Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love of the Land Rendezvous

July 24-26 was the Love of the Land Rendezvous, which, among other things, included a pow wow. Arjun and I walked over to the Little Feather Indian Center where we got a "famous" indian taco, very yummy! :) We'd never been in that building before, it's run by a woman from England and a man from The Netherlands. :) They were very nice people. After we got our tacos we went over to the pow wow for a while, I had to run home cause I forgot to grab my camera. After I came back I made sure to take a pic of the dead kingfisher that I saw on the road. Of course after that I got a few pow wow pics, but by then most of the really neat dances were over.

After that I went over to the Song of the Hiawatha Pageant grounds were they had a black powder shoot and booths. The people there were really neat. I got some tips about tanning our own deer hide by one guy, but he mainly said never do it! :P I was thinking since we were going hunting again this fall, it would be kind of neat to try it out and make something of the hide, but it takes too long soaking in lye etc, that I wouldn't be able to do it. One guy let me try the atlattle and I kicked Arjun's butt!! :P Haha, no, he did pretty good too. That same guy showed us his bow and his old style gun (I don't remember caliber etc) that he uses to hunt with. One thing that I thought was interesting (as I've only ever really seen it done in movies) is he said that you never poor gun powder directly from your horn into the gun cause if there's a hot bit and it sparks you're holding a bomb in your hand. If you're in battle that's another thing though as you don't have as much time. Also, there is a different kind of (finer) powder as the charge as there is inside the gun. :) I also got to try my hand with throwing a hatchet, I did quite well! It's actually not that hard really, I didn't realize it has so much to do with where you stand! It makes sense though. If you hit with the back of it then you're too close cause it didn't get enough time to make a full rotation. Also, you can start off throwing it with the blade pointing backwards, but then you have to stand further back, as it makes one and a half rotations and hits your target upside-down. Here's a pic of a guy doing it.

Well, we're almost done at work here. We just have to take vegetation samples at each nest site (we have 14 to do). We were going to do that today, but it's raining, so Arjun is going some data entry since he needs to make up more time than I do. We found out the the turkey nest we've been watching has hatched! Sadly though, the mallard nest we found got eaten. :( Oh well, such is life. One day just after I got done with the rest of my point counts and got into the truck, a red-headed woodpecker perched on the fence right in front of the truck! It was so pretty!! I was trying to slowly reach for my camera but it flew a few posts down before I got it out. So, you can still see it in this pic, but it was a lot closer before.

Also, I got to go into my very first corn field!! Haha, after seeing Forest Gump when I was young I always wanted to go into one, and the corn here is now some of the tallest it's ever been says a local farmer. :) Today I also spent some time taking pics around the interpretive center for your interest. :) I will put them up on another post.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

pics of what we do!

Here are some pics of mist netting, rope dragging, and vegetation sampling, just in case you were curious. :)

Little bits

This is going to be a bit of a ramble about some of the little things that have been going on. For one thing, Arjun and I are back in action doing point counts and vegetation sampling, which we should be done with by Sunday. Sarah should be coming early to mid next week to help us close things out, and we should be wrapping up on July 31! Arjun and I have been working 6 days a week for a bit to help get caught up on time that we've lost due to weather etc... so I am starting to get a bit drained out. I shouldn't really complain, it's not like it's a tough job, but I think that not going to bed quite early enough and getting up at 5 AM every morning wears on you a bit.

Arjun and I found a mallard nest in the field today, she flushed while we were doing vegetation sampling. :P The nest smelled just like Julie (my pet duck), I miss her so much. There are 8 eggs. We have been keeping a close eye on all of the nests that we've found, which lately have been quite a few! The Eastern Kingbird chicks look like they'll fledge soon! Here's a pic of them from yesterday, these are the same ones that I put a pic up of last time, you can see how much they've grown!

Also, once while I was walking on the path, there were two little voles just sitting on the path!! They were so cute, and they didn't move even when I got super close! I even touched one before it moved, and even then it just slowly sauntered away. :P

One bad thing that happened is that Arjun lost his range finder, which neither of us can imagine where it went!! We had it for the last point we did veg sampling at a few days ago, which is really close to the parking lot, and then we walked directly back to the truck. I wouldn't make sense for him to have taken it off before we got to the truck, but it's not there, it's not in our apartments, it's not in our backpacks! I hope that it turns up while we're packing up, cause even though we can get on without it ok (as I have mine, it just means that we have to take turns doing point counts instead of doing them simultaneously) they are a bit pricy, even if they aren't the highest quality, and I don't want Sarah to have that loss. I don't blame Arjun at all, we've all had that happen to us before, and we can't give any explanation of where it went.

Another bit of news is that on Tuesday the 21st we did a little presentation on grassland birds and the project we're doing for the interpretive center. They have scheduled different little presentations every Tuesday for the next few months, and we were the opening act. ;P It went really well, we had a bigger turn out than we expected too, with about 9 people. :) We talked about what grassland birds are, their morphology and how that helps them in their environment, our target species, and about nests. Afterwards we went outside and showed them a Field Sparrow nest that had been abandoned earlier in the season that still has an egg in it. We also took them over to see the Red-Winged Black Bird that is very temperamental about people being around his nest (which is a bit strange as the rest of the RWBL males aren't that aggressive). He actually wasn't very upset this time around. :) Alternatively, here's a pic of him attacking Arjun. :P

I suppose there's not too much else to talk about at the moment, just that we only have one week left, which is really hard to believe!! It's been a good job and I am very glad and feel privileged that I was able to do it! I am, however, very ready and excited to be going home and seeing David again! :) Yay!! I am also excited for camping!! Yay!! I will be flying out of Omaha on Aug 4th, but will be leaving Pipestone (driving the University pick-up down and it will be picked up by grad students) on Aug 2nd. I am going to be staying with Zach and Amber Niebaum, some family friends of ours that I haven't seen in ages! It should be really nice to see them again. Well, that's all for now, I'm sure I'll probably write again at least once more before I leave, then there'll be a bit of a hiatus before I start my next internship Aug 25th. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


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Eastern Kingbird

Red-Wing Black Bird nest

Eastern Kingbird chicks


Mom to baby kingbirds in post entitled "pictures"

To find nests Arjun and I mainly would rope drag the fields of the park... this was fairly unproductive. When you rope drag you are trying to flush females off of the nest so you can search where she left and hopefully find it! This happened only occasionally while we were rope dragging. Recently, because of extremely strong winds (we think it's kind of counterproductive that if the wind is blowing the grass over, and this is what you do rope dragging, that it won't make a difference) we've been doing a lot of just nest searching. We've been going through the areas that have denser vegetation that can't be rope dragged. On Tuesday this yielded us 3 nests and we also found a turkey nest while we were mist netting that morning. Yesterday it yielded another 3 nests! We actually found 4, but one is in a tree, so it doesn't count (only doing grassland birds). We are very excited, our goal was to get at least as many as the interns from last year (hopefully more) and they had 15... we now have 19!! I think we will definitely find more before the end too, so that's really good!

Today we started point counts and vegetation sampling again (as we need to do each twice in our time here, so this is the second time around). It's a really good thing we're doing it again cause we can really notice the differences in occurrences of birds as well as the growth of vegetation! There are heaps of birds we don't see much of now that used to be all over (grackles), and we are seeing a lot more of other birds. And of course the vegetation has changed dramatically!

Each morning when we go out there is heaps of dew on the grass, so we get quite wet walking through it. Dad was wonderful enough to buy me a nice pair of gortex boots before I came out here, so my feet could stay dry... well, they are very waterproof for sure but there's a different problem. My pants become so wet while walking through the grass that water drips down my legs and soaks my socks!! Today was especially bad, I was walking around in my own little puddles. I always bring my mesh tennis shoes with me for later in the day because usually it's cool and wet in the morning and then really hot and dry later on and the boots get too hot, well, today I had to change early cause it was like I was walking around with two buckets of water on my feet! I should have brought dad's lower leg gators with me! Anyway, it's not that bad, just annoying really.

We have been seeing more and more baby birds about now too! Today I flushed a female pheasant and about a foot away were at least 4 chicks, they were so cute! We've been finding quite a few Red-Wing Black Bird nests (they are easy to find cause they choose a certain grass/shrub to nest in, usually around water, and chirp at you when you get too close then the female flushes right off of the nest). There is one nest near the pond along the trail and the male RWBL was so mad at me for being there that he was just a few inches above my head swooping me a lot, which for them isn't very normal, all of the others have kept a distance! Just after I found that nest I went to look in some bushes just for the heck of it, and when I was walking through a large patch of bush, I brushed away some leaves and saw the tinniest patch of pin feathers, and there was one huge baby in a nest!! I couldn't believe it!! Out of that whole big patch of bushes the nest was RIGHT next to where I stepped... and really well hidden too! What luck.

baby bird I found... it is possibly a Brown-Headed Cow Bird chick in a Clay Colored Sparrow nest (they are nest parasites)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blue Mounds State Park

So this past week, Nathan, one of the guys that works at the interpretive center at Pipestone, offered to take Arjun and I to Blue Mounds State Park (about 25 miles away). It was really nice, a beautiful day! We just walked on some of the trails, the exciting part was when we went on one of the forested trails. We kept going and going and after a while (of beautiful scenery) the trail just sort of disappeared! At one point we went into this field between the woods and the road and were amongst plants taller than us! Upon closer inspection of these plants we were like "these look EXACTLY like marijuana plants (I think most everyone knows what the leaf of one looks like :P) I took some pics and Arjun looked it up later. Nathan called into the park the next day and asked/told about it and the guy said "it very well could be." Arjun looked it up and found that it was! He did, however, believe that is was the type that has low amount of THC more for making hemp and usage of the seeds etc. Still, that was hilarious, and there was TONS of it! Haha. Here are some pics. :)

After that we had to fight our way through the "jungle" :P to get back up to the top of the ridge to see where we were. We finally made it and we still had a little bit until we got back to the parking lot. :) It was a lot of fun. This was the day that we caught the WEME, so afterwards Arjun and I invited Nate to come along with us to have pizza and ice cream as celebration for catching it! :P We went to a place called Dar's Pizza, the most popular pizza place in town, then to Dari King for ice cream, which is also very well known. Yes they have a Dairy Queen too, but Dari King is know to be cheaper and better. :)

Yesterday was the 4th of July, I didn't really do much except for watch some movies on my computer, read a bit and did some sketching. It was a good day, but definitely the least exciting 4th I've ever had. I did see a few fireworks from my window (I'm on the 11 out of 12 floor of the tallest building in town) but surprisingly there weren't very many.

I'll leave you with a few more pics from Blue Mounds.

See the face!!