Monthly Archives: May 2014

Quest 2: complete!

It’s been another crazy 10 day work week here in Nevada, never a dull moment out here and it’s absolutely great! The week started off on a bit of an unpredictable note because we only knew half our schedule for the week, but it was all good because it meant we had to be back at the field house which is always a good thing. Started off by doing an area search in my little blackbrush plot like always, following the birds around to see where they’re fly to. It’s actually a lot of fun following Black-throated Sparrows around from singing perch to singing perch to determine their territories. After that we were off to kill some time before picking up Kelly from the airport. Apparently getting a flat tire is a good way to do that, couple that with some shopping therapy and a couple of hours at our favorite coffee shop (Sunrise Coffee) we picked up Kelly and drove off to Searchlight. After 2 nights in the field doing both avian and botany work, we made our way back to the field house for a night. It was great to be back but I learned that sunflowers aren’t all pretty and fun when they’re over 5 feet tall and you have to plow through it for a few dozen meters.


Our next stop was in the Pine Nut Mountains for 4 days which is a 7 hour drive from here. After leaving in a hurry, we took the extraterrestrial highway up north. Because it was a new area, the birds were quite different from what we were used to hearing down in Moapa (we had heard recordings of these birds during training but birds always tend to sound different in person) we did 2 days of double (well in our case triple observer). I was really lucky that I took to the birds songs in the Pine Nuts quickly which lead to less stress which finally allowed me to see the beauty of the Pine Nut mountains.

I remember when I told people I was coming down to Nevada to do bird and plant surveys a lot of people thought I was lying. Everyone told me that there were no plants down in the desert. How very wrong they were, there were more types of plants than I expected and just a 7 hour drive away from Vegas and the mojave scrub is beautiful Pine and Joshua trees.

ChainMasttopOn my final day in the Pine Nuts, I got to do my own transect which was absolutely stunning. Within an hour I had climbed and surveyed the points while going straight up the side of the mountain. You just need to learn to watch your step, not every foothold is as sturdy as it looks. At the top of my hike I realized that I could see my truck from the end of my 3km hike that morning. If you look carefully at the picture on the left, you may be able to
ChainMasttruck see the truck at the intersection of the roads off in the distance. It was quite the hike to be able to get to that point that’s for sure. In case you were wondering the picture on the right is what my hike looked like from the truck. I had to climb that, didn’t think I could but I did. We are often told to asses potential dangers and either classify them as inconvenient or actually dangerous. I thought climbing up there would be rather dangerous at first but thought I’d give it a shot anyway. Turns out it was merely just really really inconvenient because once I started heading up there, I was always able to keep climbing up the rocks. I just needed to be weary of what I trusted as a  place to put my feet because not all rocks are as sturdy as they look out here in the desert.

After finishing up the transect and picking up Katie from hers, I began the 7 hour drive back to where we began. Our blackbrush area searches. I’ve been to my area search and camped there so many times, it’s starting to feel like a second home out here. With a view like that and shooting stars that night, I would have to say it’s a great place to have feel like home. SunsetAreaSearch

Nothing too exciting for me in store this weekend, just relaxing, cross stitching and gearing up for the next week.

Until next time,


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Quest 1: complete!

It’s finally the weekend! Well the weekend for me anyway, working 10 days straight then getting 4 days off can be tough but it can be great when the weekend rolls around and suddenly you get 4 days to do whatever you want to do. I have redefined my idea of sleeping in, it’s now about 7 am and if I get a chance to wake up after the sunrise (anytime between 6 and 7) it’s a real treat! No crazy adventures for me this weekend (I had plenty during the week)  but I’ve just about finished up establishing things here in Nevada so I no loAreaSearchnger have to worried and I can get paid too!

I finally understand why each 10 day work week is referred to as a quest, we’re constantly going to new places, trying to figure out where we need to be and then adapting to the situations quickly at the drop of a hat when plans change in a moments notice. My quest started with an area search this week which is a beautiful place once you get over the unmaintained hilly dirt road you need to get there. It’s interesting how the desert always looks so sandy as if plant life doesn’t exist when looking from above when really it’s fully of plenty of plant species (I’m having to learn the Latin names of all of the woody plants I come across and there are a lot). They just so happened to be spaced out and very small so that there is ground between the plants making it pretty easy to maneuver through and around them, especially when they are friendly plants and don’t prick or scratch you.

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The desert at sunrise. Warmth down below with snow on the mountaintops from the overnight rain storm. Actually the desert didn’t warm up until about 10 today. Hopefully the wind stays to a minimum because it can be brutal!

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Welcome to the desert

The past two weeks have been extremely busy for me. Adjusting to a new place, new people, new job, new sights and new sounds. I have successfully made it to Nevada and I have finished my first work week which is actually 10 days long (this lets us have 4 day weekends to travel and explore the nearby areas).

Our first week was pretty much just training. Waking up at 6 am and heading out to do some birding and practicing some of the protocols we were learning in the afternoon and tuning our ears to the songs of the local birds. For someone who has spent most of her time on the west coast, there is a bit of an overlap between the birds but I have come to learn that birds have dialects because the same species here sound nothing like the ones at home. It’s been pretty overwhelming adapting to everything here but I think once I get into the swing of things in the field, it will all fall into place.

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