Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Once you start, you just can't stop

Wow. I can't believe it's been almost two months since my last post.  Since then, spring has finally somewhat normalized.  After our unusually warm and snowless winter, spring seemed to come early.  There's supposed be April showers followed by May flowers.  That's in reverse as April was insanely dry and full of early flowers and now we've had days of rain in May. Early each spring I get my sea legs by searching for spotted turtles near my house.  It's a challenge to get to the spot and it usually entails me crossing a river.  A river that is deep, has steep slippery banks, and multiflora rose thickets at the top of the banks.  So there's only like one good spot for me to cross.  In the past I could get across in knee boots, but this year even with the lack of rain, I could barely get across in hip waders.  I had to walk on my tippy toes to avoid filling my hip waders with water.  That's because the hurricane last year created numerous log dams which raises the water significantly.  I explored a few alternative crossings.  Two were on top of log jams and one of these jams had a large animal carcass at its base. I regretted using those jams about halfway but was determined to not turn back.  The other crossing was down a steep bank using roots as footholds. It's still deep but now it's my primary way across.   I still feel a bit like a competitor on survivor.
The spotted turtle search started real slow.  The wetland was insanely dry and the turtles were not in their usual areas. They had retreated in the scary deep part where the snappers and painted turtles hang out.  But as we got more rain, things improved.  I tied my record of finding 6 turtles in one visit. I even saw another courting pair...well a male chasing a female in the water and the female swimming for her life. I briefly interrupted their courtship by grabbing them, measuring, and marking them. 
On my last outing there, I made the long trek back to my car and heard a rare owl calling.  I had previously searched unsuccessfully for this owl. I even would go out at night and play the call in hopes of finding it.  Now it was calling on a gorgeous sunny day at 1 pm by some condos.  So I went out last weekend at night and played its call again.  No response except some dogs started barking.  Not sure what's going on, but I may try again in the near future.

In other field excursions for work, I've had some unpleasant sightings.  First my first dead black bear carcass in the woods.  It was mostly bones, but a paw was intact.  Interestingly the head was gone.  I'm not going to post this pics. Then we went and explored some new bird boxes at a site. We saw feathers and wings sticking out of the bottom of the box. We touched them with no reaction.  Once we opened the 2 boxes, we found 18 dead adult tree swallows.  From doing some research, it seems that perhaps the tree swallows were so weakened from the migration that they were unable to climb up the smooth box inside to get out.  Plus they are not the best climbers.  We scooped the birds out and the next time I go out there, I'll try to roughen up the box front insides.  I also emailed the person who I think put up the boxes to let him know. 

No comments: