Earth Through My Eyes

This week’s blog was written by Jacob K., a Gobblers alumni. Jacob is a rising junior at West Virginia University. He is currently pursuing a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources with a focus on wildlife. Jacob plans on becoming a wildlife biologist and hopefully study owls in the near future. He wanted to attend the academy because he had always wanted to take a deeper dive into wildlife biology in high school and WLA seemed like a great place to start.

Earth. To some, this means the planet where we live and to others, it can mean so much more than that. Throughout my life, I have been able to experience the different things this earth has to offer, and I must say it is truly spectacular. The natural world offers so many different biomes each having its own unique features and qualities that make it truly a one-of-a-kind environment. So, join me through this blog post as I will share a few different ways I have been able to experience Earth’s true adventure.

The sun peeking through trees on the Appalachian Trail

The woods. Probably the most familiar and diverse ecosystem that most of us get to experience. For the most part, when people talk about, “the woods”, they typically mean a deciduous forest. Personally, I have spent most of my time exploring nature in the woods. Growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, you didn’t have to go far to find yourself immersed in the maple and oak trees standing tall above your head. Now I could write a 7-page paper about all the adventures I’ve had in the woods, and I’m sure some of you could too. Except for that statement right there is what makes this part of Earth’s wild abundance so fascinating in my opinion. You can talk to almost anyone about the woods and they will have some sort of story about them enjoying the world in the forest. For instance, most of the experiences that really sold me were things like backpacking, kayaking, hunting, fishing, and my newest hobby birding. Birding has taken my view of the woods and turned it up about 10 notches. There is just something about testing your knowledge while in the woods that adds a whole new level of enjoyment. So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t ever stepped foot in the woods or you haven’t been able to experience that smell of pine in one-to-many years, take a walk in the woods and you truly won’t regret it.

Lake Wallenpaupack PA in late winter

Now let’s travel across the spectrum a little bit. The ocean. A vast landscape with its own unique ecosystem. Personally, I have never had too much interest in the ocean. I always thought, why travel hours to go look at some water when I have a whole ecosystem in the woods that I still am learning tons about. Well, all of that changed just a few weeks ago. I am currently typing this blog in a refuge house on an island in the middle of the Long Island Sound. Yep. Bet you didn’t expect me to say that. The ocean has truly taken me by storm. The main reason I’m out here is that I am working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doing research on common and roseate tern populations on Falkner Island.

A common tern on Falkner Island CT

Now some of you may be thinking, how do this bird and the ocean relate? Well, the ocean is truly its own world. New birds, new fish, new insects, and new mammals. Every day I watch different seabirds and wading birds such as Glossy Ibis, Great Black-Backed Gull, Ruddy Turnstone, and many others venture through the island. Just the other day I had a harbor seal come up next to me and watch me as I watched terns through my scope. I would never be able to experience any of this back in Pennsylvania. These are simply two examples of how Earth is different across the globe and even across the country.

Green Heron at Greenlane Reservoir PA

If anyone is still having trouble understanding what I am getting at, think of it like this. Earth is like ice cream. There are a bunch of different flavors that all have their own unique ingredients that make them special. What I encourage everyone to do is to try a new flavor of Earth! Living in the saltwater of the Atlantic has taught me that if you think the flavor you’ve always had is good, wait until you try another because it could become your new favorite!

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.