Too Excited To Work

For fun, I'm just going to add some gratuitous owl photos in this post, because it's fun to look at owls (and I haven't had a chance to take other photos).

"Owls? I don't approve of owls."

I'm sorry about the lack of entries this week, I'm trying to get my loose ends tied up before I leave town. This weekend I fly out to Bangor, Maine for the ABA Convention and then I leave the following Saturday for Indianapolis, Indiana for vendormart...and a visit with my mom--why did I think that wouldn't be stressful? I'm excited, but I'm not thrilled to away from Non Birding Bill for ten days. But if we can survive my two week trip to Arkansas with hardly any contact, we can do this. This will be fun, there will be great birds (I finally get to see puffins in the wild!) and great friends. Wow, was it really only last July when I was at the ABA Convention in Tucson, Arizona and I said aloud over some drinks with friends, "I wish I could be an optics rep." Careful what you wish for out loud, it does come true.

So, here are some updates to past entries. First up, Gayle Deutsch did an informal survey around the office to see who could hear the "silent ring tone" (which is developed by the same company that made the sound to keep teenagers from loitering in front of shops). Here were the results:

Can't hear the tone:
48-year-old woman (my boss)

25-year-old man (whom I mentioned below)

Can hear the tone:
50+ woman 41-year old woman (me)
35-year old woman
24-year old woman (can hear very lightly)
24-year old woman (claps hands over ears)

This reminds me of when I volunteered at Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington and would help with bird/nature walks. To me, the high-pitched calls of Cedar Waxwings were quite clear - but a number of the 60+ age group could not hear them at all. Perhaps birder's should have their own brand of the mosquito phone ring, but have it be the Cedar Waxwing's call? ;)

I also have reports from others who cannot hear the tone, but they are well known birders, and I don't want to out their audio abilities.

Okay, I need to give a big shout out to Morgan Pittman of The Wren's Nest in Michigan in regards to the black-crowned night-heron foot stinking up the office:

And here I thought I was the only adult who took home animal parts they found... Anyway, the BEST way to dry them, I've found, is to place them into silica gel crystals.

These can be found at craft/floral stores (if you have JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels Crafts, these are good places to get it inexpensively -- in the floral-arranging aisle). The best kind to get is the 'color-changing' type. These silica beads are blue, then you put them in with your thing to dry (flowers, dead toads found in the driveway, heron's feet, etc...) into an air-tight container (I use quart or gallon size zip-lock bags a lot for these crazy projects!) when they turn pink, your item is dry! And, even better -- they're re-usable! You just put the pink crystals into the oven in a pie pan, warm 'em up, and they're blue again, ready for your next find! Happy drying!

That's the foot in the vase surrounded by gel in the above photo. Flanked by the container the gel came in and the air freshener. I bought some of the silica gel and followed the conventional directions for dried flowers. I'm supposed to cover the item and seal it up in an air-tight container and leave undisturbed for 3 - 7 days. I started this Wednesday and will just leave the foot in there until I return. I figured for a larger foot and not a delicate flower it might need a few extra days. One thing is for sure, it's smelling better around the desk! Thanks for the tip, Morgan. The noses around the office sure do appreciate it.

And finally, I got a response from Marcie O'Connor about the mourning cloak caterpillars:

I just saw your post about the Mourning Cloak caterpillars - I had exactly the same experience last week. I picked up 3 of them and they immediately started making chrysalises. Here's the link to my blog story. They should hatch in 10 days or so - I'll post photos when they do. I've noticed before that some years seem to be especially good for certain butterflies - this looks like it will be a good one for Mourning Cloaks!

She actually sent this last week, so keep an eye her blog for emerging mourning cloaks.