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Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Counting down the days and some surprises

I just finished three more days in the VC, and have three more to do before I slowly move on towards Oregon.  Yesterday afternoon, the refuge manager asked if he could talk to me in his office.  My first thought was ‘here we go again’, and my heart skipped a beat as he once again closed the door behind me.  Now what?  I was quite surprised when he proceeded to tell me that he had been premature in telling me that I would not be asked to return to volunteer next winter.  He then apologized and asked me to consider returning.

79 Imperial NWR 2014-1518                                                                   Blooming buckhorn cholla.

I told him I’d think about it.  I also told him I had been going to ask for an exit interview to discuss some things that I thought he was unaware of.  I covered most of those things in this talk.  I have a week to consider the pros and cons.  I will make a decision before I leave in a week.  I appreciated that he was professional and man enough to admit to his mistake.  If I were to return, I would not be exclusively working in the VC.  We agreed upon that point.

When I went out the side door to the picnic area beside the VC to have my lunch today, I was surprised to see another western diamond-backed rattlesnake slithering out of the first desert tortoise habitat.  Oh my!  We had quite a few visitors inside, and I was concerned for their safety.  I dropped my lunch bag and hot footed it back inside to tell the refuge manager.

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Nate grabbed the snake catcher and a red bucket, and jokingly told me he expected Linda and I to grab the snake.  Ha!  Not in my job description!  The snake had moved down the walking path a ways.  It was loudly rattling up quite a storm as Nate approached with the ‘grabber’.  Can you see it’s tongue sticking out?

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The idea is to use the ‘grabber’ to clamp down just behind the head of the snake.  This was not the same snake that was here a week ago.  This one had twelve rattles on its tail and was much bigger.

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                                                         Nate maneuvered him into the bucket…

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…and clamped the lid on before releasing the grip on the rattler.  Now that was some lunchtime excitement for me!  It was later released quite some distance from the VC, but not before it repeatedly made strikes against the lid of the bucket. 

I leave you tonight with a little bird lesson.

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I snapped this pic on Sunday morning’s bird tour.  A couple of migrating turkey vultures catching some rays in the early morning.  If you look really closely, you can see that these birds have reddish/pink legs with white wash on them.  Vultures defecate on their legs.  Turkey vultures cannot be banded on the legs like other birds.  Their white wash is very acidic.  It turned out that the first vultures that were banded ended up losing their foot on the leg that was banded.  That acidic ‘poop’ accumulated inside the bands and ate through their legs.  That little piece of trivia should lighten up any dinner conversation don’t you think? Winking smile

Anyway, besides doing the packing up chores the next few days, I’ll be contemplating where I’ll be heading next winter.  This has been the warmest winter I’ve spent in the last nine years, but I like green as well.  Decisions, decisions…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

42 comments:

  1. I like that, "Not in my job description!" For sure! You'll know what choice to make when the time comes. And thanx a bunch for the conversation tidbit ... we're having Easter dinner company ... I wonder if .... Well, maybe not.

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  2. Texas has been way too wet this winter, but I will probably return here next year because its a good paying job and is only for 15 weeks. You have a beautiful site there, a hard decision for you.

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  3. Well I am very happy to hear he apologized and offered you a place next year. As for the snakes I would have packed up and left the first siting and I live in this State.

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  4. Not many people would have had the courage and dignity to continue your volunteer assignment to its original completion after that first meeting with that refuge manager, but brava to you for staying on and ultimately changing his opinion of what little lady volunteers are capable of doing! Even if you don't return next winter, you've surely made it easier for those women who will be there! Job well-done indeed! Have a fun trip to Oregon!

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  5. Premature... About time he was apologetic... I am glad you got an apology and you are a big girl you will make the right decision for you. You have a pretty spot and you like doing the bird tours those are both a plus. Yuck on the sssnake. I don't like them at all. I would have kilt it...but then you are on a Wildlife Refuge. They must be snacking on something in that enclosure or coming out to do something:(

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  6. Good for him for realizing his mistake. And for apologizing. Looking forward to your summer adventures!

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  7. This is all very interesting! The apology, the request to return, the snake, and the vultures! You live a very interesting life!

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  8. Glad you got the apology, but unless you really love working at that refuge I think I would not come back if I were you.

    I was amazed at the info on the turkey vulture. Who'da thunk!

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  9. So glad to know he apologized and offered you a spot next year. That must have made you feel much better. And he's a better guy than we thought he was. I'm curious about what you'll decide.

    Great photo of the snake! Not that I like snakes.... But I love Turkey Vultures, and that's a great shot. Pretty sad story about the birds losing their feet with those bands, though.

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  10. Good for him to admit his mistake but still, his attitude caused you a great deal of unnecessary stress. I will be interested in your decision. That sure is a sweet campsite. Maybe you can make that part of your "contract". ;-). Very interesting snake kit there. I really enjoyed those pictures. You should get some points for your initial observation. I know all the visitors are thankful..

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  11. Glad you have a manager that has the integrity to face issues and admit when he's wrong. I'd probably not be returning though--there's a lot of MWR refuges out there that need some great volunteers...
    I've never been afraid of snakes, but then again, I don't know if I have been that close to a big rattler YIKES! Great photo.
    And thanks for the trivia on the poop-in-the-band item. You are right, I didn't know that.
    Great post!

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  12. Very interesting blog! Lots of news and info packed into one day.

    Sounds like you have a big decision to make about next winter. Manager attitudes can make or break how you feel about your job.

