Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Today was day two of the Liberty Hill school kids.  We had about 115 energetic fourth and fifth graders descend on Doeskin Ranch  a half hour earlier than scheduled (just like yesterday).  We were ready for them, though.  :)

I need to tell you about a side bar to yesterday's program. (notice the title of the post)  As Peggy and Paul  began unpacking the van, filled with the education supplies, Peggy pulled out the bag of shredded  ash juniper strips, and noticed a mouse run out of the bag, jump out of the van, and head into the surrounding grass.  These strips are from the bark of mature ash juniper trees, and used by the endangered golden-cheeked warblers to build their nests.

One of the stations in this Bridges to Birding Program is nest building, and students must construct a nest out of the bark strippings as if they were a golden-cheeked warbler.

That means they must weave a nest using only the forefinger and thumb of one hand, as their "beak", to build it.  Yesterday, as the teacher was removing more of these strips from the big, plastic, black bag, she pulled out a mouse's nest with three newborn mice in it!  What a surprise that was for everyone!  Just about every child in all the classes had to see that.  The mouse nest was placed under the trees, but I'm sure the mother never found it.  So, the mother mouse abandoned ship, but Peggy thinks she had one newborn in her mouth as she exited.  Such is the law of nature.

When the kids finish their constructions, they put them in a close by bush and the teacher places an egg in each one to see if the nest is viable.  There are four student built nests in this bush....see if you can find them.

We only have about eighteen minutes to present our information to the students before they move on to the next station.  Peggy is in charge of moving people along, and gives us a warning blast on the horn to let us know to quickly rap things up.  It is a lot of material to cover in eighteen minutes, and after two days, and 16 presentations, I've got it pretty well fine tuned.  :)  I must say, though, that my sixteenth presentation wasn't as enthusiastic as the first ten or so.  :(  Having to stand and present for six hour stretches really does a number on my ankles.  By the end of the day, I have trouble stumbling around.  Oh, to be young again!

After I got back to the rig and took Emma out, fellow volunteer, Lynn,  and I headed down to the headquarters building to try to get some pictures of the newly arrived barn swallows.
These pics leave something to be desired, but here's one swallow checking out last year's nest as a red wasp also checks out the territory.

"Hey, Mabel, I think we ought to just use last year's nest.  What do you think?"

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

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