Saturday, November 29, 2008
Over the last few summers I've become very adept at Ninja Botany. This is when I don't quite 100% have permission to take plant samples from a site, or even if I do, I'm usually required by permit and by convention only to sample when nobody is watching. It's bad form to let people, especially kids, see you taking plants from a preserve or botanic garden because they might either a) report you or b) think it's okay to do the same. So I've developed some clever tricks that allow me to get what I need, even from busy parks. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it involves leaping and scurrying and hiding behind trees. Sometimes it involves disguises or camouflage. Sometimes it involves crafty conversations with nosy park rangers. I will not tell you my methods, but I will say that in four summers of field collections, I've never been caught. Ninja Botanist! You never see her coming!
Today I had my first taste of Ninja Zoology. A colleague at UIC is studying squirrel genetics and is always looking for new material. An unfortunate grey squirrel obliged by dying on my neighbor's front lawn. We saw it in the early afternoon when we walked Miss Foley to the park. I did a flyby later but there were neighbors everywhere, doing yard work. I waited until after dark and successfully returned home with my prize. Some unpleasant sciencey stuff took place and now my friend will have one more data point for her project (assuming the DNA is still intact). Ninja success!
To erase any unpleasant images this post may have inspired, here is a fox squirrel that was in my yard eating fallen birdseed today and is to my knowledge still very much alive: