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Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Passing it on

Today was the day to once again check out the Wauboose Lake block for breeding birds.  Over the last couple of days, Rachel, the intern, had asked me a couple of times if I needed any help with the bird censuses.  I’m used to working alone on these things, but then I got to thinking… she really sounds interested.  So I suggested she ask her supervisor if she could help me today.  Kelly agreed that it was a good idea for Rachel to get some experience in this area, and to learn the structure of conducting such a breeding bird atlas survey.

If I’ve noticed one thing about Rachel in my almost four weeks here, it is that when she gets an assignment, she dives into it full heartedly.  Besides, it was a great advantage for me to have another set of eyes and ears with me, a young strong 22 or so year old to open and close gates, someone to record the findings, and as it turned out, a most eager student.  So, we were off by 7:00.

Even though it was another of those overcast days with intermittent sprinkles, we had a great time and added 18 new species to the list for this block.  We also confirmed three species as positively breeding.  Not bad for one day.

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In the spot near lower Egg Lake where I normally see a pair of adult bald eagles, we found two immature eagles instead.  This one was drying out its flight feathers from the overnight dew (or from a not successful attempt at catching a fish in the lake).  My guess is that this bird was probably hatched here last year.  It takes four to five years for bald eagles to attain their white heads and tails and be of breeding age.

I’ve always thought my hearing skills have been pretty good, and I’ve been thankful that I haven’t experienced much hearing loss over the years.  But I guess I can’t compete with a 22 year old.  Rachel’s hearing was superb.  She doesn’t know many bird songs yet, but those she does know she could pick out from a great distance.  Every time I heard a bird sing, I pointed it out to her and identified it.  She excitably added quite a few new birds to her hearing repertoire.

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Our biggest excitement of the day was finding a nest with eggs in it.  It was a chestnut-sided warbler nest.  I knew a nest had to be nearby as the male was agitatedly chipping away instead of singing.  Between the two of us, we finally found the nest, and I saw mom sitting on it incubating the eggs.  I whispered to Rachel about it, and she whooped with such excitement that mom flew off of the nest.  We got out of there as quick as we could so as not to disturb them any more. 

I guess I’m old enough to possibly be Rachel’s grandmother’s age.  Sometimes we older folks think the younger generations don’t have it in them to care about our wild things and preserving them.  They get put into a box by us as uncaring individuals that spend all of their time on their cell phones and such.  Well I’m here to tell you not to give up hope.  There are youngsters out there that are deeply committed to learning all they can from us oldsters.  I felt privileged today to pass on some of my knowledge and love of birds to a young person that was thirsting for knowledge.  The future of our nation’s wildlife refuges are in the hands of these young folks, and after today I feel confident that these places will continue to exist for their grandchildren to learn from and enjoy.

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                                                                             THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

33 comments:

  1. That's so great to hear that somebody young gets a thrill from learning about nature. When I was Rachel's age, I really wasn't interested in birds or nature as I am now. It took me a lifetime to get where Rachel is now. But I'm glad I'm there and that there are people like you, Judy to teach the rest of us who aren't as knowledgeable. I'll bet Rachel remembers her experience with you for a long time to come.

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  2. With a wise sage like you to mentor the young interns there is a lot of hope for the next generation. Thank you for what you do.

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  3. What a great and inspiring post, Judy! Rachel is an inspiration to others her age. Let's hope some of that rubs off.

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  4. I work with a lot of young people at the restaurant and some are very committed to wha they are interested in, glad you found one of those in Rachel

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  5. She is one lucky young lady to have you for a mentor. Hope you are able to continue sharing your passion with her.

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  6. Very cool to hear about your "astute" student! Wonderful photos of the birds - (as always)!

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  7. Judy your bird pictures are just amazing. That warbler is one I can hardly ever even see let alone get such an outstanding picture. I would love to have been Rachel although my hearing isn't what it used to be. Good for her to be so interested and lucky her to be there with you!

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  8. What a touching observation about the next generation. I hope you are right. I want them to, not only care about, but be better at this conservation business than we are.

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  9. what a wonderful day for you. . .and two sets of ears has to be better than one. . .right?

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  10. Learning bird songs....on my bucket list of todo's! Hope I can get to this one before I have no hearing to hear with.

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  11. What a sweet post. I have tried to download bird songs and have yet to find a good website.

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  12. I like to know what bird
    l hear.

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  13. I love that the Birdlady of Blogland has a "grasshopper" to teach her secrets to. We try to teach our grandkids the wonders of wildlife...and I do believe some of it stuck!

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  14. Wow... not only do you get to pass on some birding skills, you have someone to open and close the gates! What a luxury!

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  15. Your blog always inspires me to work a little harder to get good photos. Keep up the good work - it's always a pleasure to read.

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  16. That she's at the NWR instead of sitting somewhere texting says a lot about where her priorities are ... and with an able teacher she will learn a lot.

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  17. How awesome that you were able to excite this young lady about the beauty of nature and all it has to offer if one takes time to listen and look. I'm sure Rachel will treasure the memory of the day with you.

    Maybe when you leave the NWR, you can also pass on to Rachel your steel toe boots... ;c)

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  18. What a great post Judy! Rachel is one lucky young lady ...to have you for a mentor and to be so grounded in her life that she enjoys what she is learning and is eager to learn more.

    What a picture you captured of the young eagle...just amazing!

    Hugs to Emma!

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  19. Wonderful post and terrific bird pics as usual.

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  20. We need thousands of Rachels. Maybe even more.

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  21. Sounds like a wonderful day!

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  22. It's obvious you have always been an outstanding teacher. How lucky for Rachel that you picked up on her eagerness to learn, and gave her the opportunity.

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  23. How great for both of you. I am thinking you both learned a lot.

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  24. Teri and I were doing a bird survey at Laguna Atascosa NWR this year and came across a brand new intern exploring one of the back roads on her day off. When she found out what we were doing she asked if she could "go with".

    Like you, my first thought was that we have a routine and are used to doing this ourselves, but once we loaded her in we had a great time. She was eager to learn and we showed her several life birds. More fun for all involved!!

    I'm sure that Rachel appreciated the opportunity to get out with a Pro...

    Mark

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  25. Rachel is a lucky gal, to have you as a mentor. I'm sure she shares your passion of birds, and will learn a lot from you!

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  26. I just started to read your blog. Great job, keep it up. Here is a website for birdsongs.

    http://www.xeno-canto.org/

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  27. She must be in that 53% :) Sounds like you had a good day.

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  28. Seems like it rains a lot where you are! Like you don't get many sunny days. Maybe that will improve as the summer wears on - hope so!!

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  29. Really this is a high quality photography and hope you really enjoyed those moments. some of the best Hotwire promo codes on travelling to beautiful places are available on shoppingspout.com

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  30. wonderful day you had with an eager student.

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  31. I'm living with two young guys - 22 and 26. They are my best buds. Perhaps because I'm the only one with wheels. But it is fun to see kids young enough to be grand kids enjoying nature and working for a pittance.

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  32. Judy, why didn't I get a shout out for being a young 22 year old something who enjoys working with nature and learning about birds? haha. Just kidding. Been following you blog. Tamarac looks amazing! Tell the intern you work with not to feel bad, last week I wrecked Dean's truck. I hit a ditch and a piece of wood lodged itself into the oil pan. Now its going to cost thousands of dollars to replace... a lot more than a camera is worth. Still no job yet. - Conor

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  33. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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