Showing posts from August, 2010

Lucky Peak, Part 1

Update 9/8/10: some more photos. Caught a Flammulated owl 6 days ago, and haven't caught anything since. Can't wait until the season picks up. Getting sick of empty nets, but i guess there are perks... like this kestrel, and these views.

Update: i got to hold a cooper's hawk yesterday. cool.

I’m in Boise! Actually, I’m looking down at Boise from Lucky Peak, site of the Idaho Bird Obsevatory (IBO), where I am working until Haloween. I’ve been here a week so far, and am acclimating to the West (and the elevation- 5,900 ft!). The air is thin enough to remind me of my sub-par aerobic endurance. It’s the driest part of the year, and lightning strikes ignite small brushfires all across the valley, occasionally filling the sky with a smoky haze. Below, fire planes and helicopters douse the fires as fast as they crop up. The air is dry, dry, dry and my lips are constantly chapped despite the Carmex and Blistex I keep applying.

I am one of two fall migration owl banders here. We t…


Or, to be more precise, Eastern Egg Rock, an island in Muscongus Bay, just north of Freeport in coastal Maine. I spent the summer on one of Project Puffin’s islands last year as a research assistant. I knew that a week in a bird blind, watching puffins perch on ledge rocks over the Atlantic would be the perfect way to re-group after Africa and put on my game-face for the coming months of travel and fieldwork. Also, I wanted to keep my foot in the door so I can maybe supervise one of the seabird islands next summer. I didn’t bring my camera because I knew that last year’s photos would easily trump anything I took this time, so here are some highlights from last year to give you an idea of what I was looking at all week.

Mostly, days are spent either in a bird blind resighting band numbers and counting the fish that puffins and terns bring in for their chicks. Otherwise, we round up a subset of tern and gull chicks to measure and weigh them for productivity studies. My favorite part abo…


There seems to be a big stigma surrounding Africa. My mom wasn’t thrilled at the idea of visiting, and people all along the way put in their two cents about why going there would be sketchy. Most people from the U.S. that visit there, then, must have a good reason, and I was no different. I went there to visit my significant other, Clancy, a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique (check out her blog!). She is a biology, chemistry, and English teacher over there, and, frankly, if it weren’t for her, I probably never would have built up the desire to go to Africa. 

The trip was rewarding and challenging in many respects. Rewarding for the wonderful kindness extended by strangers, the perspective gained by looking at things from a third-world perspective, the gorgeous scenery, environment, and wildlife, the terrific company, and some great stories. I won’t write anything in great detail here because I have posted guest entries on Clancy’s blog that expand on my impressions of Mozambique…

The Long Trail

Why would someone hike 280 miles through the woods, subjecting their body to the wear-and-tear of 16-mile days on a trail mix diet? At first, I wasn’t really sure, but I knew it would be just what the doctor ordered after 4 years of tough academics and on the cusp of my first real step into the big post-graduate current of life. I intended to clear my mind of thesis work, post-graduation plans, and various health anomalies that had been weighing heavily on me for months. Also, I wanted the opportunity to spend time with my sister before heading off to this fieldwork lifestyle.

The trail was hugely rewarding- and then some. Two great friends joined us for 40-90 miles of the trek, and it was the first time I’ve hung out with them without academic overhead. My body was tuned into the best shape its ever been in (by the end we were climbing over mountains as if the trail was flat pavement). My sister and I are getting along better than ever. Also, I got a bit of a reality check on the th…