How People View BLM Land In Washington
Recently, I had the fantastic opportunity to help Reed with SOS collections! I got to collect various plant seed from species that were on a special list. There were four species of plant seed that we were after. Hooker’s Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza hookeri), bigseed biscuitroot (Lomatium macrocarpum), nine leaf lomatium (Lomatium triternatum), and a lupine species! One of the main areas to collect seed was the Badger Mountain/ Duffy Creek Region! For many hours, we would scan the lithosols for ideal seed collection locations. The balsamroot was easy to collect from, but you had to be careful not to launch the seed when picking the seed head. The lomatiums were pretty tricky and would scatter everywhere when you try to grab them! That was why you gently grab the lomatium umbels and tap the seed into the collection bags. We had a full collection of Hooker’s balsamroot today!! We collected a good sample of the rest of the SOS plants in the area as well. Reed would return and finish the collecting after the CLM training. Hopefully, I will have more chances to help Reed out in the future!
A bag full of dried Hooker’s balsamroot flower heads. About 30-45 seeds per head.
Hey!! There are some seeds in this one! ^_^
I made a new friend when seed collecting! It did not want to leave my warm hand. Its name was Ms.Nibblesworth.
NISIMS: Attack on Invasives!
NISIMS is an acronym for National Invasive Species Information Management System. One of our jobs we had this summer was to go to many BLM sites and record weed dispersion. Some areas that were near wetlands, overgrazed fields, burned areas, or roadsides were prone to having a variety of weeds such as Brome (Bromus) grasses, thistle (Cirsium), knapweed (Centaurea), and Dalmatian toadflax (Linaria dalmatica). We would record each weed patch location on a GPS and take detailed notes about each site. For example, “The Sulfur Canyon drainage area in the southeastern quadrant has BRTE, SIAL2, and CIAR4. Dense colonies were dispersed along riparian corridors. Most of the soil was compacted due to cows. Etc.etc…” The data would be transferred to a State database within our resource area. This would help in the future when range land monitors evaluate the land and assign various control methods for the weeds. This has always been a dream of mine in an internship to work with weeds and ArcGIS. Now I have the opportunity to see how NISIMS is used!
How I feel when working with NISIMS and finding a large population of a specific noxious weed. Time to record all the points and polygons!!! \(>o<)/
The Wenachee BLM does a really good job with weed treatment. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) was present in many allotments, but there was no significant presence of other weeds taking over acres of land. Most of the weed populations were in dense, isolated colonies that could be easily treated. There was a field of Dalmatian toadflax that paralleled BLM land. Hopefully, this area would be treated in the future to prevent the spread of this colorful yet noxious weed. Woolly mullein (Verbascum thapsus) was a plant that loved to grow along roadsides. Whenever we encountered it on BLM land, we would take note of it through NISIMS. Thistles were another common weed found on disturbed areas near water. Right now, many of the thistle species were in their rosette form, so it was hard to tell some species apart. When they flower, I could easily identify the species and record them in the NISIMS database.
Golden Eagle Eaglets: Ready For Action!
Recently, many of the golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) had become very active in their territory. The eaglets were hatching and they were very hungry. Most of the eaglets look like a very fluffy bird-poodle! They love to explore the nest and walk like Godzilla from one side to the other. A favorite activity of the eaglets was to take afternoon rests in the shelter of their Mom or Dad’s feathers. This sheltering helps the eaglets stay cool from the intense afternoon sun. As they get older, the parents leave the nest for longer periods of time. Our BLM district has young eaglets ranging from two to six weeks old. Some of them would not make the journey due to predation from owls or they might accidentally fall out of the nest. The parents usually guard their nest and always keep a keen eye for any potential threats. They love to stare at us or bighorn sheep for a short period of time. One of the historical golden eagle nest sites we found was occupied by an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) couple!! The juvenile osprey was so giddy about its surroundings, it was hilarious. The juvenile osprey’s favorite thing to do was to sit on the side of the nest and watch the violet green swallows (Tachycineta thalassina) fly by. Since the swallows fly fast, the juvenile osprey was turning its head very fast, trying to view each small bird.
In a couple of weeks, the eaglets would mature and grow stronger feathers. They would start to look like adults. They begin practicing their flapping and calls to their parents. Hopefully, we get to see them do it in the future when we revisit the nesting sites. Most of the bald eagles in the area were preparing their chicks for the outside world. Eventually, many of the golden eagles will be doing the same thing.
You should never do an eagle survey like this when the adult golden eagles are around. It is safer to view them from a distance with a viewing scope.
This is a lot safer way to view golden eagles. Some sites it is really hard to view the nest because of the sun angle and heat. I had to improvise my posture in order to see a cliff nest. Do this for three to four hours a day and you will become a legend for being patient….man do I look awkward. Haha!
GeoBOB…Frustrations and Celebrations Unite!
Another GPS program we were working on beyond NISIMS was the dreadful GeoBOB. (One person in the crowd boos) Now, now, this program had brought a lot of frustration, but it was usually followed by celebration. There would always be some glitch or kink in the system, which complicated different checkouts and check ins of field collected data. When we actually got the program to function properly, we were rewarded with accurate GPS data that was recorded out in the field. The data would be processed and turned to Spokane for further data entry. A few months ago, we had training in Vale, Oregon on GeoBOB. All of the BLM Legends and CLM interns had to figure out how to work with this complex program. Two days of training allowed us to understand how to work with this software. Eventually with practice, this GPS software program helped us many times when recording golden eagle activity. In the future, we plan on using GeoBOB to record Washington Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus washingtoni) activity.
Time for Some CLM Q&A!!!!!
Lori from Island Lake, IL asked: What is your favorite bird that you have seen in the field?
Hey Lori!! ^_^ My favorite bird to view in the field is the California Quail (Callipepla californica)! They are extraordinarily cute in the way they move and their voices are pretty cool. I like how they travel in big groups along the side of the road or near our work in Wenatchee. When the quail chicks hatch they look like brown fuzzballs with legs. They are very funny to watch on a windy day.
This is a male California Quail relaxing on a post.
Emily from Stevens Point, WI asked, “What was the most fun thing you did on your internship so far?”
One of my favorite activities was to help out with the pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) surveys. I learned a lot about these rabbits and the ecosystem they live in. They were very docile and liked to stare at us as we walked through their walled-in village. I also loved to survey golden eagle nests. Viewing the adults feed, build a nest, or soar around their territory was always considered a treat! Oh, I also love taking pictures of wildlife and forbs.
Largehead Clover (Trifolium macrocephalum) was one of my favorite flowers to take pictures of!
Wow!! The month of May was very busy and on top of that I had a broken computer. Now everything is back on track and I am ready. There will be a large eastern migration soon of CLM interns going to the CLM training in Chicago, IL! I hope everyone has a great time learning, making new friends, developing new connections and having awesome lunches. Have fun!! ^_^
Moment of Zen….