Saturday, October 31, 2009


This little mini pumpkin was just asking to have a face painted on it, I quite liked the way he turned out, kind of cute fierce. Have a great Halloween and don't eat too much candy :)

Photo Credits - CJT

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Where on earth did the last week go? Don't you just hate it when that happens? Anyway, it is time for Random Dozen again, hosted by 2nd Cup of Coffee, give it a try, it's fun.

1. Tell me something about your favorite teacher.

OK lets get one thing straight here, in general I hated school so trying to think of a favorite teacher is a tall order. It would probably be Mr Morgan from junior school just because he was so random and off the wall and didn't really behave like all the other teachers!

2. Tell me about one pivotal moment in your life.
That would have to be the day my friend Arthur finally convinced me to go to Africa :)

3. About favorite colors--a lot of people will ask you what it is, but I want to know why it is. What feeling or memory does it evoke?
Purple, and I have absolutely no idea why I just find it a very pleasing colour.

4. What's a sure sign that you're getting older?
I can't remember, what was the question again?

5. Please don't sermonize, but Halloween--is it a yes or no for you?
Not one I have a particularly strong feeling for, it is certainly far bigger in the US than in the UK. I am and always will be a sucker for Christmas.

6. What's your favorite musical?

7. Are you more of a city mouse or country mouse?
A country mouse to the core. Rather unfortunate considering I live in the heart of Chicago :(

8. Did you know that it is possible, for a small fee, to name a real star after someone? (It's true! Google it!) If someone were to name a star for you, would you appreciate it for its whimsy and romance, or would you say, "Are you kidding me? For $19.95 we could have gone to the movie and actually bought popcorn."
Yes I did know that because I had considered doing it for my husband one year as a gift but then I figured that it would be something that I would think was romantic and he would think is silly!

This question comes from Paula at His Ways Are Not Our Ways.
9. What's the craziest thing you've ever been doing and texted during it? I only thought of this b/c I was about to try to text during my walking video but I didn't. Paula, you do know that this blog is rated G, right?
I rarely text so I am afraid I don't have an interesting answer to this one.

10. "It's not a party unless _______."
The music is FUNKY :)

11. When you're stuck in traffic or a waiting room, what do you do to pass the time? PS: There are no magazines available.
I day dream - I have a PHD in that skill by the way!

12. If you weren't yourself, would you be friends with you?
Hmmmm probably not because I am pretty anti-social so I probably wouldn't make the effort to try and get to know me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It is time for the Random Dozen again, hosted by 2nd Cup Of Coffee. You should try it, you might be suprised by some of your answers.

1. Candy corn: Your thoughts?

My thoughts on this are .............why?
2. Briefly, what was the first conversation you ever had with your spouse? (or best friend, if you're not married.) (Or someone significant, like your librarian.)
Uh - oh this could be a long answer. I used to work as a safari guide in Africa and one day I received a radio message from my boss telling me that there were two very demanding and difficult clients heading to our camp and that as the senior guide he wanted me to be their guide whilst they were at our camp. Oh great! I thought, yet more, rude spoiled Americans! So sure enough the vehicle arrived at camp and the two clients were shown to their tents and left to settle in. An hour or two later we were ready to set off on our first safari, as I climbed onto the vehicle one of the two piped up from the back and said "I hope you realise that we are loud, rude, crude Americans!" I smiled sweetly and said "That's fine with me" and we set off. I left it about ten minutes and then I turned round and said something extremely rude and crude! (Don't worry I won't repeat it!) From that moment onwards the particular individual in question was putty in my hands and now, he is my husband!! Funny how things turn out :)
3. Could you ever become a vegetarian?
Absolutely not, I am a carnivore to the core. Quite apart from the fact our evolving to eat meat is what led us to develop beyond other ape relatives.
4. Have you ever dressed up your pet in a costume?
We have a cute pair of little reindeer antlers that our dog has worn occasionaly at Christmas but that is about it.
5. Name something about childhood that you miss (like Clark Bars, Teaberry Gum, Malibu Barbie, cracking fake eggs on people's heads with your fist and "It's the Great Pumpkin" airing only once a year).