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  13. hmmmmm makes you wonder why he had a change of heart? Could it be the power of blog land?

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  14. Nate is one brave man. He tackled the snake and you in one day. Nice of you to give up your lunch time for the safety of others.

    That is pretty gross about the Vultures.

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  15. I'm glad to hear the manager had a change of heart and was honest enough to admit it. My first inclination might have been to tell him to kiss my butt....but that wouldn't have done you any good, I guess.

    I'm sure a lot of people would have wanted them to kill the snake. I'm glad he was relocated safely. That's a pretty big snake.

    Interesting information about the turkey vultures. Some may think they are to stupid to not defecate on them selves....but all the other birds have to go around with leg bands....so maybe they are the smart ones?

    I'll be interested to see where you go next winter. I'm with you. I like green. I think the brown would depress me. I also like blue and turquoise....as in ocean though.

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  16. Judy, be quiet and listen to your heart it will tell you what to do (or not to). I would have FREAKED OUT over the rattlers - that alone would make me not go back - LOL. This last one was huge to book and the trivia on the turkey vultures is great!

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  17. For whatever reason, it's always a mark on the positive side when someone "mans up" and owns his mistake. Good for him. Of course you deserve no less. I am like you. Much prefer the green (,especially that in MN). You are a never ending source of information re wildlife. Thank you!

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  18. I agree with Lynne, courage and dignity were required to continue the way you did after such an awful experience with that manager. The other word I would associate with you, Judy, is integrity. I am glad you got what your have earned with all your years of commitment to the refuges. Well deserved praise, and an apology, and a request to return. He should be so lucky! I don't think blogland can take any credit, my personal take is that it was those three words that describe you, courage, dignity, and integrity that made him realize he had better keep a good thing if he could. Acidic bird poop?? wow, I can't wait till my next dinner party. I'll make New York BBQ chicken and talk about vulture poop.

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  19. Yea for you Judy--you were right to take the high road!! I like Paul and Marsha's comment! :)

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  20. Glad to know that your choices are all going to be made by you and not for you. You showed him what integrity looks like.

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  21. Judy, you are a rock star. And a pretty terrific photographer too!
    Safe travels, hugs, Karen

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  22. I've accepted a full-time visitor center job at Alligator River. But I will be first to be picked for anything else. And I'm leaving as soon as I can shift my car after my right rotator cuff surgery so I won't be able to do a lot of physical stuff anyway. But I can't imagine you actually being able to work full-time in a visitor center. Congrats on surviving with dignity.

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  23. I'm glad the man apologized I wonder how he came to realize his mistake....wonderful pictures of the turkey vultures...if the snakes are down the turtle holes...where are the Turtles I'm now worried about them!

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  24. Best vulture picture I've ever seen. I'm a bit of a fan of those much meligned birds. I once read their white wash disinfects their legs and feet, and they have featherless heads because yhey eat carion.

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  25. I know you will make the right decision about your volunteer work for next winter...

    What cool info about the turkey vulture you shared! I love that kind of trivia. Your picture of a bird "thought" by many to not be so handsome is quite handsome in my opinion!

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  26. I guess the refuge manager was a slow learner and didn't realize what a wonderful person you are and recognize your talents, abilities and selflessness to do so much volunteering. I'm glad he came to his senses and apologized.

    I know you'll come to the right decision on returning or not. There are plenty of other places that would love to have you volunteering there and even have a few less rattlesnakes... :cD

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  27. I'm sure the talk made you feel so much better about your time there. Big decision for next year.

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  28. I'm sure the talk made you feel so much better about your time there. Big decision for next year.

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  29. Glad he admitted his mistake. Great pics of the rattler!

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  30. Okay, I'm all for visiting Arizona in the dead of winter after seeing those rattler photos. Didn't know that about the vultures, but I still enjoy watching them take some sun. I've seen them doing that at the sites where we have been. You showed so much grace in sticking out your assignment, and I am glad the manager manned up and admitted his impression was incorrect. Next stop Oregon! Well, okay, some wee stopovers between there and there, eh?

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  31. I find it absolutely exhilarating that your "boss" saw the error of his way...and reconsidered letting a gem like you go....Blind squirrel finds a nut..a great nut!!

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  32. Yikes an even bigger snake and acid poop! I trust they do not include that info in the recruiting package:)

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  33. Very interesting facts about the vultures that I didn't know. Thanks for the great post.

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  34. Surprises indeed! 'Who'd've tunk' the guy came to his senses? So sad about those turkey legs ...

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  35. Seems my comment didn't publish. Anyway, I take a different view; the manager prematurly formed an opinion, but did the right thing in the end. Return, and you'll get anything you ask for, within reason. And be appreciated even that much more. You have a bit more leverage now.

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  36. I think you should go back to Anahuac-then I can bring my cub scouts for a birdwatching expedition and meet you in person! ;-)

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  37. well. . .Lordy, Lordy. . .that manager has just caused all kinds of angst for absolutely no reason. . .good grief. Glad you got that sorted out. Whether you choose to return or not, at least you know he finally validated your worth. . .wow!

    That snake handler is quite the brave soul. . .and although your pic of the turkey vulture is fabulous. . .they really, really are ugly thangs. . .bless their heart. . .LOL. . .

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  38. I'm sure you feel much better now that you've been able to talk. Glad he saw the light. You are full of information and the best fit for you will become obvious. Can't wait for Oregon!

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  39. I must have missed this post when we were on the road... interesting the way things turn out, isn't it?

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  40. Nice Post. Thanks for sharing this in Your blog

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