The Lake Project: A Busy 2 Weeks

I have not updated this blog in over two weeks, and in that time, a couple of things have happened. I can break them down into three main parts: 1) My mentor, T. Tim, gave me a lot of interesting information regarding birds around the lake and which ones I should specifically be on the lookout for in my catalog; 2) I met with T. Ted Lutkus who, as one of the previous heads of the science department and a former biology teacher, would take students to the North Woods and analyze one meter “bio-plots,” and; 3) I went down to the lake and had an awesome interaction with a big red-tailed hawk.

Here is one photo of it just to keep you interested:

red-tailed-hawk

But before I talk about the hawk (the definite highlight of the past month at the lake), let me tell you a little about T. Tim’s information regarding the birds at Westtown. As I mentioned a few weeks back, Bird Club was a thriving activity at Westtown with many members a few decades ago, and T. Tim was one of the heads of the club. While I had photocopied many pages from Bird Club’s old records, T. Tim sent excel sheets from some of the spring catalog pages, for both birds and flowers. It amazes me to see just how many different types of birds come in and out of the Westtown lake, and when finding each one in my field guide, it feels like I have seen so few! Hopefully, in the last few months of the project, the birds will return to the lake in the spring and I can get some decent pictures to include in my catalog.

A more in-depth meeting I had this week was with T. Ted Lutkus, who works in the finance office. I had been told time and time again about his awesome project where he would take students down to parts of campus and give each of them a one-meter plot of land that they had to study all spring. I was hoping to get some of the data they collected and know a few of the species I could look out for. Sadly, T. Ted and the science department did not save any of the species data that would have been very helpful to me. T. Ted did, however, provide me with a couple of very useful things. The first were a few maps of the lake that I had not seen down in the archives. These maps were much newer, and while they still might be a little too cluttered for the catalog, they are helpful nonetheless. The other, and more exciting, thing T. Ted lent me was a timeline of the creation and use of the lake since before Westtown was even founded.

T. Ted did, however, provide me with a couple of very useful things. The first were a few maps of the lake that I had not seen down in the archives. These maps were much newer, and while they still might be a little too cluttered for the catalog, they are helpful nonetheless. The other, and more exciting, thing T. Ted lent me was a timeline of the creation and use of the lake since before Westtown was even founded. Just one tidbit for you is that the lake was originally a curved stream that was turned into a 5-acre pond (much smaller than the lake today), by the students and faculty of Westtown for under $400. And, it was the first co-ed location where both boys and girls could hang out!

Far and away the best part of my week was my interaction with the red-tailed hawk pictured above. I went down to the lake on a cold morning hoping to catch a glimpse of something when this big bird flew directly over my head into the woods. I started to walk along the path to see if I could find it, and right as I was about to give up, I saw the hawk perched on a branch only ten feet away! I snapped some photos and it flew away.

However, I decided to try my luck and follow the direction it flew in to see if I could find it again. Sure enough, I saw the dark reddish-brown shape in the distance and ran towards it at full tilt. What ensued was an hour-long game of cat and mouse through the forest as the hawk flew away and I continued to chase it. I had some good photos, but I really wanted a picture of the hawk in the air. This is the image I was able to capture, one of my favorites for the project:

red-tailed-hawk-flight

I hope you enjoyed the hawk images, and there are plenty more where those came from!

Thanks for reading,

Dex

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