Tag Archive: nature


Well, there you all are wondering what the hell is going on. You’re probably saying, “Jacque, we almost gave up on you. What’s going on?” I’m here. I always have been. But the truth of the matter is just this simple – HEY _ I’M A REAL LIVE PERSON AND LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS SOMETIMES.

Good news is, I know the recipe for lemonade – I also know how to stick lemons in my bra so it makes my boobs look bigger, or how to squeeze those lemons in the faces of my enemies! So, here we go.funny-when-life-gives-you-lemons-squeeze-them-in-peoples-eyes-pictures

It all starts with a problem. Of course, as a scientisty type gal, I usually love this part – it’s the part where I get to be creative, intuitive, intelligent, heroic, and cool. But this time – not so much. You see, I like problems that have solutions. It seems that, so far as I know, the problems life can throw don’t always have solutions. Sometimes you just gotta ride the thing out, take the hits, and walk away with the bruises and wisdom that you’re made of some pretty tough stuff.

So I wanted to share with anyone (I’m sure we all know someone like this) who is having a life problem that seems to have no solution and no end in sight.

  1. Be a man (well, not literally, but figuratively – we know women are stronger lol)
  2. Once the crisis is over – it won’t hurt so much – if it does, you are probably fooling yourself and it’s not quite over – brace yourself
  3. There are legal ways to make people disappear – seriously – of course they all involve lots of money but hey – you never know right
  4. Not everything is your fault – even if other people say so – what the heck do they know anyway
  5. Yoga – Yogi – or YoYo – any one of these three things will either relax you, screw with your mind, confuse you until you forget your problems, totally baffle you, or keep you entertained until the damned string gets all wonky and it won’t go up and down like it used to and the problem passes
  6. Think of worse things that have happened – unless of course this makes you feel worse – in that case – refer to number 6yy
  7. Ask for help or support – you’re really not alone. Well, you can always email or message me if you are alone and I will apologize for number 7
  8. Break the problem up into smaller problems – I know this sounds crazy, but once you do this – some of the smaller ones become solvable and then the main problem smaller – this is a trick I learned from being in the wilds so long….then you can always ignore the leftover problem – leave it for someone else to solve when they take over your job lol
  9. Deny there is a problem – Oh, no, this won’t help but it does delay the inevitable…refer to number 6 again
  10. Suck it up Buttercup – best advice ever from my dear Mr. Jeff Davis – all time champion of telling it like it is

So, I know this might not solve all the problems, that’s not my job lol. That’s your job….and believe it not, rule number 10 is the quickest way to get through it – of course, number 6 is still my all time favorite.

If you want, print this list out and post it near the copier, engine of your old car, laundry room, Dr. office, dramatic family member’s Facebook – or wherever you think it will do the most good…..of course, as always – One last resort – go outside, take a deep breath, Hey sucker – you’re alive!

Repost – Ancient Landscapes

Once connected by an ancient land bridge to the deserts of the southwest, the Lake Wales Ridges State Forest boasts some similar species that were later trapped in this area when the ice receded. The wave action and shallow waters created a most unusual landform which is still visible today from the air.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

What you will find on the ground is equally interesting. In the midst of shallow grassy marshes, there are two cypress domes. I know – that’s crazy right – cypress domes don’t belong on the ridge. Well, they are there. And they are gorgeous. Of course they differ from the swampy cypress domes in that they rely on water travelling underground through seepage rather than flowing over the surface.

Just standing in the middle of the dome after hiking through scrub habitat dominated by white sand and scrub oaks – sharp things and arid conditions – I looked around in total wonder at the soft ferns and mucky loam I was standing on. This seemed to me to be a very unique kind of forest. I felt lucky to be taking photos while my field partner Kevin rejoiced in the beauty as well.

It’s not hard to admit that we feel fortunate to be able to see these places. Truth is, everyone can as they are part of the Lake Wales Walk In Water WMP and are totally publicly accessible. You can even bring your horses and camp! IMGP0082  http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html

As always, these areas are home to some very special plants and animals. Even the soil can’t be disturbed. Please enjoy with your eyes and take no prisoners!

