jesse came to pick me up early this morning at 5:45am to go birdwatching at the mt.auburn cemetery. we tried going last year but at the last minute she discovered her car wouldn't start because somebody had stolen the spark plugs out of the engine. we had much better luck this time around. we parked at the star market parking lot and got to the cemetery entrance by 6am, with a large group of people already waiting outside. "wait for her!" a taxicab driver shouted as a woman got out of the cab right when we all started filing inside.
i've been to a few of these early morning birding sessions last spring, and today was particularly crowded, with about a few dozen people showing up, each armed with a pair of binoculars. the group leader for the day was a novice and not a particularly good one at that. this may have something to do with the fact that there was just too many people, and amateur birders were drowned out by the more expert watchers who from prior experience could easily pick out a bird hiding in a tree or identify one from song alone while the newbies (like us) were left clueless. also because of the all the rain we received last week and now all the sun this week, many of the trees were blooming so it was more difficult to see the birds. all and all didn't see as many birds as i did last year, despite my promises to jesse. i've come to realize that i just like birds; compared to these hardcore watchers, who love birds and want to marry it. if i ever go back again, i think i rather do my own thing instead of tagging along with the group.
we left around 8am. since jesse had to go to newton in about an hour (during peak rush hour), i volunteered to walk home instead on this sunny morning. i was overdressed and by the time i had it to the cafe halfway down huron avenue, i had already worked up a sweat. i thought my mother would be working but it just was my aunt. i continued walking all the way back to my place. in all it took about 45 minutes. i immediately took a shower.
2 hours later at 11am i met up with bruce (back for the summer) for some naturing. i decided last night we'd be visiting noanet woods in dover. it's one of my favorite places ever since i first discovered it back in 2005, and i've visited it a few times since then (1 2 3 4). before i left, julie came over to borrow my keyboard after hers died when she spilled some drink on it.
it was warm enough that i just had on my t-shirt. there were a few flying bugs but they didn't seem to be mosquitoes so i didn't have to spray even though i was carrying precautionary repellent. we were hoping to see some wildflowers but we were too early by a week or two. we didn't see any migrating birds (like the warblers) but i was more preoccupied with looking for things on the ground.
the most exciting find of the day was a grey tree frog. i'd only seen one one other time before, at moose hill in 2004.
when i first saw the frog i thought it was just a rock (about 2 inches long). what caught my attention was the fact that it was glistening, and a few seconds later i realized it was actually a frog, a grey tree frog no less. it looked dead, and we couldn't see any breathing. but when bruce nudged it with a twig, it spread out its two front legs, as if to brace itself. it was probably just sunning, trying to stay warm. or maybe it just recently emerged from the ground (normally they'd be up in the trees, hence the name).
we climbed to the top of noanet peak to have lunch. there was nobody up there and the only people we saw were some joggers and dogwalkers earlier. for a brief moment we saw something flying very high up in the air, probably a vulture.
back in cambridge, i was going to go on a grocery run but instead went to the cafe, where the new garmin nuvi 650 gps had arrived. i played with it a little bit. the route it picked from the cafe back to my place was one that i normally don't take and seemed sort of circuitous. but after i selected "fastest route" to "shorted route", it picked a new route very similar to the shortcut i usually take. when asked to navigate from my place to my parents' place, it managed to give me the exact route i take, so i was pretty impressed.
after a shower i watched some television on the couch. mostly election primary coverage focusing on indiana and north carolina. i felt really tired, both from waking up so early but also from carrying my heavy camera all day. it wasn't long before i fell asleep. i woke up before it got dark to close the blinds. i then alternated between the celtics cavaliers game and more election coverage. a good night all around: obama won north carolina by 14%, and lost to hillary in indiana by only 2% to make that contest nearly a tie. the pundits mostly agreed that clinton is now probably out the race in all but name, and debated when she would make her withdrawal official. the celtics ended up beating the cavs in game 1 with a narrow victory and a thrilling final few minutes. and the red sox won too but who's got time for baseball when i have NBA fever?