What I miss most about childhood is the simplicity of it all. A wonderful naive view of life, no concerns about what tomorrow will bring, it truly is a time of innocence.
6. Have you ever won a trophy? If not, what do you deserve a trophy for?
I used to compete in dressage competitions and apparently I was reasonably good at it because I won a few trophies. I also won a trophy for netball when I was at school!
7. When do you think is the appropriate time to begin playing Christmas music each year?
Whenever it makes you happy to do so :)
8. What's your favorite board game?
I don't often play board games but it would probably be Monopoly.
9. How do you feel about surprises (receiving, not giving)?
I actually like them usually. Although to be honest I can't remember the last time someone gave me a nice surprise. I must say I do like giving them too.
10. Is it easy for you to say, "I'm sorry?"
Ouch this is another of those 'tough for an only child' type of question!
It really depends on what I am saying sorry about. If I genuinely think it is something I am right about then, yes I do find it hard but it is something I have made a conscious effort to be better about as I have gotten older.
11. What is your favorite candle scent?
12. October is traditionally "open house" time in public schools. If you had a literal open house in your home (like a reception) what light snacks would you serve visitors and what would you show them (as in art projects, graded papers) that would uniquely represent you?
Good grief what a question! I would serve snacks that were easy to prepare! And lots of cheese. I am very lazy in the kitchen :) Projects that represent me - well my blog for a start. Probably some of my craft projects, past and present. Don't really have many graded papers except my home study ornithology course so I guess that would have to do. Even the thought of an open house horrifies me, that is my bolt hole where I like to hide from the world!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It has come to the time of year again when we get to release our headstarted Blanding's Turtles into the wild at last. (For more details about this project, check out these posts.)
As has been a common theme with most of our field work this year, it was a cold, windy, wet day.

So what better thing to do on such a day than put on the trusty chest waders and splash about in a marsh for a few hours?

OK, yes, I am a little crazy! We had some of our two year old turtles to release and also some one year olds.

As with so many other things, funding for restoration projects has been rather thin on the ground this year so, unfortunately none of our two year olds will be equipped with radio transmitters this year. We have to rely on photographing the plastron just prior to release which is not a totally fail-safe form of ID as they do gradually change over time but still it is better than nothing.

Each turtle has a number which identifies its egg number within the clutch and its mother

Before it is released this number is blacked out to make it less conspicuous to potential predators

The GPS coordinates of the release spot for each individual is recorded along with its number and then it is into the water and off to freedom and a big new world

It is always fun to see how each individual responds to this big moment. Many of them bob around on the surface for a while, gazing down into the water. Some just dive straight down and disappear from sight immediately but we had one little guy this year who really didn't seem too keen on the whole idea at all. He immediately hauled out onto a stick and didn't seem to want to swim away.

He eventually got the idea though and away he went.
Of the two year olds that we have been working with for the last year there were also some very distinct characters. Number 89 was the thug of the group, the biggest and most aggressive, always first in line for food and beating up the other turtles and stealing their food.

All characteristics which although hard to love, should stand him in good stead for surviving in the wild and he was raring to go!

On the other end of the scale was little number 1. Always the smallest, always getting beaten up by the others but still feisty enough to get enough food. In this picture you can see the end of its tail is missing, bitten off during one of the scuffles! Also a scar on the rear right leg from a particularly vicious bite it received.

We saved number 1 until last to release and we indulged in a major photo session, rather like turtle paparazzi but in true celebrity style number 1 took it all in good grace

Then it was time to say good bye and let nature work its magic

These young turtles are all well fed so all they will need to do now is burrow down into the mud and hibernate until next spring when we will wade out into the marshes once more and see if we can find any of them - good luck guys, hope to see you next year!

Photo Credits - CJT

Monday, October 12, 2009


Just occasionally, amongst the dozens and dozens of pictures that I take when I am out in the field, one will actually turn out as I hope! I really like this close-up of a Katydid. I am still not quite sure how I managed to get the shot as the katydid was perched on top of a tall piece of grass which was waving about in the wind - pure dumb luck I suppose :)

Macro Monday is hosted by Ed and it is a great opportunity to check out the smaller things in life.

Photo Credits - CJT

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Unfortunately it is getting to the time of year again when I am up before the sun. But at least this week I was rewarded with some spectacular views of the sun rising over the lake.

For skies around the world visit Skywatch every Friday, it is well worth the effort.

Photo Credits - CJT

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


If you want to take part in this fun meme, hop over to 2nd Cup of Coffee and sign up. All you have to do is answer twelve random questions each week.

1. On an average, how often do you splurge and buy something for yourself?

I go through phases, I sometimes go months without buying anything and then I go a little crazy ;) Most things that I buy 'for myself' are actually items for home. My two indulgences are shoes and purses and " I'll never tell.........." (how many of those I have!)

