July In Review

Work has been fine this month, I’m quite enjoying it! I do a lot of different things and my plans often change at the drop of a hat, so that always keeps things exciting. Aside from administrative things and errands, I did a few days of field work this month with Game and Fish.

First, we were meant to do a fish salvage northeast of Tucson near Mount Graham. We were going to remove a few hundred Apache trout from two different creeks to supplement brood stocks in a few different hatcheries and prevent inbreeding within lineages. From Tucson, I rode up with a coworker about three hours to the bunkhouse, where we met up with a few dozen other Game and Fish employees from across the state (mostly interns like myself) for a briefing the night before the salvage. The morning of the salvage, we met with the Forest Service to be briefed on the condition of the active fire on the mountain. Obviously, it was largely contained, or else a salvage wouldn’t even be on our radar. However, after taking one look at us, the Forest Service said it wasn’t safe for us to go on out mountain because we didn’t have the proper protective gear. We needed hard hats, fire-retardant pants, all leather boots that come eight inches above the ankle and more. Of course, the department doesn’t have this kind of gear, especially for over twenty people, as we aren’t fighting fires. We were all frustrated, especially since a lot of people drove well over five hours for this salvage and this miscommunication could have been easily avoided.

A few days later, we did a pronghorn survey. Karen (my supervisor) and I met at the office to leave at 4AM (yuck) to arrive in Sonoita in time for sunrise, when the antelope start feeding. There were about ten pairs out in different areas counting pronghorn in different areas. Karen and I were close to “town,” but spotted the most out of anyone: 24 individuals, most of which were does with a few fawns and bucks. We drove around a property of a couple square miles, driving a quarter mile at a time before getting out and scanning the landscape for critters. We saw the pronghorn in groups of about 5-7 with a few stragglers. The survey was pretty quick and we were done and back at the office by noon.

Another field day was spent in Safford doing a snail survey. In the morning, we had a lecture on the natural history of the snail populations we would be surveying and how to use the GIS app before heading out to the survey on Mt. Graham that afternoon. We divided into several teams and although my team didn’t find any, others lower in the canyon found plenty and the survey was an overall success.

Two other field days were spent doing a fish survey at Arivaca Lake. First, we set traps specifically meant for catfish to see how our stocked populations have been doing. I drove the boat while Nate (the aquatic wildlife specialist who recruited me to help) baited and set the traps. The bait smelled like everything horrible in the world, so I’m glad I didn’t have to handle it much… that day.

A few days after we set the traps, we went to retrieve them. We took the nets out of the water and put their contents in a small tank on the boat to identify and count the fish trapped. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any catfish in all our nets, but we found plenty of other fish, about 250 between the four sites (that had three eight-foot nets each) and some turtles and crayfish. Two of the sites did well, with dozens of live fish, but two of the sites did not so well as we set the net too deep (there is little oxygen if you go deeper than ten feet in this lake) at one site and vegetation moved in to block out sunlight at the other site. We got some fish there, but they were all dead. Between the bait, the dead fish and the intense heat, my nose will never be the same.

A few other highlights of my work this month include a turkey meeting in Benson, teaching basic archery skills, GIS training and inventory, camp and animal workshops at the museum.

The night before the pronghorn survey I mentioned (yes, the one I had to be up for at 3AM), I saw my favorite band Rise Against with my best friend Sydney in Phoenix! She picked me up and we drove to Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix to arrive just in time for the Thrice (another band I really like) set. We splurged on general admission tickets to be as close to the stage and crowd action as possible and it was well worth it. Rise Against played an amazing set and it was so much fun to share it with Sydney. We have been seeing them together (with the exception of my year abroad) since 2011. We drove back home and I laid my head down at about 12:30AM, getting just a few good hours of sleep before work the next morning, but I’d do it again tomorrow.

This month, I booked several trips: first and foremost, my flight back to Brighton for September 11th. I land in Gatwick the next day and will stay at a hostel that night before getting settled into my university house on the 13th. I can’t wait!

I also booked my graduation trip to New York and Washington, D.C. with my dad at the end of August. I’m excited to return to New York after visiting in 2015 and also excited to visit D.C. for the first time (my dad has taken my brothers for their high school graduation). We have yet to decide what we will be doing in particular so I’d love any suggestions!

Finally, I’ve booked a trip to walk the Camino de Santiago in mid-September! I will be flying into Porto, Portugal and walking 150 miles to Santiago de Compostela in the week before my lectures start. I’ve wanted to take this trip for quite some time now and I’m so excited it’s finally happening! In the meantime, training is kicking my ass… I’m up to 12 miles! I will write a more detailed post about my training regime right before my departure. 

What I’m watching: Bob’s Burgers (season 7), Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Girl on the Train, Dunkirk, The Office (U.S.) (seasons 2-5), Gifted

What I’m listening to: Origin of Symmetry by Muse, Love Ire & Song by Frank Turner, Breakfast in America by Supertramp, Altered State by TesseracT, Self Titled by Neo Geo, Born to Die by Lana del Rey, Omni by Minus the Bear, Homey by Chon, (II) by Crystal Castles, Bacon Dream by Astroid Boys, Handmade Cities by Plini, Grow by Chon, Super Trouper by ABBA, Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through by Trash Boat, Violator by Depeche Mode

What I’m reading: Missoula by Jon Krakauer

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