5:30. the hardest part was getting up. the second hardest part was the short motorcycle ride to mt.auburn cemetery. even though it was just 2.5 miles away, the morning temperature was 46 degrees and cruising along at even just 30 mph felt like freezing temperature. i parked outside the cemetery and walked to the main gate, camera in my bag, binoculars around my neck. though the cemetery itself doesn't officially open until 8am and all the entrances were locked, there was one gate that was "mysteriously" opened. i walked in and found an empty cemetery. where was everyone? did they already leave? i started to get worried. but minutes later people started showing up. awkward hellos and good mornings were exchanged, as folks took turns looking at the bird observation chalkboard. soon there were about 20 people. after everyone went around briefly introducing themselves and saying where they were from (most folks were from cambridge, although arlington had a strong showing), our leader, bob, led us on our search for birds.
the majority of the people there were silver foxes, with just one other guy who was around my age, and a handful that were a little older. our route basically took us to the four "lakes" dotting the cemetery; halcyon, auburn lake, willow pond, and finally consecration dell.
most of the new birds i've never seen before were warblers. perhaps i glanced at them in the past, but this was the first time where i came out just to find them. although our group was large and i heard a few of the more veteran birding ladies grumbling about the size, it also afforded us 20 pairs of eyes and we were able to perhaps spot more birds than just a single person.
although i had my camera, i didn't take it out because i didn't want to be "that" photo guy. a young couple joined our group later on, and the guy brought a camera with a fancy lens, so i was even more reluctant to dig mine out of my bag. the longer we stayed, the more people we started to see. some were small family groups, but we did bunch into a large group while we were leaving. they started at 7am, an hour later than us, and missed a lot of great birds we managed to find during that first hour.
despite the nice weather, from the comments i heard from the birdwatchers who've been here on other day, there seemed to be a low turnout in birds. no new warblers (at least for the seasoned veterans) and we didn't even see owls (although we saw where the owl lived). nevertheless, i did see about 30 bird species, as well as a black squirrel at consecration dell.
|black and white warblers
black-throated green warblers
northern water thrush
great blue heron (flying overhead)
house wren (heard)
red-belly woodpecker (heard)
after our group disbanded around 8:30 (people had to get to work!), i stuck around to chase some warblers with my telephoto. by then the cemetery was more crowded with birders, tourists, and photographers.
visited my mother briefly at the cafe before returning home around 10am. early starts always throw me for a loop, like somehow i've cheated life and i'm living a few extra bonus hours. but it's never quite like that. although i wasn't sleepy, i had no energy left after sleeping for only a few hours last night. i still haven't heard back from client S, but did some coding for them anyway, some preemptive scripting so maybe next week i won't have to work everyday.
my day was going pretty well until client N contacted me, something about the computers not working at the museum. now i tested these interactives at home, and tested them at their office, and everything worked fine, but now that they're actually installed, things start to go wrong. the contact person i was calling to get more info about the issue was really high-strung, and it didn't help that he was also putting out a million other fires, and constantly put me on hold, or throwing me on the speaker phone, all the while in some sort of noisy auditorium where i could barely hear him. i didn't like how he basically expected me to fix it, when it wasn't really my problem: i was hired to program, not to set up their hardware. he had a hardware guy with him, but i expected him to be the kind of polo shirt wearing tech guy who lets everyone knows how great he is but actually has no clue how to fix things and the best he can do is to find the number for tech support. things got kind of tense, and i'd get phone calls like, "have you figured out how to fix it yet?" when i finally called around 1pm with a possible solution, my contact person was too busy to take my call, so i basically waited all day for him to get in touch with me. finally at 6pm i had to leave, but that's when he finally called. i turned off my cellphone.
julie and i went to walpole for an NOAA seminar on how to be an official weather spotter. along the way we saw a turkey vulture circling the air above the highway. when we finally arrived at conference room of walpole town hall, it was already crowded with people. we signed in then proceeded to collect the assortment of weather-related literature crowding a long table. there was a variety of people, from folks who look like they could spend all day watching the weather, to others who seemed more normal. there was also a good number of ham radio operators (apparently they represent a big part of weather reporting, since they can radio in even when the electricity is down), and when one of the speakers asked them to raised their hands, it wasn't surprising to see they were all men. the lecture was pretty boring and i started to get flashbacks of college classes; it might also have something to do with the fact that i was operating on fumes, and i was fighting to stay awake. maybe if i had more energy i would've been more into it, but it was pretty much a meteorology class about how severe weathers are classified, and even though a lot of the technical aspects were probably watered down for the general audience, i was still lost.
the class finally ended around 10pm. when i got home i ate some more leftover rotisserie chicken.
i think i may go back to mt.auburn cemetery again tomorrow. i still don't consider myself a birder, but i just want to see something new, even if it's just a bird. plus, i'd love to get a photo of a parula warbler, my favoritest bird that i saw today. that means another 5:30am start!