Following up on a tip from a confidential informant, I drove to Lake Monticello Sunday. I’ve never been there before but Google Maps indicated at least three vantage points around the not very large lake. An undeveloped “campground” to the north, a small park to the southeast, and the dam. For efficiency, I started at the top and went clockwise. I saw assorted “regular” birds at the first two sites but it was at the dam that I hit pay dirt. Eight male and five female Black Scoters where just out from the dam as I drove over. They were very cooperative. This is a life bird for me and Arkansas state bird #349 for me.
I built a new rocker box for Molly the 16 inch Dobsonian telescope today. She has been top heavy and required a counterweight (an elastic cord) since I built her about 20 months ago. The new rocker box is 4.5 inches taller which allowed me to raise the bearings up and shift the 24 pound mirror back by the same amount. Obviously I’m not done, there is stain and poly to do not to mention attaching laminate and the ground board but I think the problem is solved. The picture shows her tilted nearly horizontal with an eyepiece and everything with no kind of counterweight and she handles it just fine.
I’m writing this late, after the completion of the project. I’ve had the opportunity to perform some bird surveys as a subcontractor for the forest service. 25 spot surveys at specific locations in the Caddo River region of the Ouachita Forest between US 70 and US 270 near Glenwood. Each survey was 10 minutes long broken down into first 3, first 5, and 10. All surveys had to be completed after sunrise and before 11 AM.
There was a cap on hours and mileage so it was in everyone’s interest that I complete as many per day as possible. As it turns out, the average drive time to the first sport was 2 hours. When I started, in early May, the Sun rose at about 6:30 but was just before 6 by the time I finished.
The hardest part was getting from point to point. I’m pretty good with my bird calls and ID was not an issue. However, the most detailed map I had was poorly marked showing mostly lines. Better marked maps tended to show numbers while the roads themselves showed names. Garmin was invaluable but didn’t always know that a forest road had been built or had been “retired”. Sometimes it would take only a half hour from point A to B, others it took more than an hour.
In all it took 5 trips, which was about what I originally expected but I made some mistakes and if I had to do it over I could probably do it in 4. Also it took over 1300 miles of driving (starting from Little Rock) which is way more than I expected. However it was completed.