First week at Brazoria

My first week at Brazoria was a furry ball of stress!  My mom and I first got there on Saturday, after dark.  As soon as I stepped out of the car, thousands of mosquitoes started attacking me.  I couldn’t jump back in my car because I stupidly left my door open and let them inside.  As my mom searched through a truckload of my things for the bug spray, I ran around in circles trying to keep them off me.  Once covered with DEETy goodness, I had to call my neighbor for the key to my mobile home.  He had left it on his counter for us since he left town for a dance.  We get inside, did a once-over and decided to bring everything inside.  As soon as we went outside and shut the door, I realized that the door was self-locking and my key and phone were inside.  I then proceeded to break down because everything was going wrong and I was supposed to be in this horrible mosquito infested place for the next year.  My mom’s company helped me get over that.  My neighbor came home and he unlocked the door for us.  We moved everything in and cleaned the mobile home the next couple of days which would’ve taken me forever by myself (thanks mom!).  The next few days I finished cleaning, completed paperwork, met the refuge manager and my office, and took a hike and an auto tour on the refuge.  It turns out my skin can’t handle the bug spray so I need special mosquito clothing before I can hike around the refuge comfortably.  I haven’t seen any live gators yet but I have seen some cool new birds!  I also managed to set off the alarm at the Discovery Center while I was there.  I was told how to get inside and disengage the alarm, but it didn’t occur to me at first that I needed to press enter after punching in the code…The next day my power steering belt broke on my car.  I figured I could muscle my way home until my car decided to overheat because the coolant exploded out of the external reservoir.  I was parked in front of the natural gas plant when a man about to make his rounds stopped and assisted me.  He helped me call a wrecker and recommended a mechanic.  My neighbor came to pick me up and as we tried to move my car out of the way, we found out my battery had died.  Then the tow truck came and took my car away.  It was a late night (that all happened after dark).  The next day my neighbor took me into town after my car was fixed.  It turns out a loose bolt caused my power steering belt to break which caused everything else to go downhill.  I hate asking people for favors so I’m glad my neighbor is so nice.  He probably thinks I’m a ditz after all of this.  Hopefully my return to the refuge will not be so eventful…

 

This is a pretty scary time for me.  I live alone and hold a full-time job.  This is the beginning of my independence from my parents.  This will be an interesting time.

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Birding in Brazoria

So I’m certainly not an expert birder but I love to watch birds and at least try to identify them.  I have a couple of trusty bird books that I depend upon.  I went birding for the first time on the refuge a few days ago and saw so many different birds!  That’s one thing that will be really fun down here.  The refuge lies in the central flyway so I’ll see birds here that I won’t see anywhere else.  I probably missed gators I was so distracted by the birds (and It’s not even the best season for them yet!). Here are the birds that I think I saw: (p.s. all of the following pictures and information are from the book Birds of TX by Arnold and Kennedy)

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Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna autumnalis

I think I saw a couple of these hanging out with a small group of other ducks in the wetlands.  They have a distinctive red bill and pretty plumage.  Unlike most ducks they mate for life, with the male helping with incubation and rearing young.

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Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias

These birds are huge!  They can be 4.5ft long with a 6 ft wingspan.  They use their bills to spear fish or frogs and then swallow them whole. 

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Great Egret
Ardea alba

I’ve seen these before.  Back in the early 20th century, the feathers of these birds were worth more than gold.  The first national wildlife refuge at Pelican Island, Florida was established to help save these birds (thanks Teddy!).  The Great Egret is also the symbol for the National Audubon Society. 

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Snowy Egret
Egretta thula

I’ve also seen these before.  These birds were also nearly hunted to extinction for their plumes.  They extend their wings over open water to create shade, enhancing visibility and maybe attracting fish seeking shelter from the sun.  Some scientists have suggested that this is one of the original functions of bird wings.

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White Ibis
Eudocimus albus

This is probably the first crooked billed bird I’ve ever seen, it was so cool to spot!  Ancient Egyptians worshipped ibises and they were immortalized in art by Asian masters.  The West has slaughtered them as game species or as vermin.  When a female accepts a male’s stick offering, they become a breeding pair.  They have distinctive black wingtips when flying.

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American Coot
Fulica americana

These are all-terrain birds and can completely submerge to avoid predators.  They are the only birds in Texas with white bills.  It is often mistakenly believed to be a species of duck.

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Killdeer
Charadrius vociferus

These little guys were funny.  There was a group of them in the parking lot chattering to each other.  It looked like they were trying to prevent one of the killdeer from going anywhere.  A parent will fake a broken wing to draw an intruder away from the nest.  Two breast bands is a distinctive marking on this bird.

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Black-necked Stilt
Himantopus mexicanus

These little birds were funny too.  It took them forever to get out from in front of my car.  Their legs also seem to bend backwards which is pretty neat looking.  Parents wet their belly feathers to keep their eggs and young cool under the hot sun.  Proportionately this bird has the longest legs of any North American bird.

The Chronicles of Narnia

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I read these books years ago and wasn’t that impressed (probably because that was when Harry Potter came out and I was much too obsessed with that).  After reading them again because I want to develop a cache series out of them, I love Narnia!  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe gets all of the hype but that’s definitely not the best book in the series.  There’s humour, adventure, allusions that a child would not understand…it is definitely a must-read for adults and kids.  (That’s why I introduced it to my nephew!). I can’t wait to put this cache series together so it can inspire somebody else to read the series!

La Lluvia de Oro

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It’s hard to believe that this is a work of non-fiction, as it is the most engaging piece of family history I have ever read.  It is about the merging of two Mexican families through marriage.  Parts of it are so fantastic and unbelievable, but I wanted to believe every word.  (But of course I’m also a sucker for love stories).  It also makes me want to seek out my Mexican roots to see if these legends are true in my family.  There is drama, despair, war, hate, and abounding happiness.  If I could’ve sat down and read it straight through I would have. 

Area 51

I just came up with a splendid idea: Create a blog post after I finish reading a book!  It would be a constant supply of posts since I have a constant supply of books and the tenacity to read them all.

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I literally just finished this one and it was way better than I expected!  I naturally expected UFOs and aliens as that is all that I thought I knew about Area 51.  Of course those things were mentioned as the conspiracy theories they are but everything else was so much more fascinating.  I’ve always been a fan of aviation and Area 51 was THE site for the creation of spy planes.  What’s really incredible is the nuclear testing and how close we really came to nuclear destruction.  There were so many details, I would have to read it several more times to really absorb it.  I definitely recommend if you’re a fan of non-fiction!

Job News

I got one!  You are now reading the blog of the new Hydrologic Technician Intern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  I will be making an inventory of the water resources in several Wildlife Refuges along the coast.  I will be staying at Brazoria NWF until at least January.  Don’t worry about not seeing me though!  I will visit often and I want to hear from you often too!  I love mail and I want either letters or pictures so send me things!