This is a photo of my fresh start at the “crying plot” from my last blog post, Highs and Lows. I had oriented myself to face east when I quickly realized I would be walking towards the sun. In the photo you can see the dragonfly I walked around (I know I don’t like to be stirred up in the morning). You can barely see the waterlogged path I was going to take to conduct the transect:
Before leaving home this time, I tied my hiking boots tight (I never wore my rubber boots again). Nothing was going to stop me from conducting a transect this morning. Hopefully I was also going to avoid falling. Most of our equipment hangs from our neck. If you fall forward, everything will get wet. A few of our things are waterproof like our Garmins, but some are not, as Katy found with our walkie-talkies one day.
To conduct transects for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow Project requires field technicians to carry (for photos and a full list of all of our equipment, check out What’s in My Bag? by my colleague, Laura Young):
-Clipboard with datasheets
-Walkie-talkies (that are not waterproof and are kept in Ziploc bags)
Conducting transects is important for the project, but keeping ourselves safe and happy matters as well. To do this we wear/carry:
-Boots that fit (Hiking or rubber boots)
-Light-weight pants and long sleeve shirts
-Hat (or sunscreen)
There’s one piece of equipment that we added today that really did the trick for walking in this plot. Take a look at the photo below and see if you can spot it:
A PVC pipe! Our principle investigator, Tom Virzi, had mentioned that he used a PVC pipe as a walking stick. Luckily, Michelle Davis had three in her car, and we got our pick. Taking this picture was tricky since I did not have my hand around the pipe, but for the rest of the morning my grip around it caused me to get a blister.
Walking in this plot takes twice as long as other plots because we trudge through water up to our knees and ground that sinks in. It went as smoothly as it could for me. We heard and saw some birds and, using the walkie-talkies, figured out what distance the birds were from us. The transects run right next to each other, and a bird that is 100 meters away from your left or right is “your bird” to put on your data sheet.
We finished the transects, and I felt accomplished. I knew I could walk in this plot without crying. It was on the way back to the car that my foot sunk into water above my knee but I did not fall or cry! I felt rewarded when I found the Florida Box Turtle, above. Three swallowtail kites then bid us farewell as we exited Everglades National Park.