Jan 132013

UPDATE 1/18/2013: NOT Hacked.

Tonight I noticed that links on wildobs.com stopped pointing to wildobs.com but to china101.com. Not right. I went to log in to the servers, but was unable to.

Assuming the domain or IP hasn’t been re-routed, then the WildObs servers have been compromised. The links above means that files on the server have been altered. The “lock out” means they’ve compromised processes/configuration.

I’ve taken the servers down to limit their ability to steal or corrupt data.

At this time I do not know what has been done or taken, so I plan on assuming the worst, and reacting accordingly. If you are a WildObs user, the sort of things you should be thinking about are:

- If you created a WildObs account, yet (mistakenly, be best practices) re-used a password you use on other website, then change that password on those sites.

- If you’ve authorized WildObs for you Twitter, Facebook, Google or Flickr account, then perhaps suspend those permissions.

- Have a high index of suspicion on any communication you receive from WildObs for now. WildObs would never ask you for passwords or other sensitive information, so never give it any.

Sorry for this inconvenience and I’ll keep this blog updated.

Jan 102013

Happy 2013 everybody. I’ve just returned from a land of ice and snow, and Bald Eagles and am getting into 2013. That includes some house keeping on WildObs

I’ve recently started to migrate WildObs to a new look and feel, and a new internal platform. That process is proving challenging, and I’m working through the issues. One I just resolved (I believe) is the export capability (where you can export a CSV of your encounters.)

Please let me know if you have any problems with WildObs and I’ll keep updating on this work in progress.

May 192012

"Otterly in Love" by Jim Braswell

This weekend I will be traveling to Missouri (from Colorado) to meet with a wildlife photographer I greatly admire. Jim Braswell (aka @ShowMeNature) states goal is to “to capture the actions and behaviors of my subjects” and I am constantly thrilled by the results. I find his work draws me in, and transports me to the scene. When I was given the opportunity to meet Jim, and spend some time observing how he works, I jumped at the chance…

We’ll be photographing from kayaks; hopefully getting up close with critters without disturbing them. Hopefully we’ll see Beaver and/or Raccoon, and if we are really lucky perhaps Mink or Otter. Critters or no critters, we’ll be out in the wilds, and that is always good.

I’ve started posting a few of my photographs here, in the main so Jim can peruse them and see what pointers he’d like to give me. These aren’t my favorites, but some recent shots. I’ll try to keep posting a few to get a decent selection:


The start of a Journey?

I feel like I might be starting a journey. I’ve always loved wildlife and being in nature, but had mixed emotions about photography (for me.) If I focus on the shot, will I be missing the experience? Could I ever capture the essence of a scene in a still photograph? Jim has shown me it is possible to do amazingly, but I’m still not sure if I can, or if I’d like to try to words, or both. I feel the next few days will give me great insight on if this path, and if I could want to make it my path.

Here is a start…

Pond Skaters by Adam Jack (adam_jack) on 500px.com
Pond Skaters by Adam Jack

May 022012

One of the best things I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in, for the past few years, is the Raptor Monitoring program of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP.) With conservation efforts, raptors have been recovering in Colorado, and even the re-introduced Peregrine Falcons (PEFA) are gaining in numbers. Volunteers (like me) monitor the nesting area weekly in order to determine territory occupancy, and reproduction productivity.

Peregrine Falcon Monitoring with iPad and iPhone

Field Notes with iPad and iPhone

I’ve been visiting my assigned location for a few years now, and never cease to be amazed by how much I enjoy it. I think of each trip as “another beautiful day in paradise” and it certainly is. I get to watch the change of the seasons, from late winter when the birds return to the area, to deep into summer. The changes of spring are quite thrilling to experience, and each year I feel a little more connected to this place.

I’d barely seen peregrine falcons in the wild, but now I’ve watched the peregrines select their scrape site, mate, incubate their eggs and raise their chicks to fledglings. I’ve heard and seen the awesome PEFA stoops, watched territory disputes, seems PEFA consume their prey, and become party to a wide variety of behaviors. I’ve gone from barely knowing these birds, to feeling somewhat connected. I feel honored.

I carry a pack on each of my monitoring session, and in it I have a notepad and pen in order to record notes. I’ve never cracked open that pad. For some reason I began taking notes in my iPhone, in Apple’s Notepad app, and kept on doing so. It’s taken me a few years to finally get sufficiently frustrated with typing on that keyboard, entering (and re-entering due to typos) times, and spending too much time looking at the phone and not admiring/observing the birds.

I finally wrote this application in order to make taking timestamped field notes a lot easier. I’ve used it on the past few weeks of observations, and it allows me to both record more and observe more. More time watching the PEFA is a good thing.

Feb 152012

Cloud Waves over the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado

I took a wander down the mountain this morning. With all the snow we’ve had I’ve not been as active as normal, and I made a rookie mistake and forgot my camera (these are iPhone photos), although luckily I had my binoculars.

Elk in the trees at Sunrise, Colorado.

I went looking for mountain lion (I can dream :-) ) and once the sun started coming up I decided to check for Elk. The Elk were everywhere this morning. The deeper snows have led the Elk to find pockets of sun/slope dried grazing. (Notice Elk in the trees there? Oh for my camera, both sunrise through the fog and Elk, could’ve been a fun photograph.)

Apart from some beautiful views of Colorado, and some enjoyable Elk watching, I was treated to a Coyote and a few car-length icicles on the cliffs above. No mountain lion, but a wonderful morning.


