Working outside everyday searching for birds gives me a good chance to experience nature. There’s nothing like stumbling around in thorns and spicebush in the dark before sunrise. Having high humidity just adds to the fun. As the day progresses, the temperature rises and the ticks come out. Oh, did I forget to mention the mosquitoes that buzz in your ear while you’re trying to do a bird survey? Then there are creek crossings and stinging nettle and the occasional country dog. If it rained the night before, you get to push through wet tree saplings and bushes and get completely soaked. You also get wet socks if you have to cross a river or creek. Man I love the outdoors. On the other hand, I get to listen to the beautiful songs of wild birds. Sometimes I watch the sun rise over a lake or enjoy a peaceful stroll through lycopodium (a plant that looks like koosh balls).
A few days ago I saw some baby raccoons that were really cute. I’ve also been seeing baby turkeys and baby deer. For some reason, baby turkeys like to hide in tall grass and then leap out to the road right in front of the car. Some of the adult turkeys aren’t the brightest and will zig-zag across the road instead of going into the woods away from the car. They are really funny to watch though, almost as funny as Robin Williams. There is also a Great Blue Heron on the wildlife refuge where I often work who I call ‘Jerome’. Whenever I drive over a creek crossing, I look for Jerome. Sometimes it’s amazing how he can be all over the park. It’s almost like Jerome is more than one bird. Huh. Anyway, today I got to set up speaker boxes which play wood thrush songs. We’re working on a project to see if wood thrush will respond to the recordings and nest in those areas next year. The speaker unit actually kind of looks like a homemade bomb. There are colored wires and a battery and a timer. I remember carrying a unit around on a naval base last year wondering what would happen if security stumbled upon me. Considering I was held up at gunpoint by a MP last year while practicing a bird survey, I think I would have been tackled and tasered. Then I would have been interrogated and tortured with continuous Justin Bieber songs. In all seriousness, I really do enjoy this job and the time I get to spend in nature. Life is certainly not boring! In the words of the Charles Muntz from the movie UP, adventure is out there!