Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Some roads less traveled

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.

         The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

IMG_8854There were two major reasons I decided to spend some time volunteering at Tamarac NWR in Minnesota that were of equal importance to me.  One reason was the fact that this refuge required 24 hours/week/site.  I’ve grown tired over the years of having to put in 32 hours/week in my retirement.  Seems too much like a job to me.  The other reason was the opportunity to participate in doing the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas project that is in its last year.  That would afford me the chance to traverse roads that are closed to the public on the refuge.  In the name of science, I would be on some of those roads less traveled… and it does make a difference to me.

IMG_8855Even though the skies were overcast with a light rain all day, I set out to become familiar with the three blocks of habitat for the atlas that are located on the refuge.  During the next month or so, I will be documenting what birds are here, and their breeding activities.  Over twenty years ago, I was a contributor to the New York Breeding Bird Atlas, and found that to be my kind of birding.

IMG_8856It’s just not ticking birds off on a list, but watching their every move to determine if they are breeding here.  Things like the males singing and defending a territory, finding a nest with eggs or young, seeing adults with nesting materials or food for young in their beaks, or carrying out fecal sacks (baby bird poop in a bag).  This kind of citizen science study is not for everyone, but it purely gives me joy.  IMG_8853I’ll be covering as many habitats as I can in each block as different habitats support different bird species.   One of the truths of doing this kind of research is that after several hours in the woods and back roads, there are some biological needs to take care of.  I’m thinking it’s a lot easier to be a guy at this point that can just pull down a zipper.  You ladies will understand.  Can I just say that the emerging mosquito hatch found some nice fresh territory, and I walked away with several itchy welts down under?  Disappointed smile TMI??


I may be looking for birds, but I couldn’t help but notice the first columbines are just beginning to bloom in the forest.  Columbines have always been my favorite wildflower.  I hope to get some better photos on a day when the sun is shining.


Today was just a day spent getting familiar with my study areas, but I just couldn’t pass up this shot of a male American redstart singing to his sweetie.  “♫ Oh Sole-A-Mio ♪”  It warmed my heart.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy