After a really lovely time visiting friends and making connections in Iringa, we're off to Arusha on the bus tomorrow morning. The journey is quite a long one at around 14 hours and as a rule, bus drivers here are not known for their caution or safety record. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
We will, however see a remarkable amount of the country's geography in a single day. We'll also be traveling back through Mikumi National Park, where we spotted elephant, giraffe, impala, baboons, and zebra along with a massive herd of buffalo on the way up on Saturday.
We are so excited to arrive in Arusha tomorrow night and for the Penn State students who will all be arriving on Friday evening!
Having flown through Dulles for the first time, I have one observation: the security lines are nothing to joke about. We waited about an hour in three different lines in order to clear the TSA security check.
Having flown KLM for the first time, I have one observation: they are serious about carry-on weight restrictions - the first airline that I've actually had check this that I can remember - causing an inconvenient repack at the check-in counter.
Having flown without children for the first time in a while, I have two observations - I think this is the longest that I've had to dedicate to doing whatever I want without interruption in months/years? And, I miss the girls!
I am heading to Tanzania this summer for a month to teach a biology course that examines the biology of eco-health. We will be practicing ecological field research methods in West Kilimanjaro for a week, enjoying guest lectures on a variety of topics relating to conservation, environment, and human health, dialoguing with several local communities, visiting a partner academic institution, and spending time identifying flora and fauna in Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater. Kate and I leave for Tanzania May 16 and the students will arrive May 24. It's hard to believe that after so much time planning and organizing, things are actually coming together. Nimefurahi sana kurudi baada ya muda mrefu.
We got 3-4 inches of snow yesterday, and this morning there were a couple of surprises waiting for me at the feeder. In addition to the standard finches, juncos, chickadees, and cardinals, this morning brought in a Downy Woodpecker, and a pair of Fox Sparrows. I was particularly jazzed about the sparrows, which usually only pass through the area on migration in the spring and the fall.
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)
After breakfast and playing with the girls for a while, Anna and I headed to the duck pond, where we spotted an Eastern Phoebe right off the bat, and also identified a male Common Goldeneye who seems to have appeared in the last week!
I'm sure many of these people have worked very hard for their money, but do you really believe that the CEO is working 380 times harder than his average employee? Not his lowest-paid employee, not the janitor, but the average earner in his company. The average worker needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO makes in one hour.
We certainly don't have to go all the way to socialism to find something that is fair for hard-working Americans. We don't even have to achieve what most of us consider might be ideal. All we need to do is wake up and realize that the reality in this country is not at all what we think it is.
Of course our country's economic narrative is incredibly complex, however, this well-illustrated 6 minute video explains what I think is one of the most significant roots of inequality in modern society - wealth inequality.
I stopped by the Duck Pond this morning and got a couple of photos of the birds that I saw last week, including the pair of Horned Grebes that have been hanging out.
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) , 3 Redheads (Aythya americana), and a Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Horned Grebes (Podiceps auritus) in winter plumage
I added two birds to my life list while watching the backyard feeder on Saturday: a pair of Carolina Wrens and a White-Throated Sparrow. On Sunday morning, a quick trip to the water treatment pond and Millbrook Marsh netted a number of Redhead Ducks, a Ring-necked Duck, an American Coot, and a Horned Grebe, bringing the total to 6 new species for the weekend!
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)