For being a short week, this week has by far been one of the craziest! SWIFL Training (South Western Yellow Flycatcher) took the vast majority of our time. It was beyond amazing because our boss is such a great teacher. Half a day was spent in the classroom discussing the importance of the endangered species, while the morning after was spent performing a mock survey. Our morning started at 4:30am. Yes, that is a bit early but well worth it because we were able to hear their call so clearly. Their habitat is in willows, and we were told if you are not crawling, swarmed by bugs, eating bugs, and spotting snakes that clearly you were not in their habitat. We had to wobble through knee-deep water with waders and snake gators in order to get to their homes which was a chore but turned out to be really fun.
Of course we were lucky enough not to stop our week there, we were able to finish our surveys for the week (last Thursday) and head out with an intern to learn the process of rain gauges. Rain gauges are placed all over the valley; we had to go out and measure the water and replace it with mineral oil for next month’s calculations. The maps are not clear, nor are the roads that exist and do not exist. Deisy, Stefan, and I learned that really quickly. Deisy was so good that she helped us get to every gauge without much hassle…that was until the sun was chased away by rain clouds. She thought she would help us out by taking a “short cut” which truly led to a cliff. The map showed a quicker route back to the highway but in reality it led to nowhere. After about a 30 minute rocky road, rolling through ravines, big bumps, and uphill climbs we realized that the road no longer existed. We thought we would make our own road until we noticed we were on a cliff that was not going to get us much of anywhere! I give Deisy credit for the fact that at least we would see the highway from where we were at. We turned around and headed back with our headlights bright and our wipers on as the rain splashed against the windows. It was a learning experience to never, ever, in a million years, follow that dreaded path again! It was fun, a memory that will stick with us, and a time that we will tease Deisy about forever. I honestly can say I still love my job and my partner. We are in for one heck of a summer!