Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making it Right

I knew one of things I wanted to see when I came down to LA was to see NOLA and the progress of the rebuilding since Hurricane Katrina. We took a quick tour of the Make it Right homes in the Lower Ninth Ward. I had to use my imagination to picture what this neighborhood used to look like. What's left is a scattering of rebuilt homes and brand new Make it Right homes and blocks of fields where homes used to stand. It was amazing to see that the large street trees have survived throughout it all.
The Make it Right homes sure look very cool. I'd love to have one of those homes. I checked out their website and it's definitely worth a peek. What they should do is make the architectural plans or house building available for purchase. The proceeds from that can they go to building more homes in the hurricane ravaged areas. In fact, I'd say that any town in frequent hurricane areas should make some of these hurricane resistent standards mandatory for any new construction.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A peek at spring

I took a break from the uber cold wintry north and headed to Louisiana to visit Cokane. I was initially greeted by a cold rain and a couple crazed barking dogs. That quickly turned to sunshine, warmth, and breakdancing and bouncing dogs. I also got to enjoy a whole bunch of critters that would considered rare in New Jersey. Nevermind that short sleeve t-shirts were broken out in mid-January.

On the first night, a barred owl was spotted in a tree in a backyard in Baton Rouge. This was shocking to me considering I've always known them as a species that hangs out in big swamps or vast forest. But it seems it's not too surprising. I found this interesting article here.
Cokane and I headed out to the Cypress Island Preserve surrounding Lake Martin. We were determined to see some gators and I was just excited to see some bald cypress swamps and any other critters and plants. No gators were spotted. I suppose they are still hibernating. A couple turtles were spotted basking in this ideal day. Red-shouldered hawks were calling like crazy from all around.
On our various driving ventures, more NJ rare wildlife was spotted. An osprey or two always seemed to be hanging out. We passed a bald eagle's nest on the long and painfully straight drive to New Orleans.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quick visits

We had some quick visits over at the camera trap. Each video is 20 seconds and sound is not needed. It's been bitterly cold and that has taken it's toll on the battery. Cold temperatures really drain batteries. The fox makes its quick appearance in the very beginning. The raccoons have a longer roly poly scampering appearance.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Frozen wasteland

Even though it's winter with subfreezing temps and some snow cover, field work continues. I was in the portion of New Jersey where traffic, tolls, garbage, guard dogs, likely toxic waste, chain link fences with barb wire tops, and unknown hazards abound. So I bundled up and broke out the hand warmers, and off we went. Most of the time was trying to figure out how to get somewhere because of the above hazards, deep uncrossable rivers, and trainlines. We hit an auto terminal obstacle where cars are taken off of trains. We attempted to make contact with the workers to gain access to the area. Apparently it's totally ok to smoke in the outside hallways of buildings there. Lovely! We couldn't get in because the guy we needed was only there in the mornings, but gets to work at 4:30 am if we needed him! Unfortunately, we actually need daylight to do our work.
I tried to tell birdman that this boat was the answer to the deep river crossing problems. But there wasn't a motor, so we passed on that. Nevermind the fact that it just hanging out on land and decrepit.

This frozen lake was a mosaic of shades of light blue and white. Hopefully it's wasn't result of toxic waste.

At one point in the day, we ran into an unexpected surprise. At first glance, I thought I was staring at a black bear stuffed animal. Then I thought it was a dead black cat in circle formation. Then I thought it was a dying black cat in circle formation. It was after subfreezing and not a spot I'd see a cat laying out. I continued to keep my distance but birdman cautiously crept on top of it. It was breathing and we were talking at normal voice...enough for most cats to hear. I thought birdman was going to touch it, but then it finally woke up and ran off in a flash. I guess it was in deep sleep dreaming about mice or something and the typical urban city noise drowned our voices out.