The Mighty Platte River

A lot has gone on since the last time I posted on the blog. I took some more pictures with the work camera, saw a bull snake, saw my first plover chick, went plover trapping, went on a river survey, and went for a short “hike”.

I will just give a brief summary of each of those things then post some pictures at the end.

I went for a walk about a mile down the road from the house and took pictures of birds and a horse and some more cows. It was a nice day that day, but it was also windy…it’s always windy out here.

The bull snake we saw was in the middle of the dirt road right next to our house. I was driving and Staci (the lady that takes in animals) saw the snake and screamed when I drove over it!! I thought I hit a kid! She jumped out of the truck and luckily I had missed the snake so it was fine, just really mad. It jumped and struck at Staci a few times while she was trying to wrangle it. She threw her coat over it to catch it then put it in a pillowcase to relocate. (We don’t want snakes around the plovers).

My first plover chick I saw was during a routine grid search and we just saw a single wet chick in the nest with three other eggs. The chick had just hatched probably about an hour before we got there!

The next plover chicks I saw were while I was out plover trapping with my boss. It was just me and her that day, which made it more relaxing. We went to about 4 different sites that day and only caught one adult bird…the others were on to us. To trap a plover we identify the bird we are trying to catch, then when that bird is on the nest and snuggled in, we go set a trap on the nest (the bird gets up and does it’s broken wing display). The trap is a circle cage with a trap door that is triggered by a remote control that we have. Once the trap is set we go hide in a pop-up blind and watch through a scope for when the bird enters the cage to sit back on the nest (some birds aren’t very smart). Once on the nest we trigger the door to close! Then we go grab the bird and re-band it if it’s bands are old or put new bands on if it was previously unmarked. The one we caught had bands, but we couldn’t re-band it because it was banded by the Virginia Tech people and they do their own thing. We couldn’t catch the bird’s mate, which is the one we were after. However, we were able to catch some chicks on a different nest and band those. They were very cute and little and soft. I loved them! We should get even more chicks this week!!

Today, I went on a river survey with the PRRIP people. They go on a survey 2x a month and one USGS tech goes with them to gather data about the terns and plovers nesting on the river. It was my turn today! Today we floated down the Platte River in little motorized canoes. It was a chilly morning and we didn’t see too many birds, only 7 terns in flight and no new nests; so it was a pretty easy day. We just floated along and looked at birds! I saw lots of bald eagles! A ways down the river the trees get so dense on either side that you can’t see through them; pines, cottonwoods, and others that smell sweet like lilacs and the bird songs echo like in a forest canopy. I saw a couple of homes on the river bank, they were quaint and reminded me of Huckleberry Finn. The river is so high right now that the water was going right up to the front door, but the river people seem to work around it. One house had a porch on short stilts built over the river complete with christmas lights and patio furniture. I wasn’t able to take too many pictures on the river because my phone was buried in my dry bag for safety. I did snag a few of the Platte. She’s a very wide river.

After work I went into Kearney to grab some more vegetables. On my way to the grocery store I stopped at Cottonwood Recreation Area. It was a nice park with a decent trail system that I think I will try to run on the weekends. I went for a little “hike” there, and I could smell some familiar mountain smells which was nice. I even saw some imitation stinging nettle. I also got my first tick! Luckily it was just on my shirt, so I flicked it off and went on my way.

And those are the highlights! It turns out I don’t have as much time to write as I thought I would; lots of long days. I’m averaging 10 hour days everyday, and sometimes more, I’m getting a nice tan though. I will try to update once a week, that seems like it might be better for me.

Here are the pictures from the last week or so!

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That last photo is of a butterfly in my hand

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