Sunday, May 27, 2007

from the levee to the river

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. My new temporary job is rather demanding - in a physical way. I get up at 3:30 a.m. and return home about 10 hours or so later. I eat then I nap then I get up and make dinner. Then I try to get to bed early only to begin the day again. Weekends are spent trying to recoup some of the physical energy that I expend during the week. The job is one physical challenge after another. All of my time is spent between the levee and the river, in strip of land that can be narrow to wide. I have to look everywhere for the illusive bird. The terrain is flat but it is covered with dense stickery shrubs and trees, choking woody vines and "mountains of dead" (convoluted masses of downed cottonwood, Russian olive and tamarisk trees) that seems impenetable. That is when you will hear me pleading "I just want out of here!!" Yet we have to work our way through this vegetation. I think I am actually getting better at navigating through this mass but I still find myself completely boxed in at times with no where to go. I crawl, I climb, I crass through stickery Russian Olive with my gloved hands protecting my eyes. It is crazy. I am bruised and scratched. Badges of honor. If you aren't - you are suspected of not doing your job!!

This is an incredible change from my desk job but one that I love as a field biologist at heart. It is not for everyone and there are times when it is too much for me. It is hard to explain but I see things every day that keep me coming back for more. I tried to post the following a couple of weeks ago but then I got busy with my Dad's health problems. He is home now and doing very well. We have all been pampering him with attention!

2 Weeks Ago:

I am just about to begin my second full week of work looking for willow flycatchers here in the wilds of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque. My days have been a whirl of looking, crashing through dense brush, trying to cover 2 miles of terrain, wondering how it can take so long to cover all of it in about 4.5 hours of time. My sleep schedule is totally hosed, I should be sleeping now - I have to to get up in less than 4 hours.

As soon as I arrived here, my 84 year old Dad had to undergo open heart surgery. I am so thankful to be here to help in his recovery. It is truly a blessing. This temporary job opportunity came out of nowhere and was very unlikely. My first thought at accepting it was the idea that I would be able to spend more time with my Dad. Little did I know that it would be so precious. This all just reinforces my belief that the universe offers each of us exactly what we need. We just need to be open to the possibilities.

I have been taking photos everyday but have had little time to even download them all.

Back to the present:

I am SLOWLY going through my photos. I take my camera everyday and hope to document exactly what our experience is like. I have many stories to tell....but for now I need to catch up on my sleep!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

new challenges - new excitement

I have travelled many miles since that dusting of snow. I am away from home and settling into a new temporary job. I drove down to Albuquerque on Mother's Day with my best buddy, Wiskerz. He took the trip very well and we are both trying to get used to the new setting and schedule. I am prone to lack of sleep and this new job is going to challenge that. We start work (on site) each day by sunrise and travel to the site can take up to an hour and a half! Tomorrow, we leave the house at 4:30 a.m.

This week has been composed of training, both classroom and field. I have done a lot of vegetation field work in the past, spending long days outside describing and characterizing vegetation. I have never spent much time studying wildlife. I would say that wildlife biologists get down and dirty more so than we plant biologists. Our first field experience involved heading straight into a cattail marsh and then into a flooded willow thicket, a place where the bird I will be looking for all summer thrives.

So you could say that my first field meeting was conducted in knee-deep water!

No telling what you might see - what fun!!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"dusting" of snow

It rained most of the day yesterday. Sometime overnight it must have started snowing. I awoke to a rather heavy dusting of snow – if you can call anything this wet a dusting! Everything is a riot of green, which takes on a special look when it is mixed with white. The morning dawned bright and sunny with lots of ground fog and low clouds. Humidity – not something we get in excess.

By mid-morning today, the clouds moved in and it rained all afternoon. It is almost as if the snow and the sun never put in an appearance.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 04, 2007


Crown Hill Park

I have been very busy lately getting loose ends tied up at work and getting ready to leave for 10 weeks. Sunrise sneaks up on me every morning. I usually head out the door no more than 30 minutes before sunrise and sometime a lot later than that. In some ways it has become routine. Yet the second I stop the car and open the door, it is like stepping into a world of great beauty. Driving up the last few times, I have seen a luminosity from the water when I see it a couple of blocks away. No matter how many times I take the picture looking across Crown Hill Lake, the beauty transforms me.

The range of colors of light, from the intense pinks and reds to the subtle pinks and grays of the clouds are just breathtaking. If there is huge variety in the sky, it is also reflected in the water. I look for the masses of pink and the individual reflections of the clouds, whatever their color. I see the hint of white in a rippled pattern just beyond the cattails.

Besides color, I watch the surface of the water for levels of tranquility. One area might be smooth as glass whereas another may have the concentric rings left after a jumping fish leaps into the air.

When I look at this image I see all of this complexity. No matter what tensions I might be carrying around, after seeing this, I am at peace.

This morning I ran into an old friend, a woman I met here. I also spoke with a man who is familiar by sight only. He suggested that I get some photos of the cormorants at the other end of the lake. I have not yet seen cormorants on this lake. It is exciting to imagine this possibility. I told him that I got some beautiful photos this morning and that I could certainly understand why so many people walk here everyday. He said he knew I loved the lake because he sees me here every day. I had to smile at this. In truth, I am not here everyday but I completely understand the people who are – they know the secret!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

shadows and light

I'm getting behind posting some of my best photos. Lately it has been a feast of beauty. Yesterday started out seemingly average until I discovered the new morning sun through the fragile young cottonwood leaves.

This morning, I could feel the lure of the water at Crown Hill Park as soon as I glimpsed it from down the road. Then this afternoon there was the bonus of dramatic skies before and after some big thunderstorms.