Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Baldies in Blackwater

We did the now annual day-after-Christmas trek to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. It was mid-afternoon. A stranger/fellow birder informed me that the pileated woodpeckers and bluebirds were at the visitor entrance drive early in the day. Dang. I really want to see a pileated someday!

The raptor cams seem to be in place, but there seems to be a gap in the updates. The live feed at the center had a turkey vulture perched on the osprey platform and poking its bare head into the camera. There were a couple dozen or so mature bald eagles around, some of which were perching together and courting. My lens wasn't long enough to get good photos, but I did get some shots of them, as well as some of the ever-picturesque Great Blue Heron and even a Northern Pintail! Some of the shots are on Flickr.

There were tons of snow geese. In fact, there were also quite a few "blue geese" interspersed, which I'm told are dark morphs of the snow goose. Throw in the Canada geese and some tundra swans and it was all an idyllic waterfowl experience.

Foxy fin d'annee 2008

The quick red fox jogged down the path with something big and tasty in its mouth. A rabbit? So went the end of the hike at Otto's Farm yesterday. Miss B was oblivious. Just a couple of weeks ago I spotted the fox basking in the late afternoon sun at the grasses edge. She was all blinking and tawny and content to watch me watching her. We saw kits there early this spring. The many fox -- dead and alive -- seen this past year may explain why the number of the neighbor's chickens seems to be decreasing. Or, at least it may be affecting their egg production.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sleepless and Jobless

They don't want volunteers at the shelter this week because the ground is all icy and they are afraid we'll fall (translation: fall and hurt ourselves and sue their butts off). So, the doggies continue to suffer from cabin fever. The people stay at home and suffer from cabin fever. I'm finished doing things around the house (except that tricky grout repair). I finished baking cookies and wrapping presents. I don't feel like I can go to the Internet Archive to volunteer either because I'm sitting around watching for signs that the 13-year-old Miss B needs to relieve herself again. We are approaching three sleepless nights of her inexplicable need to escape into the dark, cold, snowy expanse to unload what must be unloaded quickly. This is the job and the joblessness. Joblessness begets blogging.

The RUWBB gals are winning, but it is hard to take pleasure in the W's until their raw talent translates into execution. Everyone is investing hope into Camp Stringer, which happens between Christmas and New Year's.

This is Christmas week. Hanukkah week. Week 20 on NJUI. There is the pending interview in January. Between the recent sleepless nights and the long hours searching for a job that I can even remotely envision that I want, time keeps a ticking. Time for a long winter's nap.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Week That Was

Rutgers pulled out a W against Temple, but the first half was terrible. Watching Rutgers football against Louisville this past week made up for it. It was gratifying to see Teel nail those TDs in the RU 63-14 rout. I was happy to be watching from the comfort of home despite the ever-frustrating Comcast technical glitches on the digital ESPN channel. It's why I sometimes prefer being a Luddite, even though I'm perfectly comfortable with technology.

So, a great blue heron camouflaged in the reeds in the D&R canal was a nice sighting as well as the unexpected Coop swooping into the bird feeder space again. They say Northern Gannets should be arriving here now.

It was good to get inspired by Phil's digital photography workshop at NJAS and to see all the fabulous shots he has made. I hope someday to get the Canon going again and get some good shots to work with. Stay tuned at Flickr.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The Rutgers Women's Basketball team was roughed up out west this past weekend. It was cool to get the webcast from Stanford, but the RUWBB performance was painful to watch. I always find the multidimensional aspect of successful team performance fascinating. You can have outstanding talent, good plans, good chemistry, a leader, and all the right mojo, but not be able to execute. Sometimes the environment (jet lag, whistlin' refs) can stir in toxicity and ruin the broth. Sometimes there are other factors. It simply isn't a rational, formulaic process. In any case, the Fab Five Frosh were brought down to earth over the weekend and need to retool in the CVS mold. In the meantime, they are certainly capable of thrillin' us at the RAC.

What ARE You Doing?

