Slice of Life #14

Well, the blizzard was a bust. I understand why forecasts can bust (and overperformed north of here), but I’m a little disappointed! It was snowing when I went to bed at 1am. The ground and street were covered at that point. That was not the case when I woke up. 

Chris said we had 4-5 inches of snow at 6am when he let the dogs out. Right after that it warmed up and the snow turned to sleet. It sleeted all day. The snow was almost gone by noon and by 2pm everything was covered in ice. 

Boo! If we are going to use a snow day in March I’d prefer that it actually snow. I hate ice and I hate black ice even more. Luckily, we have a delayed opening tomorrow. Granted, our delayed opening means teachers need to be at school only 45 minutes later than normal, which doesn’t do much when it comes to eliminating black ice. But something is better than nothing, I guess. 


We did get to play outside with the dogs, so that was good! They were not fans of the sleet but once it stopped they were ready to romp in the backyard!

Slice of Life #13

Middletown

Freehold Regional

Holmdel

Monmouth Regional

After school I watched as the school closings piled up. My school is county-wide so once the biggest districts close we tend to follow suit. By 5pm most districts had called a snow day for tomorrow. 

I checked my phone. Ringer on? Yup. Do not disturb turned off? Yup. Still no call though!

Around 5:45 my phone buzzed and I quickly grabbed it. A text message, not a phone call. I had to laugh, though. The text was from NXLE, the emergency management service. NJ had declared a state of emergency. 

State of emergency but still no call from my district! Realistically, I knew we were closing. But the call had to come, right?

Finally, a little before 7pm, the call finally came. Snow day tomorrow!

Slice of Life #12- 

The above picture is a good summary of my Sunday. Every few hours I check the latest weather models to see the nor’easter predictions. Yesterday all the models were in (historical) agreement that we will be getting a lot of snow on Tuesday. Late last night and early this morning the models showed some mixing and lower totals. 

Then today the models aligned again. At last check we are supposed to get walloped with close to two feet of snow! 

KABOOM!

This has been a mild winter so the impending storm is taking people by surprise. Personally, I’d be ok with a day off because March is such a long month. A day off would be spent reading and working on my grad school papers. And maybe baking!

Are you supposed to get a lot of snow this week?

Slice of Life #11- Out in Nature

Today was the annual field excursion for the middle school science enrichment course I co-teach with a colleague. We plan a 3 hour field day at the end of the winter session to look for patterns in nature and learn about nature on our school campus. For the last few years there has been snow on the ground on the March weekend we choose. But this year?

BRRRRRRR!


I think this was the coldest field day yet! We sent an email last night reminding the students to dress warmly and luckily they did!

When I got up it felt like 17°. Just a bit nippy! I wore leggings, lined pants, a Heattech shirt, sweatshirt, North Face parka, mittens, wool hat, scarf, and snood. I was still a little chilly but I was comfortable. 

We spent the morning looking at trees, orienteering, studying animal tracks, and learning about camera traps. We were able to warm up in the student center a few times but the kids were great! It was so nice to spend a few hours outside and I finished my 10,000 steps before 11:30am!

Slice of Life #10- Snow?!

Last night, Navan woke up at 3:30am to go outside. I was surprised to find I could step out to the patio barefoot. It was supposed to snow later in the day so shouldn’t it have been colder?

A few hours later, around 7am, I was in my way to work. It started to rain and I figured that the cold front wasn’t going to reach us. Not a surprise, in March. 

By the time I got to school it was snowing. 

By the end of first period I could see the trees outside my basement classroom window wore a dusting of snow. 

By the end of second period it looked like this: 

By the time I drove home the snow had stopped, the sky was blue, and the roads were dry. It was still cold (wasn’t it 70° just a few days ago?) but it was very pretty. 

Now the temperature is dropping and the snow is crunchy and icy. The weather in March is weird!

Slice of Life #9- A Banner Bird Day

It’s been an exciting 24 hours for my lifer bird list!

This afternoon, Mike and I headed out during third period to take a compass bearing for an activity we will do Saturday and to switch out the camera trap memory cards.  We walked across the sports field and followed the path into the fragment of forest that sits between our campus, the Little League Fields, and the elementary school.  It’s a wide path, lined by trees on one side and a man-made pond on the other.

Suddenly, a large bird took off from a tree on our right and silently flew towards the other side of the pond.  It was an owl!  I’ve only seen an owl in the wild once since I started learning about birding so I was shocked.  It was the middle of the day!

As I was contemplating this fact, Mike paused and called out to me.  He called my name quietly and said, “There’s another one.  In the hemlock right there!”.  And there was!  Another great horned owl was peering down at us from the hemlock tree right off the path.  They two owls must have been mates, as they are territorial birds who mate for life.  Of course, I did not have my real camera with me so I snapped a few very, very zoomed-in pictures with my iPhone before he or she silently flew off in the same direction as the first one.

At this point, I was giddy.  In 24 hours I had seen cedar waxwings and two great horned owl! And then the day got even better.  We switched out the cameras and brought the memory card inside.  Upon loading it onto the computer I saw that the camera had taken 3100 pictures.  Oh boy, I thought.  This is going to take a while….

I began scanning the pictures and saving the ones with animals and birds in them; there were deer, raccoons, woodchucks, birds, squirrels, a red fox, and maybe a flying squirrel.

Then I saw this.www.GIFCreator.me_Q7vFdz

At 2:19am on 3/6, an owl swoops in front of the camera!  Can you believe it?  I was shocked and thrilled.  The odds of the camera getting any pictures of an owl are slim to none.  But getting pictures of one hunting?  Incredible!

 

Slice of Life #8- Cedar Waxwings

Today was absolutely gorgeous.  When I got home and let the dogs out I decided that we would stay home instead of driving to the park to take a walk.  It was about 60 degrees, the sun was shining, and the dogs were all about playing outside.  After about 30 minutes in the yard we came inside so that I could finish a few things on my to-do list.  Once I made the dogs their Kongs for later in the evening and fed the cat Navan was read to go back outside.

As I opened the sliding glass back door and stepped outside I heard a bird song that I wasn’t familiar with. It was a high-pitched call and it sounded like there were lots of birds calling back and forth.  I’m a bit of an amateur birder so I scanned the trees, looking for the origin of the sound.  In the back of the yard I spotted a flock of birds, way at the top of the trees.  They were light in color, unusual for my normal backyard birds.  It was clear they were not starlings or red-winged blackbirds.

Then I realized what they were.  No way, I thought.  Cedar waxings? I’ve been trying to see cedar waxwings for two or three years but I’ve never spotted them. Once I thought I saw one at the park but it was too far away to be sure and I did not get a clear photo.  After that incident another birder told me that once I heard a cedar waxwing call I would never forget it.  After today, I agree with that birder!

I rushed back inside and grabbed my camera and scope.  The flock of birds was at the top of the trees so I needed to use my long lens and the scope to be sure that I was actually seeing cedar waxwings.  The din of bird song was even louder when I made my way back outside.  One look through the scope confirmed my suspicion- cedar waxwings!

There must have been 50 or 60 birds flitting back and forth in the trees and I must have taken 500 photos.  They were just slightly out of range but I did get some good shots.  And more importantly, I added a new yard bird to my list!

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