The blue plastic plate trap line

October 17

Deployed plastic plates today at sites of likely bowerbird activity. Each plate had four blue soda straws, each with a code. They are in essence bowerbird detectors. The idea is that a bowerbird zooming through the forest will be captivated by the blue plate and drop down for a closer look. Then he will steal a straw or two and next day we will check up on things and learn a bit about who’s around. Perhaps. All this is based on everything lining up and being very lucky to boot.

By the time we got home it was afternoon. Sara headed to town to complete some needed errands; I stayed at the camper trailer and worked on building a single beam balance for massing objects of similar size. It was basically a dowel, a pivot point, and pans to hold things on each end. Our first real experiment is to determine if birds can detect an artificial magnetic field, similar in strength to the earth’s field. We will be deploying paired soda straws, one stuffed with a bit of sheet magnet. The other straw needs to have a similar mass and so will be stuffed with a bit of wooden twig that I carve and cut.

In order to stay awake in my task, for it was a sleepy afternoon, I put on my board shorts and went for a swim. No surfing today for a northeasterly wind was blowing about 100 miles per hour! It was even challenging to walk around on the beach without being blown over. I was also hunting for a discarded flip flop thinking at the time that the spongy material would work better than wood for the straw stuffing. Turned out it wasn’t dense enough. Nevertheless, my hunt took me over the kangaroo studded headland to a beach on the back side that was protected from the winds. A few kids were tucked in the very corner surfing a few funny waves out of the wind.

On the beaches I saw 15-20 dead seabirds called a shearwater. Apparently, this time of year is their migration period and they often tucker and don’t make their journey. One friend of mine told me he’d seen 100’s in the past on a single beach. Too bad.

The wind howled all night; I feared our camper trailer might just start tumbling along the way and end up in the bush :-)

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