Over the past few weeks I have been lucky enough to have been asked to go out early in the mornings and check on the status of different Sage-grouse Lek’s. The first couple of trips out were a little disappointing, not seeing any birds. But this most recent excursion definitely made up for the past ones. My partner and I left at about 5:30am to go and check 6 different Lek’s. The first one was an awesome experience. We counted 20 males and 1 female at this Lek. The males were in full display, strutting around and doing their best to gain the female’s attention; while also asserting their dominance to the other males, to gain the best spot to dance. We left the lek and moved onto a couple others, which had no birds, but then the last one of the morning gave us the same turnout and show as the first. A fantastic experience and definitely worth the early morning hours.
I continue to spend many days in Craters of the Moon National Monument, helping out with range improvement projects. It has allowed me a number of opportunities to see many different types of terrain, ecosystems and the vast landscape that this area has to offer. Spending most days, or at least part of the days, in the field, I have been able to see the succession of flowering plants bloom throughout the desert landscape and even across vast lava fields. Being able to witness the progression of which plants are flowering when and where has become one of the most valuable tools in the aid of identification that I have acquired in this new ecosystem.
As time goes on during this internship I only see countless opportunities that are going to present themselves to me, and look forward to the vast new skill set that they will provide. Time has shown already that you just never know what is going to come next, but if the past is any indicator to the future, there are only good things to come.