Terns and Plovers!

The past week has been very busy! I logged about 53 hours last week and it’s looking about the same for this week. We have been getting steadily busier since the plover chicks started hatching and now we have terns all over the place!! They are feisty creatures that dive at you when you get too close to their nests and they will even poop on you as a defense mechanism. I got pooped on for the first time today; luckily it was just on my foot.

Today was an exciting day because instead of doing the normal nest searching biz I was able to spend the day trapping and banding terns. We set up the nets, which are spring-loaded “bow nets”, around the targeted nest. They are triggered to swing the net over the bird by remote control, sort of like the plover traps I talked about in the previous post. But before setting up the trap we trade the real eggs out for decoy eggs (I felt like Indiana Jones every time I did this) and put them in a padded ziplock container so they don’t get damaged by the struggling bird. Once the net is set and ready to go we wait in the blind for the bird to sit back on the nest then trigger the trap. Pretty simple. Except that terns are not too bright…a lot of the time they can’t figure out where their nest is because the trap confuses them. They think, “oh, this thing wasn’t near my nest before, so this must not be where my eggs are”, and they then proceed to wander around for 30 minutes trying to figure out what happened. It’s pretty funny when the mate comes to “help” look for the nest and both birds wander around confused. A lot of the time we are able to trap the birds, but we are also under time constraints so if the tern can’t find it’s nest fast enough we have to abort.

It’s really cool getting to collect the birds from the traps and then release them! Soon I will get trained on how to band them too! I’m really excited for that part. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the trapping process because I left my phone at the house today, but next time I will snap a few pics.

After work I went swimming in the lake thing behind the house, it’s nice having a place to cool down after a long day in the sun. Today was 94 degrees which was a huge jump from last week’s 70, so I was sweating a lot.

Here is a smattering of pictures from the last week, they are a bit out of order:


First sunset I have seen in a while, it’s been so cloudy and stormy most other nights.IMG_6815

I banded a chick!IMG_6876 IMG_6874

I made homemade pizza with wild cactus on top. I thought the cactus would be too hard to prepare, but then one of my coworkers let me borrow his blowtorch to get all the spines off. That was more fun than eating the pizza.  IMG_6866IMG_6870 IMG_6865

My beautiful dough ballIMG_6852

I thought this cloud looked a little like Godzilla. (you gotta look close)


Why does it have to be snakes? This is a bull snake that was going to eat the baby plovers. He was angry we interrupted his lunch and let us know by hissing and striking.IMG_6828

This is a screen shot of a video I got while out camera trapping. I believe I sent part of the actual video to baby Golden via text. IMG_6818

The babies are very small and make little noises like the baby dinosaur hatching in the lab on Jurassic Park.


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