2:00 am, Sunday
I'm in my tent, shivering so hard my teeth are clanging together.
Woefully ill-prepared for sleeping outside during temperatures down in the low 40's. It sounds like something is killing a Canada Goose near the banks of the lake.
Knowing that I won't be falling asleep anytime soon, I turn my thoughts to the day before.
A weekend with the Ohio Young Birder's Club, Cincinnati chapter at Hueston Woods.
The kids got up close looks at some birds banded by Dave Russell:
While the young birders learn some interesting information about the birds, I learn something too...
...how to tell a Swainson's thrush from a Gray-cheeked thrush:
A mnemonic I came up with: Swainson's have Spectacles and a Squash-wash on their cheek.
Eyes full of tears from the cold, I stumble out of the tent to pee.
Socks get full of mud. I don't have any clean dry ones to replace them with. Sliding back between the once-again ice cold blankets, I try not to think about my toes.
Remembering the warmth I felt all around me while sitting at the camp fire....
I listen to a great horned owl off in the distance...
The young birders got a special tour of the raptor center at the park:
We got to watch feeding time with the golden eagle...
...and the bald eagle.
Their great horned owl was unbelievably vocal, hooting at anyone walking by.
(He also likes to attack people through the wire of his mew.)
Almost as cool as the eagles, their resident turkey vulture was allowed to wander among us, sort of like a pet dog.
Thankful that my night of icy torture is almost over. Coyotes are yipping and howling nearby.
One of the Cub Scouts in the next camp is having night terrors and screaming his head off.
I wondered if any of the kids who attended would become an ornithologist....
...or discover a new species of bird.
Some volunteers from the Cincinnati Museum Center's Museum of Natural History came with some bird bodies to demonstrate how they prepare bird skins for the museum's treasure trove of specimens.
Information is collected from each bird body as it is being prepared. Weight, length, skull thickness, age, etc.
The only way to sex a bird that is not sexually dimorphic is to check the inside of the bird for the sex organs.
Here, Donald looks for testes:
Later, I lead a group through the wooded campground for an Owl Walk. And easily called in a gray morph screech owl for everyone to see. Very proud of myself for being able to bring in an owl on my first time leading a search for owls.
I guess it's safe to get up now. I put on my shoes, cringing at the frigid wet shoes pushed against my feet. I get in my car, fantastically grateful for the heat. As I drive to the restrooms, I think that although this night has been Hell for me, I am so glad I came.
I change my clothes and turn on the water to wash my face and brush my teeth.
NO HOT WATER.