Man, it's been a while since I've devoted much time to the blog. The past two months have been a never-ending whirlwind of activity. First, there was the end-of-the-semester crush of finals, essays, and finishing my thesis. Then, when it became clear that I did manage to pass all my classes, I graduated!
I was expecting to then be able to relax for a week afterwards and go herping with my friends for one of the last times on another epic trip to Allegany SP. Unfortunately, I was stuck doing field work on Northern Rough-winged Swallows that were delayed and nesting late due to the unusually cool spring. My friends went on without me, beating last year's count of 25 species with a whopping 30 herp species in a weekend, an incredible total for NY. I would've gotten one lifer - Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) - if I had been free to join them.
Instead, I spent 50 hours over the course of the week observing a single pair of Rough-wings nesting in a drainpipe in a dirty creek in downtown Ithaca. I'll post more about that soon - I did actually manage to see some interesting things by forcing myself to stay in one spot day after day. My fish list during my week of fieldwork far exceeded my herp list!
When that week of torment was over, I entered the workforce full-time, continuing the job I held most of my time as a student - a video archivist in Macaulay Library. Getting paid to watch bird videos sounds like a fantastic opportunity, and it is indeed great. But let's be honest, sitting in a windowless room with no natural light at a computer for eight hours a day? Not my dream job.
On top of eight hour days in Macaulay, my time since graduation in May has also been spent whipping my thesis into shape for publication - it's almost there. As soon as that paper's off to be reviewed, I will be writing a shorter manuscript on the Rough-wings and submitting that as well. I have also gotten back into the lab ploughing into more molecular work, with intent on churning out enough data this summer to write one or more papers before I leave Ithaca in late August.
These two jobs add up to a lot of time indoors at the Lab of Ornithology - I've already spent several 12 to 14 hour days at the Lab, having to walk several miles home after dark. I really wish I could spend more time outside herping and birding (and I have done some, see upcoming posts) but spending 100% of the time during the week at the Lab prevents me from attending things at home, meaning I have to spend the weekend cleaning and running errands. Life kinda sucks right now for a die-hard naturalist longing to be outside more (and he thinks to himself, why am I not outside right now? hmm...). But, I know it will turn out to be worth it, especially when I can manage to get multiple publications out this summer.
So that's my story up to the present, and why I've hardly posted anything lately. Change is coming though - I will be switching jobs and freeing up some time in the evenings. On the other hand, now that the crush may finally be lessoning, my friends have all gone their separate ways. My housemate and friend Taylor, whom I met on Day 1 freshman year, has moved on to a job in New England. My herper extraordinare amigo Eric has also moved on - to Papua New Guinea. He's there with two other Cornell Herpetological Society undergrads surveying changes in the herpetofauna along an elevational gradient in an unsampled region of PNG. He was supposed to write about the expedition, conceived and organized by three Cornell undergrads who attracted enough grant money to fund it, before he left but he didn't (slacker!). I'll make him write about his trip when he returns in August. My third housemate Shawn is off birding in Kenya with our advisor's Tropical Field Ecology summer class. Follow their exploits through several student blogs - Eric the entomologist, fellow labmates Ben and Jess, as well as Jess W and Regi. I'll make Shawn post here when he returns, of course, but don't let that stop you from reading these great students' blogs. All of my housemates' and friends' departures leave me here in the apartment staring at the blank walls denuded of all the posters Taylor took with him. I keep telling myself it'll be worth it in the end...
So, since I will have more free time soon and nothing much to do with it, I can finally work through the backlog of posts I've been hoping to get to. I have a lot stacked up - field posts from the last two months, ornithology class posts going back to February, and even finishing my Costa Rica trip report from January *gasp* which some thought would never happen. I also have a couple longer-running projects I'd like to write up for the blog. One was the New Species post, which I may update over the long run. Another is a summary of all of the recent molecular advances in avian taxonomy, emphasizing order and family level relations
As for right now, I'm heading down to Ithacafest to listen to some good tunes by the Sim Redmond Band. It ain't birding, but it is outside in the sun, and that will do.