Thursday, May 27th: Woke up early and had to go do sex checks on two different areas this morning. This was particularly interesting as it was my first time getting to do it on my own. All I needed to do was get the band combinations on the adult birds, and sex the chicks. Easy stuff…right?
I arrived at the first cluster and looked at my map to find where the nest tree was. According to the map, I was to park right where I had stopped the truck, and walk 1/2 mile north to where the tree was. I wouldn’t usually complain about this, but I was by myself and had to carry a spotting scope, a tripod (that doesn’t retract), the peeper (which only weighs about as much as a small child), the camera battery, and a notebook (the straw that broke the camel’s back sort-of-thing). The reasoning behind this walk was that the tree was inaccessible from the road since the firebreak right in front of me was impassable and the other way was blocked by a swamp. Laziness set in, and I decided to go for it.
Thanks to some 4×4 low, a steady hand, countless prayers, and my pride (getting stuck would require me to call for help on the radio and therefore everyone would know I flubbed up), I willed the truck through the bog and out the other side onto dry ground. Feeling immensely proud of myself, I consulted the map to see how far I had to go before turning to reach the nest tree. It was then that I realized the road to the tree was actually blocked on both the east AND west sides by swamp and there literally was no way to get to it since the road connected to nothing. Perfect. Now to just drive back through the bog and walk the 1/2 mile.
I made it through and trudged the distance to the nest. Since nothing is ever easy for me, there was a new adult bird present in the area which meant I was responsible for getting its band combination. I usually have the cheat sheet with me for when I see birds in the area that have been seen before. That way if I see: Yellow, Silver; Yellow, Blue, Yellow and there’s a bird that’s been seen in the area as: Orange, Silver; Orange, Blue, Orange, I can usually guess that’s what I saw. Since this bird had never been seen before, there was no way for me to check. It amazes me how a bird can manage to show you only one of its legs for over an hour. I finally packed everything up, frustrated, after only getting two of five colors.
The next area wasn’t any better. There was, yet again, another new bird in the area and after chasing it around for nearly a mile over the course of an hour and a half, I only got two colors again. I did, however, get to watch that new bird nearly get eaten by a Swallow Tailed Kite. I watched quietly and waited until the Kite finally gave up chasing it and soared off. Not much of a point in getting combinations if the bird is trying to get itself eaten.
The last area to check was in the far north section of the WMA. To my surprise, I found pitcher plants all over the area, many of which were blooming.
After looking inside the tree, I headed back for the office. Not wishing to go the long way around, I decided to go through a mud hole that recently got an ATV stuck. Shrek and I somehow plowed through it and I made it to the road. Using the 4×4 is becoming so commonplace that I’m surprised at the end of the day if I don’t require it at least 8 times during work hours.
Finally got a (blurry) picture of two Osceola Turkeys!
After work, Chelsea and I headed into St. Cloud to pick up groceries since I had literally run out of food on Tuesday. Chelsea finally told me what the big surprise is: I’m going to Sea World! I’m extremely excited and I know that work will probably feel like it’s taking forever tomorrow. We’ll be spending the whole day there so I’ve gotta be sure to charge my camera. I’ll have lots of pictures.