Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).

28 June 2006

Well tonight was spent as usual- watching tv/movies with cammack, aubrey, and mika. Tonights moive was Crash- very good movie. The other highlight of the night was 2 typical texas things- 1st what do you do with milk so expired that its seperated into 2 distinct layers and the jug looks about to explode? Thats right you guessed it shoot it with a pellet gun. We stuck that puppy in the green area behind the house and i shot it. It was sort of a let down though since it didnt explode, it just slowly released the gases. Guess I needed a bigger gun although my pellet guns not to shabby at 1000 ft/second and a nice scope. The other thing was a midnight trip to Sonic. We were suppose to go to walmart also but got sidetracked with the sonic run. O well, we went yesterday night (actually early this morning) and well probabily go tomorrow. Who says insect nerds don't have fun?

25 June 2006

Change in plans for this week, instead of leaving bcs today then going to nm then wtx on wensday Im staying here until thursday then leaving dallas for nm on saturday then going to wtx on the 4th or 5th. My hack partner is a falconer also so this should be good times. I'm probabily going to release Kos while im in wtx I wish I could keep her for another season, but its probabily for the best. She'll do fine im sure considering she believes anything that moves needs to die. Here are some pictures of her hunting and with a bunny she killed.

24 June 2006

these two pictures are part of the valley of desolation mentioned previously. There were some cool rocks down in there which happened to find their way into my backpack. However when the export stuff happened we had to leave our rocks behind also. So my rocks are locked up in a cabinet down there and maybe the next group will bring them back. I also got some cool coral both recently dead and fossilized.

Me and cammack decided to take pictures of our boots while we were standing on top of this peak we had to climb over on the trail. I love my boots although this pair isnt as perfect as my last pair figures they would discontinue my favorite style. I figured out a new way to lace them though so while it take 5 minutes to lace they are now waterproof even when submerged. The last picture is what clem (bus driver/guide) calls the worlds largest wooden barrel. It pipes water to the hydroelectric plant where most of the islands power is generated. The pipe is made totally out of boards and is probabily 4-5 ft in diameter.

23 June 2006

Getting ready to head to west TX by way of dallas and santa fe. 2 more days in college station before this happens though. I stole 4 malaise traps from woolley and a generator from oz so the insects arnt safe. Since getting back from dallas ive just been drawing pictures of neuroptera wings, watching movies (ive watched 5 movies in the last 3 days, more than in the last month), and finding new ways of harrassing woolley. Big news is Chris Dietrich, big leafhopper guy, will be in town for a couple days in july. Looks like ill be able to come and meet with him for a day or so.

These pictures are from the boiling lake. The 1st is the view from the trail and the 2nd one is the steam coming off of the lake. It was a 12 mile hike over ultra slick steps some of which were so tall you had to pull yourself up. The hike was crazy with some major elevation changes but really cool. There are a few spots where there are 1000 ft drops on both sides of the trail which is maybe 4 ft wide. One year woolley had just finished warning the class about it, turned around, and stepped off the edge. Luckily he grabbed onto some stuff on the way down and one of the guides pulled him out. Apparently the 1st thing he said after being put back on the trail was "I still have my bugs". I loved the valley of desolation. There are a bunch of vents and small pools of boiling water. Minerals make the water look grey in most parts, but some parts are jet black or yellowish. It was pretty neat looking. At the boiling lake we ate lunch and i collected some click beetles. They were the smallest elaterids i have seen maybe .5 inches long. While we were hanging around the lake the guide who saved woolley appeard with a couple other people. After an hour or so we all went back down the trail. Along the way we decided it would be sweet to collect in this area, cammack and i invision a 1000 pan grid in the valley along with lights. Maybe a malaise trap or 2 on the top of the peak you have to climb over although its so windy up there the trap would be torn to shreads pretty quick. The hike wasnt as bad as I thought it would be, i think i finally figured out how to walk on the slick log steps without falling or sliding around too much. Major plus

18 June 2006

We took the aerial tram through the rainforest. The way up we were mid canopy or so and on the way back we were above the canopy. The trees were huge (shocking I know). Hopefully I'll be back sometime and get to do some collecting. There is this huge bridge that would be great to run lights on- it was about 300 ft in the are and probabily 300 ft long. Woolley wanted to cover me and Cammack in tanglefoot and lower us over the side. We caught some white Fulgoroids hand collecting on the way down to the midpoint. I think we were driving the guide crazy since she kept having to wait for us to catch up after chasing some bug around. There were some really cool wevils in the canopy but we weren't able to snag any. Maybe next time

17 June 2006

well im back in the us of a. It was quite an adventure. We had to leave all the bugs in dominica due to a moritorium on exportation of biological specimens that was voted on last tuesday and went into effect on wensday- we applied for our permit on wensday. Typical. We found out on friday at 715, by 716 cammack and I had taken stock of all shampoo bottles on station and by 725 woolley had come and said no bugs were leaving the island without a permit. On monday Nancy was able to get the minister to allow a few of the bugs out for our vouchers so hopefully they make it to TAMU fine.

