Alamosa’s First Shorebird Festival

Mianna Maestas-
WE DID IT!!

I am proud to say that September 13, 2014 marks the first ever shorebird festival in Alamosa Colorado. All of the hard work that Deisy and I performed on top of all of our day to day tasks has finally paid off. It was great to see all the families out having a great time and participating in all of the events. It was such a treat to see all the smiling faces as the kids were able to participate in STEM programs such as solar car races, estimation games, and making bird feeders and paper owls. I think it helped a lot with the fact that they could win all kinds of cool prizes. We were able to give them all tattoos, stickers, bubbles, duck lip whistles, bird whistles, butterfly seed growers, and so much more!

I first want to say thank you to all the volunteers, participants, donors, and all that believed in us.  I also want to thank my bosses, Jill and Sue, for giving us the opportunity to get out there and do it no matter what the outcome may be, and I also want to thank all those that came to see what was going on, and I have so many ideas for next year. It would have not been possible without all the support.

We raised a total of 2,800 dollars! The entire festival paid for itself! Prizes included! Our families took home prices such as wolf creek ski resort passes, 3 month passes to Hooper pool, individual passes to Hooper pool, Gift certificates to Kristi Mountain sports and El Vallecito, and visa gift cards starting at 50 dollars. All and all the event was amazing and I am excited to see what it can become I am proud to say, WE DID IT!! We created our first festival! It took a lot of hard work but that hard work was worth every second just to see families coming together to enjoy time learning and competing.

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It’s what I do!

Sunday Funday! I had the opportunity to go out with the seasonal staff, Stefan Armenta, to McSimpson to irrigate the land. I must say it was an experience to say the least. I have grown up on a ranch so, of course, I knew the logic behind irrigating but found it interesting how different irrigating can be from one location to the next. Not only did we see a lot of water and get muddy but also had the opportunity to see wildlife. We saw deer prancing through the trees and drove right up next to a bull snake. Stefan could not see it, so we decided to back up so he could. It was next to my door, or lack thereof, because we were in the razor. I was not too frightened but to see his reaction was classic. We also came across a few Wilson Phalaropes and a young Avocet all alone…it was too cute watching it take off into flight.

Tuesday was another adventure all in itself. Deisy and I set off for our survey journey as usual, however, we added pond 141 to our survey list. We had only been there once so it was an experience learning directions both to it and leaving it in order to get to pond 116. We took a road which we thought was a road, but apparently it was only a four wheeling road and we ended up on an island of a dry pond. I am pretty sure I scared Deisy on the way back because I took a non-road in order to get back to the road and head back the direction in which we had come from. It was a memory for the books and a laugh I will cherish throughout the season.

Thursday was bittersweet. The kiddos are out of school for the summer…YAY for them, BOO for us! We participated in our last classroom outreach at Monte Vista Elementary with 4th and 5th grade classes. We had a blast doing so and were asked to go back the first and second week of the next school year, so we are looking forward to seeing the young faces again. It is one of my favorite things to see their faces light up with all the knowledge we fill their little brains with.

Friday Byeday. It was definitely a blessing that it is finally Friday. An extended weekend is very much needed. That being said I hope all stay safe and bring in the summer with a lot of outdoor activities and a whole bunch of birding…. Tweet Tweet until next week

 

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Amazed

As I looked through my binoculars and spotted three large birds in the distance. They were very large white birds with black flight feathers and huge yellow bills. I could not believe what I was looking at…… three American White Pelicans! When I think of a pelican, I picture it by a beach surrounded by sand and ocean water. Never would I have pictured a pelican in an inland like Colorado.  I continue to scan the area only to come across a large black bird with a very distiniguishable face shape. It was a Double-crested Cormorant. I am constantly amazed by the biodiversity that is found at the Blanca Wetlands. The more I explore and see in Colorado, the more I appreciate my home state. I am absolutely in love with this state! Proud to be a Coloradan 🙂

This week we also learned how hard it is to get a class to settle down while playing musical nests! This game teaches children about the dangers birds go through during migration. It is similar to musical chairs, so you can see why they get so out of hand. Its a great game to play! The kids have fun and learn a lot about birds in the process. We will have to come up with a better way to not let things get out of hand. Wish us luck!

Why are they not in Spanish!!

In Alamosa Colorado, more than 60% of the population is Hispanic. So you can understand my shock when I found out that all the Blanca Wetland Brochures are in English. Why are they NOT in spanish?? So I decided to take translating into my own hands…. Although Im fluent in Spanish, translating a brochure full of words I’ve never thought about using in Spanish was definitely a challenge. Here is the highlight of how the week went :

Me:  What the…. umm…. pick up phone…. ringing…

Mama : Yes Mija?

Me: How do you say wetlands in spanish?

Mama: Humedales.

Me: Gracias ama!

         FIVE MINUTES LATER……………………………..

Me:  What the…. umm…. pick up phone…. ringing…

Mama : Yes Mija?

Me: Does this sentence make sense?…………………….

Good thing I have such a patient and awesome mother! I should just give her all the credit for translating the Blanca Wetlands Brochure, ha. I hope by doing this I can increase the number of Hispanics that visit the beautiful wetlands. Guess only time will tell. My next step is printing out all these brochures! Wish me luck 🙂

 

 

 

And We Keep On Running

“I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere in the world. Then I ask myself the same question” – Harun Yahya

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Growing up, this quote was always one of my favorites. I realized now that I have never truly stayed in the same place. Of course I have always stayed in Alamosa, but, I have grown so much that I have truly flown all over. I find myself willing to experience anything and everything. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be working for an agency as awesome and well developed as BLM. Here I am! I love every second of it too. I wake up every morning, slip on my boots and head out the door many times before the sun is up. Most would hate it, but of course I love it because it takes me back to those days I use to spend raking the hay earlier than when the sun even got up. I am FINALLY done with classes. Next week are finals then I shift into first gear and get to spend every lovely moment with Miss Deisy.

Monday was an eye opener for me. I will admit I have always dreaded 5th graders. They are at that stage of being older and wiser, yet still a little too immature. Mrs. Reynolds’ class taught me a whole lot about what 5th graders can be. I have never met such a quiet, well-mannered class in my entire life. We had so much fun! Fortunately, Reynolds gave us an entire morning to hang out with her kiddos. We spent time playing games and the wind stopped long enough for us to take them outside and identify birds with the binoculars. I had such a great time that I was sad I had to leave. She was really impressed because it was the first time that her students had gone an entire morning without even asking to use the restroom (which is unheard of). As we were saying our goodbyes, other teachers, as well as the principle, popped their heads into the classroom to see what was going on. They too were impressed…to the point that they asked us back for the 4th grade class. I scheduled them into our already busy outreach and asked the students if they would be willing to join us out in the field this summer. I cannot even explain the sight of all arms so high they were ready to touch the sky or the chattering volume of voices raising as they all screamed YES!!! I knew right there and then that my job was well worth it. Making an impact on those children’s lives is what I strive for. I was not only happy to teach them but also happy that they were able to teach me. I now know that not all 5th graders are complete nightmares nor do they ignore what I am explaining to them. We gave them a little test at the end; they were able to identify birds that before they had no idea even existed. They also were able to name what the bird was made up of, such as hollow bones. Needless to say it was a great time and I am excited to host an event for them this summer that they can enjoy more than just a few hours. As I write this I am headed to spend some more fun time with 4th graders. I will update next week about the adventures with them as well as my first time on a shore bird survey. Until next time……