So remember when I said cheers to tomorrow? Well ya SALUD everyone, salud.
Erica, the last member of our crew, arrived last night. She is tall (like 6’0), from Virginia (finally a good ole’ American) and very soft spoken. But I like her humor. She is sharing a room with me for now- remember our beds touch. I thought giving her the twin bed, especially when her bag had been lost on the airplane, was like adding insult to injury, so I took the twin and left her with the double. My feet hang over the twin so I can’t imagine what she would be like.
2:30 am: I heard a pounding, different than the AC that pumps incredibly loud in our room at night. This pounding was rain. I immediately remembered our hiking boots were outside. So I jumped out of bed ran downstairs and went outside to move our shoes out of the rain. I had wet shoes once and I didn’t like it. Luckily the shoes had been moved already but the laundry was on the line and the towels were getting soaked so I grabbed all the towels and put them on the table under the overhang. With wet hair and arms I walked back upstairs crawled into bed and fell back asleep. Didn’t even think to dry off.
Today I got to do all the nest checks in the morning and process the chicks- i.e. measure their tarsus(leg) and culmen (bill), take the mass and take blood! A first for me and I actually did fairly well, especially finding those tiny veins (maybe I should be a nurse?-ha just joshing ya mom).
This afternoon I took a nap, we are not allowed to use the AC during the day and our ceiling fan is broken, it was a sauna. I kid you not I thought I was going to pass out while I was trying to fall asleep. Then I learned I was going to go into the field to do observations for 3 hours. Today was HOT, no rain and very sticky. I got dropped off at this site we call “east weather station” because the group of Ani’s territory is generally east of the weather station. Simple enough. No. I spent 3 hours trudging through grasses and got maybe 15 minutes of observations. I spent some time muttering profanities to myself. Every time they would fly, they would fly all the way over the hill. Why can’t you go from one tree to the next dammit!? I was SO SO hot, dehydrated from my sauna nap, and the birds were not calling and it was incredibly difficult to follow them through the brush. The coolest thing that happened was I scared a Short-eared Owl out of its spot and I was able to take some amazing pictures of it. I hope to post those soon (internet here is not the best).
Finally after seeing the birds one last time around 5:45pm I tried to follow them to roost with no success so I gave up and met Bonnie-May at her birds roosting site. We keep in contact via radios. Leanne and Erica had gone to another refuge for the night to get some chick responses to playbacks of adult alarm calls. We were just hanging out while the sun had set and watching the stars come up (I really enjoy dusk, especially on the refuge it is so peaceful) when we heard a scratchy radio coming in saying something about needing to meet them at the gate. After we figure out what they are saying we realize that the clutch in the trooper has completely gone and Leanne cannot shift into another gear or out of second. It is also nightfall by now. So she coasts around the corner and needs us to literally jump into the vehicle as she drives by. She had to make one lap because we were not close enough to jump into it the first time. So while we are waiting our convo via Leane on the radio and Bonnie and I goes something like this, “What do you think we should do?” -me“I dunno I kinda think we should go in through the same door”-Bonnie, “No two doors would be better”-Leanne “Are you sure?” –Bonnie “Just make a plan- she’s coming!”-me. So we went for the two-door method, Erica had unlocked and opened the doors (although they were not just hanging open when we hopped in) and Bonnie-may and I ran in and jumped into the car. I had the left side of the car; I grabbed the head-piece behind Leanne (which wasn’t sturdy at all) and somehow yanked myself in. All the while Jim was not answering the phone- per usual, and we needed someone to open the gate to our house so we could coast in.
So we devised an alternate plan. I volunteered to jump out of the moving vehicle (I guess I was feeling like a pro now) and sprint to the gate and try to unlock the dummy lock and fling open the metal gate before Leanne tried to slowly drive it in. I jumped out and starting sprinting to the gate and it was open. Jim had at least gotten my emergency email (thank god for I-phones. It’s literally been a lifesaver here so far). I am not going to lie I was a bit disappointed, not only had I risked my life or at least a limb twice for this car but I really thought I could have done it. I was sprinting like freaking Oscar Pistorious (for those of you who did not watch the Olympics, he was the double amputee runner from South Africa. Badass.)
Luckily we made it home. All of us, in one piece, and that alone I am thankful for.