Blanca Wetlands Blitz Pt.I

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The other week I had the awesome opportunity to travel down to the San Luis Valley to shadow the two EFTA interns working at the Blanca Wetlands with the BLM.  What a fun week!  I arrived to Alamosa on a Tuesday evening and spent the night with Deisy at the BLM bunkhouse where herself along with two other BLM seasonals (one is involved with grassland management and the other fire management).  I had not seen Deisy since this past February during the EFTA “Celebrate Shorebirds” training, so it was great to spend the evening catching up with her!

The next morning, Mianna met us at the BLM offices in La Jara so we could all drive together to the Blanca Wetlands (which is about 20 minutes away) to go duck banding!  We met Mike and Rachel, who are private contractors with a wetlands ecological team, who showed us the ropes on their season of duck banding…they band the ducks on the Blanca Wetlands ponds every day over a span of six weeks.  The purpose of the duck banding is to obtain data and knowledge on the Cinnamon Teal populations at the Blanca Wetlands.  Throughout the morning we saw Cinnamon Teals, Green-Winged Teals, Ruddy Duck, Coots, and Mallards.We were to collect ducks from a total of seven ponds and at the end of the day we would band them all together.  The first pond was quite the experience!  We put on our thigh-high waders and stomped through the muck and mud of the pond to reach the duck traps that are placed in the middle of the pond…Desiy demonstrated the correct way to loose balance while trudging through the muck and she fell multiple throughout the day!  Collecting the ducks from the trap was by far my favorite part of the trip.  Once all the ducks were collecting (around 60 total) we brought them all to a central pond where students from Western State met us and helped us in banding the ducks.  We  spent the rest of the afternoon learning how to handle the ducks, venting the ducks (determining the sex), and placing bands on the ducks.  After a long morning and afternoon of collecting and banding ducks, we shifted to another pond to see a mock macro-invertebrate survey demonstrated by Portland and Anjelica (2013 EFTA Blanca Wetlands interns).  After spending a day in the field we ended the day by going around the town of Alamosa to place fliers around to advertise the family event Deisy and Mianna are hosting in a couple of weeks (Good Luck!).

More to come about my Blanca Wetlands Blitz!

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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.

INTRODUCTIONS…

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. The kiddos

 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.

Those Darn Crows

This week I had a very eye opening experience. I was able to join Tom Ryan and Stacey Vigallon in a walk-through of the Least Tern exclosure. We walked inside the exclosure, looking for possible nests, eggs, and scrapes. Scrapes are little ditches that the Least Terns dig out in the sand where they plan to lay their eggs. We saw many scrapes and a lot of Least Terns flying around and courting. We also saw some eggs, but sadly they were all cracked by the crows. I saw how much of a factor crows are to the success of the Least Terns. I’ve heard about it, but now that I saw it first hand, crows are a big problem. We are hoping that enough Least Terns lay eggs at the same time so that the crows are not able to eat them all. One thing that they are trying is putting electric eggs in the exclosure. The eggs look just like the Least Tern eggs but when the crows bite into them, they get shocked. Hopefully the crows will fear the eggs enough to stop eating the real Least Tern eggs. We are going to do another walk through this coming week and hopefully we see more eggs intact.

Best Job Ever!

As the sun begins to appear on the horizon, I prepare myself for the day ahead. Binoculars…. check…. Field guide… check…. window scope… check…. datasheet… check…. excitement… double check. My first survey for this internship was absolutely amazing! I saw American Avocets, Marbled Godwits, Willets, Great Egrets, Yellowlegs, White Faced-Ibis’, a Black-necked Stilt, Dowitchers, and my favorite…Wilson’s Phalaropes. Why is it my favorite? Thats simple. They make me laugh. They swim in circles. You haven’t lived until you have seen a Wilson’s Phalarope swim. I had the honor to see a flock of 400 Wilson’s Phalaropes swim in circles. As I watched them, the sudden image of a mob of people at a black friday sale came to mind. Can’t wait for my next survey 🙂

What do you get when you have four hours, 20 fifth graders, two EFTA interns, and six bird related activities? A FUN DAY! Mianna and myself spent the afternoon with 20 amazingly smart fifth graders. They learned about the differences between mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. They learned how to make pine cone bird feeders. They learned how to read a dichotomous key. They learned about the life cycle of the American Avocet. They learned about the importance of birds through a Bird Jeopardy game. They learned how to identify birds through their shape, color, legs, and beaks. They learned how to use binoculars. And most importantly.. they became so interested in birds that they didn’t want us to leave. I really felt like I made a difference in these kids. I hope they will take what they learned in one day, convert it into a long term memory, and have that memory emerge when it comes time to choosing a career. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Wilson’s Phalaropes

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My little house and huge backyard!

The Joy of Children

The Joy of Children

         “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating  curiosity,  he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” There is nothing better than seeing a … Continue reading