Saturday, May 01, 2004

Home again and ecology lab

My SO is now happily here at home after a month back in Philadelphia. The reunion was even sweeter (or, more appropriately, savory) because two authentic cheese steak sandwiches made the flight as well; they were promptly popped in the oven and eaten. The surprises I had in store for my SO's arrival were some fresh bread, cheese, and berries, along with a newly organized garage, cleaned book-room, and some small remodeling progress (scheduling a plumber and ordering some replacement parts). The best surprise was the garage: when my SO left a month ago boxes and appliances were scattered across the floor and there were only a few paths to get around. I organized the whole thing and cleared enough space to almost fit two cars inside. On arriving home last night I pulled into the driveway, opened the garage door, and waited for the reaction; it was fun.

Even though the flight got in relatively late we had to get up early today to help out with another field lab for the ecology class. This time the students were doing transects and sweep netting in coastal sage scrub habitat. The students were complaining about the heat, which was rather funny because besides being sunny with almost no shade it really wasn't that hot (maybe 90F, 50% humidity).

The highlight of the trip for me was hunting down a grasshopper. We could hear but not see a few hoppers in a grassy area near the transect site, so my SO and I went stalking. We could regularly narrow down the hopper's location to only a square foot or two based on the noise, but because there were so many crossing branches in our field of view it took us many minutes to actually see the hopper, and then it usually jumped before we could net it. After many minutes of searching we finally caught the noise-maker: a slant-faced grasshopper. Slant-faced grasshoppers are my favorite type of hopper; their face angles up very neatly (e.g. this one) and thus they blend in nearly perfectly with grass, and look very cool.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so there won't be any pictures from the trip. Sorry.

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