It was a cold morning - in the 30s. Fortunately, the wind had calmed.
We had decided we weren't going to participate in the Christmas Bird Count unless they absolutely needed us. Just in case, we threw on our long johns, got out gloves and hats, and dressed in layers.
By the time we got to the Discovery Center, most everyone was gone and the power was off. There was some type of error in the inverters and they had shut off. With a push of a few buttons, power was restored.
I got recruited to count some birds with Ed, a local birder and refuge volunteer. The two of us went out with binoculars and a spotting scope to our assigned locations.
Before we got too far, we glimpsed a Bobcat crossing the road in front of us.
Because we were busy spotting and counting distant birds, I didn't have much of an opportunity for pictures.
We count low numbers of birds individually. For large flocks, we count a small group and then multiply that number by the number of estimated groups within the flock.
It's rather imperfect, but makes for surprisingly good guesses.
After our first two stops, Tom (one of our "bosses"), got out the Marsh Buggy. I'll get pictures later.
Basically it's a two-piece tractor with humongous wheels that can go pretty much anywhere. He told Linda to close up the Discovery Center, and he took us out through the marshes trying to scare up birds known as Rails.
This Marsh Buggy isn't really made for passengers. It was quite the bumpy ride as we sat on a metal box. But we did find at least four species of Rails and it was a new experience. Pretty cool ... and cold. :)
After that, we met the other birders at the Discovery Center for lunch and to compare notes and numbers.
Linda was still thawing out, so she decided not to go on any more counts in the afternoon. I agreed to go back out with Ed, but we wouldn't be back until after closing time.
I gave Linda the keys to the truck and the rig. She would close up on her own, and Ed would drop me off at the Volunteer Village when we finished.
Ed & I went way out into the refuge where we found a couple thousand geese and about a thousand ducks in addition to some small counts of several other species. It was a beautiful day and had warmed up considerably by then.
Finally, we met up with the other birders and compared notes again. I'll be anxious to hear the final species count when it is all tallied.
While they were doing that, I did get a shot of this Killdeer. They usually don't let you get too close around here ... but there are lots of 'em.
Ed dropped me off at home sometime after 5:00. Linda was outside talking to Jill and playing with their dog, Andy. Jill had suggested in a meeting that we have a volunteer day where we do nothing but pick up trash as a group.
It was a great idea and we are on board. But who knew he would schedule it so quickly and it would fall on the coldest day of our stay here so far - tomorrow. :)
But at least we will be outside and we won't be bored. :)
At home, Linda whipped up some breakfast for dinner and we watched the Survivor finale.
I checked in a few emails and found that some folks were disappointed I didn't include the link to the online computer challenge puzzle I mentioned yesterday. So here it is, but don't say I didn't warn you when you can't get those hours of your lives back. :)
It's a word association puzzle, and I promise it will drive you mad trying to figure it out. :)
We finally went to bed. But tonight we weren't relying on the electric heater and covers. We had to crank up the furnace. Propane is free on this gig, so while we naturally conserve, there isn't any reason to be colder than necessary. :)
It'll be cold enough picking up trash in the morning. :)