22 Sep Time flies when you’re having fun!
Time flies when you’re having fun! We are now done with week 5 of fieldwork. Weeks 2-5 have been a wild ride of butterflies, tortoises, turtles, lizards, snakes, owls, hawks, insects, and water.
Week 2 – The week where I was stung by a bee.
We were reaching the halfway point of our survey on Monday when I felt that sharp, biting pain in my back that I knew was a bee sting. What a great way to start the week huh? Once we were away from the danger (there were multiple super aggressive bees there for some reason) we checked for the stinger and then cleaned it with some insect bite/sting pain-relieving wipes from our First Aid kit. I was grateful for those wipes because even though I am not allergic to bees their stings hurt and this one was right where my backpack rubbed it throughout the workday.
The rest of the week went much better, there were no aggressive bees and we saw a great variety of butterflies on our surveys. We also saw a tortoise, it was my first time seeing one in the wild instead of at the Sonoran Desert Museum or at someone’s house. This tortoise is a fully grown female and was super chill about taking a selfie with me.
Week 3 – Rincon Creek is rewilding.
I want to focus on my favorite survey so far which was at Rincon Creek in an area that is being left alone for the most part. This was my favorite survey because when you leave an area alone, you allow it to rewild. You allow the elements to align themselves again.
I love this – rewilding.
I love letting nature relax back into space.
It was so easy to see this process because there were so many game trails, every 2 meters or so along the entire creek area we surveyed. It explains why we saw a huge squadron of Javelinas. Yes, a group of Javelina are called a squadron. It also explains why we saw so many bones of mammals large and small, if there are more prey in an area there are more predators too.
One of my favorite parts of the area was this deep dip in the creek created by enormous boulders. Here in this little dry cove, we found small bones and the shell of a native snail. As we explored it Lupe pointed out a little area that looked like it was being used as a den. I joked that I had wanted Lupe to explore it all first in case something was there and they laughed it off. A few minutes later I was standing where Lupe had been looking at the den when I turned a bit and saw fur. Black and white fur on what looked like a tail, it was a skunk for sure. I snapped a photo until it moved and then I ran out of the little cove. No way am I getting sprayed by a skunk!
You would think this would be enough excitement for one survey, but there was one more really cool thing we saw, a red-tailed hawk. My dad always points them out, “Look, a red-tailed hawk! Keep looking at it and you’ll see the tail flash in the sunlight while it flies.” I was always so sad that I never saw it like I wasn’t allowed to see their namesake. BUT if you look through my photos in the album in the comments you’ll see the photo of the hawk flying, zoom in on it and look at that vibrant red tail. 🙂
Week 4 – Agua de Vida.
This is the week of water, agua.
It should not come as a surprise that the day we were driving to work and heard the roar of water – we all got excited. Water in the desert is something you all need to see at some point but is something you might never appreciate at the level of someone native to a desert.
Raindrops are not just water, they are droplets of relief to dried soil, plants, animals, and souls. We hiked between 12 and 13 miles that day, amid the constant whisper of water that is so ephemeral in the desert. The sound soothed the dried tierra of my soul and healed some of the chaffings that had been created by this incredibly dry and hot summer. The water murmured affirmations to me all day, and later that night I fell asleep to that sound and those feelings it evoked.
Week 5 – Appreciation.
This week I took the time to recognize the growth our entire team has gone through that you can see in multiple ways. Our data sheets say “butterfly” less and say specific species names more. Our pictures are clearer. Our hiking endurance has increased, even through moments of fear such as on Monday when we were facing a 15 m wall of rock we had to climb up and then down.
Even now as I write this there are other ways in which we have changed that are hard to express, but that I will try to find words for. There are still 6 more weeks of this internship and I cannot wait to see how much more we grow and how far we hike, stay tuned for more of our adventures!