Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ow, My Toe

Dear fellow naturalist peeps, I am going through a stressful time (ah to be young? Many people have told me life gets easier and better as the years roll on. I believe them) and have not exactly had the time to go full on birding this weekend. I am preparing for upcoming civil service exams, taking on a new (but part-time, ho hum) job, dealing with financial stuff, and even attending a focus group tomorrow down in Albany for 12 hours! So I have been quite distracted. Plus the heat made me not want to go outside this weekend. In fact, I've been so distracted that today I stood right in some stinging nettles while chatting with my mom. Oops.

All the usuals were at the feeders at various times at the WFA house today. Goldfinches, blue jays, the mourning dove, grackles, chipping sparrows, and even a male downy woodpecker who made his loud squeaks while pulling off chunks of suet! I have noticed more and more that the calls I hear the goldfinches giving this time of year seem to mimic those of the yellow warbler. But that is all. Just another day in bird world at the WFA house today. Too hot for true fun, even for the birds, apparently! Also, I noticed the house wrens have been gone for about two weeks now. I am sad that I did not get to see the little ones leave, and I absolutely miss the beautiful melodic song and dry rattle of the adults. Autumn is certainly around the corner. I am both excited (autumn is my favorite) and dreading it (I have not yet birded during the seasons where harvest and death are upon us and the list of available birds definitely gets tiny).

Also, a PSA! August is peak season in NY for tiny ticks. Larvae have hatched and are now running around looking for their first feeding before winter comes. Keep up whatever you're doing, naturalist friends, to prevent tick bites (or amp up your protection now), because they are much less visible to the naked eye now. I woke up this morning with a painful toe, and when I looked at it there was a tiny brown dot the size of a pinhead that wouldn't easily rub off. With a magnifying glass, I could see the legs and the flat-shaped hard body. It easily let go with a tug of the tweezers and then set forth on running all the way up the length of the tweezers before I drowned it in isopropyl alcohol to show others. So watch out for those little buggers. Larvae apparently aren't likely to carry Lyme since they just hatched and haven't fed on anything else, but you have to look out for nymphs that are also very small. Plus, you might be one of the lucky ones who is allergic to the bites and then has a painful toe ALL DAY LONG. No fun.

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