April 9 – Scubalicious

Tuesday we had our first confined water “dive” in the pool for the scuba class.  The QU pool is not more than about 5 feet deep at any point.  I thought it might be a little scary breathing underwater with a regulator, but it wasn’t at all.  It was fun!  We did the first few exercises, and afterward just swam around in the pool.  I, having a wetsuit, did not get cold.  The others were running for the hot tub afterward.  Brent and I helped load the tanks and gear in the instructor’s trailer.   I drove home, or rather to the polling place to vote.  It was at the high school, which was convenient because I went directly to the cafeteria to eat a pancake dinner with Stacey. 

Wednesday morning I had a great outing with my vertebrate field class.  We saw
27 species in a little over an hour, including things we don’t often
get, like brown creeper, wood thrush, yellow-bellied sapsucker and
barred owl.  I’ve only seen the sapsucker once before.  I’ve never seen an owl while with the class in the many years of teaching it.  In fact, one year it was a running joke.  This owl was being pestered by a couple of crows.  We also saw it’s mate, which was unmolested.

Barred owl.  I think it was more bothered by us than by the crows.  That’s why I couldn’t get any closer than this.

Wood thrush.


Thursday we did stream team with me, Lowell, and four students.  The water was a little high.  We couldn’t measure the discharge rate, but we got everything else done.  The stream rated “Fair” which is about normal.  We got some of those really pretty stoneflies too.  Brent ended up with the leaky waders, and got soaked and cold.  I felt bad for him.  I need to get more waders, as we always seem to be sampling in high water, especially in the spring.  Knee boots we have in abundance, but their not adequate at high flow.  We got the recycling out when we were done.  Makes for a long day. 

Sandy, Shawn, Laura, Me, Brent (giving me the bunny ears).

Picking (bugs) and grinning.

Stirring things up.

Friday was cold and rainy.  We did grocery shopping and then hung around the house.  I made a calendar from Great Blue Heron photos taken at Lake Taneycomo last month.  Someone will buy it next year. 

Saturday I went out to Lowell’s.  While crossing the dam I saw four blue-winged teal on the lake.  While we were fishing, they mostly stayed out of sight.  When a pair came around the point, I said, “Watch, when I pull out my camera, they’ll fly away.”  They did.  I managed to get some decent shots of a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, a cute little bird I haven’t seen in about 25 years.  We also saw the Yellow-rumped warbler and another Palm Warbler.  We fished a round of the lake, then went around in the Mule clearing the old nest material out of all the bluebird boxes.  Two of them had deer mice inside, one of which jumped out and landed on me for a second.  If I get hantavirus you’ll know why.  We saw the first female Red-winged Blackbirds of the year.  We took a ladder out on the pontoon boat to service a bluebird box on the side of the floating dock.  I screwed the top off and found a nest with four eggs in it.  I guess they didn’t need our help.  I put the top back on.  We fished another half round of the lake.  After lunch in Ewing we were coming back and saw the four teal plus two wood ducks on the wetland.  This is the wetland Lowell built specifically to attract ducks–during the fall season.  At least this probably sets a record for live ducks on it.  We came back with the Mule and my camera and the darn ducks had left.  We fished another round of the lake and I caught one small bass.  At least I wasn’t skunked.  I haven’t been skunked yet this year, but just saying that surely jinxes me for next time.

Painted turtle, slightly muddy.

Double-shot of blue-gray gnatcatcher.

Easter Sunday we stayed home.  When Savannah got up (OK, when Stacey woke her up) we opened Easter baskets.  Stacey got some kitchen implements and a toy brush truck.  I got a case for my iPod and a fish holding device for filleting.  Savannah got two baskets.  One was a bunch of QU stuff.  I got a little yard work done.  While I was picking up pine cones in the side yard I found the first morel of the year. It was tiny.  Lowell came over for dinner–we had the traditional ham.  We watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, at least while we weren’t napping.  Pumpkin pie was for dessert.

Monday I went in to the office, even though I had no classes.  It was cold and rainy anyway.  I had to finish writing an exam and grade a huge stack of papers.  Mission accomplished.

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