Friday, January 27, 2012

See What I Do

I work for Biology.  I have 5 tracts which I travel to each week to do a waterfowl and shorebird survey, counting each species and then enter my findings into a database on the computer.  Wallace has been going with me this season and he has been a great help.  We travel about 300 miles per week.  We are out in the elements:  cold, heat, wind, sun, ticks, chiggers, bugs, etc.  You get the picture...It can be taxing at times, but the fun outweighs the bad.

He opens gates, totes our scope, and assists me with my counting.  He knows coots!!  He is learning more and so am I.

So, here we are at East Lake, one of 3 salt lakes that is managed by Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR.  We leave Santa Ana at 5:00am and arrive there about 6:15am.  We approach the lake slowly with the lights off so as not to alarm the birds.  Immediately, the sound is deafening.  At the crack of dawn, this is what we see dead ahead of us.

The Snow Geese take off all together, they are first to leave.  Our estimated count is 2000.

This is what we see from where we park.  Sandhill Cranes!!!  Keep in mind you are not seeing all of them.

I walk down to get a better view.  Maybe something else is hiding in that mass!!

Unlike the geese, the cranes take turns taking off.  By 7:30, they are all gone...out to the fields to feed and they return at dusk to roost for the night.

In the last blog, I had a picture of a bobcat track.  Here is a coyote track to compare, nails and all.

The next tract we went to is El Ranchito.  It is one of 3 freshwater wetlands I survey with a good variety of things.

We had a grand total of 23 American Wigeon today.  Surveying here is challenging.

Mark, I now have a caliche road to get me to the area.  Last year Mark got to go out with me a few times.

This plowed field follows the waterway where I can stop and peek through the vegetation at various points.  It's like riding a bucking bronc as the tractor loves to come right up and plow the road.  The property belongs to the refuge but the cooperative farmer gets to farm the field for a while.  He gives back a portion of the land to the refuge until he farms himself out.  The ride can be tedious!!! 

As I said, it can be challenging.  I use a tape recorder and transfer the information to paper when I get back at the end of the day.

This is one unwelcome guest.  It is a Nutria.  More later...


  1. great pictures Carolyn! Would love to see the Sandhills Cranes buy unfortunately they get up lots earlier than I do!

  2. Hi Carolyn-

    A caliche road? Quite an improvement. But that plowed field doesn't sound like much fun... The maintenance volunteers mowed the roads in the Bahia Grande tract that Teri and I are surveying, so we didn't have to drive through as much brush as we last week. It just gets better and better, doesn't it??