Just as I start blogging, the pack starts microblogging. Those in the vanguard were using Twitter last year. I simply don't want to be that available and that public all the time.

The NYT had an article on microblogging again. In the workplace, with Yahoo IM, I did find it useful to have a short, custom status message that I changed during the day to let remote folks know what was going on. Twitter seems to offer the same idea, with a one-to-many blurb for those who follow.

Digits Do Digitizing

From my hand, some pre-copyright books from the Princeton Theological Seminary are now on their way to immortality in the digital galaxy. The Internet Archive is alive and clicking in Princeton. Somehow my volunteer initiatives have landed me a temporary seat in their local cloister.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fox on Friday, Mallards on Monday

A beautiful little bushy-tailed fox skittered down the path in front of Ms. B and me. She didn't see it, but she did smell it. There have been lots of fox sightings at Otto's Farm this past year.

Today there were lots of mallards chowing down on the D&R Canal waters. It's beginning to look like the winter holdovers are in place and here to stay. It was fantastic to see a juvenile Red-Tailed hawk perched close and low to the ground on the way out and nice to see a great blue hidden around the bend of the river on the return trip. Glad I had the binocs today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coop at the Curve

While taking a road walk this afternoon, I spotted a Cooper's Hawk on the ground at the nasty curve in the road. She was protecting the kill, it seemed. I walked very, very close, and tried not to disturb the fate of what was going on. Very impressive LARGE eyes on that raptor. On the way back, I tried to find any remains, but couldn't. The coop was perched in a nearby tree watching me carefully.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Green-winged Teal ID'd

A couple of days ago I traipsed around the pond at Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. The pond hardly had anything on it compared to previous weeks. I spotted two Canada geese (compared to approximately 150 the week before), five mallards, a Great Blue, and two pairs of Green-winged Teal! I think I can finally identify the male Teal. The females had the visible green wing. Amazing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life Underwater

No, this post is not a reference to the dismal stock market and the sorry state of so many of our investments in this free-falling market. It is about the very interactive aquarium along the shores of the Delaware, across the Ben Franklin bridge, a stones throw from the Philadelphia metropolis, i.e., a special spot on the waterfront in scary Camden, New Jersey. Along with the lovely 2-year-old Layla, today we explored the fishes and critters and plants in the underwater dioramas of the Adventure Aquarium. I even petted the spitting shark, Max, as he trolled the surface to impress the visitors. The African penguins and seals outside were a treat, too, although it was quite cool and blustery outside for the humans. The Delaware had some healthy whitecaps whipped up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Route Most Taken

So, the site gave me the hint about using to create my own route. I think it is better for plotting running routes -- duh, But, it isn't too bad for cycling either. Here is my initial try at one of my fav cycling routes for a quick out and back in Neshanic.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Rise

Mark November 4, 2008 as the beginning. We rise up. What better thrill than living the change we can believe in unfolding in front of our eyes with Obama carrying the day into a night of victory? What better excitement than, on that same night, to bear witness to the first win by the 2008-2009 Rutgers Women's basketball team in a pre-season exhibition game, 101-48? C. Vivian Stringer is Standing Tall with a great young group of athletic talents. All of us here are shedding tears of pride and hope, so poignantly expressed by Maya Angelou, who recited portions of her poem, Still I Rise, while being interviewed by Harry Smith on CBS's The Early Show this a.m. Here's the video.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Duck, duck, goose!

One mystery solved. It was a flock of American Coots at Round Valley the other day. Spotted the coot and had that Aha moment when trying to build a life list on Birdpost. Aha and then ahem: the web app is still in beta and hung more than it shoulda...

