.

.
Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Learned a few new things this week

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.

IMG_1379

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.

IMG_1369

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.

IMG_1371

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.

IMG_1373

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!

IMG_1376

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.

IMG_1377

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.

IMG_1378

                  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?

IMG_1385

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.  Disappointed smile

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

35 comments:

  1. How about Betty Lou Beets - a woman who killed at least two husbands. I had no idea there were binoculars inside those scopes. That was interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a fun and interesting read you gave us tonight! I would have never thought there would be binoculars inside those scopes...way cool!
    I did know about the tarantula as every October we did a "spider" study in my kindergarten class. I am really scared of spiders, but think their webs are so cool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And forgot to say I love that the coots and gadwalls help out the other...so many great lessons we can learn from nature!

      Delete
  3. Great post. Had no idea about binocs!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well I sure learned new things today from this post. I always wondered why those scopes didn't seem as good as my binoculars. I love your names. Lizzy Borden was an axe murderer. Does she axe him or eat him?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures of cleaning the scope. I am not a fan of tarantulas so that part I read over very quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful tarantula. I hope she has a long life.

    I watched a similar bird duo on the pond outside my office window last year. As a snowy egret shuffled its way along the bank, a pied-billed grebe was paddling alongside about two feet away in the water. The egret would drive the small fish away from the bank and the grebe would dive down and chase them back in. They both dined quite well and this behavior went on for about a week. It was fascinating to watch them.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Never knew that, now I have learned something new. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. now you are the teaching all of us a thing or two! great read today Judy!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Now I'm wondering how my spotting scope is put together? I hope you have Matilda long enough for y'all to watch her shed her skin....

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well, now I've learned something today too! I never would have thought the scopes just had binoculars inside. Who knew?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would have expected more than an ordinary pair of binoculars as well - interesting. I always knew I hated Tarantulas!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Who knew? Always learn a lot from your blog, Judy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. How interesting about the spotting scopes just being plain old binoculars! Now I don't have to learn anything else today.
    Gayle

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, I had no idea that was just a plain pair of binoculars. Thanks for the lesson.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for sharing this kind of stuff - I find the binocular bit to be amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for the info and thanks for such an interesting blog.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I never would have guessed binoculars were inside those scopes- cool. Love the tarantula

    ReplyDelete
  19. Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner!

    The first woman to be executed, for killing her husband, in the United States by Americans rather than the British .

    You could probably call your Desert Blonde "Bathsheba" for the sake of simplicity - love the name.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I just love your entire post today. Like everyone else, I'm so surprised that you found an ordinary pair of binoculars inside the scope, but it makes sense. You just can't hold binoculars still enough to be able to see well, so putting them inside a scope and mounting them on a fixed pole would keep them steady. I love that the birds get along and benefit each other. And I absolutely am amazed at the tarantula. I'm not afraid of spiders and don't even mind them in my house as long as they stay out of sight and eat other bugs. The tarantula is a real beauty. Is it true that while their sting can really make you ill, they aren't deadly to humans? (You just dance the tarantella until you drop from exhaustion and forget all about the sting)!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I too found the contents of the scope surprising. The tarantulas at J D Grant Co Park come out to mate in October. I took a video of one walking over my boot just to get an idea of size. I show it to kids and they think its cool, (at least most of them do)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Judy,

    It was fun to see the SeeCoast binoculars.

    Back in the early 60's we lived in Gulf Shores, AL, and I took piano lessons from Dot Cane over in Fairhope, on Mobile Bay. 'Mama' Dot's family was just starting up the viewer business at that time.

    In our travels we've seen their viewers from Alaska to Newfoundland, and as far south as Key West. So it's always fun to find them in a new location.

    Thanks for the memories.

    Greg and Jan White

    ReplyDelete
  23. I (surprisingly) LOVE spiders..Don't get me wrong, I don't like them crawling on my, but the webs they weave absolutely are mesmerizing...and so strong, those whispy webs are!! ..she is quite the temptress being a blonde and all...I'd call her "Babs"..."Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"...right?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Well at least I now know why those scopes in public places rarely work well.....

    ReplyDelete
  25. The inside of that scope is amazing. Like you I figured they were chock-full of sophisticated optics. To see a pair of ordinary binoculars inside of that giant case is an eye-opener indeed. No wonder they work so poorly!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Can always count on learning something in your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  27. My son talked me into letting him get a Tarantula when he was about 10. He didn't have it an hour and had an allergic reaction and he hadn't even touched it. Then it became my spider to take care of until he found someone that wanted to trade an Iguana for it. I liked the Tarantula better.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank goodness I'm not a male spider! I'm in enough trouble already with my bonnie bride... :cO

    ReplyDelete
  29. Here's an FYI tidbit for you.. Yesterday my bird oh son did one of his annual bird counts. At the end of the day they observed a flyin of an estimated 5,000,000 red winged blackbirds!!! They swooped in to roost along the edge of a pond in trees and on cat tails. They were so thick that many of them rolled and tumbled when landing. The cattail area then appeared as though it had been burnt black and the trees and shrubs appeared to have leaves.

    I wouldn't want to be underneath!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, I'll be darned ... ordinary binocs. All was going good for me on your post, till I spotted the spider. Don't care what you call it, it's still a spider ... and I'm outa here!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ah, ha. I never knew how those worked.

    ReplyDelete
  32. great info about the scopes! as for the spider....Molly sounds good...I do not like spiders...

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

    ReplyDelete