IMGP0092
The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

 

Fly like an eagle

Coolest video ever — It’s an eagle flying through the Alps with a camera attached to its back. Enjoy!

http://www.thelocal.fr/20130918/video-viewers-blown-away-by-birds-eye-view-of-chamonix

*Note: you have to scroll down the page a little bit to find the video.

Dusty Dusk

Kristen suited up!

Kristen suited up!

The sun sets on another day in the field and it’s time to get back to the office. Tomorrow we will backpack electrofish. I love electrofishing but this time Kristen isn’t going to be there. WHAT? You might say! Sadly, more often than not Kristen has been in the office doing what project managers do – OFFICE WORK.

For those who have no idea what electrofishing is – or think it’s like fishing with dynamite – well, it’s not. We use a Halltech backpack unit. It sends out an electrical impulse that we adjust according to different parameters. For instance, some water is more conductive, and therefore we lower the settings so that we don’t harm the fish.

The idea is to lightly stun the fish just long enough to scoop them gently into the net. Once captured, they are bucketed, sorted, weighed, measured, and counted – then photographed! That’s a rough day for small fish so we handle them as carefully as possible.

Of course fish aren’t the only things in the water! Frogs are terribly sensitive to electricity and react immediately by jumping out of the water. Snakes and sirens hide in the mud. Crayfish get stunned rather easily as well. The one thing that doesn’t seem to respond at all to our shocking is ALLIGATORS!! We have come across a small gator that had been in a shallow pool that stuck to the bottom the entire time without any indication that it was affected.

The neat part is seeing what you caught. You might be surprised to find ten different species of beautiful fish in a nasty mud puddle. So before you think of shrinking puddles as nothing more than yesterday’s creek, take a look at some of the things we find!

Spotted sunfish

Greater Siren – Florida’s largest amphibian

Everglades pygmy sunfish

Golden topminnow

Sailfin Molly

That’s right – we find greater sirens!

Lesson: Canoe Camping

Back in October, my husband and I (and our beagle) went on a canoe camping adventure down the beautiful Santa Fe River. Because we were turtlescelebrating both my birthday and our anniversary, we wanted to do something epic. And epic it was! We paddled 15 miles over the course of two days, taking our time to fish, swim, and enjoy the passing scenery… cypress-lined banks, turtles sunning themselves, wading birds feeding, crystal clear springs… what more could you want out of a weekend?

We began our adventure at the Canoe Outpost in High Springs, Florida (http://santaferiver.com/). Here we were able to rent a canoe, arrange a down-river pick up time and spot for the following day (since we were camping overnight), and park our car. The Outpost was awesome. Not only was the staff really friendly and knowledgeable, they even had wheelbarrows available so you could haul your stuff down to the river! And since we were camping, we had a lot of stuff! It’s amazing how much you can fit into a single canoe. Once we were loaded, off we went to begin our adventure.

naked ed2As I mentioned before, we took our time paddling down the river and even stopped to swim a few times. Wait, swimming in October?! That’s right! The Santa Fe River has tons of springs along its course that pump crystal clear groundwater out at a constant temperature of 72 degrees. Now that’s still cold, but it’s certainly do-able (especially if you’re a Chick with Ticks)! One of the springs we took a dip in was Lily Springs. This spring is quite unique because there is a 60-year old man named Naked Ed who lives in a hut and spends his days watching over the spring. And guess what, he lives up to his name! As we turned off the main river to paddle up to the spring run, there was Naked Ed in all his glory! He was very friendly and knowledgeable, and you can learn more about him here: http://www.sptimes.com/News/081300/Floridian/The_wild_man_of_Lilly.shtml or here: http://stateofwater.org/people/naked-ed/

