I can't believe it's already mid-March! I guess time flies when you're having fun. We've been keeping busy and having a good time with the slightly warmer weather. I've also been trying hard to get back into an exercise routine. I'm still only supposed to ride an exercise bike. Gene's new job makes it impossible to go to the Riverplex before work and life with kids makes it inconvenient and undesirable to go after work. I bought an exercise bike and have been riding 30 minutes every morning. I follow that with another 30+ minutes of stretching. I've also been trying to eat better and I make myself an omelet most mornings. Combined with all of my usual morning chores and all of the other household things I try to accomplish in the morning, I haven't had any extra time to write.
With the warmer weather bringing open water, I've been birding every weekend. Two weeks ago, Meghan and I went on the Park District Illinois River birding field trip. It's a fun day because we're with a bunch of experts who can look at a distant flock of ducks and find five different varieties. Unfortunately, it was a cold day and a lot of the water was frozen. We still found five species of geese, three species of swans, a large variety of ducks and many birds of prey. Despite the cold and wind, we had 50 species for the day. Not bad!
Logan and I did the same loop (minus Spring Lake which was a jackpot the week before) last weekend and we found a lot more open water and thousands and thousands of snow geese and greater white-fronted geese at Emiquon. As always, Logan and I were looking for owls. We happened upon a great horned owl near Banner and then found a barred owl sitting right by the road at the fish hatchery. Those two were freebies, but what Logan really wanted was to try to call barred owls again at Sand Ridge. We waited until dusk and scoped out the area to make sure there were no crows or obvious hawks, etc. We found an area near a pine forest and he started calling. Within less than a minute, he had an answer. We then heard at least three and possibly four owls calling to each other. We saw one, but the others were deep in the forest. It was incredibly cool! I have completely lost count, but we have seen at least 15 owls this year and heard many others. I don't think I've seen any owls without Logan along. He is the Owl Whisperer.
At some point I will figure out how to make my 2012 bird list a link so I can put my 2013 list in the sidebar. It won't happen this weekend because I need to work on some stuff for my zoo keeper group's 2013 favorite animal contest. I also hope to go birding and have a zillion other things to do.
Logan's really enjoying flag football again this year. His team this year is the Sea Hawks. I tease him that even in football he's a birder because this is the third year he's played and the third year he's had a bird team. His previous teams were the Ravens and Eagles. Maybe next year he'll play for the Cardinals. The teams are much better this year and it seems like all the kids know how to play. It makes things much more exciting and fun to watch.
Both kids just finished their week of (stupid, annoying) achievement tests. I'm glad they are over. Apparently, a large chunk of the schools' funding is dependant on the outcome of these tests, so the teachers completely flip out and lose all of their common sense and freak out the students. This year, one of Kaylin's teachers sent the kids to the bathroom and told them they wouldn't be able to go again until after a certain time. She then gave them each a bottle of water which they all sucked down with a snack. Shockingly, a large number of kids had to pee again, but the teacher wouldn't let them go. They were given the water as a special treat because of the testing, but when the inevitable happened and they had to use the bathroom again, they weren't allowed. So instead of concentrating on the test, Kaylin was mostly thinking about how much she had to pee. Brilliant, teachers! This goes right along with in the weeks before the testing when ALL they do is drill for the tests and the kids are extra bored, when they get loud in the halls or cafeteria they are banned from talking and going outside. Instead of being allowed to burn off their excess energy, they build up more and more and then get in huge trouble (I'm talking the entire 7th grade class, not my kid) and are banned from talking and going outside. To me this is such a huge DUH! It seems you would schedule EXTRA time to burn off energy during testing prep time, not ban it all. I really have to wonder if it was like the good old days and they just took the stupid achievement tests without all the prep and stress and special t-shirts and snacks if they wouldn't do about the same?
Ugh. It's only 1:30am and I need to try to get some more sleep. I have a long day ahead with work, being in charge of a fundraiser bake-off and then an Audubon meeting tonight. Too bad I'm wide awake.