This week Cara, the intern from Boulder, came down to Alamosa to see what a day in the life of Deisy and Mianna was like. The good thing is she came down during one of our busier weeks. The three of us had the opportunity to go duck banding with an amazing bird biologist. We also had a class from Western College join us in duck banding. We were able learn how the ducks where captured, how to vent a duck, and how to band ducks. During the duck retrieval from the traps in the middle of a pond, I came to the conclusion that I am horrible and balancing myself when I am knee deep in water. I managed to fall four times in the same exact spot. Mianna and Cara simply laughed instead of helping me. What great friends they are, ha:). After a long struggle, Mike came over and helped me finally find my footing. Although walking through water was hard for me, what was even harder that day was venting the ducks. My first try at venting, I got pooped on! I had to walk around the rest of the day with a giant yellow greenish stain on my shirt. We finished off the day by teaching the Western College students how to do macro surveys at the Blanca wetlands. Overall it was an amazing day 🙂 I have such a blast learning new things here. I am going to be sad when I have to go back home to Denver.
The following day, Mianna and I took Cara on a shorebird survey. She was amazed by the large quantities of Wilson’s Phalaropes we had to count that day. There where over 2,000 in one single area! My head was spinning after counting so many birds. After our survey we went home to nap and prepare for our night amphibian survey. As the sun set, we prepared to head out to the field. I was hoping Cara would hear the large multitude of frogs we usually hear out at the wetlands. Unfortunately, the frog were very shy that night. Looks like the amphibian season is over!
I will definitely miss our night surveys, but everything good must come to an end.
The shorebirds are coming in by the hundreds! I have never had to count so many birds in one sitting or location. I was extremely overwhelmed by the large quantity and variation of shorebirds at the Blanca Wetlands for the fall migration! After a couple hours, I became used to counting that many birds… here is a hint for all birdwatchers out there: if there are more than 300… ESTIMATE!! It comes in handy, haha.
I also had the opportunity to go on a Bighorn Sheep Survey with Taylor and Loree. I was extremely excited to see some big horn sheep. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any! It took a three hour drive to get to our destination, a one hour hike to reach the top of the mountain, and three hours of looking at rocks. After a while I started imagining the rocks to move. I’d say “look it’s a bighorn sheep!… oh wait… just another moving rock!” hahahaha. Overall, it was a great experience and I was happy to find out that we weren’t the only ones that didn’t see any big horn sheep. Only one person out of 7 different teams was able to spot the rare creature known as the bighorn sheep.
I continue to help out with the macro-invertebrate surveys, organizing the macro data, and preparing last minute things for our festival/competition in a month. Wish us luck!
Busy busy week!!! This week not only did I work in the office, but also had some great hands on training. This is what my week looked like:
Work from 10am-6p.m. Organize macro data from the past ten years into a more easily understood and more easily read Excel format. Doesn’t sound too hard, huh? Wrong!! in order to make this data easier to read, I had to change all the macro scientific names into common names. When it comes to stuff like that, google does not work at all!! I had to look through books and read through scientific articles in order to finally find the common names of these animals. For example:
Arthropoda Insecta Odonata Aeshnidae = Darner Dragonfly
I feel like a bug expert now 🙂
SWFL Survey from 4a.m-8a.m
Sleep from 9-11a.m
Work again from 12p.m-1a.m Long shift but it was totally worth it. I had the opportunity to go out in the field with some Flammulated Owl experts. I learned about peeping. What is peeping, you ask? You basically take a a camera and place it on a giant pool. When ever you see a hole in a tree you place the camera inside and hope to find an owl. I was amazing at how well this techniques worked. I did learn the downfall of this method though…it doesn’t do well in rain or hail. Half-way through the owl survey we got stuck in a rain/hail storm. We were in the middle of the forest, so turning back was not an option.We bunkered down under a tree and hoped it would protect us from the rain. it worked for about ten minutes before even the tree couldn’t stop the rain from reaching us. I was soooooo cold!!! After two hours of rain it finally slowed down enough to return to the campground. After dinner and a quick drying off, we returned to the forest soaking, cold, and geared with flashlights. We returned to the trees where we had found owls and waited for night fall. After an hour hike and an hour wait we finally caught a male Flammulated Owl. We weighted it, measured it wings, and took some blood sample. I even got to hold it for a few minutes. He was so tiny and soft. I guess my hands felt comforting, because it ended up falling asleep… or maybe I’m that boring. We released the little guy back to its home after all the work was done. It didn’t stop raining all night so instead of sleeping in my tent, I whimped out and slept in the government truck. It was such an amazing night and I’m so happy I got the chance to participate it something so amazing! 🙂
Slept all day.
The shorebirds have returned!! Our shorebirds surveys have begun once again. Let me start by saying that the fall migration is so much more abundant than the spring migration. We saw over 400 american avocets! may not seem like a lot but it is here at the Blanca Wetlands. What’s even more exiting is I got to see my first Lesser Yellowlegs and Spotted Sandpiper today. WHOO!! Can’t wait to see what the rest of this migration will bring 🙂
Last week Mianna and I had the opportunity to present to a group of high school students during the Summer Latino Leadership Summit. Our presentation was based on something Mianna and I both found important…something we both lacked in skill until we learned about it during our EFTA training in San Diego.
To be more exact, 30 second introductions. We were able to give this group of 11 high school students the confidence required to become great at introducing themselves. They learned about eye contact, posture, proper handshakes, using strong words, what words not to use, and how to keep a smile on their face. After, each person had the opportunity to practice four times with a different person. There first time was filled with ‘umms’ and constant lingering eyes, but by the last time they were on-point. I hope they will take what we taught them for the future when it comes to job interviews, school interviews, and cover letters.
I have also spent this week at the office preparing for our big event on September 13. I won’t say much about yet, but it’s going to be amazing! I can’t wait to bring hispanic families together to participate in a educational, yet fun experience.
Between the early morning SWFL (Southwestern Willow Flycatcher) surveys and the night amphibian surveys, my sleep cycle has been completely messed up. Wake up at three a.m….work ’til noon….sleep….work at 7 p.m…..and then get home at 3 a.m…CRAZY!! But completely worth it.
This week I would like to give the “bad luck” award to my dear friend and co-worker, Mianna Maestas. I have come to the conclusion that she does not work well early in the morning or late at night. During our SWFL survey, while we all walked around in dry clothing and shoes, all you could hear was the “squish…squish” sound coming from Mianna. Somehow she managed to get completely wet, even with hip-high waders on. That’s not where her bad luck ended though. During our night amphibian survey, while sitting on the side of the truck, she fell back into the trunk of the truck. No idea how she lost her balance, but it was pretty funny to watch. Excited to see what more will happen to her this week, haha. Much love Mianna 🙂
As my time here in Alamosa slowly comes to an end, my friendship with the amazing people I have meet here continues to grow. I’ll be sad to leave behind three amazing roommates, four hilarious BLM interns/seasonals, and two incredible bosses.