I'm a herpetologist by training but a naturalist at heart. My masters thesis is looking into the Panamint alligator lizard, Elgaria panamintina. In particular I'm focusing on identifying its range and testing out a variety of novel techniques which may benefit the field of herpetology as a whole. I post things that interest me and often post updates on what I'm doing in the vertebrate museum, in the field, or in the lab.

 

Winner of the 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest: Entry 19 by Jennifer Miller!
This is her first duck stamp win, and she is potentially the youngest of the three woman to win this contest!
Remember… buy your duck stamps to support conservation!

Winner of the 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest: Entry 19 by Jennifer Miller!

This is her first duck stamp win, and she is potentially the youngest of the three woman to win this contest!

Remember… buy your duck stamps to support conservation!

The 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest is halfway over… and my fourteen top picks all made the first cut! (See all the entries here)
I’m curious to see how they’ll fare tomorrow, this entry, # 189 is my current favorite to win (but I think it could just as easily be #115 or #85) but there’s a lot of good contenders this year with 55 entries making it to the second round.
I’ll be watching the contest live tomorrow (livestreaming here from 10am EST until the contest is over, the winner should be announced by noon EST).
Don’t know about the duck stamp or want to learn more? I highly recommend the book: The Wild Duck Chase for an interesting look into the history of the duck stamp, I learned a lot and it was a fun read.

The 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest is halfway over… and my fourteen top picks all made the first cut! (See all the entries here)

I’m curious to see how they’ll fare tomorrow, this entry, # 189 is my current favorite to win (but I think it could just as easily be #115 or #85) but there’s a lot of good contenders this year with 55 entries making it to the second round.

I’ll be watching the contest live tomorrow (livestreaming here from 10am EST until the contest is over, the winner should be announced by noon EST).

Don’t know about the duck stamp or want to learn more? I highly recommend the book: The Wild Duck Chase for an interesting look into the history of the duck stamp, I learned a lot and it was a fun read.

My camera/binocular harness arrived!

Its gorgeous and looks like it will work beautifully! The only potential problem is that the clips connecting the binoculars are really shiny (might spook birds), but I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

I’m planning on testing it tomorrow after class to see how it works in a real field situation.

Pelagic update:

I picked up a handful of new lifers- risso’s dolphin, elegant tern, common tern, black-vented shearwater, buller’s shearwater and frustratingly brief looks at a Manx shearwater. Photo lifers of all but Manx, and also a few other new photo lifers (Heermann’s gull & Brandt’s cormorant).

I also didn’t get even a little bit seasick- yay seasickness drugs!

Unfortunately, the guide/company I was with was lackluster at best, nice guys but absolutely horrible guides. Plus our car was stuck with a horrible travel companion who was super rude and annoying. She kept interrupting me anytime I tried to talk so I ended up sitting in silence most of the ride there and back.

HOWEVER.

I watched a giant Mola mola hunt and eat a couple of the thousands upon thousands of Velella velella we saw at sea.

If I just ignore the human component of the trip, the rest of it was actually pretty awesome, lots of cool critters.

 Photos soon.

Pelagic trip this weekend!

Gonna go make myself seasick again (probably)… but BIRDS!

Going with a group of birders from the local area including the resident good-luck charm, so who knows what’ll show up.

Going to arm myself properly with all sorts of anti-sea-sickness stuff (which I foolishly didn’t bring last time). Also planning to strap my snacks and water to myself so I never have to go into the cabin (I did fine on the last one until I wandered into the cabin to get myself a snack, was only in there for a minute or so, but that was enough).

!!!

I found a solution to my camera/binocular strap tangling/choking problem!

Gorgeous harness setup originally for three cameras (one hanging on the chest, two on the sides)… but after talking with them, I found out it will work great for camera/bins/scope & tripod (!!) and there’s an additional belt that can be added to carry even more gear without looking loaded down.

No more getting tangled in straps and missing/scaring birds… no more choking myself and causing a super sore neck from carrying both camera and bins on my neck… and I won’t look wrapped up in straps like I did when I tried the camera/bin-harness combo. I was looking at the ones that press wear (those big black contraptions), but those were definite overkill for what I’ll be doing… this is perfect.

Super excited for it to arrive, should be here in a few weeks!

Update from the field- day 2: the birds…

Bird highlights from today included: lifer chukar (with young, and numerous calling as I walked around), a pair of mystery birds who had a distinct call I had never heard before but intrigued me enough to stop my site survey and spend half an hour scanning the talus-type slope to find them (photo 2), a pair of peregrine falcons racing down the canyon passing over my head, and more black-throated sparrows than seems reasonably possible (easily over 25 individuals in the one canyon).

Meowing bird?

What birds “meow” other than gray catbirds?

Bird was “meowing” every five to thirty seconds for a five minute period in dense reeds adjecent to a water treatment pond and trail.  Despite my best efforts of pishing, and tapping on my waterbottle (which oddly was making it call more often)… the bird just would not let me get a look, and by the time I remembered I had the capacity to record calls with my phone it stopped calling. Seemed smallish in size, definitely not a cat/mammal.

Horrible quality picture… But look! They’re almost done! I’m going to look for my magnets tomorrow, if my quest is successful then some of these will be magnets, some pins.

I also think I figured out the pendant/earring dimensions so I’ll be making some of those next.

I have the list of recommendations from a few posts ago… But I’m almost done with all those birds… So I need more recommendations!

What birds should I draw next? And should it be a magnet, pin, earrings or a necklace… Or something else?

Horrible quality picture… But look! They’re almost done! I’m going to look for my magnets tomorrow, if my quest is successful then some of these will be magnets, some pins.

I also think I figured out the pendant/earring dimensions so I’ll be making some of those next.

I have the list of recommendations from a few posts ago… But I’m almost done with all those birds… So I need more recommendations!

What birds should I draw next? And should it be a magnet, pin, earrings or a necklace… Or something else?

And shrunk!
Next step: apply the finish, then attach the pins… then photograph and list on etsy (and then hopefully sell them to pay for field season gas).

And shrunk!

Next step: apply the finish, then attach the pins… then photograph and list on etsy (and then hopefully sell them to pay for field season gas).

I stayed up until 3am reading this book about Phoebe Snetsinger.  It was really interesting to read a book about a famous birder from a non-birders perspective, especially a famous birder I knew very little about. However now that I really want to read the book Phoebe wrote about her life, I discovered it seems to be one of only a few birder-written books I don’t currently possess. 

Also… now I really want to go birding abroad but I’ll have to settle for birding locally for the foreseeable future… maybe I can save up and do a small trip sometime next year.

ARGH! I should’ve turned around…

Yesterday as I was driving home on my favorite road-birding/shortcut road I saw a very very odd bird, but I was running late and didn’t bother to turn around and get another look, and I’m kicking myself big time for not doing it… and all I can think about is that bird.

The bird?

BIG white egret (it looked to be a good inch or two bigger than the great egrets standing next to it)… but no yellow on its face.

 None.

Nothing.

Jet black bill… and by jet black I mean JET black. Not muddy, not a trick of lighting, pure solid black.

Blue lore… a nice tumblr background blue (a little lighter than that actually).

Did I have my camera? no.

Did I get a hauntingly good look? yes, that image of that bird is seared into my brain.

Will he be there when I drive home from work? I really hope so because…

if I’m right its the African subspecies of great egret, and that’s pretty amazing.  If I’m only partially right (and fail miserably at judging size at 25 feet, and can’t tell gray from black) its another little blue heron (still super awesome), and if I’m not right on either its still a wicked cool color variation of a common bird that I want to photograph… because that guy was gorgeous.

"It took him until he was 81, but a veteran British birder has become the first person in the world to officially see 9,000 species of bird” (via World’s greatest birdwatcher sets a new record – then hangs up his binoculars)

"It took him until he was 81, but a veteran British birder has become the first person in the world to officially see 9,000 species of bird” (via World’s greatest birdwatcher sets a new record – then hangs up his binoculars)