Since arriving back in tx on tuesday ive worked some, went to san antonio and austin with cammack to get by bird, return some stuff to rei and get woolley his early birthday present. We got him a leatherman since he lost his at middleham falls and wrapped it in a cladogram. Thursday I spent the day doing neurop drawings. It took me all morning to do this one asclaphid since Oz kept saying the juggal area was not supposed to be notched and rounded. Well just before lunch he looked it up and guess what it was notched and rounded. After dinner me cammack aubrey and mika got together and watched The Ringer and hung around. Discovered a new drink- chocolate syrup and peperment schnopps, tastes like york peperment patties. Friday I went to my first thesis defence- so far I agree with my friends mom who said that International Science Fair SRC commitee defences was more stressful than her phd thesis defence. Hopefully mine goes as well as kyras did. And Im unofficially taking 24 hours next semester since ill be sitting in on woolleys systematics class.

10 June 2006

The upper picture is of emerald pool, where we went swimming. The next picture is looking out of the snakes mouth to the Atlantic Ocean. It was the only shade around and quite a nice spot to sit. The last picture is the ocean from Castle Bruce.
Day 11- we went to town so I could get my Ham Radio License. My Dominican call is J79HDR got to pick the last 3 letters figured may as well reduce confusion and stick with my old call. It was an adventure finding the place since there are no street signs in Roseau but we found it eventually. It had to be signed by the minister of communication so I got to go to the government building also to do that. Almost didnt get it that day since the woman who writes recipts was gone for the day, but they found someone else who could. Not much else exciting in town, went to the juice stand and had some mango juice. Good times for sure. Big news of the day was I caught a bat. It flew into the classroom after woolley and lacher went to bed so me, DAngela and Travis decided to catch it. It was a lot like grabbing a kestrel. Then i decided to pull paraistes off of it. Went downstairs to the wet lab where i almost ran into 2 guys with machine guns. After almost having a heart attack i realized it was just the guards so no big deal. Pulled off a bunch of streblids (bat flies) which are now hippoboscids along with a beetle larva that woolley has no clue of what it is. Definatly good times.
Day 12- we went to town for the morning. Cammack and I followed Woolley and Lacher around to the markets, bookstore, craft stores etc. There was all kinds of crazy fruits at the markets, a bunch of it i have no idea what it was. There was an open air meat market with slabs of meat and calliphorids (blow flys) everywhere. Made me hungry. For lunch we went to this small place I got a fish sandwich- really good and only 2.5 EC (like a buck). After this we went to the aerial tram where you rode a tram through the rainforest. It was quite cool. Saw a bunch of huge trees. There was a cool wevil, but we werent able to grab it before the tram passed it. We got new nicknames today- Me and Cammack are now TAC and JAC since thats what are collection event labels say.
Day 13- Church in the morning, got the bishops autograph for my collection. After that me cammack and woolley along with the marine group drove all over the island picking up malaise traps. We sat at rodneys rock for a couple hours while the marine group worked. Cammack and i invented a new game- hit the crab with a rock after bouncing the rock off of a big rock. I got the crab once cammack never did. Ha. I tried vitamalt its a popular drink down here. Woolley described it as Guenises without the alchohol. Well i tried a sip of his and i dont know what guenises hes been drinking but that vitamalt is the nastiest stuff ive ever tasted (well except for the time i accidently drunk a glass of nondairy creamer). So i went for passionfruit juice, some of the greatest stuff in the world.

06 June 2006

day 8- we went to a bunch of different places. First stop was Castle Bruce Beach. I collected a bunch of bugs from the sea grapes. It was nice looking over the ocean. Then we went to the carrib village, sort of a reservation type deal. There is this cool lava flow that legend says was left by a snake that came and stayed with the carribs for a while. This goes down into the ocean but we couldn't go all the way down since the waves are crazy there and wash people away occassionally. Last stop was Emerald Pool. We set up a malaise trap here, got our permits checked (1st time anyones ever checked any of my permits for anything I do). Theres a small waterfall with a warm pool that we swam in for a while after setting up the trap. There was a small rock to jump off of so I did that, alot easier than the jump at middleham falls thats for sure. Once we got back Cammack and I took a nap on the ft. aggie couch we have claimed as our own. Apparently the rest of the class has decided he and I have to be within 15 ft of Woolley at all times and this is why we take a nap on his porch every afternoon. They also decided we were his robots he could send around to do his bidding and between 1600 and 1800 he turns us off for our daily nap since we instantly fall asleep and wake up at bascily the same time. They took pictures ill have to post them sometime.

