Monday, August 31, 2009


Somewhere in this top pic is a turtlet on its way to independence. Can you spot Almond? Shortly after this pic was taken the few blades of sedge gave way and Almond took a dive into the pond.

I've had Almond and Macademia since the end of April. I kept them in a small plastic container with an actual rock, no filter, and in the kitchen. That meant daily briefly container cleanings. Last time Cashew and Peanut lived in the basement with an elaborate set up of lights, timers, filters, foamy floating rock, and the displeasure of lugging the tank up and down the stairs for biweekly cleaning. Did I mention the lugging of water up and down the stairs.

Macademia featured here in these two pics was originally the larger and calmer turtle. Mac also had the pastel shade of orange and the big black dot on its belly. It seemed that Mac wanted to stay a turtlet forever since growth was difficult and at times nonexistent. Mac's shell started out at a little over an inch and ended up about 1.25 inches over a span of 4 months. En route to their new home, Mac mostly stayed still and quiet in its cup and just watched me. Mac was very eager to start a new life and quickly jumped into the water.

Almond on the other hand started out the fiesty runt with that vibrant orange belly. Almond was a voracious eater and quickly outgrew Mac. Al's shell started out under an inch and grew to over 1.5 inches. Al's a biter and out of the water loves to nip at anything that's put in front of it's mouth. I let Al take a bite on my finger months ago and it was precious, quick, and painless. When my BFF Patty came over a couple days ago, I wanted to show her my biting trick. Little did I know that Al meant business. Al grabbed on tight and held on for minutes. It was painful but entertaining. I was taught a lesson and was ready to grab tweezers to try to open Al's mouth back up. Interestingly no mark was left on my finger and no blood was drawn.
The whole drive to their new home Al was scratching and trying to get out of the cup. However, once Al was put on top of the tussock sedge it didn't want to leave and stayed still. Eventually Al fell through the blades and was seen swimming around.

I'll check on them as much as I can before the real autumn kicks in. I'm sure they are happy as clams in their new digs. I've seen babies their size there this year so they'll have some companions to show them the ropes of being wild.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nearly final destination

A little before noon, at work we heard the roar of sirens and then later helicoptors. We are all used to it since we are so close to a major highway, other big roads, and a hospital. I was leaving for lunch and encountered the UPS guy at the front door. He relayed the story that a small plane had crashed into the local mall parking lot. When I say local, I mean I can walk there if needed. I rushed back to my desk to grab my camera and headed straight there.

It was a scene as expected. Tons and tons of firefighters, police, and EMTs mostly just milling about. The plane had been foamed and the pilot and passenger, who were reported ok, were long gone.

When I got back into my car, the first song on the radio was "Rock the boat" by Aaliyah, which was the video they were shooting in Bahamas. On the way home from the shoot, their plane went down killing Aaliyah and many others. Weird stuff.

After work, I swung back around the all the news vans were out in full force. Of course, the plane and all signs of the crash were gone.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Real summer

I was briefly back out doing more plant surveys. They were cut short thanks to the heat and other boring reasons. I can't say I was sad to be indoors during our short wave. I could usually handle the morning but by lunch I'd start get loopy. I'd stop caring and I'd be ready for a nap. Here's some more cool fungi about.
This is a ravaged tussock sedge, which is a clumped sedge. Some small critter must have made a nest in it and I can only assume a bear was determined to get at it.

Tomorrow I head into extreme mosquito zone from what my co-workers have said. Hopefully it won't be that bad but I'm already preparing for the worst.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The teenagers are loitering

At the Great Swamp, the baby wood ducks have sprouted into adorable teens. They make the cutest cooing type noises as they manically dabble around. At that to the list of something I could watch for hours. I really should have shot some video to capture this, but now I have a zillion not so great photos instead.
For work, the rare plant surveys continue. I was out solo today sweating it out and hoofing up large hills and over rock outcrops. I was in bear and rattlesnake country and in the middle of nowhere. If I fell or something happened, I would be miles from the nearest road and in dense swamp or brush on top of that. I actually did end up falling on a slimy leaning boardwalk over the deeper part of the swamp, but I'm fine. I've fallen three times in the past week. The soles of my rubber boots must be past their prime and worn down. Good times! The goldenrod was almost as tall as me. Love the bees and other pollinating stinging insects at face level! Thankfully I made it ok and I stopped by the black vulture nest on my way out. The teenagers were out lurking on the rocks. I gave them a pep talk and they flew off.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Today we were back out doing a rare plant survey. With all this crazy rain this summer, the fungi have really outdone themselves. I really wish I had taken that fungi ID class back in college. But I just make up names for them. Above is "orange slices" and below is "car wash sponge". Not pictured here is "french fries" and "golden french fries."
The weather held steady at hot and humid in the morning. I had heard on the weather report that thunderstorms were predicted in the afternoon. I foolishly decided that this report didn't apply to me and left the rain gear behind. Of course, the heavens opened up in the afternoon and at a point miles from the car. Thankfully we had some warning so cell phones and camera got secured in a ziploc bag. My paper field guides got stowed in a water resistent backpack and we braced for the worst. At first, the rain was caught by the trees and we remained relatively dry. Then the trees could hold no more and we started getting wet. It was refreshing in the beginning. But then the intensity increased and we quickly hit saturation. We were being powerwashed. Nevermind the thunder while we carried large metal sticks in the woods. At first, we were going to finish up our work in the rain since we only had one small spot to do. But once it got to the point we couldn't hear each other talk from a reasonable distance and the ground became very slippery, so we quickly headed back to the truck. We hunkered down for at least 15 minutes and the rain eased. We finished up (without our metal walking sticks, field guides, or camera) for the final leg and even went and did another very small site after that. Of course we stumbled upon another box turtle chowing down on some fungus so I couldn't get a pic of that happy chap.
But here's some pretty cardinal flowers we found in the morning. The pics don't do it justice. The red so vibrant it is almost florescent red.