Car sized icicles on the cliffs

Jan 232012

I stopped by and took a few photographs. The location is 39° 44′ 24.72″ N 105° 13′ 9.60″ W. (aka 39.7402, -105.219333)

This is the technology-enabled wildlife crossing; notice the overhead lights that increase the visibility in this area. Notice the big yellow warning signs, and the flashing lights (currently off) above and below them.

Technology-enabled Wildlife Crossing - lights, sensors, fencing 

Elk’s Perspective

This is the only break in the high elk fence along this section of the road. Elk/deer soon learned to cross here.


The sensors detects a large body entering the crossing; at which point the system engages the flashing warning lights.


My daughter felt this posting was not complete without sharing a photograph of Elk. Here is an awesome one by Ranger Shaina (Shaina Niehans.)

Elk on a Beach by Shaina Niehans

Elk on a Beach

Update: This wildlife crossing has been recorded.

Jan 182012

It has become increasingly clear that dog waste  is harmful to the environment in many ways (especially in the quantities left by large numbers of regular visitors.) Not only should we bag it, but we need to dispose of those bags.

It is great to see people communicating that message with a sense of humor:

There are no poop fairies


Credit for this goes to the folks at the Coalton Trailhead.

Jan 152012

Recent Popular Species

Recent Popular Places

Recent Popular Encounters

Jan 102012

Elk moving down from the hills around Golden Colorado have had suffered a roadkill problem for a while. These negative human-wildlife interactions cause significant vehicle damage (even injury/death) for the human, and even more significant injury (almost hopefully quick death) for the wildlife.

Road Sign alerting drivers to wildlife

Signs didn’t work (enough)

For years there have been “massive signs” saying watch for wildlife, but still the number of Elk carcasses (and presumably damaged cars) piled up. It was a very sad situation. Then, some smart folks at C-DOT brought technology to play…

The Elk Crossing (Solution)

Along both sides of the road a high Elk fence was built, and it had the (relatively new) “exit ramps”. These exit ramps slope on the inside (road side) but drop straight down on the outside. Elk/wildlife outside would not “climb a wall” to get in, but wildlife on the inside would be able to get out. Very nice. That said, the amazing part is the “elk crossing”

At a high/visible (and newly well lit) place a crossing was designed and designated with gaps in the fence. Motion sensors at each gap detect if a large animal (e.g. an Elk or Deer) were at the gap, and the crossing lights (flashing “slow down” signs) would engage for a few minutes. How excellent! Day or night these lights would alert drivers to an immediate and present danger. Not just some “Wildlife might be here some time” but “caution: wildlife are here/right now!

I’ve been fascinated by this experiment since I first noticed it, and I cannot believe I’ve not blogged about it before. For starters, every time I want to discuss it, I need something to link folks to so they can “see” (or read about) the crossing, with it’s neat design. I don’t have them now, but I’ll find photos (and/or stop take some) to illustrate the design and post them here.

Since this wildlife crossing as been active I’ve noticed a dramatically reduced number of carcasses. In fact, only one (and sadly on the crossing implying the technology or driver didn’t react fast enough) … but one is a massive reduction in damage. I suspect this system pays for itself in terms of reduced pain/suffering/damage for the people/property, and not to mention how it helps the Elk/Deer.

I do hope to see more of these in years to come.

Update: I found this paper on “advances in wildlife crossing” that has some good diagrams/explanations.

Jan 072012
 Snowy Owl by Show Me Nature Photography

Snowy Owl by Show Me Nature Photography

I should be feeling for the lemmings and not just the Snowy Owls because a population decline in one, becomes a tough time for the other, and so both are suffering. The up side for humans, is an irruption of big beautiful birds “down south” in North America.

One of my goals of 2012 is to make the extra efforts to live my wildlife life. Today that meant getting up at 4:45a.m. driving over an hour to the “flatlands” (the plains) and visiting Barr Lake State Park. I do not chase birds, but word on the Colorado Birds mailing list was that this might be as much as a 40-50 year irruption. Snowy Owls have been spotted for the past few weeks, and much as I’d hate to stress and already stressed species, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see such an amazing creature. I could keep my distance, and still get an amazing experience.

I arrived at the fields where a darker (and perhaps younger) Snowy Owl had been spotted, and I arrived in the dark. I was driving slowly down a dirt road when all of a sudden the owl materialized in front of me, big white bird in the dark, and a big wide white wing span. Oh my gosh, I had but arrived and there was the bird. I pulled over, turned off my lights/car and sat. Not pleased I had come closer than I intended, but hoping to minimize any interruption. It was pitch dark but the bird was just ahead on a short post. It didn’t seem bothered by me (now) and I was blessed with a sunrise slowly illuminating this beautiful bird. We must’ve sat there for 20 minutes or more.

The bird flew north over the field, presumably still hunting, but oh so low … even a northern harrier would be hard pressed to fly like that. I  watched the bird fly low across the field, land on a post, sit, then repeat. After a while I noticed the bird land in the middle of a field, and seemingly just hang out. (Most photos I’d seen of Snowy Owls had been atop power poles, and it was fascinating to see how low this one was happy to be. I now know to check fields and low perches for the birds.)

I moved on, hoping I’d kept my distance sufficiently (after the initial unintentional encounter) and went for a hike at Barr Lake. There I saw Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Harrier and a bunch of Buteo and American Kestrels.

A morning most definitely worth losing sleep for…