2. Are you more like Hall or Oates? Just kidding. Real question: What is the last creative project you began/finished? Feel free to post a pic of it.
Great timing, I just finished making these fun little snowballs for Christmas. I just have to line them with something and they will be ready to hold a little gift.

3. OK, Goldie Locks, do you consider your house too big, too little or juuuust right?
Too small, I live in a small condo and I miss having an outdoor space of my own and a couple of extra rooms. I sometimes day dream about having a vast mansion with his and her dressing rooms, a craft room and a library but then I would want staff to clean it all for me! Meanwhile, back on planet earth...............................

4. What is your favorite outdoor chore?
Sore spot! See question three. If I had 'an outdoors' to do chores in it would be pretty much anything involved with tending to plants, my condo is full of plants but it isn't quite the same as being out in the garden working on them.

5. If you knew that cigarette smoking was not bad for your health but would be a weight loss tool, would you use it? Why or why not?
OK don't get mad but I have never had to worry about weight loss, I am one of those annoying people who has always been able to eat what I like. I thank my Dad for his good genes (his favorite saying is 'you can't put weight on a thoroughbred!' ) I am not sure if I would go that far but I certainly don't need to resort to smelling like an ash tray to be slim!

6. On a road trip, would you rather drive or ride?
I like doing a bit of both. Being the passenger can get a bit dull sometimes but on the other hand it is nice to have a break from driving too.

7. What do you consider a trivial pursuit?
Hmmmmmm not sure really, train spotting maybe?

8. This weekend, we downloaded the movie "Duplicity" with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Within 5 minutes, I was bored and annoyed, but I kept watching 5-10 minutes at a time hoping it would get better between small chores. I finally gave up and Jorge watched it alone, and then regretted wasting that time because he disliked it intensely, too. So ... how long do you watch a movie or read a book before giving up on it?
I usually give a movie about thirty minutes, if it hasn't captured my attention by then I usually go and do something else. My husband however will watch anything and everything so I have to leave the room in order not to see something.
Books I usually just plough through and then when I have finished it I realise it was rubbish!

9. Is there a song that you really love but are embarrassed to admit because it's not cool or it's racy or because it's by Hall and Oates?
I am sure there must be several but I am having a block right now. Oh yes I just thought of one - Hot in Here by Nelly! Goofy but it gets me every time :)

10. On a scale of 1-10 (10 = extremely) how spontaneous are you?
If I am tired and grumpy -10 but if I am feeling OK then 10.

11. Are you a food and/or beverage snob?
No, I'll eat mac and cheese or caviar with equal gusto :)

12. Who/What are you trying to control in your life?
I am trying to control my desire to live somewhere warmer and sunny!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Michelle asked me to add this to her wonderful meme at Rambling Woods - check it out.

At the end of last week we took this years batch of Blanding's turtles out to their outdoor pens to begin acclimatising them before they get released next month. For more information on our Blanding's restoration project check out my previous posts.
Here is our precious load, safely strapped into the back of Jamie's car.

These five, two year old turtles will spend a month in an outdoor pen before we finally release them into the wild. Before release they will have blood samples taken for genetic records for the project and they will be sexed.

While we were delivering our turtles we got to meet this years hatchlings. It has been a bumper year and there are over two hundred and sixty healthy hatchlings.

We were soon roped in to help feed all these tiny, hungry little mouths. The smallest ones are put into separate little spaces to guarantee that they do get some food. (Notice the one by Jamie's left thumb is particularly keen to get his grub!)

The bigger babies are divided into groups of ten and fed together in one container. We have to keep a delicate balance between making sure that each turtle gets enough to eat and ensuring that they have a strong instinct to compete for food.

I don't think these two little guys have got any problems in that department!

We also collected our new batch of turtles to bring home to the museum. Usually we are given one year old turtles but because there are so many hatchlings this year we were asked if we would take some of the new hatchlings instead. This is quite a responsibility because these chaps are tiny and their propensity to get stuck in little spaces is high. (case in point!)

I asked Jamie to put her finger in the picture just to give you an idea of the size of a three week old turtle.

So we came home with number 3, 113, 136, 181, 234 and 235. Of course number 234 became an immediate favorite because it has a lop-sided shell.

So each turtle was carefully introduced to their new habitat

Which probably seemed rather big and scary to begin with

Slowly the exploration of their surroundings begins

And then the wonderful discovery of water!


Look Mom I can swim!

Soon they all settled in and each found a little spot to hang out

I have to say this is definitely one of the most satisfying projects that I am involved in at work. And, OK, I'll own up! The 'cute factor' with these guys is very high :)

Photo Credits - CJT