Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Props to NR folks, & photo of bb teaching rocky intertidal mon. in 2002

bb training volunteers to conduct rocky intertidal monitoring at Cabrillo NM, 2002 (NPS photo).

In celebration of rocky intertidal monitoring everywhere.
I didn't help out at Cabrillo NM this year, so in lieu of that is this photo.
I am the bent over creature standing buns-to-sea.

I am surrounded by amazing people.

A few words about a few of them.

1. The guy w/his rubber boots near my head has since passed away, but he was this amazing just-for-fun geology professor at some local college, but really was a retired lawyer (and geologist?!?). He volunteered for our program 10 billion hours (rocky intertidal monitoring, and MILLIONS of hours for herp monitoring) Amazing, fun, super smart, interesting person, grew up in Wyoming, and game for anything. Helped me monitor veg, too, which can be SERIOUSLY rigorous on a v. steep peninsula made of crumbling sandstone and peppered w/cacti, poisonous plants, and rattlesnakes. He was a Vietnam vet, though, so this, for him, was a cake walk.

Spent his first social security check on a mountain bike. AWESOME!

Said he was living off $ he made from widows and orphans, so this was his way to give back, post-retirement. =) Fabulous. He would quote this if I tried to reimburse him for ANYTHING. He refused it all.

2. The guy standing furthest to the left is an amazing (USGS) herpetologist w/ridiculous photography chops. This guy is ALWAYS energetic and ALWAYS upbeat. And fearless. PERFECT personality for a delightful fieldwork experience. Besides having a lightning fast brain & being funny. A gem.

3. The woman standing behind the rubber-boot-ed-lawyer was marvelous, ALWAYS could be counted on to BE there for rocky intertidal monitoring (that's amazingly important) and was SUPER SOLID, smart, interested, gracious creature who was also (bonus!) a delightful person. And, far as I can tell, ONLY volunteered for rocky intertidal monitoring. JUST us. YAY, us!! (us = the science nerd division I headed)

4. Oh, and did I mentioned that ALL of these amazing people were VOLUNTEERS? Paid ZERO dollars to help. And SO marvelous; I was ultra-spoiled.

Anyhow, am kinda swamped for the next week, so thought I'd share that photograph, and through it

whether paid or volunteer.

YAY, YOU!!!!

And, thank you. =)
1,000 times.
You rock.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

By popular demand, non-icky woodrat proof

Popular demand being one (see last post & comments). =) Works for me!

Not the greatest shot, but as far as poop proof, goes, it'll do:

See, very much rat-like, those dark little capsule-shaped things (if you're lucky enough to be experienced in this rarified field). Belongs to bushy-tailed woodrat (again, see last post).

This poop is not at all like the snake, mouse, lizard, shrew, bird, insect, or marine snail poop I've been decorated with, thanks to wise creatures trying to discourage my unwelcome attentions.

Good way to get the message across, say to a persistent and unwanted suitor, or any annoying creature.

Poop on 'em.

They'll get it. Even if they're an entirely different species.


See, Science and Life Advice.

I'm here for you.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

chez-woodrat: nice digs!

Bear was doing chores today, takin' wood from the pile, and stacking it.

And, lo!

This is more than just the bottom of a woodpile...

Look just below and right of center... (tho' all the acorns are the 1st hint)

A nice little Neotoma nest. So cute and cozy. Felt bad.

Neotoma cinerea, the bushy-tailed woodrat, is what we generally have around our property.

True to their names, the woodrats can't keep their tiny paws off our woodpiles,
and though this creature was evicted today,
4 feet away is a LONG, complex condominium of
oak, pine, almond, and cedar, w/a metal roof to stay dry.

An upgrade, really.

If you are a skeptic re: who else might live in this nest,
I photographed the rat poop inside
so if you need proof, I've got it handy.

All I need is 1 request, and the POOP will post. =)

I learned from Wiki re: bushy-tailed woodrat:
"The Bushy-tailed Woodrat is the original 'pack rat', the species in which the trading habit is most pronounced. It has a strong preference for shiny objects and will drop whatever it may be carrying in favor of a coin or a spoon."

The trading habit--I love that.

When doing fieldwork for my thesis, once I couldn't find the bright pink flag marking a (small mammal) trapping station. In my exhausted grubbiness I shlumped around trying to find it, pouting.

Then--PINK! and PINK PINK shiny-silver-wrapper PINK!

Large pieces of HOT PINK plastic festooned a GIGANTIC woodrat complex (N. fuscipes or N. lepida). Looked very cool. Had to admire the work. My crankiness dissipated, and I smiled. =) And leaned forward to look for shiny coins.

Freaky Skills
And, last week I was helping a co-worker veg. map a site (he veg. mapped, I tagged along and drew the stream path onto an aerial photograph), whilst cruising through the riparian zone 'neath a big old sycamore, I smelled a rat.

