed cardboard cuouts of dogs all around the landscaped areas. I don't think they are particularly effective and actually may scare away the target heron species we are trying to attract.
I got to see the wetland mitigation that was conducted that made the project possible. Again, the metallic ribbons meant to deter the birds from eating the new plants didn't seem very effective. But I hope it all works out.

Here's a typical vista for most of my day. Nature, garbage, and quiet in the foreground with urban badness in the background.

The last stop of the day was met with a series of setbacks. First the rude realization that my soil auger was gone! I had not used it in the morning so then I racked my brain for the last site I had used it. Hours passed and I think I figured it out. In the meantime, I had spent over an hour on the wrong site (wrong side of the road damn it!). Things were not matching the map and I couldn't figure out the problem. I felt defeat again and decided to take a short drive. I jumped out and it still wasn't right, but on a whim I checked across the street and jackpot! It was the right site! Hoorary and phew!! I got done early and jetted to the site where I thought I had left the auger. Problem is, that 99% of my lost soil auger incidents have been me leaning the auger against the car and then driving off without it. It had been over a week and I figured someone probably picked up the soil auger off the road. No luck at finding it, but at least I have a backup auger at the office.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Den of sickness

I've have been going through a few weeks of multiple sicknesses. I've set a personal record for the length of use of antibiotics. I have yet to have that pivotal day of feeling better during this current round of antibiotics. My current ailment is a sinus infection and today was the day of the beginning of the yummy cough from the fluid draining into my lungs. Good times.

It's funny how being sick makes you stupid. Today was no different. I set off to the fabric store to check out and most likely purchase fabric for a dress I was going to make. Except I left the vintage pattern at home and made no notes on how much fabric I'd need. I found fabric I liked but I'll save a return trip for when I'm feeling fully functional and clear headed.

Hopefully I'll be back on my feet and ready for action the next post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baby bunnies

Update on the update: Today is August 25. The landscapers had mowed again and removed my flags. With the help of the bf, we checked on the bunny nest. I had been too fearful to check on them for fear of seeing the carnage. The hole was completely empty including the mom's fur. Later we saw what I presumed is mom bunny on the other side of the building. I'm really hoping she just relocated the baby buns to a safer location (hopefully within the bushes to avoid the lawn mower).

Update: Today is thursday and I haven't seen Mom since Tuesday. On Tuesday, she was visible hopping around the lawn and on the nest. I checked on them yesterday and they were still alive. The mowers came today and between that and the lack of mom, things have probably gone south very quick I can't bring myself to check on them.

I found these baby bunnies in my lawn. I had suspected there was a bunny den and confirmed it today. Mom was hanging out by the now confirmed den. I was worried they would be mowed down, so I placed two pin flags alerting the landscapers about them. Hopefully they won't kill or move them and I can snuggle them when they get bigger. I'll keep you all posted.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Better than tv

I was in my first bridal party late last week. I was maid-of-honor for my cousin's wedding. It was a multi-day event that included headaches all around, a lot of crying, being blinded repeatedly by the sun, stress, and not knowing what in tarnation is going on. Thursday was spent putting the bridesmaid's crafting skills being put to the test. Then there was the rehearsal were I quickly learned that I was going to be blinded by the sun the entire ceremony. Then rehearsal dinner was at a restuarant on the Hudson River. Weather was perfect and it was great people watching. The actual day of the wedding, I knew two things schedule-wise: a) mani/pedis at 9:30 pm (btw for my first ever mani/pedi they cut my toe nails too short and my toes were ouchy) and b) the ceremony was at 6:30 pm. Everything else in between was unknown to me. We grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the hotel. I have to say I was disappointed with the changing room they provided us ladies. It was a meeting room with some chairs, fold up tables, and one mirror. There was no a single spot to hang anything. But we pulled it together and it felt like most of the day was spent just waiting. By the time the ceremony was over, so were my feet. After spending 2 days in the same never previously worn before heels, they were done. Once I got to the reception, my shoes were off until further notice. Here's the view from the rehearsal dinner of the Tappen Zee bridge at dusk.
Some awesome lavender in the gardens of the hotel.
I must getting old or something because the music at the reception was insanely loud. You pretty much had to scream to your neighbor to maintain a conversation. I think every wedding has that table of rowdy ruff boys. Y'know it's the table of single guys who collectively have the mentality of a 5 year old. The centerpieces were a giant martini glass filled with rose buds, water and floating candles. These lads decided to throw some carrots and m&m's in the water in their spare time. They were clearly enjoying the open bar and attention to the fullest. As most know, I'm not a big dancer....and add to this very ouchy feet. Once the dance floor was really hopping, the most rowdy guy made a direct beeline to me and asked my to dance. I shot him down quickly and he went back to his table with his tail between his legs. Another rowdy guy comes over to the table and asks who I shall call CM to dance. CM eagerly accepts and after that first dance they were seen holding hands and then mysteriously disappearing for an extended period of time. They return and he is seen obsessively fixing his hair over and over again. I wonder what might have happened!
Many courses later, another rowdy guy comes over and asks me to dance. I shot this one down again but he thinks persistence will get him victory. No dice! Meanwhile, I've been hanging out with a bunch of couples at my table and one of the guys thought it would extraordinarily funny if I danced with him right after shooting the rowdy ruff guys down. I agreed but I thought the seal would be broken and my standard excuse would no longer work. The whole time I suspect that the bride/groom had bet these rowdy ruff guys to see if they could get me to dance. Well I hope the bride/groom got some money off of that. Next time, I want in on the bet.
In the middle of this pic, is the main rowdy ruff boy in all his glory.

Sorry there will be no pictures of me in said bridesmaid mode. Let's just say it's telling that I rather post pics of me in dirty schlumpy field clothes, sweaty, and with no make-up. But if anyone is looking for a slightly used 100% polyester cornflower blue dress, I have one readily available for free.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Memories of spring

Field work has pretty much been nonexistent that past month. It makes for some boring times but at least my farmer's tan has had a chance to fade slightly. I finished up the big turtle reports and got it out the door with time to spare on Monday. Hopefully by next week, I'll be pulled back into field work. I'll probably regret saying that once it gets very hot and humid out. So I will leave you with two photos I took at my local wetlands during the fantastic spring excitement. I love it when the winter chill is mostly gone and it's that first few days you can go outside without a coat. I always feel a bit vulnerable and think it's too almost good to be true. Like I'm missing a big coat.