Owl TiVo

I guess I’ll start this with a promise to add pictures to my website soon, but camp life is keeping me plenty busy. I’m hoping to revamp the gallery layout a bit, but it seems like such a big undertaking that I keep putting it off and opt for an early bedtime or some good reading. So, soon, hopefully. There are plenty of pictures from the last two years at camp to look at, and honestly, a lot of it is the same. So, without further ado, the latest update from camp is ready for your reading enjoyment!

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We’re forever adding new equipment to this project. In the past we’ve used Video Monitoring Units (VMUs), but they were more like security camera recordings of the owls – tiny pictures and jumpy images requiring hideously ancient operating systems to watch the videos. We used actual security camera hard drive recorders last year, but the images were still time lapsed and almost impossible to watch without the concrete block of a recorder and a steady network connection. This year we went simpler, thanks to advancements in home theater technology. Our latest and greatest installment is Owl TiVo. Well, not exactly TiVo, but we do set up Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) on some of the owl nests. They’re exactly what some of you probably have in your home systems. So now we have hours of owl-full human-less video to watch. It allows us to get an idea of what they do when we’re not around, tramping up and down the slope with our equipment. Plus, with good views into the nests, we can see teeny tiny owlets before we’d be able to see them from the ground even with the best spotting scopes. However, there are some who are not as excited about our new equipment as us.

Last week, we hiked into Glen7 to do a playback experiment, so our packs were already maxed out. And Glen7 is not the easiest hike. It’s not far; it’s just very downhill on the way in and very very uphill on the way out. When we got there, I went to check on the DVR system and quickly noticed that it was destroyed. The pelican case that holds the DVR, monitor and most of the cables was upside-down, both camera were on the ground and off their tripods. After taking a closer look, I discovered that the pelican case had quite a few scratches and/or bite marks. The microphone had been eaten and discarded for lack of taste (it was a cheap mic) and the end of one of the cables had been chewed on. The big obvious evidence was a large pile of fresh stinky bear scat about five feet from our busted equipment. Our equipment gets knocked down fairly regularly out here from cows, wind, evil humans, and occasionally bears. But since it has been raining daily since Friday, everything was wet and a fair amount of moisture had gotten inside the camera housings since they got cracked either from the bear or from the impact with the ground. So, after the experiment was complete, we added to our heavily burdened packs the busted equipment and hiked up up up to the truckā€¦all the while, a huge nasty storm was brewing nearby. The thunderclaps made for excellent motivation to get up the hill (especially since we had two ten-foot metal poles with us), but unfortunately my legs just weren’t as motivated as the rest of me. It was a long, slow hike, but luckily we all made it to the truck before the rain/hail/snow started.

I’m not sure if the monsoons have arrived a month early (please no!) or we’re just being treated to a big fat storm. We had to postpone a behavior crew overnight for fear of damaging our equipment in the rain. Hopefully, it’s just a (large) passing storm and we can get back to our nice warm May weather before the July monsoons start. My tent is holding up quite nicely (Eureka Assault 4 – I highly recommend it). The owls are certainly doing fine. Nineteen nests (and one more we’re pretty sure are nesting) and 21 owlets. Six of the nests have triplets, all of which we just had to name. Bert, Ernie & Oscar. Dude, Duder & El Duderino. Lucky, Dusty & Ned. David, Lee & Roth. Maverick, Goose & Iceman. And my favorite – Heather, Heather & Heather. The singles and twins haven’t been named yet, but we’re only half-way through the summer. There have hardly been any jets so the behavior crew is helping the survey crew get their work done. We’ve got the VIP visit coming up in a week so things will get crazy starting in a few days as we get all the data to date ready for presentations (song-and-dance) and spit-polish all of camp (cause, you know, we’re camping, we’re supposed to be clean).

Before the fall

Before the fall

Things are trucking along just fine with me. I was able to take a whole week off the beginning of May and went home. I spent most of it trying to relax and do nothing (a task I’m getting better at). I did help with my halau’s (hula school) concert. We hosted a slack key guitar (ki ho’alu) and ‘ukulele concert and workshops. It was so much fun, I’m really glad I was able to be home for it. I’ve put a bunch of pictures from the concert on our halau website.

I took a brief 36-hour break last weekend. Ky, Kev and I went to Eagar to visit Lex, Stephen and Maggie. It’s amazing how relaxed I felt after such a short break. Although, it may have been just exhaustion that I mistook for relaxation. Lex and Stephen took us on a great bike ride where I managed to knock the stuffing out of myself several times, resulting in some of the nastiest (and largest) bruises I’ve ever had. Sleeping was interesting since I managed to fall mainly on my right side. If I tried to roll over, I got a quick painful reminder not to. Of course, I got up the next morning and went on another (easier) ride where I still managed to fall a few times and bust up the left side of my body. I’m still black and blue all over with a fair amount of scratches, but not nearly as sore anymore. It wasn’t anything that an espresso shake from Java Blues didn’t cure (at least temporarily).

I’m working on revamping my webpage’s photo gallery, but there should be new pictures up there soon. Take care!

Love and sunshine,
Stefanie ;)

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