Birder's Eye View

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where in the world did she go?

Well I have epically (is that a word?) failed at playing catch-up on the blog again, almost as much as I have failed to find a layout that I like. But bear with me, I have a decent excuse this time:

I'm in Alaska!

About a month ago I landed an incredible internship doing multimedia for the National Park Service up here. It's been a whirlwind 3 weeks, but I am now living in a bush community near the arctic circle, trying to learn everything I can about photography, the backcountry, native culture, local wildlife, and how to design visitor's guides. I'll be living here for the next 9 months (from 24 hours of sunlight, to just 3 hours in the winter!) so there's no telling what adventures might be in store.

The birding up here is great, as most of the species are lifers. Long-tailed jaegers, glaucous and mew gulls, red-necked phalaropes, golden-crowned and white-crowned sparrows, northern wheatears, hoary redpolls, and red-throated loons are among the common species I've seen.

long-tailed jaeger

muskox herd

tundra wildflower whose name I've forgotten

red-necked phalarope in horsetail grass

glaucous and mew gulls

monkshood flower

american golden-plovers

northern wheatear

view of the mountains

grizzly bear scat (no nature blog is complete without a picture
of cool wildlife poop!)

golden-crowned sparrow

Red-throated and pacific loons

semipalmated sandpiper

golden eagle chicks

red fox

arctic tern over the Bering Sea

I've only been out here a couple weeks, but once I finish training I'll be spending time in the backcountry, which should yield even more interesting nature and wildlife finds. So far it's been a blast though and I can't wait to see what's next!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A new chapter

After 16 years of being a student, of following a more or less set path, of living each day to absorb information and spew it out again, of preparing my life for only goodness knows what, I have reached the finish line. Or rather a finish line -- one of many I will encounter from here on out.

This was a big one though, and one I am proud to say I reached through hard work and the adventures of a lifetime. The greatest part is that this is only the beginning.

But it does lead to the obvious question: What next?

Am I done learning? Absolutely not. Am I don't being a student? No way.

Graduate school is the next most obvious step for me, as someone who has excelled scholastically and finds the intellectual stimulus of academia enticing. But I think after 16 years I need a break, a chance to drive my own pursuit of knowledge and experience in ways that school doesn't always allow. In other words, I'm taking the classic "gap year" (or two) to expand my experience before heading to grad school.

And now the next question: What does this mean for the Earthbird's Blog?

That, I'm not really sure. If anything, I will become an even more avid birder now that I no longer have school to keep me occupied, but I may need to revamp the blog since I definitely don't qualify as a teenage birder, or even college birder anymore. What should it be next? I guess that depends on what I end up doing. If I'm lucky, I'll land a job that allows me to birdwatch or pass on the passion to others, but at the very least I know this hobby (read: obsession) will remain a part of my life.

In the next few days and weeks, I'll be doing a lot of catch-up. Keep your eye out for pictures from Iceland and more local Florida birding adventures. This weekend I'll be gone on a 16 mile kayaking trip, so hopefully some good birds will show up along the way.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wildlife of Honduras

First of all, I realize it has been an obscenely long time since my last post. This is due to several factors:
1) I'm a senior undergraduate in my final semester of college
2) My computer's motherboard failed and I lost everything a few weeks ago
3) The above two factors combined with various travel preparations has kept me swamped with work.

As you can imagine, however, Honduras was incredible. I spent a couple days in Copan on the mainland near the border of Guatemala visiting the Mayan ruins, a bird park, and the town, before traveling back across the country and taking a short, tiny flight to the island of Roatan. 

There, I spent the rest of the week snorkeling, napping in hammocks, hiking to the top of a mountain, snorkeling some more, and swimming with dolphins.

That of course, is the very brief version of my trip but as it is now, I'm about to head off today to a totally different part of the world: ICELAND! Spring break is once again upon us, and in a couple hours I will soon be leaving the sunny warmth of Florida and heading to the arctic to volunteer in Skaftafell National Park for a week. 

Until I get back however (hopefully with tons of awesome photos of snow, waterfalls, mountains, and sheep), here are some pictures from my Central America trip a couple months ago to tide you over:

An agouti -- these guys were everywhere!

Probable yellow-billed Cacique

Variegated Squirrel

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Anyone know their Honduran lizards?

Favorite bird of the trip...


Spot-breasted Oriole

Mystery-wren. Any ideas?

The macaw is the national bird of Honduras

Scarlet Macaw

White-fronted Amazon


Gray Hawk (incidentally, I saw a wild one the same day!)

Flying in to Roatan (the coral reefs were visible from the air!)

Baby howler monkey

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

There were TONS of Magnificent Frigatebirds

Starfish underwater

Another sea turtle

Thursday, January 5, 2012

¡Vamonos a Honduras!

A little over 17 hours from now (at 4am!) I will be embarking on a new journey: to the Caribbean! After a couple hours on a plane and a few hours on a bus, I will be spending the weekend in Honduras before another bus ride, another short plane ride, and just under two weeks on the island of Roatan.

This isn't quite a vacation though -- the trip is part of a short term study abroad program through my school, where I will be learning about tropical marine environments of Roatan. Along with my class, I will be attending lectures, going on field trips, and snorkeling at least once day around the coral reef to conduct a research project.

I'm not sure how much time all this will leave for birding, but I will certainly be keeping a keen eye out for Honduran avifauna whenever I'm not underwater. In Copan, we are supposedly visiting a bird park at the beginning of the trip, so hopefully I'll be able to get a good idea of what to look out for.

Once I get back to the states in a few weeks, I expect it will be pretty busy. I'm teaching a beginning birding class the weekend after I return, plus I will be finishing research for my class project, studying for senior exams, and applying for post-graduate jobs. Yikes!

But, one day at a time. Until next time,

Happy birding!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

In the holiday spirit

It's Christmas Eve and for some reason I'm cleaning out old files on my computer. However, I came across this timelapse painting I made some years ago -- must have been during the holidays, because I put it to Tchaikovsky's Russian Dance. Kinda quirky, but hopefully it'll put you in the holiday spirit too. :)

Enjoy, and happy birding!