Birder's Eye View

Friday, December 16, 2011

Peace of Mind

There are few things in the world that I can think of more wonderful than gliding downstream a river in a canoe. (The only thing that might be better is a kayak, but that's besides the point.)

Well, a few weeks ago I got to do just that with a group of friends along the aptly named Peace River. The area is well-known for its excellent fossil hunting opportunities, so armed with shovels, nets, and sieves, we rented canoes from a local outfitter and set out for a day on the water

Experimenting with black and white photography
There wasn't much in the way of birds, besides the usual selection of vultures, belted kingfishers, wading birds, and cormorants, but it was quite the photogenic day nevertheless.

The canoe run was short -- perhaps only 4 miles, but we made the most of our time by stopping at different points to excavate fossils of all shapes and sizes. Some of our finds included ancient manatee ribs, shark teeth, various vertebrae, sting ray mouth plates, turtle shells, gator platelets, and even a piece of a mammoth tooth.

View from the bridge

Just as the sun was beginning to lower in the sky, we came across an old rusty railroad bridge arching beautifully across the water. It was too cool to pass up, so we beached our canoes and scrambled up the bridge to take in the views.
Old railroad

Sunset over Peace River

Alligator bones
We were just about to leave when I spotted a pile of white rubble on the other side of the railroad tracks; my first thought was that it might be a turtle skeleton. Upon closer inspection, a friend pointed out that it was, in fact, an alligator skeleton. It was quite an exciting find, just as much so as all the fossils we'd collected that day.

I must say, for as difficult as this semester has been, I've managed to get out on some pretty cool outdoor adventures. Now that school is over for the holidays, I'll be focusing on studying for my senior comprehensive exams in the spring, as well as more birding whenever I can. I'm also teaching a short "Birding Basics" class in January, for which I'm beginning to prepare.

So that's the latest on my life! Until next time,

Happy birding!

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