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May 30th, 2009 - A Day in the Life

I no more set my foot in the door at Springbrook yesterday and Siah says, "Oh, Tim... I need your help with a special project..."
Knowing Siah as I do, my first response is, "I'll get my camera..."
The project was to spot him on an extension ladder so he could get up to the top of a neighboring tree with his 300mm lens to take some photos of a Cooper's hawk nest. We wanted to see it the eggs were "pipping" yet. (Showing some signs of being pecked from the inside by the birds "egg teeth." Or beak rather.)
So off we go, to get the extension ladder...

As I brace the fully extended ladder, Siah's butt disappears up the tree trunk, and after he's off my ladder section, I steal a couple of quick snaps.

On to the next section, I look up and get a scope of the whole mess of ladders, rungs, chain, ropes, and makeshift climbing apparatus that gets him up there. I am immediately struck by it's similarity what the Nepali honey-collectors use to risk their lives on the sides of mountains in Nepal and Tibet, to gather honey from the mountainsides near Tibetan monasteries:
(Click image for larger. Note the thread of ladders...)

After a few minutes of climbing, Siah is in place, ten to fifteen feet from the nest, with his arm wrapped around a wildly swinging tree while he tries to focus on a handful of eggs in a nest in the adjacent wildly swinging tree. I'm anxiously waiting to dodge vomit or report an incoming Cooper's hawk parent.

It's sort of a Marlon Perkins type of thing. Actually, more like what Marlon would be having "Jim" do. Unfortunately, due to the winds blowing in some weather, and the possibility of his being too close to the nest to focus with his long focal-length lens, we couldn't get a real sharp image of the eggs themselves. From what we got, it didn't look like any pipping yet, but it was hard to tell, with the speckling of the eggs. Guess we'll have to go back. Just another day at the mill...

Afterwards back in his office, I took pics of a dragonfly that woke up after he had brought in from the cold that morning, before letting it out the office window again...


buthidae said...

Wouldn't it be easier to just haul in some dirt and build a 60' berm next to the tree?

(You guys are crazy!)

dignature said...

Hey, this is the same nature center director that bet the secretary $5 he could get a Boreal owl to take a live mouse off of his head.
He made the $5, but it didn't pay for the stitches.
I believe the long term project is to mount a wireless vid cam up there if we can get signal to the NC and have a real-time feed. We got a grant for a flat-screen TV and the cam equipment. I have a feeling I know who will be trying to make that work. I had better start running stairs again...

In looking up that link about the Nepali bee-collectors, I see many "eco-tour" agencies offer it as a trekking option, which I think would be pretty cool. Then there's the bungie-jumping, rafting, and a two-lane bowling alley. Ugh.