Monday, August 30, 2010

Wild New Jersey

I grew up watching a lot of Marty Stouffer's Wild America. I fondly remember the grizzly cub raising episodes. My parents didn't have cable and perhaps still don't have cable, so kid friendly shows were limited on non-cable tv. I'm sure if they knew what profession I end up with, they would have quickly ordered cable and had me watching doctor or teaching shows instead. I don't think they fully or even partially understand my profession and my father isn't very happy with the constantly dirty state my car is in. Did I mention that just this weekend my father remarked that he couldn't tell the difference between a squirrel and a chipmunk.....and had probably ran over the dead one we were looking at? Yup. I'm totally least that's what I tell myself.

Even though the summer's heat has been at times unbearable (very punny), I've had my share of bear sightings. First up was a mother and her two young cubs. I spotted them while driving and quick as a flash I jumped out the car, left the car running, and grabbed my camera. My shots came out awful, but thankfully my boss' shots came out good and he didn't mind my animal paparazzi action. One cub immediately scurried up a tree, while mom and other cub casually meandered closer to us. Everyone was very relaxed and cubby eventually came down and joined the fam.

I had another encounter at another site with likely the same bear that had spooked me this spring. Had it not been for my co-worker, I wouldn't have seen the bear....two times mind you. We seemed to be following it or playing some sort of game of tag. Eventually it hunkered down for a nap and if I had been solo I probably would have walked right into it. I also reaffirmed to myself that if you hear rustling in the bushes....rustling of a large animal....a deer or bear....and if you yell out to it, if it doesn't run off it's likely a bear.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ms. Orange and Mr. Yellow

Field work this summer continues to physically challenging with the heat and humidity. The unofficial drought has turned soil into powder and many wetlands into deserts. Leaves are dropping or turning yellow on more and more trees. Drought sensitive plants are withered and brown. My recent field outing had taken me to an area that was flooded and I was unaccustomed to walking in deep water. It had been so long since I've seen so much water. I need to regain my sea and muck legs.

In my journeys, I stumbled separately onto these two box turtles. Both were brilliantly and unusually colored. At this time of year with the vegetation so high, I really mean stumble. At times while walking, I feel like I could be absorbed by plants at any second. The vines could twist around my ankles and take me down.