Monday, June 22, 2009

update - June 22

Just letting anyone out there know I have not forgotten that I said I would write more, I have just been in the mountains with no computer access.

I just spent a week or so in the Rocky Mountain National Park area, but I decided not to get a permit for the park and of course everyone says that is where the Clark's nutcrakers and gray jays are so I may apply for one and come back. Otherwise, it is finally warming up here but it doesn't hurt dropping down in elevation a little as well. Last night was the first night I didn't need lots of layers. Well back to the bush and I hope to have a chance to write more in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Damn Gray Jays and Clark's Nutcrackers

I just wanted to post an update and vent on the fact that everywhere in Colorado that people have told me I can find these two species has been a lie! Well, not maybe a lie but I am tempted to believe that these people don't know how to identify a gray jay or Clark's nutcracker. I have been to a few places so far and struck out. The most recent location was Brainard Lake, which is a beautiful place and the road/gate was just opened today!

I think that maybe the campground/picnic areas need a couple days of people with food to attract the gray jays so we will probably head back up there after the weekend. We did however get one hairy woodpecker on the way back and found her nest (I just posted some pics on picasa). We couldn't get her to come down to the call so we moved the net into a flight path near her nest and caught her which goes to show that watching the net is a good thing because I never would have found the nest or the flight path if I wasn't sitting there watching the net for 20 minutes or so. Back in Golden and hanging out with afternoon thunderstorms, of course! I don't care what people here say but when it rains almost every day I have been in Colorado and they keep saying this isn't typical, I say they are full of it! We did have a pretty neat thunder and lightning show last night though and I was REALLY glad to not be in my tent!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Update June 8

My posting has been erratic at best I know, but I have new motivation now to write and will try and post every few days at least, during this field season. I met a man named Ed (who is a retired outdoors writer - more on him below) and have since been inspired to try and write on this thing more often.

Field season started the first week of May and we have been camping ever since. We first started in MT for a couple weeks to catch some birds I didn't get last year (damn woodpeckers) as well as some new species my adviser added, and then headed down to CO where we have been since just before Memorial Day. I have been catching lots of birds and overall having a good time but the start in MT was cold since it was still pretty much winter and below freezing at night. In CO so far we have had a lot of rain and thunderstorms but it is supposed to get to be more normal in terms of weather soon. I think we have about a week left on Colorado and then we are off to Utah. I have met some great people here in Colorado and one of them is a couple named Ed and Suzan Dentry; Ed is a retired outdoors writer for the rocky mountain newspaper who knows pretty much everyone who is anyone in the outdoors (hunting and fishing) scene over the last 40 years and is friends with many of the fly-fishing authors I have read and Suzan has an antiques website SuzanDentryAntiques.. Ed also covered the 1988 Yellowstone fires which he was nominated for a Pulitzer and has regaled us, more me though with some hunting/fishing and general outdoors stories which I have thoroughly enjoyed. They have also been kind enough to let us sleep in their guest room and couch so we have been out of the tents for a few days and loving the "normal" comforts (we also caught a number of birds at their place which is sorta important since that's required before we get to move on to the next destination).

We also ran into a few other people with bird feeders which makes it easier to catch birds and a few have been really kind to offer us home cooked meals. One of them was a couple in Boulder and the man was a retired psychology professor and incredibly good pianist where we spent the night after catching the birds chatting away and had a great time. Back in MT we camped on this older couple's land (Jane owns the local Birds and Beasleys bird store in Helena along with her daughter Sandy - both of which helped us out immensely; thank you both!) where we were for about a week since they had showers we could use, which is always a good thing.

Nothing too exciting to report really and with all the run-off I haven't had a chance to fish but soon! There was a sighting of a mountain lion and two yearling cubs here which is exciting and I hope to see them. No bears so far but we are planning on heading to another family's place to camp and they have a big black bear that regularly come around so hopefully I will see it (but not from too close up). Originally I was thinking of camping in their meadow/draw but then my field partner Karley reminded me that the bear is thought to be hanging out in that exact area so.... we are staying up by the house instead.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Sweet Gesture

So I met a couple in Montana where we banded a few birds at their feeder and saw something I really wanted to share. The gentleman suffers from a bad back and has an electrical stimulator for pain reduction and as a result has difficulty moving around a lot. He did make it out a couple times to look at a few of the birds we caught but that obviously took a little effort. The couple was fantastic and we hung out at their place talking and sharing stories while we waited for the birds (on a side note though I couldn't believe that we didn't get any woodpeckers at their place - it was perfect habitat! I have no idea where they went since apparently they are ALWAYS around: actually I think that woodpeckers in Montana just know when I am around and disappear just like they did last year and again this year at Joe and Sally's place where once again there was perfect beautiful cottonwoods etc., and NO WOODPECKERS!).

Back to the point; the man proceeded to walk on out to the meadow about 200 feet or so away from the house and walk around for about 45-60 minutes with his beautiful golden retriever, bending over and looking at the ground, then walking a little and doing it again. I was only half paying attention because of the birds in the net but eventually he came back to the house with a hat full of flowers (shooting stars, bird bells etc.), all of which were his wife's favorite, and he put them in a little vase for her. I don't think anyone realized that I even noticed, but for some reason witnessing this act brought about a huge flood of memories and feelings. The first thing I thought about was my grandparents (maybe because the couple were older, in general) and the many times I have witnessed both of them do things like this for each other ever since I can remember. I can think of so many times that my grandfather has made a comment or a little gesture declaring his love for his bride which he has said many times and which we always chuckled at but knew he was serious, the many times I have seen him and my mom over the years pick gardenias for my grandmother, mom or aunt etc., for example, which they love(d), or my grandfather picking oranges known from the backyard (these are by far the best the best valencia oranges in the world which were sometimes even delivered to far away destinations) for some fresh oj in the morning for my grandmother and others (maybe a little brandy in our oj?), or my mom and dad going out of their way to get to my brother's plays/shows when we were younger (which he still does today) or my soccer games, or especially my grandfather ordering enough olives in his beefeater martini for all of us and I mean ALL of us to have one - by the way I have started drinking these and it never fails to make me think of him and my family, great-grandparents/aunt included at Arnoldi's restaurant in Santa Barbara when I was a kid - this picture isn't Arnoldi's but it was all I had).

I know life and love is not all about just little gestures and I could easily write about how much respect I have for what my dad did for my mom while she was sick which I may do someday, but not today and probably not for a while, but I think the little things are important: the fact is that most people have many more opportunities for the little gestures than the big sacrifices. And this one moment brought back all of these little gestures I have witnessed by friends and family (I am leaving out most of them of course) and for some reason I wanted to write about it.

I think these are the best evidence of how people feel about each other, and they show who is conscientious of other people's wants or needs ,or even better maybe and to quote Maria, love is being able to fill out someone else's list of "my favorite things" and provide a few once in a while.