Canada geese were omnipresent on the "lakes" along our jaunt at Duke Farms yesterday. Found among the geese and Mallards were a Wood duck and Ring-necked Duck. Another mystery waterfowl remains, although there was some debate about whether it was a Bufflehead, Goldeneye, or Ruddy Duck. Me thinks it was a female Bufflehead. Maybe.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Round Valley Roundabout

Round Valley was the scene of the endless Sunfish sailing weekends. Today was a refreshing tramp along the Water and Pine trails, watching the glittering water surface glinting and whipping up with little wind gusts. A few dogs were allowed to splash and zip around. An osprey dove for fish right near the fishermen's lines along the shore. He/she came up clutching empty air. What were those ducks?? Reviewing Sibley was inconclusive, but I think they might have been a couple dozen first-year adult Lesser Scaup. They were all completely black/dark gray/brown with the head a touch darker. The bill was gray, like a Wigeon's. They did seem like they were diving to feed, so they were probably Lesser Scaup. I'm confused. Shoulda had the Canon along...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Niche Social Networking

Just yesterday, as I did a mini-walk near the pond at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Pond House, I thought it would be a great idea to have a way to post your daily bird sitings with GPS coordinates and such. Now, today, courtesy of The Star-Ledger, I see there are a bunch of new niche social networking sites, including Birdpost, which seems to have a lot of the features that I was thinking about yesterday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

White October

Wind and snow galore yesterday! Which weather station is the most reliable? NOAA and the National Weather Service give the best official-sounding info. Weatherbug is nice and local, although I hated the toolbar hog that I once had and deleted it. Not sure if they've improved it or not. Accuweather seems reliable. I like their hourly and 15-day forecasts, especially for travel planning. The Weather Channel feels cozy and familiar because it is like their cable TV channel.

Back in the RAGBRAI planning days, I poured over tornado archives for Iowa before the trip out to the mid-west. Tornados were the most terrifying weather events that might occur during the bicycling trip that never happened. Before going, I religiously monitored the storm spotters on SKYWARN who religiously monitored every little pressure system whizzing by. Every night seemed ominous, and the bulletin boards were full of potential twist and shout warnings. Historically, for RAGBRAI, the last week of July seems to work out OK for avoiding twisters. I made it a habit at each overnight town to look for the signs identifying the temporary tornado shelters (as though I would have enough time and presence of mind to skedaddle. Not!).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Synthetic Fashonista in The Great Outdoors

The Gore bike wear provides great breathability and wind protection when spinning down the road on these cool October days. My first red jersey is set to become a favorite, along with all the Pearl Izumi regalia and an Under Armour t-shirt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gettin' mapped

ESRI is rolling out ArcGIS 9.3 in seminars around the country. Good stuff. There was a great map exhibition at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD this past summer. Old, spirtual, fantasy maps, etc. Along the lines of old and new, another great collection to see is David Rumsey's historical maps rendered in Second Life. A preview is posted at the Not Possible in Real Life blog.

I love the new GPS travel community contribution pages like Everytrail. I'll need to invest in a fancy GPS like Garmin Edge 705 for the bike to get this thing going for my excursions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Magnificent Menace

The Cooper's Hawk was back this morning. It was perched high on the old willow, which turned out to be a spectacular vantage point to watch the squirrels and birds at the bird feeder. Just a few days ago, it swooped through the leaf cover, scattering and terrorizing all the feeder birds.

Will the Coop thrive or decline with global warming? Tom Knutson from NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory gave a "sobering and terrifying" account of global warming at last night's WCAS monthly program. He was particularly worried about increased summer temperatures on humans and wildlife. (I'm not moving to the southeast US anytime soon.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Prolegomena to Ephemera

This is the first blog post of Tomboy Traveler. It seems natural to take an initial stab at explaining the blog's theme.

There's a place and time for all things. This blog may highlight ephemera from days past or days future. It may highlight today's Interesting Matters. The ephemera are to have a loose association with a tomboy's travels, and may happen in the real, virtual, or imaginary worlds. You decide.

Today's ephemera is about yesterday.

The Central Bucks Bicycle Club hosted its 28th annual Covered Bridges Ride. We did the 50-miler. As always, it was hilly and chilly. NNW winds kept the sunny, flat parts challenging. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were good. Thank you bakers!