I did a little bit of everything this past week. Foremost, Scott and I had to reschedule our last Zumwalt trip after last week’s debacle. So we decided to head up to the prairie Monday morning, and returned late Tuesday night. During our short trip we worked on emptying emergence traps, and taking soil samples from grazed sites, human trails, and a control site. We used a penetrometer for the sampling and recording how many strikes it took to reach 20 centimeters in 5 centimeter increments. We took samples on the trails and then one and two meters off the trail. We also took the samples in 50 meter increments and chose the locations by randomly selecting numbers from a stop watch.
The emergence traps went as expected, with many of the traps being empty, destroyed, full of carcass beetles or plants. We then disassembled some of the unusable traps, and refilled the viable ones. On Monday we got to watch a massive herd of elk bugle and meandure into a wooded area on a ridge. I see elk often, but the sight and sound of them never loses its luster. And on the second afternoon Scott and I spotted two large canines on the next ridge. The figures were large and light. We were enthralled at the thought of seeing two wolves on our last field week. Unfortunately, we were later disappointed to learn they were coyotes, as Scott had sent a photo of the animals to one of his friends who works with carnivores. Regardless, it was still fascinating to watch the two creatures stare back at us and then work their way up the ridge.
On Thursday I worked on data sheets at home in La Grande. And on Friday I decided to break up the routine and went up to Hermiston to work on pinning bees. I don’t think I’d been to HAREC in about a month! James has made a lot of progress on pinning, and so I helped pinning pan traps. I was surprised at how much bi-catch was in each sample, as it seemed like there were more moths than bees! I was also surprised at how quickly I got back into the rhythm of pinning. I then met with Dr. DeBano and Scott in the evening to catch up on data sheet progress and to make deadlines for the upcoming weeks.
Dr. DeBano also gave me Monday off; which honestly felt needed after how personally draining this past month has been. I had planned to go camping in the Wallowas but instead my boyfriend and I opted to go for a drive Sunday, and then went hiking in Eagle Cap Wilderness within the Wallowa Mountains today. We hiked up from Hurricane Creek to LeGore Mine. I ended up at a little over 8,000 feet, which is the highest this Florida native has ever been! I share this not only because the mountain views were spectacular, but because one of the best parts was seeing the Zumwalt from the top. It felt so fitting to look across at that gorgeous grassland from the mountain. I love this corner of the west, and am constantly amazed at the geographical diversity. It was spectacular to see the river canyons and undulating bunchgrass hills from a granite peak.
I will spend this next week with Dr. DeBano at Starkey, where we will be working on pan traps and plant transects. This will be my first overnight at Starkey, so I’m eager to see how the change of pace plays out. Since I’m coming to end of my blog I hope to make my next post a giant summary and explain how each of the different projects tie into one another.