Day 9- set up 2 malise traps- one ground and one aerial. Aerial traps are pretty cool theyve got a pvc frame and you hoist them into trees. Nifty little traps thats for sure. We went to town so I could pick up our FedEx package from the Ets. It was full of good stuff like genitila vials for my bugs and on a lighter note hippy begone spray to get the hippies to go away. I was suppose to get my radio liscense too, but we ran out of time. Its on the list for Friday now.

Day 10- We went to freshwater and boere lake. We ran pan traps along the trail near freshwater lake. Then we walked the trail to boere lake. The weather was perfect for collecting- sunny and warm with little moisture on the plants. Woolley said these conditions were very rare in the elfen forest (usually cold and wet). So he me and cammack collected a good chunk of the way up and got to the lake a while after everyone else. Ate lunch at Boere lake then started back down the trail. The weather was still perfect so we decided to sweep the entire way back. Cammack got ahead of us a few minutes into the hike and decided just to go back with the rest of the class. So I took the right side of the trail and woolley took the left and we swept the entire way back leapfrogging down the trail. Got tons of cool stuff. I need to get a net like hes got since its got a screen that helps keep out vegetaiton while sweeping so its easier to keep the bugs from getting lost in the net. The screen pops off so you can still dive inside to collect the bugs- a necessity for those of us that collect jumping insect and a source of constant amusement to the rest of the world that doesnt. The 2 of us got back to the van a good 30 min after the last of the people before us. We rounded up the pan traps (filled with stuff considering theyed only been out for 3 hours), then went back to the station.

05 June 2006

just discovered the pictures from Cabrits didnt post. The first two are taken at the fort and the last one is the Atlantic ocean from one of the lookouts

03 June 2006

day 5- we hiked to an abandoned fort then to a hilltop where you could see both the atlantic and carribean at the same time. It was pretty dang cool. We set up 2 malaise traps at this stop then went to syndicate- a national park with a huge parrot population. There are 2 species of endemic parrot on the island, i saw a bunch of the common species but none of the rarer species. None of them flew down and attacked me which with my track record with parrot attacks is pretty impressive. Me and Cammack got sent to put up 4 malaise traps while the rest of the class watched more parrots. The first 3 were beautiful set ups with great positioning and deployment. The last trap was set up in near dark with woolley yelling at us from the trail to hurry up. I guess when they got to the van and it got close to dark and we still wernt back yet woolley went back in after us. Cammack and I got the trap up for the most part but its by no means perfect. We met woolley on the trail who then took off running down the path after telling us good job. So we had a nice run out of the forest at dark, kinda exciting. The best part though was on the way Cammack saw a lamperid and since I had both nets I handed him one mid stride and he caught tbe bug without missing a step. Pretty impressive. So I learned 2 things today- 1 never leave without a flashlight even if you expect to be back before dark and 2 when setting up malaise traps always bring duct tape for patch jobs.

Day 6- Went to church today. It was basicly the same as Mass at home with a few minor wording changes. The rytheme of the responces was also a bit different. There were 8 baptisms and 57 confirmation preperation deals. Next week will be the 57 confirmations so the Bishop will be there. Hopefully another autograph for the bishop's autograph collection. There was a dove nesting on one of the eves in the church so all through the Mass this bird would fly in though a window, go to the nest feed the nestling and take off. Shed sometimes perch on the piping suspended from the ceiling. Kinda cool. We also got the lab set up back at Springfield, Cammack and I have already staked out a lab table and the 2 best scopes.

Day 7- Pretty much just hung around the station today helping people with their projects. One girl is working on Roaches so we needed a good bait. The 2 baits of choice are beer & bread or fruit. Beetle people like to use brown sugar and let it ferment also. So I suggested a combonation of the 3- beer, brown sugar, and fruit pieces. We convinced woolley to buy beer in town for the bait since we didnt want to use kabuli (the dominica beer of choice, sort of like a corona), so he said hed get some Gunises since roaches would like a nice flavorfull beer. Lacher wasnt into the idea at first but woolley convinced him so we got our bait mix. That night we had a guy from ROSTI- a sea turtle group that works to get locals involved with nesting sea turtles in hopes that once they see the animals egg and turtle poaching will decline. Its been really successful here on the island. Well thats all for now

01 June 2006

Day 4- we hiked to Middleham falls. The hike was nice a bit tiring but the views were incredible. The falls are 300 ft high and we swam in the pool where it hits. Pretty much everyone jumped into the pool off of the rocks about 15 ft up. I finally worked up the courage and jumped off also. It was pretty fun would have been nicer if the water was a tad warmer. After swimming around for a bit longer we were all freezing cold so we got out and ate somemore lunch. One of the kids saw an eel swiming around in one of the other pools it was pretty far down so we didnt get a great look at it but it was still very cool. On the way back Cammack, D'Angela, Woolley, and I set up 4 malaise traps (bug collecting deals you leave up for a week or so) . There was a rainbow that was so bright you could see the entire spectrum clearly. We stopped and took a ton of pictures (one is above) and over time it actually got even brighter until it was basiclly a full rainbow.