Make that a woodrat nest. Couldn't see it, yet, but I knew it was there. Then I found it, unsurprised.


Apparently, having spent SO much quality time with them during my thesis work, I can walk through an area and tell you if a woodrat nest is near. Not a skill I knew I had. And rather odd.

Do y'all have any freaky field skills you never anticipated? DO tell. I'd love to hear about it.


Monday, February 13, 2012

bio dork humor, & I'm gettin' in the FIELD!!

Howdy, gangstas.* An "I'm not dead!" post (w/real time update @#6):

1. Laugh and laugh again
Ran across this photo from 2 summers ago and it made me laugh. Again:

It's a bio pun.
I wrote "DNA" using DNA-laden pollen.
What I think is funny is that
I still think it's funny.

Easily amused. =)

2. If I'm cleaning the chicken coop, then it must be time for fieldwork

Just got a call (from the day job), and I will be HEADING OUT into the field very soon! $weet!

Apparently those little birdies are thinking about romance, rendering us biologist types useful so we can ensure construction/other ground disturbance doesn't take any of the little darlings out.

It doesn't take a lot to dramatically reduce the impacts of construction (or your basic ground disturbance) upon wildlife and wildlife habitat.

So, that's exciting. Gonna be paid to be outside, tromping around. Nice!

But, before I'm in the field, I need to
  • wrestle this LAST (oh-so-resistant) paper into shape to be done w/my fatty editing project,
  • clean the chicken coop 'so the hens are happy whilst I'm away, then

3. Bio Dork crisis! My FAVORITE field clothes are gone. =(
    bb & coworkers. Can you tell all-leather boots are kinda important??

    The perfect set. 

    This is a tragedy I've been holding inside
    ("Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way"**)
    save for occasionally mumbling about it to my husband,
    who is usually in the next room and doesn't hear.

    If you've done fieldwork at all regularly, you get this--
    am I right, fieldies? (pray share your feeling in comments)

    I probably left them in a hotel somewhere whilst on assignment.

    Like back in the pre-MP3 days, I used to always lose my favorite tunes
    'cause I'd bring them everywhere with me.
    The crappy stuff NEVER got lost;
    just sat at home, growing ever-more dusty & annoying.
    Same with field clothes.

    Anyhow, the perfect set included:
    • my lovely $$$ all leather Vasque boots
    • my favorite fleece (9 mile-long skinny sleeves (recall I'm female and 6' 1") in a vibrating chartreuse hue that made me v. happy)
    • and some magic material socks ($martwool, no doubt).
    A moment of silence....

    4. Chartreuse aside

    Factoid from Wiki: "Chartreuse in nature... Birds: Lovebirds are colored various bright tones of chartreuse..."

    Photo by David (http://flickr.com/photos/81804231@N00).

    aw... and terribly cute! =)

    5. I-am-not-a-freak shopping

    But, my loss also means I "must" find and shop at an REI.
    While I am NOT a shopper, I DO love a good REI.
    One of the only stores where I feel pretty normal and relaxed.

    They have stuff I need (and want).
    They are unphased at the mention of mud and freezing,
    hiking (entirely) off trail in the rain, mud, wind, and amid-rattlesnakes.

    'sno big. they get it.

    Sort of like graduate school.
    When I found myself in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment,
    I realized that for the first time in my life,
    I was around people who were like me.

    Super into the planet and conservation and learning,
    way enthusiastic and driven,
    and SO excited to be there.

    It was heaven.


    6. Time travel--whoosh!

    Full disclosure, THIS part of this post is written TODAY, Monday Feb 13th, AFTER my fieldwork.

    Did 2 days of fieldwork sans camera,
    knowing I had more fieldwork the next week, so I'd bring my camera THEN,
    once I'd gotten up to speed w/coworkers.

    THEN they hired 2 new people & I was reassigned to the office to edit.


    So, VERY SORRY, readers, precious little to SHOW re: fieldwork.

    Do have 1 or 2 from last partial day in field (Saturday) that I'll share next.
    And I still have 2 old nests (abandoned from last year, our task to remove)
    that I'll photograph, share, and try to figure out who made them.

    And I picked up owl pellets & various bones, so when I retrieve them,
    I'll share that, as well.

    Anyhow, I'm back home (for now), alive, and its' SNOWING!!!
    Right now the sun is peeking through, brightening snowflakes,
    and rendering the foraging deer ever-more glamorous. =)

    Yup, life's rough.

    And you? How've you been?


    *Wrote this last week, before I left. Am now back. For now.
    *from Pink Floyd's (somewhat painfully genius) song "Time." bb is, in part, English ethnically and (so a Scotsman tells me, more than a little bit) culturally.