At the end of the Day 1, after paddling just over 7 miles, we pulled off the river and set up camp in a beautiful spot right cold!on the river bank. Because parts of the floodplain are owned by the state, you’re actually allowed to just pull off and camp in these areas. Granted it’s primitive with no bathrooms or showers, but it won’t kill you to pee in the woods and skip a shower for a night! We set up our tent, gathered up some firewood (there was plenty in the floodplain forest), and cooked ourselves some hotdogs and s’mores. We even had folding chairs to sit on! That’s the great thing about canoe camping, and probably something most people don’t realize: you can fit a TON of stuff in a canoe. And the best part is you don’t have to carry it! Just plop it in the boat and off you go!

When we woke up the next morning, we lit another fire and ate some more s’mores (I probably shouldn’t admit that). Then we pushed off andcamp view enjoyed the last 7 miles of our trip. At mile 15, the Canoe Outpost picked us up and shuttled us back to our car. Honestly, it was really easy, and I think it’s an adventure that sounds impossible but is completely do-able! In fact, the Chicks with Ticks are planning to host a canoe camping adventure in March (more details on that to come). Hope to see you there!eric+zelda+gear

Vampires Commeth..

With Halloween coming, the Chicks thought it would be interesting to begin dispelling myths about some of the spookier nighttime creatures. We will begin with bats. Vampire bats do not suck blood. Rather, they lick the blood of cows an other small mammals. Vampire bats are actually very small and are no threat to us!

So, here goes. No more fearing them in the dark. They do not get tangled in your hair and will not suck the lifeblood out of you….here are some truths about

 

BATS

  • A single bat can snap up over 600 mosquitoes in one hour, as well as other little pests!
  • Bats are shy, gentle, and intelligent. They are among the slowest reproducing animals on earth.
  • Most bat species have only one live young per year. A mother bat nurses her baby from a pair of pectoral breasts.
  • The average life-span of a bat is 25 to 40 years.
  • Bat populations in rapid decline, and White Nose Syndrome is threatening them even further. Half the bats in the US are listed as rare, threatened or endangered.
  • While both bats and mice are mammals, bats are not rodents and are more closely related to primates and people.
  • Bats live a very long time.  Most bats live between 10 and 20 years.  Some bats typically live to 30 years old.  The oldest known bat was recently recaptured in Europe at 41 years old.
  • Very few bats contract rabies.  Over the last 50 years, less than 40 people have gotten rabies from a wild bat.  Scientific studies have shown that less than 1% of wild bats test positive for rabies.

http://batconservation.org/drupal/bat-myths Check out the Organization for Bat Conservation!

Well, they just got even cooler! We tracked down this live feed of a nesting bald eagle pair whose little chicks recently hatched! Yesterday I spied the mommy feeding the chicks turtle! Yes, turtle! Today they are eating fish and some kind of rodent. YUMMY. You can check these magnificent birds out here: http://www.alcoa.com/locations/usa_davenport/en/info_page/eaglecam.asp

So we previously blogged about how to tell the difference between a bald eagle and an osprey. Today we’d like to share the great success story of the American Bald Eagle.. Not too long ago, this species was listed as Endangered. Its population was threatened by habitat loss, DDT (an insecticide used back in the day that caused eggshells to be really thin and crack before chicks were hatched), and hunting. To protect the symbol of our country, the government banned DDT, prohibited the hunting of eagles, and protected their nests. These protections resulted in an amazing recovery, with populations high enough to take the bald eagle off the endangered species list. Yay!

Image from Alcoa eagle cam of mommy and daddy feeding a chick!

 

Osprey update: still no chicks, but you can check in on them here: http://ospreynest.info/ospreycam.php 

Nice clothes!

Eric, the supportive husband!

Eric, Zelda, and I are proud to show off our new CWT tshirts, since we’ve all experienced having a tick at one time or another!! CRINGE!!

My new favorite shirt!

I hope everyone is ready for turkey day. I know we are!

Zelda, the happy Beagle!

%d bloggers like this: