Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Some roads less traveled

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.

         The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

IMG_8854There were two major reasons I decided to spend some time volunteering at Tamarac NWR in Minnesota that were of equal importance to me.  One reason was the fact that this refuge required 24 hours/week/site.  I’ve grown tired over the years of having to put in 32 hours/week in my retirement.  Seems too much like a job to me.  The other reason was the opportunity to participate in doing the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas project that is in its last year.  That would afford me the chance to traverse roads that are closed to the public on the refuge.  In the name of science, I would be on some of those roads less traveled… and it does make a difference to me.

IMG_8855Even though the skies were overcast with a light rain all day, I set out to become familiar with the three blocks of habitat for the atlas that are located on the refuge.  During the next month or so, I will be documenting what birds are here, and their breeding activities.  Over twenty years ago, I was a contributor to the New York Breeding Bird Atlas, and found that to be my kind of birding.

IMG_8856It’s just not ticking birds off on a list, but watching their every move to determine if they are breeding here.  Things like the males singing and defending a territory, finding a nest with eggs or young, seeing adults with nesting materials or food for young in their beaks, or carrying out fecal sacks (baby bird poop in a bag).  This kind of citizen science study is not for everyone, but it purely gives me joy.  IMG_8853I’ll be covering as many habitats as I can in each block as different habitats support different bird species.   One of the truths of doing this kind of research is that after several hours in the woods and back roads, there are some biological needs to take care of.  I’m thinking it’s a lot easier to be a guy at this point that can just pull down a zipper.  You ladies will understand.  Can I just say that the emerging mosquito hatch found some nice fresh territory, and I walked away with several itchy welts down under?  Disappointed smile TMI??


I may be looking for birds, but I couldn’t help but notice the first columbines are just beginning to bloom in the forest.  Columbines have always been my favorite wildflower.  I hope to get some better photos on a day when the sun is shining.


Today was just a day spent getting familiar with my study areas, but I just couldn’t pass up this shot of a male American redstart singing to his sweetie.  “♫ Oh Sole-A-Mio ♪”  It warmed my heart.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


  1. Unlike the rest of my flower, my Columbines are blooming...My favorite Robert Frost is "Whose woods these are I think I know, his house is in the village though."..I hope I got that right...Things are crazy here tonight..but that is yet another blog..

  2. The Oriole looks like he is trying to swallow that stick. lol

  3. So glad that you are happy with the work you do. You seem to be at a perfect spot to find your happiness. 24 hours definitely sounds better than 32.

  4. “♫ Oh Sole-A-Mio ♪” .. is my song. I sang that to the top of my lungs to get my son, stepson and husband to do my bidding ... worked 3 outta 5 times.

    Wear diapers, Judy ... Depends... I don't like bug bites anywhere much less on m'tender bottom. Do like the bird parents do ... carry you a bag to put the Depends in ...

    (baby bird poop in a bag) ... how cool is that. I never. nature is amazing... I love Frost's The Road Less Traveled.

    I liked your whole post... beautiful

  5. They are so lucky to have you. It's such a great experience when you meet a volunteer or a Ranger who really really enjoys what they are doing. Met a guy today that was just a delight.

  6. Frost is my favorite poet, and you quoted one of my favorite poems.

    Do you use Avon Skin So Soft with Bug Guard? It is an insect repellant (and also a sunscreen). It smells good and works great, at least for me. If you have any kind of insect repellent, try applying it on the critical area and it should hold off the bug bites. Just be careful where you are spraying near!

  7. Put skin so soft on your tush! Skeeters do not like it...nor do other bugs.

    1. I was going to say - NOW you know where ELSE to apply mosquito repellant!

  8. The perfect job for the perfect person. A match made in heaven (except for them darn skeeters!) :c)

  9. Love it. The new title photo, the Frost poem, and your sentiments about what you love to do.

  10. So perfect for you, Judy. You are known throughout blogland as the "bird lady". I always get a kick out of it when I see bloggers mention you when talking about birds. And yes, 32 hours a week is definitely too much to work in retirement, even at something you love. Enjoy your research, and I know we will enjoy seeing the photo doc of all that you will be doing.

  11. Very nice, I have not read that poem in a long time.

  12. I really loved this post: the poem, your description of what you do and why you like it. You're a very special lady.

  13. Glad for you, Judy, that you can participate in a project that really means something to you. Anything that purely gives us joy is a gift that should be pursued. (I have quite a few bites myself, but mine are in less, uh, delicate areas!!!

  14. Great post, Judy! Not much I want to write after reading a Robert Frost poem.

  15. I haven't read that poem since I was back in English class. Sure means something more to me now than it did back then. :)

  16. You sure found a project that is totally suitable to you. I'll also mention that Skin-So-Soft worked for me in Alaska where the skeeters are said to be the national bird ;-))

  17. I'm far too familiar with the girl's room in the woods problem. Not fair I say. Guess I'd better try that skin so soft. Do Avon ladies come to an RV?? Really beautiful post today Judy. I would love that assignment too. So glad this is a more reasonable work week. May all your future gigs be just this great!

  18. Judy,

    You just gave a Master Class in blogging: inspiring, educational, humorous. I hope all your days goes well for you.

  19. What a great post! I can hardly wait for all your research...I learn so much from reading your blog!

    Have a great day...hugs to Emma!

  20. What a great place to be and a great job you have for the summer!

  21. That poem is one of my all time favorites and it does seem fitting for you and your adventures. I'm so glad you are getting to do what you love. Life is short and we need to seize those opportunities to do that things that bring us joy. Have fun with all the birdies.

  22. Hi Judy, been a while but i have been keeping up with you...even through your hip replacement..hope all is well with that. Love what you do and always enjoy your bird pictures. I am a big fan of birds but not as knowledgeable nor do I have a very good camera. In any event I always pause, watch, listen and wonder about the birds surrounding me wherever i am. Keep on doing what. Wayne and I have not been very successful at blogging but we are doing well and presently workamping in Eastern Pennsylvania. This time of year we try to be close to our 7 children and 11 grandchildren. We are enjoying the lifestyle and hopefully will have opportunities at Wild Life Refuge areas in the future. Love that poem...my oldest daughter artfully decorated a copy of that poem for me one mother's day and I have it in our RV. Maureen

  23. My favorite poem and a wonderful picture of the redstart. Great post

  24. I carry a funnel like this one when I'm out in the boonies. You'd never have to drop trou again...


  25. One of my favorite poems by my favorite poet. What I find interesting is that many people will only quote the two lines about the roads and leave out the one that to me is the most important line, "and that has made all the difference". I am definitely a "road less taken" type of person and have lived my life accordingly. When it came to taking a trip, even if I had to go by myself, I always felt that the alternative, to not go, was unacceptable. Or making decisions about life, try it and maybe fail vs. don't try it and spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been. That to me is a fate worse than failure.

    I still intend to take those less-traveled roads when I begin my RV journey.

  26. http://www.go-girl.com/

    This might help.

  27. I love the Columbines too, but they don't photograph as nice as they look when you're there.