For quite a long time now, I’ve had a personal goal of trying to learn something new each day. Most days I’m successful. Sometimes those things I learn are rather mundane, like learning to install a new latch on one of the rig’s drawers or to turn my outside chairs over if rain is predicted so a puddle doesn’t appear in the seat.
Other times, I learn something that I think is very interesting. I’m going to share a few of the discoveries I made this week.
While I was working the VC this week, fellow volunteer Greg brought in one of the scopes from the overlook nearby. I’m sure most of you have seen these scopes at various places. They’re mounted on a post, and sometimes you have to put in a quarter to get a close-up view of say, Niagara Falls. Well, I had mentioned that the two scopes that I had the school kids looking through were awfully foggy. Kids have good imaginations and still swore they saw all kinds of things through them, but I sure couldn’t figure out how. I’m sure others noticed the same thing as I had.
I’ve often wondered what these scopes look like inside. When I found out Greg was going to clean them up, I was very interested.
There are all kinds of long screws and special locks on these things that have to be removed first. Then Greg took a cloth wrapped screwdriver to carefully pry the top and bottom sections apart.
It was quite a surprise to all of us to see that these big heavy scopes just have an ordinary pair of binoculars inside of them!
I would have suspected some super-duper lenses were inside. What about you? This particular scope was assembled in Sept. of 2009. So that means it’s probably been out in the weather and dust storms for going on five years.
I wetted my finger and made that X so you could see how much dust has accumulated inside even though it is screwed tightly together and there are rubber gaskets. The glass in front was just as dirty, so it’s no wonder I couldn’t see much through these scopes.
Greg got them all cleaned up, so I guess they’ll be good for another five years or so.
Emma and I were sitting outside again this afternoon after the rain had moved on, and I noticed that the water level in the pond had once again risen. I don’t think it had much to do with the rain since I’d guess we only had about a quarter of an inch at best. The pond seems to rise and fall almost every other day. Sometimes there are mud flats that the shorebirds like, and sometimes there aren’t. I’m not sure what causes such a fluctuation in its level. I think it’s kind of a backwash of the Colorado River, and the river is really low at this time of year. Why it goes up and down is a mystery so far to me.
Anyway, there are lots of coots and gadwalls on the pond each day. Generally each species hangs out with its own kind. (birds of a feather flock together, etc.) Well, today that was not the case. The water was quite high, and each coot was closely accompanied by an individual gadwall. That seemed odd, but I think I figured it out. As I watched through my scope, the story unfolded. Gadwalls are dabbler ducks, not diving ducks. Coots can dive. With the deeper water, the gadwalls perhaps couldn’t reach the vegetation. The diving coots could, and the gadwalls helped them eat the vegetation they brought up. Interesting relationship, eh?
Here’s the latest inhabitant of the VC. It’s a Desert Blonde Tarantula. We think it’s a female because of its size and coloration. It’s big! She has made herself at home in a ten gallon terrarium, and even started weaving a web on Monday. It took her most of the day. It was fascinating to watch. She’s so big you can see the spinnerets on her rear end. We put crickets in there for her to hunt and eat. We’ll also release her back to the desert at the end of March when all the volunteers leave. Did you know that this female can live to the age of 25 years? I sure didn’t. Males only live to about ten or fifteen years. It takes almost ten years before they are mature enough to mate and reproduce. Once the male gets ‘the urge’, he searches far and wide for a female. It’s a short lived pleasure, however, as once he mates with her she kills him.
One of the other volunteers calls her Whiskers, but I think we should have a contest to name the tarantula. I’m leaning towards something like ‘Waltzing Matilda’ since she’s quite active, or ‘Marilyn Monroe’ since she’s a blonde. Got any other name ideas?
How’s that for some trivia from the desert?
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy