Friday, June 26, 2009

Chicks rock out on the roof!

My girlfriend, who works for the state, called me to see if I wanted to travel down to Marathon, in the keys, to help band tern chicks last week. I think she thought I might jump at the chance to get off island, and knew I was missing the birds this season. She was right I have banded tern chicks before, and they are adorable, vulnerable, and pretty easy to handle in order to band. What was so cool about this banding experience was this; usually these birds lay their eggs on sand, they are colonial nesters (which means they nest in groups for better protection), they need a good part of the beach, uninterrupted, for their nesting efforts. Well, down in the keys, because of lack of large, sandy beaches, terns have taken to nesting on top of buildings! The top of buildings have been perfect because they gravel the roof, making the nesting perfect for the terns. It also gets them up, away from some predators, such as cats. I love this, I love how they have adapted! The businesses in these buildings seem to take to being protective and proud of these nesting birds too! So, we went up on the roofs and put the silver bands on their little legs. This chicks aren't flying yet, so we chase after them, carefully, while the run as fast as they can while shaking their little rumps.
They are cute little buggers. Banding is a messy job though, the chicks get nervous and let the bird poop fly. The parents also get protective, circle around, and let the poop fly. But it so doesn't matter as you are holding this cute little chick, and it's squeaking at you, and you just want to get the little band on without hurting them. One chick had just hatched out, I bet a minute after we got up on the roof and grabbed it, it still had egg shell on it's head. I thought, what a welcome to life for this little guy! I think we banded over 150 chicks.

Adult Roseate Tern

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best Surf Move

HOLY COW! I think I have seen Evan do this numerous times!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Island entertainment

This cracks me up! This should included in one of those, "can you guess what's in this picture?" contests. This is, not the sharpest crayon in the box, does not completely have all her marbles, cat, crammed in a cereal box. She thinks I can't see her, a minute later she jumps out of the box acting like she is attacking, only to run, sliding across the floor under the bed, safely hiding out of sight, only her tail happens to be sticking out from under the bed. Sneaky! Good job! Maybe when you live on a deserted island it doesn't take much to entertain. But this cat brings me hours of laughter. I admittedly may be a little weird about my cat. (No! Really?!) I have no doubt I will probably be the old lady they find passed away in a house full of cats. (This future scenario only happens if Evan goes first, he seriously holds me back from my cat saving.) Reminds me of a little ditty my dear friend Maggie told about observing a crazy woman roller blading, while pushing a stroller, which contained a caged parrot. Would I push Lola around in a stroller one day if something happens to her and she can't walk?..... Darn right I would.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Being blue over Miami Blues

The reason we cannot spray for mosquitos is this little guy. Miami Blue Butterfly. They are beautiful, unique to the Florida Keys and ENDANGERED. The shimmery blue tint on their wings gives them their name. About the size of a dime, they are hard to identify and rare.  The one and only time I have seen them, they gave me a burst of serotonin, my thoughts went to; spring! Here comes summah! Fun! Preeettty! These guys are hard to see though, they never want to land on anything, sit still to show what they really have to offer visually.  More like insects with an attention disorder, they flitter around spastically, touching down and taking off in second long spurts. They use and depend on an annoying little plant called nickerbean to lay their eggs and make their cocoons. Nickerbean gets it's name because as you walk by it- it "nicks" you (more like tears your flesh. Lovely! Where can I get some you ask?) Many thorns from this plant conveniently stick out, shaped with a nice C-curve, so when it sticks you and you continue to walk forward it sinks deeper into your skin. It's not really pleasant. The result is offering protection for the various stages of the butterfly. It makes me realize that things that occur in nature that seem like a nuisance, inconvenient and annoying to us have a use in creating something beautiful like the miami blue butterfly and one may not even realize it. (Feel free to expand and observe how this could also relate to life, right?) The butterfly depends on the nickerbean for survival. It becomes a bit sweet, you know, the relationship of the beautiful butterfly and this hated plant....
Anyway, we had a couple that volunteered on the island for the winter. Nickerbean bothered their hikes through the woods, searching for washed up trash to treasure items.  They saw no good use for it, HATED it. For the time they were on Elliott they made it their job to cut down every nickerbean they could find, spending all day in the woods with their machete hacking at the nickerbean without realizing it's significance.
My one nuisance right now on my beautiful island is the bugs.  It's hard to describe the mosquito experience on Elliott. I like to use another image so people can maybe understand a bit better. Imagine walking out of your house and being swarmed, by let's say- a swarm of bees or maybe bats, they are in your face, in your hair and you can hear the buzzing of blood thirst- first instinct is to run, waving arms, screaming until you find sanctuary. This is me, I run from house to boat, boat to house, house to workout room, workout room to house. It can bring tears to my eyes I hate it so much. In the blazing hot florida summer, I wear a bug suit, covering my arms, face, head so I don't get eaten alive. (Is it a urban myth that you could die from swarming mosquitos?)  I try to be an organic person, I don't want to use chemicals all over the place, but I find myself being pulled while walking around in Lowe's or Target to buy the most toxic, poisonous items I can find to use to get rid of the mosquitos. I read the labels, the directions, picture myself hooking up the hose and where I would spray. What brand looks best, what picture on the front of the bottle looks most deadly, would the mosquitos make little sounds as the poison slowly sinked in their bodies, which poison would make them most suffer.... But then I think of the blue and what's right, what's fair, just because I can and get away with it, should I? If this is the small sacrifice I have to make for the Miami Blue, then why not? I could go on and on about why insects are so important, list amazing facts from my entomology class, how without honeybees we wouldn't last very long, blah blah. But when people scouff at what I am living with on Elliott Key in the summer, I say, it's not so bad, look what I do have- I share my island with a unique butterfly only found in the Florida Keys, a little bit of beauty I get to admire.

Getting off the Island.... and out of Florida! Girls Road Trip

MPLS watch out! MPLS in the summer time, what a happenin' place! This city has so much character and things to do. Holly, Beth and I drove up to visit Mags in the twin cities! Girls summer road trip and "The Margaritas" reunion (our rock band name, creative I know, I have no idea how we came up with it... !) The short weekend so far has been full of sightseeing and makings of good stories. Trip started with a must stop at the world's largest skillet in Brandon, Iowa, a burger from Hamburg Inn in Iowa City and a look see at Beth's sold house in Iowa. Since arriving in Mpls, we have eaten and drank well. Meeting Maggie and her friends for happy hour and sushi we stuffed ourselves before heading to get ice cream at a little place I believe was named Crema Cafe. Ah, sitting outside with the cool temps, eating creme brulee ice cream, and catching up was a rockin' good start to the weekend. Went to Mill City Market in the morning, spending time there mostly eating up all the free samples. Maggie bought some chocolate bar at the "healthy, I use raisins in place of the sugar" stand. Holly bought about 12 jars of pepper jelly, so we all could take some home and then have some for ourselves- it was some darn good jelly jamey jam. We strolled across to watch the boats and canoes coming across the lock and dam, all while Maggie is giving us a half remembered history tour of the flour mill. Later in the day, after some pedi's, we managed to make it to Rock the Garden, seeing about 1 1/2 bands. It felt good to listen to some tunes, drink a beer and soak in the atmosphere for a bit. Alas, now, it's time for bed, I look forward to Beth picking more strawberries from Maggie's garden for our cereal in the morning. Yum, darn I wish my island garden was doing better. There is so much to update on Elliott Island I don't know where to begin. I am going to try and be a better blogger, since this weekend the girls and I read through blogs and I found out from Beth and Holly how hip it is just to read blogs... a lot of blogs... all the time... oh, and they also told me I need to do something with my hair, like color and condition. ah girlfriends. The salty ocean water and Florida sun is not good for the hair, my hair hates me, but what swim cap? I don't know. I can just see me wake boarding and snorkeling with a swim cap. Thank god for friends though, because who else is going to keep me in shape on Elliott- where I have the best hair, and only hair and no one sees it anyway- because if I am outside, I am wearing a bug jacket, which covers my face and head.... so cool, updated blog. Lesson to take away readers: visit Mpls.
Beth and I as bacon.